Monday, December 31, 2007

New Things

Sam's Dot Publishing's 2008 Calendar is now available at the Genre Mall. One of my flash stories is featured somewhere in there.

My son is opening canvas - an art gallery in Seattle, Washington. The gallery is located in Pioneer Square. The website is canvas an art gallery. The Grand Opening is this Thursday, January 3rd. If you live in the area, drop by for some free drinks and to peruse the art. One of the artists will be producing a canvas during the Grand Opening. Stand back or you'll get paint spatter.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

News Flash!

"Dragon Soup" is now for sale at vanZeno Press. Check it out to read excerpts and admire a couple of the interior illustrations by Marge Simon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Customized Books

Here's a concept. How about a place where you can sample the first few pages of a story, then add it to a customized book built from just the things you'd like to read?

The folks at Anthology Builder are hoping the idea appeals to you. Mix and match authors and genres as you please. Combine up to 350 pages and get a nice trade paperback, complete with your own selected cover and notes. Pay $14.95 plus shipping. Voila! Custom books.

I thought this an interesting idea, so I shipped off one of my stories for inclusion in their database. Checking back, I see that stories are being added every day, some from a few 'name' authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal or look for zines such as Abyss & Apex, Alienskin, Asimov's or Fantastic Stories. Big publications with heavy-weight authors. Getcher stories right here.

They take only reprints, so you can be pretty sure the story you think sounds interesting is actually well-written and worth inclusion in your personalized anthology. Send in your own reprints and include yourself in a customized anthology. Perfect gift for friends and family.

Take a look at Anthology Builder and find my story, "If You Could See Her," here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wondrous Web Worlds #7

Wondrous Web Worlds Vol. 7 edited by J Alan Erwine {Sam's Dot Publishing}

The annual Wondrous Web Worlds series presents the very best science fiction, fantasy, and horror published online at Sam's Dot Publishing, and includes two dozen selections from The Martian Wave, The Fifth Di..., and Aoife's Kiss.

The material in this seventh in the series deals with some of the fundamental questions raised in the genres. What happens when you go mad from loneliness on Mars? If extra-terrestrials eat terrestrials, should you bring one back to Earth? Is it time to move on when you can't even entertain a rag-tag bunch of robots? What are the benefits of DIY terraforming? Come experience the literary potential of zombies, and learn why the Bone Slayer needed help against the skeletile, and discover the true purpose of biwigglies out Alpha Centauri way. You'll find some of the finest names in the genres between these covers: Richard S. Levine, Wendy Leeds, Marva Dasef, Tyree Campbell, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Keith P. Graham, Karen A. Romanko, and many more!

Home For Supper by Tyree Campbell
Alone on a Lake on Mars by Cathy Buburuz
An Asteroid By Any Other Name by David Lee Summers
Future Fourth by Bruce Boston
To Sit in Judgment by Amanda M. Hayes
Devoted by Julie Shiel
A Comic on Phobos by Richard S. Levine
First Tree on the Moon by s.c. virtes
Just a Kid by Derek J. Goodman
This Old Earth by Karen A. Romanko
Bone Slayer by Wendy Leeds
Zombies on a Roll by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Fish Story by Marva Dasef
Final Days by Aurelio Rico Lopez III
In the Mind of the Beholder by David Puro
The Raw Princess by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Unplugged by Keith P. Graham
Martian Vespers by Theodora Fair
Farewell, My Droidy by Karen A. Romanko
Judas Rising by Elizabeth Barrette
Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg by Jane Mitchell
Heart by Jaime Lee Moyer

At the Genre Mall
U.S. Orders: $10.00 + $3.50 S&H OUR PRICE: $9.60 + $3.50 S&H

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Awards Season

My story, "Chilpequin - 22 Miles," was first published on Lorelei Signal in 2006. At the end of the year it was included in the best of anthology "A Time To..."

Carol Hightshoe, the publisher/editor of Lorelei Signal, Sorcerous Signals, and the anthology was recently informed that the anthology is a finalist for the 2008 Eppie. Epic (Electronically Published Internet Connection) is a professional organization for publishers and authors of ebooks and ezines.

The awards will be presented at the EpiCon event held in Portland, Oregon in March. So, the anthology has a shot at winning the top award. In any case, congratulations to Carol and all the authors included in the anthology.

ADDENDUM: I just heard from the lovely Ms. Hightshoe that two more of my stories will be included in "A Time To..." Volume 2. The anthology will be published in Spring 2008. The stories included in the 2nd volume are "A Visit to Potter's Field" and "The Delegate."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Good News and Good News

It's nice to have good news to report. Of course, I never report the bad news (well, except about my poor kitty).

Good News #1: I received email from the Cybils Awards coordinator that somebody nominated "Tales of a Texas Boy" in the middle-grade fiction category. Yes, an author can nominate herself, but I swear I didn't, so somebody else must have enjoyed Tales and decided to do so on my behalf. I thank them very much.

Good News #2: Sam's Dot Publishing just put out their publishing schedule for 2008 and I found my science fiction novella listed for June release. How cool is that!? I'll provide additional information as it becomes available to me. In the meantime, check out Sam's Dot offerings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review - Living Stone

Living Stone
by Edward Cox

Available at The Genre Mall

Ed's Website

Interview with Ed Cox on this blog

When stones fall from the sky . . .

