Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from the Witches of Galdorheim

Kat, Rune, Ardyth, Thordis, Mordita, Salmon, Ceto, Skua!, and the rest of the witches and magical critters you'll read about in the WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM series wish you the best Halloween EVER!


The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - How Charming!

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

How Charming!

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

Charm bracelets aren’t just jewelry. The wearing of charms may have begun as a form of amulet to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood.

For instance, there is evidence from Africa that shells were used for adornments around 75,000 years ago. In Germany intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on the history of charms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charm_bracelet).

And, of course, we should not forget Lucky Charms (General Mills) which provide us with food just like Kat’s little pig charm does in the story.

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

Excerpt from Scotch Broom: 

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

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

“Fiddlesticks. These are useful charms. They’re not meant to be just decorative.” Mordita held up Kat’s wrist and poked one of the charms. It squealed. Kat jumped. “Shush, you silly thing,” Mordita said.

“This little piggie provides food where none is to be found. Nutritious food, that is, so don’t be hoping for candy.”

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

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

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

Kat laughed. “I might need that the second I put foot in Great Britain. It’s all new to me.”
Poke. Whinny. “This pony will bring transportation, for example, a cab in London. The drivers would as soon run you over as pick you up.”

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

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

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

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

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

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




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Giants

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Grind Your Bones

Giants aren’t the most popular neighbors. They tend to be a little selfish, keeping golden-egg laying geese and magic harps to themselves. In Norse mythology, a giant called a jotun (or Jötunn) is literally made of ice or stone (depending on the season, I guess). Frost giants are far more popular in games and fantasy books. They got a big screen treatment in the movie, "Thor," and the uncoming sequel. We discover that Thor's brother, Loki, is half-jotun. There’s just something chilling about a giant made of ice. Since the scene which has the jotun is spring, I went with the stone giants. They could also use the press.

Originally, in Norse mythology, the jotuns live in Jotunheim (well, duh!). The Encyclopedia Mythica http://www.pantheon.org/areas/mythology/europe/norse/articles.html) says:

Jotunheim is one of the nine worlds, the homeland of the frost and rock giants. Situated in Midgard, on the middle level of the Norse universe, Jotunheim is separated from Asgard by the river Iving, which never freezes over. It lies in the snowy regions on the outermost shores of the ocean. Mimir's well of wisdom is in Jotunheim, beneath the Midgard root of the ash tree Yggdrasil.

I’m not much more enlightened, but who doesn’t love a big, bad giant roaring in to cause havoc? When Kat and Rune meet up with the jotun, she finds that her ability to communicate with animals grows stronger the further away she travels from Galdorheim Island.

Excerpt from Bad Spelling:

The path was clearly magical. The foliage, although wild and unkempt, glowed with greenery and flowers. Giant mushrooms, some the size of dinner plates, sprouted under the bushes. Birds twittered in the trees. Kat ducked as a bumblebee as big as her fist droned past her head on its way to another blossom. Here it was spring, just like on Galdorheim under the shield.

Kat pulled off her parka and draped it over her knapsack. Rune soon did the same, even though his tolerance for extreme temperatures was usually much higher than Kat’s. They were strolling along, enjoying the warmth, the flowers, and the buzz of the bees, when Kat looked up to see an eagle riding an updraft in a lazy circle above them. “Look!” Kat pointed. Rune glanced up at the bird.

“Interesting…not! C’mon, Kat, it’s just an eagle,” he replied.

Kat looked down at her feet and mumbled, “I thought it was interesting.”

A few moments later, Rune stopped abruptly, holding up his hand.

“Shhh! Do you hear something?”

Kat listened but heard only chirps and buzzing. “No, but your hearing is better than mine.”

Rune turned slowly in place, trying to home in on the sound. Kat watched, puzzled.

The hillside by the path trembled then heaved upward. Dirt and rocks flew through the air. The shaking earth knocked Kat backward. She plopped onto her behind with a yelp, ducked her head, and covered it with her arms to fend off flying gravel. Peeking out from beneath her upraised arms, Kat's eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. In front of her, the shaking earth rose and unfolded. Then a monstrous glob of rocks and dirt rose higher and higher into the air. Two huge boulders blinked at her. Kat screamed. A gaping mouth appeared beneath the eyes, and a monstrous nose jerked and wriggled its way to a place between the eyes and mouth.

Rune grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet. “It’s a giant! Run! Run!”

Kat sprinted after Rune, who quickly outpaced her, as the giant continued to grow and take shape from the rocks and earth. Kat risked a quick glance over her shoulder. A horrendous, rocky fist swung in a downward arc, its target appallingly clear. She tried to force her flying feet to move even faster, hoping to outrace that ponderous, clenched hand. She looked up to see the eagle plummeting downward, its wings folded against its sides. Kat aimed a thought at the eagle. “Help me!” The eagle flared its wings and stopped abruptly in midair. It then turned and flew away. She was disappointed but not surprised when the eagle left. No use. She picked up her feet and raced after Rune.

A wild, high-pitched screech split the air. Kat looked back again. She gasped in surprise, stumbled, and almost fell. Flailing her arms and digging in her heels, she managed to stop upright. She stared with unbelieving eyes as a flock of eagles, dozens of them, circled the monstrous form. The birds dived at the thing’s head, distracting it from its intended victims—her and Rune.

