Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

One last day free for the last book in the Witches of Galdorheim Halloween Celebration.

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED FINAL DAY

The rest of the books in the series are only 99 cents each, so all is not lost. C'mon, less than a buck a book? Who can pass that up? Here's a reminder of all the books in the series. I hope you have a very witchy Halloween.

* * *

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 things will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament? This prequel story to the Witches of Galdorheim series gives the reader a chance to get to know the smart-aleck kid, Rune, before he got his magic down pat.

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

All of Kat’s family are either witches or warlocks, depending on their sex, of course. Kat is fourteen and really ought to be able to turn a rabbit into a toad, but things just don’t work out for her. What she gets  is a slimy green hopper. That’s the good part. Unfortunately, it also has long ears and fur. That’s bad spelling.

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

Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out with her brother, Rune, from her Arctic island home on a mission to rescue the boy. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are capant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding that the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

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

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

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

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES AND THE LAST DAY FREE
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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween is for Ancient Vampires

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED OCTOBER 27TH-31ST

THE VAMPIRES OF THE F.O.B. CLUB (Forever Off Blood)

ELIZABETH BATHORY
She’s a little old-fashioned and wears clothing appropriate to the 17th C.

Elizabeth Bathory regretted she had thrown away the chance for herself. She had forever forsaken the idea of a family. Her mind cruelly flashed to the sight of her lounging in a bathtub, the water crimson with blood. She shook her head to relieve herself of the flashback to her evil days. She had used the girls brought to her from the village. She paid well. The peasants didn’t want girls anyway and turned a blind eye to the Countess’ dire use. When the girls disappeared, their parents accepted the gold purse and the lie that their daughter had gone off to the city to find work. They accepted they shouldn’t expect to hear from them again.

Finally, the other nobles could no longer turn a blind eye. Tried for murder, she stood mute while the servants who had aided her begged for their own lives with their testimony. It did no good. They were hung in the village square after the jury announced the guilty verdict. But she was a noble and the rope wouldn’t cut her life short. She knew it wouldn’t in any case, but pretending to be dead, getting buried, then having to claw her way out again would have been annoying, but survivable. Instead, they put her in a high tower with the windows and door closed with bricks. One small opening, just big enough for a plate was left to serve her meals.

ANGUS MAC BEATHA
Scottish, 11th C., Mac Beatha - means "son of life." The ancient Scottish Vampire was Glaistig's lover. Glaistig, the Gray Lady, met Rune in Scotch Broom. Angus departed from Scotland when he failed to control his vampire tendencies.

When he learned of Glaistig's death, he was devastated. When her killer arrived on Drakos' castle doorstep, he vowed to kill the youth.






COUNT LYONEL PERABO
:
Lyonel Perabo, with his long black hair, goatee, and mustache was tall and elegant—the consummate Frenchman, except for one little difference. He had left France to join the Viking raids a thousand years before. He had thought it a convenient way to sup on humans since the battle fields were strewn with the near-dead lying in pools of blood. When the Norsemen settled treaties and stopped their raids, Lyonel had to go elsewhere for his supply. To his perplexity, a draugr followed Lyonel from the battlefield. Eventually, he spoke to the monster and discovered he was a man turned to monster called Thorolf Draugr. The two became friends and hunted together—Lyonel for the blood and Thorolf for the flesh.

It became more difficult as the years went by. Lyonel and Thorolf had stumbled on Drakos’ villa whilst stalking a Gypsy caravan. They thought it would be nice to stop in for a visit with Lyonel’s own kind, and stayed, converted to Drakos’ philosophy. Thorolf didn’t want blood, so it made no difference to him. Eating an entire elk at a sitting suited him fine.

The Legend of Thorolf Draugr
Drauger- Icelandic Saga- this is an animated corpse that comes forth from its grave mound or shows restlessness on the way to the burial place. This creature is also know as an Aptrgangr (after-goer or one who walkers after death.) The Draugr is the roaming undead most frequently encountered in Icelandic Sagas. Whichever name used, the undead of Scandinavia was a physical body, the actual corpse of the deceased.


