Thursday, July 24, 2014

Victims and Villains Part 2

In a week, I'll be visiting Sue Perkins' blog to talk about heroes and heroines. I thought it would be fitting to first talk about the villains in my books. I wanted Kat to get away from the Galdorheim family for awhile, so I sent her off to Scotland. Again, lots of research brought up the perfect villain for the book.

Cailleach the Winter Goddess
from Scotch Broom (Book 3 of Witches of Galdorheim)
Amazon Kindle and Print
Nook

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. But the crone is cautious, she sends her minions out to learn more about the witch and to lead her to the goddess. While waiting for news, she learns that yet another witch has entered the Otherworld, but this one doesn’t make any sense. Cailleach determines this being is male, thus a warlock, but also smells of vampire. She decides to draw in this one like she plans for the first. But first, she decides to do a little homework.

She sends Bodach, the black giant, to give a message to Glaistig, the only Scottish vampire, to scope out just exactly who or what this male is: warlock, vampire, or both.

From the Monstropedia on Cailleach (http://www.monstropedia.org/index.php?title=Cailleach):
She is depicted as as having an eye in the middle of a blue-black face, long red teeth, and matted hair. In several stories she appears before a hero as a repulsive hag and suddenly transforms herself into a beautiful girl. At winter’s end, some accounts say the Cailleach turned into a grey boulder at Beltane until the warm days were over. The boulder was said to be “always moist’, because it contained “life substance’. The Cailleach Beara is ever-renewing and passes through many lifetimes going from old age to youth or flesh to stone in a cyclic fashion.

The Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhain (October 31st) and Beltaine (April 30th), while Bride rules the summer months between Beltaine and Samhain. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìde as two faces of the same goddess.

She is a bringer of snows, death, and sharp storms. On Samhain the Cailleach leaves her mountains and walks the Land. The Cailleach then proceeds to "wash her plaid". Her plaid represents the sand. When the Cailleach is done the plaid is white and the Land is covered with snow. She is said to ride on the back of a wolf carrying a wand made of human skin, that she uses to strike down all signs of growth. Behind her follows cold winds, blizzards, and ice. In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter.

It’s easy to see why Cailleach is so interested in regaining her strength, to become what she had been in the olden times.

Excerpt

Cailleach groaned when she leaned over and lifted her bare foot high enough to clip her toenails with the gardening shears. She looked up and sniffed twice. The hag dropped her bare foot, stuffed it into her flipflop, and shuffled to the door. Throwing it open, she held her head high, closed her eyes, and sniffed some more.

“Drat! Not another witch.” She sniffed again. “Wait, a warlock. No, a vampire. Hmm.” She closed the door and slumped into a chair. “This is confusing. Maybe there are two.” She went to the woodshed door. Cailleach rapped three times and then stood back as it creaked open.


Bodach, her roommate and minion, dragged his crippled body out of the small hatch. “Yes, Mistrezz,” he slurred, casting one protruding eye upwards.

“We have another foreigner in the swamp. Get out there and find a skrat to check. No, not a skrat. I smell vampire. Find Glaistig and send her to investigate.” Cailleach patted him on the head. “There’s a good boy.”

“Can you tell me where Glaistig is hiding?” Bodach examined his armpit and sniffed.

“Go to the standing stones on the north side of the loch. She has a cave there.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach dragged his limp legs behind him. He began to unfold in a way the eye could not follow. When he reached the door, he needed to bend and shuffle through sideways to fit.

“Bodach, stay with Glaistig and do as she says. She might need some muscle.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach ducked and went to seek Glaistig, the Gray Lady.

Cailleach closed the door behind the giant and sat again. She twanged the long hair protruding from the wart on her chin. “This is all very disturbing. Two foreigners stomping around in my bog within hours. This second, though, he’s strange. Yes, male. That much is clear. But I smell on him both warlock and vampire. Very odd, indeed.”

She went to the dusty bookshelf beside the fireplace. As she tapped each book with her gnarled finger, it spoke its title aloud. The Compleat Book of Bats. Care and Feeding of Monsters. Selling Love Potions on the Internet. Vampires: The Myths and the Facts. She took this one off the shelf and flipped through the pages. An occasional groan or scream emitted from the book, depending on the chapter topic.

