Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gimme Shelter

Breaking News! Scotch Broom's Release date is April 6th!

After an anxious wait, I've received the cover proof for the 3rd book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. The first two books sport a delightful anime-like girl representing my main character, Katrina the teen witch. Here are all three covers:


I was really expecting to get another view of Kat on the 3rd cover, but CA Kaytalin Platt went in a different direction, or rather she focused on something other than the face. Note the first two covers above have an extended hand. The first book shows a spell light in Kat's palm. The second, Kat is holding a Medusa medallion. Given that focus, Kaytalin decided to continue the theme of the magically endowed hand in the third book's cover.

At first, I was all "Where's the witch girl!?" But I unglued myself from the ceiling and wrote to MuseItUp's Art Director, Delilah Stephans, to get her expert opinion. Was this new cover a good follow-on to the first two books? She decided it was because of the continuity of the hand motif in the cover and that all three covers used the same color palette. I'm still a little leery of the new cover, but it is growing on me.

One thing that stands out on the cover is a charm bracelet. This, of course, is an integral part of the plot of Scotch Broom. I hinted that the bracelet would be a nice addition to the cover several months ago when I filled out the cover art form. That the document we writers attempt to describe our vision of the cover, essential elements of the plot, and make outrageous demands of our long-suffering cover artists.

So, here is it. Scotch Broom complete with the most charming bracelet. If you can't quite make out the figures, here's what they are and what they represent as related to Kat by the gifter, Mordita.

Excerpt:

“Hold out your hand,” Mordita ordered. Kat laid the gift packets on a side table and held out her right arm. Mordita grabbed her wrist and Kat felt something slide around it followed by the faint snick of a latch. Mordita let go. “Look closely, and you’ll see the charms on the chain.” Kat examined the bracelet. Five tiny charms hung from it, evenly spaced around the bracelet’s length.

I can’t quite...oh, now I see them. Thanks, Mordita. It’s very, umm, pretty.”

“Fiddlesticks. These are useful charms. They’re not meant to be just decorative.” Mordita held up Kat’s wrist and poked one of the charms. It squealed. Kat jumped. “Shush, you silly thing,” Mordita said. “This little piggie provides food where none is to be found. Nutritious food, that is, so don’t be hoping for candy.”

“Oh. That’s handy.” Kat peered closer at the pig charm. It looked back at her and winked. She grinned. What a great charm, she thought, and charming, too.

Mordita poked at another charm, and Kat heard a muffled purring sound. “This little kitty finds a warm place for you to stay. Nothing fancy, just basic shelter.”

Mordita stroked the next charm, and a muted honk came from the tiny goose. “Early warning system. Activate it when you want protection from unpleasant surprises.”

Kat laughed. “I might need that the second I put foot in Great Britain. It’s all new to me.”

Poke. Whinny. “This pony will bring transportation, for example, a cab in London. The drivers would as soon run you over as pick you up.”

“Cab? I don’t know— Is that a vehicle you can hire to take you places?”

“Indeed. Now, use this last one only in case of dire emergency.” Mordita pointed at the charm but didn’t touch it. “Best let sleeping ogres lie. You’d better have a desperate need for an eight-foot tall, five-hundred pound, angry ogre.”

Kat gave the charm a dubious look. “Will it attack me?”

“Of course not. I imprinted your personality on all the charms. They will serve you and only you. Of course, you must have the bracelet on for the charms to work.”

“This is a great gift, Mordita. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Not at all. Hopefully, you won’t have any need of the ogre.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview: Millie Fields from Her Heart's Desire

Her Heart’s Desire
by Adriana Ryan
Muse Bookstore Link: http://bit.ly/xG4gub

Today, Millie Fields, the main character of "Her Heart's Desire" has agreed to an interview. I'd like to welcome her to my blog.

Millie Fields

1. Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

My goodness, no! I’m the shyest person you’ll ever meet. I lost my parents young, and I’ve always been the overweight, weird girl, so … I’m not exactly outgoing. And I didn’t think my life was interesting enough to warrant a story! But then, the whole thing with the pendant happened, and that was that.

2. How did you first meet your writer?

Adriana saw the image of the magic pendant first. Then she thought about the person who’d wear such a necklace, and saw me. She liked how vulnerable I was, and how much I’d stand to gain and lose from wearing a pendant who transformed me so completely. That’s how we got to know each other—I’d tell her bits of the story at a time.

3. Are you currently engaged in a relationship?

Yes. If only you could see me grinning right now! But I can’t tell you if I end up with Braedon or Graham … you’ll have to read the book and see.

4. Did you have any input into the book cover design?

Of course! Adriana was very kind about asking me for my opinion. I didn’t want any sort of “bodice ripper” connotations, because I’d be horrified if anyone I know saw me like that! So C.K. Volnek of MuseItUp Publishing did a very tasteful, pretty cover.

5. What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

She exposed my tendency to watch Casablanca when I’m depressed for the entire world to see. I was really miffed about that one.

Book Blurb:

Millie Fields’s life could be a Greek tragedy. As if frizzy hair and a dead-end job weren’t enough, the heartthrob of her dreams, Graham Lance, doesn’t even know she exists. The only man in her life these days is her best friend Braedon Hill, who seems to have an endless supply of tissues for her equally endless tears. Ironically, Millie is so blinded by her yearning for Graham that she can’t see Braedon’s heart yearns just as keenly for her.