Old Herne is terrorising Forest Gate, and the London police are stumped. For three months his victims have been found dead at the church down Cernunnos Lane, their bodies brutalised beyond recognition. Leading the investigation is Oscar. He is yet to uncover one single clue that reveals the killer’s identity or his motives. He does, however, have the prestigious honour of being the only person to have seen Old Herne and lived . . . trouble is, Oscar can’t remember what he saw, and now he has been kicked off the case.

However, Oscar isn’t deterred. Dogged by nightmares and visions of shadowy monsters, he becomes obsessed in his pursuit of the killer and the truth behind his lost memories. But even he couldn’t guess that Old Herne’s origins hark back to the turn of the first millennium, and a legacy left by the man who dared to meddle with stones from the sky.


"Living Stone" opens with Detective Oscar in a back alley pursuing a serial killer, the press has dubbed Old Herne. Oscar has been on the case for some time, and he’s definitely troubled by the brutal killings. He’s surprised when he sees the supposed next victim of the killer performing the killing herself. He come on the scene when the woman victim is in the act of tearing out a man’s throat with her teeth. Pretty gruesome stuff. He follows the woman to an old stone church, no longer (or never) used as a place of worship.

There are huge questions right from the start of the fast-paced novelette. Why is this stone church sitting unused through the centuries? Why is the supposed victim apparently now the killer? Is Old Herne the forest god of ancient British mythology?

We find out the history of the stone church by stepping back in time hundreds of years. We discover that a stone mason named Morgan has found a meteor and opens it up only to release an evil which we can surmise might be an alien being. The alien has no form itself, but inhabits Morgan, driving the man insane. Morgan relies on a creature living in the church to help him gather sacrifices for the stone. My immediate thought was Herne is something like Quasimodo. The man-beast is subservient to Morgan, although it does understand his master is insane and hates Morgan being taken over by the stone.

Alternating between some time in the far distant past and today, "Living Stone" describes an old evil still lurking and taking victims. Mr. Cox handles the time skipping deftly. The reader is never left scratching her head trying to figure out which era the story conveys. The main characters are all well drawn. Morgan, the victim of the stone’s evil, has no will of his own. Oscar is being sucked into the evil, but resists. Herne, once Morgan dies, becomes the servant of the stone’s alien presence despite his knowledge that the stone is evil.

The setting in London’s Forest Gate area is suitably creepy. Cox’s creation of the Old Church is particularly interesting, making it seem quite real. Having visited London, I can easily imagine that the Old Church exists.

Living Stone is a novelette length, so a very quick read. Now, that’s my one and only complaint about it: Cox didn’t make it nearly long enough. I think the concept could easily be expanded into a novel and I hope Cox considers this for the future. It might also be fun to have a series of stories on Detective Oscar pursuing creepy monsters through the back streets of London.

My verdict: Well worth buying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Buy This Book

UPDATE: Weirdly is now out in a print edition. I know you can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Amazon for $11.42 and Super Saver applies.

Barnes & Noble for $11.65 or $10.48 Membership Price.

The ebook version is always available at Wild Child Publishing.

The Weirdly anthology (in which I have four stories) is so close to going to print, the authors can smell it. Don't be a piker. Help get this book over the top so I'll have something to sit on my real bookshelp instead of my virtual bookshelf.

Now available at Wild Child Publishing for a paltry $5.95.

Weirdly: From sci-fi to paranormal to weird, from chilling to odd to scary, Weirdly will sate your lust for strangeness in bite-sized pieces. Each tale weaves its own spell. Vampires, beasts, ghosts, evil creatures and, of course, every day people inhabit Weirdly’s pages.

Harland’s wife makes her presence known from the other side…. The Beekeeper must come to terms with passing over... Heather and her mother join forces to disguise a murder… Lillie searches for missing children… Samantha finds out a school semester can be more than just schoolwork… All these tales and more. Dare you read them?

See my name on the bottom of the cover?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

There's A Dragon in My Soup - Part 2

Marge Simon and Mary Turzilla have a cool book coming out in January from vanZeno Press.

Mary Turzillo's Website
Marge Simon's Website
vanZeno Press - Purchase link coming soon.

Also see Part 1 of the Interview here.

Q: What’s the deal with dragons and virgins? Why don’t dragons stick to their own species?

Mary: That's the heart of the book! Marge and I kept asking ourselves and each other this question. We came up with several answers, and decided to present them all.

For example, maybe the dragon needs a partner who is not fertile by virtue of being of a different species, to spend all that lust. Or maybe since dragons are supernatural creatures, they need a natural creature to mate with.

Or maybe they find humans sexy. We find dragons sexy. Why not vice-versa?

Or maybe it has nothing to do with sex. In traditional lore, virgins possess magic that they lose when they have sex. So maybe the dragon needs a virgin to work the magic to protect his hoard.

Or maybe they're just playing with us. Like cats and mice.

Marge: Mary is quite right. We came up with so many theories about this, that we showcased a number of them. Virgins are desirable to some dragon breeds, but not all. For example, the snake in the Garden of Eden was originally a dragon before it tempted virgin Eve to sample the forbidden fruit and was punished by losing its appendages. To its descendants, a virgin represented Eve. The Lambdon Wyrm mentioned in my story was one such.. Though I didn’t mention this, the Wyrm was keen on tempting fair virgins with its charms. His harem was impressive. As long as a maiden didn’t have sex with a human, the Wyrm considered her virginal. Of course, once she lost her looks, she was booted out.

