Thursday, August 22, 2019

Notice of Free Update

If you bought this book at any time in the past (or future if you have that feature):


You can get the bigger, better, and COMPLEAT (old-style for complete) Witches of Galdorheim absolutely free at Smashwords in EPUB, PDF, or MOBI format. Use COUPON CODE PT37L at checkout to set the price to $0.00. Click the link above the book title below.

The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Now on Amazon

The only way to put a book on Amazon from Smashwords is when you have earned $2000 in sales (dollars, not Krone) through Smashwords via the distributor that just take the book and hope for the best.

So, you gotta me again Amazon. Fortunately, my files for Smashwords tucked nicely into KDP with only removing the reference to Smashwords (which SW requires). So, presenting ASIN B07WSH63N7 (drum roll please):



In a few days, I'll run either a five-day for free or countdown deal. It's on KDP, but as soon as I've used that pitiful marketing technique I'm unchecking that KDP renewal box. It just has not been worth the trouble. It's certainly not worth the trouble on this compilation of the four books and one short story which is all she (meaning me) wrote.

Friday, August 09, 2019

New Cover for Blood Ties Tested

Since Blood Ties Tested is really Book 4 of the Witches of Galdorheim series, I decided to add that to the cover. While it isn't a true sequel to the other three volumes in that it continues with the story of Katrina the teen witch, it is definitely part of the Galdorheim world, following what happens to Kat's favorite smart-aleck little brother, Rune.

Since all the books are now available through Smashwords as well as Amazon, it was a good time to release the revamped (that's a pun, by the way) cover. I also plan to dump the Box Set (with the first three books and a short story) and add BTT to the bunch to make the "Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim." What do you think? Do you like that title? Also, I'm working on a cover for it which will include all the covers, including little story, Spellslinger.

BLOOD TIES TESTED (Amazon Kindle and Smashwords All Formats)
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, August 06, 2019

Smashwords Links

Most of my books on Smashwords provide multiple formats other than Kindle. See everything I have to offer on my Smashwords Author page.

Witches of Galdorheim Series:
Bad Spelling (Book 1)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

Midnight Oil (Book 2)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Scotch Broom (Book 3)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Blood Ties Tested (Book 4)
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?

Spellslinger (Prequel Short Story)
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic?

Tales of Abu Nuwas Series:
Setara's Genie
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Faizah's Destiny
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

Adventure and Mystery:
Missing, Assumed Dead

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




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

Science Fiction:
Ultimate Duty (Adult) and First Duty (YA)
A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties. 




Collected Short Stories:
Tales of a Texas Boy - Illustrated
Tales of a Texas Boy - Not Illustrated, you set the price.






Mixed Bag and Mixed Bag 2: Supersized
Collections of short stories. SF, Fantasy, Mystery, Humor--a little something for everyone. MB2 contains all the stories in Mixed Bag plus a bunch more.
Lemons and Other Kids Tales - Children's Animal Stories




Wednesday, July 31, 2019

No More Wasting Time

No more sales like the one I'm running now for 99 cents each of Setara's Genie and Faizah's Destiny. No more giveaways, no more countdowns, no more sitting in the corner with a tin cup.

Nevertheless, this latest experiment in the exotic and hell-created world of marketing continues to disappoint. There really is no point to marketing if I can't find any pom-poms that work.

I will be setting my last, final, never look at them again prices on all my books on Amazon tomorrow since I promised. Take 'em or leave 'em. I'm really past caring since I know I have good books, but it's completely clear that the promoters sell books, not the authors. All of the books will be filtering off KU/KOLL and into the winds of Smashwords distribution.

It's been a year since I released my last book. I wrote it only because a few friends who enjoyed the Witches of Galdorheim series wanted to know what happened to Rune after Kat goes off to University in Edinburgh. If you'd read the books, you'd know what that means.

Many thanks to Dawn for the beautiful promo shots and for trying so hard to help independent authors. It's a tough job when so few do anything in return for Dawn's hard work.