“Ah, here it is. ‘Vampire Half-Breeds.’ Hmm. ‘Cross breedings with werewolves, ghouls, and Sasquatch have been cited, although most of these stories are second-hand accounts at best. It is believed that vampires could breed with any species; however, it is most likely this only occurs when the other creature is in an altered form. The werewolf, for example, must be in its wolf mode, not its human aspect.’”

Cailleach stuck her finger in the book to hold her place and plopped down on her rocking chair. She must be mistaken about the invader. This was a scholarly work, although a little dated having been written in 1549. But it seemed to deny the possibility of a warlock-vampire mix. She’d have to study this a bit more. Still, the vampire smell was strong. Without her power, all she could do was wait for Glaistig to report. The only known true vampire in Scotland, Glaistig wouldn’t waste a minute of darkness beating feet to catch up to the male, determine what he was, and report back.

Satisfied she could do nothing more, she leaned back in her rocker, intending to read the rest of the chapter. But sleep overtook her, and she was soon snoring in her chair.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Victims and Villains Part 1

In a week, I'll be visiting Sue Perkins' blog to talk about heroes and heroines. I thought it would be fitting to first talk about the villains in my books. In "Midnight Oil," I had to hit the Google trail to find just the right villainess. Fortunately, I found the Finnish elemental spirits, Ajatar and Ilmatar. They're quite the sister act. By the way, Midnight Oil is in audio production now.

AJATAR THE ELEMENTAL SPIRIT
from Midnight Oil (Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim
Amazon Kindle and Print
Nook

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wait for it .... Water. The four classical four elements have been part of mythologies since the first time a smarter than average Cro Magnon decided to cash in on his superstitious tribe claiming to have a direct hot line to the somewhat amorphous deities.

Deities and demons have proliferated over the intervening 20,000 years or so, with the winners being those smarties who knew how to cash in on fear. The shamans, priests, and other assorted grifters.

Earth: The ground shakes and splits open. Uh oh, the earth god is ticked. If you’ll just give me your hard-won haunch of mammoth, I’ll intercede on your behalf.

Air: Windstorm coming up. Boy, are you in trouble for holding back on my share of the cave bear hide. Ol’ Wind is mighty pissed.

Fire: See what happens if you don’t listen to what I say. Your whole forest burns because you all are bad people. Just lay a pile of pretty shells at my feet and I’ll see if I can placate the Fire Demon.

Water: Oopsie, a flood. Well, wasn’t I the smart one for building that big boat. Did I mention the fare? All proceeds go to the Water God, of course.

The natural elements wreak havoc and a clever guy makes out like a bandit. As time marched on, the elementals took on different names and personalities. The shyster’s way of collecting for multiple personalities for those four basic elements.

Before a caveman could count, um, one. The world was littered with all sorts of mythological beings lined up by the wise shaman to collect trade goods from the fearful masses.

Besides a plethora of gods and demons which I have mentioned some of already, I selected a lovely forest elemental (notice how the element population is dividing and growing) named Ajatar. She happens to be a Finnish spirit and is the main troublemaker in my second book of the Witches of Galdorheim, Midnight Oil.

Ajatar was known as the Devil of the Woods, so I set her in a magically protected forest glade. She controlled her local flora (writing tree roots, fast-growing brambles) and snakes to protect her cache of boxes, bottles, pots, a bent bicycle tire, laundry detergent, dried flowers, old tennis shoes, and Andy.

Oh, right, Andy happens to be a changeling, a human who spent much of his life in the Troll Kingdom and is now Kat’s main squeeze. Ajatar kidnapped him to draw out her sister, Ilmatar, an air spirit who had been hiding out on Galdorheim disguised as the old witch (she prefers sorceress) Mordita.

Lots of stuff happens, but the sisters finally come together in an epic battle (they’re fighting over a man, wouldn’t you know). Ajatar takes her dragon form, while Ilmatar becomes a giant white roc.

Excerpt

Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It was too many years since she had taken her true form. She was the wind, the hurricane, the tornado. Air she was, air she would be. She sighed, and a tree bent with her breath.

She rose with the heat, dropped low and sped across open fields when clouds blocked the sun’s rays. Yet, neither heat nor cold drove her. She flowed over or around as she pleased. When she was in the mood, she flattened everything in her path.

