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Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Trailer - Eagle Quest

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, April 27, 2018

Book Trailer - Ultimate Duty and First Duty

Ultimate Duty
A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties.

Remy Belieux, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her ultimate duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.


First Duty
Shorter version of Ultimate Duty with a PG-13 rating.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I Didn't Know This. Did You?

When was the theory of evolution proposed? answered by Ben Waggoner on Quora
* * * * * *
You can click the link above to read Ben's answer in Quora, or just scroll down for the article. I'm sharing it in whole because the Embed Share feature doesn't show the entire article in Blogger.
The Greek philosopher Anaximander is said to have opined that humans came from fish, although his own writings have not survived. I don’t think we know whether he had a definite “theory of evolution” in anything like the modern sense of the word. A 3rd century Roman writer claims that Anaximander believed that the first humans appeared as embryos inside the bodies of fish, which themselves came from mud and water; later, they burst out of the fish and could survive on their own. Frankly, this sounds weird. But I hesitate to judge Anaximander’s ideas based on nth-hand reports from about 700 years after he lived. (Anaximander)
But the Roman poet Lucretius did come up with a pretty well-sketched-out scenario of the entire universe evolving from atoms, subject to the laws of nature and the workings of chance, in his poem De rerum natura, written in the middle of the first century BCE. Lucretius probably didn’t come up with all of this himself—he was trying to explain and expound on Epicurean philosophy, which began with the work of Epicurus around 300 BCE. Lucretius explained that Earth had given birth to all living things. Since Earth could still spontaneously generate simple life forms like worms and such, it wasn’t surprising that Earth had once given birth to larger and more complex plants and animals:
Thus then the new Earth first of all put forth
Grasses and shrubs, and afterward begat
The mortal generations, there upsprung—
Innumerable in modes innumerable—
After diverging fashions. For from sky
These breathing-creatures never can have dropped,
Nor the land-dwellers ever have come up
Out of sea-pools of salt. How true remains,
How merited is that adopted name
Of earth—"The Mother!"—since from out the earth
Are all begotten. And even now arise
From out the loams how many living things—
Concreted by the rains and heat of the sun.
Wherefore 'tis less a marvel, if they sprang
In Long Ago more many, and more big,
Matured of those days in the fresh young years
Of earth and ether. . . .
Wherefore, again, again, how merited
Is that adopted name of Earth—The Mother!—
Since she herself begat the human race,
And at one well-nigh fixed time brought forth
Each beast that ranges raving round about
Upon the mighty mountains, and all birds
Aerial with many a varied shape.
But, lo, because her bearing years must end,
She ceased, like to a woman worn by eld. . . .
In suchwise, then, the lapsing aeons change
The nature of the whole wide world, and earth
Taketh one status after other. And what
She bore of old, she now can bear no longer,
And what she never bore, she can to-day.
There’s a sort of foreshadowing of natural selection here, because Lucretius argues that Earth also produced monsters and strange beings—which, however, have died out because they weren’t well adapted for life.
In those days also the telluric world
Strove to beget the monsters that upsprung
With their astounding visages and limbs—
The Man-woman—a thing betwixt the twain,
Yet neither, and from either sex remote—
Some gruesome Boggles orphaned of the feet,
Some widowed of the hands, dumb Horrors too
Without a mouth, or blind Ones of no eye,
Or Bulks all shackled by their legs and arms
Cleaving unto the body fore and aft,
Thuswise, that never could they do or go,
Nor shun disaster, nor take the good they would. . . .
And in the ages after monsters died,
Perforce there perished many a stock, unable
By propagation to forge a progeny.
For whatsoever creatures thou beholdest
Breathing the breath of life, the same have been
Even from their earliest age preserved alive
By cunning, or by valour, or at least
By speed of foot or wing. And many a stock
Remaineth yet, because of use to man,
And so committed to man's guardianship. . . .
. . . But those beasts to whom
Nature has granted naught of these same things—
Beasts quite unfit by own free will to thrive
And vain for any service unto us
In thanks for which we should permit their kind
To feed and be in our protection safe—
Those, of a truth, were wont to be exposed,
Enshackled in the gruesome bonds of doom,
As prey and booty for the rest, until
Nature reduced that stock to utter death.
This doesn’t look much like a “theory” in the modern sense, but I would argue that it’s not too wide of the mark to call it one. Lucretius is proposing a naturalistic scenario for how life began and changed, and while he doesn’t go out and test it, or particularly encourage readers to do so, he does appeal to observations and experience to support his scenario. And he avoids teleology: the Earth and the life on it weren’t created for us, or for any higher purpose. In the end it’s all atoms and the void.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Audio Books - In Case Everybody Forgot

Blood Ties Tested now available in ebook and print.

Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.

Note: If you buy the ebook on Amazon, you can get the audio book for $1.99. With Whispersync, you can switch back and forth between reading and listening. Or, you can listen while you read.




Tales of a Texas Boy $6.95
Amazon  $1.99
Audible  
iTunes    

Missing, Assumed Dead $14.95
Amazon  $7.49

Bad Spelling - Book 1 of Witches of Galdorheim $14.95

Midnight Oil - Book 2 of Witches of Galdorheim $19.95
Amazon  $7.49

Scotch Broom - Book 3 of Witches of Galdorheim $19.95
Amazon  $7.49
Spellslinger on audio $6.08

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Completing the Mission

I wrote the Witches of Galdorheim series with great hopes. The characters and setting are original, offbeat, and fraught with teen angst, terror, and lots of humor, particular puns. Katrina the inept witch makes her way from total despair for her horrendously bad spell casting (thus, "Bad Spelling" is the title of the first book), through her search for her non-witch father's side of the family. They happen to be of the indigenous Sami spread across the most northern reaches of Norway, Finland, and Siberia. In her desire to find the missing half of her family, she also discovers how to use her innate magic--the ability to talk to animals.


The second book, "Midnight Oil," introduces a few additional characters such as Mordita the Sorceress, Ceto the Loch Ness Pleiosaur, Atlantis (also called Ultima Thule), an evil forest spirit bent on destroying her own sister, and many more.

The final book, "Scotch Broom," follows Katrina into the Scottish Highlands Otherworld--a place for magic creatures to live in when humans just become far too much bother.

After the three main books in the series, I added a prequel story about the other major character in the books. Rune, Kat's half brother. They share their mother Ardyth, but have different fathers. Kat's dad being a mundane but very handsome Sami warrior and Rune's being a just-turned vampire named Drakos. The prequel story, "Spellslinger," is Rune's tale of testing his own magic and becoming aware of the danger inherent in his vampire half.

"Scotch Broom" leaves Rune in a bad mental state. I don't want to give spoilers, because you people really ought to read the series.

Rune's troubled mind required one final tale, "Blood Ties Tested." Rune finally meets his vampire father. Together, they go on a rescue mission for a group of reformed vampires captured by the great grand nephew of Van Helsing, the famous vampire hunter.

So, ebook done, print book done. Now the audiobook version is in the works and will be released sometime in late May (if all goes according to plan). It'll run about 2-1/2 hours and will accordingly be priced fairly low. It'll be available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. The best deal will always be at Amazon, where audiobooks are discounted if you buy the ebook to go with. The ebook and audiobook will be whispersynced, which means you can switch back and forth between reading and listening.



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Using Historical Figures in Fiction

This is a long post, but I hope you'll read it because it brought to light an interesting phenomena of historical people in fictional works.

An opportunity to touch on this subject presented itself in the form of an email from a reader. I don't get those often. Here's what she said:
Dear Marva:
I am so glad to have tracked your email down.   I have come across your ‘Tales of Abu Nuwas’ and I am so intrigued by them.  I was doing a bit of research on Abu Nuwas as I am going to Zanzibar shortly and I am looking at traditional stories that have been popular there.  I just wondered what your source for the stories are, are they based on the traditional tales?  I am particularly interested in the relationship between the story teller and Najda and the way he realised she was preoccupied about her forthcoming forced marriage to the much older man and wondered if that was your own creation or based on one of the original Abu Nuwas stories.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Note: Setara's Genie and Faizah's Destiny are both narrated by Abu Nuwas. Both books are available in ebook and print formats at Amazon.

