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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Coupons for #Free Audio Books

So, when an audio book is released, Audible.com gives the author a bunch of coupons which they can give to whoever they decide.

Sometimes, it by a contest or just a "please, may I have one" or holding one or more of my kids hostage. The last would be a little difficult since they're both grown men. Their respective wives may also object. I can guarantee your that the two Mrs. Dasefs married to my sons will kick your ass from here to next Sunday. Also, the two Ms. Dasefs (my granddaughters) could also kick your ass and enjoy doing it.

So, let's make it the easiest way. Just write a comment or reply on this blog or where it is referenced (Facebook, G+, and Twitter) which says, "Please, may I have one." Easy, right?

So, get to commenting, replying, or even emailing me. I've got seven audio books from which to choose and a big bunch of coupons waiting to be claimed.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Master Wafai

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.

The Village Magician
The four teen adventurers in “Faizah’s Destiny” are all students of the village magician, who also serves as teacher for the children who have some time to expend on schooling. Master Wafai is an all-round teacher, covering the academic topics such as mathematics and writing. As a magician with minor skills, he also loves to impart his knowledge of magical beasts that roam the earth.

Master Wafai wants more than anything to meet the elusive, all-knowing Simurgh. He feels it’s very important for his students to learn about magic, even though there is very little to be found around their tiny village. Of the Simurgh, he says:

“The Simurgh is a tutelary creature.” Wafai looked meaningfully at Bahaar’s tablet. The boy quickly applied chalk to good use. Wafai continued. “It is so old, according to legend, it has seen the world destroyed three times over.” Wafai folded his long fingers around the chalk, holding his hands against his chest. “Many believe it has learned so much that it possesses the knowledge of all the ages―a great teacher and a guardian. The Simurgh simply are. In the past for all of eternity and in the future for all of eternity.”

One day, Master Wafai isn’t at his little school. His four pupils are puzzled and concerned. Why is their teacher gone without leaving word? A possible answer is found on a page of the Magicalis Bestialis. The book was left open to the text describing the Simurgh.

Faizah, a farmer’s daughter and Wafai’s favorite pupil, knows how much the Master loves the Simurgh, she immediately believes the open page is a sign that she and the boys who are also students must seach for the home of the Simurgh.

The boys scoff at the silly idea, but agree to searching the nearby mountains for signs of Wafai’s whereabouts. They only decide to go on the search when they find the adults in the village are content to send word to the Sultan and have troops sent to search for the missing teacher.

Excerpt:

Master Wafai sat at the small table that served him for both dining and desk. One of his prized books, the Magicalis Bestialis lay on the table before him, open to the section on the Simurgh. If only they were real. Wafai sighed. His advancing years never dimmed the hope that someday he would know for certain such magical beasts truly existed.

The stories he had heard of the flying, fire-breathing horse stabled in the Sultan’s palace, helped to keep that hope alive. Still, he longed to meet such a creature, to see it with his own eyes.

He sighed again and stood. He moved into the bare kitchen and carried a bowl of fruit back to the table. In this tiny village, there was not much chance of seeing anything magical. Wafai had long ago accepted the fact he would never be a great or powerful mage. A competent magician in an average sort of way, he could cure most common ailments, cast a spell to clear the air after a sandstorm, find lost livestock, and sometimes water. He could even generate a few small curses, though he seldom chose to do so.

Peeling an orange, he stared, unseeing, at his whitewashed walls, smudged with ochre chalk. His students provided the greatest joy in his life. A mediocre magician though he might be, Wafai was a born teacher. His pupils made jokes about him ‘putting on his teaching voice,’ but when he did, they listened. Although Wafai had always longed to meet a magical creature or two, what he really wanted was for one or more of his students to have the opportunities he had missed.

He thought about his three students and wondered about the new boy. Would any of them become adept? Would any of them ever meet a flying horse, a demon, or a Djinn? Most of the village children came to his school only until they were eight or nine, and then family duties called them away.

Harib, the son of a rich merchant, was the only one free to do as he pleased. He attended school to be with his friends. Left mostly to his own devices when his mother died, Harib had come to the school out of curiosity and boredom. He met Faizah and Bahaar there, and the three of them soon formed a close friendship. School was easy for Faizah and Harib, however Bahaar struggled a bit. They had all mastered the basics of reading and arithmetic and were now engrossed in learning what they could of the magical arts.

Wafai looked down at the Magicalis Bestialis and picked up an orange pip he had dropped. He closed the book and put it aside.

* * *
THE TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

THE TALES OF ABU NUWAS: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What's a Story Without a Camel?

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.
THE CAMEL is an extremely minor character in the book, "Setara's Genie." It's just a bit part, so the poor guy doesn't even have a name.

The camel is known as the ship of the desert and is one of the most common draft animals in the middle east. A 1001 Arabian Nights style story like Setara's Genie must have a camel somewhere in the mix.

In one chapter, Setara is attempting to learn to ride a camel. She doesn't see the purpose since she had a perfectly wonderful horse, Nasreen.

We looking in from the outside know something Setara doesn't. A tradition of the Sultan of Semidor (the area in which Setara lives) says young girls coming to a marriageable age (sixteen) ride into the city on the back of a pure white camel. Sort of a Debutante Coming Out Party.

Setara doesn't add two plus two and realize that the ceremonial arrival marks her as a woman ready to be wed to some merchant or even the Sultan's son (who's in the market for a bride).

