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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quiz for the Grand Prize

If you've been visiting my hosts throughout this month, you'll have found out a lot about the setting, characters, and general stuff in Scotch Broom. Now's the time to test what you learned. But I am one of those kind teachers who give open book tests. The link that provides the answer to each question is sitting right there waiting for a click.

This is how you play. Find as many answers as you can. Plop them into an email and send them to me at mgdasef@gmail.com. Be as succinct as you wish. Please include the number of the question with your answer. Send me the answer by end of day of May 31st (my day, which is PDT), and I'll choose the winner--whoever answers the most questions correctly. If there's a tie, I will choose the FIRST person who sends me the answers AND I may choose the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. for prizes as well. If nothing else, just do it for fun.

Want to know what you're playing for (how many times have we heard Jeff Probst ask that question?)?

All three books in the Witches of Galdorheim series, plus the bonus short story, Spellslinger. Of course, everybody can get the short story by clicking here. I'll throw in a copy of my murder mystery, "Missing, Assumed Dead." And the winner will also receive a gift certificate to the MuseItUp Bookstore. I've said ten bucks, but I may feel more generous.

On to the quiz. Either make a wild guess or click on the question to find the answer on the corresponding blog post.

1. What does the goose charm do?

2. Where is Merry going on her Winter Abroad?

3. What's unusual about Cusith's tail?

4. How does Rune earn money for his train ticket?

5. What's unusal about Kat's luggage?

6. What does folklore say about Glaistig's legs?

7. How do you pronounce sidhe (according to Cait Sidhe)?

8. What or who is Diamond fighting when Kat first sees him?

9. What's the name of the creature living in Cailleach's woodshed?

10. Name one of the books Cailleach is reading.
 
11. What form is the magical map Ardyth uses to find King Connor's Hall?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

For the Fallen Warriors

Father: Edward P. Perkins, WWII, 11/27/1921 - 08/01/2011
Grandfather: Louis P. Perkins WWI, 08/16/1888 - 12/11/1953


And to all the others in my family who served their country.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Street Kids Teaching a Writer

Check Edith's blog today for my post on my main character's mom, Ardyth the Witch.


* * * Here's Edith Parzefall! * * *

http://edith-parzefall.de/
http://blog.edith-parzefall.de/

While Strays of Rio (MuseItUp) isn't a teen book, one of the main characters is fourteen-year-old Luiz, a street kid in Rio de Janeiro. He and his gang are the true heroes of this novel, surviving and enjoying life against all odds.

As part of my research, I visited Grupo Ruas e Pracas, a street kids project in Receife, Brazil. Their German partner organization RUA e.V., which I've been supporting for several years now, got me in contact with the social workers there.

We couldn't have timed our visit better. While we were there, Grupo Ruas e Pracas attended a community event in a nearby park and ran a drumming workshop for street kids in the walled-in backyard of their premises. Ear-deafening but intoxicating rhythms.

The kids were well-behaved and excited to have foreign visitors. The social workers happily answered my many questions. I'd done plenty of research on the situation of street kids in Brazil, knew the worst case scenarios, and sometimes found it hard to reconcile these with the happy kids fooling around and laughing. They'd already been with Grupo Ruas e Pracas for some time, no longer having to fend for themselves on the streets.


When a ten-year-old wants to bum a cigarette, it's certainly a powerful reminder of their background. Or a social worker telling me not to let one of their young charges take photos with my camera. I wanted to slap my forehead for doing that. Did I think him a potential thief? Yes, very likely stealing once was a way for him to get food.

When I watched the boy excitedly snapping pictures and scrutinizing the results on the little display, I couldn't wrench the camera from him. When more of the kids wanted to take photos, the social worker intervened and rescued my camera. Comparing the photos later, I realized that while I'd been hunting for faces, my young fellow photographer aimed for objects that intrigued him, for example the drums lined up without kids and teachers getting in the way.

These kids and the social workers at Grupo Ruas e Pracas taught me a lot. Without them, Strays of Rio would have become a weaker book. The novel started out as a thriller focused on drug gangs, death squads, corrupt police, impunity of the rich, but after my visit with Grupo Ruas e Pracas, the street kids became the true heroes of the novel while the war for money and power rages around them.

Watch for Edith's novel, Strays of Rio, to be released from MuseItUp Publishing this September.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Harpies by Rebecca Ryals Russell

Rebecca is hosting Cailleach, the villain of Scotch Broom.




* * * * HERE'S REBECCA! * * * *


Harpies, Book Two of Seraphym Wars series by Rebecca Ryals Russell comes out soon. But you might wish to read the Prequel, Prophecy first.

BLURB

For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy of Narciss’s future doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.

But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.

EXCERPT

Journal of Reverend Jeremiah Holyfield
500 yl Toxicorru Epoch
Haazbul Village, Season of Torridaesta

Chapter One

Laudday, 15th Sun Turn of Torridaesta

The flaming village blazed high into the night. Those who could escape, screamed in their search for family members. Others, trapped, shrieked, burning to death.

Alarmed by the cacophony, I jolted out of my meditations, heart pounding. What had happened to our peaceful community? Throughout the village, building timbers groaned, thundering in collapse under the licking flames. The stained glass windows of the church, sitting high on the mountain many paces from the village, nonetheless rattled with the vibration. Children wailed. Mothers yelled. Victims shrieked. Monsters roared.

Dodging pews, I ran toward the heavy, carved doors of the church. Rough brown priest’s robes flapped behind me like angel wings, sandals slapping time to my steps. With slow caution, I pushed the door open a crack to peer out. Banshee wails and leviathan roars filled the night air. Acrid odors of charred flesh and wood burned my nostrils. It wasn’t possible that this was happening again. Throughout the village, confusion reigned; screaming people scattered, seeking shelter, desperate for safety.

But it no longer existed. Once any of the row houses or shops in this tightly packed community caught fire, the entire village began to burn. If only we’d built the church closer to the village, it could have provided shelter now. But who would have guessed, after so many centuries, they would return to wreak havoc. The setting of the church on the mountainside, for the villagers to gaze upon, had provided peace. Until now—there was no place to hide. Too far away to provide assistance, I had no hope of making my way to the village. The flying beasts of carnage saw every movement despite the darkness of night.

