Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Preview Books from a Link

Amazon has added a feature for authors (or anybody who wants to use it) on the product pages of books. An Embed option gets the link or a full HTML display of a book's preview and you don't have to download a file to your ereader to look at it. It appears much like the Look Inside feature on a book's product page. Well, easier to show than tell, so click the following link to see the preview of one of my books. It's really rather cool. The rest of my book preview links are below the cover on this post.

Here's the book cover just for a graphic on this post.


Teen Fantasy
Mystery/Adventure
Science Fiction
First Duty (YA)
Ultimate Duty (Adult) 
Collections
Mixed Bag II (Adult) 
Mixed Bag (Kid friendly stories from Mixed Bag II) 
Fish Story Sampler (3 stories from Mixed Bag II)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The End is Nigh


For the name your own price deal I've been running on Smashwords to encourage readers to give my books a try. Since the option (set price) is only available at Smashwords, but not any of the retailers who distribute my books, it's the best price in the world. Pay anywhere from $0.00 to $2.99 for ALL books retailed priced at $2.99.

The final sale day is January 31st. So, get yourself over to Smashwords and rob me blind. Of course, if you WANT to pay something ($0.99 recommended), feel free. I could use the lift in my spirits to have someone value my hard work. Hey, all of you out there whose books I've reviewed, how about return the favor. I appreciate the reviews. It's not money, but it's something. Please review on Goodreads and Amazon (if they let you). Thanks.

Here's the Name Your Own Price book list. All are retail priced at $2.99.

The Witches of Galdorheim series:
   Bad Spelling
   Midnight Oil
   Scotch Broom

The Tales of Abu Nuwas Series 
  Faizah's Destiny
  Setara's Genie

Science Fiction
  Ultimate Duty

Miscellaneous
  Tales of a Texas Boy

Mystery
 Missing, Assumed Dead

Sunday, January 17, 2016

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

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.
You can see I followed my own rules in this example excerpt, and this prologue works (if I do say so myself). 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.

Now to the prologue of Bad Spelling, Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim series.

Prologue from Bad Spelling, Witches of Galdorheim Book 1

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.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Xena - My Hero

Remember Xena Warrior Princess? 1995 was long, long ago and far, far away. Recently, I was reminded of Xena in some conversations. For you those of you who might be fans or never had the chance to see the series, it's available at Netflix. This picture is how I think of her. Bad to the gone and a total hero. I wish I was a quarter the woman she was. Yes, I'm fangirling here. Be a hero, not a victim. Good advice from Nora Ephron.

Most of my books have a strong female protagonist. Every single one has some Xena in her: Kat, Nyra, Remy, Kam. All of them warriors. Now, back to my binge-watching the Xena series. Oh, one last thing: big thanks to Lucy Lawless for bringing Xena to our TV screens. Thanks to Sam Raimi for having the guts to make a series about a kick-ass woman back when most of the heroes were men.


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Review - Future Tense by LJ Cohen

Future TenseFuture Tense by L.J. Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt has a super power, and he hates it. Not only does it show up randomly, he can't control it or direct it or change it. Knowing the future leads to heartbreak and fear, feeling helpless. It's a super power he wishes didn't exist.

When he sees a future event for a girl, Amara, he's desperate to stop what he sees happening to her, but everything he does seems to push her closer to the disaster rather than away.

That's a lot of weight on a 17-year-old boy in the foster car system. When he meets Amara's grandmother, Rose, he's baffled by her ability to see the future like he does, but with far less detail--she only gets a fortune teller's vague visions. One thing Rose can teach Matt is how to read the clues of what leads to an event. Maybe that little bit of foretelling will help Matt control his visions.

Future Tense is an absorbing YA read (adult language warning). Matt is a good kid. We readers are rooting for him throughout. We also hopes he gets the girl and learns how to use those Tarot cards.

My only complaint, and it's small, is that I felt too much time was spent in Matt's head. While he's tortured by re-runs of events he saw but could not prevent, we readers don't need to go through them every time. Yes, we know what the smell of smoke means after the first three or four mentions. Leave the fifth through umpteenth in Matt's head and show us what's happening to him in the moment. The action is well-done and easy to visualize.

Like YA paranormals with tortured teens trying to overcome obstacles? You'll like Future Tense. The end is satisfying, but does allow for additional books in the series. I'd love to see Matt learn to control his visions and begin to use them for good.


View all my reviews

Friday, January 08, 2016

Authors Promoting Authors

The Grimace & The Giggle
Join in the cross-promotions of your books with other authors. A community on G+ is forming to coordinate promotion efforts. The promotional website is called the Grimace and the Giggle. Yeah, that tickles me, too.

Here's the link to the G+ community (you have to be a G+ member). You probably already are and don't know it. Do you have a Google sign in? That'll work to get you to G+.

Check out the Grimace and the Giggle website. This is nexus of the promotions. Everyone can share their own promo links from here. Contact the site owner as described in the G+ community.



Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Eagle Quest - More On Oregon Wildlife Preserves

With Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Preserve in the news recently, I thought you might be interested in some of the other wildlife areas in Oregon. These preserves protect endangered or indigenous species. They weren't created just to take away land from somebody, but to make the world a better place. Preserves belong to the PEOPLE already. The current occupiers at the Malheur preserve 1) have no rights to the land whether or not it's held by the US government, and 2) most of the land didn't belong to anybody when the preserves were created. So, guess what? The wild bunch in Burns are full of eagle excrement. Read Eagle Quest to learn a little more.

Eagle Quest - MG/YA Adventure Listed $7.00 at Amazon for Print, $1.99 for ebook

Set in the Klamath Wildlife preserves in Southern Oregon, this book is about the Bald Eagle flyout area in Bear Valley. Yes, we have Bald Eagles like they were pigeons in the park around Oregon. And we're danged proud of our big birds. The cover shot was taken by Coralie, a professional wildlife photographer and my long-time friend. See her work on her website at http://www.mrsroadrunnerphotography.com/

Book Blurb:

Fiona, Hap, Billy, and Mitch make an odd set of friends, as different from the usual high school crowd as they are from each other. Mitch, the oldest of the four, is a half-breed Native American, adopted by white parents. Troubled that he doesn't know his tribe, he avidly studies Native American history and lore. 

Learning the nearby Bear Valley Wildlife Refuge is a bald eagle nesting site, he wants to add an eagle feather to his medicine bag and explore the refuge as a site for his Vision Quest, a Native American rite of passage. He and his three friends get far more than an overnight campout as they encounter a black bear, an old man living in the refuge, and a pair of eagle poachers. Bringing the poachers to justice, they test their courage and gain confidence in themselves and each other.

Want an excerpt?

“Hey, you guys!” Billy called out, “Look up ahead.”

“What is that?”

“It looks like feathers. Maybe they’re eagle feathers.”

As the kids walked nearer the pile of feathers, their smiles dropped away as they could discern the body of the large bird. There were feathers scattered around the body, but someone had removed the wings and cut the talons from the legs.

“Oh, man. That’s disgusting. Did something get it, like a bear?” Billy said as he looked down at the remains of the large bald eagle.

“No, it wasn’t an animal. Look at how they removed the wings. Done with a knife,” Mitch said through teeth gritted in anger at the desecration of the beautiful bird.

The stood in silence, looking down at the pitiful remains.

“Should we take some feathers?” Billy asked.

“No. It wouldn’t be right. That’s not how you’re supposed to get your feathers. You find one on the ground because the eagle has left it for you. To do this...this is horrible, just wrong,” Mitch said, feeling tears brimming in his eyes. He gave them a quick swipe, but saw that Fiona’s cheeks showed rivulets of the tears she was shedding.

“Poachers. It has to be poachers,” she said through her tears. “We’ve got to do something.”

“We could go back to the old man’s place. He must know the people in charge and can contact them,” Hap suggested.

The others were nodding, ready to turn around and head back to the old man’s cabin.
Mitch stopped. “No. We should find the poachers first. The eagle hasn’t been dead very long. 

Look,” he said as he pointed toward the pitiful bird, “Blood is still seeping from where they cut off the wings. I think the poachers are close by. If we can find them, we’ll have more information to give the people in charge.”

The others didn’t look too excited about the idea of tracking down poachers.

“I think it’s enough just to tell them about the eagle,” Hap said.

“That’s fine. You guys go back to the cabin, but I’m going to find the poachers.” Mitch began looking at the ground around where the eagle lay.

“Footprints. They head off in that direction,” he said and started following the trail. The others looked at each other, then one by one followed Mitch.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Domestic Terrorists

MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
Buy the Ebook, Print, or Audio at Amazon
Buy the Audio Book at Audible.com or iTunes
Audio Samples on SoundCloud for all my books.

Recent unfortunate events in Oregon (the self-named "militia" who are essentially domestic terrorists) led me to thinking about the villains of this mystery/thriller. I made the terrorist group in the book white power proselytizers. The out-of-state agitators holing up in a Federal building on Federal land no doubt carry the same prejudices around in their pointy heads. For your consideration, I submit to you the ignorant racist elements of civilized society who say "constitution" as if they had a clue what was in that document. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to introduce a very similar bunch of "bundies."

FEAR AND POWER

I didn't want to let the Judge rant on about his prejudices, so I'm covering for him. This is one mean, nasty old man. But one soft spot in his heart does him in.

In "Missing, Assumed Dead," a self-proclaimed 'judge' runs a small Justice Court (really only traffic court) in a tiny town in Southeast Oregon. He has appointed his nephew, George Leiper, de facto town police chief. Of  course, there is no police department, but George loves to wear the uniform and enjoy the comforts of his own office in the City Hall.

Nobody cares to oppose the Judge as long as he keeps his connection to the White Power groups away from Rosewood.