TAO LUNG:

Tao Lung, like the others, had spent years terrorizing the Chin villages for victims. He came across a scholarly man named Zhu Xi sitting silently in a beautiful garden. He crept toward the man, believing him to be asleep. Tao Lung was surprised when the Confuscian philosopher raised one hand, palm outward. Tao froze, unable to move and realized he was in the presence of a powerful magician. The old man allowed Tao to sit cross-legged before him, arms resting on his knees, and strangely his index finger and thumb touching forming a strange shape. They remained in this position for days. When Zhu Xi allowed Tao to move again, the vampire felt at peace. He was no longer driven by blood lust. Zhu Xi died, as humans do, and Tao Lung wandered through the countryside imparting the same peace of mind Zhu Xi had given him. His wanderings brought him eventually to Drakos’ door. As their spiritual guide, he was the key to the family’s success. When the others waivered in their resolve, they went to Tao Lung. He need say nothing. The one who needed strength sat with Tao Lung as he had sat with Zhu Xi. When their mind was at peace, he released them. They bowed, and went about their daily business.

The Legend of the Ch'iang Shih
In China, vampires had long, hooked claws and red eyes. They were known as ch’iang shih, which translates to “corpse-hopper.”

* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Halloween is for Creatures

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED OCTOBER 27TH-31ST

Creature Feature

I'm done writing the fifth book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. Maybe it's the 4th, since one of the volumes--a prequel short story--is outside the activities of the other three books. This one is Rune's book. It's what happened to Rune at the end of "Scotch Broom." Rune not only connects with his father, but meets a variety of other interesting beings during the visit.

Biel the Mahr: The Mahr are a race of giant vampire moths that dwell in the Carpathian Mountains. When a person was bitten by one of the Mahr, the creature would host the body of that person. A Mahr can be killed, and thus returning the soul to the original owner, by driving a wooden stake through its heart, or by finding its lair and exposing it to daylight. In Poland, they are called Mora and in Bulgaria Morava. The Mahr needs substantial quantities of blood to survive cocooning for several years.

Early on in the book-which-will-not-be, Rune and Drakos must fight off a Mahr named Biel. Not usually enemies, Biel is upset because Drakos has banned blood-taking in the area enforcing the rules via his control of a variety of folkloric creatures which were to be determined if the book had been written.

Igosha: In Russian folklore an Igosha is a household sprite, a handless and legless monster. Legends say that an Igosha is the spirit of a new-born baby who died without being christened. I thought Igosha would be a nice addition to the house of vampires. He is cared for by Tao Lung, an ancient Chinese vampire.

Excerpt:


Botchling from Witcher Game

Tao Lung had found the poor creature in his travels and, at first, believed it had been grievously injured. Igosha was not injured but created from a dead baby, a cruel joke of an evil wizard. He had promised to bring the baby back to life for a huge fee. He performed the spell. The sad couple were overjoyed and paid the wizard with their entire life savings. After the wizard departed, however, the baby’s arms and legs shrank, its hands and feet disappeared, and its tongue removed so it could never speak.

Tao Lung adopted the creature, of course. While Igosha could not speak, having no mouth thanks to the wizard, it could understand and faithfully served Tao Lung in any way it could. The company of vampires had accepted the deformed creature as one of their own.

Thorolf Draugr: Thorolf also came to the vampire castle with another. Lyonel Perabo, a French vampire, joined forces with a Draugr from Norse tradition. The Draugr is pretty much a flesh-eating zombie, but Lyonel is so charming, the two become friends and fellow hunters. 

Excerpt:

Tall and elegant, Lyonel Perabo, with his long black hair, goatee, and mustache was the consummate Frenchman. Centuries ago, he decided to leave France to follow the slaughter of the Viking raids. He had thought it a convenient way to sup on human blood since the battlefields lay strewn with the near dead. When the Norsemen stopped their raids, Lyonel moved on.

