Saturday, October 24, 2020

Blood Ties Tested - Final Free Day

How about a home-made video book trailer to finish out the BTT free days? Before we go, here's the link to the free book on Amazon.

BLOOD TIES TESTED - FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?



Friday, October 23, 2020

Fearless Vampire Hunters


FEARLESS VAMPIRE HUNTERS - HELSING AND LIEBCHEN 

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

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

He does have a secret weapon at his disposal: Liebchen the Lundehund. The Norwegian Lundehunds have six toes on each foot that allow them to climb on vertical cliffs and their neck joints enable them to bend their head backward over their shoulders so that their forehead touches its back.
The hound can also close their ear canals at will (to protect them against dirt and moisture) and are able to bend their head 180 degrees backwards over their shoulders. Their fore-shoulder joints are extremely flexible and empower both front legs to be stretched straight out to both sides, for greater ease in swimming and maneuvering in the narrow crevices in Norwegian seaside cliffs where their avian prey lives. 

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

Excerpt: 

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

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

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

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

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

Liebchen was almost magical. Her large ears picked up sounds as aptly as any other dog’s nose picked up scents. The lundehund was bred to hunt puffins on the rocky shores of Norway. Most dogs would have to shake their heads to clear out the seawater. The lundehund just shut its ears. Her special secret was a strange genetic flaw. A lundehund needs a very high protein diet. No veggies for them. Straight meat, raw from the butcher shop. Fortunately, dried meat was a viable substitute along with LundePup dog food made with animal blood to provide the specific enzymes required to keep Liebchen healthy and happy. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

BLOOD TIES TESTED- FINAL BOOK OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM SERIES
Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. 

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

Thursday, October 22, 2020

What's Halloween Without a Vampire or Two?

FREE October 22nd-24th


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

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

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

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

ELIZABETH BATHORY

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

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

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

ANGUS MAC BEATHA

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

When he learned of Glaistig's death, he was devastated. When her killer arrived on Drakos' castle doorstep, he vowed to kill the youth. In his desire for revenge, he also harms those he loves the most -- his fellow vampires.



COUNT LYONEL PERABO


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

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

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

TAO LUNG:

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

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

* * *

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sláinte to Cat Fairies and Unicorns


This is an excerpt from the book illustrating two more of the magical creatures - Cait Sidhe (Cat Fairy) and a Unicorn named Diamond. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and maybe get the book free. Reviews are welcome
.
Chapter 21 - Slàinte!

Cait Sidhe stood up on her hind legs and marched left and right with her nose held high. It surprised Kat that Cait seemed quite comfortable walking on two legs.

“What—?” Kat gasped as Cait Sidhe grew taller, her body wavering and twisting as she morphed from black cat into what appeared to be a human girl the size of a ten-year old. The child-like Sidhe was as black as her cat form with a spot of white running from her neck to her collarbones. Her translucent wings formed a shimmering rainbow growing out of her shoulder blades. Never at rest, the wings flashed pale flickers of rainbow colors around the fairy’s back.

“Oh! Self-transformation. I should have guessed. Sidhe does mean fairy, and fairies are master transformers.”

“Catch on fast, don’t you, witchy.”

“I see your, um, personality didn’t change.” Kat moved to slide off Diamond’s back, but he told her to wait until they got to a dry place. She settled back as well as she could behind Diamond’s withers. “Are there any dry spots in this swamp?”

Cait answered. “Yes, which is why I switched to the less efficient, bipedal mode. I must take this inconvenient form to get Seonaidh’s attention.”

“Who is Show Me?” Kat asked.

“SHOW NEE,” Cait snarled. “Can’t you get any of our names right?”

“Well, don’t get your tail in a twist. They are unusual names, you know.”

“Ha. Your jokes stink, too.” Cait said no more, but flew upward, then flitted away across the bogs.

“Why are we stopping to see this Seonaidh? I don’t want to waste time on another roadside attraction.”

“Seonaidh can see the future. Cait Sidhe believes we can find out what happens to your brother.”

“That’d be great! I want to know if Rune will be okay.”

They soon came to another pool, much like the others dotting the bogs, except the water was clear. Kat could see to the bottom of the pond, where underwater plants swayed to and fro.

“It’s beautiful,” she said and then yelped when Diamond bent his front legs. She pitched forward and planted her face in his mane. Sitting up, she threw one leg over his back and rolled off. She put her hands on the small of her back and leaned backward then forward to take the kinks out.

Cait Sidhe stood by the edge of the pool, looking down. Kat walked over to the pond. It was only then Kat noticed the fairy was naked.

“Seonaidh,” Cait yelled. “Get your ugly butt up here.”

Kat turned her attention away from Cait and looked into the pool. She inhaled and thought the sweet smell of fresh water a nice change from the constant dank smell of swamp. A dark form lay at the bottom among the wavering water plants. Cait pointed to the form. “That’s Seonaidh. If I can get him up here, he’ll want a cup of ale. You’re a witch. Can you produce that?”