Monday, July 29, 2019

Off KU/KOLL - Last Chance 99 Cents

The Tales of Abu Nuwas books are no longer available through Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Your last chance to pick up these books for the low, low price of 99 cents on Amazon ends this week. After July 31st, regular prices will apply.

However, both books will now be available through any of the distributors serviced by Smashwords. I might decide to make them free or let the buyer decide the price or whatever.

Setara's Genie on Kindle or on Smashwords
Faizah's Destiny on Kindle or on Smashwords




Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: The Volcanic Rose by Rene Duke

All of Renee's books are on sale this month at Smashwords. Click on over and get the entire Time Rose series. You'll love them!


The Volcanic Rose (Time Rose Book 5)The Volcanic Rose by Renee Duke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buy at Amazon

The time-traveling saga of the Wolverton family comes to an explosive end in "The Volcanic Rose." I'm not giving any spoilers you can't get off the cover. Yes, Mt. Vesuvius is involved.

One thing about the Wolvertons, there are plenty of them to get involved in fixing the things that go wrong in the past. Featured over the four previous books, we follow the current generation of time travelers, siblings Paige and Dane, and their cousin, Jack. In the third book (Spirit Rose), they meet Skookaweethp, a syilx (First Nations tribe) girl from centuries before, who knows not only they are time travelers, but that another time traveler, the evil Khatcheres, wants to disrupt time to his own advantage.

The Time Rose travelers learn they are tasked by time itself to thwart Khatcheres' plot, but in doing so, their ability to time travel will end.

The cryptic writings of one of their time traveling ancestors, Aurea-Rose, leads them through the steps they must take, which involves returning their Time Rose and other time artifacts to a girl named Varteni who awaits them in 79 AD at Ercolano, known now as Herculaneum. Varteni and the town lie in the direct path of the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. To be sure, time is more of the essence than usual.

This is a great setup to end the series with both dramatic flair, but also to make sure we readers of the series will (sadly) know this will be the end of the Time Rose tales.

It is best to read the books in order even if the travelers are hopping around in time themselves. Lots of clues are provided throughout the series which make the conclusion logical and inevitable.

My only complaint is the cast of characters within the Wolverton clan alone is numerous. However, five plus generations of the family are represented, so it's not surprising there are tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grand-parents, great-grand-parents and even a great-great-great-grand-aunt. It's a bit difficult keeping track of who's who. I'd love to see the Family Tree.

It'd be great if the publisher now puts the entire series together as a boxed set. It'd be a wonderful gift for middle-grade kids who like a rousing fantasy tale.

Highly recommended for kids of all ages. I'm giving this five stars to include the entire series. I'm usually stingier with stars.


View all my reviews

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Do Simurghs Make Good Pets?

Fast answer is no. You don't make a pet of  a sentient being which has all the knowledge of the universe. If you're lucky, one of them will make you their pet.

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each.
Sale lasts through the end of July.
SETARA'S GENIE  Kindle Ebook 
FAIZAH'S DESTINY Kindle Ebook 


Okay, I'm an idiot. Nobody wants these books for 99 cents each. However, I've promised they'll be at that low price for the rest of this month. I'm not one to break promises. So, get 'em if you haven't read them before. They're both very entertaining.

On to other business. So, what is a Simurgh? If you don't know, then here's a bit of info on the mysterious bird of legend.

What the Heck is a Simurgh?

An early reader of “Faizah’s Destiny” asked the question. When I wrote the book, I was definitely under the impression that everybody in the world knows what a simurgh is, but I guess I was wrong.

If you’ve read the 1001 Arabian Nights or even saw the movie with John Leguizamo as the genie (brilliant!), you’ll be familiar with the intelligent Big Bird. From the Encyclopedia Mythica, http://pantheon.org), my favorite source for all things mythic:

In Persian legend Simurgh is a gigantic, winged monster in the shape of a bird; a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. Its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. According to legend, the creature is so old that it has seen the world destroyed three times over. In all that time, Simurgh has learned so much that it is thought to possess the knowledge of all ages.

I pretty much stick to the traditional description here except for that dog head and lion claws thing. Considering that the Simurgh know everything (really, not like that annoying guy at work who just thinks he knows everything), then it seemed logical to me and my heroine Faizah to ask them where to find Wafai the missing magician.