Tears rolled down my cheeks. My parishioners, loyal and loving, always there when I needed them, now needed me more than ever, and I couldn’t go. There might as well be a sea between us. Through the smoke and flames, I scanned what was left of the village, recalling its construction. Hundreds of years ago, we harvested wood from the surrounding forest. But being built of wood made the village vulnerable. Villagers’ flats and cottages clustered along a narrow dirt path interspersed with taller buildings, the living quarters above, the shops at street level. Sobbing openly, I observed flames now shooting from the roofs of the taller buildings, tinder and ashes falling onto the shorter dwellings, lighting them aflame.

Outside the sanctuary of my church, standing on the high stone steps, I watched the horror. My heart quivered with each shriek or building collapse. Orange, yellow, and red, the flames’ chaotic dance wove mesmerizing designs against the black backdrop of night’s theatre. Clouds of purple smoke billowed upward obliterating the full moon—hiding the moon’s face as though horrified.

Wailing, his body engulfed by flames, a young child ran toward the church. Behind him, his family’s small cottage collapsed in a shower of sparks and groaning wood. As I raced down several steps, a deep voice filled my head.

“You must guard what must never be destroyed.”

“But the boy, Lord, he must be saved.” I continued down several steps, aware of the danger overhead but driven to save this one life. Movement caught the red eyes of the aggressor who circled in my direction. Head swiveling side to side, he changed direction—apparently seeing something of more immediate interest.

Eyes wide, heart drumming against ribs, I watched as the beast clasped the boy’s shoulders in its long claws of malevolence, lifting him high. The boy screamed and wriggled. Hot, fresh tears of anger and frustration soaked my cheeks. Angrily I swiped them away with back of my hand, wishing it was the demon instead. Leathery wings whooshed like a blacksmith’s bellow feeding the devouring flames. Moments later, a small leg and arm thudded in the dirt. My head dropped. Tears flowed unimpeded.

“There is no shame. You could not have saved him. He is safely home with me now, happily rejoined with his family.”

“Why, Lord? Why must these good people endure such agony?” I screamed at the sky. “There are others who are yet alive—who need saving.” Villagers’ screams echoed across the rocky mountain face.

Down the wide stone steps I stumbled, determined to rescue those still alive and help the others to their eternal rest. The dragon, his black scaled silhouette crossing the full moon, must have seen me—his arch enemy’s servant.

As the monster dove toward me, Laud, Lord of Love and King of the Megaverse, roared through my head, “No! You cannot save these children; it is too late. Their home is with me now. You must save yourself and what you guard.”

“How? I am powerless against these leviathans!” The beast hurtled toward me, neck outstretched, mouth open wide to release a flaming stream of death.

“You must run—hide. Take what is precious. Find no shame; if it saves my children, it is honorable.”

“As you say, Lord.” Filled with sorrow, a stone in the pit of my stomach, I turned my back on the burning village and ran back inside the church. Outside, the screeching roar filled the night. The building vibrated. Surely the demon had lit it aflame.

Trembling hands that faltered the locking mechanism several times, finally opened the hidden door behind the altar. Here, a secret room contained irreplaceable parchments and artifacts. Anxiously adjusting to the dimness, I frantically searched for the particular parchment in my charge. It only took a second to secure it beneath my robes.

The bitter odor of smoke drifted down from the burning belfry.

Knowing there were mere minutes left, I added any artifacts or parchments that would fit into the rucksack. Back in my chamber, I threw on my rough brown cloak, clasped the brooch, and grabbed what few personal items I desired. Several roars reverberated throughout the empty sanctuary. They must have tired of the village, or there was nothing left. Now they would destroy the church. I glanced around at the hand-hewn log walls and rough pews built by loving hands. Running my hand across a piece of wall, I discovered evidence of teenagers in love, their initials carved inside a heart. It was not smoke that burned my eyes as I eased open the heavy door again.

For centuries we’d been happy, left alone by the Tyrant of Darkness. We lived under the wire, kept quiet about celebrations, about business dealings. No one bragged. No one left the village in search of greater riches. We raised our families and kept our noses clean.

Then they came back. There must have been a spy. A gypsy or traveling salesman we didn’t notice carrying stories of our village to who knows whom. Perhaps the spy embellished the tale to their benefit. No matter, now, the poor villagers paid the price. If any survived, it would take decades to rebuild the village—centuries to grow it back to its current heyday.

Peering skyward through the crack in the door, I watched for the beasts to be distracted so I could get away.

The belfry collapsed. The church quickly filled with smoke. Soon flames flickered along the massive beams in the upper rafters. I was out of time.

Overhead dragons glided through the darkness, gloating as they languidly circled. Red eyes, glaring at the hysterical residents, pierced the murk and smoke. Throaty laughter filtered down to the shocked villagers. They stopped running, turning sooty faces upward. The demons flew past the full moon—their sinister serpentine shadows slithering on the charred ground.

Some people dropped to their knees in supplication, praying to the beasts of darkness to be left alone. I cringed, knowing they were lost the moment their knees hit the dirt. In the shadows, a few brave villagers searched for survivors, praying I’m sure, for deliverance by their beneficent divinity.

Creeping out the barely opened door, I crouched on the top step. Inside, the crashing continued as beams collapsed from the flaming roof. It was now or never. My cargo was too precious to lose. I ran down the many stone steps.

The sulfuric blast of flames overhead drew my attention. My eyes widened in terror; the largest of the archfiends stared at me. His tiled lips peeled back to reveal long, dripping fangs that oozed a thick substance. Death in scales. He growled. Wings folded, he dove.

I jumped, rolling beneath the stone and logs of the stairwell, to hide. Craning my neck, I looked up at the massive church set on the mountainside, majestic and intimidating. Inside, beams and rafters continued to crash, ash shooting out through shattered windows. Protection of this stone building was of no importance compared to the loss of life this day. It would be rebuilt. Those lives could not. Neither were the parchments I carried replaceable. Especially the one beneath my robes. I must, at all cost, keep it safe. I swore an oath to Laud when I volunteered for this duty.