The giant swung its huge hand, batting at the eagles, trying to drive them away. The big raptors easily evaded the lumbering blows. Kat watched as the eagles dove again and again, buffeting the creature’s head with their wings, pecking at its eyes and threatening with their outstretched talons. She wondered how they could possibly hurt stone eyes, but the giant seemed to think they could. It shriveled downward, shedding rocks and dirt as it collapsed. Down and down it went, melding back into the earthen hillside that spawned it.

The eagles flew in a wide gyre around the hillside, preventing the giant from reforming. One of the birds veered away from the flock and flew down to Kat. It landed gracefully on a boulder beside the path. Folding wings and settling feathers, it cocked its head and regarded her with a fierce, yellow gaze.
“Thank you,” Kat gasped, fighting to catch her breath. “Thank you so much!” The great bird dipped its head in what could only be an acknowledgment. Then it spread its wings, uttered a soft “Kkkreeeee,” and launched itself into the air, climbing away with long, powerful beats of its wings.

Rune shut his open mouth and then gasped, “You did it again! Do you believe me now?”



Monday, October 28, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Bodach

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Scottish Legend and Myth – The Bodach

I had a terrific time researching Scottish mythology for "Scotch Broom, the 3rd book in the series. I thought I knew a lot already being a fantasy fan and general myth and legend geek, but I was delighted to find a few beings to add to the Scotch Broom plot. Some of these lovelies became major players in the book. Sianach, the flesh-eating stag, Cusith the giant green hound, Cait Sidhe the cat fairy, to name a few. But I also found some irresistible characters I just had to work into the plot.

One that intrigued me was Bodach, the black giant. Once I had decided that Cailleach, the winter goddess, was going to be the villain, I decided she had to have a minion or two to do her bidding. The skrats were perfect to be the illusive little spies who reported back to Cailleach whenever Kat or Rune met someone in the Otherworld or made progress of some kind.

However, the crone would need some muscle to back her up. Bodach provided that. He’s not too bright, but is grateful to Cailleach for allowing him to live in her firewood box. Since it’s rather small for a giant, I allowed that Bodach could be just like me when waking up in the morning. Throw the legs to the side of the bed, then struggle to stand, creep slowly for the first few steps, but begin to work out the kinks. Stand up straighter, and grow taller. Finally, at full height and strength, stride off as the giant one is meant to be.

This is how I envisioned poor Bodach. A useful tool for Cailleach, kept in a woodbox, and taken out as the hag has need. I even found one reference indicating the Bodach was Cailleach’s husband. How more beaten down and subservient could a legendary being be then to be the spouse of a nasty old hag like the winter goddess. Indeed, their home is in a stone hut in Glen Lyon in Scotland. So, there you have it. A home, a husband, and a kid or two. Cailleach was the very model of a not-so-modern Scottish housewife.

Bodach has his own website (http://www.bodach.net/), which says:

The word ‘Bodach’ roughly translates as ‘Old Man’, and his favourite hobbies include crawling down chimneys and poking young children with his long bony fingers. Like the Bogeyman, the Bodach is said to steal away naughty children Specifically the Bodach-Glas, or Dark Grey Man (sometimes also known as the Dovach or Mournful One) and the Bodach au Dun or Old Man of the Hill were said to be heralds of death. These Bodachs are said to sometimes be swathed in a long grey cloaks and to hover slightly above the ground. Furthermore a tremendous gash cut across his pallid face dripping gore onto his beard and long, hoary hair.

My Bodach differs from this description. However, those who know me understand that I take every civilization’s myth and legend and then turn it to my own purposes. As always, I have taken great liberties with Celtic mythology.

Excerpt:

Cailleach groaned when she leaned over and lifted her bare foot high enough to clip her toenails with the gardening shears. She looked up and sniffed twice. The hag dropped her bare foot, stuffed it into her flipflop, and shuffled to the door. Throwing it open, she held her head high, closed her eyes, and sniffed some more.

“Drat! Not another witch.” She sniffed again. “Wait, a warlock. No, a vampire. Hmm.” She closed the door and slumped into a chair. “This is confusing. Maybe there are two.” She went to the woodshed door. Cailleach rapped three times and then stood back as it creaked open.

Bodach, her roommate and minion, dragged his crippled body out of the small hatch. “Yes, Mistrezz,” he slurred, casting one protruding eye upwards.

“We have another foreigner in the swamp. Get out there and find a skrat to check. No, not a skrat. I smell vampire. Find Glaistig and send her to investigate.” Cailleach patted him on the head. “There’s a good boy.”

“Can you tell me where Glaistig is hiding?” Bodach examined his armpit and sniffed.

“Go to the standing stones on the north side of the loch. She has a cave there.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach dragged his limp legs behind him. He began to unfold in a way the eye could not follow. When he reached the door, he needed to bend and shuffle through sideways to fit.

“Bodach, stay with Glaistig and do as she says. She might need some muscle.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach ducked and went to seek Glaistig, the Gray Lady.

Cailleach closed the door behind the giant and sat again. She twanged the long hair protruding from the wart on her chin. “This is all very disturbing. Two foreigners stomping around in my bog within hours. This second, though, he’s strange. Yes, male. That much is clear. But I smell on him both warlock and vampire. Very odd, indeed.”



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - The Fey Part 2

The Fey 2 - Cait Sidhe and Seonaidh

The Cat Fairy, Cait Sidhe

From Wikipedia:

The Cat Sìth or Cait Sidhe is a fairy creature from Celtic mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. The legends surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish folklore, but a few occur in Irish. Some common folklore suggested that the Cait Sìth was not a fairy, but a witch that could transform into a cat nine times

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 Celtic 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, many specifically to Merlin.

