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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Upcoming Release - The Heart of the Rose

The Heart of the Rose
by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Chat with the author on November 7th at 11:00AM PST, Noon MST, 2:00PM EST

Bronwyn is kind and resourceful, a healer and a woman ahead of her time who cares for her aging father and two young sisters. She can entrance a man with her sweet voice, the beauty of her face. However, she’s an impoverished peasant who lives in the dark, suspicious times of fifteenth-century England where such a woman is feared. Witches are believed to be everywhere, waiting to ensnare a powerful man…like Edward the Fourth of England, who comes across her one day singing in a tavern and makes her as his mistress.

Edward’s powerful adversary, The Earl of Warwick, is seeking to take over the throne of England. Bronwyn is torn between the two; one she loves, the other she loathes. One cherishes her, the other wants to possess and control her. As the battle lines form, and the country is torn apart by political upheaval and bloody carnage, the two sides wrestle for the crown. Who will she end up with? Which man, when she’s condemned to burn as a witch, will save her and which man will let her die?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Favorite Scary Movies

Okay, don't laugh. I'm not a big fan of scary movies because...well, I get scared and can't go to sleep. Overactive imagination, I guess. Here are two movies that are scary-themed, but charming and delightful. Can't go wrong with them as a good choice for Halloween viewing, especially if you have little ones in the house.
Who doesn't love Jack Skellington? And Oogie (the boogieman) is kind of chilling in his own musically cool way.

















And how can you not love a love story, even if one of the lovers is, um, fleshly challenged?

Besides, it's Johnny Depp!














And for the old school ghost story, what's not to love about Casper?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Upcoming Releases at Eternal Press

Come chat with the authors of the new November releases from Eternal Press.


November 7th at http://www.eternalpress.biz/chat.php (or start at http://www.eternalpress.biz/ and select Chat from the tabs). The authors will show up one by one from (10:00AM EST, Noon MST, 1:00PM PST) through (2:30 EST, 4:30 MST, 5:30 PST). Many will be hanging out through the full chat session to answer your questions.

See the new releases at http://www.eternalpress.biz/searches.php?category=upcoming

I'll be featuring each of the authors over the days until the release date.

10/31 The Heart of the Rose by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
11/1  Saint Alba's Jawbone by Fiona Law
11/2  Prey for Closure by Nancy Gaffney
11/3  Wolves Dressed as Men by Steve Lowe
11/4  Tangled Hearts by Cherri Miller
11/5  Ultimate Duty by Marva Dasef
11/6  Dangerous Seduction by Richard R. Jones
11/7  If I Should Die by Sally Franklin Christie

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Story: A Trip to Potter's Field

A Visit to Potter's Field

by Marva Dasef

Rap Rap Rap

"Now who? More of those darned kids?"

RAP RAP RAP

"What do you want? Can't you just leave me alone?"

RAP RAP RAP

"Oh, for Pete's sake . . . some people have no manners."

Griselda reached up through the hole in the coffin and pulled a clod of dirt downward. Grunting with the effort of digging herself out of her grave, she also muttered a few very unkind words about the visitor and his parentage.

RAP RAP RAP

"I am doing my best. Quit being so impatient. Hmmph."

She managed to break away another part of the pine box lid and pulled more dirt into the coffin.

"A damned good thing those city employees are so lazy," she muttered. "A real grave would be six feet deep. We get maybe two feet at best in Potter's Field. Then, all the time, it's rap rap rap, with some fool wanting to ask a question."

RAP RAP RAP

"I SAID I'M COMING!" Griselda shouted as she dragged more dirt into the coffin and shoved the clods down to the foot. She noticed her words came out more like "I YED I COING."

Her knees were now bent and touching the inside of the coffin lid. She shoved her left elbow to the side and knocked out another piece of wood. As she suspected, there was some open space around the edges. She pushed the dirt out of the coffin.

Finally, her groping hand felt a breeze above her. Something grabbed it and began to tug at her.

"Wait! You idiot! The lid is still in the way." Whoever had pulled at her let go. She felt two fingernails give way. Damn. She only had three left.