Things become unbearable for Millie when a cruel twist of fate lands her – literally – at Graham’s feet. Utterly humiliated, she flees outside into the pouring rain, the sound of her coworkers’s contemptuous laughter echoing in her ears. As she sits sobbing on a bench, a stranger appears bearing a gift that will transform Millie’s life: A mysterious necklace that will metamorphose her into a ravishing beauty at dusk. Her newfound identity helps Millie finally land the delicious Graham Lance. But as she gets closer to Graham, her relationship with Braedon starts to disintegrate. Will Millie realize all that Braedon has to offer? Or will she choose to live her dream with Graham?


Author Bio:

Adriana Ryan writes spunky, supernatural women’s fiction in beautiful Charleston, SC. She is currently at work on an urban fantasy series. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards. Find her at the following sites:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAdrianaRyan


Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/#!/adrianaryansc

Website: http://www.adrianaryan.com/

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Introducing Scotch Broom

While the 3rd book in the Witches of Galdorheim series isn't even on the Coming Soon list, it does have a cover (yay!). That's close enough for me.

Penny Noyce is the first lucky blogger to introduce the new book with my thoughts on starting with a title (a la bolt from the blue) to a series of three books and one short story.

I'll let Penny premiere the cover on her blog. Otherwise, it's only been posted to the MuseItUp group on Facebook and on my website.

So, hop on over to Penny Noyce's View from the Windowseat blog to read all about it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cate Masters Free Ebook

You do NOT want to miss out on this. Cate Masters is an accomplished author of erotic paranormal romance. Here's your chance to sample her work with a free copy from Amazon. I'll be grabbing one for myself for sure.

Dancing with the Devil - Free from 28th to 31st on Amazon

Watch the book trailer on Cate's website. She has the best book trailers I've seen. So jealous!

Lily MacInnis has the luck of the Irish – against her. All her life, she never could catch a break. But now, something’s about to catch her, and dump her suitcase of secrets on the floor. Some secrets, even Lily hadn’t known. Like her father’s an angel, and her mother escaped from Hell. Literally. And now Hades and Persephone – her grandparents – want her to return to the Underworld. Lily is The Destined One, promised to Zeveriah, Archduke of Section Six, and Hades’ up and coming CFO.

Not in Lily’s plans – she’s fallen for Bodie, the Ruling Angel of the Sixth Heaven.

Bodie can’t let Lily fulfill that destiny. But will Bodie risk losing everything to keep his promise to ensure Lily stays safe?

Part goddess, part angel, part demon, can Lily summon the powers she never knew she had to free herself and make her own destiny?

Dancing With the Devil is Book 2 of The Goddess Connection series, which says: Every woman should embrace her inner goddess. What’s your connection?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Platform Building - Part II

See March 25th for Part I. Penny Noyce is the author of "Lost in Lexicon" and "Ice Castle." She took the Lexicon concept from a self-published book to a fully realized campaign to package the Lexicon world with games, school visits, and, eventually, a academic book publisher. Her story is a lesson to all authors on how to build big from a small beginning. I couldn't resist bold-facing a few thoughts that I found particularly interesting. Now, here's Penny.


Building a Lexicon Platform - Part II

Meanwhile, marketing and building my platform continued, even as I worked on the second Lexicon book, The Ice Castle: An Adventure in Music, which will come out in August, 2012. The key to marketing, people told me, was to hook into my existing network and expertise. I had been working for twenty years in the world of education philanthropy, focusing on science education.

Now when people ask me to speak about science education, I ask to also hold a side session on combining math and literature at the middle school, with Lost in Lexicon as a prime example; or I ask them to buy copies of the book for conference attendees in lieu of paying a speaker’s fee. I have volunteered to speak in teacher education classes on children’s literature, and I applied to speak at a national conference on gifted education. I’m convinced that to build a presence requires public speaking, and I try hard not to turn down opportunities.

Last spring, one opportunity literally knocked at my door. An acquaintance from the science education world, Barnas Monteith, came to chat about writing and publishing. Before long, we joined with two other friends to start a new company, Tumblehome Learning. Combining our passions for writing, artwork, and science education, Tumblehome Learning invites kids to imagine themselves as scientists and engineers through exciting stories and accompanying hands on kits and activities. Together Barnas and I cooked up the idea for a new middle grade series called The Galactic Academy of Science, and I signed on to write the first book. We’ll present and start selling that book, The Desperate Case of the Diamond Chip, along with three others at the US Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC at the end of April.

Barnas is now based in Taiwan, so Tumblehome Learning is a bilingual, bicultural company. All our books will appear in both English and traditional Chinese. Last month I visited Taiwan, where we had a booth at the Taiwan International Book Exhibition. We made contacts with bookstores, foreign rights agents and publishers, various government agencies, and a great digital distributor. Shortly afterward, we got an offer to purchase rights for for Diamond Chip from a Korean publisher. Not only that, I learned to eat stinky tofu.