But that's not always the case. He brings the darkness of the Aryan Brotherhood right to the town's front door when he forces his daughter, Miranda, to marry one of the brotherhood, Cole Bristow. Mostly, the Judge want to get his daughter away from a Basque shepherd, Salvadore. When Salvadore disappears mysteriously, the town populace whispers behind closed doors, but don't dare cross the Judge with his connections to the White Power group.

Soon after bearing her daughter, Mirabel, Miranda commits suicide rather than remain married to Cole. The whole town worries, but fear keeps the secrets hidden.

The judge becomes the guardian of his granddaughter, but keeps her away from the rest of the town. Even her uncle admits that she's not right in the head. Something happened to her around the time Salvadore disappeared. What happened to Salvadore, and why is Mirabel insane? Is the Basque shepherd her father rather than Cole, Miranda's husband?

Here's an excerpt from the book that shows you a little about Judge Leiper and how the terrorist groups get their ideas of right and wrong.
* * *
George hadn’t wanted to drive the judge to the meeting. He couldn’t get all fired up about hating kikes, niggers, and spics like those other men. Sure, he wished anybody who wasn’t white would go back where they come from but didn’t feel like doing anything about it. The men, and some women, wore swastika armbands, and the big picture of Hitler gave George the willies. Just ’cause you wanted America to be a good, all-white Christian nation didn’t mean you had to hate like that bastard. He killed a lot of white boys, too.

The ol’ man climbed up on the platform at the end of the meeting room with Hitler peering over his shoulder. George sat in the back just wishing it were over.

His uncle was in fine form. He hollered and pounded the lecture table like an old-time preacher in a tent revival. George’s mind drifted back to when he was a boy and his pa took him to the traveling meetings. George’s ma, the judge’s sister, died from the cancer when he was a boy. All the prayer vigils didn’t help none. The judge was a rich man and showed an interest in his nephew. When George’s pa died, the judge took him in. He owed the judge a lot, and the judge never let him forget it.

George’s attention returned to the lecture. The judge was talking about the Spanish War, the one where Hitler bombed the Basques. He got them all worked up. Seemed like those fellas didn’t know about it, and it gave them a good excuse to be pissed off at somebody close by. Everybody stood up and clapped up a storm. George rose along with them, so’s nobody would notice him.

After the ending prayer, the judge led a group to the local watering hole to discuss the situation some more. It was only at the tavern that George realized the judge was talking about Salvadore Vasco. He noticed Cole Bristow standing next to the judge. George wondered how the judge felt about his son-in-law when he run out on Mirabel and left the judge to raise her. They acted friendly, though, so George figured they’d mended any broken fences.

Cole walked over to George and threw a heavy arm around his shoulders. “How’s it hangin’, cousin?”

George edged away but forced a grin and shook Cole’s hand. “Hangin’ fine. How ’bout you?”

Good, good.” Cole leaned forward and tapped the lip of his beer bottle on George’s chest. “Say, George, I didn’t want to ask the judge, but how’s that little girl.”

Mirabel?”

Yeah, yeah. I wanted to know if she’s come out dark or light.”

George shook his head, confused by what Cole was getting at. Then a light bulb lit, and he realized Cole wanted to know if Mirabel was his daughter. “She’s fair-skinned, Cole. Looks like her mom.”

Cole chuckled deep in his throat and tapped his beer on George’s chest again. George took a step back and glanced down at the beer spot Cole left behind. “Miranda was a hot number, all right.”

George nodded but thought Cole talking about his dead wife like that was, well, it was disrespectful. Before Cole could tap him again, George made his way to the judge’s side. “Shouldn’t we go home soon? It’s a long drive.”

In a minute, George. Find yourself another beer.”

George looked at the group of men standing around the judge, all practically foaming at the mouth talking about going out and ‘taking care’ of Vasco. The judge grinned and clapped them on the back, sayin’ he’d be grateful to whoever helped him out in sendin’ a message to the Basques around Jordan Valley. No good white folks wanted them around, and they’d best move along.

When they drove back to Rosewood, the judge was laughing and happy. “It’s about time something was done about Vasco. Teach the Basques to keep their dirty paws off white women.”

Yessir.” George agreed some, but not with what the judge was saying. Salvadore and Miranda hadn’t been together for years, so George couldn’t see how it mattered anymore.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

You Set the Price at Smashwords

The entire Witches of Galdorheim series are Set Your Price (that includes free) at Smashwords.


Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series) by Marva Dasef
Series: The Witches of Galdorheim. You set the price! Words: 45,670. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
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. 

Midnight Oil (Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series) by Marva Dasef
Series: The Witches of Galdorheim. You set the price! Words: 47,410. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy 
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil. 

Scotch Broom (Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim) by Marva Dasef
Series: The Witches of Galdorheim. You set the price! Words: 48,470. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary 
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.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story by Marva Dasef
Series: The Witches of Galdorheim. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,110. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories 
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.