She grumbled about lost body parts as she pushed upward on the inside of the lid with her knees. A screech from the rusty nails pulling loose set what was left of her teeth on edge.

Pushing her hands through the widened hole, she gripped both sides of the coffin and pulled herself upward. Dirt, worms, and other unidentifiable material fell off the top of her head and down to her shoulders. She shrugged to loosen the gap even more. Her head popped above the surface and she gasped the cold night air, her first breath in over ten years.

She looked left and right, then swivelled her head around to look behind. A young man stood with light flickering on his pallid face. His eyes were open so wide she thought they might pop out (a lovely thought), the round O of his mouth a frozen rictus of horror.

"Just what did you expect? A burlesque dancer?" she said in disgust. After all, he called on her, not the other way around.

"What?" he stammered.

"Hmmph," Griselda grunted as she pushed herself up out of the grave. She sat on the edge of the pine coffin and looked around. The graveyard looked much the same as it had when they'd buried her. She thought some things must never change.

"Well, what do you want to ask?" she said as pleasantly as possible, though speaking properly without lips and tongue was difficult. Ah, wait. A bit of tongue was still attached to the back of her throat. She coughed and spit out a beetle that had made a comfortable bed against her tonsils. With a bit more tongue, she asked more clearly. "What do you want?"

"I I I . . ."

"Spit it out. Hee hee," Griselda cackled at the joke, since she'd just spit out a bug.

The boy cleared his throat and took a deep breath. "Miss, uh, Gypsy, I heard you have to answer the question of whoever digs you up," the boy began.

"Yes, I do have to answer," she said, then muttered under her breath, "Stupid curse."

"I want to know if Emily is my true love."

"Emily who? Come on, boy, give me some details. I don't exactly get the daily news down there."

"Emily LaFleur. She's my girlfriend, but she's been going out with Beau Richards. You know, he's just a jock. He can't offer . . ."

"Tut tut tut. Too much information. Let me see if I've got this straight. You love the girl and the girl loves the jockey and you want to know if she's your true love?" Griselda sighed. She wished these young pups would come up with some better questions. What about world peace? What about death, famine, and pestilence?

"The simple answer, my foolish boy, is no. She can hardly be your true love if she's gallivanting off with a . . . jockey, did you say? They're kind of small, aren't they?"

"Not a jockey. A jock. He plays football."

"Foot . . .? I assume that's some kind of game?"

"Uh, yeah. You don't know about football?"

Griselda glared at the callow boy until he turned his eyes away. She wasn't sure whether it was in shame or because she had a bit of pus dripping from her left eye. She'd been dead for more than a hundred years and they expect her to keep up on sports?

"So, she's not my true love?"

"No, she's not. Now, pick up that shovel and get me back in the ground. This damp air isn't good for me."

The boy set the lantern on the ground and picked up the shovel he'd brought along. Griselda noticed he had cleared away a considerable amount of the dirt covering her before he started rapping on her coffin. That was very kind of him. Most of them just poked a pole down to the coffin lid and expected her to do all the work.

She felt a bit sorry for him. At least he'd gone to some trouble to ask his question of a dead gypsy with a curse on her.

"Uh, can you get back down into the coffin by yourself?"

"A little shy about touching a lady, boy?" Griselda relented at his trembling lips as he tried to form an answer.

"Oh, that's okay. I'll get back in myself. First, dig some of the dirt out from inside the box, will you?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Now, she liked that response. He was showing respect for the dead. Better than most of the yahoos that came to dig her up and ask their stupid questions. Who made up this silly idea about asking the dead questions that they must answer? It certainly wasn't her idea, Griselda thought. Just because she'd told fortunes using a crystal ball when she was alive, didn't mean she wanted to continue the practice after death. Still, word got around and the curse had plagued her ever since she died.

The boy shoveled the dirt out of her coffin, giving her a chance to think. She decided to help this boy. Why not? She'd been left to lie for over ten years since the last time someone dug her up. What was that last question? Oh, yes. Who was going to win the World Series? Now, that was a selfish question. At least this boy wanted to find his own true love.

