Sunday, October 02, 2022

How to Write a Series



There are two ways to write a series:

  1. Planning out all the books in the series ahead of time.

  2. Writing the first book as a standalone, then realizing you could write another.

For those of you who opt for option one, you better find somebody experienced in this multi-book planning ‛cause I ain’t it.

If you hit the payoff end of book 1 and keep writing, stop whatever you’re doing. Type THE END where book 1 naturally ends, open a new file, and take all the stuff you jammed at the end of book 1 and put into book 2.


If you’re a diligent newbie writer, you’ve purchased (or checked out of your library) a few books on writing: how to write novels, how to write scenes, how to write romances, how to write memoirs, etc. Now, look back at a few words and note the word “scenes.” That’s key to a series. A series book is one big giant scene. There may be other scenes to follow that biggie, but don’t go there unless you’re James Mitchener’s reincarnation and plan to write the entire history of the world in a single volume.

The elements of a BIG scene (e.g., an entire book) are the same as scenes within chapters, and chapters within books.

A standalone book has beginning, middle, and end (sunset, fade to black, happily ever after).

A series book has beginning, middle, and end with a transition setting up the next BIG scene (e.g., the second book).

You may not know you’re writing a series when you start out, but you should have a good feel whether there is more. You can imagine a reader saying, “And then what happened?”


You might be merrily reading along, enjoying the tale, admiring the writer’s skill (not too many typos), and prepping yourself for the big payoff at the end. But when you get to the end, there is no payoff. You’re left frozen in time. The villain holding the sharp blade sneaks up behind the hero, he brings the blade up and is just about to strike, and.....nothing. The writer figured you’d be so enthralled with finding out what happens next that they’ll surely buy your next book.

Nuh-uh. The only time this is a valid ending is if you’re in the 1950s, munching popcorn in the first row watching another episode of Buck Rogers. A cliffhanger is all well and good if you know going into the deal, and you’ve laid down your quarter to enter the theater that Buck most likely won’t get knifed by the villain, and you’re perfectly okay to come back next week to see how said villain is thwarted.

The thing is, that movie house is also offering a feature film with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s why you paid your quarter to be satisfied by an ending that naturally progressed throughout the narrative.


You should care because you’ve pissed me off. Yeah, I’m just one person, so my opinion doesn’t matter. That’s entirely true. But do you really believe I’m the one and ONLY person in the entire world that holds that opinion? You’re sadly mistaken. I’m special, but not that special. If I think that way, then a whole lot of people—potential buyers—think the same. You’ve just lost your audience.

Think about your own life. You live your life in stages. The end of one stage suggests the next, but the next stage is its own part of your life. Sometimes, your life takes a surprising turn. You were headed toward point A, but somehow or other events led you to point B instead. If you could map out your whole life (or, say, your parents could do it for you), you and everybody around you would be bored silly.

So, transitions can be smooth:

You graduate from high school and continue on to the college where you had applied to become a rocket scientist.

Or rocky:

You graduate high school, but you met this guy in the summer and he’s part of a biker gang, which you thought totally cool, so you blew off college and rode the back seat of a Harley across the country.

In either case, graduation from High School is the natural ending point of that stage. But if you’re sneakily planning to write a series, you briefly mention admiring the black leather jacket on that dude who rode by the graduation ceremony on his Harley. You lock eyes with him. He grins and winks. You feel a little tingly, but shake it off to march into the next phase.

Uh, oh. We’re planning a series, right? Well, you might pack all your bags, have a going away party, and even start the drive to your college of choice. You spot the dude on the Harley as you pass by the diner, but you just drive on.


But you now have a satisfying end to book 1 with a hint of the events of book 2, but you’re not leaving in the middle with the villain stabbing the hero in the back. You (the main character here, of course) may just keep on driving to college. That could be another book in the series. Or you could pull a U-turn in the road and head back to, um, grab a burger at the diner. Yeah, a burger and a handful of tight jeans.

A fork in the road can act as a transition between books in a series. At the end of book 1, you present some possibilities, but you have ended this stage (or book). Book 2 picks up with one of the forks you have offered in book 1.


Mystery writers love a series. They develop an interesting main character and, quite conveniently, she already has a cool job as a police detective, a private eye, or even a lawyer (if you like Earl Stanley Gardner). The crime occurs, the main character investigates, and the villain is captured. A complete book with no fork at the end (though it can be done) or anything to hint at the next book. The built-in transition is the character. Easy to do this. When you write your mystery, just add “A Jo Blow Story” on the cover. You have a built-in purpose in continuing to another mystery to solve.