Q: You're calling this Dragon Soup, like those Chicken Soup books. Do you think dragons have something to say to uplift the human soul?

Mary: Do I? I think that varies from dragon to dragon. Certainly the dragon in "Your Dragon Bride" is not trying to uplift her husband's soul. He'll be lucky to be alive in a few years. But Marge's "The Walnut Tree" (which takes my breath away every time I read it) is about a dragon who protects an abused wife.

Marge: Do dragons have something to say about anything? I believe they do, but they’re not particularly interested in humans’ souls. What are they supposed to say? "Have a nice day"? "That’s a pretty blouse." "You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?" No way. But dragons are uplifting creatures by nature of being dragons: mysterious, powerful, magical, even whimsical. Who wouldn’t welcome a dragon living in their back yard? Your neighbors would be jealous, and that uplifts the human soul no end.

Q: Despite the popular concept that dragons will roast you with fire then eat you for dinner, kids love them. What is it about dragons that attracts children?

Mary: I've often wondered. My son was born in the year of the dragon, and he and I think the attributes ascribed to dragons in the Chinese zodiac are, if not actually his from birth, at least worth aspiring to. He had dozens of plush toy dragons, but only one plush unicorn (which incidentally my kitten Sam decided to eviscerate).

I played around with Google and discovered that for such pairs as "dragon friend" and "unicorn friend," there are about nine times as many references to dragons as to unicorns. I sought Google hits of such animal friends as bears, ducks, and tigers, and discovered, interestingly, that the bigger and more predatory the animal is, the more hits for toys and plush animals there seem to be.

Maybe children see the dragon as a big, friendly protector. If I were small and helpless, I'd certainly want the dragon on my side. Come to think of it, I am small and helpless. Maybe that's why I like dragons.

Marge: Dragons are awesome. Case in point: it is uncool to have a puppy tattoo. It is way cool to have a dragon tattoo.

Q: How did you decide to collaborate on this book? Which one of you woke up one morning and said "Hey, dragons! Poetry! Short stories! Illustrations! M__ and I are the perfect team for this!"

Mary: Well, first I have to say I'm a longtime admirer of Marge's flash fiction, poetry, and art. She's a multitalented genius, and I always love her work and am so flattered she agreed to collaborate with me.

This whole Dragon Soup idea started when I admired a poem of Marge's, "Dragon Lust." It's about a maiden who falls for a dragon who doesn't quite fancy her, because -- well, read the poem. I know a lot of people who love dragons, and Marge's take on dragons, as sexual, unpredictable, and uncontrollable, struck a chord for me. We started talking about a collaboration and I dragged her into this. And I'm not apologizing, Marge!

One thing that I found especially exciting was that one of us would write a poem, for example about a half-dragon, half-human child, and if it was funny, the other would write a serious poem about the same subject. And vice versa. This happened several times, sort of like a dialog, and it produced some startling pieces, and startling synergy.

Writing the book for me was just immense fun.

Marge: I thought it was my husband, Bruce Boston’s, fault. When I laughingly told him that I’d just sold my second dragon poem, he said, "Good. If you can write 28 more, you’ll have enough for a chapbook." I believe he was being sarcastic, as he doesn’t find dragons a topic of interest. So when Mary complimented me on my poem in Goblin Fruit, ( –well, we got to chatting and one thing let to another. I’d just finished a collaborative collection on a very serious topic with Charlee Jacob (VECTORS: A Week in the Death of a Planet) and falling into the joys of writing poetry and doing illustrations of dragons was such a pleasant respite. Mary and I are so similar in our perceptions and raunchy sense of humor, it’s uncanny.

Q: Could both of you give a brief rundown on the some of your favorites in the book? Take all the space you want and use examples as needed. You have one hour. Begin now.

Mary: Oh wow. I think my favorite thing in the whole book is Marge's illustration for my "Your Dragon Bride." The dragon bride herself is serving cocktails and is quite the dish, if you happen to fancy fire-breathing scaly monsters. And the expression of befuddlement on the groom's face is just to die for. I crack up every time I think of it.

I also love her "The Walnut Tree," which I mentioned above. "To Dream of Dragons" is also a gem. And if you want a belly laugh, try Marge's "The Lady Dragon's Son," both the poem and the image that goes with it.

Of my own stuff, I think I'm proudest of "Daddy Says It's not a Dragon," which won a first in the "Small Stuff" Ohio Poetry Contest. I also have a story called "Chrysoberyl," which will eventually be the first chapter of a novel. And the way Marge draws my characters is perfect. The love interest is really a hunk.

Marge has a special genius for facial expressions, in case you didn't notice.

Marge: Of Mary’s poems, I loved "What Do Women Want" and "Chatroom Immortals". The former, because it addresses an age old question about male-female relationships. "Worldly goods can’t buy you love." Be you man or dragon, you ain’t going nowhere with that notion. The latter poem was plain fun to read and research for getting those two unlikely lovers together in an image. I agree with Mary about Chrysoberyl being my favorite of her stories (and we both thought the guy in my illustration is a doll–don’t know where he came from, either.)