All right, I'll actually put some thought into this. She strained a bit and moaned for good effect. The boy jumped back at the sound.

"I see a vision. Yes. It's you. You're older." Griselda tried to close her eyes, but the lids had rotted away. She touched her bony hand to her temple to provide some show for the silly boy.

"What do you see?"

"I see you with a dark-haired girl . . . a beautiful woman. You look very happy. Two children stand by you. Let me think."

The boy looked at her, hopeful for an answer from the dead, the dead who can tell no lies.

"Yes. I see the dark-haired woman and the two children." Griselda thought furiously. What could she tell this boy to give him hope?

"You'll marry and live happily ever after. There. That's your answer. You won't marry Emily. Face it, she's a strumpet, boy." Griselda winced at the sad look on the boy's face. She wondered if it was too late to learn some tact. Probably so.

"Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate the answer. Now, if you'll just, you know, get back in the coffin, I'll put the dirt back in."

Griselda started to wiggle down through the broken coffin lid.

"Could you, uh, replace those boards so dirt won't fall on my face?"

The boy knelt by the grave as Griselda lowered herself back into her coffin. He pulled the splintered boards from the dirt pile and lined them up. As Griselda laid herself back down, he carefully replaced the boards of the lid.

"Thank you," he said again.

"You're entirely welcome," she responded, happy now to have helped the polite boy. The dirt clods plunked on the top of the lid, then the sound became muffled as the grave filled. Griselda quieted her mind, feeling good about herself.

* * *

RAP RAP RAP

"Now what? I just get back to sleep and here they are again."

Griselda dug herself out of her grave once again. Squinting in the darkness as best she could without eyelids, she saw it was the same boy as before, but older now.

"What's wrong? Didn't you find the dark-haired girl and marry her?"

"Yes, I did, and I'm here to register a complaint about your advice."

"So, what's wrong? Nice girl, two kids, right?"

"True, but she ran off with the football player and left the kids with me. You didn't tell me that would happen."

"Sorry, boy. I only tell what I see. It was up to you to follow through. Maybe you should have married Emily."

"But . . .," the young man stammered.

"None of that. You got your answer. Only one to a customer, you know." Griselda dropped down into her coffin.

"Now, fill in my grave. That's a good boy."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Runes Can Make for Bad Spelling

A lot of fantasy novels based on Euro-centric mythologies use Runes in their plots, be it a tattooed rune on the hero’s chest, the discovery of a runic tablet that leads a worthy band of heros on a quest for dragon’s gold, or a villain who casts his dark spells in the ancient runic language. All very cool stuff.

In my Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. Kat, the teen witch introduced in Bad Spelling, just couldn’t get the pronunciation of the runes right. The results she got were often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she was a bad speller.

I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches. Runes are like hieroglyphics in that each run stands for a word or concept rather than a letter. I found a handy phrase chart and stole what I could. Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is a word of power.

My Mashup

In Bad Spelling (scheduled for October 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing), Kat’s teacher listens to the mis-spelling witch as she attempts a simple transformation spell:
Kat held her wand over the pentagram and repeated the spell, omitting the spell’s finishing word. Miss Mariah shook her head. "Katya, you said îgwaz instead of perßô."
Later, Kat’s aunt Thordis uses a runic spell to enable her to speak with Katya’s dead father. I found this spell to raise the dead on an Icelandic runic stave site (how cool is that!).
When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. She zipped through the incantation:

Þat kann ec iþ tolpta,
ef ec se a tre vppi
vafa virgilná
sva ec rist oc i rvnom fác,
at sa gengr gvmi
oc melir viþ mic.

But nothing happened. She slowed down and spoke the spell with precision, putting as much magical force as she could into it. Finally, she felt the spell break through the barrier.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MG/YA Fantasy SOLD!

MuseItUp Publishing sent me a contract, which I immediately signed electronically and sent back.

