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Monday, February 29, 2016

What Time is It? It's Demon Time!

IT'S DEMON TIME!

Setara and her genie, Basit, meet many interesting mythological creatures, but only two should be included in the category Monsters. Here’s a bit about the role each monster plays in Setara’s Genie.

Azi (or Azhi) Dahaka

Azhi is a dragon demon who’s supposed to be dead, but comes back to life a little bit ticked off because his blood was used by the Great Vizier hundreds of years before to create a breed of fire-breathing, flying horses.

From the Encyclopedia Mythica (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/azi_dahaka.html)

A storm demon from Iranian mythology. He steals cattle and brings harm to humans. It is a snake-like monster with three heads and six eyes who also personifies the Babylonian oppression of Iran. The monster will be captured by the warrior god Thraetaona and placed on the mountain top Dermawend. In a final revival of evil, it will escape its prison, but at the end of time (fraso-kereti) it will die in the river of fire Ayohsust.

Even though this particular description includes multiple heads and pretty bad attitude, I also found an ancient bas relief that purports to be Azhi Dahaka. Decide what you will. A monster is a monster no matter how many heads he or she has.

Excerpt Featuring Azhi Dahaka

Setara rounded the bend in the tunnel and stopped dead in her tracks. Azizah and Kairav stood at one end of a huge cavern, heaving large stones as fast as they could. At the other end, about forty feet away, the strangest creature she’d ever seen was shooting jets of fire from its mouth. It had great bat-like wings that created a rush of wind each time the dragon stroked downward. It possessed four legs but had reared up and clawed at the air with the front set. Fangs at least six inches long lined the animal’s jaws. It seemed reptilian with its elongated head and scaly sides. However, it was huge by reptile standards, being more than twenty feet long and barely fit in the end of the cavern. Its scales rippled with colors—green, violet, orange, blue.

Basit flew around the cavern, attempting to outflank the creature. He began hurling balls of light from his fingertips. They didn’t appear to do anything other than annoy the beast, but the interruption did distract it from breathing fire at Azizah and Kairav. When it turned its head to shoot fire toward Basit, Azizah ran forward and threw another huge rock. It struck the beast’s head, knocking it against the wall.

It turned one last time and let out a loud roar that shook small stones off the walls. Then, it shrank rapidly to no more than ten feet long. With a single bound, it leaped into the tunnel on the far side of the cavern and was gone in a flash of purple and green.

Setara ran to Azizah, who dropped the stone she was just about to throw. Kairav and Basit joined them. Sheik ran in circles around the group, barking for all he was worth.

“Shush, Sheik. We can’t hear ourselves think.” Setara chastised the agitated dog. Sheik dropped to his belly panting from the excitement.

“What was that thing?” Setara looked at the grim faces of her friends.

“Azhi Dahaka,” Basit answered.
* * *

Amazon Kindle

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Revealed: The Mystery Free Book for Feb. 26th

If you'd been quicker on the draw, you could be reading this book right now. It was free yesterday, February 26th. Come back every Friday for a new Freaky Friday deal until I run out of books to give away.

FIRST DUTY (#free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers and Prime Kindle Owner's Lending Library)
A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties. 

Facing a life of drudgery on a repressive factory planet, Nyra Hutchings longs to escape. Her only option for release is to enlist in the Space Service, becoming a soldier for her own world’s oppressors.

She receives her first assignment: Guarding a charismatic rebel leader being transported to a prison planet.  When rebel troops surprise them, Nyra fails to thwart the ambush. Despite a commendation from her Captain, she feels she must redeem herself by recapturing the handsome fugitive.

Shocked by what she learns during the pursuit–her own family’s past involvement in the rebellion–Remy faces a dilemma: remain loyal to the oath she swore as a soldier or join the rebel cause and condemn herself to a death sentence for treason. What is her FIRST DUTY?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Freaky Friday #Freebie (2/26)

FREE eBOOK AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 26TH - MIDNIGHT TO 11:59 PM

I decided to try out a giveaway every Friday. Click on the covers below to get your free book of the day for February 26th. The only hint you get is the free book is one of those pictured in the graphic. A different book every Friday, so come back every week for another.


