Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Trailer - Scotch Broom

Scotch Broom - Book 3 Witches of Galdorheim
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’s 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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Trailer - Midnight Oil

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

Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out with her brother, Rune, from her Arctic island home on a mission to rescue the boy. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are capant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding that 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.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Trailer - Bad Spelling

Bad Spelling - Book 1 Witches of Galdorheim
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.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Trailer - Faizah's Destiny

Quest for the Simurgh - 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.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Book Trailer - Setara's Genie

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.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Book Trailer - Tales of a Texas Boy

Tales of a Texas Boy
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.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Book Trailer - Missing, Assumed Dead

Missing, Assumed Dead
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Trailer - Eagle Quest

Eagle Quest
A Vision Quest turns deadly when four friends confront eagle poachers in a wildlife refuge.

Fiona, Hap, Billy, and Mitch make an odd set of friends, as different from the usual junior high school crowd as they are from each other.

Mitch, the oldest of the four, is a half-breed Native American, adopted by white parents. Troubled that he doesn't know his tribe, he avidly studies Native American history and lore. Learning the nearby Bear Valley Wildlife Refuge is a bald eagle nesting site, he wants to add an eagle feather to his medicine bag and explore the refuge as a site for his Vision Quest, a Native American rite of passage. He and his three friends get far more than an overnight camp out as they encounter a black bear, a retired forest ranger living in the refuge, and a pair of eagle poachers. Bringing the poachers to justice, they test their courage and gain confidence in themselves and each other.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Trailer - Ultimate Duty and First Duty

Ultimate Duty
A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties.

Remy Belieux, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her ultimate duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.

First Duty
Shorter version of Ultimate Duty with a PG-13 rating.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I Didn't Know This. Did You?

When was the theory of evolution proposed? answered by Ben Waggoner on Quora
* * * * * *
You can click the link above to read Ben's answer in Quora, or just scroll down for the article. I'm sharing it in whole because the Embed Share feature doesn't show the entire article in Blogger.
The Greek philosopher Anaximander is said to have opined that humans came from fish, although his own writings have not survived. I don’t think we know whether he had a definite “theory of evolution” in anything like the modern sense of the word. A 3rd century Roman writer claims that Anaximander believed that the first humans appeared as embryos inside the bodies of fish, which themselves came from mud and water; later, they burst out of the fish and could survive on their own. Frankly, this sounds weird. But I hesitate to judge Anaximander’s ideas based on nth-hand reports from about 700 years after he lived. (Anaximander)
But the Roman poet Lucretius did come up with a pretty well-sketched-out scenario of the entire universe evolving from atoms, subject to the laws of nature and the workings of chance, in his poem De rerum natura, written in the middle of the first century BCE. Lucretius probably didn’t come up with all of this himself—he was trying to explain and expound on Epicurean philosophy, which began with the work of Epicurus around 300 BCE. Lucretius explained that Earth had given birth to all living things. Since Earth could still spontaneously generate simple life forms like worms and such, it wasn’t surprising that Earth had once given birth to larger and more complex plants and animals:
Thus then the new Earth first of all put forth
Grasses and shrubs, and afterward begat
The mortal generations, there upsprung—
Innumerable in modes innumerable—
After diverging fashions. For from sky
These breathing-creatures never can have dropped,
Nor the land-dwellers ever have come up
Out of sea-pools of salt. How true remains,
How merited is that adopted name
Of earth—"The Mother!"—since from out the earth
Are all begotten. And even now arise
From out the loams how many living things—
Concreted by the rains and heat of the sun.
Wherefore 'tis less a marvel, if they sprang
In Long Ago more many, and more big,
Matured of those days in the fresh young years
Of earth and ether. . . .
Wherefore, again, again, how merited
Is that adopted name of Earth—The Mother!—
Since she herself begat the human race,
And at one well-nigh fixed time brought forth
Each beast that ranges raving round about
Upon the mighty mountains, and all birds
Aerial with many a varied shape.
But, lo, because her bearing years must end,
She ceased, like to a woman worn by eld. . . .
In suchwise, then, the lapsing aeons change
The nature of the whole wide world, and earth
Taketh one status after other. And what
She bore of old, she now can bear no longer,
And what she never bore, she can to-day.
There’s a sort of foreshadowing of natural selection here, because Lucretius argues that Earth also produced monsters and strange beings—which, however, have died out because they weren’t well adapted for life.
In those days also the telluric world
Strove to beget the monsters that upsprung
With their astounding visages and limbs—
The Man-woman—a thing betwixt the twain,
Yet neither, and from either sex remote—
Some gruesome Boggles orphaned of the feet,
Some widowed of the hands, dumb Horrors too
Without a mouth, or blind Ones of no eye,
Or Bulks all shackled by their legs and arms
Cleaving unto the body fore and aft,
Thuswise, that never could they do or go,
Nor shun disaster, nor take the good they would. . . .
And in the ages after monsters died,
Perforce there perished many a stock, unable
By propagation to forge a progeny.
For whatsoever creatures thou beholdest
Breathing the breath of life, the same have been
Even from their earliest age preserved alive
By cunning, or by valour, or at least
By speed of foot or wing. And many a stock
Remaineth yet, because of use to man,
And so committed to man's guardianship. . . .
. . . But those beasts to whom
Nature has granted naught of these same things—
Beasts quite unfit by own free will to thrive
And vain for any service unto us
In thanks for which we should permit their kind
To feed and be in our protection safe—
Those, of a truth, were wont to be exposed,
Enshackled in the gruesome bonds of doom,
As prey and booty for the rest, until
Nature reduced that stock to utter death.
This doesn’t look much like a “theory” in the modern sense, but I would argue that it’s not too wide of the mark to call it one. Lucretius is proposing a naturalistic scenario for how life began and changed, and while he doesn’t go out and test it, or particularly encourage readers to do so, he does appeal to observations and experience to support his scenario. And he avoids teleology: the Earth and the life on it weren’t created for us, or for any higher purpose. In the end it’s all atoms and the void.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Audio Books - In Case Everybody Forgot

