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Friday, March 29, 2013

Kink, Evil Sidekick - A Recipe for Disaster

Leave a comment to win an ebook copy of "A Receipt for Disaster." Make sure we can get hold of you when you win!

A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
by Ardyth DeBruyn

Villain apprentice Cal desperately needs cash to take his girlfriend to the Dreaded Ball. Prince Bueford needs out of an arranged marriage. Mullog, Bueford's manservant, would love to marry the princess and has the perfect solution: Bueford can buy a potion for disaster from Cal to disrupt the betrothal. Then Mullog can rescue the princess, and everyone can live happily ever after.

How could a little disaster go wrong?

Website link: http://www.ardythdebruyn.com
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AMAUURG


Kink, Evil Side-kick

Looking for the perfect evil side-kick for Cal, my mind drifted back to Japanese class in high school, when for some reason, one of my classmates was able to convince our teacher to let him keep rats at the back of the class.  He was doing a genetics project and apparently the science teachers weren't inclined to let him use their classroom.

The upshot of it meant I spent a lot of my Japanese class that year playing with rats.  I found them fascinating and often delightful pets, but we quickly learned if they weren't handled regularly, they would go a bit feral.  They also were quite the little escape artists.  They wanted to explore the classroom every chance they could get and we'd have to be careful easing the door open when we arrived in case someone had gotten lose and was looking to escape.

Kink, Cal's pet rat, is considerably more intelligent than a normal rat.  Living with wizards has given him not only the ability to reason, but magic as well.  But Kink still has a rat nature, which means sneaky, curious, and always looking for his next meal.

Excerpt: 

Around the next corner, the crowds thickened. In the middle of the street, under a red and white awning, sat the busiest of the cafés, Birkanini’s Pizza Shop. Families with bouncy children; young, dewy-eyed lovers; and elderly people, arm in arm, strolled into the shop, emerging with pizzas to sit at the tables in front of it. Everyone wanted Birkanini’s Pizza.

The smells wafted over Cal, making him moan. "Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a piece or two of pizza."

Kink squeaked mournfully.

Mouth watering and eyes burning with unshed tears, Cal turned away. Would he never get the riches and respect he deserved? Suddenly an evil thought burst into his mind. "Hah!" Cal grinned, grabbing Kink from his shoulder. "Are we villains, or are we villains, Kink? Why wait for the pizza to come to us, when we can come to it?"

He dodged a couple of carts, wound across the street to an alley, and circled around to the back of the pizza shop. He gently set Kink down on the stones. "Ready, my evil little rat?"

Kink flashed fangs and dipped his head, then sneaked into the pizza joint. Cal poked his head in, watching the cooks bustle around. No one noticed him. He reached out and snagged an empty cardboard pizza box from the stack next to the door. Grinning like a demon with a freshly damned soul, he sauntered to the corner of the alleyway and watched the front of the shop.

Cute little red and white umbrellas covered small round tables, matching the shop’s awning. A mother fed pizza to a toddler while a father passed around slices to a couple of arm-wrestling young boys. At another table, a young man had the girl with him shut her eyes while he fed her. All the happiness normally would sour Cal, but he had a job to get done here.

Come on, Kink. Don’t let me down.

Kink appeared, poking his head out of the front door. He sat up on his hind legs, nose twitching, a front paw waving at the air. For a moment, no one noticed. Then a small boy, his face smeared with spaghetti sauce, pointed Kink out to his older sister. She screamed and scraped her chair back against the cement. Heads turned; mouths dropped open. Horrified, people looked down at their pizza, dropping it, and dashed away.

Someone in the store shouted and came after Kink with a broom. The rat raced forward into the panicked crowd. Taking his deliciously evil opportunity, Cal walked past the tables, picking up untouched slices from the center plates and loading them into his box. He stole a couple of unopened sodas off the last table as he went by. A quick spell insulated the pizza, keeping it warm. Back in the alley, Kink waited.

Leave a comment to win a copy of "A Recipe for Disaster."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Winners on Flowers and Thorns


The winners from the post on The Witches of Galdorheim Trilogy have been selected and notified. The lucky few are:

Meradeth - GRAND PRIZE: Paperback Witches
Tabitha Shay - Ebook of her choice
Julie Lynn Hayes - Ebook of her choice

Congratulations and my thanks to you beautiful ladies for leaving comments on the release of the omnibus, humongous, huge, many-paged Witches of Galdorheim combined edition.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Elemental Spirits

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wait for it .... Water. The four classical elements have been part of mythologies since the first time a smarter than average Cro Magnon decided to cash in on his superstitious tribe claiming to have a direct hot line to the somewhat amorphous deities.


Deities and demons have proliferated over the intervening 20,000 years or so, with the winners being those smarties who knew how to cash in on fear.

Earthquakes: Uh oh, the earth god is ticked. If you’ll just give me your hard-won haunch of mammoth, I’ll intercede on your behalf.

Windstorm: Boy, are you in trouble for holding back on my share of the cave bear hide. Ol’ Wind is mighty pissed.

Fire: See what happens if you don’t listen to what I say. Your whole forest burns because you all are bad people. Just lay a pile of pretty shells at my feet, and I’ll see if I can placate the Fire Demon.

Water: Oopsie, a flood. Well, wasn’t I the smartie for building that big boat. Did I mention the fare? All goes to the Water God of course.

The natural elements wreak havoc and a clever guy makes out like a bandit.

As time marched on, the elementals took on different names and personalities. The shyster’s way of collecting for multiple personalities for those four basic elements.

Before a caveman could count, um, one. The world was littered with all sorts of mythological beings lined up by the wise shaman to collect trade goods from the fearful masses.

My Mashup in Midnight Oil

Besides a plethora of gods and demons which I have mentioned some of already, I selected a lovely forest elemental (notice how the element population is dividing and growing) named Ajatar. She happens to be a Finnish spirit and is the main troublemaker in my second book of the Witches of Galdorheim, Midnight Oil.

Ajatar was known as the Devil of the Woods (click the link for a very cool illo), so I set her in a magically protected forest glade. She controlled her local flora (writhing tree roots, fast-growing brambles) and snakes to protect her cache of boxes, bottles, pots, a bent bicycle tire, laundry detergent, dried flowers, old tennis shoes, and Andy.

Oh, right, Andy happens to be a changeling, a human who spent much of his life in the Troll Kingdom and is now Kat’s main squeeze. Ajatar kidnapped him to draw out her sister, Ilmatar, an air spirit who had been hiding out on Galdorheim disguised as the old witch (she prefers sorceress) Mordita.