The third book in the Witches of Galdorheim series, Scotch Broom, is set in the Scottish Highlands, or, rather, the Otherworld which is another dimension that exists within the Flow Country. 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.

The Augur, Seonaidh

From Wikipedia:

The Seonaidh (anglicised Shony or Shoney) was a Celtic water spirit in Lewis (an island in the Outer Hebrides), according to Martin Martin. Dwelly defines seonadh (without the "i", a related form in Scottish Gaelic) as "1. augury, sorcery. 2. Druidism" and quotes Martin further.

Martin says that the inhabitants of Lewis used to propitiate Seonaidh by a cup of ale in the following manner. They came to the church of St. Mulway (Mael rubha), each man carrying his own provisions. Every family gave a pock (bag) of malt, and the whole was brewed into ale. One of their number was chosen to wade into the sea up to his waist, carrying in his hand the cup full of ale. 

Kat needs information about her brother's whereabouts. Cait Sidhe brings Kat to a pool where a Seonaidh lives and they bribe the slimy fellow with ale as suggested above.

Excerpt:

Cait Sidhe stood up on her hind legs and marched left and right with her nose held high. It surprised Kat that Cait seemed quite comfortable walking on two legs.

“What—?” Kat gasped as Cait Sidhe grew taller, her body wavering and twisting as she morphed from black cat into what appeared to be a human girl the size of a ten-year old. The child-like Sidhe was as black as her cat form with a spot of white running from her neck to her collarbones. Her translucent wings formed a shimmering rainbow growing out of her shoulder blades. Never at rest, the wings flashed pale flickers of rainbow colors around the fairy’s back.

“Oh! Self-transformation. I should have guessed. Sidhe does mean fairy, and fairies are master transformers.”

“Catch on fast, don’t you, witchy.”

“I see your, um, personality didn’t change.” Kat moved to slide off Diamond’s back, but he told her to wait until they got to a dry place. She settled back as well as she could behind Diamond’s withers. “Are there any dry spots in this swamp?”

Cait answered. “Yes, which is why I switched to the less efficient, bipedal mode. I must take this inconvenient form to get Seonaidh’s attention.”

“Who is Show Me?” Kat asked.

“SHOW NEE,” Cait snarled. “Can’t you get any of our names right?”

“Well, don’t get your tail in a twist. They are unusual names, you know.”

“Ha. Your jokes stink, too.” Cait said no more, but flew upward, then flitted away across the bogs.

“Why are we stopping to see this Seonaidh? I don’t want to waste time on another roadside attraction.”

“Seonaidh can see the future. Cait Sidhe believes we can find out what happens to your brother.”

“That’d be great! I want to know if Rune will be okay.”

They soon came to another pool, much like the others dotting the bogs, except the water was clear. Kat could see to the bottom of the pond, where underwater plants swayed to and fro.

“It’s beautiful,” she said and then yelped when Diamond bent his front legs. She pitched forward and planted her face in his mane. Sitting up, she threw one leg over his back and rolled off. She put her hands on the small of her back and leaned backward then forward to take the kinks out.

Cait Sidhe stood by the edge of the pool, looking down. Kat walked over to the pond. It was only then Kat noticed the fairy was naked.

“Seonaidh,” Cait yelled. “Get your ugly butt up here.”

Kat turned her attention away from Cait and looked into the pool. She inhaled and thought the sweet smell of fresh water a nice change from the constant dank smell of swamp. A dark form lay at the bottom among the wavering water plants. Cait pointed to the form. “That’s Seonaidh. If I can get him up here, he’ll want a cup of ale. You’re a witch. Can you produce that?”

“Sure, but how long is this going to take?”

“Not long if you whomp up that ale,” Cait replied.

Kat glanced at her charm bracelet and touched the pig, which gave out a tiny squeal. A pop of air to Kat’s right drew her attention. A checkered, red and white cloth lay on the dry bank of the pool. On it, a picnic basket sat. She knelt, opened the wicker basket, and took out its contents: a covered dish, smelling of rich cheese; two jugs and two cups; a container of grain; and a raw fish.

She picked up one jug and popped off the cork. Sniffing, she recognized the musky-sweet scent of ale. “How’s this?” Kat asked, holding up the jug. “But why do I want to give him ale? I can’t imagine you’d just want to be friendly, Cait.”

“Hssst. Of course not, silly human. Seonaidh is an augur; he can tell the future. Not very well, mind you, but we might get a hint at what is to come.”

“I’ll take anything I can get. It’s hard not knowing what’s happened to Rune. Or will happen, I guess.” Kat’s breath hitched. She could only hope the augur showed them something good. She cleared her throat. “Some witches have the talent too, but it’s rare.” Kat looked at her charm bracelet again. “I’m glad I can use these charms more than once. I think I’ll use the alarm goose to keep an eye out in case Sianach and Cusith follow us.” She touched the goose charm, and a large white goose appeared at Kat’s feet. It raised one wing in a salute and stood waiting.

“Oh, right. Keep watch for the deer and dog. Let me know if you see them.” The goose saluted again and took wing. Kat watched while the goose posted itself flying in a wide circle overhead.

Cait heaved a deep sigh. “I hate water.” She dove into the pool. Kat peered into the depths and watched Cait Sidhe swim to the dark form. After a short time, Cait rose to the surface and climbed out of the pool. She shook herself, throwing water on Kat. “He’ll be up soon.”