She laughed, and earth-bound creatures cringed at the booming thunder. She smiled, and a gentle breeze danced over hills and valleys. She reveled in her freedom and then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar stole this from her. She’d almost forgotten the power and glory that was Ilmatar.

Now, she’d get payback. Ajatar, she vowed, would regret this day for the rest of her days if Ilmatar the air spirit had any say.

But enough reveling for now. She had a job to do. Gathering free air to her as she flew, she coalesced into a cutting shaft, sharp and deadly as any arrow, and one thousand times as large. She swooped up, down, and sideways, leaving a vortex of spinning air in her wake.

Increasing her speed and the velocity of spin, she smashed through the tops of trees and touched down, a whirling cyclone in the center of Ajatar’s glade. Moss and branches whirled through the forest clearing and trees bent away from her, howling, cracking and snapping, with the thunder of rustling leaves.

Ajatar had heard her coming; she could hardly miss Ilmatar’s roar. Ajatar grew taller, rising above the treetops, spreading her vast scaled wings. Her mouth gaped and fire roared out. With a single downward thrust of her wings, she soared upward. Ilmatar’s tornado followed close behind.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rustle Up Some Trouble

Continuing with the publishing adventures of Lorrie Unites-Struiff, the third book she's re-issuing is all about love and cattle...and did I mention the monkey?

RUSTLING UP LOVE
by Lorrie Unites-Struiff

Newly arrived Mattie Wells sure jingles Sheriff Cole Walker's spurs with just a smile. He's determined to court her and to win her hand. But Mattie hides a dark secret and refuses to marry any man. Cole pushes to pry out her reasons and change her mind while harboring a secret of his own.

To win her heart, Cole's forced to put up with an unwanted thievin' ringtail monkey who thinks Cole is his new BFF just because Mattie thinks Beggar is adorable.

Now understand, Cole is fearless--except when it comes to critters. He's been a mite nervous ever since Pa's hound dog left teeth marks on his butt when he was a little tyke.

Under pressure from the Mayor to find and arrest the cattle rustlers causing trouble between the Double J ranch and the farmers, Cole has to prevent an all out war and pry Mattie's past out of her.

Sheriff Cole chases after Mattie, who steals his heart; a gang of rustlers who steal JJ's cattle; and Beggar who steals the town folk's jewelry.

It's a thrill of a ride.

Buy at:
Amazon Kindle and Print
Barnes & Noble
Kobo



Friday, July 18, 2014

The Call on the Dead Club

My good friend, Lorrie Struiff, is quickly turning out whole book under her own banner. She's been knocking herself out to issue a couple pretty close to the way they were previously published (by some small publishers). THE CALL ON THE DEAD CLUB is a compilation of five of the Winnie Krapski-Ghost Whisperer stories, plus a really funny bonus story titled "Splat."

Buy The Call on the Dead Club at Amazon, Kobo, and Nook. Lorrie will have all the links to all the books on her blog eventually. She might even get to doing that before she collapses in a puddle on the floor.

Did I mention all of the books are also going to be in print? Yes, indeedy. For the near term, the print books will only be available through Amazon. This stuff takes time, you know!

THE CALL ON THE DEAD CLUB by Lorrie Unites-Struiff

Come and meet Winnie Krapski who hugged a cherry tree during a lightning storm. The bolt slammed her, splitting the tree in half. The near-death experience bestowed her with a gift–one she’d rather not have.

Drafted into the C.O.D. Club (Call on the Dead) by Fat Phil Phillips, her mission is to grant the newly deceased’s ghost one last reasonable request. Can Winnie honor her oath?

Well, she tries. But, not before she stumbles into situations that almost get her killed. She’s one spunky broad. Follow her adventures.

Kobo
Barnes & Noble


Monday, July 14, 2014

Wattpad Stories

So, I'm posting some of my short stories on Wattpad. It's nice if anybody reads them. All my published shorts are in a single collection titled "Mixed Bag II: Supersized." If you want the whole lot of them, this is a nice cheap ebook available through various outlets. How about free? At Smashwords, use coupon code SS89C at checkout. There is some adult material, but not as disgusting as I've read portions of books on the NY Times best seller list. Matter of fact, my work is downright tame. I go for humor or goosebumps, not gag-worthy mommy-porn S&M. What is wrong with you women? Why does the idea of being subjugated appeal to you? Oh, well. I'll never get it.