Lots of stuff happens, but the sister finally come together in an epic battle (they’re fighting over a man, wouldn’t you know). Ajatar takes her dragon form, while Ilmatar becomes a giant white roc.

A little excerpt for your reading pleasure:
Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It had been too many years since she had taken her true form. She was the wind, the hurricane, the tornado. Air she was, air she would be. She sighed, and a tree bent with her breath.

She rose with the heat, dropped low and sped across open fields when clouds blocked the sun’s rays. Yet, neither heat nor cold drove her. She flowed over or around as she pleased. When she was in the mood, she flattened everything in her path.

She laughed, and earth-bound creatures cringed at the booming thunder. She smiled, and a gentle breeze danced over hills and valleys. She reveled in her freedom, then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar had stolen this from her. She’d almost forgotten the power and glory that was Ilmatar.

Now, she’d get payback. Ajatar, she vowed, would regret this day for the rest of her life–her brief life, if Ilmatar the air spirit had any say.

But enough reveling for now. She had a job to do. Gathering free air to her as she flew, she coalesced into a cutting shaft, sharp and deadly as any arrow, and one thousand times as large. She swooped up, down, and sideways, leaving a vortex of spinning air in her wake.

Increasing her speed and the velocity of spin, she smashed through the tops of trees and touched down, a whirling cyclone in the center of Ajatar’s glade. Moss and branches whirled through the forest clearing and trees bent away from her, howling, cracking and snapping, with the thunder of rustling leaves.

Ajatar heard her coming; she could hardly miss Ilmatar’s roar. Ajatar grew taller, rising above the treetops, spreading her vast scaled wings. Her mouth gaped and fire roared out. With a single downward thrust of her wings, she soared upward. Ilmatar’s tornado followed close behind.
Note: My buddy Kevin Robinson, who also writes YA fantasy, provided the white roc illustration for me. Thanks, Kevin!

Where you can find Midnight Oil:
MuseItUp Publishing (all ebook formats)
Kindle
Nook
Print - Individual book
Print - Witches of Galdorheim Trilogy

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chance to Win Big on Flowers and Thorns

Drop by Lorrie Struiff's blog today (March 25th) and leave a comment for a chance to win ebooks or a print book.

Lorrie has the exclusive offer over any blog anywhere to win The Witches of Galdorheim trilogy. Don't miss out!



Saturday, March 23, 2013

SALE SALE SALE!

By now, the markdowns on my Witches of Galdorheim books should have filtered out to Amazons all over the world.

The three individual books are now $7.00 each. I'm tired of those .99 and .95 things, so I also set the £ and € prices to even amounts. Makes it easier for everybody.

Here are the three individual printed books.


Bad Spelling - $7.00

Midnight Oil - $7.00

Scotch Broom - $7.00



The Witches of Galdorheim Complete Series in a Single Volume only $14.00. That's three books for the price of two. 446 pages of Witchy fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Characters - The Fey

CAIT SIDHE from "Scotch Broom"

Many many, many, many writers are in love with the Celtic myths. I’ve delved into them, too. However, I’m not a big fan of the flitty little cute faeries (or fae or fairies). In Celt mythology, there’s a fairy (or fae or faerie) for just about any purpose. The “serious” fantasies love the idea of the fairy troupe. More than a few equate fairies to Arthurian legends, more specifically Merlin.

The third book in the Witches of Galdorheim series, Scotch Broom, is set in the Scottish Highlands. Of course, I had to include at least one fairy in the mix or I’d be violating some unwritten fantasy rule.

If you write Celtic fantasy, then you know that Sidhe is pronounced Shee in Ireland and Sith in Scotland. I wonder where George Lucas got Sith lords? Hmm.

Anyway, I found a particular sidhe I liked. She’s a big black cat with a white chest. Aha! I happen to have had the model for said cat (in a much reduced size) sitting at my door every morning demanding a handout. We call her Bitch Kitty. Yes, she has attitude in spades. So, there’s my model for Cait Sidhe, a companion to my erstwhile heroine, Kat. (Unfortunately, Bitch Kitty has crossed the Rainbow Bridge where she's giving grief to all those around her).

Excerpt From Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim

Kat has already found two companions: Sianach a stag and Cusith (another sidhe) a giant, green hound. They’re tromping through the swamps trying to find the Trow King’s hall in the middle of the Otherworld (the alternate magic world in the Scottish Highlands).

They marched on in a straight line, having no better idea of which direction to go, while Cusith zigzagged ahead of them with his nose close to the earth. Suddenly, the green hound raised his head and bayed. A moment later he galloped across the moor, water splashing when his huge paws hit the tiny pools.

“What’s up with him?” Kat asked.

Sianach lifted his chin for a better view. “He appears to be in pursuit of an animal of some type.”

“I hope he’s not hurting some little swamp creature.”

“If he is, then the beast is making Cusith pay for the privilege.”

Kat and Sianach walked faster after Cusith, the dog’s trail marked by flying grass and water. When Cusith finally stopped, Kat and Sianach trotted to catch up. The hound was standing over something furry and black that lay on the ground beneath his huge paw.

“No, don’t! Don’t hurt it,” Kat called out. Cusith turned his head toward her, tongue lolling.
“I won’t. It’s not food.”

Kat reached Cusith’s side and knelt down to examine the raggedy clump of ebony fur. It leapt up, scrabbling for a foothold, but Cusith clamped his paw down harder to hold it still.

“It’s a cat!” Kat said. She reached out with her mind, but met the same blank wall she had with Sianach and Cusith. So, she tried the old-fashioned way. “Here kitty, kitty. Nice kitty.” An ear-splitting yowl almost knocked Kat back on her rear.

“I am not your ‘nice kitty,’ you rude thing! I am Cait Sidhe, I’ll have you know. Surely, this stag . . . and mutt . . . have heard of me.”

Sianach, who stood to one side to stay out of the fray, nodded his elegant head. “Yes, I know you. Not that it is a pleasure.”

The cat hissed and swiped a pawful of razor sharp claws across Cusith’s foot. The big dog quickly released the black cat. “Sorry, Cait,” Cusith said. “Just having some fun.”

Cait sat up and licked a couple of swipes over the white spot on her chest. “Now you’ve covered me with mud. It’ll take hours to get clean again.”

* * *
Buy Scotch Broom at these sites:
MuseItUp Publishing - All Ebook formats
Kindle - best price $1.99
Print
Or get all three Witches of Galdorheim books in a single monster volume.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Trolls!


Trolls. What do you imagine? Maybe something like the big ugly pictured here. In my Witches of Galdorheim series, I wanted a cave-dwelling bunch of uglies, but dwarves didn’t seem right for my book. Then I started hearing music inside my head. You know how that goes, right? It builds and builds until it has you screaming in frustration, willing to even listen to some other music to at least swap the tormenting sound.