The spice girl, Najda, who is the listener to Abu Nuwas's tales about Setara, is in the same predicament. She's on the verge of a forced marriage to an old man. As a fourth wife, she knows she will not be treated very well by wives 1, 2, and 3. But she's stuck in a society which gives her no choice on her potential bridegroom.

This all comes back to the camel Setara must ride the camel to display herself as a possible member of some man's harem.

Excerpt

Setara screamed and flung herself from the saddle. “Ow! Ow! Stop! Whoa! Stop!” She dropped six feet, right on her tailbone, screamed again, and burst into tears. Setara’s faithful companion, Sheik, ran circles around her, alternately barking at the camel and whining at his mistress.

Dukak, the camel driver, rushed over and grabbed the dromedary’s reins. He tapped the big camel’s knee, and the beast obligingly folded its long legs. On his knees, the camel turned his head to face the crying girl. He drew his head back then snaked it forward, spitting a huge wad of cud between Setara’s shoulder blades.

Mistress, you should wait for the camel to kneel. You fell from so high, no wonder you are hurt.” The camel driver pulled out a handkerchief and plucked the wad from her back.

Setara stopped crying and struggled to her feet. Dukak offered his hand, but she ignored him. She glared at the camel, which continued chewing his cud. “He stinks, too!”

Are you injured?” Dukak’s brow furrowed with concern.

Not much,” Setara said, rubbing her abused backside. “A horse is a much finer means of transportation, Dukak. I fail to see why I need to learn to ride a camel. They sway and bounce around too much and that saddle! Why is it made of wood, not padded leather?"

Dukak ignored her question and waved his hands as if fending her off. “It’s expected, Mistress Setara. Women must enter the sultan’s palace grounds on the back of a pure white camel. So it is written, and so it shall be.” Dukak spoke as if this explained it all.

* * *
TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.

As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Twisted History

SETARA'S GENIE ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF JULY 
Amazon Kindle or Smashwords (EPUB, PDF, MOBI)

The Kazikli Bey

Most of you have heard of Vlad the Impaler, right? Count Dracul, the model for Dracula? Well, Kazikli Bey is the middle-eastern translation for something like “The Impaler Prince.” His popular last name, Dracul (there are many spellings) came from him signing up to a Hungarian chivalric group, the Order of the Dragon. Vlad’s father was also a Dragon member and the Dracula name is a title.  Vlad’s family name was Basarab. I’ve seen a couple of horror works where the authors did enough research to hone in on the family name, revealing only later that the evil monster is none other than Dracula.

The real Vlad was a nasty character. He directed his wrath against the Ottoman Empire for the most part. His habit of impaling his enemies on stakes (not only heads, but sometimes entire bodies) earned him the title of The Impaler Prince. When Vlad was still a child, his father was ousted from his own throne of Wallachia. Vlad the elder made a deal with the Ottomans to get back at his fellow countrymen. To secure ties to the Ottomans, he sent his two sons as hostages. The elder son, Vlad Junior (Mr. Impaler), was defiant toward the Sultan and was beaten quite often. On the other hand, the younger son, Radu, ingratiated himself to Sultan Mehmed II and even converted to Islam. He was given the title Bey and served Mehmed II leading the Janissaries (think Special Forces). Vlad Jr. came to hate the Ottomans for his treatment and waged a long and bloody battle with them. His nasty habit of impaling enemies earned him the title, Impaler Prince.

In “Setara’s Genie,” I thought that giving ol’ Vlad a different face would be a nice twist. What if Vlad didn’t really impale anybody? What if he was trying to gain peace between the rampaging warlords that messed up Romania? It’s all in the PR. If he puts himself out as the baddest mother in the valley, wouldn’t you think it a bad idea to cross him? Considering that the real life Vlad spent his youth with the Ottomans, learned Turkish, and studied the Quran, he might have actually had some respect for his former captors. What if he did perpetuate a reputation of badassery just to keep the peace?

In my book, Setara tries to go off on a cruise ship and ends up in a slave market. Lucky for her, an ancient crone pretty much forces her to buy a pendant. It’s Kismet (another middle-eastern concept)!   Basit is captured in a bottle of wine, and Setara can’t get him out of the bottle of djinn. She’s hauled off to the slave market, while her genie gets pickled.

The Kazikli Bey happens to be in the market for slaves and, noticing that Setara is wearing the locket stolen from his mother, he purchases her. He turns out to be a really nice guy, releasing Setara from bondage and ensuring her safe journey homeward with Basit, who is out of the bottle, but afflicted with one monster of a hangover.

Excerpt

“I have this girl up for sale. If she catches the eye of the Kazikli Bey, then she should fetch a good price. Keep her well-shackled. She tried to run away.”

The captain grabbed the front of Setara’s tunic and yanked the top lacings loose. She twisted away. “Stop it!” Her face reddened when the pirate exposed more of her chest than was proper for an unmarried girl her age.

The trader took the chain on her shackles and pulled her behind the platform. Many men, women, and children sat or stood with chains attached to wooden columns by iron rings. A boy of only six or seven hugged a woman’s side, crying loudly. She soothed him, but it didn’t help. One of the trader’s helpers jerked the boy away from the woman. She tried to hold him, but the man dragged the child away from her.

Setara looked around, trying to think of something she could do, but calling out for help was useless. Soon, they led her up to the stage. The auctioneer looked her over and grabbed her jaw to pull her mouth open. She struggled to turn away.