My daughter loved the art I did for "A Gathering of Dragons" so much, she started thinking about using it for a dragon tattoo. Then she changed her mind and described what later became the illustration and inspiration for "Rumple Stilt’s Kin". I call it "Melle’s Dragon".

Of all the poems that I’ve written for this, "The Dragon and the Troll" remains my favorite. It speaks to the joy of love and the tragedy of loss. I’ve still not been able to place it, though I have sold several others pretty quickly.

Q: Pencils down, class. Thanks to Marge and Mary for taking up the gauntlet, but not smacking the dragons with a sword. Hey, dragons have rights, too!Final question. What's your recipe for dragon soup?

Mary: Dragon Soup
1 fresh maiden (check for virginity)
1 tranquilizer, maiden's choice
1 shark cage
1 crane with a long arm
1 billion liters of beef broth
47 truckloads of mixed vegetables
salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (mandrake and mustard are recommended)
1 seductive trumpet
1 very loud cherry bomb
1 large volcanic caldera

Pour beef broth into caldera. Allow to come to a slow simmer.
Add mixed vegetables, salt, pepper, and herbs. Cook for several hours until vegetables are soft.
Give maiden tranquilizer. (This step may be omitted if maiden is very very brave.) Insert maiden into shark cage. Wait until maiden is calm.

Suspend maiden in shark cage over caldera on arm of crane.

Play trumpet seductively. If dragon does not appear at once, have maiden croon sweetly about golden rings, gemstones, etc.

As dragon comes galumphing over the horizon, prepare cherry bomb. As he gets to the edge of the caldera, detonate it. (Note, be sure that the cherry bomb goes off behind the dragon, so as to guide him into the volcano. You don't want him coming toward you.)
Swing crane out and release maiden from shark cage.


Marge: Try Mary’s recipe. If you don’t like loud noises, just put a dish of buttered gorps on your doorstep at 11:30 p.m EST. And heat up the largest kettle you can find.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Part 1 Interview - Waiter, There’s a Dragon in My Soup

Marge Simon and Mary Turzilla have a cool book coming out in January from vanZeno Press. I'll be posting a rather lengthy interview with the two of them over two or three posts.

Mary Turzillo's Website

Marge Simon's Website

vanZeno Press - Purchase link coming soon.

What more can be said about dragons? Somehow or other, Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo have quite a few things to say, ranging from soup to nuts. Oh, there’s that soup again! "Dragon Soup" is a book of poetry, essays, and short stories, combined with illustrations all about dragons. Marge Simon is an award-winning poet and illustrator and Mary Turzillo has picked up a Nebula (1999, Novelette, "Mars is No Place for Children").

These gals are heavyweights, but only in the publishing sense. Hey, don’t smack me! That’s a compliment.As you can see by the cover, "Dragon Soup" has a whimsical twist to it. I thought I’d ask the ladies a few questions about dragons, poetry, illustration, and if they do, indeed, have a good recipe for dragon soup.I’ll toss the questions and you can decide who will answer what or if you both would like to field one.

Q: What are you bringing new to the field of dragonology? (By the way, is that the right term for the study of dragons?) How is your vision different from what people might find in traditional books or on the internet?

Mary: As for me, my dragons are sensual, sexual, and powerful, with the emphasis on the word sensual. They are emblems of the untamed powers of the universe and of human nature.

They also like to play. If the plaything is a human, it may come out slightly dented.

I know others have portrayed dragons as untamed, powerful, emblematic of human dominance, but Marge and I are both intrigued by the sensuality aspect, and I believe our take is a little different. And new.

Marge: Dragonology is fine, but Wyrmology is accepted as well. I say put aside what you think you know about dragons from myths and legends. For example, I have two pieces where the dragon lays but one egg. Several distinguished dragon "reference books" state that dragons lay a clutch of six to eight eggs. And there’s also the rule that dragons can’t interbreed with other dragon species. That’s silly, of course they can. And that idea that all trolls are ugly and that no dragon would have any interest in one –absurd!

What about Puff, the magic dragon? Did he deal dope, or was he really innocent. Puff knows, and he ain’t telling.

Q: Did you research dragons in literature for the book, or are either of you a Professor of Dragonology?

Mary: I wish my university had offered such a degree.

Seriously, I do have one claim to expertise. Under a different name, Mary T. Brizzi, I wrote a book about Anne McCaffrey (The Starmont Guide to Anne McCaffrey). There's more to McCaffrey's genius than Pern, of course, but I did quite a bit of research on dragons and how McCaffrey crafted the world of Pern and dragon physiognomy. Behind her alluring portrayal of the beasts, their riders, and their bond, quite a bit of careful science lurks.

Incidentally, I regard McCaffrey as one of the great creative imaginations of our time. But, that said, our dragons are not McCaffrey dragons. They aren't as noble. I know Pern dragons are sexual, but their emotions are more lofty and humane than Dragon Soup dragons. And if our dragons bond, don't trust that bond.

Marge: Mary comes with a Ph.D and I only have an M.A. But she agreed to let me be part of the project anyway, since we both have 1/32 dragon blood. DB positive. But seriously, dragons are often part of children’s dreams, though most of the time, we can’t remember that part. Obviously, I had a friendly one in my childhood. Otherwise, why would I be such a fantastic person? Synergenic by nature, bursting with creative ideas? If you have a soul that is unclaimed as yet by the Demons of Mass Destruction, then you know all about dragons. You just don’t remember the truth, which is not to be confused with facts.