But before I could find a MP3 file of "Henry the VIIIth" by Herman’s Hermits, I stopped and listened. My muse was whacking me in the head via earworm. The music was Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. Duh. Trolls.


Despite the canards on trolls from the likes of Artemis Fowl or Pratchett’s Discworld, I thought they could be heroic if given sufficient ale.

From the Free Dictionary/Encyclopedia:
A troll is a fearsome member of a mythical race from Norse mythology. Originally more or less the Nordic equivalents of giants, although often smaller in size, the different depictions have come to range from the fiendish giants – similar to the ogres of England – to a devious, more human-like folk of the wilderness, living underground in hills, caves or mounds.
Hey! They’re not all flesh-eating giants who turn to stone in the sunlight. Some are devious little guys who live in wilderness areas (no doubt protecting endangered magical species).
My Mashup

Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim)

In the first book of the series, Kat and her smart-aleck half-brother, Rune, (also happens to be a vampire, but has absolutely no resemblance to the Twilight guy except they’re both cute as hell) are directed by Kat’s flash-frozen dad (Rune calls him a pop-sickle) to visit the Troll King. At the Hall, she requests assistance from King Ole, the Norwegian Troll King. He arranges for her and Rune to ride the Trollercoaster, which starts in Norway and ends up in the Ural Mountains. From there Kat, Rune, and a changeling troll named Andy travel to Siberia to find Kat's family.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 of WofG)

The trolls take a backseat to mutant Nenets warriors, although the ex-troll, Andy, is the center of the plot. Kidnapped by an evil forest elemental, Kat and her family have lots of tasks. 1) Save Andy, 2) Save Kat, 3) Save Rune, 4) Save the mutants. The Galdorheims are quite busy running off in multiple directions. However, in the end, they all converge on the Siberian Sami camp. All's well that ends well.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 of WofG)

Kat is off to England to visit Stonehenge. She takes a route through Scotland and gets stranded in the Otherworld, which is inhabited by the Trows (the northern islands version of troll). Rune follows her and gets some assistance from both the Norwegian trolls, then the Shetland Island trows. The Trow Kingdom within the Otherworld also help Kat’s mother and aunt find both the lost teens.

Clearly, trolls are good. They are nice, helpful, cheerful, and sing fairly well, too. Yet aspersions continue to be cast upon these misunderstood creatures. Shame on all of you for making them the bad guys all these years!

Excerpt from Bad Spelling - The first time Kat meets the trolls

Chapter Fifteen - Three Trolls on a Bridge

Kat ran to where her brother and the three trolls faced each other. The trolls stood shoulder to shoulder, their big, splayed feet firmly planted in front of the footbridge. They bared their chunky yellow teeth and growled at Rune. Although hardly reaching Rune’s shoulder, they each outweighed him. Clearly, the trolls did not intend to let him cross. Looking up and down the streamlet, Kat wondered at their careful guarding of the bridge. Kind of silly, she thought, since anyone could easily step across the rivulet without even getting wet feet. She wondered if these were children, given their short stature. However, their long knives looked very grown up.

Enunciating each word, Rune held his hands out to show they were empty. Kat had no idea what her brother was saying, since Rune was speaking Old Runish. Except for a few spell words, Kat didn’t understand the ancient tongue.

Evidently, neither did the trolls. Rune spoke again, louder this time, and took one slow step forward. At this move, the troll on the left lunged at them, jabbing at Rune with his knife. Rune sidestepped the rush, and the troll, taken off balance, stumbled and fell flat on his face. Kat stepped over the troll and grasped his arm but only caught hold of his sleeve. He screamed and pushed her away. The other two trolls ran at her with their knives raised, yelling as they advanced.

Rune stuck out his foot and tripped the middle troll. The last troll standing went after Rune. The young warlock threw up his hands, arms crossed to fend off the attack. A bright red light arced from his hands to hit the charging troll in the face. The troll dropped his knife and fell to the ground, screaming and rolling around with his hands pressed over his eyes. Rune snatched up the knife and held it to the middle troll’s neck. Kat sat on the one she grabbed, pulling the knife from his flailing hand. The recipient of Rune’s flash attack kept his hands over his eyes.

Rune spoke again in Old Runish, shouting to make himself heard. It didn’t do any good; the trolls all continued screaming and squealing at the top of their lungs.

Kat jumped up from the troll’s back and grabbed Rune’s hand, pulling the knife away from the troll’s neck. “Rune,” she yelled, “tell them we won’t hurt them!”

The thrashing troll froze then turned his cumbersome head toward her.

“You can speak our language!” He slapped the troll nearest to him, who abruptly stopped screaming. The one whose neck Rune held the knife to spread his fingers to peek at Rune and Kat.

Rune released the troll and stood up, looking a little sheepish. “I just assumed—” He stopped then shook his head.

Kat crouched on her knees next to one of the trolls lying on the ground and patted him on the shoulder. “We mean you no harm. We’re Wiccans from Galdorheim. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”

Slowly, the trolls climbed to their feet, looked at Kat, then at each other. The three trolls huddled, conferring together. Kat heard a murmur but couldn’t make out what they said.

Kat continued, searching for something to say. “My Aunt Thordis…” Three pairs of troll eyes turned to her and opened wide. They stared at Kat. The middle troll elbowed the one on his left, who giggled. The troll on the right gave a great whoop of laughter then slapped the middle troll on the back. All three trolls broke into huge guffaws and ended up leaning on each other, wiping tears from their eyes. Rune and Kat stared open-mouthed.

Finally, the middle troll controlled his laughter long enough to say, “We thought King Ole said to watch for the ones Thor sent. He wouldn’t want any Viking warriors breaking into the hall. ” He broke out laughing again before snorting a couple of times to clear his nose. “Maybe we got the message a little mixed up?”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - The Loch Ness Monster


Ceto the Sea Serpent

Everybody is posting Irish today. I will break the tradition and post Scottish instead.

In my series about a teen witch (the first book "Bad Spelling" to be released July 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing) who can't spell worth a damn, our erstwhile heroine gets a little help from an unusual source. Did you ever wonder why there are so few sightings of the Loch Ness monster? Well, Nessie vacations on Ultima Thule, which may be the remnants of Atlantis.