“Sure, but how long is this going to take?”

“Not long if you whomp up that ale,” Cait replied.

* * *

SCOTCH BROOM Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim

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

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

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

Friday, October 16, 2020

Scottish Legends - Sianach and Cusith


HART AND HOUND

Researching Celtic mythology, I knew I wanted to use some of the lesser know magical creatures. I a
Also decided that they needed to be “like” animals, but not quite. The reason for this is obvious to readers who’ve been following Kat’s story from the beginning. Kat’s magical ability is to talk with animals. She has greater or lesser success depending on the innate brain-power of a natural animal. For example, she chats along nicely with Salmon the Orca since a killer whale is the largest of the dolphins and are at the top of the IQ charts. I believe the ability to communicate to others shows greater intelligence. Sorry. Don’t want to offend any fish out there, but you guys just aren’t that bright.

I found two mythic creatures who met my criteria. Sianach, a huge stag (possibly a Red Deer) and Cusith, a giant-sized green dog with a braided tail.

Cusith

An enormous hound of the Scottish Highlands. It is said to be a dark green in color, with a long braided tail and the size of a bullock. Whenever his baying was heard on the moors, farmers would quickly lock up their women because the hound's mission was to round up women and drive them to a fairy mound so they might supply milk for fairy children.

I’m a bit leery of that rounding up women part, but decided that was just an ancient attempt to keep women close to home. Clearly, not much has changed except for the mythological excuses.

Sianach

"Monster." In Scottish Gaelic oral tradition, a large, malevolent, predatory deer.

That’s to the point. Other research indicated that the basis for Sianach might be the Irish Elk, which is now extinct.

Now that I’d identified a couple of mythical critters, then all I had to do is get them together with Kat. Since she was tricked into entering the Otherworld (land of fey), she has been searching for the hall of the Trow King. She meets Sianach first and he agrees to guide her to King Connor’s hall. What Kat find strange is that she can’t look into Sianach’s mind; he can close off his thoughts from her. This makes Kat a bit nervous since Sianach, while seeming to be amenable to helping Kat, is also very vague as to his reasons for doing so.

The two begin their search for the Trow Hall, although Sianach claims, reasonably, that in the Otherworld, there is no such thing as a map to anyplace. They’ll have to seek the Hall in other ways. Apparently, Sianach’s method is to simply wander around through the swamps.

They camp for the night, and the next morning, Kat meets another denizen of the Otherworld, the giant green hound, Cusith.

Excerpt:

Sianach grazed near the edge of the small clearing. When the lean-to disappeared, he raised his head. “Good morning. I thought you were going to sleep all day.”

“You sound just like my mom.” Kat let out an exasperated snort. “Besides, it can’t be past eight o’clock.”

“I do not carry a timepiece.”

“Of course, you don’t.” Kat opened her pack and rummaged through it. “Cool. I’ve still got the granola bar.” Her head snapped up when she heard something large crashing through the underbrush. Sianach stood stock still, staring toward the ruckus.

“HHHHRRRRROOOOOWWW!”

“Omigosh, what’s that?” Kat’s voice trembled as she looked to Sianach for an answer. The hairs on her neck and arms stood at attention.

Sianach turned toward a nearby tree and struck his antlers against it. The clash of antler against bark rang like a warning bell. Kat didn’t expect the loud clang coming from horn against wood.

“HHHHRRRRROOOOOWWW!”

“Hide,” Sianach said in a breathy whisper. His head raised now and pointed toward the howl that sounded closer than before.

Kat did as he told her but had to ask, “What is it?” just before she crouched behind a bush.

“The Hound from Hell,” Sianach replied. He dashed into the woods with antlers thrust forward to meet the howling canine. Kat heard a sharp yip from the dog. Sianach must have scored the first strike. Sianach bugled, and the hound yowled. Thuds punctuated the vocalizing, when one or the other creature struck a blow.

“I have to help,” Kat muttered. She jogged across the clearing and pushed her way through the saplings and undergrowth blocking the way. She followed the battle sounds—bugling stag, baying hound, splintering of small trees being knocked aside. She darted around another large tree and saw the combatants squared off in an area beaten down by their fighting. She stopped still, her eyes widened. A huge green dog faced Sianach, its fangs exposed from under snarling lips. Kat gulped and stood frozen with fear.

Sianach’s head lowered, and he charged the hound with out-thrust antlers. The dog jumped aside at the last second and leapt on Sianach’s back. The monstrous creature bit down hard on the stag’s neck. Kat heard the sickening crunch of breaking bones. Blood gushed high, and Kat gasped at the sheer volume. Kat screamed. “Sianach!”

The hound jumped off Sianach and stood aside, panting and watching the deer fall to the ground on his side. Sianach’s head dropped, held up only by his antlers, then the mighty rack shrank, and his head hit the ground with a thud.