“Well, then, let’s eat while we wait.” 

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - The Fey

Sianach and Cusith

The only Witches of Galdorheim book with fairies or the fey is "Scotch Broom." I found some great Celtic fey characters to populate the pages of this homage to the Wizard of Oz. Oh, you didn't realize the book was about Oz? I know, I know. I'm so subtle people don't even notice I'm visible much less what themes I use to tell my tales. But if you didn't notice the tornado created by an old hag, Thordis and Ardyth following the Yellow Brick Road, or Cailleach casting a spell right out of the Wizard book...well, it's there if you choose to look. It's a great time to do so considering the BOGO deal going on right now at MuseItUp Publishing for my books. Link is at the bottom of the post.

Okay, so here are two of the fey characters in "Scotch Broom." I'll cover Cait Sidhe, another fey character tomorrow.

HART AND HOUND

Researching Celtic mythology, I knew I wanted to use some of the lesser know magical creatures. I also decided that they needed to be “like” animals, but not quite. The reason for this is obvious to readers who’ve been following Kat’s story from the beginning. Kat’s magical ability is to talk with animals. She has greater or lesser success depending on the innate brain-power of a natural animal. For example, she chats along nicely with Salmon the Orca since a killer whale is the largest of the dolphins and are at the top of the IQ charts. I believe the ability to communicate to others shows greater intelligence. Sorry. Don’t want to offend any fish out there, but you guys just aren’t that bright.

I found two mythic creatures who met my criteria. Sianach, a huge stag (possibly a Red Deer) and Cusith, a giant-sized green dog with a braided tail.

From my favorite source, Encyclopedia Mythica (http://www.pantheon.org/areas/folklore/folklore/articles.html).

Cusith

An enormous hound of the Scottish Highlands. It is said to be a dark green in color, with a long braided tail and the size of a bullock. Whenever his baying was heard on the moors, farmers would quickly lock up their women because the hound's mission was to round up women and drive them to a fairy mound so they might supply milk for fairy children.

I’m a bit leery of that rounding up women part, but decided that was just an ancient attempt to keep women close to home. Clearly, not much has changed except for the mythological excuses.

Sianach

"Monster." In Scottish Gaelic oral tradition, a large, malevolent, predatory deer.

That’s to the point. Other research indicated that the basis for Sianach might be the Irish Elk, which is now extinct.

Now that I’d identified a couple of mythical critters, then all I had to do is get them together with Kat. Since she was tricked into entering the Otherworld (land of fey), she has been searching for the hall of the Trow King. She meets Sianach first and he agrees to guide her to King Connor’s hall. What Kat find strange is that she can’t look into Sianach’s mind; he can close off his thoughts from her. This makes Kat a bit nervous since Sianach, while seeming to be amenable to helping Kat, is also very vague as to his reasons for doing so.

The two begin their search for the Trow Hall, although Sianach claims, reasonably, that in the Otherworld, there is no such thing as a map to anyplace. They’ll have to seek the Hall in other ways. Apparently, Sianach’s method is to simply wander around through the swamps.

They camp for the night, and the next morning, Kat meets another denizen of the Otherworld, the giant green hound, Cusith.

Excerpt:

Sianach grazed near the edge of the small clearing. When the lean-to disappeared, he raised his head. “Good morning. I thought you were going to sleep all day.”

“You sound just like my mom.” Kat let out an exasperated snort. “Besides, it can’t be past eight o’clock.”

“I do not carry a timepiece.”

“Of course, you don’t.” Kat opened her pack and rummaged through it. “Cool. I’ve still got the granola bar.” Her head snapped up when she heard something large crashing through the underbrush. Sianach stood stock still, staring toward the ruckus.

“HHHHRRRRROOOOOWWW!”

“Omigosh, what’s that?” Kat’s voice trembled as she looked to Sianach for an answer. The hairs on her neck and arms stood at attention.

Sianach turned toward a nearby tree and struck his antlers against it. The clash of antler against bark rang like a warning bell. Kat didn’t expect the loud clang coming from horn against wood.

“HHHHRRRRROOOOOWWW!”

“Hide,” Sianach said in a breathy whisper. His head raised now and pointed toward the howl that sounded closer than before.

Kat did as he told her but had to ask, “What is it?” just before she crouched behind a bush.

“The Hound from Hell,” Sianach replied. He dashed into the woods with antlers thrust forward to meet the howling canine. Kat heard a sharp yip from the dog. Sianach must have scored the first strike. Sianach bugled, and the hound yowled. Thuds punctuated the vocalizing, when one or the other creature struck a blow.

“I have to help,” Kat muttered. She jogged across the clearing and pushed her way through the saplings and undergrowth blocking the way. She followed the battle sounds—bugling stag, baying hound, splintering of small trees being knocked aside. She darted around another large tree and saw the combatants squared off in an area beaten down by their fighting. She stopped still, her eyes widened. A huge green dog faced Sianach, its fangs exposed from under snarling lips. Kat gulped and stood frozen with fear.

Sianach’s head lowered, and he charged the hound with out-thrust antlers. The dog jumped aside at the last second and leapt on Sianach’s back. The monstrous creature bit down hard on the stag’s neck. Kat heard the sickening crunch of breaking bones. Blood gushed high, and Kat gasped at the sheer volume. Kat screamed. “Sianach!”

The hound jumped off Sianach and stood aside, panting and watching the deer fall to the ground on his side. Sianach’s head dropped, held up only by his antlers, then the mighty rack shrank, and his head hit the ground with a thud.