Here’s the catch. In the first Jo Blow book, you introduce Jo and the reader finds out things about her. Why is she a private eye? Is she the lonely dark Sam Spade type, or the gregarious Hercule Poirot? By book 2, the reader of book 1 knows a lot about Jo. But what if the reader picks up Jo Blow Book 2 without having read the first book?

A little bit of backfilling is required here, so the new reader gets to meet Jo all over again. This is a tough job for the writer. How do you fill in the new reader without boring the old reader to death? It’s a subtle thing that I happily leave to sisters of mystery (or brothers as the case may be).

L.J. Sellers knows a thing or two about writing mystery series. I’ll let her take lead here:

Ralph Waldo Emerson reportedly said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. “ He clearly wasn’t writing a mystery series.

Kindle readers have suddenly discovered my Detective Jackson series, and many are reading my stories back to back. This can be a dangerous thing! When the details of previous stories are fresh in their minds, readers are so much more likely to catch inconsistencies.

I didn’t know I was writing a series when I penned the first Jackson story (The Sex Club), and a secondary character who appeared in book one came back in book three with a different hair color. I keep expecting more of these little quirks to surface, but I’m doing everything I can now to avoid it.

Sometime during the writing of Jackson book two (Secrets to Die For)—as I kept searching the manuscript of the first Jackson story looking for specific details—I realized I needed to start a file to track these things. So I created an Excel document and started copying/pasting details into character columns right after I typed them. Parents’ names, make of car, cell phone ring tone—anything I attached to a character I added to my character database.

It’s not that readers want characters to be static. They want protagonists to grow and change, but in a natural and logical way that comes from the story. If the protagonist is exactly the same from book to book, no matter what happens to her, readers get bored and give up the series. So series writers must achieve a fine balance and create subtle, organic personal changes, but without screwing up the details that should be consistent.


I never intended to write any series, but they kind of happened without my acquiescence or thought. My most obvious series is the Witches of Galdorheim, but I will admit to a couple of others that snuck on me.

First, about Witches of Galdorheim: I wrote the book “Bad Spelling” and ended it nicely with the main character considering her future with another character as her main squeeze. Somehow, I fell into the Fork In The Road scenario. Would Katrina (Kat) continue to grow in her witchy powers? Was she really attracted to Andy, the former troll? Just what’s going on with her half-dead, half-alive father in the glacier?

That last loose end needed a bit of tying up. I decided that Kat’s father should be returned to his homeland in Siberia so I left those hints at the end of “Bad Spelling.” I figured I could write another book or not. The end satisfied every requirement of a standalone book, but definitely left open a few concepts. With lots of pushing and shoving from my beloved critters (critiquers), I decided to come up with something more to do with the frozen father. From this emerged “Midnight Oil.” The opening scenes were obvious. Kat’s grandfather comes to Galdorheim as promised to take his son’s body home for burial.

And then what happened? That’s the crucial question in continuing a character’s life into the next stage. I left a perfectly good and satisfactory ending, but the questions were open to what happened afterward. I thought this over for some period of time, and came up with an idea of the progression in Kat’s life. Her grandfather could certainly have shown up, with her new troll boyfriend along for the ride. That was a boring idea that did not lead to the question, “And then what happened?”

It was clear that some kind of conflict must occur. Okay. I got the idea in the middle of the night, or whenever (I really don’t remember). Troll boyfriend is kidnapped by … okay, some kind of villain. Who would it be? I thought about Mordita, the old sorceress who helped Kat in the first story. Surely, she had some kind of past. Matter of fact, I hinted at a mysterious past without purposely doing so in Bad Spelling. All the things that happen in “Midnight Oil” came about because I had questions about what would happen next.

Well, I’m sure as heck not going to hand out spoilers on what happens in “Midnight Oil.” I won’t even tell you why I came up with the title. However, the blurb is a nice teaser, so here it is:

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

After Midnight Oil, I was still left with the question: And then what happened?

The result is “Scotch Broom.” But now we’re way down the list of what happens next, so no more hints other than to give a taste with the tag line:

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

I have to say that stream of consciousness had a huge role in these stories. What if? What if? That’s what dragged me on into Kat’s story.

So, a series was born accidentally. One thought led to another. Lots of fun research brought ideas I never had until I started down various paths.