Before I could pull my head back to safety beneath the steps, a flaming beam flew out of a window directly at me. Moments later, I collapsed under a crushing, burning pile of debris. Agony screamed through me as the searing flames licked greedily at my flesh. Through shear force of will, I bit back a roar, realizing it would mean certain death. I pushed the burning beam off my shoulder and face while trying to slide out from under it. Nerve endings on my face and hands shrieked in my brain as their lives ended—echoing the villagers’ screams. Once free of the still burning, charred beam, I looked frantically around. Village herbalists had used a certain plant for burns and skin eruptions. Stiff, pointed leaves indicated a clump of aloe growing beside the steps.

With hands that felt as though they would split open any moment, I broke several of the tough spiny leaves off the main plant. The sticky gel spread across my face, neck and hands with a cooling effect. It stopped the burn. My shoulder, protected by the singed but wearable tunic and robe, felt only bruised. My right eye, however, had begun to swell shut.

The remainder of the plant easily pulled free of the dirt in which it grew. After shaking the loose dirt from the roots, I tucked it into the rucksack. Looking up from my hiding spot, beneath the stone steps, and surrounded by masses of shrubs, I realized Narciss, the large black dragon and leader of the demons, had gotten his last revenge on me.

Red eyes narrowed into angry slits blazed in triumph as he roared, lighting the front of the church on fire. He flew by several times more with his gaping jaw spouting flames until the church was a blazing inferno.

“Now, that is better,” the demon bellowed, rising to circle with the other laughing dragons.

For hours, flames continued to flare, sparks popping high into the jet sky. Cottages, shops, and church burned. Whenever the fire diminished, a dragon descended, blazing a new trail of flame accompanied by roars that surpassed thunder, as he swooped across the village relighting it. Screeches and wails again filled the air as the renewed flames discovered hidden survivors, ending their search for sanctuary. As the moon crept across the smoke-filled night, the dragon dance continued, circling wider in search of missed victims.

Eventually the sound of wailing faded into whimpering and crying until life succumbed. Only the crackling and crashing of the collapsing wooden structures mingled with the laughing roars of the dragons. On the ground, the few terrified survivors huddled together crying or dying.

A rosy glow streaked across the horizon before the dragons turned toward home, their sinuous shapes silhouetted black. The largest swerved back spewing one final trail across the smoking demolished village. Survivors scrambled again for safety, scampering wild-eyed through the mud and soot, cowering behind anything still standing.

Once the dragons again became interested in the village, I scrambled from my hiding spot under the steps. Staying close to the mountain, using shrubbery as cover, I made my way toward the desert, away from the village.

A few miles away but close enough to witness the final blow, with tears racing down my sooty cheeks, I watched from an outcropping of rock.

The black dragon bellowed before departing, “Perhaps next time you will do as you are told!”

LINKS

Here are the links and topics detailing where I’ll be all month. Check them out and win PRIZES.

Seraphym Wars Series Summary May 2

Seraphym Wars and Stardust Warriors Series Blurbs May 10

Who are the Vigorios? May 4

The Prophecy of the Vigorios May 7

EXCERPTS AVAILABLE TO READ

Harpies Chapter One May 12
Harpies Chapter Two May 15
Harpies Chapter Three May 16
Prophecy Chapter One May 23
Prophecy Chapter Two May 25
Prophecy Chapter Three May 28
Odessa Chapter One May 29
Odessa Chapter Two May 30
Odessa Chapter Three May 31

GIVEAWAY

Comment on EACH of my postings (listed above with links) showing you read the posting. Commenters will acquire ONE point per comment. At the end, fill out the form on my blog, Under the Hat.

The prize? This lovely Phoenix medallion and a bag of swag including Odessa notepad, Seraphym Wars pen, Mind the Signs bookmark, coverart Postcards for each book in both series AND an eBook copy of my newest release: Harpies, Book Two Seraphym Wars Series.

Catch Rebecca at any of these links:

Under the Hat
Tween Word Quest
Teen Word Factory
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
GOOGLE
GOODREADS
LINKED-IN
JACKET FLAP
TRIBERR
YOUTUBE
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
iTunes Odessa 
iTunes Zarena

BIO:

Rebecca Ryals Russell writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin.

She is a fourth generation Floridian having lived all over the state. The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and school secretary, she always knew she was bound for the classroom and for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories.

Her main interests are her four teenaged and young adult children and Irish hubby of many years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, going to movies, reading, discussing philosophy and politics with her college-aged son.

Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website Tween Word Quest for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works and Under the Hat for all of her other works.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Changed Location for Free Files

To download the free PDFs of the Witches of Galdorheim Sampler AND the prequel short story, Spellslinger, use this link:

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

Microsoft previously allowed me a temp directory but without any notice whatsoever, made the link page disappear. They suck. I'm all Google now.

To repeat, this link is no longer valid:
http://temp.marvadasefcom.officelive.com/Spellslinger.aspx 

Voting Time at You Gotta Read


Since I don't have anything else to say, I'll fill in this empty spot with my latest book trailer. Setara's Genie is scheduled for August or September, exact date as yet unknown. But I do have a cover and a fully-edited manuscript. All I'm waiting for is a date and a last look at the galley.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Carly: the Evil Lunch Lady



* * * Here's Ardyth! * * *

A SCHOOL FOR VILLAINS (Dark Lord Academy Book 1)
Danny isn’t much for being evil, but when bad is good, how does someone get expelled from villain school?

Ardyth DeBruyn’s website: http://www.ardythdebruyn.com/
Amazon kindle buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061I23PU
Smashwords multi-format buy link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/103615

Blurb:

Thirteen-year-old Danny is astounded when his father decides to send him to Dark Lord Academy to learn to be a villain. Pa claims it will make him stand out and fulfill his own lost childhood dreams. Being evil doesn’t appeal to Danny, but he’s always been a good and obedient son, so he goes.