“No!” Kat screamed and raced toward the two. The dog looked away from the dying stag toward Kat. His lips peeled back in a slathering snarl. His muscles tensed to leap on her, and she cast her eyes around trying to find a defensive weapon. “Of course!” She cast a defense spell around herself. The hound lunged toward her and smashed into the fragile shield. It shattered and pale yellow splinters like glass scattered through the air. However, it protected Kat for a moment. The hound rolled aside yelping in pain.

Gathering her strength, she blasted the dog with a clear message: “Sit! Stay!” The hound rose to his feet then plopped his rear end on the forest floor. His tongue lolled from the side of his opened mouth, and his tail thumped on the ground.

Kat’s jaw dropped. “Oh! Um, that’s better.” Kat was amazed her command worked at all. “You stay. That’s a good dog.” She stepped slowly toward Sianach but kept her attention on the dog, watching for any change in his now friendly demeanor.

“Oh, no! Sianach?” She dropped to one knee by the deer and placed her hand on his brow. Eyelids fluttered and then opened. Sianach looked up at her. In a weak voice, he said, “That was fun.” He then jerked himself upright and stood. Kat jumped back, astounded as she watched the wound close, the blood slow, and then stop.

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Kat's Animal Friends

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Talking to the Animals

It's not giving away too much from the story to mention that #Fail witch Kat does have some recognized abilities. Only when she leaves her island home to find her deceased father's Siberian family does she discover she can talk to any animals, not just her friendly familiar Teddy the Bunny.

Throughout the three books in the series, Kat's power grows as she makes some unusual friends. A killer whale, a flight of eagles (usually solitary birds), a greedy skua (a large arctic bird), and a herd of lemmings.

She also meets a variety of magical animals. They differ from normal animals because they are already intelligent and able to speak to humans...when they choose to do so. Some are friendly and others are out to get her. In her travels, Kat meets a pack of werewolves, Diamond the unicorn, Sianach the elk, and Cusith the green hound. All magical creatures themselves.

The third variety of animals are those controlled by another person. The evil shaman sends a polar bear after Kat and Rune. The forest elemental Ajatar uses snakes for her army.

Wherever Kat goes, she is a witchy Dr. Doolittle, talking to the animals. Her power as a witch allows them to talk to her. She will admit she hasn't had much luck with fish.

Excerpt Note: Kat is stuck on yet another island, Ultima Thule. With no way to get home, she decides to send a message to her family. The only means available happens to be a green sea bird who's willing to help her out, but for a price.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil

As she looked around, she felt the chill up the back of her neck telling her somebody was looking at her. She whipped her head to the side and found herself staring nose to beak with a large dark-gray bird with a white chest and ring around its neck. The bird studied her intently. She listened to him and got a stream of scrambled thoughts. “Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?”

The bird’s mention of a female led Kat to believe he was male. She sent a simple message to the bird, moving her lips silently, so she wouldn’t scare him off. “Hello. I am Katrina.” The bird’s thoughts abruptly halted. He stared at her with beady black eyes.

What?”

Kat smiled. Contact! She sent soothing thoughts to the bird. He might be just a teeny bit hyperactive.

“Hello. I,” she said, pointing at her chest, “am Katrina.” She smiled. The bird stared at her, tipping his head to one side and then the other. Next, he tucked its long, hooked bill down and scratched the feathers on its chest. The bird ruffled his wings and then hopped backward.

Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?” The bird continued its mental ramble.
Kat groaned. She glanced around for another target, when a sharp jab on her upper arm made her yelp.

Talk!”

“Oh, okay. I didn’t think you were listening.”

Can talk, listen same time.”

“That’s a useful talent. I couldn’t do it,” Kat replied, hoping to get on the good side of the big bird. She recognized him as a skua. A nasty creature in many ways, it liked to steal food from other species. It didn’t surprise her that the rest of the aviary avoided him. The skua would steal and eat other birds’ eggs and hatchlings. The faint whiff of rot told her he also dined on carrion.

The bird swiveled his head and whistled a sharp tone. “No birds here have a brain.”

“So, the rest of them are all just birdbrains?”

Yes.” The skua coughed in what sounded a lot like a snort of disdain. “Only one, me.” The bird sighed then perked up and said, “I am Skua!.”

Kat heard the up-click at the end. Skua! must be his name. “Pleased to meet you, Skua!.” Kat surveyed the other birds, wondering if he told the truth. Was he the only one smart enough? She guessed it didn’t matter, since he did seem willing to talk to her. “I could use some help.”

What in it for me?”

“Well, let’s see. What do you like?”

Lemmings.”

Kat wrinkled her nose. She was afraid the bird would want meat. Besides, lemmings were cute. “How about, um, bird seed?”

Pah! Meat!”

“Well, how about we work out the payment later?”

No fool, me. Pay now!”

“Don’t you want to know what I’d like you to do?”

The bird twitched its head upward and was silent for a moment.

Good idea. Tell.”

“I need a big, strong bird who can fly across the ocean to an island called Galdorheim. I need to deliver a message to the witches who live there.”

Big strong, me.”

“I can see that. Which is why I’m asking you and none of these other birdbrains.”

The bird croaked a laugh. “Witches pay good?”

“Very good. Part of my message will be to reward you with whatever you’d like. Except lemmings.”

Why no lemmings?”

Kat sighed. “It’s a long story, and I don’t have time to tell it right now. Trust me, though, the lemmings are my friends.”