I’ve nattered on long enough here. I’ll end by letting you know that my science fiction romance (more SF, less romance) started out as two short stories. Another of my books also began life as a short story, followed by another, then another. I guess, then, that I am a natural series writer whether I try to be or not.

Have I helped you figure out how to write a series? Probably not, since every writer is unique and has their own concepts and ideas.

Please, though, don’t leave a book with a cliffhanger. Leave those for chapter endings and let the reader decide if they ask the question “And then what happened?”

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Merry Mabon - Bring On the Pumpkin Spice

The four major annual events include two Solstices (summer and winter) and two Equinoxes (autumn and spring).

September 22nd is the official first day of autumn and is celebrated in the Pagan/Wiccan tradition as Mabon, the time of harvest, gratitude, and sharing. No doubt, the pagan tradition had a lot to do with the celebration of Thanksgiving in Canada and the US. However, the day divided into equal parts of dark and light, is an excellent marker for any tradition and, most countries to have some kind of harvest celebration.

The Autumnal Equinox is the basis for the myth of Persephone's return to the Underworld after a half year of growth and greenery. If you recall your Greek mythology, you'll know that Persephone was kidnapped by Hades (god of the underworld) to become his wife. Demeter, Persephone's mother and goddess of the harvest was understandably peeved. After a period of mourning and struggle, Demeter eventually got her daughter back from Hades, but only for nine months of the year. Every fall, Persephone would return to the underworld to spend three months with Hades. During these months, Demeter refused to use her divine skills to make plants grow, explaining why we have three months of winter every year.

In Christian tradition, the equinox is Michaelmas Day. Did you know you've been missing a reason to party? These days, Michaelmas is a minor festival mainly observed in the Catholic church. Centuries ago in England, the time around Michaelmas also had a business side. Servants were paid their wages after the harvest, and workers looked for new jobs at employment fairs which also became a place for celebrations.

And let us not forget The Mayan Snake of Sunlight. At the precise moment of the equinox, when the Sun shines directly on the equator, an enormous “snake of sunlight” slithers down the stairs of the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The Mayans who constructed this ancient temple used advanced astronomical calculations to determine the exact angle of the staircase.

Japan has the Higan Festival, China and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival, Indian parties for several day for Havaratri, a celebration for the divine feminine Devi.

So, you have lots of good reasons to celebrate September 22nd (1:02PM PDT, 20:02 UTC). Why not at least lift a glass of grog to say goodbye to summer and hello to the beginnings of winter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Meet the Scottish Vampire

Mabon is Not Just for Witches

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 from 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 this 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.

I discovered Glaistig at a now-defunct site called Monsterpedia,  The picture is from that site so it might be a misuse of copyright. But they started it! 
According to one legend the glaistig was once a mortal noblewoman, to whom a fairy nature had been given or who was cursed with the goat's legs and immortality, and since has been known as The Green (or Gray) Lady.
In most stories, the creature is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half is that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.
In the diverse and changing traditions of the Highlands, the Glaistig was seen as both benevolent and malevolent towards humans. In one aspect she even takes the role of the Banshee, wailing at the death of important people.
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.
In some variant stories the glaistig may be seen as benevolent, fond of children and a protector of old people. Libations of milk were poured for her, especially on selected stones; this veneration may be linked with older fertility customs. The glaistig has been described in some folklore as watching over children while their mothers milked the cows and fathers watched over the herds.
The glaistig frequented the lonely lochs and rivers in the Highlands of Scotland, such as Ardnacaillich, Donolly Castle, Loch Fyne, Crathes Castle and in Wales at Caerphilly.

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.

Audiobook at Amazon or get it free on Audible when you take the free trial.
Get the entire series including the prequel short story, "Spellslinger," and the follow-up "Blood Ties Tested." in a single volume: The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim.

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, September 13, 2022

Audiobooks in the Works!

 Coming soon! Well, in time for Christmas sales anyway. I've got great narrators for all three books. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Book Review - The Madhouse Mambo by Richard Levesque

The Madhouse Mambo: A Dieselpunk AdventureThe Madhouse Mambo: A Dieselpunk Adventure by Richard Levesque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read the entire series and I'm just about finished with this book. It did not disappoint as usual.

Just to be a little nit-picky, I found I was losing track of the characters by name. More than once I had to search on a name (I love that Kindle feature) to be reminded when the person showed up and who they were. But that may be more an issue of my aging brain.