“Good teeth. Not a bad body. How old are you, girl? Fifteen, sixteen?”

Setara jerked her head away from his filthy hands. “None of your business, you piece of camel dung.”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” He shoved her to the center of the stage and began the auction.

“Who will give me one hundred shekels? She’s a strong, healthy girl. Good for household or fields.” He winked at the crowd and added, “Maybe your harem is in need of some fresh blood.”

Setara’s face burned with humiliation. She looked out at the crowd of men, for the crowd was entirely male. No self-respecting woman would come to a slave auction. The audience laughed and nudged each other’s ribs. Setara felt sick. She wondered if it would put them off if she threw up on the auctioneer’s sandals.

The Kazikli Bey looked at her intently. He rose from his throne and walked up to the stage. “Bend down, girl.”

“I will not. Keep your slimy hands away from me!”

The auctioneer pushed her roughly to the front of the stage and forced her to lean over toward the man. He reached up, and Setara closed her eyes, afraid of what would happen next. She felt a slight tug on the thong that held the amulet.

“Where did you get this?”

Setara opened her eyes and looked into the soft brown eyes of the Bey. She saw no menace there. Instead, she felt a strange attraction to him. In a flash, she realized this was the face she had seen in her vision.

“In Gamaal. I bought it from an old woman, a witch.”

“Ah, of course. Her name was Seralgo?”

“That was the name on the shop.”

The Kazikli Bey turned to the auctioneer. “She’s mine. Take her off the block.”

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Tradition of Story Telling

SETARA'S GENIE ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF JULY 

Storytellers: Scheherazade and Abu Nuwas

 © Mandana2000
at Deviant Art
Everyone knows about Scheherazade’s 1001 Arabian Nights. What you might not know is that the stories said to be originated by the King’s wife to keep her murderous husband from killing her are almost all derived from existing folklore and fairy tales.

The main folklore derivation is Scheherazade herself. The frame story of 1001 Arabian Nights is in itself a folk tale. Various stories were added or changed throughout the years. Modern western society likes the cleaned up Disney-style telling. Sir Richard Burton translated from the Persian in the 19th Century to produce a somewhat bawdier version of many stories. Sir Richard was a remarkable character himself, but I just couldn’t work him into the book. I recommend reading about him and also perusing his translations of various works (including the Kama Sutra). Wiki can provide additional details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Francis_Burton

Was Scheherazade a real person? Yes and no. Like Robin Hood, this storytelling queen is a legend herself and may be based on a real person. However, it’s not known for sure. Wiki has a pretty good write up on her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheherazade

Abu Nuwas, who I have used as my story teller, was a real writer/poet in the 8th Century. While my kindly story teller is a poor man who earns a meager living with his tales, the real Abu Nuwas was quite well off and considered to be Persia’s (Iran’s) most famous poet. His reputation wasn’t sterling, and he often found himself in legal trouble. Essentially, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut sometimes. The Encyclopedia Britannica is a good source of information on the real, and much wilder, Abu Nuwas. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/2288/Abu-Nuwas

A more detailed report is in Wiki, but is flagged as potentially unreliable. It does, however, jibe with other information I’ve read about Abu Nuwas.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Nuwas

In researching Persian and Arabic lore, I was struck by the concept of the frame story. This is the style of 1001 Arabian Nights. The story of Scheherazade provides a framework for the folkloric tales. I had originally written Setara’s adventures as individual short stories. The first two were published as chapbooks by Sam’s Dot Publishing, then as I added another five tales, all the stories were included in a single collection titled “The Seven Adventures of Cadida.” Once the book’s contract expired, I decided to rewrite the stories and include the frame story to make the whole thing flow more as a novel than a series of short stories.

The book was published by MuseItUp Publishing and is now available under my own name as “The Tales of Abu Nuwas: Setara’s Genie.”

Excerpt

“Oh, goodness. Look at how low the sun sinks. I’m afraid we’ll have to continue tomorrow.”

Najda made a sad face. “I know how you are. You’re just like Scheherazade leaving the story hanging to keep the sultan from killing her.”

“I have met the lady. She was quite clever that way.”

Najda’s eyes grew wide. “You’ve met Scheherazade? That’s fantastic. Where is she? What is she doing now? Does the sultan still love her?”

Abu Nuwas patted the air with his hands. “Calmly, calmly. That was many years ago. She was old; I was young. But, yes, the sultan still loved her to the moment of her death. His heart broke, and he died within days himself.” He shook his head sadly. “A tragic tale in and of itself, yet the sultana left the world with so many delightful tales.”

“She certainly did. A thousand and one stories. Do you know that many, effendi?”

“Of course!” Abu Nuwas put his hand to his chest and bowed his head. “I know every story. Did you know that she did not make them all up?”

“No! Really! But—”

“It’s true.” He winked at Najda. “It was how she told them that made them so special. I still seek to be as good a teller of tales as she.”

“And in that tradition, you’ll tell me to go home now and come back tomorrow. Is that right?” Najda heaved a deep sigh. “I should have learned that by now.”

Abu Nuwas smiled. “You’re an adept learner, my child. Go home and take care of your mother. I’ll see you on the morrow.”

Najda stood. “Of course.” She walked away until she was hidden within the crowds bustling through the marketplace.

Abu Nuwas pushed his old bones to a stand. He had to bide his time with this tale and hope he would hear from his friend soon.