Here's Chilpequin - 22 Miles on Wattpad. The great illustration is by Holly Eddy as it appeared in Lorelei Signal many eons ago.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Another Lorrie Struiff Book Hits the Market

Now out in ebook at Amazon, B&N Nook, and Kobo, the print book is in the work and soon to be available various places. Okay, I'm slightly bragging since I browbeat Lorrie into a final cover for "The Call on the Dead Club." I think it's pretty cool. Here's the skinny.

The Call on the Dead Club

A lightning blast struck poor Winnie Krapski when she tried to protect her new perm from the rain by hugging a cherry tree in her yard. Yep, the strike split the tree in half and subjected Winnie to a near-death experience.

When she woke and discovered she had a rare talent, she wanted it to go away--fast. Winnie could now see and talk to the ghost of the person laid out in a casket in a funeral parlor.

Along came Fat Phil Phillips and recruited Winnie into the Call on the Dead Club, a secret organization devoted to granting the last wish of the dead person so they could truly rest in peace. And the wish had to be completed before the casket was closed and the ghostie moved on to the next plane.

Winnie joined the group against her better judgment and, oh boy, the fun starts with her many adventures.

Secrets abound. Bullets fly.

Yep, it's Winnie granting a dead person's last request.






Friday, July 11, 2014

A Conversation Between Warlocks (Uh, Witches)

Two magic wielders nearly a world apart recently got together over a root beer and had a conversation about their different types of magic. The following interchange was recorded and being shared with readers below.

(Note: Freebies available for the asking. Instructions at the end of this post)

Rune: Well, we’re witches, as Tex would agree. Right, Tex?

Tex: Um, yeah. But let’s use our indoor voices, okay? I’d rather this not go on my permanent record. I’m just an ordinary kid trying to survive high school.

Rune: So were you born a witch like I was or did you pick up some magic along the way?

Tex: How did you hear about me again? Yeah, I’ve learned a few spells thanks to my mentor, Mickey. Wish I knew more so I could turn my high school bullies into toads.

Rune: You’re going to make me guess, huh? Well, I’d say.... Cool, you’re a halfling. So am I! But my other half is vampire. Which sucks! Yeah, yeah, I use that joke way too much.

Tex: Okay, Rune, you’re kinda’ freakin’ me out here, although it’s a pretty good joke. Do I need to rub garlic on my neck or something? You know, “halfling” smacks of “Tolkien-ism.” But, yeah, my mom was a witch so I inherited this pain-in-the-butt curse. Unlucky, that’s me.

Rune: You grew up in Kansas? That’s too funny. This isn’t Kansas anymore and all that Wizard of Oz stuff. How the heck do you learn anything about magic in Kansas?

Tex: Sigh. The Kansas jokes never grow old. Except…yeah. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit Kansas sorta’ sucks, but again, it’s not like I chose my birth-place. Besides, Kansas is the center of a country-wide pentagram, the home of magic.

Rune: We have a school on Galdorheim. We witches are born with witch power, but we have to go to school to learn how to use it. We pretty much go with the basics. Runes are words of power. You can direct a rune or set of several runes together and send them out to do whatever you want. We use wands sometimes to help the spell go in the right direction. Once we get good at it, we can say or even think the spell words and they’ll work. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

Tex: Now you’re making me feel like a slacker. Basically I use magic to keep alive. And find out who the murderers are at my high school. Seems like there’s a ton of ‘em. The most practice I get? Running from bullies and in and out of trouble.

Rune: I’m sorry about your dad, by the way. Maybe you guys could come to Galdorheim some time. We have a terrific healing practitioner, Glinda. She can fix just about anything. Maybe she could fix your dad. I don’t know about mutltiple...what was that again?

Tex: Multiple Sclerosis. Thanks for the offer, Rune, but Dad would never go for it. He’s about as stubborn as a mule, especially if witchcraft is involved. Not his favorite topic. Anyway…what’s life like in Galdorheim? Do you guys have to suffer through dodge-ball and sadistic gym teachers like we do?

Rune (laughs): No, nothing like that, but bullies live everywhere. My sister, Kat, was tortured by a stuck-up witch named Merry. One time, that b-itch (like my sister used to say) almost slapped a humongous spell on my sister. At school! Lucky for Kat, I was there to stop Merry before she could finish it. Then there’s the Wolf Pack. My friends joined the pack, but I didn’t dare since I’m already half vampire. Can you imagine a combination wolf-vampire? Even I shudder to think about it.