To nitty-gritty, Jed is not as in control as he usually is when hopping between parallel universes. No, that's not a spoiler if you'd been a good kid and read books 1-6 before reading this review of book 7. You would also know that the Jed we're following in this series hops into the body of another Jed in the other universe. The worst possible hop was into Jetpack Jed's body in a parallel world where the Nazis either won WWII or the entire history of that particular universe just led to the Nazis being in charge. Given there is a resistance movement, it's more likely that the Nazis did win some kind of war that put them in charge.

Jed (our Jed) finds his previous fiance hooked up with Jetpack. In his world, she had died. Jet is, of course, sympathetic to her. He can't tell her that in another world she had died when in her world she is married to a Jed and has two kids.

Alliances and sympathies are different in this alternate world. Our Jed has to be fast on his feet to grab the universe-hopping machinery from Jetpack while avoiding being picked up by the Nazis. He has to take the technology from the Nazi world so they don't get hold of it and make a horrendous mess across multiple universes. Thank goodness for rebels even if they are a pack of kids.

Four and 3/4 stars just because there's rarely anything perfect in this world or any other.

Note: I got a pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I do my best to be truthful in reviewing each book. However, the consistency across seven books is an achievement that must be taken into account when reviewing one of the books.

Go read the entire series. You won't be sorry.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Witchery and Evil Goddesses

Break out of the same-old Ireland (not that Ireland isn't neat) and step into the Otherworld of Scotch legend and myth. Cailleach is less known than her sister Bride (Bridget), but she used to be the one with the real power. Nowadays, not so much.

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.

From the Monstropedia on Cailleach (Alas, Monstropedia is no more, but this was what it did say):
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, 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.


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.

* * *

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.

Get the entire series including the prequel short story, "Spellslinger," and the follow-up "Blood Ties Tested." in a single volume: The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim.
Audiobook available through Amazon and free if you start a free Audible trial.

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, August 28, 2022

An Oversight that Needs a Remedy

Oh my. I’ve been lacking content so I went looking for something people who are “my people” would like, while those who are not “my people” become afraid, wary even, of my presence. They’ll look to the sky and wonder, “Am I Cellophane Queen’s sworn enemy?” By

This is a delightful and practical article on gathering your own stealth army to do your bidding

In my Witches of Galdorheim series, my main gal, Katrina the klutzy witch, does have the ability to talk to the animals—sort of like Dr. Doolittle (isn’t Robert Downey smashing in this remake?). It didn’t occur to me to have Kat chatting up crows or ravens. Oversight!

She does have a close relationship with an orca named Salmon, her bunny familiar Teddy, Nessie, and various other non-human species. She did have some back and forth with a skua bird who was just about as rude as a crow or raven, but how did I miss not having a nice murder of crows circling overhead waiting to attack Kat’s enemies? Ah, well. What could have been…Anyway, read the article. It’s quite fun. You can also read my Witches of Galdorheim series if you’re so inclined. Drop me a note and I’ll give you a coupon code to download an ebook from Smashwords. All five of the Galdorheim books are available in a single volume.

All my books are in ebook, print, and audio. I have audio coupon codes as well as ebook codes available. All the links are on this blog. You can DM on Facebook .

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Another Campaign Fail and Farewell

 If I keep running campaigns on Amazon, I'll go broke. The idea is to pay for a better position in searches and then be charged per click. If you make a sale, then fine, BUT, a sale pays only the royalty amount to the author, not the full sale price.

I ran a mothers day campaign from May 6th to 10th. 

Spent on the campaign: $32.69 (not many clicks)

Sales $29.97: That's 3 books sold (paperbacks for $9.99 each)

My royalties on those sales: $3.42 per book (total $10.26)

Net loss: -$22.43

Okay, I'm well and truly done. This follows a professional critique of one page on another of my books The analysis essentially said I had the wrong target audience, the writing needed to be tightened (that's hilarious considering I have to consciously add what I consider to be unnecessary words), the story didn't start with a bang with a character who wasn't even involved in the book (a storyteller), and who knows what else. I won't fault the critiquer--she knows what's she's doing. I'm certain if I changed how I write to match the requirements of modern audiences then I might have better sales. Thing is, that's like telling Hemingway exactly the same thing was wrong with his writing. It's probably a good thing he stuck with his style.

So, of things I could do which I enjoyed which I no longer can do:

  • Writing
  • Singing
  • Horseback riding
  • Sex

Things I kind of enjoy I can continue to do to fill my time:

  • Playing Wordle
  • Watching TV

That's not living. It's just counting down. Which is why I'm setting this post to publish on my birthday. I wonder if I'll be around to see it.