Travel, holding events, speaking at conferences, while meanwhile writing, running a company and continuing to work on science education has been tremendously stimulating but not yet lucrative. I’ve invested a lot more than I’ve earned. Luckily, I have enough financial cushion to do that for now, and I look on my writing career itself, like Tumblehome Learning, as a startup enterprise. Entrepreneurs invest cash and sweat up front in hope of a big payoff in both money and contribution to society later. I’m not naïve enough to expect riches, but I’m already experiencing the thrill of getting my own work and that of others out there and known. Kids send me fan mail with beautiful artwork. What could be better than that? Besides, next week I’m meeting with a museum friend to work on ice and music activities for The Ice Castle, and another friend is busy composing songs for the Lost in Lexicon musical.
 
Lost in Lexicon

When thirteen year-old cousins Ivan and Daphne complain of boredom, their Aunt Adelaide sends them on a treasure hunt in a land where words and numbers run wild. Before they know it, they’ve taken on a pet thesaurus and the challenge of finding the Land of Lexicon’s lost children.


The cousins travel from village to village, solving challenges, befriending an unlikely lot of characters and gathering clues. When a careless mathematician transports them to the Land of Night, their danger deepens. They have to call on all their courage and creativity to battle kidnapping, imprisonment and blind deceit before they can solve the mystery of the lights in the sky and return the lost children of Lexicon to their homes.

The Ice Castle
 
Their return to Lexicon is not all that Ivan and Daphne imagined. For one thing, Aunt Adelaide is deathly ill. For another, their musical younger cousin, Lila, has stumbled into their secret land.
Instead of rejoining old friends in the Land of Morning, Ivan and Daphne find themselves tracing Lila through a wintery landscape where what matters most is how well a person sings. Sorted by musical talent and consigned to different lives, the cousins face cold, illness, and attempted murder. Slave, servant or fine lady, each has to escape a kind of imprisonment before they can find one another, foment a revolution and restore spring to the Land of Winter.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

Here's a brief fill-in before Part II of Penny Noyce's story of how she went from self-published to attending International Book Shows. A success story, indeed.

The idea of the 77-7-7 meme is to go to page 77 of either a new book, a work in progress, or any old book you've written. Go down 7 lines then copy the next 7 lines in a blog post. Ardyth deBruyn (the Evil One) tagged me for the third time, so I thought I'd better pony up with some verbiage.

I had previously posted from the 2nd and 3rd books in the Witches of Galdorheim series. I'd best to #1, the original concept book for the  entire series: Bad Spelling. It's quite cool that this segment includes the Ardyth's name since she's the tagger.

Kat shook her head. On the other hand, Aunt Thordis might have been rebelling against the wishes of her parents. Ardyth, the younger of the sisters, certainly didn’t care what anybody thought about her choices. Siberian fisherman or vampire count, Ardyth went with her heart.

Jtte came into the hall. The king signaled his guests to withdraw from the banquet room.

When the king rose to leave, the trolls stood and cheered him. He waved graciously then escorted Kat, Rune, and the brothers to his private chambers.

Gotta laugh. This will make no sense at all to somebody unfamiliar with the story. Just for fun, I'll add the latest review (not sure where it's posted yet) from a writer friend from Down Under, Frances Monro.

Kat grew up as a witch in a land of witches, knowing it was her heritage to wield magic and cast spells. But what if everything you know is false? All of Kat's spells go crazy, causing chaos. It seems she has no magical ability at all. It turns out her father wasn't a witch at all, but a traveler, one of the Sami people of Siberia. Now a curse hangs over Kat, threatening to destroy everyone she loves and everything she knows.

Alone she must leave her home and travel across a frozen arctic wasteland to lift the curse and save her world. She will face polar bears and killer whales and battle trolls and giants, in a journey ever closer to the source of the danger that threatens. Can she overcome hardship and magic and fantastic creatures? Can she survive the journey when she is not even a witch?

Anyone who liked Harry Potter will like Bad Spelling by Marva Dasef.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Platform Building - Part I

Penny Noyce is the author of "Lost in Lexicon" and "Ice Castle." She took the Lexicon concept from a self-published book to a fully realized campaign to package the Lexicon world with games, school visits, and, eventually, a academic book publisher. Her story is a lesson to all authors on how to build big from a small beginning. I couldn't resist bold-facing a few thoughts that I found particularly interesting. Now, here's Penny.

Building a Lexicon Platform

Marva asked me to write about building a platform—how I got from self-publishing to attending international book fairs. Basically it’s a story of grasping at any opportunities that arise.

When I decided to write a fantasy adventure about a land of words and numbers for my son, I hoped to get it published someday, but I had no idea how far into that land I would find myself traveling. Every published writer says it: marketing is at least as much work as writing the book. What I’ve tried to do is make the marketing (“building my platform”) as fun and creative as the writing. This has been all the more important because Lost in Lexicon started life as a self-published book.

First, I put a lot of thought into my book website, http://www.lostinlexicon.com/ . I even had a focus group of young readers advise me about color scheme and site features. I included blurbs about the characters, scenes from different villages, and most of all, games. Games can be expensive: various sources quoted me prices of $25,000 to $50,000 for a computer game. I had almost given up on the game idea when I found http://www.gamesinaflash.com/ , which sells inexpensive games that can be customized to particular websites or businesses at a reasonable price. Visitors to my website love the customized Rival Flowers game.