Freaky Friday

All of the books are Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Go ahead! Click up a gift for yourself.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Strictly Analog Special Price

Don't miss out on the 99 cent special deal for this book from 2/22-2/29. Buy Strictly Analog at Amazon. Keep up to date on Richard's books on his website: Richard Levesque

When the World Is Wired, Sometimes You Need a Man Who Isn’t…

Welcome to the world of Strictly Analog, a world not too far in the future: California has split from the United States and is run by a corporate government; electric cars prowl the streets blaring customized drive tones; and everyone is constantly connected to the web. Almost everyone. Because of injuries sustained in California’s border war with Nevada, Ted Lomax is physically unable to log into the technological wonderland that surrounds him.

And that’s just fine with Ted.

How does one man survive in a wired world when he is unable to take advantage of constant connectivity? For Ted Lomax, the answer isn’t just simple: it’s simplicity itself. Like a lot of other people who are disadvantaged in one way or another, Ted lives a life without frills. His dwelling is a converted storage garage where his neighbors are scavengers and scroungers. Rather than connect through the high-tech devices that others take for granted, he uses a disposable pink phone that’s more suited to a fourth-grade girl than a jaded private detective. And when he needs to look up information, he does it the old-fashioned way—by going to the city’s one remaining library, jostling with the homeless and the hustlers in the sad stacks of forgotten books.

Of course, Ted does have other ways of getting information. He wouldn’t be much of a private detective if he didn’t. He’s got friends who are connected, friends like the handicapped hacker genius Philly and the eBay-savvy Angel.

Ultimately, though, Ted Lomax is on his own. It was making connections that got him into trouble eighteen years earlier when he slept with the wrong woman, a mistake that cost him one eye, his military career, and any sense of a future he might have had. Being on his own makes him more trustworthy to his clientele; they need someone who’s off the grid if they’re going to keep their sins from becoming public.

And that’s thing about the high-tech world of Strictly Analog—and maybe the high tech world we’re living in today. Information is everywhere; everything is public. The wrong pic on one’s profile, the re-tweet that reveals something unsavory about one’s likes and dislikes, the off-hand comment on someone else’s post that gets taken the wrong way—these are the kinds of things that have cost people jobs, scholarships, relationships...the list goes on. When it’s exposure that people in Ted Lomax’s world are worried about, they need a guy like Ted to look in the dusty corners and help them clean up the messes they’ve made.

Sometimes the messes are pretty bad, though. And there’s more than just dust in those corners. At times like that, it’s especially useful for Lomax to be off the grid. If he can’t connect, there’s no digital trail for anyone else to follow.

And it’s also a good thing Lomax only has one eye. It makes it just a little easier for him to look the other way…

Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing Tips: The Rashomon Effect

One multiple POV method not mentioned is called the Rashomon effect because of the excellent way it was used in the Japanese film, Rashomon. A Wiki article lists several more examples of the technique used in popular culture.

This quote from Wiki is quite good: The Rashomon effect is the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it.

In "Missing, Assumed Dead" several characters are telling the main character, Kam McBride, what had happened in the past (a flashback). To avoid simple telling, I switched to another character's POV. I delineated these flashbacks into scenes and even made them italic to set them off from the narrative.

The fun part is that the characters are relating the same incident to Kam, but each one has a slightly different view of the events, usually making themselves a bit more heroic than the other people in the same scene. This allows the reader to be suspect of the truthfulness of the characters.

It's not my original idea. That's why it already has a name, Rashomon Effect, in honor of the great Samurai movie of the 50s, directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring the wonderful Toshirō Mifune.

In the film, a crime occurs, and the filmmaker presents it four times, each from a different character's POV. Needless to say, the versions of the events vary, sometimes wildly, from each other. By the end of the film, you still don't know exactly what happened since none of the characters can be fully believed.

In addition to the contradictory retelling of the events by the different characters, there are two additional flashbacks. By the time they appear in the book, I hope the reader will be looking at everyone with suspicion.

Here are a couple of excerpts from "Missing, Assumed Dead," illustrating the Rashomon Effect in action. Two characters, Ray and George, describe their meeting to discuss the disappearance of Salvadore Vasco, the missing man of the title. Same event, but a big difference in the perception.

Ray's Story:

Ray went up the three steps into the Courthouse and turned left into George’s office. The self-appointed police chief sat behind his desk with his boots propped up on it. He raised his eyes from the Zane Grey novel he’d been reading.