Tex: Actually, it sounds kinda’ cool. Speaking of all things weird, I’m a big horror film fan. How close do the flicks get to portraying vampires? You like old-school Lugosi or new-style sparkly dudes?

Rune: Sparkly? Oh, I know the one you mean. That’s just ridiculous. I have watched my share of old-school, as you call them, vamp movies. Personally, though, I’m more a science fiction fan. I watched Star Wars (the good ones) about a zillion times. Of course, we don’t get many new movies above the Arctic Circle. That’s where Galdorheim Island is. We have a magical environment dome over the place where we live, but most of the island is a glacier.

Tex: May the Force be with you. Hey, I’ve seen a picture of your sister, Kat. She’s kinda’ cute (but, gah, don’t you dare tell my girlfriend, Olivia, I said that). Sorry, sorry, sorry…blame it on witchcraft.

Rune: Gah, for sure. I wouldn’t tell her she looks hot. That’s not a very brotherly thing to say. But she is. Problem for her on Galdorheim she hates all the boys. Mostly because of the Wolf Pack thing. She was not a happy witch when they caught her in a dark alley. They didn’t hurt her, but scared the snot out of her. So, she hates all those guys. I guess that’s why she took up with Andy. He was a troll when they met, but it turns out he was really a human after all.

Tex: She’s dating a troll? Think she’s slumming, but it takes all kinds, I guess. You got a girlfriend? Maybe we could, like, double-date or something some time as long as you promise to keep your fangs to yourself. Um, do you have fangs?

Rune (exposing fangs): Yeah, but I don’t show them off much. I did have a girlfriend named Nadia, but I haven’t seen her for a long time. Ever since that thing with Glaistig in Scotland, I’m kind of staying away from women now. Nadia was nice, though. She was a Sami, a Siberian tribe of hunters, just like Andy turned out to be. Kat is half Sami herself. I know, I know. It’s complicated. When did being a teenager be anything BUT complicated?

Tex: Tell me about it. I’m so close to graduating high school, I can taste it. If I survive. (And, really…can you put the fangs away?) How about you? What do you want to do? I’m still kinda’ hangin’ in the wind, hoping to avoid a life in fast food.

Rune: I’m close to graduation myself. My mom wants me to go hang with my father for awhile. He’s a full vampire and lives in a dingy castle in Transylvania. Talk about a stereotype! I suppose I should get to know him. After all, he’s still my dad.

Tex: So, since we’re buds, I get a pass from any fangy activity in the future, right?

From what I understand, you guys travel around the world a lot. Way too much excitement for me. In fact, I wish life would settle down, but it seems I’m a supernatural trouble magnet. Yes, all the way in Kansas. You like adventure?

Rune: Duh. Adventure is my middle name. That’s one of the fun things about my sis. Wherever she goes, she manages to get into some kind of trouble. She does have entertainment value even if she is my sister. If it weren’t for my help, she’d have been eaten by a polar bear or something long ago.

Tex: A polar bear?

Rune: Yeah, its’ a long story. Then there was that forest elemental, and Cailleach the winter goddess, and...well there’s a lot going on. There are books about all the stuff she got into. Three of them. The whole lot is called The Witches of Galdorheim series. Some woman in Oregon wrote about it all. I have no idea where she found out what happened. Magic, I guess.

Tex: Oregon? And you’re making fun of Kansas?

Rune: Oh, whatever, Dorothy. I don’t live there, just my biographer. Hey, speaking of that, the whole series is being put into audio format. The latest, to my great embarrassment, is a story about a...let’s say mishap I had with magic when I was much, much younger. It’s titled “Spellslinger,” ‛cause that’s what I was trying to do—sling a spell.

Well, Tex, would you like to put in a final word?

Tex: Stay in school, drink milk, and try to survive. It’s a rough world (well, “worlds”) out there.

* * *

The Witches of Galdorheim Series are available in ebook and print on Amazon, and audio books are available for “Bad Spelling” and “Spellslinger.”
Is animal whispering a magical talent? Find out in the adventures of Katrina the teen witch (and her brother, Rune, who does all the heavy lifting).