Dark Lord Academy’s not just unappealing, it’s downright terrible. His advisor dyes Danny’s blond hair black and changes his name to the unpronounceable Zxygrth. He can’t get the hang of maniacal laughter, his second-in-command servant is a puke-colored monkey, and the cafeteria lady enjoys serving stewed cockroaches or fried bat wings. A run in with a hero results in hate mail and he gets caught up in a rivalry with the school bully. The only way for Danny to stay alive is to find his inner villain.

Leave a comment to win a free copy of the book!

Carly, the Evil Cafeteria Lady

In writing “A School for Villains” one my most challenging considerations was the food. How do you make cafeteria food evil when it already is?

Okay, so not all cafeterias are evil, but let’s face it, a good many of them do seem to be. Cold and lumpy food, or the only thing they’re serving is something you hate. In considering what villains eat, I had some easy answers (eye of newt and toe of frog anyone?) but needed to dream up the evil woman behind the madness, who enjoys making the most disgusting foods possible. From spider pancakes to stuffed cockroaches, she delights in horrifying the students of Dark Lord Academy with their next meal.

This leaves newcomer Danny (renamed Zixy by his advisor) stumped with what to say when served up a plate of food. Do you compliment the chief by telling her it’s awful? Or say it looks delicious? Is eating it or not eating it the way to show it’s the evilest of dishes? Carly, built like a sumo wrestler and always wielding her wooden spoon like a weapon, leaves him constantly guessing.

Carly enjoys watching Danny stumble over his attempted polite compliments in part so much because many people in a cafeteria, especially when in a hurry, don’t pay much attention to their food, and honestly, considering what Carly cooks, it’s the best strategy for surviving school meals. Danny offers her an opportunity to show off, and face it, even teachers need to show off once in a while. Nothing is more satisfying than a properly shocked student.

What Danny doesn’t know, is that in Dark Lord Academy, being in charge of the cafeteria is not a simple or low-paying position. Carly is a proper teacher (although usually not of first year students). Cooking up poisons and potions is of course a crucial skill for dark lords, and it’s her simple love of experimenting on the students daily that keeps her dedicated to the school kitchens. Despite that, there’s not a lot of recognition out there for the school cook. It’s far less flashier than something like necromancy or invasion strategizing, so the students are exactly lining up for extra lessons (or second helpings).

When Carly catches Danny in a food fight, she has the perfect opportunity to corner him into private lessons about evil culinary skills under the guise of detentions.

Excerpt:

Carly grabbed him by the ear and shoved him through the kitchen doors. It was all Danny could do to keep from moaning. An enormous stack of dirty dishes covered one wall of the kitchen.

Better get going, boy,” boomed Carly, shoving him toward the dishes. “They won’t wash themselves.”

What about magic? Or minions?” Danny muttered.

Hah! Why use minions when I have disobedient little students like you?” Carly chortled her sour laugh again. “But if you think you can use Dark Magic to get them clean, go right ahead.”

Danny knew better than to respond to that. He rolled up his black sleeves and started scrubbing. Carly sat in a chair, put up her feet, and started reading a huge book entitled: “The Better Dungeons and Graveyards Cookbook.”

Soup tomorrow…lemme see,” she said cheerfully. “What’d ya think, Zixy-boy, Eye of Newt Chowder or Rat-tail Broth? Oooh, look, Bat-wing Lasagna with deep-fried chicken feet on the side—I bet the students would love that! Mwehehe! So, what’d ya say, Zixy-boy?”

Umm…” Danny mumbled from within an enormous pot he had to practically crawl into to get to the bottom. It stunk like rancid oil, making it hard to breathe. Why the food tasted as it did was becoming all too clear.

Can’t hear ya, speak on up?” Carly sounded jolly.

Danny took a deep breath, gagged, and searched for an appropriate answer. “What about dessert?”

Ah ha! I like the way you think!” Carly slammed the book on the table so loudly Danny jumped, spraying suds in the air and banging his head on the side of the pot. “I’ve got just the book—Dargroth’s Deadly Delights! I haven’t read that in years!”

Danny rubbed his head and stared after her a moment as Carly went to fetch it. Then he set back to scrubbing the pot as hard as possible, hoping against hope he could somehow finish before getting a list of grossed out desserts. But it was more likely Armageddon would arrive, considering the stack of dishes still tottered up near the ceiling.

***

About Ardyth:

Ardyth DeBruyn is a native Oregonian with a restless nature and a degree in Anthropology. After hiking over 1500 miles across Europe and living on the Mexican border for a year, she settled back in the Pacific Northwest (for now) to write fantasy stories. She has decided she can type herself into adventures faster than walk. She has fiction published in a number of webzines and two children’s novels, ”Chosen Sister,” with Wild Child Publishing, and “A School for Villains.”

Where to find her:

Twitter: @ArdythDeBruyn

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kate Fuentes - The Sexy Side of YA

Check Kate's blog today for my post featuring Diamond the Unicorn. 

* * * Here's Kate Fuentes! * * *

Greetings! Thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your site today Marva! I’m looking forward to having a tremendous time sharing posts and having “Giveaways” on various blogs with the Summer Teen Reading Party event! There will be amazing book titles and fabulous interviews with authors from all genres participating! Be sure to stop by and check it out!

When I look back to when I had less wrinkles and a smaller backside, I remember the excitement of summer! To be free from the confines of school and ready to make memories with my friends over the summer break, but I also recall having time to relax and read a good book. Whether it was on a vacation we had taken to the beach or a lazy afternoon in the backyard, I found the time to sit and experience the fantasy realms of some of my favorite stories. I’m a BIG fan of Greek Mythology and the legendary heroes of yesteryear.  I believe this type of ‘epic adventure ‘writing help mold my own form of literary style and created a vast foundation of imagination outlets to pull from when I’m constructing my young adult series ELEMENTS.  I have written and published two books in the series thus far and plan to release the third in the series just before summer begins in 2012.