To his perplexity, a deformed creature followed Lyonel from the battlefield. Eventually, he spoke to the being and discovered it was a man morphed into monster called Thorolf Draugr. The two formed a mutually beneficial partnership. They hunted together—Lyonel for the blood and Thorolf for the raw flesh.

More wars and years went by. They roamed the lands from south to north. It became more difficult as the years went by. Lyonel and Thorolf had wandered into Slovakia’s Tatras Mountains whilst stalking a Gypsy caravan. Unfortunately for Lyonel, the gypsies were well-versed in vampire ways. Turning the tables on Lyonel and Thorolf, the gypsies cornered the pair shouting curses and holding up crosses sharpened into wooden stakes. Thorolf, however, roared and attacked, unfazed by the anti-vampire talismans. The gypsies had never encountered a creature like the Draugr before. Thorolf attacked the attackers, throwing bodies, alive and dead, every which way. Realizing the monster was beyond their abilities, the gypsies turned tail and ran. Lyonel called off Thorolf, not wanting to lose his dear companion.



* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
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.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Halloween is for Fathers and Sons

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED OCTOBER 27TH-31ST

It's all about the blood.

I'm done writing the fifth book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. Maybe it's the 4th, since one of the volumes--a prequel short story--is outside the activities of the other three books. This one is Rune's book. It's what happened to Rune at the end of "Scotch Broom." You might not know who Rune is either, so I'll first introduce him a bit, then talk about the characters you'll have the opportunity to meet in this final book: BLOOD TIES TESTED. If anybody wants to read it, let me know.

Rune: Half vampire and half warlock, Rune has adventured with his sister, Katrina in the first three books  of the Galdorheim series. With his double-dip of magic from both his mother and father, Rune is bound to be the most powerful warlock to come out of Galdorheim. First, though, he has to learn how to control his vampiric urges. This is an on-going battle for him throughout the series. In the third book of the series, he is forced to use his vampire's bite to save himself and his sister from the evil winter goddess, Cailleach. After that battle, he returns home distraught and suffering from PTSD.

Barnabus from Dark Shadows
Drakos: Rune's father. Drakos was a human warlock when turned into a vampire. Because he has strong magical skills, he is able to moderate his vampiristic tendencies. He does like to play the part, however. Living in a chalet in the High Tatras Mountains of Slovakia (not every vampire lives in Transylvania in a dank castle) with a few other vampires, he ensures the surrounding villages are safe from his companions.

When first turned, however, he didn't have proper control. He attacked Rune's mother intent on taking her blood while they engaged in a bit of hanky-panky. Ardyth, a powerful witch, nipped that in the bud (so to speak) and returned home carrying Drakos' child, Rune.

* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
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.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Halloween is for Fearless Vampire Hunters

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED OCTOBER 27TH-31ST

FEARLESS VAMPIRE HUNTERS - HELSING AND LIEBCHEN

You can't have vampires without somebody thinking they need to be hunted. In Blood Ties Tested, the hunters consist of the team of Liebchen the Lundehund (no, really! it's a real dog) and a descendant of Bram Stoker's vampire hunter, Van Helsing.

Helsing is a distant relative of the famous Van Helsing who took on Dracula in Bram Stoker's seminal work. He isn't the brightest bulb on the tree, but desperately wants to make a name for himself as a vampire hunter to follow in his ancestor's footsteps.

He does have a secret weapon at his disposal: Liebchen the Lundehund. The Norwegian Lundehunds have six toes on each foot that allow them to climb on vertical cliffs and their neck joints enable them to bend their head backward over their shoulders so that their forehead touches its back.

The hound can also close their ear canals at will (to protect them against dirt and moisture) and are able to bend their head 180 degrees backwards over their shoulders. Their fore-shoulder joints are extremely flexible and empower both front legs to be stretched straight out to both sides, for greater ease in swimming and maneuvering in the narrow crevices in Norwegian seaside cliffs where their avian prey lives.

The dog, for all its traits and talents, has a flaw of its digestive tract which requires an almost 100% protein diet. Thus sensitized to detect protein sources, the Lundehund is ideal for seeking out creatures which also require high protein foods, such as vampires. Blood calories are almost all protein. It does contain a high salt and iron content, which might be detrimental to humans, but vampire and Lundehund physiology can counteract the potential poisons.