Thursday, October 24, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim Villains - Cailleach

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Cailleach the Winter Goddess

Cailleach is a goddess in the Scottish Celtic pantheon. Descriptions of her looks and personality run the gamut from ugly monster or beautiful protector of the land. This split personality goddess is the winter counterpart to the beautiful Bride (Bridget), the goddess of spring.

Living in the Otherworld after the Celts have stopped worshipping the old ones, Cailleach has let herself go to seed. She spends her days attempting to make sense of the hags’ potion in MacBeth (Double, double, toil and trouble). When she hears that a witch has come into the Otherworld, she begins to scheme. If Cailleach can only steal the witch’s magic, she can be young and powerful again. But the crone is cautious, she sends her minions out to learn more about the witch and to lead her to the goddess. While waiting for news, she learns that yet another witch has entered the Otherworld, but this one doesn’t make any sense. Cailleach determines this being is male, thus a warlock, but also smells of vampire. She decides to draw in this one like she plans for the first. But first, she decides to do a little homework.

She sends Bodach, the black giant, to give a message to Glaistig, the only Scottish vampire, to scope out just exactly who or what this male is: warlock, vampire, or both.

From the Monstropedia on Cailleach
She is depicted as as having an eye in the middle of a blue-black face, long red teeth, and matted hair. In several stories she appears before a hero as a repulsive hag and suddenly transforms herself into a beautiful girl. At winter’s end, some accounts say the Cailleach turned into a grey boulder at Beltane until the warm days were over. The boulder was said to be “always moist’, because it contained “life substance’. The Cailleach Beara is ever-renewing and passes through many lifetimes going from old age to youth or flesh to stone in a cyclic fashion.
The Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhain (October 31st) and Beltaine (April 30th), while Bride rules the summer months between Beltaine and Samhain. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìde as two faces of the same goddess.
She is a bringer of snows, death, and sharp storms. On Samhain the Cailleach leaves her mountains and walks the Land. The Cailleach then proceeds to "wash her plaid". Her plaid represents the sand. When the Cailleach is done the plaid is white and the Land is covered with snow. She is said to ride on the back of a wolf carrying a wand made of human skin, that she uses to strike down all signs of growth. Behind her follows cold winds, blizzards, and ice. In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter.

It’s easy to see why Cailleach is so interested in regaining her strength, to become what she had been in the olden times.

Excerpt:

Cailleach groaned when she leaned over and lifted her bare foot high enough to clip her toenails with the gardening shears. She looked up and sniffed twice. The hag dropped her bare foot, stuffed it into her flipflop, and shuffled to the door. Throwing it open, she held her head high, closed her eyes, and sniffed some more.

“Drat! Not another witch.” She sniffed again. “Wait, a warlock. No, a vampire. Hmm.” She closed the door and slumped into a chair. “This is confusing. Maybe there are two.” She went to the woodshed door. Cailleach rapped three times and then stood back as it creaked open.

Bodach, her roommate and minion, dragged his crippled body out of the small hatch. “Yes, Mistrezz,” he slurred, casting one protruding eye upwards.

“We have another foreigner in the swamp. Get out there and find a skrat to check. No, not a skrat. I smell vampire. Find Glaistig and send her to investigate.” Cailleach patted him on the head. “There’s a good boy.”

“Can you tell me where Glaistig is hiding?” Bodach examined his armpit and sniffed.

“Go to the standing stones on the north side of the loch. She has a cave there.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach dragged his limp legs behind him. He began to unfold in a way the eye could not follow. When he reached the door, he needed to bend and shuffle through sideways to fit.

“Bodach, stay with Glaistig and do as she says. She might need some muscle.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach ducked and went to seek Glaistig, the Gray Lady.

Cailleach closed the door behind the giant and sat again. She twanged the long hair protruding from the wart on her chin. “This is all very disturbing. Two foreigners stomping around in my bog within hours. This second, though, he’s strange. Yes, male. That much is clear. But I smell on him both warlock and vampire. Very odd, indeed.”

She went to the dusty bookshelf beside the fireplace. As she tapped each book with her gnarled finger, it spoke its title aloud. The Compleat Book of Bats. Care and Feeding of Monsters. Selling Love Potions on the Internet. Vampires: The Myths and the Facts. She took this one off the shelf and flipped through the pages. An occasional groan or scream emitted from the book, depending on the chapter topic.

“Ah, here it is. ‘Vampire Half-Breeds.’ Hmm. ‘Cross breedings with werewolves, ghouls, and Sasquatch have been cited, although most of these stories are second-hand accounts at best. It is believed that vampires could breed with any species; however, it is most likely this only occurs when the other creature is in an altered form. The werewolf, for example, must be in its wolf mode, not its human aspect.’”

Cailleach stuck her finger in the book to hold her place and plopped down on her rocking chair. She must be mistaken about the invader. This was a scholarly work, although a little dated having been written in 1549. But it seemed to deny the possibility of a warlock-vampire mix. She’d have to study this a bit more. Still, the vampire smell was strong. Without her power, all she could do was wait for Glaistig to report. The only known true vampire in Scotland, Glaistig wouldn’t waste a minute of darkness beating feet to catch up to the male, determine what he was, and report back.