To be continued (and we'll learn the truth about dragons and virgins)....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Independent Authors Guild

This group is really putting a lot of effort into organizing writers using small presses and the independent publishing paradigm.

I'd recommend all writers taking a look at the group as it builds itself.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Independent Author

I'd like to direct your attention to a great post by Nan Hawthorne on her Yesterday Revisited blog.

Nan writes:

Independent Authors GuildOnce upon a time there were two kinds of publishing… real and vanity. Either you were a good enough author to get published on the basis of your fine prose and skillful plotting and characterization.. or you were willing to pay someone to make it look like you had a Real Book. The world of electronic publishing has blown those times right out of the proverbial water. When someone asked me recently what a blog is, I replied, “It’s a way for anyone at all to publish an editorial.” That is the beauty of the web.. its populist opportunities. Anyone can publish. Anyone can be read.

Please read the rest at Nan's blog post "Sticking it to the (Publishing) Man" on Yesterday Revisited.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Cornie passed away peacefully in the vet's office at 9:00am, November 5th. Cancer robbed us of the most wonderful cat in the world. He kept us for ten years. We'll miss him.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Doin' the NaNo Shuffle

Okay, okay. I couldn't resist at least giving it another shot this year. Day 2 and I've got 4700 words, which is decent although not heating up the computer capacity.

As long as I continue in Nano, posts will be infrequent and possibly show a picture of me hanging myself.

I have one thing that may do me in. My beloved cat, Cornelius, is dying. He's got a huge tumor in his belly, which cannot be removed. Since he was hacked open only to discover there was nothing the vet can do, he's been in pretty good shape. He lost a ton of weight (for a little cat) and has been eating constantly. Of course, we've catered to him. Today, he decided food wasn't too appetizing. When he moves, he wobbles a bit and is breathing hard. He likes to sit on my lap when I'm at the computer--his way of getting maximum attention--and his purr was raspy and harsh. I've been periodically crying today. I know he may die as early as tonight. He's that bad off. Not in pain, but clearly he's not well. Here's a picture of him in a typical Cornie pose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tis The Season

NaNoWriMo season, that is. The November madness will soon be upon us. What is it, you ask? Sheesh, have you been hiding in a coal mine? Okay, if you're not a novelist (I sort of am), you probably don't give a big whoop anyway.

NaNoWriMo happens during November--all month long, so forget about going to the relatives for Thanksgiving. If you're participating, you just won't have time for that. Oh, yeah, that's only if you're American. The rest of the world has November open for anything they want to do.
The concept is to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. For some, this is entire novel. For real novelists, that's about half a novel. Since I primarily write for the kiddies, 50K or less is fine.

On the Nano website, you can delve into the forums which offer help, plot ideas, challenges, tricks for getting word count, suggestions for the proper herbs to keep you going, and general encouragement. You can join a specific group (there's a group for just about any flavor you are) and/or a regional group (your city, state, province, canton, or whatever). Within regions, Nanoers can also meet in the flesh for write-ins, gripe sessions, pizza, and shoulder-crying.

Interesting in hitting your inner editor over the head with a sledgehammer and stuffing them into a closet for a month? Go check it out. Maybe it's just the type of madness that will help you get that novel out of your head and onto your computer hard drive.

National Novel Writing Month

Oh, yeah, they also support literacy campaigns for kids with your donations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I received the Freya's Bower Newletter and I thought this article by Marci Baun was well worth sharing. I asked permission and she said okay, so here it is. Please visit Freya's Bower and WildChild Publishing. - Marva

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many others. However, domestic violence, while a virulent disease, receives very little attention and is pushed under the rug.

Some years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles, I dated a man briefly whom I'd met salsa dancing. He was intelligent, attractive, and an amazing dancer. He was also abusive. On our first date, we met at a dance club where he and some of his salsa friends liked to go. We were having a great time until he said something that made me pause: "I would never allow one of my friends to dance with you. They might steal you away." A little voice in my head whispered: "Wait a minute, weren't these people his friends? And when did I become his property?" But I ignored that voice and gave him the benefit of the doubt.

By the second date, he had insulted me several times, but in an insidious manner that had me questioning myself. (The insults seemed to have a kernel of truth, but only enough to make the insults seem plausible and start the questions.) When I realized what was happening and that my self-esteem was spiraling, that little voice grew louder, more insistent. I listened--because whenever I don't, I usually end up in trouble. That's when the answer hit me: this man was an abuser. I felt in my bones. If someone is attracted to you and supposedly likes you, they don't insult you and they certainly don't treat you like property. If someone likes you, they praise you, they respect you, and they support your dreams.

In any case, we were supposed to see each other again the next day, but I decided that he was not good for me. The following phone call confirmed my suspicions. He belittled me in an attempt to get me to see him again. I refused. I am so thankful that I did and consider myself lucky to have escaped with very little damage.

I encourage every person who has ever heard that little voice warning them to get out... do it. That voice will never lie to you. It is protecting you. It is never wrong and it is never too late to listen. And you deserve better. You deserve to be emotionally supported, to be loved, to be praised, to be respected.