Excerpt

Ivan Helsing stood with hands on hips. A frown contort his features. “Var ist das hunde?” huffed out a disgusted breath. “Ach! I take mein eyes off her for one 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.

Helsing and Liebchen sat on the hill trying to make out any hint of a vampire presence. The dog scanned the entire forest with her handy 180-degree view, but it was her nose doing most of the work. She did not scent a vampire, or she’d let Helsing know.

The binoculars provided Helsing a close-up view. Something appeared behind a particularly tall stand of trees. At first, Helsing thought it was just another rocky outcropping like the one they sat on. As he stared, more of a pattern emerged, an unnatural pattern of stone. Could this be the vampires’ hideout?

He began picking his way down the hillock’s grassy rock-strewn slope. Liebchen, still on the job, bounced left and right around the boulders, running one way a few yards, then zigzagging down the hill.

A half an hour and two scraped palms for Helsing later, the two had made their way to the stone building. Helsing slammed his pack on the ground and grunted. It was nothing but a crumbling abandoned abbey. The four walls were decaying in several places and there was no roof. Grinding his teeth, Helsing shook his head. “One more dead end, Liebchen.” He picked up his pack and turned to hike back to their viewpoint. Then he noticed Liebchen had not moved but was standing still with her nose wrinkling and un-wrinkling as she sucked the smells into her sensitive olfactory organs.

“What ist? Do you smell someting? A wampire maybe?”

* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
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.



Halloween is for Vampire Hunters

FREE BLOOD TIES TESTED OCTOBER 27TH-31ST


You can't have vampires without somebody thinking they need to be hunted. In Blood Ties Tested, the hunters consist of the team of Liebchen the Lundehund (no, really! it's a real dog) and a descendant of Bram Stoker's vampire hunter, Van Helsing.

Excerpt

Ivan Helsing stood with hands on hips. A frown contort his features. “Var ist das hunde?” huffed out a disgusted breath. “Ach! I take mein eyes off her for one 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.

Helsing and Liebchen sat on the hill trying to make out any hint of a vampire presence. The dog scanned the entire forest with her handy 180-degree view, but it was her nose doing most of the work. She did not scent a vampire, or she’d let Helsing know.

The binoculars provided Helsing a close-up view. Something appeared behind a particularly tall stand of trees. At first, Helsing thought it was just another rocky outcropping like the one they sat on. As he stared, more of a pattern emerged, an unnatural pattern of stone. Could this be the vampires’ hideout?

He began picking his way down the hillock’s grassy rock-strewn slope. Liebchen, still on the job, bounced left and right around the boulders, running one way a few yards, then zigzagging down the hill.

A half an hour and two scraped palms for Helsing later, the two had made their way to the stone building. Helsing slammed his pack on the ground and grunted. It was nothing but a crumbling abandoned abbey. The four walls were decaying in several places and there was no roof. Grinding his teeth, Helsing shook his head. “One more dead end, Liebchen.” He picked up his pack and turned to hike back to their viewpoint. Then he noticed Liebchen had not moved but was standing still with her nose wrinkling and un-wrinkling as she sucked the smells into her sensitive olfactory organs.

“What ist? Do you smell someting? A wampire maybe?”

* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
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.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The End is Near!

All month long, I've been handing out free ebooks from the Witches of Galdorheim series. The giveaways are near the end. Only one book is left for the FREE days: Blood Ties Tested.

It will be free for the download from the 27th to the 31st. Then the free books are done for awhile. I've used up all the Amazon #freebies I have to offer.

So, here's the calendar of the books you COULD HAVE gotten free if you'd only paid attention. Remember, there's only one more (starting on October 27th), then we'll move on to other topics.

BLOOD TIES TESTED is, as are all of the books in the series, a standalone. Yeah, it's nice to have all the back story provided in the first four books (okay, the first is a short story, but quit being picky). Note that ALL of those previous books are now priced for only 99 cents each. That's a damned good deal. I've seen some pretty puny books priced at $3.99 and more, so recognize a bargain when you see it.