Blood Ties Tested now available in ebook and print.

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.

Note: If you buy the ebook on Amazon, you can get the audio book for $1.99. With Whispersync, you can switch back and forth between reading and listening. Or, you can listen while you read.

Tales of a Texas Boy $6.95
Amazon  $1.99

Missing, Assumed Dead $14.95
Amazon  $7.49

Bad Spelling - Book 1 of Witches of Galdorheim $14.95

Midnight Oil - Book 2 of Witches of Galdorheim $19.95
Amazon  $7.49

Scotch Broom - Book 3 of Witches of Galdorheim $19.95
Amazon  $7.49
Spellslinger on audio $6.08

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Completing the Mission

I wrote the Witches of Galdorheim series with great hopes. The characters and setting are original, offbeat, and fraught with teen angst, terror, and lots of humor, particular puns. Katrina the inept witch makes her way from total despair for her horrendously bad spell casting (thus, "Bad Spelling" is the title of the first book), through her search for her non-witch father's side of the family. They happen to be of the indigenous Sami spread across the most northern reaches of Norway, Finland, and Siberia. In her desire to find the missing half of her family, she also discovers how to use her innate magic--the ability to talk to animals.

The second book, "Midnight Oil," introduces a few additional characters such as Mordita the Sorceress, Ceto the Loch Ness Pleiosaur, Atlantis (also called Ultima Thule), an evil forest spirit bent on destroying her own sister, and many more.

The final book, "Scotch Broom," follows Katrina into the Scottish Highlands Otherworld--a place for magic creatures to live in when humans just become far too much bother.

After the three main books in the series, I added a prequel story about the other major character in the books. Rune, Kat's half brother. They share their mother Ardyth, but have different fathers. Kat's dad being a mundane but very handsome Sami warrior and Rune's being a just-turned vampire named Drakos. The prequel story, "Spellslinger," is Rune's tale of testing his own magic and becoming aware of the danger inherent in his vampire half.

"Scotch Broom" leaves Rune in a bad mental state. I don't want to give spoilers, because you people really ought to read the series.

Rune's troubled mind required one final tale, "Blood Ties Tested." Rune finally meets his vampire father. Together, they go on a rescue mission for a group of reformed vampires captured by the great grand nephew of Van Helsing, the famous vampire hunter.

So, ebook done, print book done. Now the audiobook version is in the works and will be released sometime in late May (if all goes according to plan). It'll run about 2-1/2 hours and will accordingly be priced fairly low. It'll be available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. The best deal will always be at Amazon, where audiobooks are discounted if you buy the ebook to go with. The ebook and audiobook will be whispersynced, which means you can switch back and forth between reading and listening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Using Historical Figures in Fiction

This is a long post, but I hope you'll read it because it brought to light an interesting phenomena of historical people in fictional works.

An opportunity to touch on this subject 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.
Note: Setara's Genie and Faizah's Destiny are both narrated by Abu Nuwas. Both books are available in ebook and print formats at Amazon.

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)
"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.
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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Writing (Ahem) Wisdom

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

Cute Kid
I'm supposed to give tips on writing, encouragement to persevere, and funny things that happen in my writing life. Oh, and I absolutely must have a picture of my cute cat, dog, child, or whatever every couple of weeks. Here's one now to fulfill that obligation. She's still cute at 23.

Every once in a great while, I'll post something like this, and I duck my head and wince. Nobody should care what I think about writing unless I have some credentials to prove I know what I'm talking about. Yes, I've published a bunch of stories and 12 (or so) books, but that hardly makes me expert.

Still, it is expected, so here I go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There. I've done my bloggerly duty and given you a bunch of stupid advice.