Second, I bowed to the necessity of social media. After a lot of foot-dragging, I let my advisors talk me into blogging, joining LinkedIn groups, and creating a Lost in Lexicon Facebook page. I embraced the notion of a 5:1 ratio on any social media site: offer five useful comments or articles for every one time you ask your readers for something.

What to blog about was a puzzle at first. The most popular and effective blogs for building a platform are probably those that specialize the most—blogs about quilting or wine collecting or rock climbing. I didn’t want to blog mostly about writing (too much competition), and I knew well enough to keep (mostly) away from politics. In the end I settled for an unfocused mix of education, science, family, and random social commentary. As a result, I have lots of readers but few followers.

My next step was to make Lexicon more experiential. I teamed up with Kirsten Cappy of CuriousCity (http://visitcuriouscity.wordpress.com/ ) to create a Lexicon Villages event that I can pack in a suitcase and take to any school or library in the country. At each event I set up nine stations where kids and parents interact with language and mathematical challenges (making up metaphors, playing with Latin word roots, doing Tangram puzzles, measuring pi, etcetera) that relate to challenges and villages found in the book. These events have been popular wherever kids have found them, especially when they come as a break in the school day.

Meanwhile, I worked with a publicist to get newspaper mentions and radio interviews. She helped me write up a press kit that included ten potential interview questions. She asked me to write two short articles that started off “Seven ways to…” or “Five reasons to…,” and she placed them widely. She linked Lexicon to controversies about the effects of video games and the importance of family togetherness time. Pursuing radio interviews led me to get back in touch with an old writing teacher of mine, now a publisher at a small press, Scarletta. Although at that time Scarletta published only adult books, they decided to take on the Lexicon franchise. All at once I had achieved my first goal: Lexicon had been picked up by a real publisher.

Part II will continue Penny's story on March 27th.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Address Change

My blog remains the same. This one, right here you're looking at. However, my WEBSITE is now at:

https://sites.google.com/site/mdasefauthor/

I hope I'll be able to reinstate my domain name (marvadasef.com) sometime soon, but considering the hideous (none) support by the domain issuer (Melbourne IT), I don't hold out much hope.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Free Kindle Ebook Days

*****

Lots of freebie days in March from my Kindle Collection.


March 18th-20th Mixed Bag

March 20th-22nd Tales of a Texas Boy

March 23rd-25th Quest for the Simurgh















FOOTNOTE:

I'm scheduling this post ahead of the 17th (Happy St. Patrick's Day, by the way), but I'm not sure whether the books listed below will actually be free as advertised. The reason is that Amazon thinks that these books are for sale on other sites (sony and kobo) therefore the KDP program doesn't count or something like that. Here's the deal, the first two books are from an earlier edition that were distributed by Smashwords. These specific editions are no longer listed on Smashwords and Amazon is assuming that "Tales of a Texas Boy: Large Print" is the same thing as "Tales of a Texas Boy." They're different books. 95% of the words are the same, but they have different ASINs and/or ISBNs. So, not the same book. Really. But rather than avoid a hassle, I unchecked the automatic renewal on these books in the KDP program and unpublished them. There is no mechanism to remove a book from the program, so that's the best I can do.

In the meantime, Amazon said it would continue to offer the books through KDP (Prime borrowing and free book promos). I certainly can't help what they do. I've done my best to comply, yet Amazon insists on continuing to offer the books in the program even though they say they're not eligible.

So be it, Amazon. The first two books may or may not be free on the dates specified. I won't know until the date arrives. I'll check when I wake up in the morning. If they aren't free, I'll remove them from this post and subsequent posts. Go check on the 17th. If Quest for the Simurgh is free, by all means grab a copy because it may not last long.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Heads Up! Free Books March 17th-25th

This next week starting on the 18th, I'm putting up three books as freebies through the KDP program. Tomorrow, I say a few words about that.

Note that these books (Tales of a Texas Boy, Quest for the Simurgh, and Mixed Bag) will probably never be free again in a public way (coupons at Smashwords will still be handed out), so if you don't get your freebies at Amazon over the next week, then you're out of luck.

You have been warned.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Deleted Scenes from Scotch Broom

Have you seen the selection on DVDs saying "Deleted Scenes?" Well, I've got a deleted scene or two from Scotch Broom. Here's one that my critters said diverged too far from the plot. Still, I liked the idea of my MC, Kat, stopping in at a real B&B (bed and breakfast) in Thurso, Scotland. This is how I write without an editor. I don't think it's too horrid.

If you'd like to catch up before Scotch Broom comes out, you can buy books 1 and 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim on the publisher's website or on Amazon, amongst other on-line stores.

Bad Spelling at MuseItUp

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

Excerpt (Deleted Scene):

She reached into her bag to examine the pound notes Mr. Angstrom had provided for her stay in the British Isles. She counted out two-hundred pounds and hoped that would be enough to last awhile. Realizing that the mundane world had such bad folk as thieves and pickpockets, she divided the money and put most of it into the foldbox part of the pack. She kept out twenty pounds for small purchases. But, first, she had to find out how much the fare to Inverness would be. She had a contact family there, cousins of a Scottish Galdorheim warlock, to take her sightseeing around the Highlands, along with a room and meals.

Kat reached the station and found the schedule tacked up on a cork board. She went to the ticket window to find out the fare. “How much to Inverness?”

“That’d be fifteen pounds, thirty pence, lass.”