The boys in the little band of rescuers scoff at her, but it all works out anyway. The search for the bird does get them into the mountains where they need to be to save the world from Armageddon. You’ll have to admit that is just a teensy bit more important then finding an old magician. It’s all good, though. The magician finds the kids and the birds.

Illustration: This is a real page on the Simurgh from a real Arabic text dating back to circa 900 AD. I don’t see any dog’s head or lion claws. Do you?

Excerpt:

Faizah felt the sunlight on her cheek. Morning. She kept her eyes closed, savoring the warmth until something blocked out the sun. At first she thought it a cloud, and she opened her eyes a slit to check for rain.

A huge bird stood motionless over her, regarding her with a steady, unblinking gaze.

Her eyes flew all the way open. The Simurgh was as tall as Master Wafai, the biggest bird by far that she had ever seen. It looked like a giant peacock, save that its beak did not come to a point. The eyes were different, too. Instead of beady black eyes like a peacock, the Simurgh’s matched the iridescent spots on its tail. It also sported a spray of upright feathers on its head, giving it a jaunty appearance.

Was this the only one, she wondered, or were there more? Turning her head slightly, she saw out of the corner of her eye there were, indeed, more. Four more, in fact. One stood by each sleeping form.

“Hello,” she managed to say and wondered what to do next. Sit up, or remain as she was? Would movement frighten them? This last question was quickly answered by Harib leaping out of his blankets with a startled yelp. Faizah laughed as she sat up―the Simurgh standing over Harib hadn’t even flinched.

The Simurgh beside her spoke. “Good morning, Faizah. Welcome to our home.”

“Thank you,” she responded then struggled to her feet and bowed to the bird. Curtseying wasn’t something she did very often, and she thought it a poor time to start now. “We’ve come a long way to find you. It turns out we didn’t need to after all, but here we are.”

“Yes.” There was humor in the bird’s voice. “You sought our counsel on the whereabouts of Master Wafai.” The bird revealed it had both arms and wings as it gestured with one feathery limb toward the magician.

As well as possessing both arms and wings, Faizah noted the bird’s beak did not prevent it from speaking clearly. Looking closely, she saw the Simurgh’s beak was quite flexible, more like pointed lips than the beak of the birds she was familiar with. This accounted for the bird’s precise speech.

By this time, all of the travelers were up and variously gawking or grinning at the birds that stood before them. Master Wafai drew himself to his full, magisterial height and settled his robes about him before addressing the Simurgh in his most formal tones. Faizah couldn’t help but smile. The fact he was practically vibrating with excitement spoiled the effect a little.

“I have spent my entire life waiting to meet a magical creature such as yourselves.” He waved his arms in circles. “This is most exciting! Most exciting indeed!”

“Had you stopped waiting, Magician,” the Simurgh facing him replied, “and started searching instead, you might have met us sooner. Creatures of magic do not often seek out mortals, but they can be found if you seek them. As close to you as the valley on the other side of these mountains lives a young woman who keeps company with a djinn and a flying horse. You could have met her after only a short journey, had you cared to make it.”

“Setara! Yes, I’ve heard of her.” Wafai’s shoulders slumped. He nodded eyes downcast. “You are right. I sat and waited for the magic to come to me. I should have gone to it.”

The giant bird nodded. “Oh, one other thing. The plural is Simurghs, Master Wafai.”
Wafai’s cheeks reddened above his white beard, and he bowed his head. “I’ll correct that error in my texts.”

“Never mind,” the Simurgh replied, “that doesn’t matter anymore. You are here now, and we will tell you your fate if you wish it.”

“How does this work? Do you see the future?”

“We see all the possible futures. You move from one future to another, depending on what you do in the now.”

“Do you mean that what you tell us may not happen?”

We will tell you the future that lies ahead of you on the path you now travel. If you choose a different path, you will have a different future.” The Simurgh standing before Wafai nodded, indicating the other birds. “We will also tell you of a few things to avoid.”