“Hey there, Ray. What can I do you out of?” The fat man’s belly jiggled when he laughed at his own stale joke.

“I come about Salvadore.”

“Vasco?”

Ray shifted his weight from one foot to the other and glanced at the chair on his side of the desk. His legs ached, but he didn’t want to settle in for a long chat. George tended to run on some. “Only Salvadore in these parts far as I know. Anyways, has a habit of comin’ to town once a week, but he didn’t come last week nor this ’un.”

“So, what do you want me to do about it? Man’s gotta right to come to town or not.”

“True thing, but you know us old fellas like to stick to a schedule. It ain’t like him to not come in. I think someone oughta go up there and check on him.”

George glanced at the copy of Riders of the Purple Sage on his desk. “Why don’t you go, Ray? You’re his friend.”

“Yep, but he’d think I was buttin’ into his bizness if he’s okay. If you go, you can say sumthin’ about looking for someone else or what not.”

“So, I should lie to him but really just be checkin’ on his welfare, eh?”

“Yep. That’s what I’m thinkin’.”

George's Story

George sat in his office reading the latest statewide all-points bulletins for wanted criminals and stolen vehicles. Old man Ray from the Jack and Jill’s came in looking worried.

“Chief, I ain’t see Salvadore in a couple a weeks. I thought I’d better tell ya, since you’re the police and all.”

“Now, don’t get yourself all worked up, Ray. Old Salvadore prob’ly just don’t want to eat no more of your burnt burgers.”

Ray shook his head. “I don’t know what to do, George. Can you go check up on him?”

“Why sure, Ray. I’ll head up tomorrow morning for a welfare check.” George stood and walked around his desk. He patted Ray’s shoulder to comfort him. “You go on home and don’t fret. George is on the job.”


* * *

Missing, Assumed Dead is available in ebook, print, and audio.

Paperback

Kindle Ebook

Audiobook (purchase with the ebook on Amazon for a great deal)


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Revealed: The Mystery Book for 2/19

You could have downloaded a free copy of my murder mystery "Missing, Assumed Dead." I consider this topical since it's set a hop and skip from the Malheur Refuge, has a pack of wannabe fake cowboys intent on giving grief to the Basques in the area, a haunting from a Native American medicine woman, a meet cute, a couple of shootouts, and much more.

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its deadly secrets.

MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD only $1.99 at Amazon. Also in Print and Audio.


When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Freaky Friday #Freebie (2/19)

FREE eBOOK AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 19TH - MIDNIGHT TO 11:59PM

I decided to try out a giveaway every Friday. Click on the covers below to get your free book of the day for February 19th. The only hint you get is the free book is one of those pictured in the graphic. Different book every Friday, so come back every week for another.


All of the books are Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Go ahead! Click up a gift for yourself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Richard Levesque Ebook 99 Cents

I very much enjoyed Richard Levesque'sbook, Take Back Tomorrow. It'll be on sale for 99 cents from 2/16-2/23.

Take Back Tomorrow by Richard Levesque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book for several reasons. First, it's a nicely done noir detective/mystery set in the 1940s. Second, it's got time travel, and I find that irresistible. Third, it shows a fine knowledge of the Golden Age of SF writers.

There were a couple of places where I wrote a note on my Kindle with a BIG question on the logic of certain things, but overall, I didn't find those so egregious as to warrant even a slight mark downward.

Richard Levesque has a dandy story here. Yeah, you can argue the methods of time travel, but until we discover real time travel, every writer has a right to their own view on how it is accomplished.

I liked the 1940s vibe and the errata was at a very low level, so I can't complain about a few typos. Note to every writer: Peak and peek are different words. Do not confuse the two.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anybody who likes SF, time travel, and even a bit of noir mystery. Good job. Very readable.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Revealed: The Mystery Book for 2/12

If you played the Freaky Friday game in my last post, you'll have the mystery book on your Kindle device now, or decided that I really should pay you for taking it. Nevertheless, the book of the day was Eagle Quest, and has returned to his hideously expensive regular price of $1.99 (or the equivalent in foreign currency for which I've already paid the VAT for your country).

EAGLE QUEST
A Vision Quest turns deadly when four friends confront eagle poachers in a wildlife refuge.