Most of us don't realize what constitutes abuse. Here is a list of behaviors that can be found in the foreword of Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales, published by Freya's Bower .

1. Jeckel and Hyde behavior: Your partner is wonderful and caring for a while and then will do an about face and be angry about things that they thought were fine at an earlier time. They switch back and forth between behaviors for no apparent reason.

2. Life Would be so Good If: You frequently think that your relationship would be perfect if not for his or her emotional storms. The storms seem to be coming more and more frequently. Between times, life is wonderful, but when a storm is coming, you can often tell by that Walking on Eggs Feeling.

3. That Walking On Eggs Feeling: You feel at times that any action on your part will cause your partner to erupt into anger. You try to do everything you can think of to avoid it, but the longer the feeling goes on, the more likely the blowup will happen, no matter what you do.

4. I Can't Stand You, But You Better Not Leave: Your partner keeps telling you that you aren't worth having a relationship with, but will not consider breaking off the relationship and acts more outrageously when he or she finds out you are attempting to leave the relationship.

5. So Much, So Fast: Your partner just met you and doesn't know much about you, but he or she has to have you, so you must commit now.

6. It's You That's the Problem: Your partner never seems to consider his or her own part in your domestic disputes. You get blamed for all problems because of the most ridiculous things.

7. This Happened to Me and It's All Your Fault: You are blamed for your partner's problems even when it was his or her responsibility to not make mistakes. This could be things like him or her not getting to work on time and getting in trouble, not getting a job, not paying the bills in a timely manner, etc.

8. It's Their Fault: Your partner is never the cause of his own problems; if it's not your fault, it was somebody else's.

9. Overreacting: Your partner overreacts to little irritations. Small offenses like leaving the cap off the toothpaste cause him or her to have huge anger scenes or act out in an outrageous manner.

10. I Will Get You for That: Your partner doesn't try to negotiate a better relationship, but retaliates by doing something to you that he or she knows will hurt you emotionally.

11. All the Fights are about What I Do Wrong: You never seem to be able to talk about his or her wrong actions; the discussion always seems to be about what you did wrong, and there always seems to be something new that you did wrong.

12. You are Worthless: Your partner keeps telling you that all your problems are because you can't manage to do anything right.

13. Unrealistic Expectations: Your partner is dependent on you for all his/her needs and expects you to be the perfect mate, lover and friend. You are expected to meet all of his/her needs.

14. Blames Others for His/Her Feelings: You are told, "You make me mad," "you're hurting me by not doing what I ask," or "I can't help being angry".

15. Intense Jealousy: Your partner tells you that expressing jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity, not love. You are questioned about who you talk to and you may frequently receive calls or unexpected visits during the day.

16. Isolation: He or she has attempted to cut off your family, friends, and independent financial resources. Your friends and family are put down, and you are put down for socializing with them. You or they are accused of ridiculous motives.

In honor of this month, we have discounted all formats of Dreams & Desires -- . Please help us help others.

Marci Baun
Freya's Bower

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This makes me happy

Sometimes, I get all frustrated and feeling down. Here's where I go to make myself feel better. Tell me you don't smile.

Singing Horses

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Easy to Carry Book

Not having much else to do with my spare time, I created a mass market paperback of Tales of a Texas Boy. The dimensions are 4.25x7" (approximate). This is a handy size to slip into a purse or pocket. Hey, maybe that's why they call them pocketbooks!

Anyway, this version is only for sale from me or through Lulu.

To keep the price down, I omitted the illustrative photos from this version. That's a shame, because the pictures do add to the charm. This book is 134 pages long.

Price: $8.00 plus shipping. If you want to buy a copy direct from me, send me an email and we'll work out a Paypal or other option.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

M.E. Ellis - Writer, Editor, Reviewer, Mom

This was posted way last March. More recently, M.E. edited the anthology Weirdly in which I was lucky enough to have some stories.

M.E Ellis is a writer and editor. She came from relative obscurity only a couple of years ago into being a well-known novelist all while raising five kids. M.E started in the psychological horror world with the ebook "Pervalism," which is now also in print format. M.E's blog profile says:

Writer, horror editor of WildChild magazine, associate editor of DredTales ezine, novel reviewer, editor and proofreader for WildChild publishing & Freya's Bower, all-round strange woman, mother, wife, cleaner, cook, soft-arsed eccentric.

Visit her website M.E. Ellis
And for good laugh, check out her blog Nutter's Gang

Q: First off, why don't you give us a rundown on what you're up to these days. We already know you've published:

Pervalism: Psychological horror.
Quits: Psychological horror.
Garou Moon: Horror erotica.
Charade: Humour erotica.
All About Brenda: Humour erotica.

You're becoming a regular library all on your own. Which baby is your favorite? Come on, I won't tell the others. And what's on the burner for your next book?

M.E: My favourite is Quits. I'm currently conversing with my mind to persuade it to create Quits 2, title Aquitted. Seems people want to hear more from Wayne, the mental-case in Quits. I could tell you which book of mine I absolutely hate (excuse me one moment, two of my boys are fighting and I need to speak with them in a manner that lets them know that an early bed time is upcoming...) Yes, I could tell you which one I hate but that isn't very good business practice.
* Read a review of Quits at Cocktail Reviews

I have one novel, Five Pyramids, which I've half-heartedly wanged at a few agents. Though half have rejected it, most did comment that my writing was good, just too dark for them to sell. It's either dark or light with me, so, when one agent said she'd be happy to read something of mine that wasn't so horrific, I had to wonder what I could send her. I'm still thinking about that.