* * *

FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Villain or Hero: Is History Wrong?

SETARA'S GENIE ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF JULY 
Amazon Kindle 

The Kazikli Bey

Most of you have heard of Vlad the Impaler, right? Count Dracul, the model for Dracula? Well, Kazikli Bey is the middle-eastern translation for something like “The Impaler Prince.” His popular last name, Dracul (there are many spellings) came from him signing up to a Hungarian chivalric group, the Order of the Dragon. Vlad’s father was also a Dragon member and the Dracula name is a title.  Vlad’s family name was Basarab. I’ve seen a couple of horror works where the authors did enough research to hone in on the family name, revealing only later that the evil monster is none other than Dracula.

The real Vlad was a nasty character. He directed his wrath against the Ottoman Empire for the most part. His habit of impaling his enemies on stakes (not only heads, but sometimes entire bodies) earned him the title of The Impaler Prince. When Vlad was still a child, his father was ousted from his own throne of Wallachia. Vlad the elder made a deal with the Ottomans to get back at his fellow countrymen. To secure ties to the Ottomans, he sent his two sons as hostages. The elder son, Vlad Junior (Mr. Impaler), was defiant toward the Sultan and was beaten quite often. On the other hand, the younger son, Radu, ingratiated himself to Sultan Mehmed II and even converted to Islam. He was given the title Bey and served Mehmed II leading the Janissaries (think Special Forces). Vlad Jr. came to hate the Ottomans for his treatment and waged a long and bloody battle with them. His nasty habit of impaling enemies earned him the title, Impaler Prince.

In “Setara’s Genie,” I thought that giving ol’ Vlad a different face would be a nice twist. What if Vlad didn’t really impale anybody? What if he was trying to gain peace between the rampaging warlords that messed up Romania? It’s all in the PR. If he puts himself out as the baddest mother in the valley, wouldn’t you think it a bad idea to cross him? Considering that the real life Vlad spent his youth with the Ottomans, learned Turkish, and studied the Quran, he might have actually had some respect for his former captors. What if he did perpetuate a reputation of badassery just to keep the peace?

In my book, Setara tries to go off on a cruise ship and ends up in a slave market. Lucky for her, an ancient crone pretty much forces her to buy a pendant. It’s Kismet (another middle-eastern concept)!   Basit is captured in a bottle of wine, and Setara can’t get him out of the bottle of djinn. She’s hauled off to the slave market, while her genie gets pickled.

The Kazikli Bey happens to be in the market for slaves and, noticing that Setara is wearing the locket stolen from his mother, he purchases her. He turns out to be a really nice guy, releasing Setara from bondage and ensuring her safe journey homeward with Basit, who is out of the bottle, but afflicted with one monster of a hangover.

Excerpt

“I have this girl up for sale. If she catches the eye of the Kazikli Bey, then she should fetch a good price. Keep her well-shackled. She tried to run away.”

The captain grabbed the front of Setara’s tunic and yanked the top lacings loose. She twisted away. “Stop it!” Her face reddened when the pirate exposed more of her chest than was proper for an unmarried girl her age.

The trader took the chain on her shackles and pulled her behind the platform. Many men, women, and children sat or stood with chains attached to wooden columns by iron rings. A boy of only six or seven hugged a woman’s side, crying loudly. She soothed him, but it didn’t help. One of the trader’s helpers jerked the boy away from the woman. She tried to hold him, but the man dragged the child away from her.

Setara looked around, trying to think of something she could do, but calling out for help was useless. Soon, they led her up to the stage. The auctioneer looked her over and grabbed her jaw to pull her mouth open. She struggled to turn away.

“Good teeth. Not a bad body. How old are you, girl? Fifteen, sixteen?”

Setara jerked her head away from his filthy hands. “None of your business, you piece of camel dung.”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” He shoved her to the center of the stage and began the auction.

“Who will give me one hundred shekels? She’s a strong, healthy girl. Good for household or fields.” He winked at the crowd and added, “Maybe your harem is in need of some fresh blood.”