She's not fond of the name Nessie or Loch Ness Monster and prefers to go by Ceto. From http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Ceto :
In Greek mythology, Ceto or Keto (Greek: English translation: "sea monster") was a hideous aquatic monster, a daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The asteroid (65489) Ceto was named after her, and its satellite (65489) Ceto I Phorcys after her husband. She was the personification of the dangers of the sea, unknown terrors and bizarre creatures. Eventually, the word "ceto" became simple shorthand for any sea monster. The term cetacean represents a case in point. Her husband was Phorcys and they had many children, collectively known as the Phorcydes or Phorcydides. In Greek art, Ceto was drawn as a serpentine fish. Ceto also gave name to the constellation Cetus.
My Mess

In Midnight Oil (Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim) Ceto and Nessie become one. She's not a bad, um, person, but much misunderstood. She finds my heroine, Kat, adrift in the northern seas sitting on a block of ice. Oh, yeah, the block contains the body of her father. Ceto finds this all fascinating and helps my heroine dock the ice block at Ultima Thule and find a messenger to send for help from the Witches' Island of Galdorheim in the Barents Sea.

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006UTL54A
Print: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481226851

Excerpt


Kat edged herself up on her knees, keeping a tight hold on the ropes. She scanned the water closely, and to her right, she saw a dark shape under the water. A whale, perhaps. Maybe her calls finally got results.

The shape turned and came back toward the ice block. It stayed several feet below, so Kat could only make out a dark shadow as it glided beneath her. The ice block lifted and dropped again. She looked to her left to see a long neck stretched out, followed by a bulky, black body. A short tail emerged from under the block and slapped down on the water. It sprayed Kat’s face with icy droplets but didn’t drench her.

The dark shape rose slowly upward. First, a small head appeared, and Kat thought it might be a seal, and then the long neck emerged. Her mouth dropped open, and her eyes followed the head upward until she had her neck bent back as far as she could. The creature regarded her with huge, dark eyes, seeming too big for the little nob of a head. Its skin was dark gray, almost black. Kat noticed how smooth it appeared. She wanted to reach out to touch it. She thought better of that notion when the creature’s mouth opened and revealed rows of sharp teeth.

A voice spoke inside her mind. “Who are you, little girl?”

“Little girl? Why, I’m almost…” Then, thinking it’d be rude to argue with her only potential rescuer, she finished, “I mean, I’m a witch, from an island…” Kat looked around and waved her hand, “somewhere out there.”

You wear the skin of a seal, and you can speak to creatures of the sea. Are you, perhaps, a selkie in human form?”

“Selkie? No, I’m just a witch from Galdorheim.”

Hmm. How came you to be on that block of ice?”

“I’ve answered your questions,” Kat said, peeved at being grilled by a sea monster. “Now you answer one for me. What are you? And where did you come from?”

That’s two questions.”

“Well, you asked two, so answer up!” Kat sensed she need not be afraid. The sea monster, as she now thought it to be, did not send any warning signals. It was simply curious.

I am me.”

Kat frowned. While harmless, the creature seemed to have an evasive streak. Why did it show itself to her if it didn’t want to talk?

As if it heard Kat’s thoughts, the creature said, “Very well. The world has called me many names. Sometimes Nessie from where I once lived.”

“You’re the Loch Ness monster? I thought that was just a legend.” Kat stared in wide-eyed wonder at the mythical creature who might, if she could work it out, be her rescuer.

No legend, but I left the loch years ago. Too many curious people.”

“That is so cool!” Kat wondered if the serpent was one of a kind. The monstrous beast bent its tiny head down to Kat’s level.

Cool? Why, yes, this sea is very cool.”

“I mean neat, keen, wonderful!”

Ah, wonderful I am. I might say awful, too.”

“You don’t seem awful. Why would you say that?”

Full of awe, I am.”

“Oh, you mean awesome, not awful.”

A deep, resonant chuckle rattled around in Kat’s head. “Why are you clear out here? Wherever here is.”
This is the ocean of Atlantis.”

“The Atlantic! My great-uncle Freddy! I floated all the way from the Barents Sea.”

You might call this part the Arctic Ocean. How did you get here?”

“A storm. The wind and rain came up suddenly. I fell off the boat with my father.”

Did he drown?”

“Oh, no. He’s right here.” Kat pointed down. Nessie bent even lower and looked down into the ice.

My condolences. Yet it is strange he would freeze in the summer seas.”
“No. He froze years ago. We, my grandfather and brother and me, were taking his body back to Siberia for burial.”

You are far off course.”

“I guess I am. Look, can you help me out? I need to get to land so I can contact my mother.”

The beast turned its head to look across the sea. “The nearest land is that way.”

Kat strained her eyes but couldn’t see anything on the horizon.

“Which way is that way?”

The beast turned back to her. “West, to an island where I make my home these days.”

“Does it have a telephone?” Kat asked. The rumbling chuckle wafted through her brain.

I do not know what that is, but if you mean a way to communicate, I believe there is.”

“Any land will do for now. By the way, do I call you Nessie?”

I am Ceto of Thule.”

“I’m Katrina of Galdorheim.”

Nice to meet you, Katrina.”

The beast ducked below, and Kat saw the shadowy form circle the ice raft, then she felt a jerk. Ceto had taken hold of the trailing ropes, and Kat and her frozen father moved across the water.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wowza! What a Cover!

Just one quick peek at the draft cover for Faizah's Destiny. C.K. Volnek does killer cover! I love it! Don't you? This is a prelim, so it might change a bit before final.



FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.
COMING SOON! Preorder now for a 20% discount: http://tinyurl.com/faizahsdestiny


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

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

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Rune Speaks

Rune Tells His Side

Here’s the deal. I work like a mule to tamp my vamp, then mom wants me to go off to visit dear old dad. Okay, okay. He didn’t know I existed until mom stopped by Transylvania (Isn’t that so fifty years ago. C’mon, move to someplace fun, already.) What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Mom went off to tell him he had a son. She says he’s happy about it and wants me to visit for some quality parenting time. Yeah, is there a Big Vamp/Little Vamp picnic? Think of the cool games. Three-legged race with one of the legs belonging to a dead man. Pin the fang on the peasant...literally. Instead of a pie-eating contest, how about a blood sucking contest?

I think it’s a rotten idea, but mom is forcing me to go. Luckily, she’s sending me on my own, so I can make a run for it. Since my sis is headed to Scotland, I think I’ll go there instead. She always needs my help. I swear she can hardly tie her tennies by herself. I admit when I kind of hinted to her I’d like to go along, she had a snit fit. Said I was trying to horn in on her Winter Abroad. She needed to do it on her own. Yada yada yada.