“No!” Kat screamed and raced toward the two. The dog looked away from the dying stag toward Kat. His lips peeled back in a slathering snarl. His muscles tensed to leap on her, and she cast her eyes around trying to find a defensive weapon. “Of course!” She cast a defense spell around herself. The hound lunged toward her and smashed into the fragile shield. It shattered and pale yellow splinters like glass scattered through the air. However, it protected Kat for a moment. The hound rolled aside yelping in pain.

Gathering her strength, she blasted the dog with a clear message: “Sit! Stay!” The hound rose to his feet then plopped his rear end on the forest floor. His tongue lolled from the side of his opened mouth, and his tail thumped on the ground.

Kat’s jaw dropped. “Oh! Um, that’s better.” Kat was amazed her command worked at all. “You stay. That’s a good dog.” She stepped slowly toward Sianach but kept her attention on the dog, watching for any change in his now friendly demeanor.

“Oh, no! Sianach?” She dropped to one knee by the deer and placed her hand on his brow. Eyelids fluttered and then opened. Sianach looked up at her. In a weak voice, he said, “That was fun.” He then jerked himself upright and stood. Kat jumped back, astounded as she watched the wound close, the blood slow, and then stop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Lucky Charms! Magically Tasty

Free October 15th-17th

How Charming!

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

Charm bracelets aren’t just jewelry. The wearing of charms may have begun as a form of amulet to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood.

For instance, there is evidence from Africa that shells were used for adornments around 75,000 years ago. In Germany intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on the history of charms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charm_bracelet).

And, of course, we should not forget Lucky Charms (General Mills) which provide us with food just like Kat’s little pig charm does in the story.

So, here is it. Scotch Broom complete with the most charming bracelet. If you can't quite make out the figures, here's what they are and what they represent as related to Kat by the gifter, Mordita.

Excerpt from Scotch Broom: 

“Hold out your hand,” Mordita ordered. Kat laid the gift packets on a side table and held out her right arm. Mordita grabbed her wrist and Kat felt something slide around it followed by the faint snick of a latch. Mordita let go. “Look closely, and you’ll see the charms on the chain.” Kat examined the bracelet. Five tiny charms hung from it, evenly spaced around the bracelet’s length.

I can’t quite...oh, now I see them. Thanks, Mordita. It’s very, umm, pretty.”

“Fiddlesticks. These are useful charms. They’re not meant to be just decorative.” Mordita held up Kat’s wrist and poked one of the charms. It squealed. Kat jumped. “Shush, you silly thing,” Mordita said.

“This little piggie provides food where none is to be found. Nutritious food, that is, so don’t be hoping for candy.”

“Oh. That’s handy.” Kat peered closer at the pig charm. It looked back at her and winked. She grinned. What a great charm, she thought, and charming, too.

Mordita poked at another charm, and Kat heard a muffled purring sound. “This little kitty finds a warm place for you to stay. Nothing fancy, just basic shelter.”

Mordita stroked the next charm, and a muted honk came from the tiny goose. “Early warning system. Activate it when you want protection from unpleasant surprises.”

Kat laughed. “I might need that the second I put foot in Great Britain. It’s all new to me.”



Poke. Whinny. “This pony will bring transportation, for example, a cab in London. The drivers would as soon run you over as pick you up.”

“Cab? I don’t know— Is that a vehicle you can hire to take you places?”

“Indeed. Now, use this last one only in case of dire emergency.” Mordita pointed at the charm but didn’t touch it. “Best let sleeping ogres lie. You’d better have a desperate need for an eight-foot tall, five-hundred pound, angry ogre.”

Kat gave the charm a dubious look. “Will it attack me?”

“Of course not. I imprinted your personality on all the charms. They will serve you and only you. Of course, you must have the bracelet on for the charms to work.”

“This is a great gift, Mordita. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Not at all. Hopefully, you won’t have any need of the ogre.”
* * *

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

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

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

Monday, October 12, 2020

Indigenous Peoples' Day - Two Free Books

Christopher Columbus was a real life monster. He shouldn't be honored, I don't care what the Italian-Americans think. For one thing, Columbus never set foot on American soil, but he did ravage, loot and pillage the Caribbean. Last year, I suggested this should be renamed to Saint Bartolome Day. How about we honor the people he worked so hard to destroy through his greed and cruelty. Chief Joseph was a great leader and worthy of honor.

It's fitting, then, to rename this day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. That's what I have on my calendar. I hope it's also on yours and Columbus should be forgotten forever.





























I have had Native American characters in a couple of my books. This gave me the opportunity to do a bit of study on the tribes in Oregon. I in no way pretend to be expert on anything Native American, but I did share some aspects as they fit into the plots of my books. I don't mean to make this self-aggrandizing, but I'm a writer. I can't help it.

BOTH OF THESE BOOKS ARE FREE ON AMAZON October 12th-13th

EAGLE QUEST
Fiona, Hap, Billy, and Mitch make an odd set of friends, as different from the usual junior high school crowd as they are from each other.