Setara’s face burned with humiliation. She looked out at the crowd of men, for the crowd was entirely male. No self-respecting woman would come to a slave auction. The audience laughed and nudged each other’s ribs. Setara felt sick. She wondered if it would put them off if she threw up on the auctioneer’s sandals.

The Kazikli Bey looked at her intently. He rose from his throne and walked up to the stage. “Bend down, girl.”

“I will not. Keep your slimy hands away from me!”

The auctioneer pushed her roughly to the front of the stage and forced her to lean over toward the man. He reached up, and Setara closed her eyes, afraid of what would happen next. She felt a slight tug on the thong that held the amulet.

“Where did you get this?”

Setara opened her eyes and looked into the soft brown eyes of the Bey. She saw no menace there. Instead, she felt a strange attraction to him. In a flash, she realized this was the face she had seen in her vision.

“In Gamaal. I bought it from an old woman, a witch.”

“Ah, of course. Her name was Seralgo?”

“That was the name on the shop.”

The Kazikli Bey turned to the auctioneer. “She’s mine. Take her off the block.”

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

My Review of a Reviewer's Review: Faizah's Destiny

Faizah's Destiny by Marva Dasef
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
On sale on Amazon for 99 cents.

Here's my critique of one reviewer's assessment. I think it's clear from my comments what the reviewer was complaining about. Some are good questions. Some are just misunderstandings. Since I'm posting reviews, I might as well have my say as well.

He wondered why Faizah never questioned the direction she is being led by Menog, a mysterious little man claiming to know where the Simurgh can be found.

The reviewer possibly missed the part when the Goddess Anahita spoke directly to Faizah informing her of the impending war and the role Faizah will take in it. Did he skip the part when Anahita reports back to Ahura Mazda, the equivalent of Zeus or Odin, and the two gods flat out say they're manipulating the humans? The war god, Dev, is also sending minions to turn members of the search party to the side of evil.

Isn't it obvious the gods are playing a dangerous game using humans as pawns in the battle? Did the reviewer forget that Faizah takes the lead most of the time while cautiously questioning the motives of the other searchers? She's not a passive follower by any means. I would suggest the reviewer try actually reading the book before making ignorant comments. It is the reviewer's right, naturally, to be just as ignorant as they please.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Review: Strictly Analog

Strictly Analog by Richard Levesque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Buy at Amazon

Clever mix of cyberspace and traditional (strictly analog) detective.

The blurb pretty much covers the boring part I'd write here, so I'll skip it.

First good thing: Being reasonably familiar with computers and the trends of personal (really personal) computing, I totally believe Levesque's prediction of the future.

Second good thing: Ted Lomax is likable behind the hard-bitten detective facade. He'd do anything to save his daughter, despite her not having much of a personality.

Third good thing: The love interest, Philly, is not a "throw in a chick for the romance crowd" character. She's unique (boy is she unique), smart, and caring.

Bad things: Um, a couple of typos. Maybe Ted's daughter could be less of a putz. Miles (the villain) might have a little more depth for us to understand his motivations. Strictly for a too-light touch with secondary characters, I'm knocking off one star.

Highly recommended.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Gods Must Be Crazy!

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.
SETARA'S GENIE  Kindle Ebook 
FAIZAH'S DESTINY Kindle Ebook 

Okay, I'm an idiot. Nobody wants these books for 99 cents each. However, I've promised they'll be at that low price for the rest of this month. I'm not one to break promises. So, get 'em if you haven't read them before. They're both very entertaining.

The Gods (and I) Must be Crazy

FAIZAH'S DESTINY borrows heavily from Persian mythology, but the gods pretty much match up to the Roman and Greek gods. Essentially, every civilization re-uses the same gods, but give them different names and their own special flavor.

The heroes are often the mighty warrior types: Hercules, Gilgamesh, Samson. Since I’ve written this book for kids, my heroes are teenagers, not at all like the legends (might become legendary themselves). But they’re not in mythology, so you’ll just have to read "Faizah's Destiny" to find out about them.

As usual, the “real” info is from the Encyclopedia Mythica (http://www.pantheon.org).