All of the Witches of Galdorheim books in one volume: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JQQQCAQ
Or the books are available individually.


* * *



And Amazon:
Elspeth, the Living Dead Girl: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LBG4VKM
Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E5RWBGA
Tex and the God Squad: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H9HPIA4
And my adult horror tale, Neighborhood Watch: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA6ZTIO

Leave a comment about either Tex or Rune (or the state of the world) and you could win a free audio book of either “Bad Spelling” or “Spellslinger.” If you're more a reader than a listener, ebook of any format will be substituted. Just say Ebook or Audio in your comment.

Leave a comment indicating you're into ebooks, and Stu West might select you for a free ebook of any format of one of his Tex the Witch Boy books.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

HUGE Discount on Bad Spelling Audio

Wow, what a deal! BAD SPELLING is a $14.95 audio book. Yeah, kind of expensive. But for some unknown limited time it's only $1.99 on Amazon and Audible.com. That's way inexpensive for a 5 hour audio book.

CLICK TO AMAZON which will put you through to AUDIBLE.COM or go straight to AUDIBLE.COM.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Spellslinger Audio - Free to Listen on SoundCloud

My alpha, beta, kappa, and gamma readers (not to mention you, the omegas) clamored for another book in the series that will star Katrina's little brother, Rune. You won't have to wait to get a Rune short story in ebook, print, and audio. "Spellslinger" is all about Rune and his own problems: learning magic and keeping his vampire side at bay.

Coming soon to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Listen free from your computer. Buy (or good chance to win) through Audible.com so you can take it on the road.

PLEASE CLICK THE HEART BUTTON ON THE WHOLE PLAYLIST!!!! Thank you.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Do You Hear Me Now?

World premiere of the retail audio sample from the soon-to-be released audio book, Spellslinger. Enjoy your 4th of July! Don't be put off by the thumbnail. Why YouTube didn't allow me to use the book's cover, I have no clue. It's much nice than the tumbleweed.


Here's the cover.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Commenting on Posts with G+

I've attached this blog to Google+. This means a couple of things:

My posts automatically connect to my Google+ page. This is a good thing since I don't have to do it all every time a new post appears. This is handy, especially, when I've scheduled posts in advance. This also means you can comment on the post in Google+ (if you roll that way) and it will appear over here on the blog.

If you want to leave a comment, you'll have to have a Google+ profile. Seems like most everybody does, but if you don't, you'll be prompted to add one. I'm sorry. This also ticks me off, but it is what it is.

The 0 Comment link at the bottom of the post is where you'll click to add a comment. Unfortunately Google has not yet fixed the comment counter. There may be comments even if that counter is still 0. Again, a pain in the butt.

I searched for a way to fix this myself, but it can only be done by changing several sections of the blog templates underlying HTML code. If you understood that sentence, you know as much as I do. I tried the directions and all I got were error messages. Considering there are a couple thousand lines of code, I didn't feel like screwing around with it was a good idea. I have better things to do.

So, PLEASE, click that 0 Comment beneath the posts to open up the comment section. It does work. You'll be able to see what others have written.

I hope the issues will be resolved by Google, but I'm not holding my breath. I just have too much invested in this blog to even think about switching to Wordpress or some other blogging system.

Here's the picture of the day. This is the audio book cover for Spellslinger. It'll be a promo item since it's a prequel short story to the Witches of Galdorheim series. If you've been reading my blog, you already know that the first book, Bad Spelling, is complete and for sale at Amazon and audible.com. It'll also be on iTunes, but they take their own sweet time about it.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Conda Douglas Whips Up a Fairy War

A GIVEAWAY, A STORY, A RECIPE AND A FREE COOKBOOK TODAY, ALL FROM THE MALL FAIRIES SERIES!



Thank you, Marva, for having me on your blog! The second in my Mall Fairies trilogy, The Mall Fairies: War is just released and in honor of that I'm giving away an electronic copy (all formats) of either the first title, The Mall Fairies: Exile or the second title, The Mall Fairies: War (in case you've read the first one) to some lucky commenter. All you need to do is comment to be entered!

Wait, there's more, scroll down past the descriptions for a short story and recipe from the new edition of The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook. The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook is free today only here:

In The Mall Fairies: Exile Swoop the fairy lives in the attic of a shopping mall and loves it. She’s terrified of Outside, where fairies can die. But when Swoop finds her best friend One Wing in the company of a human, she determines she’ll do anything to save him from being exiled Outside.

