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.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Xīnnián kuàilè! Predictions for the Year of the Rooster

I like to mention Chinese New Year (January 28th) because...well, why not? For you Roosters out there, a special cockadoodle-do to you!

I found an Chinese Astrology site and thought it'd be fun to share some of the predictions for the coming year.

For the full article, click to Chinese Horoscope 2017.

With Chinese New Year 2017 approaching it’s again time to know the 2017 Chinese Zodiac Predictions. Get an insight on what the Chinese New Year has in store from professional developments to all the general activities of your life with our chinese zodiac 2017. So whether you are planning a holiday, expecting a long awaited raise or even a good turn to your love life we have the answers to it all.
The Year of the Rooster will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. This year, impressions count. You’ll want to look your best and be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business. Stick to practical and well-proven paths to ensure success, rather than risky ventures.
Remember: In a Rooster Year, all of the Chinese animals can reap great rewards by tapping into Rooster traits. Loyalty, commitment, hard work, family values, and top-notch appearances are just some of the characteristics that will be rewarded this year. Read on to see what YOU can expect over the next 12 months – “as the Rooster crows!”
For the full article, click to Chinese Horoscope 2017.
Copyright 2017 AstrologyClub.org
Rooster Horoscope 2017 Overview
The oriental Taoist sign of the Rooster is also known as Hen or Cock. This is your year. You understand the flow of the energy this year. You’ll know when to wait, when to watch, when to act, and when to rest. Your timing will be impeccable. If you arrive late to the party, it was meant to be. If you forgot something, you will find you didn’t actually need it.
The Rooster Horoscope 2017 predicts a time for rebirth, transformation and growth for Rooster zodiac sign, as Rooster benefits from the energy of her own year and begins a new twelve-year life cycle. Rooster must still work hard, but rewards abound in 2017, affairs are under control, order reigns, and Rooster rises in glory. Bravely pursue all new opportunities, dear Rooster. 2017 is a year to renew and restore; replace old furnishing and enjoy a new wardrobe – new plumage.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Name Your Own Price on Smashwords

For the name your own price deal I've been running on Smashwords to encourage readers to give my books a try. Since the option (set price) is only available at Smashwords, but not any of the retailers who distribute my books, it's the best price in the world. Pay anywhere from $0.00 to $2.99 for ALL books retail priced at $2.99. Even the 3-volume Witches of Galdorheim box set is free and it costs $5.99!

I could change the prices anytime. So, get yourself over to Smashwords and rob me blind. Of course, if you WANT to pay something ($0.99 recommended), feel free. I could use the lift in my spirits to have someone value my hard work. Hey, all of you out there whose books I've reviewed, how about return the favor. I appreciate the reviews. It's not money, but it's something. Please review on Goodreads and Amazon (if they let you). Thanks.

Here's the Name Your Own Price book list. Retail priced at $2.99 or less.

The Witches of Galdorheim Box Set (regular $5.99)

The Witches of Galdorheim individual book series:
   Bad Spelling
   Midnight Oil
   Scotch Broom
   Spellslinger

The Tales of Abu Nuwas Series 
  Faizah's Destiny
  Setara's Genie

Science Fiction
  Ultimate Duty
  First Duty (shorter, PG-rated version of Ultimate Duty)

Short Story Collections
  Tales of a Texas Boy - Illustrated
  Mixed Bag Short Story Collection
  Mixed Bag II: Supersized Collection

Mystery/Adventure
 Missing, Assumed Dead
 Eagle Quest

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Witches of Galdorheim Visit New Zealand

In an exchange program, the Witches of Galdorheim cast and crew are visiting

Sue is a prolific author of multiple series, mostly for middle-grade and young adult fantasy readers. Right now, you can get a free ebook of Reva's Quest on Amazon. This was the first of Sue's books I read. It made me want to read more, which I have enjoyed over the years.

Here's where to get "Reva's Quest" free.