“When’s the next train?”

You just missed the last train of the day. You’ll have to wait overnight. First train tomorrow leaves at 11:07.”

“Oh. Well, I wasn’t planning...no matter. AM or PM?”

“AM, lass. The trains run on a twenty-four-hour clock.”

“Can I buy my ticket now?”

“That you can. It’s an open ticket; you can use it whenever you want. Maybe you’ll enjoy Thurso and want to stay a few days.”

“I do have people to meet in Inverness.” Kat handed over the twenty-pound note, and the clerk counted back her change. She turned away from the ticket window and took a few steps, when the clerk called out to her. “If you’re needin’ a room fer the night, you might try the Waterside. It’s decent and not too dear.”

“That’d be great. Which way?”

“Head north on Princes Street. That’s the street right out there,” he replied pointing to the street on the opposite side of the train platform. “Turn right on Sir John’s Square, then left on Sinclair. Walk quite aways, and take a right on Sir George’s Street, a quick right on Janet and keep going ‘til ya see it. Ye’ll be right by the river.”

“Um, north then Sir George—.”

“Nae, lass, right on Sir John’s, then Sinclair, then Sir George.” The station master paused, and seemed to notice the expression on Kat’s face. “Here. I’ll draw ye a map.”

Kat grinned. “That’d be perfect.”

She followed the map the station master had drawn. On Janet Street, she stopped in front of an old brick, two-story house. Windows on both floors faced the street, and a single door led inside. Since it looked so much like a private home, she wasn’t sure whether she should knock first or just go inside.

When she got close to the reddish door, she saw a beautiful brass doorknocker. Taking that as a need to knock before entering, she reached toward it. When she touched it, the knocker spoke. “Welcome to Waterside House. Please come in.” Kat jerked back, surprised. While talking doorknockers were the norm on Galdorheim, she didn’t expect to find one in the mundane world.

The door didn’t open on its own, so she grabbed the handle and pushed it. Stepping in, she found herself in a small lobby. To the right, an archway opened to a wallpapered, well-lit dining room. The wallpaper was a little too flowery for her taste, but it was overall a pleasant room. Turning back, she saw a dark-haired woman standing behind the small counter, wearing a dress straight out of the 19th Century MacSears catalog. Kat was certain she wasn’t there when she came in.

“Good day, may I help you?” the woman said in a sweet contralto voice.

Kat stepped to the counter. “I’d like a room for the night. I’m waiting to take the train south tomorrow. I missed today’s.”

The woman consulted a watch hung on a gold chain attached to a brooch. “Just missed it seems. I thought I heard the train pull out, but I’m so used to the sound I don’t notice.”

Pulling a big leatherbound ledger from beneath the counter, she opened it facing Kat. “If you’ll fill out the information, I’ll have the maid check your room. A single, yes?” She tapped on an old-fashioned bellhop bell, which dinged pleasantly.

“Yes. Just me.”

Kat wondered how anybody in the house could hear it, but a door behind the counter opened right away, and a young girl stepped in. She also wore a 19th Century maid’s costume, complete with a frilly white cap over her thick red hair. “Is the single ready?” the woman asked.

“Yes’m, but I’ll go check.” The girl lifted the hinged counter on one end and headed for a stairway to the left.

Meanwhile, Kat had been puzzling over the questions in the Guest Book. Where should she say she was from? Auto plate? What was that? Maybe she’d only fill in the things she knew and see if that sufficed. She wrote the date and her name. That was all she did know. The woman leaned forward to read the ledger upside down, a talent of innkeepers all over the world.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

“On an island north of here. I rode a boat down from the Shetland Islands.”

The woman nodded. “Just write Shetland Islands in the space then. No car? That’s fine. Not many people have them.”

Kat did as requested, then the woman turned the book to face her and made a notation of the check-in time. “One night will be nineteen pounds, sixty pence, including tax, of course.”

Kat unslung her bag from her shoulder and rummaged into the foldbox for another twenty-pound note. She handed it across the counter. The woman handed her a few coins in change. By that time, the maid had come back down the stairs.

“Here’s the key to your room,” the woman said, handing over an old brass key. “Tara will show you the way.”

Kat picked up her bag and followed Tara up the stairway and down a hall to the end room. “The bath is through that door,” she said, pointing out the obvious, since it was the only other door in the room. The room was already opened, so she walked in and laid her bag on the single bed. She turned to hand the forty pence to Tara, but the maid was already gone.

She wondered if the woman at the desk had chosen the decor for the house. A faux wainscot separated the top and bottom of the walls. The bottom wallpaper had vertical stripes of lavender and green wallpaper. The top was lavender with little flowers all over it. The one window looked out onto a pleasant garden.

She flopped down on the bed and bounced a couple of times. Her first hotel room! Kat felt more grown up already. She glanced up to see a black box. It took her a moment to recognize the first television she’d ever encountered. The Witches' Council had an LCD flat screen. “Well, might as well get cleaned up then find someplace for dinner.” She didn’t have to go far for dinner. A Fish and Chips walkaway sat directly across the street.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scotch Broom - More Excerpts

Continuing with some excerpts from Scotch Broom. Before it appears from the aether, maybe another excerpt will whet your whistle. In the meantime, you can catch up with Kat's story with Bad Spelling on sale and Midnight Oil introducing you to Ceto the Sea Serpent, amongst other new characters.