Well, she can’t stop me from going to Scotland if I wanna. After all, the trolls have that totally rad trollercoaster that goes from Norway to the Shetland Islands. I guess it goes under the sea bed, or maybe it’s just troll magic. In any case, I get to the train station in Thurso (I stole a copy of Kat’s itinerary). She walks on the platform and went ballistic. I’m pretty sure if a train was coming, she would have pushed me on the tracks.

She flounces off, so to heck with her I think. I’ll just go to England without her. Sadly, I was hoping to get some cash from Kat for the ticket. Never mind, though. I’ve got skills to earn some money. Street magic like that David Blaine guy does. I would like to know how he does the levitation trick. I can do it with magic, but...well, that’s off topic. Anyhow, I find myself playing darts for money with the Scottish Highlands darts champion. He didn’t have a prayer. Here’s what happened. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.

Excerpt

Rune walked up to the bar and stood waiting for the barkeep to notice him. He didn’t want to risk being pushy. They might just throw him out. He decided to be polite and pleasant.

The barkeep placed himself in front of Rune. The stocky man wore a white apron tied around his considerable paunch. Although the top of his head was as bald and shiny as a billiard ball, he had a thick red beard. He scratched his bushy sideburn and stared at Rune with narrowed eyes. “Need to see some I.D., lad.”

Rune opened his mouth, and then closed it. What was I.D.? “Excuse me?”

“Proof of age, sonny. Ye dinnae look to be twinty-ane.”

“Twinty—? Oh, identification! Right.” Rune stuck his hand in his jacket pocket and whispered a quick spell, while pretending to search. A plastic folder popped into his hand, and he drew it out. He knew witches and warlocks spending time on the mainland took various types of documents with them for identification. He’d seen a few in the Council Hall in Aunt Thordis’ office. The only one he could recall clearly was a passport, so he spelled up one of those.

The bartender flipped open the passport and examined it, looked at Rune, then back at the passport photo. “Where be this Grand Duchy of Fenwick?”

“Oh, you know. It’s one of those tiny countries nobody knows about. Like San Marino or Lichtenstein.”
The bartender stared at him for another long moment, and Rune wondered if he’d gone too far on the passport. “It’s in the Alps,” Rune supplied helpfully.

The bartender just shook his head. “Ne’er heard of it.” Rune shrugged.

Finally, the barkeep said, “Ye still dinnae look to be twinty-ane.” He handed the passport back. “Whit are ye wantin?”

“Ale, please.”

Rune looked around the room, wondering if a close-up magic act might garner some cash. At the back of the pub, several men were playing darts. He picked up his pint and wandered back to watch. The players appeared to be a team since they wore matching plaid shirts. Rune thought he might pick up some spare change playing against them. He figured they’d think him an easy mark, so he stepped forward. “Can I get in the next game?”

One man looked him up and down. “Air ye twinty-ane?”

“Yeah, yeah. The bartender checked my ID. I’ve played some darts. Maybe a game just for fun?”

“Darts be serious bidness.”

“Oh, I agree. I play with my buddies, sometimes for cash. Interested?” Rune took a swig of ale, made a face, and set the glass on a table. Ugh, the trolls make better ale than this!

The player, who seemed to be the spokesman for the group, looked at his buddies. They all grinned. The brawny Scotsman folded his muscular arms across his chest. He looked Rune up and down. Rune put on a lopsided grin, trying to look like a dumb kid.

“Sure, lad. How much do ye want to put up?”

“Oh, I’ve not got much at the moment. How about a couple pounds per game to start? When I’m up some, we can raise the stakes.”

“Pleased ta meet ye, lad. I’m Barry MacLeish. I hope ye dinnae mind I’m the Highlands champion.” The big man stuck his hand out.

“Not at all, Barry. Pleased to meet you. I’m Ru...Ron Galdor.” Rune extended his own hand to shake and winced at the dart champion’s hard grip. When Barry turned his back on him, Rune mumbled a quick spell to change the name on his passport from Rune Fenwick to Ron Galdor.

“We’ll play ane-on-ane. Be that guid for you?” Barry asked, twirling one of his darts between his fingers.

“Sure, but I don’t have my darts with me. Can I borrow a set?” One of the men held out his set of three darts. Rune weighed them in his hand. He held up one and sighted it toward the board. “Hey, thanks. These are nice.”

“Da game is 301, double-in, double-oot?”

“Great. Anything is fine.” Rune watched the dart loaner erase the blackboard next to the dartboard and write Barry and Ron at the top. He added the number 301 under each name.

Rune smiled. He ought to make enough for the train in no time at all.

* * * * 
Links:

Blurb:

Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat's brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too. Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Ardyth the Mom Witch

Ardyth the Mom Witch

In Bad Spelling, Ardyth and Thordis are Kat's and Rune's only relatives on Galdorheim Island. Ardyth is their mother, and Thordis their aunt.

The sister witches are the most powerful on Galdorheim. Both are tall, Nordic blonds, but they couldn't be more unalike in personality. I'll talk more about Thordis in another post.

Ardyth acts a bit silly sometimes. She was a girly-girl in her younger days, a flirt, and aggressive in her pursuit of male companions. Kat's father was a wandering Siberian hunter named Boris who had the bad (or was it good?) luck to be marooned on the icy shores of Galdorheim. Ardyth immediately liked his looks, and proceeded to save him from the elements outside of the protective bubble over the witches' village. The pair hand-fasted and Ardyth was soon pregnant with Katrina. Before Kat was born, however, Boris was buried in the collapse of an ice cave in the glacier that covers most of Galdorheim.

After that misfortune, Ardyth went off in search of another male parental unit. She found a likely warlock in the Carpathian Mountains who courted her and won her heart. Just as they were settling into a lovely relationship, Ardyth found that Drakos was not only a warlock, but had been turned vampire. She escaped with her life, and that of her son, Rune. Poor Rune must learn to deal with his vampire side while learning the warlock trade. And you thought you had a weird childhood!

I wanted a beautiful blonde to portray Ardyth and think she might look a bit like Candace Bergen. That's why the actress you most likely know from the Murphy Brown series was my model. Another reason for the choice is that Murphy had a child without bothering to marry the father. This made for the somewhat dense attack by Dan Quayle, then running as the VP with George H.W. Bush. Even back then, conservative family values went askew. Attacking a fictional TV character? Wow. Just wow.

Excerpt from Bad Spelling

Kat slowed to a walk as she drew near home and wiped the tears from her cheeks with her shirtsleeve. The daffodils and tulips growing along the white picket fences twisted their blossoms away from her as she passed. She glared at a staring patch of black-eyed Susans and snapped, “What are you looking at?” The flowers trembled and turned away. Then she felt bad she’d scared the poor things.