Ahura Mazdah

In Persian belief, Ahura Mazdah (“Lord Wisdom”) was the supreme god, he who created the heavens and the Earth, and another son of Zurvan. Atar, his son, battled Azhi Dahaka, the great dragon of the sky (note that Azhi shows up in “Setara's Genie”), and bound it in chains on a high mountain. The dragon was, however, destined to escape and destroy a third of mankind at the final reckoning, before it was slain. Ahura Mazdah was the god of prophetic revelation, and bore both Ahriman and Ormazd.

As leader of the Heavenly Host, the Amesha Spentas, he battles Ahriman and his followers to rid the world of evil, darkness and deceit. His symbol is the winged disc.


Anahita

The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means “the immaculate one”. She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher). The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals.

Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the ?Great Goddess’ which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath). She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra.

Ahurani

Ahurani is a water goddess from ancient Persian mythology. She watches over rainfall as well as standing water. She was invoked for health, healing, prosperity, and growth. She is the daughter of the great god of creation and goodness, Ahura Mazda. Her name means “She who belongs to Ahura.”

Dev

In Persian mythology, Dev is a demon of enormous power, a ruthless and immoral god of war.

The Gods’ Roles in Faizah’s Destiny

I use Ahura more or less as described in the mythology site. Because he was the leader of the Amesha Spentas (the good guys), I decided to portray him like Zeus or Thor, just another god amused at the foibles of humankind, but rarely steps into the action. He is also equated with Mithra, so I have him married to Anahita. Ahura shows up in only one chapter (“Demons and Deities”) and he chats with Anahita about the progress of the heroes. He claims to have set up the whole situation (just like a man).

I made Anahita my main character’s supporter. She appears to Faizah hovering over a lake. She tells the girl that one or more of her companions (three boys, wouldn’t you know) will be seduced to the dark side by demons. In typical godly fashion, she can’t give Faizah a straight story; she only hints at what might happen.

I also include a guest appearance by Ahurani, another goddess associated with water. One of the boys is in need of motherly advice, and Ahurani provides it for him. To say anything else would be a spoiler.

Finally, Dev is the villain of this book. As a god of war, his purpose is to create chaos and disruption. He feeds off anger and strife. He’s just downright mean and Evil is his middle name (if he had one). He’s the god who sends the lesser demons to tempt the boys to his side in the first skirmish of the upcoming battle between good and evil, Armageddon.

Excerpt:

Each time the light dimmed, it returned brighter than before, pulsing in time to the beat of her heart. As the shape within the light grew more and more distinct, a part of Faizah’s mind wondered if she should be afraid. Somehow she wasn’t. Instead, she felt a strong attraction to that glowing figure and walked to the lake’s edge to get a better look.

The apparition hovered a few inches above the surface of the lake. Faizah could now see, through the shimmering aura surrounding her, the figure was that of a woman. She was looking out over the lake to the point where the shooting star had disappeared over the caldera rim. Clad in a golden cloak, a diamond tiara adorned her brow, and two small lions lay at her feet. The figure turned slowly to look directly at Faizah, and a gentle smile curved her lips.

Faizah gasped in sudden recognition. This was the goddess Anahita! She did exist! Faizah stood entranced as the patroness of all women, the goddess of water and fertility, and of war, came gliding smoothly over the surface of the lake toward her.

As the figure halted before her, Faizah glanced quickly over her shoulder at their campsite. The boys hadn’t moved, and she could hear Menog’s rumbling snore. She turned back to face the goddess.

“They will not awaken, Faizah,” Anahita’s lilting voice sounded in her ear. “I would speak to you alone.”

“Why...what...why have you appeared to me, Goddess?” Faizah stammered, her voice trembling.

“My husband has listened to your thoughts, Faizah. Ahura favors your purpose. He sent Menog to guide you through the cavern.”

Faizah’s eyes widened as she struggled to grasp what she was hearing. Ahura, too?

“Ah...we are grateful to Ahura for his favor. But...but, if he is protecting us, why did the boys become ill? Why didn’t I get sick, too?”