Bad Spelling on sale at MuseItUp.

The Book: Scotch Broom - Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
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.

Excerpt:

The weather cooperated for a change. Kat used a propel spell to speed up the trip, and they made good time. She looked backward to the open sea only a hundred feet beneath. The water formed a wave behind them as if running a boat on the surface.


Before long, Kat saw land in the distance. She hoped the smudge in the mist turned out to be the Shetland Islands. If so, she would veer left and fly down the eastern coast of the island group.

She strained her eyes looking for the warlock’s signpost. Aunt Thordis said the man’s color was red, like Rune’s. The sight of a wavering red sheet rewarded her search. A witch’s signpost looked very much like the aurora borealis but much smaller. The deeper toned side of the flag-like light showed the direction to go. The trailing edge faded to transparency. Kat saw this signpost’s bottom side was the darkest, which meant the warlock’s home was directly beneath it.

When she reached the signpost, she circled it examining the islands below. She directed Spirit downward, and the red guide descended ahead of her. It halted above one of the tiny islands that made up the Out Skerries part of the Shetlands. Kat looked up information on the island group when preparing for her trip. Otherwise uninhabited, Da Skerries, as the Shetlanders called them, were just about as remote and desolate as one could get and still be connected to civilization. Grunay once had lighthouse keepers living on it, but when the government automated the lighthouse, the keepers departed, and the warlock and his family moved in a few years later. Aunt Thordis told her the residents of the larger islands thought the Angstrom family to be a bit funny in the head, thus left them alone.

However, Nils and Maureen Angstrom liked living on the island. Of course, being a warlock and a witch, they had an advantage over the mundanes in making even the most terrible environment quite pleasant. Galdorheim would be uninhabitable too, if the witches didn’t maintain the bubble shield.

Kat spotted two people below, waving at her. The red flag dropped to the ground around them and disappeared. Spirit took over to make a perfect three-point landing and taxied her to the pair. Stepping off Spirit, she wobbled a moment getting her land legs back; then walked the last few feet and grasped the outstretched hand of Nils Angstrom.

“Happy we aer to have ye!” He pulled Kat toward him, startling her, and gave her a bear hug. “Welcome!” He let her go, and Kat turned to the woman standing nearby.

“You must be Maureen,” Kat said, extending her hand. Maureen grabbed her into another great hug, lifting her off the ground.

“Welcome!” the burly woman shouted in her ear. Kat was beginning to understand why the Angstroms preferred to keep to themselves. She recognized the signs: the big mouth, bulbous nose, and bowed legs. Maureen Angstrom was half troll. Unsure whether it might offend the woman or her husband, Kat decided not to mention it unless they brought it up themselves.

“Come in, come in,” Mrs. Angstrom shouted, heading toward the little house. “Make yerself ta home.” Kat smiled politely and followed the woman. Mr. Angstrom trailed Kat.

The front door led into a small, enclosed porch. “Keeps da winds oot!” Maureen yelled.

“I can imagine that’d be necessary up here. It is very windy,” Kat replied. The woman opened a second door, and they all went into a tidy parlor.

Kat looked around for someplace to put her pack. Nils pointed to another door. “Ye’ll be sleepin’ there.” Kat nodded and went into a little room barely six feet on each side. A short bunk filled one wall. A dresser and small table left just enough space to turn around.

“Seems cozy enough,” Kat said to herself then dropped her pack on the bunk and returned to the parlor.

Mrs. Angstrom disappeared through another door, which Kat assumed was the kitchen since she soon heard the clattering of pans. Mr. Angstrom indicated a chair by the fire for Kat to sit. She leaned toward the fire, rubbing her hands. This far north it rarely got warm, especially on a windswept, barren island like this one. Through the window Kat caught sight of the lighthouse perched on its own rocky island.

“That be Bound Skerry. At the low tide, there’s a rock bridge of sorts to the island, but there’s nae need to go there. A crew comes in for maintenance now and again.”

“I read the Germans bombed the keeper’s house in the war. Is this the same house?”

“Aye. We built this ‘un on the same foundation. The first was nothing but rubble. An old lady died in the bombing.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Nae worries. War does that. Now sit ye down and fill me in on all the gossip.”

Kat told Nils what she could about the residents of Galdorheim. He asked after a few people himself. He knew Sean and Einar back in the day. He said he could tell some stories about their exploits, but it wasn’t decent talk for a young lady’s ears.

When Maureen entered the room carrying dishes, Mr. Angstrom slapped the arms of his chair and rose. “Och, supper is near served. Hae ye e’er had krappin?”

“Not that I recall. What is it?”

“Fish livers stuffed in a fish head and biled ta tender goodness!”

“Uh, it sounds, um, delicious.” Kat hoped she could get the mixture down and keep it there. Although a vegetarian, she ate some fish. She’d never had any luck talking to a fish.
 
********** TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gazing Into My Scrying Crystal

The future is somewhat cloudy, but that's Spring for you. I do see a book, but the poor thing is coverless. Does that mean it's a remaindered paperback? You know, the kind you're not supposed to re-sell under dire threats from Interpol, Scotland Yard, and the CIA.

No, this is a book coming soon, perhaps within the next month or two.