Going into her house, she tried to slam the door behind her, but the door obediently slowed the swing and quietly clicked shut. Her mother, Ardyth, stood by the kitchen table, hands on hips. Her familiar, a plump Siamese cat, grinned up at his mistress from her chair. The light spilling through the window turned his brilliant blue eyes red.

“Not funny, Cornelius.” The witch shook her finger at the cat.

Kat could hear the familiar purring from across the room. The cat decided in the last month or so it was a fine joke to jump up on any chair her mother was about to sit in. When Ardyth’s bottom approached the chair, Cornelius would slither into the seat then yowl like he was being squashed. Ardyth never failed to reverse direction then turn to the cat with a scowl and a shaking finger.

Kat forgot her tears for a moment and couldn’t help but smile. “Mother, why don’t you look before you sit?”

Her mother turned to Kat with eyebrows raised. “That would ruin Cornelius’ joke.” She gently squeezed into the small space left by the purring feline. Cornelius seemed satisfied he’d pulled it off again and jumped to the floor. With his tail raised high in triumph, he headed for the hearth and his own cushioned bed.

Kat dropped her book bag on the floor, took Teddy out of his sling, and put the rabbit on the floor. He hunch-hopped to his food bowl and sniffed around the edges.

“Hungry, little guy?” She took out a bag of rabbit food from the cupboard, filled the bowl, and then slumped down in the chair across from her mother. “Mom, what am I supposed to do? Everyone thinks I’m not trying hard enough, but I am. I feel all the power just swirling around in my head, but when I let it loose it always goes haywire!”

Ardyth pursed her lips. “I don’t know, dear. Perhaps I should never have taken up with Boris. I’m afraid that side of your parentage might be hindering your spellcasting. He was just a regular human after all.”

“But if you hadn’t, uh, gotten together with Boris, I wouldn’t have been born. Are you saying—?” Kat couldn’t finish. If her mother believed she shouldn’t be alive, what hope was there?

Ardyth rushed to her daughter’s side, putting her arms around her. “No, no. Of course not; I don’t mean anything of the sort. The days you and your brother were born were the happiest of my life.” She held Kat’s shoulders at arms’ length. “I just wish you took after my side of the family and not your father’s. Just for the magic, of course.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Thordis the Head Witch

Aunt Thordis - Galdorheim's Head Witch

Katrina's aunt, Thordis, is both harsh on her niece for her failings as a witch, and her biggest booster -- but never to Kat's face.

Thordis is the most powerful witch on Galdorheim, and the administrator for the practical day to day operations of an island that runs on magic. The witch population combine a share of their personal magic for the common good. Maintenance of the protective shield around the village, lighting, food production all make use of a touch of magic from every resident.

When Kat and Rune run off to find Kat's Siberian family, Thordis takes charge of what the witches will do. She has to make an alliance with a very unfriendly witch, Mordita. Possibly, Thordis isn't the most powerful witch on the island after all.

Thordis is both regal and officious. She demands respect and brooks no nonsense. While the governance of the island falls on a council of witches, just about anything Thordis says is what gets done.

I picture Aunt Thordis as Dame Judi Dench the head of M6 in the James Bond films. Thordis is a bit younger, and her hair long but always done in an elaborate style. In that way, I'm reminded of Endora in the Bewitched series, except with blond hair, not red.

Excerpt from Bad Spelling - Chapter Four: Bell, Book, and Candle

Hands on her hips, Kat’s Aunt Thordis stood in the glacier cave regarding the icebound figure of Boris, the wandering Siberian. She tsked and shook her head.


“You poor, dumb—” She stopped, thinking better of it. Speaking ill to the dead was rarely a good idea. You never knew if they’d come back to get even.

“Boris,” she said, trying a different tack, “we need to talk. Despite the fact you couldn’t navigate your way around a bathtub and were so foolish you tried to dig out an ice cave, my sister did fancy you, and you’re still my niece’s father.”

She held her hand up with the palm facing Boris. Thordis frowned. This might be harder than she thought. Even though Thordis was the strongest witch in Galdorheim, she felt a counter spell pushing at her, like a wall she couldn’t see but only sense. Something around Boris repelled magic.

Thordis squared her shoulders and put real effort into her second sight. Yes, she felt a slight tingle. As she suspected, the icy grip of the glacier suspended the man between life and death. If the witches thawed him out, he’d be d-e-a-d, dead. As it was, he had frozen solid in the instant before he died—the process of death incomplete.

Ah, you’re still alive. Good.” If Boris were truly dead, she’d not be able to have a conversation with him. No matter what the circumstances, she wouldn’t delve into the black arts. Necromancy—raising the dead—was near the top of the black list.

Thordis removed Ferro, her ferret familiar, from the top of her carryall and set him aside. He chittered at her then hunched down on the ice shivering. She opened the bag and rummaged through its contents. She drew out a little silver bell, a black candle, and a copy of the Magical Book of Runic Spelling.
 
The fifteenth century Church, Thordis chuckled at the thought, believed they originated the rite of bell, book, and candle. Equally humorous, they thought the items were for an excommunication ceremony. Little did they know the monk who created the ritual was one of her own—a warlock gone deep undercover to keep a close eye on the Church. The very fact it took twelve priests and a bishop to perform the rite didn’t ring any bells with those silly men. Obviously, thirteen people gathered to perform magic made a coven. The long-dead monk probably got a good laugh at that.
 
Never mind what the Church thought, the true purpose of the ceremony was to communicate with, not excommunicate, the dead. Although Boris was pre-dead, it would serve the same purpose. At least Thordis hoped so. Boris knew things Thordis wanted to know, and she was determined to pry them from his icy-cold brain.
 
Thordis lit the candle, rang the bell, and prepared herself to chant the spell to wake Boris. She’d never talked to him when he was alive, since he was a mundane, and any non-magical person was simply not worth her time. Now, she had to find out a few things. Specifically, why was her niece so powerful, yet so incompetent as a witch? If her spells just fizzled, she could believe the girl just wasn’t trying. Instead, they failed spectacularly, and often messily, like her recent attempt to transform the rabbit. Perhaps she could get some answers out of Boris, even though she doubted he was intelligent enough to even realize he had them.

When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. The incantation woke the dead, so waking Boris should be a piece of cake. It also provided translation services. After all, why try to speak to the dead if they can’t understand what you’re saying?


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

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

“Boris, do you hear me?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Your daughter is having…trouble becoming a proper witch. Of course, I believe it’s your fault; well, maybe fault is too strong a word. I suspect her poor performance has to do with having a mundane father, but now I feel…something more.”