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?


Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.

As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Setara Breaks Her Silence


FOR THE MONTH OF JULY SETARA'S GENIE IS ON SALE FOR ONLY 99 CENTS AT



I didn’t set out to be a hero. All I wanted was a little romance in my life, just the slightest bit of adventure. Was I seeking danger? Did I wish to consort with demons? Heavens, no! I will have to admit, though, the idea of being the future wife of a rich merchant was highly unappealing.

When the mountain raiders kidnapped me, I thought that I’d have neither adventure nor much future at all. Especially when the raiders threw me into the cave as a sacrifice to the demon who supposedly ruled within the mountain.

I’m happy to say that Basit wasn’t a demon at all, but a genie in search of a new master. I wondered what happened to his old master, and he assured me the man died of natural causes. I also wondered why Basit wasn’t in a bottle or lamp as the legends say. Again, he assured me that only the stupidest of djinns would get themselves caught in that manner. Genies choose their masters, and Basit thought that having a female master—a mistress, so to speak—would be a nice change of pace.

Once he forced me to figure out how to get out of the cave, he continued to be of little help. Well, that’s not entirely true. He did change a camp dog into a sheik (a handsome one, of course) when I asked him to, but that didn’t work out entirely. It seems that Basit prefers to have his charge (that’s me) figure out how to rescue herself. Sheik, when returned to his dog self, became my close companion from then on. So, something good did come from my wish for a rescuer. It just turned out not to be as romantic as I first believed.

Once I had tasted freedom and a touch of adventure, I hungered for more. It occurred to me that some other poor soul might be thrown into the cave for the demon to eat (even though there never was a demon), and it was up to me to rescue them.

I wasn’t sure how to get Basit’s attention, since he simply disappeared once I was safely home. It turned out that calling him worked eventually. I’ll have to say he sometimes takes his own sweet time to answer my summons. Not a very obedient djinn. I got used to him, though, and we enjoyed many adventures together. But our first adventure (after my initial rescue) turned out far different than I imagined. There was, indeed, a lost soul within the cave, but not exactly what I expected.

Throughout our adventures, I gained the dearest of friends. Who would believe I could love demons, fire-breathing horses, sentient eagles, or even a genie? There are many more brave and true companions I met. They taught me the meaning of love, loyalty, and bravery. Yes, they made me a hero. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Excerpt:

Note: Several of Setara’s unusual friends take part in the following scene. Briefly, pirates had stolen a mare, the beloved of Hasib (a talking, fire-breathing horse). The friends, determined to rescue the horse confront a nasty array of pirates. All of them show great bravery, but Setara leads them, willing to risk her own life to aid her friend, Hasib.

In just the time that Sulawesi guessed it would take them, the little troop arrived at a dune overlooking the cove where the thieves’ galleon lay in the water. The thieves were already at the beach, preparing a pair of small skiffs to row out to the galleon. The thieves tied the stolen horses together, one horse to the next; nose to tail. A sailor on the ship was rigging a sling to the yardarm. Clearly, they were planning to make the horses swim out to the galleon.

“We need to hurry before they leave the beach, or we’ll not catch them,” Setara said.

“I’m sure I can find something to delay their departure,” Basit replied.

“Allow me,” Sulawesi said, spreading his wings. He soared down toward the beached skiffs. The rest of the troop went over the top of the dune and hurried toward the thieves as fast as they could through the shifting sand.

Setara gasped as she struggled to run but made little progress. “Basit, can you make this a bit easier? Make the ground hard.”

Basit waved his hand, and the sand became firm beneath their feet, allowing the motley crew of adventurers to run toward the captured horses.

The thieves looked up, pulling out knives and swords. Setara thought maybe she hadn’t planned this out well enough but drew her own small knife and hoped for the best. A scimitar appeared in Basit’s hand. The two demons bared their claws and fangs. Hasib puffed real flames with every leap. Sheik barked furiously as he ran. Setara hoped they looked fearsome as they dashed toward the thieves.

The thieves also had a formidable array of sharp weaponry and did not appear afraid of the strange group attacking them. The two groups met in a clash of swords, knives, howling demons, a diving eagle, a leaping dog, and a flame-throwing horse.

“Let go of those horses!” Setara screamed and leaped at a thief. She slashed her knife downward, cutting a long rent in the thief’s sleeve. He rounded on her with a sword, and she held her knife up to block. The sword slid off her knife blade, but the man immediately drew back his arm again. She was not ready with her knife, so she ducked her head, hoping to evade the sword slash. She heard a scream and looked up to see the thief flying away from her. “What the...”

A snort that sounded much like a laugh came from her left. She turned to see Hasib with a horsy grin on his long face and his powerful hind legs hitting the ground where the thief had been a mere second before.

All around, her friends were struggling with the thieves. Those confronted by Azizah and Kairav lost their will to fight and went running down the beach as fast as their legs could carry them in the loose sand. Setara thought it was a wonderful thing to have demon friends.

Sheik had bitten down on the arm of one of the thieves and was shaking the man back and forth. Basit laid about with swift strokes of his scimitar, forcing the men back toward the ocean. Unfortunately, another skiff had just come ashore with several more pirates. The thieves now outnumbered them nearly three to one.