Here my scrying crystal grows even cloudier. Without a cover (OMG! a naked book!) and a release date, only a few details can be set loose upon the reading public now. One thing I can say with certainty is that the cover will have a manga style black-haired, green-eyed girl. Not entirely a wild guess since the first two books in the series have said girl, Katrina the befuddled witch, gracing the covers.

Something like the book covers here. But a book can't be judged by its cover, so I'll throw the logline, blurb, and a taste of an excerpt which I hope will whet your appetite. Perhaps you should read the first two books while we're waiting for book 3 to emerge. Yes, that'd be a great idea. Bad Spelling is on sale at MuseItUp for only $1.99. You get a bonus story with it. The only thing more I could do is autograph it for you. Wait! I can autograph it at Kindlegraph (just for the Kindle users).



The Book: Scotch Broom - Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
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.

Excerpt:

When Galdorheim was no more than a speck on the horizon, Kat left topside and went below. The supply boat often carried passengers, so Sean had made a small, but comfortable, lounge on the lower deck. Kat reached the bottom of the steps and stopped in her tracks.

“Why, hello, Katty. How nice to see you.”

Kat wrinkled her nose. She’d forgotten Merry would be traveling at the same time. She walked to the opposite side of the lounge from Merry and slung her pack to the floor. Flopping on the couch, Kat glared at her nemesis. “Yeah, right.”

Merry jumped up and stood in front of Kat. She stuck her hand out. “Bygones?”

Surprised, Kat sighed and conceded a truce. It might make the boat ride more bearable. “Sure, bygones.” It wouldn’t help to stay mad at Merry. After all, she couldn’t help being a spiteful b...witch. Pasting on a smile, Kat extended her hand to Merry. Before they touched a flash of violet spit from Merry’s fingertips. Kat jerked her hand back as the electric bolt zapped the nail of her index finger sizzling it down to the quick. Merry threw back her head and laughed.

“You’re such a tool, Katty. I’ll miss having you around for entertainment.”

“You’d better watch your back,” Kat snarled.

Merry deliberately turned her back on Kat and traipsed across the lounge. “What? You’ve got nothing? I didn’t think so.” The witch smirked and dropped into her chair with her arms folded across her chest.

“I learned manners from my mother. Looks like yours just didn’t give a rip how you turned out.” Kat looked at her burned fingernail and spoke a soothing spell under her breath. “Look,” she said, glaring at Merry. “Just a word to the, well, not wise, but a word of advice. If you do stuff like that out in the real world, you might end up in jail...or worse.”

Merry pulled an emery board from her hand-stitched, silk purse and flipped her hair back over her shoulder. “Whatever.”

Kat walked toward the stairs leading up to the deck. “I think I’ll ride up top.”

Merry waggled her fingers. Kat recoiled, fearing another attack. Merry snickered. “Buh bye, Katty.”

*****  TO BE CONTINUED ******

Friday, March 09, 2012

Bad Spelling on Special

Only $1.99 direct from my publisher, MuseItUp, for a limited time. Regularly $5.50, this is a super bargain. Don't miss out.

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?

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.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

KONY2012

Help bring this evil person to justice. He must be caught and tried for crimes against humanity. If you don't know what this means, then use your internet connection to find out.

What I'm Talking About

Yesterday I opined on self-publishing as not only a viable alternative to traditional publishing, but also as a better choice in many ways. My discussion was based on my recent upgrades to one of my self-published books. I managed improvements and modifications which would not have been possible with a traditional publisher. I redesigned my cover, edited my manuscript (will I ever get all the typos?), made a book trailer based on my new cover, and made my ebook editions free on Smashwords.

Agent/Publisher: No changes, same old cover, no additional edits, no coupons or free copies.
Self-publishing: Able to change at will, redesign covers, edit the ms, and offer freebie coupons.

I am not going to diss traditional publishing since I also have a dandy publisher who will be the first choice recipient of my future work. I like the relationship I have with MuseItUp. Traditional publishing is like a marriage complete with vows, expectations of fidelity, and hopefully a life-long commitment. Self-publishing is the freedom to date whom I please, toss him out if he's boring, pick up something spiffy and new as I choose. Hmm. Both ways are tempting.

Anyway, here's the book trailer for the refurbished "First Duty."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Another Good Reason to Self-Publish

This week I decided to put a new face on one of my older books. Give it a fresh start, so to speak. I searched about for some appropriate art (making sure that credit was given to the artwork creator as per the rules), then slapped my title and name on it after a bit of reshaping, resizing, and messing about.

I uploaded the front cover to Smashwords (free this week using coupon code RE100) and Kindle, along with the new interior text denoting the cover art change.

Next, I reshaped the cover for the 6x9" format of the print book. Took it over to CreateSpace (paperback at Amazon) and redid the cover using their new cover creator. It's easiest, I must note, to create your own front cover, then let them take care of the spine and backcover. I didn't have to create a full cover PDF like I used to do in the olden days of self-pubbing.

In three days, I changed my book's look, uploaded a nicer looking interior, and sent the thing out to the world.

What if I had an agent and a publisher? Wouldn't have happened. Not only that, a couple of my older books wouldn't even be alive anymore. As a low volume seller, my best seller would have been pulled from the virtual shelves. As the publisher of record (using those free ISBNs offerered by Smashwords and CreateSpace), I did in days something that would have taken months, or maybe not done at all.