So here's what you missed or could look forward to in a couple of days:


So, look sharp, take advantage and get the series on your e-reader before the end of October. And, please, if you do take a free book (mine or any other authors), read and leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you. See this blog on the 27th for another fascinating topical post.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Halloween is for Scottish Vampires

FREE ON AMAZON SCOTCH BROOM OCT 20TH-24TH

HALLOWEEN IS FOR SCOTTISH VAMPIRES
Glaistig the Scottish Gray Lady

In Scotch Broom, I present Glaistig as a vampire woman who has entered the Otherworld because she no longer wants to live off the blood of humans. Within the magical realm, she can safely feed on the various magical creatures without killing them. Once I discovered her, I knew she had to be part of the Scottish story. While a vampire, she’s got a soft side that appeals to Rune. In other words, she’s not all bad; she’s just been fabled that way.

The glaistig may take the form of a beautiful woman, especially one already known to the male victim; after offering sexual favors like a camp follower, she leaves her male victim with his throat cut, every drop of blood sucked from him. Other such tales have her casting stones in the path of travelers or throwing them off course.

Excerpt

Rune, Kat’s brother, is searching for his sister while Cailleach is searching for both Rune and Kat by sending one or more of her minions to find them. Glaistig’s job is to find Rune, determine whether or not he’s a vampire, and to bring the boy to the goddess.

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.

* * *

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

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

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



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Halloween is for Unicorns

FREE ON AMAZON SCOTCH BROOM OCT 20TH-24TH

A Diamond of a Companion

“There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn.”
Lyrics and Music by Shel Silverstein

This song kept running through my brain when I wrote about Diamond, a lonely unicorn, who meets up with Kat in her travels through the Otherworld. Naturally, unicorns are drawn to...um...maidens, so Diamond immediately joins Kat’s journey to help her in whatever way he can. That’s what a unicorn is all about, right?

Lately, I’ve seen at least two books which portrayed vicious unicorns, but in both cases, the aberration was a result of some type of black magic. Unicorns are always good, rainbows and lollypops, paragons of virtue, and all-round nice guys when it comes to their attachments to innocent girls.

But is Diamond all good? Does he really have Kat’s best interests at heart? Guess you’ll have to read more than this excerpt from Scotch Broom to find out.

Excerpt

Kat spotted Cait Sidhe angling backward to the same spot where Sianach and Cusith were converging. Frustrated by the soggy muck, Kat could only slog slowly across the swamplands. As she neared her three companions, she spotted a pond. About twenty feet across, it was bigger than most of the scattered pools sprinkling the bogs. Tall grassy bunches topped with white, feathery tufts hid much of the pond from view. When Kat finally came near enough to see the surface, she stopped to stare.

Two horses sloshed in the pool. Sunk up to their hocks in the water, they struck at each other with raised forelegs. Strangely, neither horse whinnied or screamed, but the sounds of their huffing breath made it clear they were both near exhaustion. One horse was sky blue, the other snow white. Kat looked harder and thought she saw...yes! A horn grew from the white horse’s forehead. A unicorn! A smile spread across her face before a scowl of concern quickly replaced it. Blood ran down the unicorn’s neck, splashing into the scummy, green pond water turning it a noxious brown.

The two creatures, their muscles rippling, hooves slinging the muck into the air, appeared to be matched in strength. Steamy breaths came out in blasts from the blue horse’s dilated nostrils. Kat lifted first one leg then the other out of the mire, only to have them sucked down again. Now up to her knees, she could hardly move at all. She’d lost one shoe somewhere along the way and would have to spell another up as soon as she figured out what to do about the battling beasts.

Kat reached out with her thoughts, trying to break into the mind of either the unicorn or the blue horse, but hit the same frustrating wall blocking her ability to read animal thoughts. Then, she heard something in her head.

Help me!”