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Read an Ebook Week at MuseItUp





Come celebrate with MuseItup Publishing during their March Read an Ebook Week.
Visit the bookstore from March 10 -16 and download a FREE ebook each day.
Don’t forget to bookmark and come back often, because the entire month of March they’ll be offering Super Duper Specials to fill up your e-readers!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim Trilogy on Amazon

In print. 446 pages of Witchy goodness. Now for sale at Amazon for $16.95. ALL three books in a single volume. Kind of like buy-2-get-one-free.



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

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

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

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Crank of the Week: Good Old Days

I'm sure you've seen them on Facebook, G+, and other social sites. The placard post describes how, as a child, the poster didn't have the benefit of electronic toys, they played outside until called for dinner, they got an occasional swat on the rear end if they were bad, and yet they grew up to be useful, law-abiding citizens.

First off, the poster is never the initiator of the placard, they simply share it to garner applause (right on! you're so right, etc.) and Likes or Favs.

I find these placards offensive since I grew up in the time frame the sentiment is usually from--the baby boom era.


These self-satisfied, Me generation posters appear to have had the ideal childhood. Mommy stayed at home a la June Cleaver, Daddy went off to work to bring home the groceries, the family lived in the same house from the poster's birth until they left home for college.

What if the play until dark thing was only because nobody was home because both mom and dad worked. What if there was no dad at all? What if the dark brought a hasty packing and a shushed move out of a shabby rented house to another shabby rented house on the wrong side of the tracks?

What if dinner didn't consist of the entire family sitting down together, grace being said, and big platters of chicken or roast beef being passed around, but a bowl of soup and saltine crackers?

What if Christmas meant one child getting the sort of expensive toy, while the others received socks or a notebook for school work? Or maybe nothing at all?

What if the swat on the butt for misbehavior was not from a hand, but a folded belt?

What if there were no friends to play with since you're always new in the neighborhood, always new in the school?

What if the idyllic childhood described in the placard was not YOUR childhood at all?

Would you post with that self-congratulatory smirk on your face? Oh, you had it so hard, but grew up to be a wonderful person despite the adversity of having to say please and thank you.

I understand that you had it good if that placard describes your childhood. But if your childhood was the opposite of all that Father Knows Best ideal, and you still grew up to be a useful and law-abiding citizen. THEN, I'd think you'd have a reason to congratulate yourself.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Writing Tips: Openings

A couple of posts back, I talked about prologues. One thing I didn't mention about prologues and should have is that they're often big piles of telling the reader background stuff. Snooze city.

Even if you have a prologue, you will need to make your opening page exciting enough to make the reader turn the page or punch the Page Forward button on their e-reader. In the case of presentation on e-readers, you don't even have a traditional length first page. A half page, maybe. With my larger font use, you've barely got a middle-sized paragraph to grab me.

As the world moves faster, so must your magnum opus. Less on the magnum and more on the opus.

Here's my favorite first sentence of all time. Three little words:

"Call me Ishmael."

Melville grabbed the reader in three short words, one of them a name. Maybe not as pop musical as "Call Me Maybe," but I'm not quite sure who Maybe is. Of course, I don't know Ishmael yet either, but his name alone gives me a lot of information. To the original audience in 1851, the name was immediately recognizable. With few books around, and stern parents, even kids had read the Bible from cover to cover. If for nothing else than the Song of Solomon (how about those two breasts like two young roes?). Yup, the Bible was the book hidden under the bed like a stack of Playboys with certain pages worn and smudged with ... well, very well worn.

So, who is Ishmael and why did Melville decide to use the name for his main character? I'll make this brief, since we're talking about opening pages, not literary or Biblical history.

Ishmael was a bastard born to Abraham and his wife's maid servant Hagar. An angel informed Hagar that Ishmael would be a wild man, and he'd hate everybody and they'd hate him right back. Abraham sent Hagar and her son away when Sarah, his wife (at 90 years old!), got pregnant. You can read all the soap opera details in Genesis around about chapter 16-20. It's also got all that smutty stuff about Sodom and Gomorrah too.

Ishmael, then, was an outcast from the favored tribe of Abraham which is the lineage of all the holy folks in all three major religions based on a unitary god.

The readers in the 1850s immediately recognized Melville's main character as an outcast and a wanderer. Indeed, Ishmael continues, "Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."

No explosions, car crashes, sword battles, or any other action. Just a disaffected young man at odds with his life who decides to try working on a ship. However, I'm hooked, lined, and sinkered. I was when I was twelve, and I am now re-reading that opening and want to read it again. Yay, for Amazon's free Kindle books!

Okay, I've completely lost my thread now because I want to go snuggle on the couch and see what happens to Ishmael next.

I would like you to write a comment with the best opening sentence you can recall. It can even be one of your own books. That's a dare. Make me want to read your book with one smashing opening sentence.

* * *

Here's my favorite opening sentence from one of my own books. Obviously, I'm no Herman Melville.

Kick, jab, shuffle, kick, lunge, jab.

There you have it.  The opening line from "First Duty," a YA SF Dystopian Space Opera.
Kindle (99 cents) and Print ($7.99) on Amazon


Sunday, March 03, 2013

Point of View and Voice

Many newbie writers have trouble maintaining a consistent point of view (POV). It's entirely possible to develop scenes and chapters in different POVs if you don't allow your mind to meander all over the place. Clean POV also requires a consistent use of person. First, second, third, etc.

FIRST PERSON

Suppose you write in first person. That means you say, "I walked down the path." Third person means you say, "She walked down the path." Let's forget about verb tense for now. If you want to write in present tense, then go for it. However, you're not as likely to have me as a reader.

SECOND PERSON

Second person is possible, but incredibly awkward. Speaking to the reader is sort of like breaking into their apartment and acting like a serial killer. "You are walking down the path." The poor reader might think, "No, I'm not! Wait! Am I supposed to be walking someplace? But I'm sitting here reading. I don't want to walk elsewhere. It's hard to read when I'm walking!"

So, let's just say that second person is out of the picture. I really couldn't advise you on how to do this with any grace or style. If you insist upon second person, then I commend you, but don't expect to sell a lot of books.

VOICE

Okay, 1st person and 3rd person are both fine, but what if you want to get into the head of another character, perhaps the villain? Can you do this when writing 1st person? If both your main character and your villain are talking aloud referring to themselves, it might be a tad confusing, but it's doable if you carefully divide scenes and chapters and make it entirely clear who the "I" is in each. Also, you'll need to be watchful of voice. Oh, right. Voice. Did you think everybody talks exactly the same way? Of course, your MC is nice, good, heroic, etc. and your antagonist is mean, awful, and villainous. Here's some first person examples if you decide to present both MC and villain in first person:

"I walked down the path, my heart yearning for any sign of my beloved, but I continue to be ever watchful of signs that Mr. Blackness had passed this way."