The ELEMENTS novels follow the lives of fraternal twin brothers Gage and Talon Thorn. They were born from an ancient prophecy and have the extraordinary elemental abilities of fire and water. A wicked underworld emperor is determined to destroy the ‘Brothers of Prophecy’ and claim the earth realm for his own if the brothers don’t learn how to control their gifts and save humanity from the clutches of evil. The twins must experience tragedy, loss and defeat before they try to push forward and live up to what destiny has asked of them. The challenge has been set forth by dark forces and the world must put their faith in a pair of young brothers. The future is uncertain.

To find out more about the ELEMENTS series please visit Kate Fuentes webpage for more details.


Elements: The Beginning, Book One
 AMAZON  BARNES and NOBLE  GOODREADS  SMASHWORDS

  
Elements: Veil of Darkness, Book Two  

Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous, Book 3

I’m also quite excited to include a giveaway for your readers today! One reader can win an ebook copy of my first book, ELEMENTS: The Beginning, FREE!   Answer a question, ‘like’ the Elements Facebook page and follow me on Twitter to begin earning points! A random winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter! Good Luck!

Also, check back throughout the month of May on the Summer Reading Party site and see if you could win ALL three books!

Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog! I really appreciate having the opportunity to speak with your readers!

Warm Regards,
Kate

To contact the author, Kate Fuentes, visit the following social media sites:
Kate Fuentes , Twitter , Sired Scribblings , Facebook , Pinterest


Author Bio: Kate Fuentes

My name is Kate Fuentes, author of a young adult fantasy series called Elements. I modeled the characters after my two sons and created the fantasy realm as a story to read to my children at night. I'm fascinated at the enormity of endless imagination that we humans are capable of having, and enjoy being able to write fiction for others to appreciate as well.

My series includes: Book one, Elements: The Beginning, Book two, Elements: Veil of Darkness, and soon to be released in the summer of 2012, Book three, Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous. I plan to continue the installments and have not decided how many books will complete the series. I, like so many of my author counterparts, aspire to create more books and characters for my readers to enjoy. I have two projects currently in the beginning phases of conception and will release details in the fall of 2012 on my webpage KateFuentes.com

I attended college in Arizona and transferred to California where I finished my studies in business marketing and advertising while progressively composing short stories in the foreground. Research and development is one of my favorite aspects of writing along with the actual creation of the story from imagination to the novel itself.

I am quite passionate about writing but also enjoy helping those that are underprivileged, forgotten, and oppressed by working in a global reach department during the week in the hopes that I may bring attention to the causes which will, in effect, inspire others to volunteer or champion for those less fortunate both locally and around the world.

On a personal note, I am happily married to my junior high sweetheart and we have two glorious children. We appreciate our time spent with one another and always make sure we set aside a day for family fun night. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Banshee Screams from Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright avoids cat scratch fever and vacuums up a LOT black cat hair after hosting Cait Sidhe, the cat fairy from Scotch Broom.

* * * Here's Natalie * * *

NATALIE'S TREATS:
Visit Natalie Wright's blog and learn how to enter to win a signed copy of her book, Emily's House, some swagand an Amazon gift card
Or click here to use RaffleCopter to enter.

Irish Celtic mythology and spirituality inspired me while writing my first novel, Emily’s House. Emily lives in the modern world, but she learns that she is the last of the line of the Order of Brighid, an ancient order of Irish women priestesses.

Before I began the research for Emily’s House, I knew nothing about Celtic mythology. I soon learned that Ireland is rich with mythic creatures and entities.

I came across two beings that I just had to use. The first you may be familiar with: the Banshee (in modern Ireland it’s Bean SÍ). While there are many variants of the Banshee myth, the one thing they have in common is that she keens for the dead. Sometimes her keening is a premonition of the death to come. At other times she wails for the newly dead, often said to announce the death of one from an important Irish family. At times Banshee is described as beautiful:


At other times she is described as terrifying.


You’ll have to read Emily’s House to see how my mind imagined Banshee!

The Irish leanan sidhe (also spelled Lianhan Sidhe) is a lesser known mythological creature. She is most often depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist, but at a price. It is said that the men who fall in love with her live brief but inspired lives. In the mythos, Lianhan Sidhe seeks the love of mortal men. If they refuse, she must be their slave. But if they consent, they are hers and she essentially feeds on their life, wasting away. The Lianhan Sidhe reminded me of the siren who lures sailors with her irresistible song, only to crash on the rocks and perish.

As I read about these two faery women, I thought, “What if they are sisters?” And what would be unleashed if something happened to one of them? Would the other have her sister’s back? Would she seek to avenge her sister?

I used other aspects of Irish Celtic mythology and spirituality in Emily’s House, but maybe the most fun was coming up with my own spin on the very old myths of the Banshee and the Lianhan Sidhe.

I hope you are all enjoying the fabulous Summer Teen Reading Party where fun reads abound at summer sale prices with great prizes thrown in for good measure.

My Summer Teen Reading Party giveaway is going on now through May 21 so enter through the Rafflecopter below for your chance to snag swag from me.

Here's the Rafflecopter link again.

From Kirkus Reviews: With her two best friends by her side and her mother’s memory in her heart, a teenager undertakes a journey to save the world from an ancient evil.

Emily Adams has always known she’s special. Throughout her whole life she’s had visions of things that haven’t happened yet and she could always read her mother’s mind. At least, she could until her mother died. Emily thinks her abilities are just about gone, but the arrival of a strange creature in her backyard one night proves otherwise. Emily discovers she is the last of the Order of Brighid, an ancient society of women sworn to protect the portal to the Netherworld. Now, with the portal under attack, it’s up to Emily and her two loyal, wisecracking friends to stop a villainous man before his actions destroy the world.

Author Bio:

Natalie Wright spent her formative years growing up on a farm in Ohio. It was a fertile environment for an active imagination and inquisitive mind. She is, however, a city girl at heart and now finds inspiration in her travels and in the desert environment of her home in Tucson, Arizona, where she lives with her husband, daughter and her dog Molly.