The book is a MG/YA contemporary fantasy titled "Bad Spelling." It's also the first in a trilogy. I hope that MIU likes this one enough to take the others too. Hm. Maybe I should just ask.

When Katrina spells her bunny familiar into a pool of green goo, it’s the last straw. Kat’s life is already miserable from her classmates’ teasing. Even her mother and aunt think she’s just not trying hard enough. When she finds out her inability to throw a decent spell is the result of a shaman's curse, she sets out on a perilous journey to Siberia to stop him. The stakes are raised when the curse begins to spread to the rest of Galdorheim Island. Saving the witches’ arctic home falls on the shoulders of a witch who can’t even cast a simple spell.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Excerpt of ULTIMATE DUTY

Counting down the mere days until the release on November 7th from Eternal Press.

Blurb: Facing a life of drudgery on a repressive factory planet, Remy Belieux longs to escape. Her only option for release is to enlist in the Space Service, becoming a soldier for her own world’s oppressors.

She receives her first assignment: guarding a charismatic rebel leader being transported to a prison planet. When rebel troops surprise them, Remy fails to thwart the ambush. Despite a commendation from her Captain, she feels she must redeem herself by recapturing the handsome fugitive.

Shocked by what she learns during the pursuit–her own family’s past involvement in the rebellion–Remy faces a dilemma: remain loyal to the oath she swore as a soldier or join the rebel cause and condemn herself to a death sentence for treason. What is her ULTIMATE DUTY?

EXCERPT:

Remy and Garrett arrived at the outer wall path that led to the dock ports. Remy hoped at least one shuttle was still attached to the station. She dropped to the floor and peered down the slope of the passageway. Two guards stood at the entrance to bay 5. Luckily, they faced the opposite direction. Remy slid back and pointed silently, then held up two fingers. Garrett nodded and pointed left and then at himself. Remy nodded.

With no way to get any closer unseen, they must use speed instead. Both stepped back a couple of paces, so they’d hit the corner at full tilt. A nod from Garrett, and they sprinted through the twenty meters separating them from the guards. One guard turned to look only when Remy and Garrett were close enough to attack. The guard yelled, "Halt!" as he raised the barrel of his blaster. The second guard turned with a confused expression and didn’t manage to raise his own weapon before Remy reached him.

Remy felt her mind and body slip into fighting mode. Time slowed for her and she noted every detail of the guard’s stance. She leaped high in the air, her legs coiled like springs. The second guard finally lifted his rifle but never had the chance to fire. Remy drove both feet into his abdomen, slamming him against the wall with the force of her strike. In the low gravity she landed easily on her feet crouched and ready. She crossed her arms against her torso, grabbing the guard’s belt with her left hand and prepared to strike with her right. The man’s eyes widened when Remy’s backhand arced toward him. The force of the blow across his jaw sent him tumbling to the floor.

She glanced over at Garrett and saw he had already disabled the other guard, now curled on the floor moaning. Garrett kicked him in the head with an almost gentle tap. The connection of his shod foot on the guard’s temple did the job, knocking the man unconscious.

Garrett walked over to Remy’s guard and bent down. He pressed two fingers against the side of the man’s neck. "Good. He’ll live."

"If I wanted him dead, he’d be dead," Remy snarled.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Discounts at Lulu

Lulu has finally allowed authors to set a discounted price if a reader purchases through the Lulu site. This really helps authors and readers. Win-win!

Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print Edition Now $10.46 at Lulu

25% discount when you buy direct from Lulu at http://tinyurl.com/254rneu
Retail $13.95

Amazon is still the best price if you order over $25 to get free shipping. But for a one book purchase, Lulu is becoming more or less affordable. I'm happy to see that Lulu is finally letting authors discount their prices. It's good for the buyers and good for the authors.

Lots of people have bought this book paying $3.99 for shipping and handling when purchasing at Amazon.  If you bought through my Texas Boy Publications vendor on Amazon, I'm selling a same text and print size for $8.99. It's a smaller trimsize, but I promise all the words are the same. Personally, I like the 7.5x9.5 book size. It's easy to hold and the print is a nice 18pt Garamond.