“Basit! You must do something,” Setara shouted. Basit didn’t seem to hear her as he beat off the attack of one of the thieves. She wondered why he didn’t use magic but had no time to think about it. She saw a thief slash down on Kairav, sending the pool demon staggering back with a deep cut, blue blood pouring down his brawny arm. Another smacked Azizah on the side of the head, sending her reeling. Sheik yelped in pain, but Setara could not spare a moment to look while she fended off a muscular thief wielding a heavy club.

Things weren’t going very well at all.

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Bottle of Djinn


SUMMER SALE! SETARA'S GENIE ONLY 99 CENTS AT

AMAZON AND SMASHWORDS


Genies or djinns are great fun. Robin William’s genie in Aladdin was a hoot. But when was Robin Williams (R.I.P.) not a hoot? Okay, don’t tell me about One-Hour Photo, Insomnia, or Death to Smoochy. Nobody bats a thousand.

Ahem. That’s not the subject here. It’s genies.

Let’s not talk about I Dream of Jeannie. That is clearly a complete and utter corruption of the wonderful race of magical beings brought to us from Muslim tradition. So, here’s the skeenie on genies.

From Wikipedia:
In Arabic, a genie (also jinn, Djinn, jinni) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of God (Allah). Possessing free will, a djinn can be either good or evil.

The Djinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an, and there is a Surah entitled Al-Jinn. While Christian tradition suggests that Lucifer was an angel that rebelled against God's orders, Islam maintains that Iblis was a Djinn who had been granted special privilege to live amongst angels prior to his rebellion. Although some scholars have ruled that it is apostasy to disbelieve in one of God's creations, the belief in Jinn has fallen comparably to the belief in angels in other Abrahamic traditions.
Golly, that’s not near as much fun as Robin Williams. Still, a supernatural being that can wreak havoc on humans is right up our alley, right?

Copyright 7ARS
In my book, “The Tales of Abu Nuwas - Setara's Genie,” Basit the genie serves Setara. Well, ‘serves’ is a bit of a stretch. He suggests, advises, and pretty much makes her figure out how to get things done. Every once in a great while, he will whomp up a little magic if Setara is about to fall off a cliff or something else dangerous.

Basit appears in all of Setara's adventures except one. In that story, an evil genie has tricked Basit into the bottle that Aladdin put him in years before. He introduces himself to Setara as Sharif, Apprentice Djinn Second Class, and claims to be taking over for Basit while he’s missing. Setara is naturally concerned for Basit. The evil genie (disguised as a boy djinn) wants to lure her into helping him kill the Great Vizier ---- screeeech! Calling a halt here. The plot is too complicated to explain in full.

The short of it is that Setara and her gang have to rescue Basit from the bottle. To do that, they have to put the bad genie into another bottle. Setara, Kairav the water demon, Azizah the cave demon, Sheik the dog, and Sulawesi the eagle are all needed to put that dang bad genie back in his bottle and get Basit out.

To learn what else happens to the gang, you’ll just have to buy a copy of the book. Lucky for you Setara's Genie is on sale for 99 cents for the rest of July.

* * *

The Tales of Abu Nuwas - Setara's Genie


A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Under the Deep Blue Sea

Get SETARA'S GENIE for only 99 cents all this month at both Amazon and Smashwords.

Amphitrite and Poseidon

I like to use any mythologies which might coincide within the same time frame. That is, Celtic myths probably shouldn’t be mixed up with Greek mythology. But the ancient middle-eastern myths that predominate Setara’s Genie easily coincide with Greek myth. That’s why I feel fine with having my middle-eastern heroine go to the bottom of the sea and meet up with Poseidon and his wife.

Poseidon
Poseidon is a god of many names. He is most famous as the god of the sea. The son of Cronus and Rhea, Poseidon is one of six siblings who eventually "divided the power of the world." His brothers and sisters include: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Zeus. The division of the universe involved him and his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Poseidon became ruler of the sea, Zeus ruled the sky, and Hades got the underworld. The other divinities attributed to Poseidon involve the god of earthquakes and the god of horses. The symbols associated with Poseidon include: dolphins, tridents, and three-pronged fish spears.

Amphitrite
The queen of the sea, variously given as the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys or of Nereus and Doris. When the sea god Poseidon wanted her as his bride, she declined the honor and hid from him in the Atlantic Ocean. A dolphin not only located her, but also brought her back to him, and he married her. The dolphin was awarded a place in heaven. Their son is the fish-man Triton. Amphitrite was portrayed on Greek amphoras together with her consort, riding in a chariot pulled by sea creatures (see above), or sitting on a sea creature, surrounded by Tritons. She is decorated with the attributes of a queen, her waving hair covered with a net, and sometimes with the pincers of a lobster attached to her temples. The Romans referred to her as Salacia.
The name means something like “The third one who encircles (the sea).”

This adventure has Setara helping the merboy, Dolph, find his true self. Nasty old uncle, Terrapin, paid a seawitch to toss Dolph out of the sea. With amnesia, he’s taken in my a rich man and made the stableboy. Considering that his father (Poseidon) is the god of horses, he fits in nicely. Setara first meets Dolph on an adventure in which she is made a slave by pirates. But that’s another story. The second time, she and Dolph meet, he has come to Setara’s home hoping that Basit (her genie) can help him discover who he is. With a good dunking in a demon pool, Dolph recalls some of his past life and they discover he is a merboy. He asks Setara and her friends to help him return to the sea.