"I stood in the shadows, watching the poor, sad sucker meandering down the path without a clue that I've got his beloved stashed in a dungeon guarded by ogres."

These examples, of course, are exaggerated to make the point of voice incredibly important when you're writing with multiple points of view.

THIRD PERSON

Easiest to do is third person. Everybody can have their say with little difficulty for the reader recognizing who's the star of a given scene.

Thing is, 3rd person is the writer's voice, the omnipotent story teller from on high (imagine your god-like presence hovering over the characters in your work).

Still, separation of points of view by scene or chapter is the best, easiest, cleanest way to keep the reader on track. You can change points of view between paragraphs, but expect your reader to have to backtrack to figure out who is out front in the story.

If you think you absolutely need to change POV without a scene or chapter break, then your last resort is a paragraph break and a time or place changing word to allow the reader a moment to switch gears.

Fred walked along the path, hoping to find some clue to Hilda's disappearance. MEANWHILE, Hilda pounded on the bars and screamed, desperately hoping to attract attention.

Here the time/place changing word is MEANWHILE. It signals the reader that the story is jumping elsewhere.

RECOMMENDATION

Stick to 3rd person. Change POVs only on a scene or chapter break. Keep the voice consistent to the character.

See? That's not so hard, is it?

EXCERPT EXAMPLE FROM SCOTCH BROOM

“Not at all, Barry. Pleased to meet you. I’m Ru...Ron Galdor.” Rune extended his own hand to shake and winced at the dart champion’s hard grip. When Barry turned his back on him, Rune mumbled a quick spell to change the name on his passport from Rune Fenwick to Ron Galdor.


“We’ll play ane-on-ane. Be that guid for you?” Barry asked, twirling one of his darts between his fingers.

“Sure, but I don’t have my darts with me. Can I borrow a set?” One of the men held out his set of three darts. Rune weighed them in his hand. He held up one and sighted it toward the board. “Hey, thanks. These are nice.”

“Da game is 301, double-in, double-oot?”

“Great. Anything is fine.” Rune watched the dart loaner erase the blackboard next to the dartboard and write Barry and Ron at the top. He added the number 301 under each name.

Rune smiled. He ought to make enough for the train in no time at all.
* * * *
“Hello, Ole? Is that you?” Thordis shouted over the Satphone. The sunspots were out and playing havoc with reception.

“Yes, yes. Thordis, so glad you called.”

“We just wanted to check whether Rune had any problem getting a ride to Transylvania.”

“Transylvania? According to Endy, he took the troller coaster to the Shetland Islands.”

“He did, eh? Well, that’s not what he was supposed to do.”


X X X

See, scene changed, POV changed and not even a hiccup in the readers forward momentum. The first scene shows what Rune is actually doing, while the second scene shows his Aunt Thordis discovering that Rune isn't doing what he was supposed to do.

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


Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble.  Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat's brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too.  Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Prologues - Yes or No?

I've seen plenty of discussions on prologues. Whether they're a good idea or not. Arguments may be made in either direction, but I'll come down firmly on the side of ... maybe.

For what it's worth, I think prologues can be useful, but I have some definite rules:
  • A prologue shouldn't run more than a couple of pages.
  • If the prologue concerns events immediately before or simultaneous to the first chapter, then it's the first chapter. Realize that a prologue reeks of literary pretentiousness, especially in a genre novel. 
  • Prologues are good for background set way before the events of the book and, if possible, with completely different characters.
  • Background information in the prologue should be difficult to deliver by a character without it sounding like a lecture.
Those are my rules, and I live by them. Here's an example of a prologue opening the first book in my Witches of Galdorheim series. First, I want to say why this is a good prologue. It's set hundreds of years before the beginning of the events in the books. It has no characters who appear in the book. It's very short. Because of the timeframe and lack of character overlap, it HAD to be a prologue, not chapter one.

Now, the prologue and, following it, the back cover blurb to contrast why this bit of text is not chapter one of "Bad Spelling."

Prologue
November, 1490—Somewhere in Germany

“They took Helena,” Edyth whispered, grabbing John’s arm the moment he walked through the doorway.
Wide-eyed, John looked at Edyth. “But she has never–”

She shushed him. “I know, I know. They’ve cast a wide net. It shan’t be long before they suspect us.”
John gazed around the one-room, thatched hut they called home. “I’m afraid ‘tis nothing else we can do. We must flee.”

Tears welled in Edyth’s eyes. “What they are doing to us, ‘tis hateful. Why cannot they just leave us be?”

He took Edyth’s shoulders, pulling her to his chest. “‘Tis not just us. The inquisitors condemn many not of the craft. They find black magic where it does not exist.”

His eyes darkened. “‘Tis the fault of that wretched Heinrich Institoris and his cursed Malleus Maleficarum. Even the Church has banned it, yet the so-called citizen courts use it to condemn any who disagree with them.”

Edyth shook her head, her face grim. “You speak the truth. ‘Tis shameful they accuse whoever dissents, be they witch or not!”

John nodded. “We shall have one last coven gathering. All true witches must leave this place soonest.”

“But where will we go, John?”

“North. So far north that no mundanes could live there. If we move away from their grasp, we can make our own way in the world.”

John dropped his hands from Edyth’s shoulders. “Come. We’ve messages to send. I do not think it wise to wait any longer.”

The witch and the warlock gathered foolscap and invisible ink. As they penned each word, it faded and disappeared from the paper. They wrote in the Old Runic language as an additional safeguard from prying eyes. Only a true witch could read it.

That very night, the ashes of the messages flew up the chimney, carried by incantation to the far corners of Europe, to all known witches and warlocks. Within the month, the trek northward began. The Wiccans reached the ends of the earth then went further. Finding a tiny island, completely removed from any other piece of land, they stopped and laid their claim. They named their island Galdorheim: Witches’ Home.

* * *

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.
* * *
You can see I followed my own rules, and this prologue works. It's set 400 years in the past. It has no cross-over characters. It quickly explains why the witches are living on a remote arctic island. In chapter one, I can move ahead with the specific problems facing my main character, and nobody is wondering why the heck she's living on an ice-bound island. 

Go ahead. Tell me why I'm not right. Or, give me an example of how a prologue can work when it breaks my (arbitrary) rules. Don't argue against my rules. They're mine, and I'm keeping them. What are your rules? If you don't have any rules, then you'd better do a bit of soul-searching. That's the premise of jazz. Know the rules, then you can break them.