Any way you want it, I've got it: through Amazon, Lulu, CreateSpace, or any of several ebook formats.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Muse On-line Conference

Been busy at the Muse On-Line Conference. The number and depth of the forum sessions and the chats is amazing. If you didn't get in this year, be sure to mark your calendars to sign up for next year's conference.

PITCH SESSIONS!!!!

Isn't that reason enough to go. And so easy. No plane flight, hotel room, meals out, no hundreds of bucks just to get in the door. Just sit in front of your computer and go to as many sessions as your want on the forums and there's usually room for one more in the Q&A chats.

Pitch sessions must be signed up in advance since there are only so many slots available. This year, the conference offered four agents and many publishers up for your pitching pleasure.

I hope to see you all there next year or somewhere in the forums this year. Check it out at Muse On-Line Writers Conference. See what you missed or make a note for next year.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Review of Tales of a Texas Boy - Featured Book

BOOK REVIEW (Reviewed in 2008)

STORIES FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE

BOOK: Tales of a Texas Boy

AUTHOR: Marva Dasef

PUBLISHER: Texas Boy Publications (2007)
READING LEVEL: ages 9-12, Senior Citizens too
RATING: 5 stars
REVIEWED BY: Wayne Walker

This book is a collection of twenty stories told by Edward Perkins (Eddie) who lived during the Depression with his Pa, Ma, younger sister Dorothy (Sister), and little brothers James and John, on a 640-acre farm near Hereford, TX, in the panhandle of the state. It gives a picture of days when life was simpler as viewed by an eleven-year-old boy, whose experiences are reminiscent of both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Tom Sawyer. A note in the front of the book says, "All characters and events in this book are fictitious." However, a note on the back cover says, "The author's father is the real Eddie narrating the stories inside this book."

In fact, at the end of one story about how Eddie's Pa asked a fairly well known amateur detective named Frank Norfleet to help find a con man who had cheated him, a note says, "Frank Norfleet and Burke Mathes were real people. Eddie and his father did not actually meet them. In other words, this is a Texas Tall Tale." Thus, we may conclude that the stories in the book are perhaps based on some real events but many have been fictionalized. I found the book to be very entertaining. Children, and adults too, should get a lot of laughs out of reading all about Eddie and his exploits--whether they are from Texas or not.

Parents who try to be careful about the language in the books their children read will just want to be aware that the "d" word is found once in a story where a stranger uses it to describe his daughter who had tried to steal something from Eddie and his Pa on a trip, but Pa soundly criticizes him for saying it and it is very minor. Tales of a Texas Boy is a lot of fun. So you are invited to sit down, take your shoes off, and hear all about Dad Boles with his tame bear Sophie, Bucephalus (Beau) the jackass, skunks in the corn patch, the mammoth bones at Clovis, the rather strange Luck twins, Cage McNatt's prize sow, Mae West, and many others.

Related website: http://marvadasef.com/

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fictional Writers Writing Fictional Books

Gratuitous Eye Candy
I really (really really) like Nathan Fillion. Loved him in Firefly, that weird road race series Drive that only lasted six episodes, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, and now in the TV series "Castle."

I hope he's as funny and charming in real life as he appears to be in his acting roles.

That out of the way, let's talk about Richard Castle. He's not a real writer, but he is played as one on TV. The funny and strange part is there's a novel written by "Richard Castle" titled "Dead Heat" which is supposedly the book the TV Castle writes using his detective partner as a model for the tough Nikki Heat character in the novel. Which, of course, is a fictional novel. But it's not. It's a real, buyable novel on Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere.

I thought it'd be fun to read it but I'm hesitant to buy a fiction novel (in this case, that term is perfectly valid). I've requested it from my library. Hmm. They have several copies and all of them are out. I'm now third on the list of requests.

What do you think of a fictional person writing a fictional novel? Do you know if anything like this was done before? I'll go off to do some research.