My current WIP is another dark one, though I've gone with the softer horror approach. More of a 'reader knows what's happened but I haven't spelled it out'. The MC refers to her murders as 'accidents' and they can, in fact, be claimed as such. She also listens to everything her doll tells her, which makes for some creepy scenes (so my wonderful ‘read as I write’ people have said).

Q: You've turned recently to writing erotica. Okay, humour erotica. What's that all about and how do you hide it from your kids?

M.E: Garou Moon is my only rude-rude erotica. I was uncomfortable writing that book. I'd alternate from having bright red cheeks from being embarrassed at what I'd written, to laughing out loud every time I wrote the word cock or buttocks. Like a small child swearing for the first time, Garou Moon was certainly an eye opener for me. I then settled for the sweeter chick-lit (say that word when drunk and it sounds like a part of the woman's anatomy that made me laugh while writing it) erotica as it was easy on my cheeks to write. The demand for erotica is so high, I thought I'd get my name out there that way too.

As for hiding it from my kids, I don't. I mean, I don't sit here and yell, 'Hey kids! Mom's just wrote cock, come see!' but I have explained that some people like to read about sex so I've written something for them to read. The boys found it hilarious. I remember telling them about it while walking round town, as they asked what I was writing at the time while I poked and prodded some fruit in the market. My middle son, quite loudly I might add, said, 'Mum writes about dicks!' We got some funny looks but I steered them in the direction of a shop and bought them a gobstopper candy.

Q: I'm a longtime reader of your blog and I'll have to say you're one of the funniest people I know. How did you get to be so funny, yet scare the pants off everyone at the same time? What attracted you to horror, then to erotica?

M.E: How did I get to be so funny? I wasn't really aware that I WAS funny until people mentioned it in emails and on blog comments. I literally just write my blog posts as I would speak. In real life, I did go through a phase of being a silly person so that people laughed and thought everything must be fine with me. Hilarity can cover up a multitude of hurts.

I used to write cheesy romances and, looking back, those books really are quite crap. I sat down one day after writing a few funnies on the crit group I once belonged to and bashed out a dark piece. People kind of liked it, so I decided to try my hand at a horror novel and Pervalism was born. Dark writing helps me purge inner angst from my past, from the horrible stuff going on in the world. And it gives me a chance to murder all those people who have hurt me in some way. There are many walking cadavers in my life now--unaware I've sliced and diced them in my books.

With erotica, it's just one of those things--I wanted to try my hand at it (at the writing not at...oh balls...) and see if it was my kind of thing. Full blown sex isn't but the sweeter versions are, so that's cool.

Q: Besides writing, you're also an editor for WildChild and Freya's Bower. What advice can you give other writers as an editor? What are your pet peeves and what do you really like to see when you're editing?

M.E: Advice, murder your darlings. Learn as much as you can. Don't just settle for shoddy editing so that you can say, 'I'm a published writer!' Soak up as much knowledge as you can, study published books, break up the plot, get into the author's mind to see how they made the book work. I do that all the time, takes the pleasure out of reading though.

Pet Peeves? I don't really have a pet peeve anymore. When I first started editing, certain things bugged me quite a bit, but those things are so common in nearly every MS that I've edited that they fail to annoy me anymore. They are just every writer's quirk, I guess.

What do I like to see in an MS? If just one line lights up the screen and brings tears to my eyes from the beauty of it, then the whole book is worth it. I've read some superb lines in my time, they stand out from the rest and bring great imagery. I also like character-heavy books. Probably why I write those kind myself.

Q: You've also got a hat that says "Reviewer" on a slip of paper tucked into the brim. How do you keep your Editor persona in check when you're reviewing?

M.E: I used to find it really hard to review without screeching or picking. Now I have to zone my mind out, read the book with the characters and plot in mind, not the editing (or lack of). If I didn't do that, I would have to close the document and never open it again. I'd miss out on some great books if I did that. Just a shame the was-ings etc are all there to bug the crap out of me. Might just be me. Other people don't seem to mind them!

Thanks, M.E. See you on Nutter's Gang!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Why I Self-Published

It's tiresome to run across article after article castigating the self-published author. I feel bad for the authors, especially those with excellent books which couldn't get the time of day from agents or publishers.

Yes, there's a ton of bad vanity press out there, but you're not likely to run across any of it without looking hard. The fact is, self-pubbed books don't have the marketing support given by major conventional publishers. Heck, small presses don't have those resources either. So, unless you can get your book into the diminishing number of big-time conventional publishers, you can either stuff your manuscript in a drawer or send it off to any of dozens of self-publishing companies.

Here are some reasons why people have self-published:

1. The topic of the book is very limited in scope either because it's something like a family history or set in one tiny corner of the world that nobody is interested in hearing about.

2. The writing isn't up to par. Without lots of first readers, critiquers, and whoever else a writer can shanghai into helping out, then it's almost impossible to have a decently written book. No more lonely (drunken) writer hanging out in a dark garrett, then getting discovered by BIG PUB company. It takes a village to create a book. Writers definitely need to work at their craft and improve their writing through coursework, joining critique groups, and buying some good how-to-write books.