Setara, Basit, and Kairev (the pool demon) help him to return to the sea where he regains his memory completely. The name Dolph is one given to Triton (Amphitrite’s only child) by his new friends. His real name in undersea language (think of the sound of dolphins) wasn’t pronounceable, so Setara continues to call him by the nickname Dolph.

Dolph must fight a duel with his uncle to regain his rightful title of Prince of the Sea. Of course, Amphitrite wants her son to win, but she's not aware of the the obvious fact that Dolph is falling for Setara, and vice versa. Amphitrite has a high-pitched voice (dolphin squeaks) and wears a crown of crab claws (sometimes depicted as lobster claws).

Excerpt

All the merfolk living within swimming distance of the palace gathered in the great hall to watch the duel. Mers sat on the wall seats, and others floated in the water above and around the dueling ring. Setara hadn’t noticed the ring before. The merfolk must have installed the inlaid mother-of-pearl circle overnight. She floated down to examine the ring, but it looked like it was part of the smooth, shell-covered floor. She wondered how they could have laid down the forty-foot circle in such a short time.

The murmur of the merfolk fell away when King Poseidon entered the hall from an archway behind the throne. He had changed to the normal size for a mer, about the height of a very tall human, or a medium-sized demon. His long fish tail made up most of his height, just like all the mers. He swam up to sit on his throne, which had shrunk to match his size. A lovely merlady wearing a crown resembling crab pincers joined him on a second, smaller throne. Dolph’s mother, Setara thought.

King Poseidon swept his eyes around the hall until they reached Setara. He beckoned to her. She poked an elbow into Basit’s ribs and tilted her head toward the king. Basit took her by the arm and swam to the throne.

Poseidon spoke, but his voice was no longer as loud as the booming of waves crashing on the shore. “Setara and Basit, may I present my queen, Amphitrite.” Setara bowed from the waist rather than attempting another underwater curtsey.

I am pleased to meet the girl who saved my son. You, as well, genie,” the queen said in a high-pitched voice, the tone wavering up and down. Setara thought she heard a few clicks and whistles, too. The queen continued, “We will reward you before you return to the lands above.”

Setara shook her head. “Your Majesty, we want no reward other than seeing Dolph safe at home again.” She turned toward the ring. “I wish Dolph didn’t have to fight this duel.”

Basit’s pointed ears perked up at the word ‘wish.’

* * *

The Tales of Abu Nuwas - SETARA'S GENIE 
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Flying Horse, Of Course

HORSEFEATHERS

That archaic term means something is unbelievable, nonsense, hogwash, bull puckey.

Setara and her genie, Basit, meet many interesting mythological creatures, including flying horses in Tales of Abu Nuwas: Setara’s Genie. For the rest of June and July: 99 Cents on Kindle or on Smashwords in multiple formats.

What does that have to do with myth and legend? Flying horses, of courses. In legend, Pegasus is a gorgeous black horse with ebony wings. Feathered wings. This has been the tried and true formula since Grecian myth.

Pegasus 
In Greek mythology, Pegasus is the winged horse that was fathered by Poseidon* with Medusa. When her head was cut off by the Greek hero Perseus, the horse sprang forth from her pregnant body. Percy Jackson’s father does get around. A lot.

I’ve never been convinced that a winged horse would also have feathers. In “Setara’s Genie” I introduce not one, but two! flying horses.

Hasib the Sultan’s Horse
Setara finds a talking, flying, fire-breathing horse named Hasib hiding in her father’s stable. He’s trying to look casual, but Setara notices that he’s whistling and hiding his head in the corner of the stall. Highly suspicious behavior. When Setara approaches, an eagle flies through the stable at head height scaring the horses, including Hasib. He levitates a foot into the air and spits fire out of his mouth, setting the hay on fire.

Setara rushes to the rescue and beats out the flames. She and Hasib have a little chat while he explains that he’s a cross-blood horse, mostly horse, but just a wee touch of dragon blood. This means he can fly (without wings) and breathe fire. However, he’s not very good at either talent. Setara helps Hasib gain control over his magic.

Not exactly Nasreen, but a flying
horse from 1001 Arabian Nights.
Nasreen the Non-Feathered Winged Flying Mare
With the dragon attacking the Sultan of Semidor’s palace, Setara and Basit have got to get off that mountain fast. Basit gives wings to Setara’s mare, Nasreen. But we all know that horses don’t have feathers, so Nasreen’s beautiful wings are covered with the same lovely hair as the rest of her body. The little mare takes to her new appliances immediately, carrying Setara to the Sultan’s Palace to save Hasib.

There we have it. Two flying horses, but not a one with feathers.

EXCERPT

At the far end of the corridor, she saw Hasib with his head stretched as far as he could through the stall window.

“Here. I’m here!” Hasib slammed his front hooves against his stall door. Basit was within reach of the stall. “The groom locked me in and then ran off. I have to get out. I’ve heard Azhi Dahaka is here, and he’s burning people!”

Not taking time to use magic, Basit fumbled with the latch and swung the stall door open. Hasib stepped out, immediately turned left and trotted down the long corridor to the outside door. Basit, Setara, and Sheik kept pace with him.

“What will you do?” Basit asked.

“I’ll have to fight him, I’m afraid. I’m the only one who can. The blood of Azhi Dahaka runs in my veins.”

The four reached the door and stood looking up at the awesome figure of the dragon demon spouting flame. People ran screaming in all directions. The soldiers were having no luck with their arrows. Trying to shoot straight up to Azhi’s perch on the tower slowed the arrows too much to do any good. The barbs bounced off the dragon’s tough scales with no effect.