Fiona, Hap, Billy, and Mitch make an odd set of friends, as different from the usual junior 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 camp out as they encounter a black bear, a retired forest ranger 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.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Freaky Friday #Freebie (2/12)

FREE eBOOK AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 12TH - MIDNIGHT TO 11:59PM

I decided to try out a giveaway every Friday. Click on the covers below to get your free book of the day for February 12th. The only hint you get is the free book is one of those pictured in the graphic. Different book every Friday, so come back every week for another.


All of the books are Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Go ahead! Click up a gift for yourself. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

First Two Sentences Contest

Adventures in YA Publishing has a first two sentences contest a couple of times each year. It gives authors a chance to see if their work in progress will grab attention immediately. While adult literature does allow for a page or two to gain reader interest, middle-grades are a fickle lot. You'd better be able to hold their attention at least to the third sentence.

For grins and giggles, I entered the first two sentences of my totally uncompleted WIP. The title isn't even carved in talc, much less stone. Anyway, since this is the ONLY day those two lines will be seen in public, I invite you to check it out. All 50 entries are on the blog starting today (Feb. 11th) and readers have a chance to throw in their own two cents on the entries in the comments.

My entry is for the fourth book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. Besides the three novels, the series has an outlier short story about a popular character, Rune, the younger brother of the protagonist. Adult women are eagerly awaiting the cocky and cute vampire/warlock to come of age so they won't be too embarrassed at panting after a 14-16 year old boy. If Rune's book finds a way to complete itself, it will be added to the series. If not, then the reading audience have only themselves to blame. If they'd bought more of the books in the series, the fourth book wouldn't be so shy about joining the adventures of Kat the inept teen witch.

Here's my entry in the two first sentences contest.

Title: Blood Ties Tested
Author: Marva Dasef
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

First Two Sentences: A dark figure dropped silently from the window ledge to the alley below. Dressed in a black curiously darker than a coal mine, which, of course, no clothing had a right to be, no casual observer would notice the movement

Here's info on the rest of the series. Keep your eyes peeled. The 3-book box set will be on special in March.


The Witches of Galdorheim: Volumes 1, 2, and 3 Katrina the teen witch with her half-vampire brother, Rune, brave crossing the arctic sea, being attacked by a polar bear, fighting giants, dodging magic attacks by an evil shaman, and that's just in book 1 of this trilogy. Complete in a single volume, follow Kat's adventures from the arctic circle to the Otherworld in Scotland.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Gung Hay Fat Choy

The Year of the Monkey begins! 

According to the Chinese Zodiac, year 2016 would be the year of Monkey. The Year of Monkey runs from February 08, 2016 to January 27, 2017. The element involved is Fire. The lucky color for the year would be Red and the associated number is 9. Monkey is the 9th sign in the Chinese zodiac. The associated energy is Yang. People born in the year of Monkey are said to be cheerful, energetic, flexible, wise, charismatic, and have leadership qualities. Their negative traits include being egoistic, arrogant, crafty, restless and snobbish. Monkey natives are usually found to be very skillful. They are quick and intelligent that they often win laurels in studies. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Preview - First Duty

I wrote "First Duty" long ago. It was published as a paperback by the (now departed) Sam's Dot Publishing. Ebooks weren't a big thing back then, so I self-pubbed the digital version and cobbled up a cover from some free template. Since that time, digital publishing has improved and so have my covers. A few years later, I decided to build on the "First Duty" basic plot and characters to make it fit for the SFR audience. 

That meant adding a few sex scenes. I also added more action, fights, and drama. This became "Ultimate Duty." This book was published by Eternal Press. It's now Damnation Press and still refuses to take UD out of service although the contract has long since expired and I've written the publisher lots of times telling her she no longer had rights to the book. So, back to self-pubbing.

I didn't want to dump "First Duty," though, because it was nice and clean for the younger audience and people who just don't care to read anatomical discussions of human and alien mating habits. I still like this book, so I'm keeping it around. It's the first book of mine to be published by a 'real' publisher (or almost the first), so I sure can't just dump it. That'd be mean to my original kick-ass redhead heroine, Nyra Hutchings. Her new name in the R-rated "Ultimate Duty" is Remy Belieux. I like her just as much as Nyra because, after all, they are the same character. I like her by both names.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Books and Reviews at Other Amazons

Authors who work with Amazon tend to view the Amazon store associated with their country. I'm US American, thus look at Amazon.com. I have friends who are featured primarily at their own country's Amazon presence. We authors forget (at least I do) that our books are sold in those other countries through the other Amazons.