I was a bit bemused how this book had anything to do with a trip to Zanzibar. But, hey, I'm happy to heard from any and all readers. So, I wrote back.
Thanks for writing. Setara's Genie is one of my favorites.
I "discovered" Abu Nuwas when I was combing the disparate stories of Setara's adventures. Since Scheherazade was always in the back of my mind, I decided to have a story teller who served the same purpose. Frame stories interest me. When I found information on Abu Nuwas, I hoped he wouldn't be mad if I appropriated his persona. The real Abu Nuwas wrote poems which would not be kid-friendly. The old picture I found of him (which is on the book's cover now) was perfect for the character I wanted.
So, Abu Nuwas the real man and my version haven't much in common except name and the fact they were story tellers. I also made up Najda. After all, what's a story teller without an audience. I wanted the frame story to be as interesting as the other tales. I'm glad you appreciated that part of the story.
For the stories themselves, I did borrow a lot from middle-eastern mythology including demon names like Azhi Dahaka. I actually selected new names for most of the characters from made-up names to real Arabic or Persian names.  
Then, the reader replied:
Thanks so much Marva - so kind of you to reply. 
I think the Abu Nuwas stories I am looking for are different. I can't  quite work it out but as far as I can gather there is the writer/poet you mention and then a series of stories about the trickster Abu Nuwas and these are Swahili tales and I think (?) there is no link or am I wrong ?
Here are translations of the Swahili tales in English and this was published in Tanzania but interestingly an English re teller - daughter of the man who wrote them down from the Swahili in the 1930s (apparently someone else called Steere wrote them down in the 19th century)
http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/tales-of-abunuwas-and-other-stories
"Tales of Abunuwas and Other Stories are translations of Hadithi za Abunuwasi na Hadithi Nyingine, from Swahili into English by John Lewis-Barned and retold here by his daughter Suzi Lewis-Barned. The stories were first published in 1935. Whilst the Abunuwasi tales are available in English translations from the Arabic originals, these translations into English from an early Swahili edition add a new and interesting dimension to them"
I would be grateful for any light you can shed on this and thanks so much for your wonderful stories. 
I checked the link to the book translated from Swahili. I discovered that the famed bawdy poet I used as my story teller, was also somehow the main character of a group of folktales adapted in the Swahili tradition. But the character in the Swahili tales are nothing like the real Abu Nuwas. In their stories, he's a scamp and trickster who stars in the stories. At least some of the stories starring Abunuwasi are also featured in "1001 Arabian Nights" so the borrowing included not only a real poet from the 6th C., but a fictional story teller (mine), a trickster character named after the real person, but also a Scheherazade of sorts. I replied to the reader with this theory, various real and fictional characters jumping between real life and folk tales. I love this idea. I really do.
I did not know about the reinterpretation into Swahili.  My stories, while based on Persian and Arabian mythology are my own, not by Abu Nuwas. I did get a lot of inspiration from 1001 Arabian Nights.
I did read translations of Abu's original poems. They were somewhat risque--an ode to wine and the joys of pederasty. I didn't realize some of his poetry might have shown up in the 1001 Arabian Nights. I did know that the stories in 1001 come from many traditions. There is no single 1001 Arabian Nights book. It's fascinating how folk tales cross between cultures. A good story is a good story no matter the language.
Interestingly, it appears the Swahili story teller is also a borrowed version of the original Abu Nuwas. I think possibly Abu is the source for more than one tradition. Like Scheherazade, Abu Nuwas is credited for more stories than he actually wrote.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Abu-Nuwas
Thanks for the link. Sorry that my Abu Nuwas is not the trickster of the Swahili tradition. They both were based on the same real poet it appears. I'm going to look into this in more detail. I love research.
And this is why Lin-Manuel Miranda can legitimately have the founding fathers in "Hamilton" speak in rap.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Writing (Ahem) Wisdom

I'm not sure how many of the writers I know manage to post a daily blog. I tend to forget about blogging entirely unless I have news to report. Now that I no longer have new works to report, I'll advise, review, or promo for friends' books from now on.

Cute Kid
I'm supposed to give tips on writing, encouragement to persevere, and funny things that happen in my writing life. Oh, and I absolutely must have a picture of my cute cat, dog, child, or whatever every couple of weeks. Here's one now to fulfill that obligation. She's still cute at 23.

Every once in a great while, I'll post something like this, and I duck my head and wince. Nobody should care what I think about writing unless I have some credentials to prove I know what I'm talking about. Yes, I've published a bunch of stories and 12 (or so) books, but that hardly makes me expert.

Still, it is expected, so here I go.

1. Use all the adverbs and adjectives you want. They are perfectly good words in the dictionary. Go ahead. Look them up. Nowhere does the dictionary mention that words are on a scale of 1 to 10 in worthiness.

2. If your book doesn't attract an agent, it's not your query or synopsis; it's because your book isn't the current hot thing in publishing. More teen angst, gorgeous vampires, loving werewolves, and (I don't get this) angels.