Satisfied she could do nothing more, she leaned back in her rocker, intending to read the rest of the chapter. But sleep overtook her, and she was soon snoring in her chair.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim Villains - Ajatar

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Ajatar the Forest Elemental

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wait for it .... Water. The four classical four 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. The shamans, priests, and other assorted grifters.
  • Earth: The ground shakes and splits open. 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.
  • Air: Windstorm coming up. 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 smart one for building that big boat. Did I mention the fare? All proceeds go 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.

Witch Ritual Dress 2.1
by 
~corsetiere on deviantART
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, so I set her in a magically protected forest glade. She controlled her local flora (writing 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 sisters 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.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil:

Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It was 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 and then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar stole 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 days 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 had 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.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Some Witchery is Going On

Hop over to Lorrie Struiff's blog today to get the low down on my Witches of Galdorheim series. There's a BOGO sale at my publisher, and I'm sweetening the deal with a giveaway on Lorrie's blog. Comment to win a free ebook.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Katrina

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Kat, Kat, Kat. When will you get your act together and control your innate magic. Your mom, your aunt, and your teacher all think you're just too lazy to learn the proper way to cast a spell. When you're living on an island that runs on magic, making a mess when you try to cast the simplest spell, a girl finally gets to the point the only thing she can do is run away from home.

That's not an easy thing to do when your island home is in the middle of the Barents Sea surrounded by ice floes. Lucky for Kat, she's got her smart-ass brother, Rune, to give her a helping hand.

Crossing the ice-bound seas, Kat and Rune face danger at every turn. The question is whether they'll make it to Siberia so Kat can at least ask to be taken in by her dead father's Sami tribe. Now if they can just get past that jotun without being smashed.

Excerpt from Bad Spelling (book 1)

A few moments later, Rune stopped abruptly, holding up his hand.

“Shhh! Do you hear something?”

Kat listened but heard only chirps and buzzing. “No, but your hearing is better than mine.”

Rune turned slowly in place, trying to home in on the sound. Kat watched, puzzled.

The hillside by the path trembled then heaved upward. Dirt and rocks flew through the air. The shaking earth knocked Kat backward. She plopped onto her behind with a yelp, ducked her head, and covered it with her arms to fend off flying gravel. Peeking out from beneath her upraised arms, Kat's eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. In front of her, the shaking earth rose and unfolded. Then a monstrous glob of rocks and dirt rose higher and higher into the air. Two huge boulders blinked at her. Kat screamed. A gaping mouth appeared beneath the eyes, and a monstrous nose jerked and wriggled its way to a place between the eyes and mouth.

Rune grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet. “It’s a giant! Run! Run!”

Kat sprinted after Rune, who quickly outpaced her, as the giant continued to grow and take shape from the rocks and earth. Kat risked a quick glance over her shoulder. A horrendous, rocky fist swung in a downward arc, its target appallingly clear. She tried to force her flying feet to move even faster, hoping to outrace that ponderous, clenched hand. She looked up to see the eagle plummeting downward, its wings folded against its sides. Kat aimed a thought at the eagle. “Help me!” The eagle flared its wings and stopped abruptly in midair. It then turned and flew away. She was disappointed but not surprised when the eagle left. No use. She picked up her feet and raced after Rune.

A wild, high-pitched screech split the air. Kat looked back again. She gasped in surprise, stumbled, and almost fell. Flailing her arms and digging in her heels, she managed to stop upright. She stared with unbelieving eyes as a flock of eagles, dozens of them, circled the monstrous form. The birds dived at the thing’s head, distracting it from its intended victims—her and Rune.

The giant swung its huge hand, batting at the eagles, trying to drive them away. The big raptors easily evaded the lumbering blows. Kat watched as the eagles dove again and again, buffeting the creature’s head with their wings, pecking at its eyes and threatening with their outstretched talons. She wondered how they could possibly hurt stone eyes, but the giant seemed to think they could. It shriveled downward, shedding rocks and dirt as it collapsed. Down and down it went, melding back into the earthen hillside that spawned it.

The eagles flew in a wide gyre around the hillside, preventing the giant from reforming. One of the birds veered away from the flock and flew down to Kat. It landed gracefully on a boulder beside the path. Folding wings and settling feathers, it cocked its head and regarded her with a fierce, yellow gaze.

“Thank you,” Kat gasped, fighting to catch her breath. “Thank you so much!” The great bird dipped its head in what could only be an acknowledgment. Then it spread its wings, uttered a soft “Kkkreeeee,” and launched itself into the air, climbing away with long, powerful beats of its wings.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Rune

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Rune Tells His Side

I'm the hero of these books. Really. Kat is the one who steps in the cowpies, and I'm the one to haul her out, take care of the bad guys, and generally come out smelling like a rose. Not bad for a half-vampire warlock, eh?

In Bad Spelling, I'm the one who protects Kat when she decides to cross the Barents Sea ice to go to Siberia.

In Midnight Oil, I'm the one who rescues my girlfriend from the Nenets warriors AND, mind you, had a significant role in defeating Ajatar, the evil forest elemental who'd kidnapped Kat's boyfriend.

Everything was going along great until Kat goes to Scotland and I just had to follow her. Hey, she always needs my protection, right? Well, in Scotch Broom, I have to admit that Kat saves me instead of the other way around. Scotch Broom gave me a real wake-up call.

My vampire side was still vulnerable, even though I thought I was totally in control. Then a mean has-been winter goddess, Cailleach, managed to bring out the vampire and make me do something I'll always regret--killing another being. Yeah, Glaistig was a vampire too. But she was really cool, and I was happy to get to know her better. She might have been the "one" for me. But I screwed up and she died because of it.