Mitch, the oldest of the four, is a half-breed Native American, adopted by white parents. Troubled that he doesn't know his tribe, he avidly studies Native American history and lore. Learning the nearby Bear Valley Wildlife Refuge is a bald eagle nesting site, he wants to add an eagle feather to his medicine bag and explore the refuge as a site for his Vision Quest, a Native American rite of passage. He and his three friends get far more than an overnight camp out as they encounter a black bear, a retired forest ranger living in the refuge, and a pair of eagle poachers. Bringing the poachers to justice, they test their courage and gain confidence in themselves and each other. 

MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its deadly secrets.
When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

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

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

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Ceto the Sea Serpent Speaks

 "MIDNIGHT OIL" – FINAL FREE DAY OCTOBER 10TH

Ceto nee Nessie

In the second book of the Witches of Galdorheim series, our erstwhile heroine gets a little help from an unusual source. Did you ever wonder why there are so few sightings of the Loch Ness monster? Well, Nessie vacations on Ultima Thule, which may be the remnants of Atlantis.

She's not fond of the name Nessie or Loch Ness Monster and prefers to go by Ceto. From http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Ceto :

In Greek mythology, Ceto or Keto (Greek: English translation: "sea monster") was a hideous aquatic monster, a daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The asteroid (65489) Ceto was named after her, and its satellite (65489) Ceto I Phorcys after her husband. She was the personification of the dangers of the sea, unknown terrors and bizarre creatures. Eventually, the word "ceto" became simple shorthand for any sea monster. The term cetacean represents a case in point. Her husband was Phorcys and they had many children, collectively known as the Phorcydes or Phorcydides. In Greek art, Ceto was drawn as a serpentine fish. Ceto also gave name to the constellation Cetus.

Ceto in Midnight Oil

Ceto and Nessie become one. She’s not a bad, um, person, but much misunderstood. She finds my heroine adrift in the northern seas sitting on a block of ice. Oh, yeah, I should mention that the block contains the body of her father. Ceto finds this all fascinating and helps my heroine dock the ice block at Ultima Thule and find a messenger to send for help from the Witches' Island of Galdorheim in the Barents Sea.

Excerpt

Kat sat cross-legged on the ice, one hand clutching the rope, and looked down at her father’s face. His eyes were open but unseeing. The deep gash on his forehead didn’t do much for his appearance. She hoped when he reached Siberia for his final burial, the Samis would fix him up a bit. She knew it didn’t matter, but it would make her feel better.

A wave came out of nowhere; the ice block rose and fell almost knocking Kat into the water. She clutched at the ropes and looked in all directions, but the sea remained calm. She frowned, wondering how… Then, a light bulb blazed inside her head when she sensed something large passing under her makeshift boat.

Kat edged herself up on her knees, keeping a tight hold on the ropes. She scanned the water closely, and to her right, she saw a dark shape under the water. A whale, perhaps. Maybe her calls finally got results.

The shape turned and came back toward the ice block. It stayed several feet below, so Kat could only make out a dark shadow as it glided beneath her. The ice block lifted and dropped again. She looked to her left to see a long neck stretched out, followed by a bulky, black body. A short tail emerged from under the block and slapped down on the water. It sprayed Kat’s face with icy droplets but didn’t drench her.

The dark shape rose slowly upward. First, a small head appeared, and Kat thought it might be a seal, and then the long neck emerged. Her mouth dropped open, and her eyes followed the head upward until she had her neck bent back as far as she could. The creature regarded her with huge, dark eyes, seeming too big for the little nob of a head. Its skin was dark gray, almost black. Kat noticed how smooth it appeared. She wanted to reach out to touch it. She thought better of that notion when the creature’s mouth opened and revealed rows of sharp teeth.

A voice spoke inside her mind. “Who are you, little girl?”

“Little girl? Why, I’m almost…” Then, thinking it’d be rude to argue with her only potential rescuer, she finished, “I mean, I’m a witch, from an island…” Kat looked around and waved her hand, “somewhere out there.”

You wear the skin of a seal, and you can speak to creatures of the sea. Are you, perhaps, a selkie in human form?”

“Selkie? No, I’m just a witch from Galdorheim.”

Hmm. How came you to be on that block of ice?”

“I’ve answered your questions,” Kat said, peeved at being grilled by a sea monster. “Now you answer one for me. What are you? And where did you come from?”

That’s two questions.”

“Well, you asked two, so answer up!” Kat sensed she need not be afraid. The sea monster, as she now thought it to be, did not send any warning signals. It was simply curious.

I am me.”

Kat frowned. While harmless, the creature seemed to have an evasive streak. Why did it show itself to her if it didn’t want to talk?

As if it heard Kat’s thoughts, the creature said, “Very well. The world has called me many names. Sometimes Nessie from where I once lived.”