Anahita’s musical laugh was the tinkling of bells in a breeze. “Pazuzu of the southwest wind controls this valley. He guards it jealously and blows illness toward all who enter. This is why no one lives here.” Her smile widened. “And I might have had some small part in keeping you from getting sick.”

“I have read that Pazuzu can kill,” Faizah ventured, “yet the boys only have a cough. Did you do that, too?”

“No. That was your doing. Pazuzu can indeed kill. The medicine you made is what saved the boys. There is magic in you, Faizah, which is stronger than you know.” Anahita looked over Faizah’s shoulder at their little camp then back at Faizah. Her smile vanished, and her look became serious.

“I, too, favor your journey. But your friends,” she continued with a gesture toward the sleeping boys, “have lost their purpose. Be always on your guard, Faizah, for powerful forces oppose you.”

“If you favor our journey, Goddess, can you not tell me where to find Master Wafai?”

“A fair question, but the answer, I’m sorry to say, is no, I cannot.”

“But...but, you’re a goddess! Surely―”

“Master Wafai is safe; you needn’t worry about him. You are destined to follow a different path.”
Faizah’s brow wrinkled with concern. Why would she be selected by Anahita? She stammered, “What path?”

Anahita’s gaze lowered. “Many no longer believe in us, the gods and goddesses. As their belief wanes, so does our influence in the world. I, my husband, Ahura, my brother and sister goddesses, none of us are as strong as we once were. There are those, like your Master Wafai, who serve us still, and so we retain some of our strength. Even you doubted our existence, but your hope that we were real allows me to appear to you.”

“I’m sorry I ever doubted, Goddess,” Faizah whispered. “What must I do? Is it right that we go first to find the Simurgh, or should we be doing something else?”

“So many questions!” Anahita’s musical laugh drifted across the water. In the distance, a peacock’s raucous shriek seemed to answer her. “Listen, my pet calls to me,” she said. Then her smile faded, and her eyes mirrored the seriousness in her voice.

“Know this, Faizah. I will protect you as much as I can and lend you what assistance I am able. Even so, your success or failure depends on you. Your own wits and your own strength are far more important than any aid I may give you.”

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 1: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 2: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His students search for him, but are caught up in a war between the forces of light and dark. The magician's best student, Faizah, is chosen by Anahita, the goddess of light, to lead the humans into battle on the side of good. Can a simple farm girl stave off Armageddon?




Sunday, July 07, 2019

Meet Setara (She's Got a Bargain for You)


FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 
THE ABU NUWAS BOOKS ON SALE FOR ONLY 99 CENTS AT

Setara would like to talk to you out there, let you get to know her a bit.

I didn’t set out to be a hero. All I wanted was a little romance in my life, just the slightest bit of adventure. Was I seeking danger? Did I wish to consort with demons? Heavens, no! I will have to admit, though, the idea of being the future wife of a rich merchant was highly unappealing.

When the mountain raiders kidnapped me, I thought that I’d have neither adventure nor much future at all. Especially when the raiders threw me into the cave as a sacrifice to the demon who supposedly ruled within the mountain.

I’m happy to say that Basit wasn’t a demon at all, but a genie in search of a new master. I wondered what happened to his old master, and he assured me the man died of natural causes. I also wondered why Basit wasn’t in a bottle or lamp as the legends say. Again, he assured me that only the stupidest of djinns would get themselves caught in that manner. Genies choose their masters, and Basit thought that having a female master—a mistress, so to speak—would be a nice change of pace.

Once he forced me to figure out how to get out of the cave, he continued to be of little help. Well, that’s not entirely true. He did change a camp dog into a sheik (a handsome one, of course) when I asked him to, but that didn’t work out entirely. It seems that Basit prefers to have his charge (that’s me) figure out how to rescue herself. Sheik, when returned to his dog self, became my close companion from then on. So, something good did come from my wish for a rescuer. It just turned out not to be as romantic as I first believed.

Once I had tasted freedom and a touch of adventure, I hungered for more. It occurred to me that some other poor soul might be thrown into the cave for the demon to eat (even though there never was a demon), and it was up to me to rescue them.