BUT if you're the first person to give me an example of a fictional character writing a real fictional novel, I'll give you a real free ebook of your choice. Heck, give me two examples, and I'll mail you a real paper fictional book not written by a fictional author. If you know what I mean.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. There was supposedly a video made with Nathan and Stephen Cannell (I suspect the real life writer of the fictional Castle's books) titled "Write-Along with Nathan Fillion." Must investigate further.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lost in Lexicon - Author Interview

LOST IN LEXICON: AN ADVENTURE IN WORDS AND NUMBERS

Middle grade fantasy, ages 9-13.
http://www.lostinlexicon.com/
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiJhpfnvk7o
Author blog: http://windowviewblog.blogspot.com/
Books available on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, in stores or through the book website.

To my blog readers: I was fortunate to have read an early draft of Lexicon and found it a delightful and imaginative childrens book. What's particularly special with Lexicon is that Penny didn't just leave it at writing a great book. She's gone well over the extra mile.

INTERVIEW WITH PENNY NOYCE


Tell us about yourself, that is anything you're willing to admit to.


I'm an internal medicine doctor by training, I like math much better now than I did in school, and I have very curly hair.

What moved you to give up your medical practice to become a full-time writer/mom?

I have five children, and when the youngest was born, I stopped out to give each child a fair share of attention. I was also busy working with a family foundation on math and science education reform. When the older kids started leaving for college, I decided it was time to return to an old love, writing.

What was your inspiration for Lexicon?

As a child, I loved books that took their characters to a magical land. I also wanted to write something my son Damian would enjoy. Since he loves word games and logic puzzles, I thought a new world that brought word and number concepts to life in a funny way would be something we could enjoy together. As I thought about the project, I decided to set myself the challenge of giving math equal weight with language in this novel. I started the story off in a lighthearted way, but soon it carried me into more serious territory.

Are your characters based on any kids you happen to know? Tell us about Daphne, Ivan, Adelaide, and, especially, Emily (she's the one in the middle on the cover).

Daphne and Ivan both have some of me and some of my children in them. Daphne is impetuous and affectionate like my own daughters when they were young. She loves language, but unlike my daughters she doesn't feel comfortable or competent around math. Ivan is steady and responsible, comfortable with numbers but less so with words and especially writing.

Aunt Adelaide is a lot like my mother, strait-laced and upright, with high standards, a belief in imagination, and a deep mistrust of technology. Emily the talking thesaurus is inspired by the beautiful, gentle alpacas that used to live in the farm across the street.

Give us your pitch for Lexicon. Why should parents be pounding on your door demanding copies?

Deprived of their usual electronic amusements, thirteen-year-old cousins Daphne and Ivan travel to a land where words and numbers jumble and misbehave. The cousins have to use all their wit and imagination to straighten out villages, find clues, and track down the missing children of Lexicon. The book mixes math, language, and adventure in a way that makes it enjoyable for kids and parents alike. It's a great book for bright and curious children 9-12, and families can enjoy reading it together. Besides, where else can you meet characters like the Mistress of Metaphor, the chauvinistic Noun Man, grammatical bees, and the Mathemysticals of Irrationality?

How about the games and activities that go with the book? How were you inspired to go the extra mile with the extra material? (Note: Go to Penny's website to find the page on games)

I wanted to give kids the chance to play with some of the ideas in the book and take them further. I wanted to keep playing with the ideas myself! Family word games, anagrams, messages to decode, and a book club discussion guide can all be found on the book website. Parents and teachers can also write info@tumblehomepress.com for a downloadable guide to putting on a full scale Lexicon event, with activities matching each of the villages in Lexicon.

What else do you have in the planning stages?

I have three more Lexicon books in various stages of imagining and writing, as well as an adventure story for older kids and ideas about a mystery for younger ones.

What are your hopes for this book?

What I'd really like to accomplish with Lost in Lexicon is to inspire kids to go outside, make things up, read, draw, put on plays, invent contraptions, be open to new friends, and imagine themselves some wonderful adventures.

Thank you, Penny. I do hope folks will take the opportunity to check out your Lost in Lexicon website.