Here are the tombstones.

Friday, July 01, 2022


Bored spitless? There are a ton of books (very light since they're ebooks) discounted on Smashwords July Extravaganza sale. Find something to read in just about any genre. Many free and 99 cent books available.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Happy Solstice and Happy Birthday Janae!

Summer Solstice – More Than Just the First Day of Summer
It's Also My Beautiful Granddaughter's Birthday!
(June 21st 9:13AM UTC, 2:13AM PDT)

In historical terms, the Solstice is the exact point of time when the daylight outstrips the night in length. That’s hard to reckon, particularly since the exact point in time depends on where you live. Why should that be?

Take a look at model of the solar system, specifically look at earth. If it’s properly oriented, then it’s a bit tilted, not straight up and down as you might think. Stand back a bit further, and you can see the earth doesn’t travel in a circle around the sun, but in a big oval called an ellipsis.

Since the Solstice varies when it occurs (anywhere between June 20th -23rd), most people won’t know exactly when the earth moves from Spring to Summer. Instead, a variety of festivals from different countries and people celebrate Midsummer. Fortunately, astronomers are available to let us know exactly when the solstice occurs.

Many cultures celebrate the Summer Solstice. A few of these celebrations are: Adonia, St. John's Feast Day, Jani, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gwyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, and Rasos. Oh, my. That’s a lot of celebrating! Wherever you live, you can have a party.

Another group of professionals other than astronomers who can tell you when the solstice occurs are witches. No, not the evil witches with warts and ugly noses, but the Wiccans who inhabit my books and Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea. This is a fictional place, but is quite close to some very real islands in the Arctic with very real people who live on them.

Midsummer for Wiccans is called Litha. Just like every people who had some means to really look at the movement of the stars and planets Well, the earth is moving, but from where we stand, it appears the stars are the ones in motion. They are, but I’d refer you to Doctor Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the narrator of the Cosmos series, for exactly what’s going on in the universe.

In the second book of my Witches of Galdorheim series, “Midnight Oil,” the exact time the Solstice occurs is crucial to the plot. The magical midnight oil is a curative required by a tribe of mutant Nenets tribespeople to heal the radiation poisoning which deformed them. It must be administered at the exact time the Solstice occurs. The year I selected had to have that event occur (somewhere in the world) at almost precisely midnight on June 20th (close to this year's 11:43pm Murmansk Oblast Time). Some confusion about the exact moment of the Solstice almost leads to the restorative oil to arrive late at its destination. After all, the Solstice usually occurs on the 21st, but not this year.

A lot happens to thwart my heroes from delivering the oil on time and in good condition. An evil forest spirit happens to possess the oil. But this isn’t simply a “find the magical thing and deliver it” plot. There’s a lot going on in “Midnight Oil.” A kidnapped boyfriend, mutant tribesfolk, Ajatar the forest spirit, a man who was tragically disemvoweled (lost the ability to pronounce a, e, i, o, or u and sometimes y), a witch trapped on the lost island of Atlantis with the Loch Ness monster, and, um, there’s lots more to discover in the book.

So, back to Litha, the Wiccan midsummer celebration. One of the most famous places in the world to observe the Solstice is at Stonehenge in England, but only if the Solstice occurs during daylight hours (not this year). Nevertheless, the midsummer celebrations (June 25th) take place no matter what time the Solstice actually happens. Stonehenge would be a great place to party. 

Fun thing to do: Find out when the Solstice occurs where you live (compare your local time to Greenwich Meantime).

All the Galdorheim Series books are all on sale at Smashwords in July. Amazon prices vary with various marketing campaigns. Keep checking back. The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim (all books and stories) is only $2.99 at Smashwords.

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

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.

MIDNIGHT OIL - This is the book depending on the exact time of the Summer Solstice.
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff.

When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

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’ 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.

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.

SPELLSLINGER (Prequel 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. 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.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Juneteenth and Fathers Day!

Double Duty Holiday - Fathers Day and Juneteenth!

Happy Father's Day to those who deserve to be honored. It's not Bad Dads Day, so the rotten sperm donor just stand over in the corner and shut up.

If even a single person is not free, nobody is truly free. Celebrate Emancipation Day, even though it took Texas until June 19th, 1865 to be informed they were on the losing side of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. That's why Juneteenth is celebrated, although the Amendment was not ratified until December of that year. I'm showing my home state of Oregon's celebratory logo for the now official Federal Holiday

Nothing celebrates freedom as much as the fantastic Jon Batiste's Grammy Award Winning video, FREEDOM!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy Substitute Dads Day

For All the Adopting, Step, and Volunteer Dads - You deserve to be wished 
a Happy Fathers Day too.