Setara saw a crossbow lying on the ground, probably discarded by an escaping soldier. She picked it up. A few feet further on, she saw a quiver with bolts. She grabbed it, too. “Let me on your back. I’ll go with you!”

Basit reached for her arm. “No! I cannot allow you to come to harm.”

She twisted away and jumped on Hasib’s back. “Let’s go, Hasib!”

The flying horse sprang into the air. He needed no wings since he flew by magic. To Setara’s surprise, Nasreen took flight beside Hasib. Setara admired the mare’s bravery but wished she could tell her to go back.

Basit also took flight. Setara knew he wouldn’t let her face Azhi’s flames alone. She hoped he knew some spell to protect her and Hasib from the spouting fire. Glancing at him, she saw the familiar look of concentration on his face when he was making up a new spell.

As the two horses and the djinn soared upward, some people stopped in their tracks to stare. Setara almost laughed. As if a dragon demon perched on the palace tower wasn’t enough, the sight of a winged horse, another flying horse with a girl on his back, and a genie was more than they could stand. Those who were not already running away from the tower decided now would be a good time to do so.

The ground around the tower was littered with fallen arrows and men. Some brave souls attempted to save the wounded men. However, the flames were pouring down so fast they had to weave and dodge to reach them.

She gripped Hasib’s mane with one hand and worked to load a bolt and get the crossbow in position with the other. It wasn’t working, so she let go of the mane, gripping tight with her legs. She didn’t even think about looking down. Her whole attention was focused on the roaring demon wrapped around the tower. They flew directly into the path of its flames.

Hasib fought back with flames of his own. However, he was much smaller than the dragon, and his flame was not big enough to have any effect. Setara fired a bolt toward Azhi, but it fell far short. “We’ll have to get closer!” she yelled over the roaring of the dragon. Hasib spiraled upward, taking a path around the tower. Azhi twisted his body to face the flying horses, the clearest threat to him.

Setara managed to reload the crossbow and turned the winch to draw back the bolt. She held the crossbow up, aiming along its shaft. The dragon demon’s head reared up directly in front of her. She fired. The bolt shot through the air, hitting the dragon’s head. It seemed to stick for a moment, then fell off. Setara groaned. She didn’t think she’d get another chance.

“My blood!” Azhi Dahaka cried out. Setara looked to see if the bolt had done some damage, but she couldn’t see even a scratch on the dragon’s shining scales. Of course, while Hasib circled and soared, getting a close look wasn’t easy.

She saw Nasreen turn in mid-air and begin to circle the tower in the opposite direction from Hasib.
“Good girl!” Setara called out. The mare was exposing herself to distract the dragon’s attention away from her and Hasib. The dragon twisted toward the mare and drew his head back to spray flames at Nasreen.

With the dragon’s attention elsewhere, Setara loaded another bolt into the crossbow and pulled it back. Hasib drew his legs up and shot toward the dragon. As he brought her next to the dragon’s side, Setara loosed the bolt. It bounced off his scales to no effect.


Azhi Dahaka’s snake-like head whipped around toward Hasib. His eyes widened as Hasib halted in mid-air right in front of the dragon’s nose.

**** and then what happened? Read the book to find out.

The Tales of Abu Nuwas - SETARA'S GENIE 
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Speaking of Demons and Dragons

IT'S DEMON (or Dragon) TIME!

Setara and her genie, Basit, meet many interesting mythological creatures, but only two should be included in the category Monsters. Here’s a bit about the role each monster plays in Tales of Abu Nuwas: Setara’s Genie. For the rest of June and July: 99 Cents on Kindle or on Smashwords in multiple formats.

Azi (or Azhi) Dahaka (From All About Dragons)

In the Avesta, the Azhi Dahaka is described as a three-headed, six-eyed, dragon-like monster. He is said to have a thousand senses, and to bleed snakes, scorpions, and other venomous creatures. He also is said to bring or control storms and disease. His wings were said to be so enormous that they would block out the sun.

Even though this particular description includes multiple heads and pretty bad attitude, I also found an ancient bas relief that purports to be Azhi Dahaka. Decide what you will. A monster is a monster no matter how many heads he or she has.

Excerpt From Setara's Genie Featuring Azhi Dahaka

Setara rounded the bend in the tunnel and stopped dead in her tracks. Azizah and Kairav stood at one end of a huge cavern, heaving large stones as fast as they could. At the other end, about forty feet away, the strangest creature she’d ever seen was shooting jets of fire from its mouth. It had great bat-like wings that created a rush of wind each time the dragon stroked downward. It possessed four legs but had reared up and clawed at the air with the front set. Fangs at least six inches long lined the animal’s jaws. It seemed reptilian with its elongated head and scaly sides. However, it was huge by reptile standards, being more than twenty feet long and barely fit in the end of the cavern. Its scales rippled with colors—green, violet, orange, blue.

Basit flew around the cavern, attempting to outflank the creature. He began hurling balls of light from his fingertips. They didn’t appear to do anything other than annoy the beast, but the interruption did distract it from breathing fire at Azizah and Kairav. When it turned its head to shoot fire toward Basit, Azizah ran forward and threw another huge rock. It struck the beast’s head, knocking it against the wall.