I wasn’t sure how to get Basit’s attention, since he simply disappeared once I was safely home. It turned out that calling him worked eventually. I’ll have to say he sometimes takes his own sweet time to answer my summons. Not a very obedient djinn. I got used to him, though, and we enjoyed many adventures together. But our first adventure (after my initial rescue) turned out far different than I imagined. There was, indeed, a lost soul within the cave, but not exactly what I expected.

Throughout our adventures, I gained the dearest of friends. Who would believe I could love demons, fire-breathing horses, sentient eagles, or even a genie? There are many more brave and true companions I met. They taught me the meaning of love, loyalty, and bravery. Yes, they made me a hero. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Excerpt:

Note: Several of Setara’s unusual friends take part in the following scene. Briefly, pirates had stolen a mare, the beloved of Hasib (a talking, fire-breathing horse). The friends, determined to rescue the horse confront a nasty array of pirates. All of them show great bravery, but Setara leads them, willing to risk her own life to aid her friend, Hasib.

In just the time that Sulawesi guessed it would take them, the little troop arrived at a dune overlooking the cove where the thieves’ galleon lay in the water. The thieves were already at the beach, preparing a pair of small skiffs to row out to the galleon. The thieves tied the stolen horses together, one horse to the next; nose to tail. A sailor on the ship was rigging a sling to the yardarm. Clearly, they were planning to make the horses swim out to the galleon.

“We need to hurry before they leave the beach, or we’ll not catch them,” Setara said.

“I’m sure I can find something to delay their departure,” Basit replied.

“Allow me,” Sulawesi said, spreading his wings. He soared down toward the beached skiffs. The rest of the troop went over the top of the dune and hurried toward the thieves as fast as they could through the shifting sand.

Setara gasped as she struggled to run but made little progress. “Basit, can you make this a bit easier? Make the ground hard.”

Basit waved his hand, and the sand became firm beneath their feet, allowing the motley crew of adventurers to run toward the captured horses.

The thieves looked up, pulling out knives and swords. Setara thought maybe she hadn’t planned this out well enough but drew her own small knife and hoped for the best. A scimitar appeared in Basit’s hand. The two demons bared their claws and fangs. Hasib puffed real flames with every leap. Sheik barked furiously as he ran. Setara hoped they looked fearsome as they dashed toward the thieves.

The thieves also had a formidable array of sharp weaponry and did not appear afraid of the strange group attacking them. The two groups met in a clash of swords, knives, howling demons, a diving eagle, a leaping dog, and a flame-throwing horse.

“Let go of those horses!” Setara screamed and leaped at a thief. She slashed her knife downward, cutting a long rent in the thief’s sleeve. He rounded on her with a sword, and she held her knife up to block. The sword slid off her knife blade, but the man immediately drew back his arm again. She was not ready with her knife, so she ducked her head, hoping to evade the sword slash. She heard a scream and looked up to see the thief flying away from her. “What the...”

A snort that sounded much like a laugh came from her left. She turned to see Hasib with a horsey grin on his long face and his powerful hind legs hitting the ground where the thief had been a mere second before.

All around, her friends were struggling with the thieves. Those confronted by Azizah and Kairav lost their will to fight and went running down the beach as fast as their legs could carry them in the loose sand. Setara thought it was a wonderful thing to have demon friends.

Sheik had bitten down on the arm of one of the thieves and was shaking the man back and forth. Basit laid about with swift strokes of his scimitar, forcing the men back toward the ocean. Unfortunately, another skiff had just come ashore with several more pirates. The thieves now outnumbered them nearly three to one.

“Basit! You must do something,” Setara shouted. Basit didn’t seem to hear her as he beat off the attack of one of the thieves. She wondered why he didn’t use magic but had no time to think about it. She saw a thief slash down on Kairav, sending the pool demon staggering back with a deep cut, blue blood pouring down his brawny arm. Another smacked Azizah on the side of the head, sending her reeling. Sheik yelped in pain, but Setara could not spare a moment to look while she fended off a muscular thief wielding a heavy club.

Things weren’t going very well at all.

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.



THE TALES OF ABU NUWAS: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.