The Mall Fairies: War: Once, the fairies lived hidden, safe in the attic of a shopping mall. No longer. Now the fairies must become warriors to get a necessary potion from the troll-like pixies. Now teenage fairy Swoop must discover a way to save her fairy clan from death. Can she stop a war?



(Conda's note: this story is about the pixies that are introduced in my new release, the second in my Mall Fairies' trilogy, The Mall Fairies: War. Enjoy meeting Flit and the rest of the pixies!)

FLIT AND THE PUMPKIN BREAD AND BARS AND...

"What, in the Big Digger's name, are we going to do with an entire pumpkin?" Cheer, the leader of the pixie clan glared at Flit. Cheer sat straight on her rock—okay, throne, as she insisted it be called—and leaned forward.

Flit fingered the hem of her mouse skin cloak. She'd thought that Cheer would be pleased with what Flit and her friends had managed to find tucked away in a human's garden and haul home. There were times when she hated her part time job of scavenger—Dumpster diver—provider of foodstuffs for the pixie clan. She gestured at the human's fist-sized pumpkin. "It's a tiny pumpkin."

"For human's maybe, not for five-inch-tall pixies. For pixies, it's big enough for all of us to live on for a week."

Flit nodded. "Exactly."

Cheer slumped on her rock. "My fault for sending a healer out instead of a hunter."

"Pumpkin is very good for you," Flit the healer said.

Cheer sighed. "Right, but I'm sending all the complaints your way."

… Three days later …

"Roast pumpkin, pumpkin soup, cold pumpkin soup—no more!" Digger, Flit's best friend, stood in front of a large group of angry pixies confronting Flit.

"But—" Flit looked over at the pile of cooked pumpkin, the rather large pile of remaining cooked pumpkin.
Digger saw her looking. "Yeah, I hate to waste food too, especially food I helped you drag home and then cook, but we're making an exception this time." The other pixies nodded in agreement.

"But—" Flit cast her gaze around as she tried to think of a way to use up the pumpkin—her gaze fell on the stack of honeycomb freshly stolen from a hive. Aha.

"What if we had it for dessert instead?" Flit asked.

"Dessert?"

"You know, make up some pumpkin bread or bars with acorn flour and the honey—"

"Yeah, yeah, that sounds—delicious," Digger said. The other pixies nodded again.

"And it's healthy too," Flit had to add.

PUMPKIN BARS

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves (can be omitted, but why?)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large can (15oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt & soda) and set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients, gradually. Mix well.

Spread batter in a greased 15x10x1 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.

For a richer dessert, frost with one of Grandma MacDougall's frostings (recipes follows Molasses Cake recipe in The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook).

Conda grew up in the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho, in her folk’s funky art gallery. She’s traveled the world and her own tiny office, writing all the while. She delights in writing her popular tween fantasy Mall Fairies series and getting fairy Swoop, pixie Flit, and their human companion, Grace, into magical and fantastical trouble. The inspiration for her Mall Fairies came from the sparrows living in the shopping mall Towne Square Mall in Boise, Idaho. Next up, trouble with trolls in the last of the trilogy: The Mall Fairies: Destiny.

When not rescuing fairies from humans, cats and themselves, Conda works on the next title in her Starke Dead creative woman mystery series with amateur detective and jeweler Dora Starke. The more Dora discovers cursed jewelry, her aunt digging graves, and a rampant poisoner, the more fun Conda has—although sometimes Dora complains about her plight!

For more about Conda visit: Conda's Creative Center,  http://condascreativecenter.blogspot.com, for hints, tips and secrets for creative people.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gypsy Crystal by Lorrie Struiff

Lorrie's police procedural paranormal love story with gypsies is now available under her own imprint in ebook format on Amazon. Print is in the works. I'm pleased she asked me to help out with the cover. Between the two of us, I think we came up with a dandy one.


Blurb:

Everyone has secrets.

Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret, a crystal amulet from her Roma bloodline that allows her to see the last image a victim had seen in their eyes before they died. Now, a ritual killer is terrorizing her town and the crystal’s magic has suddenly stopped doing its job.