It turned one last time and let out a loud roar that shook small stones off the walls. Then, it shrank rapidly to no more than ten feet long. With a single bound, it leaped into the tunnel on the far side of the cavern and was gone in a flash of purple and green.

Setara ran to Azizah, who dropped the stone she was just about to throw. Kairav and Basit joined them. Sheik ran in circles around the group, barking for all he was worth.

“Shush, Sheik. We can’t hear ourselves think.” Setara chastised the agitated dog. Sheik dropped to his belly panting from the excitement.

“What was that thing?” Setara looked at the grim faces of her friends.

“Azhi Dahaka,” Basit answered.
* * *

Tales of Abu Nuwas - Setara's Genie
A Girl, a Genie, a Few Demons...What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.


As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Free Audio Book Codes

But you're gonna have to work for it. I'll be throwing some kind of contest or drawing just as soon as I figure out a good way to do it.

I've got 25 codes to get you BLOOD TIES TESTED free at Audible.com.

Of course, first priority will go to those folks who swear on the blood of their favorite cat they'll review the book at Audible or Amazon (reviews are shared once the ebook and audio book are related to each other). You can do that right now by email, comment here, comment on Facebook, or comment someplace I'll actually find your request.

It helps if you've already read or listened to the rest of the Witches of Galdorheim series, but each book does stand on its own. You can pick up the gist within the first few minutes/pages. To jog your memory, I've included the descriptions of all the books in the series below. All of the Galdorheim books are available in ebook, print, and audio book format.

BLOOD TIES TESTED (Ebook at Amazon)
Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.

BAD SPELLING - Book 1 of The Witches of Galdorheim Series
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

SCOTCH BROOM: Book 3 of The Witches of Galdorheim
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

SPELLSLINGER - Prequel Story Featuring Rune
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. That it will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Solstice Sale!

Summer Solstice – More Than Just the First Day of Summer

In historical terms, the Solstice is the exact point of time when the daylight outstrips the night in length. That’s hard to reckon, particularly since the exact point in time depends on where you live. Why should that be?

Take a look at model of the solar system, specifically look at earth. If it’s properly oriented, then it’s a bit tilted, not straight up and down as you might think. Stand back a bit further, and you can see the earth doesn’t travel in a circle around the sun, but in a big oval called an ellipsis.


Since the Solstice varies when it occurs (anywhere between June 20th -23rd), most people won’t know exactly when the earth moves from Spring to Summer. Instead, a variety of festivals from different countries and people celebrate Midsummer. Fortunately, astronomers are available to let us know exactly when the solstice occurs.

This year the official time and date of the Summer Solstice is June 21ST at 10:07PM Greenwich Mean Time. But it is way too early in the morning (3:07AM) Pacific time. That's really the same "time," but not what your clock on the wall says.

Many cultures celebrate the Summer Solstice. A few of these celebrations are: Adonia, St. John's Feast Day, Jani, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gwyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, and Rasos. Oh, my. That’s a lot of celebrating! Wherever you live, you can have a party.

Another group of professionals other than astronomers who can tell you when the solstice occurs are witches. No, not the evil witches with warts and ugly noses, but the Wiccans who inhabit my books and Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea. This is a fictional place, but is quite close to some very real islands in the Arctic with very real people who live on them.

Midsummer for Wiccans is called Litha. Just like every people who had some means to really look at the movement of the stars and planets Well, the earth is moving, but from where we stand, it appears the stars are the ones in motion. They are, but I’d refer you to Doctor Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the narrator of the Cosmos series, for exactly what’s going on in the universe.

In the second book of my Witches of Galdorheim series, “Midnight Oil,” the exact time the Solstice occurs is crucial to the plot. The magical midnight oil is a curative required by a tribe of mutant Nenets tribespeople to heal the radiation poisoning which deformed them. It must be administered at the exact time the Solstice occurs. The year I selected had to have that event occur (somewhere in the world) at almost precisely midnight on June 20th. Some confusion about the exact moment of the Solstice almost leads to the restorative oil to arrive late at its destination. After all, the Solstice usually occurs on the 21st (in this century).

A lot happens to thwart my heroes from delivering the oil on time and in good condition. An evil forest spirit happens to possess the oil. But this isn’t simply a “find the magical thing and deliver it” plot. There’s a lot going on in “Midnight Oil.” A kidnapped boyfriend, mutant tribesfolk, Ajatar the forest spirit, a man who was tragically disemvoweled (lost the ability to pronounce a, e, i, o, or u and sometimes y), a witch trapped on the lost island of Atlantis with the Loch Ness monster, and, um, there’s lots more to discover in the book.

So, back to Litha, the Wiccan midsummer celebration. One of the most famous places in the world to observe the Solstice is at Stonehenge in England, but only if the Solstice occurs during daylight hours (not this year). Nevertheless, the midsummer celebrations (June 25th) take place no matter what time the Solstice actually happens. Stonehenge would be a great place to party. 

Fun thing to do: Find out when the Solstice occurs where you live (compare your local time to Greenwich Meantime).

BAD SPELLING FREE on Smashwords
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

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.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.


MIDNIGHT OIL (99 cents this month)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
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.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

SCOTCH BROOM (99 cents this month)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

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.

SPELLSLINGER (Free!)
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.

That things will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?

This prequel story to the Witches of Galdorheim series gives the reader a chance to get to know the smart-aleck kid, Rune, before he got his magic down pat.

BLOOD TIES TESTED (Free with coupon ST93S)
Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.