Tales of a Texas Boy is a series of related short stories loosely based on my father's stories about his boyhood in West Texas during the Depression.

It all started with a cattle drive. Yeah, right, pop. Nobody had cattle drives in the 1930's. Well, yeah, they did. My father, Eddie in the stories, got to ride herd when he was only eleven years old. That was sure the highlight of that year.

His father, Louis (my grandfather), had been a veterinarian with Blackjack Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces. That's what they called the army during WWI. In the service, he became friends with an interesting old guy who happened to have a bear. When Dad Boles brought Sophie to the annual fair, Eddie loved to sit by the campfire listening to some dandy whoppers.

Eddie had a pretty busy life for a boy who lived miles away from the nearest neighbors. He managed to find plenty of trouble to get into, but had a big heart to soften his bad-boy image. No matter that he loved to aggravate his sister, he took care of her when she and her pony were almost swept away by a flood.

The boy cared about the rattlesnakes, the jackrabbits, the jackasses, and even old Cage McNatt's prize sow. He went fishing with a special borrowed float, then proceeded to lose it, find it, then give it away.

These are simple tales without any big events, unless you consider the despair of the Great Depression hanging over everybody's lives.

Yes, I made up some aspects of the stories, and I even made up a few completely, but most of the book is as true as a Texas Tall Tale can be.

If these kinds of stories appeal to your father, your mother, uncle, aunt, or even yourself, I think you'll be glad to read my father's stories. Since he died last August, I'm proud and relieved to have gotten around to writing the stories, having several published separately, then putting all of them together in one book. I decided to feature Large Print since my father's eyesight was failing.

Tales of a Texas Boy is available in Large Print on Amazon for $9.99

Hard Cover for $14.99 

And the audio book is available as additional links on the Amazon pages for $6.95 
and at (free if you subscribe to Audible)

It's also in epub and MOBI format on Smashwords where you set your own price. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

New Book Review - The Royal Yot by Renee Duke

The Royal YotThe Royal Yot by Renee Duke
 Buy on Amazon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if one of your friends said they were going to a Yot? To, rather than on. In a verbal exchange, your clever mind would be thinking about a yacht.

But you wouldn't have a clue what a Yot is.

The Royal Yot is a very clever and unique story about a federation of planets seeking to protect their worlds with a wonderful shield available from the kindly Xinthuvans, but only if the rest of the planets in the Sovereign Planet Alliance (SPA) can convince the Xinthuvans to join.

The one hitch is that Xinthuva wants to meet all the royalty ruling the SPA worlds at a grand YOT (not yacht). Given that very few of the SPA member worlds actually have royalty, the planets have to scramble through old genealogy records to find somebody, anybody, they can claim to be their planet's royalty.

Admit it. You haven't heard this plot before. In any case, it gets stranger as the spaceship carrying all the royalty (or pseudo-royalty) of the SPA worlds makes its way to Xinthuva and it transpires that there are some aboard who, for reasons of their own, want to kill the whole Yot. And a few people too.

You don't need more than this to dive headfirst into what happens when people become "royal" out of the blue. (And if you’ve ever checked your family tree, I know you were looking for that princess or king in the lineup. By golly, you're royalty! Woo hoo!)

Telling us this story is a queen, Her Royal Highness, V’Tarala XXI, Azana of Azan. AKA Tara Smith, Ordinary Citizen (Earth) and Re-activated Ruler (Azan), and as she narrates, we, the readers, can amuse ourselves with the flippery of the shanghaied royals from all the SPA worlds.
This is a soap opera on hyperdrive populated by the characters from Games of Thrones. Who are the good guys, and who are the guys trying to throw a monkey wrench into that gathering known as the Royal Yot?

But, for goodness sake, it's easier to read The Royal Yot than have this poor reviewer continue blathering on when she need only say, "Get this book. You'll love it."

View all my reviews

Monday, May 30, 2022

In Memoriam

Father: Edward P. Perkins, WWII, 11/27/1921 - 08/01/2011
Grandfather: Louis P. Perkins WWI, 08/16/1888 - 12/11/1953

And to all the others in my family who served their country in the times of war.

Ebook     Large Print   Hard Cover   Audio (on
Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father