FBI agent, Matt Boulet, is sent to lead the task force and gives the group strange orders. Worse, Rita senses he is holding back a deep, dark secret about the killer.

When she seeks her seer mother’s advice, she learns another secret about their clan that she finds impossible to swallow.

Rita swims through a whirlpool of confusion as the investigation continues. Can Rita deny the lore of the ancients? Can she deny her growing feelings for Matt Boulet?

Excerpt:

Before Rita had time to get her fingers on the gun, the man had shot out of the door, yanked her forward, and somehow shoved her headfirst onto the front seat. She skidded over the vinyl, her nose and cheek hitting hard, blocking her breath for a moment. Rita yelled; the door slammed shut. She scrambled to sit upright, gagging when she inhaled the dank, moldy scent of the interior. A metal object, hanging from the roof above the mirror, clunked heavy against her head. She swallowed the acrid taste in her throat.

The driver’s door opened and the man slipped inside. One corner of her mind wondered how he could have possibly run around the front of the van so fast. Rita rubbed her bruised temple and twisted the door handle. It was stuck. She rammed her shoulder into the door. It didn’t budge. The window was up. Her purse with the gun lay on the sidewalk. She worked the lock button and slammed into the door again. The impact sent shock waves down her arm to her fingertips. The van was rigged.

Rita looked at the serial killer, her heart banging against her ribs, her breathing short and shallow. Tapping the mic with frantic fingers, all she could do was pray.

The man grinned.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crossing the Ice - Excerpt from Bad Spelling Audio

Since Salmon Hunter (the Orca) was instrumental in helping Kat and Rune cross the frozen Barents Sea, it's about time he had his say. First, Salmon will address the audience directly, then the wonderful Lisa Baarns will provide her own, unique audio version of events.

Salmon Speaks

Chchchchch skreak! That be hello in human people talk. My name be Salmon Hunter because I so good hunting the fish.

I never met a human person who could talk the orca talk. I talk that speech only to Katrina Witch in her head. She talks back to me and both of us understand the other. Only this one human witch girl. She says it's how she makes magic. That is good for me! I like Kat Witch and help her out.

I even save her life more than one time. She's a lucky Kat Witch to have me be her friend.

First time I save her from a mad whitetooth. Kat Witch says human people call him polar bear. Not nice! But orca is big, strong! Not afraid of the bear. When I hear Kat Witch in my head, I heard scared. I heard help me. Curious, me. I went to look and chased off the mean bear.

Funny thing the whitetooth awake. Should be sleeping this season. Too early to wake up.  I think some bad magic wake him up to kill Kat Witch. She says that's truth. A shaman, she says.

The others of my pod don't speak to Kat Witch. They be what human people call stuck up. Think they're too good to speak to her. I think it best thing ever! It like getting a new toy. Orcas love to play. Spend most of time hunting, but playing is important too.

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BAD SPELLING
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
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Here's the part in the book where I save Kat Witch from drowning. I don't speak here, but just be hero.

Excerpt in Text (listen to the audio book following)

She chatted happily with the orca when several more huge black and white heads popped up through the gaps in the ice. Rune and Kat had to step back again as the ice splintered with sharp cracking sounds.

“Back up, Kat, back up,” Rune said. For the first time in her life, Kat heard fear in Rune’s voice.

“You don’t need to be afraid.”

“I’m not. At least, I’m not afraid of the whales—”

“Orcas.”

“Orcas, then. It’s the ice breaking up. We could get dumped in the water.”

As if saying it made it true, the ice split once more. The crack exposing the frigid sea raced toward Rune and Kat. Before they could get traction to run, the ice floe created by the splintering tipped up and both of them fell into the water.

Kat’s parka filled with the icy water, and she sank. The sudden, intense cold knocked the breath out of her. She tried to claw her way back to the surface, but the weight of the parka kept dragging her down. Looking up, she could see Rune above her, thrashing toward the air. Blackness clouded the edges of her vision, and her struggles weakened.

Strangely, Kat felt warm. This is nice, she thought. Her arms floated out from her sides as she sank deeper.
Something big and black came up under Kat, and she rose up through the frigid water. She reached out with one hand and grasped a rubbery fin with all the strength she had left. The orca pushed her to the surface and shoved her out of the water. She landed face first on the ice.

Click here to listen to the excerpt on SoundCloud or use the embedded player below.