“You’re the Loch Ness monster? I thought that was just a legend.” Kat stared in wide-eyed wonder at the mythical creature who might, if she could work it out, be her rescuer.

No legend, but I left the loch years ago. Too many curious people.”

* * *

MIDNIGHT OIL Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series

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

Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out with her brother, Rune,

from her Arctic island home on a mission to rescue the boy. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding that the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

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

Friday, October 09, 2020

Do Ya Novaya Zemlaya?

#FREE OCTOBER 89th-10th (on Amazon)

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

It's time to start talking about oil. Midnight Oil, that is. The color of the liquid in the bottle >>>  is close to the color of the magical oil that can be used only at midnight on the day of summer solstice. What's it for? Probably a lot of things. It's the WD-40 of magical ointments. However, in the YA fantasy of the same name, it's for healing ailments that cannot otherwise be cured.

Let's take a brief hop to the island Novaya Zemlya which is the extension of the Ural Mountains into the Barents Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Kara Sea way above the Arctic Circle. I wonder if this is the only island surrounded by three separate seas? Hm. Have to look that up.

Checking my handy-dandy Atlas, the center of the island is approximately 74 degrees North and 56 degrees East. There are two major islands separated by the narrow Matochkin strait, and a handful of smaller islands sprinkled around the edges.

The occupants are the Nenets, an indigenous tribe of hunters similar to the Eskimo and Inuits of North America. Their close cousins, the Samis, are also in the vicinity stretching across northern Siberia, Finland, and into the Finnmark region of Norway. 

The Samis make up the paternal side of my heroine's family. If you read Bad Spelling, you'd also know that Kat's boyfriend is a Sami (formerly a troll changeling).

The unfortunate Nenets have a problem. Russian nuclear testing in the 1950's left about as much radiation spread about as the explosion of Chernobyl. The Cold War certainly made major nations do some really stupid things. 

In Midnight Oil, the radioactivity has caused the Nenets' children born after the nuclear period to mutate. No, they didn't change into giant spiders. However, they were deformed and sick. The Nenets didn't get a lot of help from the former Soviet Union. Left to their own devices, they worked out that only one thing would save them; return them to normalcy: The Midnight Oil.

Therein lies a part of the tale. It's up to Rune (Kat's smarty-pants younger half-brother, who also happens to be half-vampire) and Ivansi (Kat's Sami grandfather) to first ask the Nenets gods where the oil is. The gods reside on a small island south of Novaya Zemlya called Hebidya Ya. You can see why it is called the Easter Island of the arctic with shrines to the various gods (illustrated on the map). Rune and Ivansi have to find the right god's pyramidal altar. The afflicted Nenets supply a totem to lead them.


Then they just have  to steal the Midnight Oil from the forest elemental who happens to have it stored in her root cellar. Ajatar (see yesterday's post on Elementals), however, is not a kindly elemental who'd be happy to help the distraught Nenets. Oh, no. Her mind is set on destroying her sister, another elemental spirit. In the meantime, Kat has been lost at sea along with her frozen father's block of ice. Yes, that's a bit odd, but it really does have a logical explanation.

You might be thinking that this plot is worthy of Days of Our Lives in complexity. Not really. Nobody has been married more than once or twice. Nobody has an identical cousin (well, actually there's a couple, but not really related), and very few people have died and been resurrected. 

Okay, maybe it is as complicated as a soap opera. But it's a lot more fun and filled with puns. I hope you'll want to read it since it's free right now.

MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 - Free October 8th-10th
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Elemental, My Dear Katrina

Free on Amazon October 8th-10th


MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 - Free October 8th-10th
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

Speaking of elemental spirits, meet Ajatar.

AJATAR THE ELEMENTAL SPIRIT

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wait for it .... Water. The four classical four elements have been part of mythologies since the first time a smarter than average Cro Magnon decided to cash in on his superstitious tribe claiming to have a direct hot line to the somewhat amorphous deities.

Deities and demons have proliferated over the intervening 20,000 years or so, with the winners being those smarties who knew how to cash in on fear. The shamans, priests, and other assorted grifters.
  • Earth: The ground shakes and splits open. Uh oh, the earth god is ticked. If you’ll just give me your hard-won haunch of mammoth, I’ll intercede on your behalf.
  • Air: Windstorm coming up. Boy, are you in trouble for holding back on my share of the cave bear hide. Ol’ Wind is mighty pissed.
  • Fire: See what happens if you don’t listen to what I say. Your whole forest burns because you all are bad people. Just lay a pile of pretty shells at my feet and I’ll see if I can placate the Fire Demon. 
  • Water: Oopsie, a flood. Well, wasn’t I the smart one for building that big boat. Did I mention the fare? All proceeds go to the Water God, of course.
The natural elements wreak havoc and a clever guy makes out like a bandit. As time marched on, the elementals took on different names and personalities. The shyster’s way of collecting for multiple personalities for those four basic elements.