I'm sorry. I'm kind of choking up here, so I'll just leave you with an excerpt from Scotch Broom about when I first met Glaistig. That's a happier scene than what happened in Cailleach's hovel later on.

Excerpt from Scotch Broom

As the sun eased down to hide behind a mountain range to the west, a movement to his left caught his attention. It looked like a tendril of smoke rising from the swamp. Since it was unlikely anything could burn in the bog, he watched the gray mist with interest. He notched up his vampire vision to watch. The smoky mist grew opaque then solid. A figure formed, but as if a statue made of granite, it was solid gray. Watching closely, Rune waited to see what this might be. He had studied all types of magical beings and couldn’t recall one like this.

The smoke woman, for he now recognized the shape as female, wafted toward him on the air. When it stopped a few feet away from him, it slowly gathered color from the moors. Heather green, water blue, dried grass yellow. The colors mixed and swirled and finally settled on the figure, giving her the approximate colors of a woman with blonde hair, a pale, gray face, and dazzling blue eyes staring at him in silence. She wore a long dress and cape, both the color of morning mist.

Rune ventured a greeting. “Hello?” The woman didn’t speak, but she moved again, this time circling him. Rune turned to keep her in his sight.

“I am Glaistig.” Her voice was as soft as the smoke from which she formed.

Without his vampire hearing, Rune wouldn’t have been able to hear the whisper. “Ahem. I’m Rune. Nice to meet you.” Rune wondered whether to offer his hand to shake and decided not to risk it. He’d heard some magical beings poisoned those who touched them.

The pale woman looked him up and down and then nodded slightly. “You are vampyr?”

“Um. Is that a problem?”

“Not at all. I am also.”

“Oh. I should have guessed. Night. Smoke. Oh! I remember who you are!” Rune snapped his fingers. “Glaistig, the Gray Lady. But you’re not a true vampire, are you?”

“It depends upon my mood and how a person treats me. If I meet a man on the road, and he tries to grab me, I dance away and let him follow. I lure him to my lair. Then, I take his blood. But if a man tips his hat and wishes me a good evening, I leave him with a smile.”

“That’s a relief. My name is Rune, and I’m here looking for my si—” Rune stopped and considered that if Glaistig was a vampire and thought he was too, he shouldn’t mention he had a witch sister. “Uh, a female friend. Have you seen a girl with black hair?”

“I have not, but Cailleach may be able to help you.” Something darker than the blackest shadow lumbered out of the night. Glaistig glanced at the giant coming up behind her. “It’s all right, Bodach. This man is a vampire.”

The giant halted by her side and glared down at Rune, who swallowed hard and craned his neck to look up at the ugly face on top of the nine-foot tall body. The giant sniffed. “As you say, Glaistig. We take him to Cailleach?”

“Yes, we do.” Turning to Rune, the Gray Lady beckoned with her index finger. “Come, Rune. We shall visit the goddess.”

“Well, that’s okay. I’ll just look over there,” Rune replied, pointing in the opposite direction of where Glaistig appeared to be headed.

Bodach took two long strides and grabbed Rune’s arm before he could react.

“Uh, since you put it that way.” He pulled his arm away from the giant and followed Glaistig.

The Gray Lady smiled at him. “I’m so happy you agree. Bodach is Cailleach’s very faithful servant. I doubt he would take no for an answer.”

Rune nodded glumly. It looked like he was stuck for now. Still, it might be a good thing. This Cailleach might be able to help find Kat. But why would being a vampire all of a sudden be a good thing? He could sense that if he had not been a vampire, Bodach the giant, would now be crushing his skull between his two gigantic hands. And who was this goddess Cailleach? The name didn’t ring any bells.

Rune followed Glaistig, with Bodach close on his heels. Over the thumps of Bodach’s heavy footsteps, he heard the skittering sound of a small animal in the grass as they walked away.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Witches of Galdorheim - Mordita

The Witches of Galdorheim ebooks: Buy One, Get One Free at MuseItUp Publishing. Enter code MARVADASEF at checkout. Send me a copy of your receipt and get another ebook free.

Mordita the Sorceress


In Bad Spelling, Kat wants to leave Galdorheim Island to find her father's Siberian family. With no magic of her own, she needs help...lots of help. Yes, her best bud/bro Rune is always up for adventure, but she has to find a powerful witch to help her out.

She figures it can't hurt to ask Mordita. What's the worst that can happen? Well, maybe electrocution from a nasty door knocker or something crawling up her back.

Still, Kat is not deterred. She goes to the creepy, slimy, unlit shack where the Sorceress (the old lady prefers that over Witch) Mordita resides.

Mordita knows all about Kat's slight, ahem, magic deficit disorder (MDD) and is happy to pull a fast one on Thordis. The two don't get along much.

While Mordita has tons of magic, she prefers to maintain her old hag appearance just to keep the Galdorheim witches from stopping by to visit. Mordita is alone, and she likes to keep it that way. She's not quite alone if you want to count a fat orange tiger cat named Kudzu.

Mordita is a mystery. Why did she come to Galdorheim if she doesn't want to consort with the witches and warlocks? Maybe that mystery will be solved, but not in Bad Spelling. In the second book of the series, Midnight Oil, we discover Mordita's true identity--Ilmatar the air elemental spirit. Mordita takes the form of a giant white roc when she has to battle her jealous sister, Ajatar the forest elemental spirit.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil

Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It was 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 and then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar stole 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 days 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 had 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.