You can “find” me here:


You can Purchase Emily’s House Here:

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/vlrnjp


Monday, May 14, 2012

Penny Estelle - Tween Fantasy/Adventure

Check Penny's blog today for my post on Glaistig, the Scottish vampire.


The book trailer for Scotch Broom is featured today on You Gotta Read Cover Contest.

* * * Here's Penny Estelle! * * *

Today, I welcome Penny Estelle. Although fairly new to publishing, she's already establishing herself as a middle-grade author with her book, Hike Up Devil's Mountain

(Q) Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you.

@pennystales - twitter

(Q) Tell everyone a bit about your books including buy links.

My first book, Hike Up Devil's Mountain, is a MG/tween adventure story with some magic peppered throughout. Two boys, along with the school bully, have their lives turned upside down and the only one that can help them lives on top of Devil's Mountain. The question is will they survive the hike?

I also have a story out titled A Float Down the Canal. This is also a MG/tween story of twelve-year old Pam Simpson who has to give up her plans to watch her brother. The next bomb is dropped when her mother says her cousin, Candy, is also coming over. Pam doesn't even like her cousin. She is too prissy. This is a story about how Pam's worst day ever, becomes one she will never forget and it all starts with a float down the canal.

(Q) Where did the concept for the book (or books) come about?

For Hike Up Devil's Mountain, I was watching my grandson play with a plastic dragon and I came up with a great ENDING for a story. All I had to do was come up with a beginning and a middle.

A Float Down the Canal is actually a mostly true story about when we were kids. We were a rowdy bunch and the names were changed to protect the innocent! LOL

(Q) Did you have to research a lot? If so, what are your favorite sources?

Very little research was done for these two stories. They are totally fiction and first hand knowledge.

(Q) How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

HUDM took about 6 months. When I started writing this, my daughter was teaching 5th grade. I asked her to read the first few chapters to her class and see if there was any interest or did they fall asleep while it was being read. Well they liked it very much and she used the remaining chapters as incentive - and it actually worked for her!

(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?

I really like going 4-wheeling. We live so rural and there are tons of dirt roads around that need exploring. We do lots of exploring. I also like to…a hum….gamble, as we live fairly close to Laughlin, Nevada, and of course there are the grand kiddies. I have 7 of the little darlings and I love visiting with them.

(Q) Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

When I am writing a story I do it horizontally. I lay on the couch with a pad of paper. TV can be on or music can be blaring. Now when I edit, I usually do that when nobody is up - 4 am in the morning, or later in the evening. I need quiet for that!

(Q)  Do you secretly want to write another genre, but don't think you can do it?

I would love to give a shot to romance with a touch of erotic. I am on the backside of 50 so I would really need to whip this imagination into gear!

(Q) In your ideal world, put in order those of most value to you:

True love, family, success at writing, world peace, clean air and water, other.

(Q) What are your writing strengths? Weaknesses?

I think I am pretty good at getting into a kid's character. I love a kid with whit and sarcasm and my own kids have given me plenty of usable material, which they come by honestly. I also worked with kids for 21 years.
My weakness is sitting down on a regular schedule to get my writing down. I am such an outdoors person and I want to be playing.

(Q) Coffee or tea? 

 Oh coffee….or I should say, add a little coffee to my flavored creamer!

(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they? 

Sometime in May my short story, Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare, is due out. It's a time travel fantasy about 7th grader, Billy Cooper, who finds out on Friday afternoon, he has an oral report due on Monday on whatever subject he draws out of a box. Well, he is annoyed as he has way too many things to do during the weekend. He figures 5 minutes on the computer and he will skate by on this assignment. All that changes when he finds himself in the 14 century, face to face, with his drawn subject.

I am hoping to do a series on this type of story. Today's kids, with their humor and speech, meeting up with historic legends. I think the stories could be funny, adventurous, with a little education thrown in.

(Q) What do you do to market your work? How did you start and where do you learn to market?

Let me say Marva, this is a continuous work in progress. I have been published for not quite a year and marketing was all new to me. I mean I figured I would sign my contract and the money would start pouring in. YIKES…Writing is the easy part. I am still learning this whole marketing adventure. I have my website on my car. I have bookmarks. I twitter, use Face book, and blog. I've been interviewed on the radio and have my story in a few school libraries and the city library. Marketing is not for sissies!

(Q) Do you have or used to have a day job? Did it inform your writing in any way?

I was a school secretary for the principal in a K-8 school. I have heard so many excuses from every age child. So many times I had to leave my office because I was sure I would burst out laughing. Funny how even the rowdy ones leave an imprint on your heart (in a good way) I promised myself when I retired, I was going to write for this age group and I am giving it my best shot. Also, I could always find the little kids in the library, but not so much the older ones. I can't stress enough how very important I think it is that in today's world, kids need to read and read well.

That being said, I also think kids of today should be able to escape some of the realities of the world to a world of fantasy and adventure. That's what I am trying to do.

Hike Up Devil's Mountain

Blurb:

Ten-year old Andy Thompson disobeys his mother and sneaks into the basement of an old abandoned house that’s due for demolition. He stumbles upon a mysterious box under an old cabinet. And his troubles begin when he looks inside.

The Crew brothers, twelve-year old Jason, and ten-year old Danny, also find their way to the basement. New to town, Jason has established himself as the school bully. A struggle ensues between Andy and Jason, and the bully ends up as a toad.

Somehow, the boys must reverse the magical spell. And that means hiking up the dread mountain: fast pace, fast action and some scarey turns and surprises on the way! The lives of all three boys seem destined to change forever, if they survive…


Excerpt:

Andy was peering into the biggest tunnel. Danny peeked in from the other side. A dull greenish light barely glowed in the inky blackness. It got brighter and the boys could hear a shuffling sound. The odor was overwhelming. “Something is coming!” Andy whispered in a panic. “Hide!”

Danny scooped up his brother and both boys dived behind the big gold rock, holding their breaths. Andy was afraid he was going to throw up as the shuffling got louder and the odor got stronger. He started to peek around the rock, but Danny grabbed his arm, shaking his head frantically back and forth.