Before a caveman could count, um, one. The world was littered with all sorts of mythological beings lined up by the wise shaman to collect trade goods from the fearful masses.

Besides a plethora of gods and demons which I have mentioned some of already, I selected a lovely forest elemental (notice how the element population is dividing and growing) named Ajatar. She happens to be a Finnish spirit and is the main troublemaker in my second book of the Witches of Galdorheim series, Midnight Oil.

Ajatar was known as the Devil of the Woods, so I set her in a magically protected forest glade. She controlled her local flora (writing tree roots, fast-growing brambles) and snakes to protect her cache of boxes, bottles, pots, a bent bicycle tire, laundry detergent, dried flowers, old tennis shoes, and Andy.

Oh, right, Andy happens to be a changeling, a human who spent much of his life in the Troll Kingdom and is now Kat’s main squeeze. Ajatar kidnapped him to draw out her sister, Ilmatar, an air spirit who had been hiding out on Galdorheim disguised as the old witch (she prefers sorceress) Mordita.

Lots of stuff happens, but the sisters finally come together in an epic battle (they’re fighting over a man, wouldn’t you know). Ajatar takes her dragon form, while Ilmatar becomes a giant white roc.

Excerpt

Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It was too many years since she had taken her true form. She was the wind, the hurricane, the tornado. Air she was, air she would be. She sighed, and a tree bent with her breath.

She rose with the heat, dropped low and sped across open fields when clouds blocked the sun’s rays. Yet, neither heat nor cold drove her. She flowed over or around as she pleased. When she was in the mood, she flattened everything in her path.

She laughed, and earth-bound creatures cringed at the booming thunder. She smiled, and a gentle breeze danced over hills and valleys. She reveled in her freedom and then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar stole this from her. She’d almost forgotten the power and glory that was Ilmatar.

Now, she’d get payback. Ajatar, she vowed, would regret this day for the rest of her days if Ilmatar the air spirit had any say.

But enough reveling for now. She had a job to do. Gathering free air to her as she flew, she coalesced into a cutting shaft, sharp and deadly as any arrow, and one thousand times as large. She swooped up, down, and sideways, leaving a vortex of spinning air in her wake.

Increasing her speed and the velocity of spin, she smashed through the tops of trees and touched down, a whirling cyclone in the center of Ajatar’s glade. Moss and branches whirled through the forest clearing and trees bent away from her, howling, cracking and snapping, with the thunder of rustling leaves.

Ajatar had heard her coming; she could hardly miss Ilmatar’s roar. Ajatar grew taller, rising above the treetops, spreading her vast scaled wings. Her mouth gaped and fire roared out. With a single downward thrust of her wings, she soared upward. Ilmatar’s tornado followed close behind.

* * *

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Trolls Aren't Always from Russia

 FREE BAD SPELLING (Book 1) - Final Day October 3rd

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

The entire Witches of Galdorheim series has a few characters featured in all the books. I thought introducing the stars of the series a good setup for the Witch Extravaganza month of October. Oh, yeah, it's BIG!

Trolls in the Witches of Galdorheim

Trolls. What do you imagine? Maybe something like the big ugly pictured here. In my Witches of Galdorheim series, I wanted a cave-dwelling bunch of uglies, but dwarves didn’t seem right for my book. Then I started hearing music inside my head. You know how that goes, right? It builds and builds until it has you screaming in frustration, willing to even listen to some other music to at least swamp the tormenting sound.

But before I could find a MP3 file of "Henry the VIIIth" by Herman’s Hermits, I stopped and listened. My muse was whacking me in the head via earworm. The music was Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. Duh. Trolls.

Despite the canards on trolls from the likes of Artemis Fowl or Pratchett’s Discworld, I thought they could be heroic if given sufficient ale.

From the Free Dictionary/Encyclopedia:

A troll is a fearsome member of a mythical race from Norse mythology. Originally more or less the Nordic equivalents of giants, although often smaller in size, the different depictions have come to range from the fiendish giants – similar to the ogres of England – to a devious, more human-like folk of the wilderness, living underground in hills, caves or mounds.

Hey! They’re not all flesh-eating giants who turn to stone in the sunlight. Some are devious little guys who live in wilderness areas (no doubt protecting endangered magical species).

In Bad Spelling, Kat and her smart-aleck half-brother, Rune, (also happens to be a vampire, but has absolutely no resemblance to the Twilight guy except they’re both cute as hell) are directed by Kat’s flash-frozen dad (Rune calls him a pop-sicle) to visit the Troll King. At the Hall, she requests assistance from King Ole, the Norwegian Troll King. He arranges for her and Rune to ride the Trollercoaster, which starts in Norway and ends up in the Ural Mountains. From there Kat, Rune, and a changeling troll named Andy travel to Siberia to find Kat's family.

Clearly, trolls are good. They are nice, helpful, cheerful, and sing fairly well too. Yet aspersions continue to be cast upon these misunderstood creatures. Shame on all of you for making them the bad guys all these years!