One of her more recent series is the four-book "Cloud Kingdom." Very worth checking out. Here's a link to the FREE first book in the series.  Aren't these beautiful covers?


Bio: Sue grew up in Devon, England and emigrated to New Zealand with her family.Sue and her husband live at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

Her interests include writing, reading, genealogy and aqua jogging.

Sue’s first romance novel was released in May 2007, quickly followed by a fantasy trilogy, more romance books, young adult and middle grade novels.

Her aim is to write a full length epic fantasy novel. The outline is complete, and Sue hopes to finish the first draft by the end of 2017.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Runes: Magic or Graffiti?

If you're familiar with my series, "The Witches of Galdorheim," you'll know that ancient runic is the basis for spell casting in my fantasy island. One of the main character is named Rune. Why not? It's a good very-old-fashioned Nordic moniker. Also, in the books, I use a couple of actual spells cast in Old Norse runes. The complete series is available at Smashwords. You set the price. Anywhere between free and $5.99 (the complete series) at your discretion. If you tipped me with 99 cents or so, I'd be most grateful. Find the entire series on Smashwords.

Now, to the topic at hand. Runes are a written language, but it's kind of like everybody got to make it up partially as the wrote whatever. The alphabet, called Futhark, is a cross between letters and a single graphic standing for an entire word. For example, fehu means cattle, but it can be used in the context "Einar is fehu." which would make fehu mean wealthy. Check out the entire alphabet at the Rune Meanings site.

It appears that the Norse also used various codes. Passing along secret messages about the next raid? But what can you make of the code which reads "Kiss me?" Um, maybe the Norse were just having some fun with language. Oh, those barbarians! Not only could they read and write with runes, they could also add playful coded messages.

I didn't need a coded message to find this fascinating article about Rune codes. I found it in the G+ Vikings Mythology group. Now that I know the base site, I'll get to explore more of the science behind the myths.

Read Mysterious code in Viking runes is cracked on the Nordic Science website.

Can you figure out the jötunvillur code on this piece of wood? Hint: I mentioned the interpretation above.


If you read runes, maybe you can parse the code from this piece written in both runes and code. The author is a bit of a braggart. Since it's a bit difficult to even see the markings, I'll help you out. It says, "These runes were carved by the most rune-literate man west of the sea."



Saturday, January 07, 2017

7 Come 11

That's either something to do with Craps (the game) or a mini-market for late night beer runs or the dates my short story sampler, "Fish Story," will be free for the taking on Amazon.


I've had a few short stories published as shorts. I put some of them into a collection and titled it "Mixed Bag." The three stories in the sampler are all from that collection. Some time later, I added some more of my shorts, both published and self-published, into a larger collection which I called "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized."

The sampler is free this week (January 7th through 11th) on Amazon. Go get a copy if you wish.

Here's an insider secret just for those of you who read this blog. Both "Mixed Bag" and "Mixed Bag II" are also free on Smashwords. Yes, they have prices attached to them 99 cents and $1.49), but both collections are also set to Set Your Own Price, which includes free if you want. Note that the MMII collection has some adult stories.

So, go get whichever or all of the collections from these links:

Fish Story: A Three Story Sampler free on Amazon PG

Mixed Bag on Smashwords in all ebook formats PG

Mixed Bag 2: Supersized on Smashwords in all ebook formats PG-13



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Maybe 2017 Will Be Better?

Have a fun and safe New Year's Eve. 
  • Don't drink and drive. 
  • Don't drink and have sex with strangers. 
  • Don't drink and set yourself on fire. 
  • Don't drink and get into political arguments with others who have also been drinking. Matter of fact, don't do this sober either.
  • Don't drink and challenge your buddies to target practice with your new semi-auto in the backyard. 
Other than that, have a great time! 

I hope 2017 is going to be YOUR biggest, best year ever. It sure as hell couldn't be any worse than 2016.