Andy mouthed the words, “We have to see what it is.”

Danny swallowed and nodded okay.

Andy and Danny turned away from each other. Each one slowly peeked around his side of the rock. Emerging from the tunnel was a slimy, brownish-green, wormy-type lizard. It had a lizard-shaped head with eyes that were nothing more than slits. Green goo oozed from his tightly closed mouth as he dragged along. It had four front legs, two on each side. Three long black claws protruded at the end of each leg. The two front legs slowly reached forward to pull the body along, while the two in the back seemed to just drag along, making it a slow moving . . . thing.

It finally made its way completely inside the cave. This thing was at least ten feet long and four feet tall. The end of its wormy body had a long bony tail with the same black claw on the end of it that dragged on the ground. More green ooze dripped off its body leaving a slimy glowing green path on the cave floor.

Andy and Danny turned back and looked at each other. Relief flooded their faces. The thing was so slow. They could walk away from it and still be out of its reach.

Using his two fingers next to his thumb, Andy made a sign of walking and pointed to the tunnel partially covered by the gold rock.

Danny nodded.

A croaky whisper came from Danny’s pocket, “Well, what was it?’

Danny’s hand flew up like a shot to clamp his hand over his pocket.

A small, “ugh” could be heard as the breath was knocked out of the toad.

Both boys, holding their breath, slowly turned to peek back around. It wasn’t there. Only eerie puddles of glowing green glob could be seen.

Andy quickly turned to Danny and raised his shoulders silently as if to ask where is it.

A drop of green goo plopped between the two boys. The smell was everywhere. A small river of thick green slime was running down the gold rock. Slowly their eyes traveled upward.

**************


A Float Down The Canal
Synopsis

Twelve year old Pam Simpson gets dumped on when her mother is called into work and she must cancel her plans for the mall to babysit her younger brother and his friend and go to the public pool. To make matters worse her cousin, Candy, is also coming over for the day. She doesn’t even like Candy!

Much to Candy’s dismay, transportation to the pool is on inner tubes, floating down the canal. One thing leads to another and it is Pam who, once again, must save the day.

When things couldn’t seem worse, the day takes a drastic turn for the better and it is Candy, and the float down the canal, that makes this the best day of Pam’s life!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bad Spelling First Chapter

D. Renee Bagby's First Chapters blog carries Chapter 1 of "Bad Spelling," Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series.

Tomorrow (May 14th), the book trailer for "Scotch Broom" (Book 2 of Witches of Galdorheim) will be on top of the You Gotta Read book trailer contest. Voting is the 21st-27th. And, of course, Scotch Broom is my featured book for the Summer Teen Read Party going on all through May (schedule in the right-hand sidebar).

Poor "Midnight Oil" is feeling bereft of attention. To remedy that, here's the Midnight Oil book trailer AND its first chapter.  Okay, it can quit being jealous now.


Chapter One Company’s Coming

Present Day, Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea

Kat scrambled around her room getting ready for her grandfather’s arrival. More importantly, Andy would be coming, too. She dwelled a moment on their one kiss, and her stomach fluttered. Nearly six months had passed since she’d left him in Siberia, and that was one hundred and eighty days too long.

She took a last glance in the mirror and jerked the childish red ribbon from her hair. The black tresses fell loose down her back. Twisting to check out her jean-clad rear in the mirror, she smiled. Yes! Tight enough to show off, but not so tight Mom’ll flip out.

She searched for her bunny-familiar and found Teddy snoozing under the pillow. Kat nudged him. He blinked and yawned.

“Hey, lazy butt, want to come along?”

Cold.”

“Not too cold. I’ll carry you.”

Teddy tipped his head. Kat could almost hear the little gears grinding. “Okay.”

She tucked Teddy into the sling and hurried to the parlor where her family waited.

Rune, her half-brother, yawned. “About time.”

“I can’t just throw any old thing on like you do!” Kat stuck out her tongue at him but had to admit he always looked great. If he’d only wear some other color than black.

“Let’s go.” Ardyth, her mother, snapped her fingers. A brown velvet cape leapt from its hook, draping itself around the statuesque blonde’s shoulders. The dragon clasp hissed as it snicked shut at her throat. The tall witch glanced in the mirror hung above the coat hooks and patted her pale hair into place.

Kat’s family left the house and walked together down the main street of the village. Other Wiccans came out of their homes, silently falling into step behind them. They made their way toward the portal, which served as entrance and exit to the magic, bubble-like barrier. Without the protective shield, their village would freeze like the rest of the tiny, icebound island of Galdorheim. When they passed the Council Hall, the head witch joined them.

Kat dipped her head in greeting. “Good morn, Aunt Thordis.”

A tweak of a smile touched Thordis’ upper lip, and she nodded in greeting to her niece. “Ardyth,” Thordis said to Kat’s mother, “I assume you finished preparing the cave for the ceremony?”

“Yes. I put out the black drapery and moved in a small altar. It’s quite charming. If only Boris looked as good.” Ardyth tsked and shook her head. “I do wish he’d been, well, in a more, ah, dignified position when the ice caved in. That broken leg sticking out. The big hole in his head. Terrible.”

Kat patted her mother’s arm. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m sure Dad doesn’t mind. After being stuck in the ice for fourteen years, that’s the last thing he’d worry about.”

Ardyth raised her voice. “Well, he might!” Nearby witches glanced their way. She leaned toward Kat and whispered, “After all, he’s not dead yet! I don't like people just assuming.”

Thordis stopped and faced her sister. “And he’s not going to die here if I have anything to say about it!”
Ardyth winced. “All right, all right. I won’t thaw him. I’d just like a chance to tell him how much…” Ardyth’s voice hitched.

Thordis shot her sister a look, but said nothing more. The older witch walked through what looked like a simple garden gate, set in a shimmering wall of soap bubble film. The others followed close behind.
The half-siblings looked at each other. Rune shrugged with a questioning look. Kat took his arm, leaning close to his ear.

“Mom wants to say goodbye.”