Excerpt from Bad Spelling - Chapter Fifteen - Three Trolls on a Bridge

Kat ran to where her brother and the three trolls faced each other. The trolls stood shoulder to shoulder, their big, splayed feet firmly planted in front of the footbridge. They bared their chunky yellow teeth and growled at Rune. Although hardly reaching Rune’s shoulder, they each outweighed him. Clearly, the trolls did not intend to let him cross. Looking up and down the streamlet, Kat wondered at their careful guarding of the bridge. Kind of silly, she thought, since anyone could easily step across the rivulet without even getting wet feet. She wondered if these were children, given their short stature. However, their long knives looked very grown up.

Enunciating each word, Rune held his hands out to show they were empty. Kat had no idea what her brother was saying, since Rune was speaking Old Runish. Except for a few spell words, Kat didn’t understand the ancient tongue.

Evidently, neither did the trolls. Rune spoke again, louder this time, and took one slow step forward. At this move, the troll on the left lunged at them, jabbing at Rune with his knife. Rune sidestepped the rush, and the troll, taken off balance, stumbled and fell flat on his face. Kat stepped over the troll and grasped his arm but only caught hold of his sleeve. He screamed and pushed her away. The other two trolls ran at her with their knives raised, yelling as they advanced.

Rune stuck out his foot and tripped the middle troll. The last troll standing went after Rune. The young warlock threw up his hands, arms crossed to fend off the attack. A bright red light arced from his hands to hit the charging troll in the face. The troll dropped his knife and fell to the ground, screaming and rolling around with his hands pressed over his eyes. Rune snatched up the knife and held it to the middle troll’s neck. Kat sat on the one she grabbed, pulling the knife from his flailing hand. The recipient of Rune’s flash attack kept his hands over his eyes.

Rune spoke again in Old Runish, shouting to make himself heard. It didn’t do any good; the trolls all continued screaming and squealing at the top of their lungs.

Kat jumped up from the troll’s back and grabbed Rune’s hand, pulling the knife away from the troll’s neck. “Rune,” she yelled, “tell them we won’t hurt them!”

The thrashing troll froze then turned his cumbersome head toward her.

“You can speak our language!” He slapped the troll nearest to him, who abruptly stopped screaming. The one whose neck Rune held the knife to spread his fingers to peek at Rune and Kat.

Rune released the troll and stood up, looking a little sheepish. “I just assumed—” He stopped then shook his head.

Kat crouched on her knees next to one of the trolls lying on the ground and patted him on the shoulder. “We mean you no harm. We’re Wiccans from Galdorheim. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”

Slowly, the trolls climbed to their feet, looked at Kat, then at each other. The three trolls huddled, conferring together. Kat heard a murmur but couldn’t make out what they said.

Kat continued, searching for something to say. “My Aunt Thordis…” Three pairs of troll eyes turned to her and opened wide. They stared at Kat. The middle troll elbowed the one on his left, who giggled. The troll on the right gave a great whoop of laughter then slapped the middle troll on the back. All three trolls broke into huge guffaws and ended up leaning on each other, wiping tears from their eyes. Rune and Kat stared open-mouthed.

* * *

BAD SPELLING - Book 1 of The Witches of Galdorheim Series

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

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.



Friday, October 02, 2020

Be Careful of Your Spelling

SPELLING BY RUNES (today's free ebook: Bad Spelling)

What is a rune? Besides my second most important character in the Witches of Galdorheim series, that is. Briefly, runes make up the oldest Norse alphabet. Yes, those Vikings were busy writers as well as raiders and looters. The Eddas are Norse adventure novels (okay, they’re generally written in poetry form). But well-known books such as Beowulf weren’t written in runes. Believe it or not, Beowulf was written in Old English, not Old Norse. Or maybe that’s the only translation that lasted through the centuries.

Many fantasy novels based on Euro-centric mythologies use runes in their plots, be it a tattooed rune on the hero’s chest, the discovery of a runic tablet that leads a worthy band of heros on a quest for dragon’s gold, or a villain who casts his dark spells in the ancient runic language. All very cool stuff.

Runes are not just fantasy made up by Tolkien. I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches.

Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is also a word of power. The Rune markings in the graphic (see below) match the interpreted Elder Futhark (the Runes in spoken form) shown in the excerpt. The name of the language comes from the first six letters that make up the Runic alphabet.

In one sense, Futhark is simply an alphabet like ours. But in terms of magic, runes are like hieroglyphics in that each rune stands for a word or concept rather than simply a letter of the alphabet. They can be used either way. In magic, the runes are used as words of power which enhance or direct a spell. I found a handy phrase chart and used some real runes in the series, but had to use the interpreted spelling in a form one can sound out even if you don’t know what they mean.

As language developed, written runes were set aside for the more modern Roman alphabet. But the use of runes as words of power survived even Roman conquest thanks to the Druids, the ancient pantheistic religion later smeared by accusations of witchcraft and magic.