Yup. I'm not all that distraught not having an agent to wait on while they spend months or years finding a publisher, possibly not getting one at all. I do have a small epublisher, MuseItUp Publishing, I'm quite happy to have. I won't make the sales I do with my self-pubs. It's a matter of costs. My publisher's retail price has to be higher to pay the editors, cover artists, the publisher, and the distributors.

I can make decide when to run a promo. I can set my ebook price to $0.00 if I've a mind to. I can change the cover or upload new interiors when I want. I can also change the price on my print book, although the price change takes a tad longer. The new edition of the print book is still in process and will show up in a few days on Amazon. Right now, it's for sale only by third party sellers. Hint: I have the best price (see Texas Boy Publications). The new book will cost more because I feel like upping the price. Maybe I'll lower the price next week. Point is, I decide such details, not somebody else who may not have my best interests in mind.

Sure, if I had gotten an agent a few years ago when the publishing world was claiming that's what you had to do, I'd probably be very happy with how it worked. Waiting for the agent to find a publisher (if at all), waiting for the publisher to get around to publishing my book, waiting for royalties that must be sent out by tortoise mail. It would have been fine.

But since that didn't happen, I've found I'm pretty happy with the way I ended up publishing some of my books. I'm also happy I've got MuseItUp as my new publisher. We'll see how that goes over the long run.

Monday, March 05, 2012

March and April Free Kindle Ebook Days

Lots of freebie days coming in March and April from my Kindle Collection.

Mar 5th-9th Fish Story. Just a single story from Mixed Bag. Get the book free Apr 6th-8th.

Mar 23rd-25th Quest for the Simurgh

Apr 6th-8th Mixed Bag

Apr 13th-15th Tales of a Texas Boy




Sunday, March 04, 2012

Smashwords Promo Week Sale

Hie thee to Smashwords to find discounted books everywhere! From March 4th through 10th, "Read an Ebook Week" is going on. I'm going in whole hog with all five of my books offered for $0.00.

For free books, use coupon code RE100 at checkout. The sale is sitewide. You'll find lots of bargains for 75% (REW75), 50% (REW50), or 25% (REW25) off the list price. But you'll have to find those other books on your own. You can locate all my books at these links:

Eagle Quest
A Native American boy searches for his roots through a vision quest.

First Duty
Nyra must choose between sworn duty or family when long-held secrets are revealed.

Mixed Bag II: Supersized
25 short stories and a few drabbles. SF/F/H/R/Lit. Something for everyone.

Quest for the Simurgh
Four students search for their kidnapped teacher and find themselves in a battle between good and evil.

Tales of a Texas Boy
Little Eddie spins his tales about growing up in West Texas during the Depression, but he always has a humorous take on life.

Eagle QuestFirst Duty CoverMixedBag IIQuest for the SimurghTales of a Texas Boy

Saturday, March 03, 2012

5 Star Review at Alt-Read

I was happy to see a nice review of my murder mystery, "Missing, Assumed Dead," on the Alt-Read review blog. The book reviewer is Lucille P. Robinson. Thank you, my dear. Five stars is always a happy thing.

Here's the top of the review. Click the link above to read the full review.


REVIEW: Missing, Assumed dead
Marva Dasef
MuseItUp Publishing
Alternative Read categories Marva Dasef, Muse It Up Publishing 

Missing, Assumed Dead by Marva Dasef
Reviewer: Lucille P Robinson
Alternative-Read.com

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kameron McBride receives a letter from a court in Oregon saying she has been appointed the executor of Salvador Vasco's estate. She decides, with much prompting from her mom and best friend Sue, to go.

After arriving in Oregon, the frustration of getting lost in the near-desert territory is offset by meeting a tall, dark and handsome Deputy Mitch whose very arrival at the spot runs would-be attackers away. This was just a beginning. Before long, Kam finds herself in the middle of a seven year old murder with danger lurking behind her throughout her brief stay in Rosewood. Mitch becomes her protector only to be gone when the real danger appears.

More here.

March 4th Through 10th: Read an Ebook Week

C'mon! Give it a try. Ebooks read just as well, if not better, than paperbacks. And if you have to move, you don't need forty-three boxes to pack your books. Just pick up your e-reader and go (you can also take clothes and furniture if you must).

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Catching Up

We returned from our Las Vegas sojourn saturated with Elvises (Elvi), heads ringing from the clanging of slot machines, and overstuffed on buffets.

It was nice to come back to find super news from a dear friend whose husband has sadly traveled down the road of Alzheimer's. While he cannot be returned to health, she has been given some respite from being the sole care provider. It's her story, not mine, but I have to say it was the best news of the week that she's found some help in her task. I consider her a saint because I would have "accidentally" shoved my own husband in front of a Mack truck if I were in her position. That she didn't do that and STILL managed to write some great books (coming soon from MuseItUp), makes me admire her no end. WTG, Lorrie!

I was also happy to find that a couple of wonderful people read one of my books and was kind enough to review them. Both positive! Can't get better than that.

Checkout H.M. Prevost's review of Bad Spelling on her blog.

Joan Szechtman posted a nice review of Tales of a Texas Boy on Amazon.

That's it for now.