If you're Canadian, you shop at Amazon.CA, if British, you use Amazon.UK, and so on for Germany (DE), France (FR), Spain (ES), Italy (IT), Japan (JP), the Netherlands (NL), Brazil (BR), Mexico (MX), Australia (AU), and India (IN).

Recently, a Brit mentioned reviewing one of my books. I was mystified since I didn't see the review on AMAZON.COM. It shook my brain enough to take a look at AMAZON.UK. By golly, there it was. An outstanding, well-written, and positive review with plenty of detail.

And I had missed it because I usually only look at my "local" Amazon store (.COM). I checked a couple of other countries where I know a book or two was sold. Most didn't have any local reviews, but the product pages did list reviews from the US store.

For authors: Check all the countries where your books are available. You might find a nice review or even a pan you never knew existed.

A big thank you to Dave Higgins for making me look further afield than my own neighborhood. And thank you for the nice review you left on Amazon.UK for one of my books.

You can read all of Dave Higgins' reviews on his excellent blog as well. Now, I'll be a regular reader.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Preview - Faizah's Destiny

Read the preview on-line. If you purchased an early copy of this book that doesn't include "Tales of Abu Nuwas 2" in the title, let me know and I'll send you this updated version. It is now wrapped in the frame tale of the old story teller, Abu Nuwas, relating the tale to a former slave boy. Adds some interest, and a couple of thousand words in length. Hit Preview to read the beginning of the tale as related by Abu Nuwas. The book is now on Kindle Select and can be read free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers and borrowed through the Kindle Owners Lending Library (or so I've been led to believe).

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Preview - Setara's Genie

Take a look at the Amazon Preview mode right here on my blog. Another feature on Amazon book product pages allows you to grab the HTML code to display the Search Inside preview. Authors ought to love the ability to take your preview with you to your own blogs and websites. This book is in the Kindle Select program making it free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and lendable through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Preview - Bad Spelling

The first book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. Now on Kindle Select, it can be read free by Kindle Unlimited users, borrowed, and will be blood sacrificed occasionally as a free book or in a Kindle Countdown deal. Read the preview right here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Lending Library

By this time, most of my books will only be available on Amazon. The "Brand X" distributors didn't try hard enough to sell the books and made maintenance of separate editions for different places a pain in the butt and didn't get me a dime. So screw 'em. I'll just have everything on Amazon and if Kindle Unlimited subscriber stumbles on one of them, they can read it free. All of the books will also be available in the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Amazon Prime users can borrow a book a month. Keep it as long as you want. No two-week return requirement.

When I run any of the Kindle promos like #free  or #countdown, I'll post it here and other places like Twitter. That's about all I'll do for promotion.

I did some updates while making my books Kindle-only. I added tables of content to the ones that made sense to have a TOC (this may still be a work in progress thing). I tried to catch any typos still left. If you happen to see one, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. I can always fix them.

So, that's it. My entire book collection is now on auto-pilot at Amazon. Reviews are always appreciated, of course. Retail prices are listed, but Kindle Unlimited is always free to subscribers. Amazon Prime users can borrow them from the Kindle Owners Lending Library, and the Matchbook prices are always less than the retail. Bonus deal: If you gain possession of certain books, you can also buy the audio book for a cheap $1.99.

Witches of Galdorheim Series (3-Volume Book) $6.99
   Bad Spelling $2.99 (Buy the ebook, get the audio book for $1.99)
   Midnight Oil $2.99 (Buy the ebook, get the audio book for $1.99)
   Scotch Broom $2.99 (Buy the ebook, get the audio book for $1.99)
   Spellslinger $0.99 (This short story is in audio format to listen free on SoundCloud)


The Tales of Abu Nuwas
Setara's Genie $2.99







Science Fiction
Ultimate Duty $2.99
First Duty $1.99






Oregon Set Mystery/Adventure
Missing, Assumed Dead $1.99 (Buy the ebook, get the audio book for $1.99)
Eagle Quest $1.99





Collections and Short Stories
Tales of a Texas Boy $2.99 (Buy the ebook, get the audio book for $1.99)
Mixed Bag Short Story Collection $0.99
Fish Story: A Three Story Sampler $0.99


Eagle Quest $1.99