It was the unicorn pleading for aid. For a moment, Kat was puzzled. She had not been able to hear the thoughts of the other creatures in the Otherworld. She felt the sincerity in the plea and had to help the unicorn.

The edge of the pond had a raised bank, which kept the water from streaming across the bogs. Kat glanced around but couldn’t see anything to use as a weapon. Pulling her legs out of the muck, she climbed atop the small berm. When the battle moved her direction, she bent her knees and jumped as far as she could. Grabbing the long mane of the blue horse, she pulled herself forward and slung both arms around its powerful neck. At first, she thought she had him when his head ducked toward the water. Her grip didn’t last long.

The blue horse reared back on its hind legs, but Kat held on, her body whipping back and forth under the horse’s neck. When its forelegs came down hard, her hold slipped. Plunging toward the water, her stomach knotted, and she held her breath. But when her feet hit the bottom the water was not quite waist deep. She fell backward onto her rear end with her head just above the surface. Kat let out her breath in relief...until she looked up into a wide-opened mouth full of black teeth surrounded by a flash of blue. It lunged at her head. She tensed her shoulders and brought her arms to cover her face in a feeble attempt to protect herself.

The unicorn had jumped backward when Kat launched herself at the blue horse. Now it lunged forward with its head down, its spiral horn pointed at the breast of the blue horse. The blue reared, barely avoiding the unicorn’s attack.

Kat risked a glance while she struggled to stand. She saw Sianach, Cusith, and Cait Sidhe were all standing around the pond, looking on with interest, but doing nothing.

“Why don’t you help?” she screamed at them.

“Who would you have us help?” asked Sianach with a mild tone.

“Me,” Kat yelled.

Cusith jumped into the pond and slogged his way through the shallow water to her side. “Grab hold, and I’ll get you out.” Kat clutched his neck and pulled herself to her feet. Looking around, she saw that the two horses stood still at opposite sides of the pool, their heads down, sides heaving.

“What is this? I cannot believe you, you people! All I wanted was to take my Winter Abroad. But could it be that simple? No! Instead, I get a bunch of gladiator animals all intent on proving whose attitude is bigger! What is wrong with you...you...see! I don’t even know what to call you!” She waded ashore holding Cusith’s fur to keep herself upright.

Sianach laughed his bugling, grunting laugh. “Not an attitude comparison at all. These two are quite intent on killing each other.”

* * *

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

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

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

Halloween is for Charms

How Charming!

A magical item comes in handy in the Galdorheim series. In Scotch Broom, the charm bracelet gifted to Kat by Mordita is an integral part of the plot. 

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.”
* * *

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

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


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

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween is for Evil Goddesses


FREE ON AMAZON SCOTCH BROOM OCT 20TH-24TH

HALLOWEEN IS FOR EVIL GODDESSES

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 worshiping 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.

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 from Scotch Broom

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.

* * *

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

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

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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Halloween is for Scottish Legends


HART AND HOUND

Researching Celtic mythology, I knew I wanted to use some of the lesser know magical creatures. I a
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.

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.

Kat glanced at the dog and saw that he stayed put. She didn’t know whether to keep watch on the mutt or try to do something to help Sianach. However, the stag was rapidly healing and soon seemed unharmed, except for the drying blood on his neck.

“What? How?” Kat stammered. But Sianach was not your average, everyday red deer; he was a creature of magic. It shouldn’t surprise her he couldn’t be killed.

Turning her attention back to the dog, she looked him over with interest. His shoulder was as tall as her own. The dog’s shaggy fur coat was a startling, and quite attractive, forest green, and he sported a long, braided tail. By the shape of his blocky head and the size of his jowls, Kat thought he must be a mastiff.

“Just what is going on here?” she asked, planting her fists on her hips and glaring at both creatures.

Sianach stepped toward Kat and pointed his rack toward the dog. “Our apologies, Kat. We did not mean to frighten you.”

Kat looked back and forth at the two legendary beings. She closed her mouth when she realized she’d been gaping. “You scared the stuffing out of me!”

“I would not want to do that. I imagine you need your stuffing.”


* * *

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

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

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