Well, witchcraft and magic are fine by me. I wish they really existed. Considering the popularity of fantasy books incorporating magic, I’d say a lot of people wish magic was real.

In the Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. I call it Old Runish. Kat, in Bad Spelling, just can't get the pronunciation of the runes right, mistaking îgwaz for perßô. The results are often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she is a really bad speller. Who can blame her? This is not the easiest language to learn.

Aunt Thordis is the top witch on Galdorheim and a master of Old Runish spells. If magic can be done, she’s the one who can do it. In the following excerpt, Thordis seeks information from Kat’s flash frozen father. She wants to know why Kat is such a lousy speller and suspects the girl’s father has something to do with it. Thordis invokes a runic spell to break through to the man’s frozen brain for answers. She must be careful, however, since the spell is used to re-animate the dead. At the end of the excerpt, you can read the translation of the spell. It’s pretty creepy.

Excerpt from Bad Spelling: Chapter 4-Bell, Book, and Candle

Hands on her hips, Kat’s Aunt Thordis stood in the glacier cave regarding the icebound figure of Boris, the wandering Siberian. She tsked and shook her head.

“You poor, dumb—” She stopped, thinking better of it. Speaking ill to the dead was rarely a good idea. You never knew if they’d come back to get even.

“Boris,” she said, trying a different tack, “we need to talk. Despite the fact you couldn’t navigate your way around a bathtub and were so foolish you tried to dig out an ice cave, my sister did fancy you, and you’re still my niece’s father.”

She held her hand up with the palm facing Boris. Thordis frowned. This might be harder than she thought. Even though Thordis was the strongest witch in Galdorheim, she felt a counter spell pushing at her, like a wall she couldn’t see but only sense. Something around Boris repelled magic.

Thordis squared her shoulders and put real effort into her second sight. Yes, she felt a slight tingle. As she suspected, the icy grip of the glacier suspended the man between life and death. If the witches thawed him out, he’d be d-e-a-d, dead. As it was, he had frozen solid in the instant before he died—the process of death incomplete.

“Ah, you’re still alive. Good.” If Boris were truly dead, she’d not be able to have a conversation with him. No matter what the circumstances, she wouldn’t delve into the black arts. Necromancy—raising the dead—was near the top of the black list.

Thordis removed Ferro, her ferret familiar, from the top of her carryall and set him aside. He chittered at her then hunched down on the ice shivering. She opened the bag and rummaged through its contents. She drew out a little silver bell, a black candle, and a copy of the Magical Book of Runic Spelling.

The fifteenth century Church, Thordis chuckled at the thought, believed they originated the rite of bell, book, and candle. Equally humorous, they thought the items were for an excommunication ceremony. Little did they know the monk who created the ritual was one of her own—a warlock gone deep undercover to keep a close eye on the Church. The very fact it took twelve priests and a bishop to perform the rite didn’t ring any bells with those silly men. Obviously, thirteen people gathered to perform magic made a coven. The long-dead monk probably got a good laugh at that.

Never mind what the Church thought, the true purpose of the ceremony was to communicate with, not excommunicate, the dead. Although Boris was pre-dead, it would serve the same purpose. At least Thordis hoped so. Boris knew things Thordis wanted to know, and she was determined to pry them from his icy-cold brain. Thordis lit the candle, rang the bell, and prepared herself to chant the spell to wake Boris. She’d never talked to him when he was alive, since he was a mundane, and any non-magical person was simply not worth her time. Now, she had to find out a few things. Specifically, why was her niece so powerful, yet so incompetent as a witch? If her spells just fizzled, she could believe the girl just wasn’t trying.

Instead, they failed spectacularly, and often messily, like her recent attempt to transform the rabbit. Perhaps she could get some answers out of Boris, even though she doubted he was intelligent enough to even realize he had them.

When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. The incantation woke the dead, so waking Boris should be a piece of cake. It also provided translation services. After all, why try to speak to the dead if they can’t understand what you’re saying?

Þat kann ec iþ tolpta,

ef ec se a tre vppi

vafa virgilná:

sva ec rist oc i rvnom fác,

at sa gengr gvmi

oc melir viþ mic.”

But nothing happened. She slowed down and spoke the spell with precision, putting as much magical force as she could into it. Finally, she felt the spell break through the barrier.

Boris, do you hear me?”

Yes.

Good. Your daughter is having…trouble becoming a proper witch. Of course, I believe it’s your fault; well, maybe fault is too strong a word. I suspect her poor performance has to do with having a mundane father, but now I feel…something more.”

* * *

Translation of the rune spell:

I know a twelfth one if I see, 

up in a tree,

a dangling corpse in a noose,

I can so carve and colour the runes,

that the man walks

And talks with me.

--From the Hávamál, an Old Norse Edda (collection of proverbs) from the 10th Century


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

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.