3. Money flows from the writer to the writing/publishing world. How many blogs tell you to take classes, go to conferences, join certain professional organizations. All of that costs money. In the long run and on the average you will spend more than you receive in royalties. Writing is NOT a money-making proposition.

4. Write if you must, but don't expect the world to give any notice to you.

5. Writing is a hobby. Treat it as such, and you'll be happier in the long run.

6. "Its" is the possessive form. "It's" is the contraction of "it is."

There. I've done my bloggerly duty and given you a bunch of stupid advice.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

So What Did You Think?

How about an excerpt from BLOOD TIES TESTED? (99 cents on Amazon). Maybe you forgot you picked up this longish short story free from Amazon. I wouldn't mind if you took a couple of hours (or less for speed readers) to read it. Let me know by either posting a review or just comment on this post.

Blurb:

Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.

Excerpt: Chapter 5 - How Much is that Doggie?

Ivan Helsing stood with hands on hips. A frown contorted his features. “Var ist das hunde?” he muttered, then huffed out a disgusted breath. “Ach! I take mein eyes off her for a minute and off she goes mitout a tot in her brain.”

He lifted the binoculars to his eyes and scanned the tree line of the thick forest. “Dark soon. Der wampires should be coming out any time.”

Finally spotting his dog trotting back through the underbrush, Helsing lowered the binoculars. “She vill find da wampires.” He sat on a rocky outcropping and slapped his thigh. “Liebchen, come.” The small brown and white dog raced over to Helsing and sat, her tongue lolling, and her tail whipping side to side. “Ist she a gut girl? Ya, she ist.” He patted the dog between her overly large pointed ears.

The vampire hunter sighed. “Dat gypsy woman said da wampires live in these woods, but dere ist no sign of anyting here.” He scanned the treetops below him again. Liebchen followed suit, her head turning 180 degrees to look back over her body toward the woods.

The lundehund was a lucky find for Helsing. Liebchen was just the dog he needed to track down the bloodsuckers. Without her, he’d never find the vampires on is own. He wondered if his great-uncle Abraham Van Helsing had some wizardly way to hunt vampires. Ivan had inherited his great-uncle’s Vampire Killing Kit, but hadn’t caught any vampires to practice with it. Still, he wanted to be the Helsing family’s next heroic monster hunter.

Liebchen was almost magical. Her large ears picked up sounds as aptly as any other dog’s nose picked up scents. The lundehund was bred to hunt puffins on the rocky shores of Norway. Most dogs would have to shake their heads to clear out the seawater. The lundehund just shut its ears.

Her special secret was a strange genetic flaw. A lundehund needs a very high protein diet. No veggies for them. Straight meat, raw from the butcher shop. Fortunately, dried meat was a viable substitute along with LundePup dog food made with animal blood to provide the specific enzymes required to keep Liebchen healthy and happy.

The reason this genetic defect was a strength is that a lundehund could sniff out vampires who happened to have an almost identical genetic flaw. Takes one to know one.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Blood Ties Tested - Paperback

Now available in paperback for only $4.99. BLOOD TIES TESTED is the final, exciting end to the Witches of Galdorheim series. You really need to read the entire series, but you can suss out Blood Ties Tested without reading the previous four books.

BLOOD TIES TESTED 
Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.

Get the rest of the series at Amazon or Smashwords.

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?

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

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

SPELLSLINGER - Prequel Story Featuring Rune
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. That it will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

R.I.P. Mom

Iva Hope Perkins
November 27, 1923 - April 1, 2018


Good Bye, Mom.
We'll all miss you.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

More POD Transfers from CreateSpace to KDP

I tried out another couple of transfers of my one-off books, "First Duty" and "Eagle Quest." Both are YA friendly. The transfer went smoothly except for CreateSpace (CS) and KDP disagreeing about how large a font could be on the books' spines. Both books had passed nicely at CS, but the parent company, Amazon, did not agree. As a result, I had to re-do both books' covers. It wasn't too much of a hassle, but I did have to change what I had originally done to something a little less fancy.

So, here they are in their new (and cheaper) KDP versions.

FIRST DUTY - Buy at Amazon for only $5.99
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?

EAGLE QUEST - Buy at Amazon for only $5.99
Four teens test their friendship and courage in the Bear Valley Wildlife Preserves of Southern Oregon.

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.