“I know,” Rune replied. “Don’t you? Like, he is your father.”

“Aunt Thordis said it’d be too painful for him if he thawed. He might live for only a few seconds. It’s not worth it.”

“So, he’ll just be a popsicle forever, eh?”

Kat slugged her younger brother’s bicep and hissed, “That’s awful!”

“I know,” Rune shot back with a grin, exposing the longer than normal canines he’d inherited from his vampire father.

Kat pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. She elbowed him lightly in the ribs. “If you act like such a child, Nadia won’t be interested in you.” The comment stopped him in his tracks.

Rune hissed out a breath and looked at his feet. “Okay, you win this one. I hope she came along like she promised.”

“Oh, she’s probably forgotten all about you.” Kat suppressed a smirk. “I think it’ll just be Grandfather Ivansi and Andy. Maybe a few of the Sami hunters to help.”

With an evil grin, he sang in a whispering lilt, “Katrina loves Andy. Katrina loves Andy.” Kat envied her little brother’s knack for flying below the older witches’ radar. The elders never seemed to see his mischievous side when he pulled some stunt. They all thought him the perfect little warlock-slash-vampire.

Kat sighed. Maybe she was in love. At almost fifteen, she’d never had a boyfriend before. When Andy kissed her, it felt…totally awesome. Now he was almost here, she felt her palms getting damp. She dried first one then the other on Teddy’s fur, trying to look like she was simply petting her rabbit.

While her mind wandered to thoughts of Andy, the family reached the portal leading to the ice-bound part of the island. The glacier that encased the body of Kat’s father hulked above them a hundred feet to the right of the gate. They continued down a barely visible path leading to the edge of the water. Eight months of the year, solid ice surrounded the island, plus another two months of floe ice. Only during a brief summer period did the water clear, opening the way for boats to reach them. During the winter months, the jetty was only a jutting piece of ice. Now, with it melted, she could see the tiny wooden pier the Wiccans built to provide a place to tie boats.

Kat searched the horizon. Wondering if her grandfather would come by kayak, she decided a paddleboat wouldn’t work if he planned to take back the block of ice containing her father. No, he would need to bring something bigger.

Rewarding her vigil, two black dots appeared far out to sea. The older witches waited patiently as the boats approached, but Kat stood on tiptoe, leaning forward as if it would help her see better. Did he come? She pressed her lips tightly together. No use sweating over it. He would either be with them, or he wouldn’t.

The two boats finally neared enough to make out their general outlines, but not close enough for her to see if Andy was present. Rune’s sharper vampire vision could pick out details better than Kat’s.

She elbowed him. “What kind of boats? How many people?”

“Don’t get all worked up,” he replied. When Kat frowned at him, he relented. “It looks like a motorboat, maybe a thirty-footer, and a three-man kayak. The motorboat must be pulling the kayak ‘cause I don’t think even Sami fishermen can paddle that fast.”

Once Rune told her what he saw, she could also make out the two boats. “I see them,” she called out, pointing and bouncing on the balls of her feet. Teddy almost fell out of the sling.

“Yes, dear,” Aunt Thordis answered, patting her shoulder. “We all see the boat. Now calm down.”

Kat’s cheeks reddened, and she planted her feet flat on the ground. She didn’t want to look too eager. Andy might have thought the kiss was just between friends. Maybe she had read too much into it. She jammed her hands into her pockets to hide their trembling.

Finally, the motorboat eased up to the little pier. Kat’s grandfather moved to the bow and bent to pick up a coil of rope lying on the deck. Before he could grasp it, the free end sprang away from him, tying itself around a piling. Kat glanced back to see her mother’s upraised hand, directing the rope with a flick of her wrist. Startled, Ivansi straightened and smiled. He waved at Ardyth and moved to the back of the motorboat. At the stern, he picked up the thick cord, holding it up and away from his body. Ardyth gestured again, and it performed the same trick as the bow mooring line.

“That’s a neat spell with the rope. I’d like to learn it,” Kat commented.

“‘Line,’ sis,” Rune replied. “If it’s on a boat, it’s called a ‘line.’”

Kat shrugged and mumbled, “Whatever.”

She forgot Rune when she saw a head of black hair through the windshield of the small pilot’s cabin. She raised her hand halfway but stopped and pressed it to her chest. Her heart pounded, and cold little fish swam up and down her spine.

The head rose higher, and Kat recognized Nadia, the girl Rune had become friends with at the Sami village. Rune trotted forward. Nadia left the cabin and came out on the open deck. Rune was ready to take her hand. She emitted a startled squeak and then giggled as he levitated her from boat to pier.

Meanwhile, the kayak pulled up to the other side of the pier, and three Sami men hopped out, tying it to another piling. Kat scanned the small group, but the boy she couldn’t wait to see wasn’t among them. Shoulders slumping, she turned back and walked over to her grandfather. He put his hands on her arms and smiled, showing strong, white teeth in his brown, weather-beaten face.

“Granddaughter, I greet you,” he said in heavily accented English and kissed her on both cheeks.

She pecked his cheeks in return. “Grandfather, I greet you as well.” She stood back, and Ardyth came forward to meet her father-in-law for the first time. Kat glanced at the boat, but Andy didn’t appear.

She suppressed a sigh. “My mother, Ardyth.” She kept it simple. English was one of the few languages the Samis and the Wiccans had in common, but she knew Ivansi spoke very little of it. He had probably made a special effort to learn the greeting.

“Daughter, I greet you.” The older man kissed Ardyth on each cheek. Ardyth surprised Ivansi by throwing her arms around him. She’d only been Boris’s wife for a few months before the tragic cave-in, but the old man looked much like her deceased husband. Kat could almost feel the wave of love and sorrow flow between the two. They both lost the same person.

The group gathered to walk back to the village portal. Tonight, a banquet for the visitors, and then, tomorrow morning, everyone would gather in the ice cave to say a final goodbye to Boris.

Kat looked back at the empty boat. She bowed her head, blinking back tears. Andy obviously wasn’t interested in seeing her, so that was that. She’d get over it…sometime.