3. Time is of the essence. This is where I fall in the self-published reasons list. The one and only book I'll self-pub is "Tales of a Texas Boy." I've mentioned before this is based on stories my father told me about his life growing up on a West Texas farm in the Depression Era. I think of this as his book and I was merely the (rather talented) scribe to convey his stories. Maybe I should have put his name on the cover with an "as told to..." line following his byline. Then, I wouldn't have the stigmata of self-pubbed on my name. But, I didn't think of that at the time and now the damage is done. Still, I'm glad to have his book out in the world, even for the limited audience who'll find, read, and enjoy it.

I know a lovely lady who self-pubbed four books. I told her she should have tried to get an agent or conventional publisher because her writing and stories are certainly good enough. Her answer was "I'm too old to wait for that process." She's a senior citizen. She wanted her books published. End of story.

4. Good writer, good book, good topic, but the writer was naive and believed that the likes of PublishAmerica was a "real" publisher. These folks were conned because they didn't do their homework and gulped down the snakeoil the Vanity Press was selling.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a few words on the subject. Don't be put off by a book you think might be interesting because you recognize the publisher as a vanity press. Fortunately, Amazon has the nice Search Inside feature. Use it. Read some of the book. Does it pass muster? Does it interest you? Then buy the damned thing and make the day of some poor writer who fell into one of the above categories.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

October Issue of Lorelei Signal

Lorelei Signal is a bi-monthly on-line zine featuring science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. The only "rule" is that the story features a strong woman. Yea! on that. Fortunately, that's the type of story I write, so I've been privileged to have three stories published by Lorelei. The latest, "The Delegate," is in the October issue which will go live on September 30th. Nice illustration by Lee Kuruganti >>

All of my past stories are archived, so you can check them out now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Google Book Search

When I published Tales of a Texas Boy, I had the option to place my book on Google Book Search. Well, here it is something like 12 weeks later. Still the presentation is kind of cool and if you want to sample the text, it's there for the tasting.

Tales of a Texas Boy on Google Book Search

I'm not sure who uses Google Book Search and to what purpose, but it might be interesting to find out if anything happens because of it. How will I know? I haven't a clue.

However, I'll say that GBS is interesting to browse. While looking for my own book, I searched for the generalized tag "Dasef". I found all sorts of interesting things. . .about my husband's family. Try it on your own family name if it's unusual enough. If found old year books from Michigan colleges from the 1920's. We discovered that one of my husband's uncles had lots of material produced in medical journals. I already knew about Grandpa Dasef's History of Montcalm County, but it was fun nonetheless. My original last name is Perkins and it doesn't get much related to me. But, it's fun to noodle around in GBS.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Alive!

Update: The Buy button is now live.

The ebook version of "Tales of a Texas Boy" now has its sales page up with my pretty picture on it. I'm going to keep that photo until the end of time. So what if I'm three four (grumble) years older than when it was taken?

Tales of a Texas Boy at Cantarabooks

See the Cantarabooks main page here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two New Reviews

Tales has received a couple of new reviews over the last week.

Womblin, an editor for the sadly-departed The Deepening, posted a review on her blog.
Womblin's World
Indeed, these tales are addictive. I challenge anyone to only read one without wanting to continue to the next. Overall, a lovely and valuable collection, I highly recommend it.

Ed Cox, author of Living Stone writes critiques for Sam's Dot Publishing. Read the entire review at Storyteller
All in all, there’s nothing to dislike about Tales of a Texas Boy. With the help of her father’s testaments, Dasef recreates the era with real clarity. She conjures the characters and landscape until you can hear that southern drawl, and taste the dust in your mouth. One day a scriptwriter will find this book, and discover that it lends itself just as entertainingly to a TV series.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Introducing Jo-Brew

I met Jo when she signed up for my Meet the Authors event. She's written five novels, with the latest, "Marge: Back on Track," just out. Jo's writing emphasis is on women's lives--how they cope with life-changing situations, such as a husband's stroke, a daughter's drug addiction, and mother's terminal cancer. The stories are touching and very real for those who have gone through these situations, but also uplifting in how Jo's heroine's handle life.

You can purchase Jo's books through Amazon. Visit her website for a complete list and links.

Now, on to the interview questions. By the way, I also want to thank Jo for coming up with good questions to ask herself. I'm just claiming credit for blatantly stealing the questions she asked me.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in the southeastern part of Colorado, left for California as a toddler and arrived in Southern Oregon to begin high school. Keeping my restless soul in a restricted area, I have managed to stay in the Eugene area since my older children, began high school. They are all grown and very independent now so my husband and I are on our own to chase our dreams. During those years I taught school, eventually left to delve into real estate sales, and then into a stint building and remodeling as a couple. All that time, I was writing, non fiction newsletters, articles, guides and a couple of undercover efforts at short stories. When I could officially call myself retired, I began taking the writing seriously with classes, workshops and critique groups. I’m still doing those.

Now I write fiction dealing with the issues contemporary women face in their lives. My fifth novel has just been released. "Marge, Back on Track," is the second in a series of women in retirement. Marge is an athletic and active woman who leaves the career she loves to take care of her husband after he’s had a stroke. His attitude soon makes her care an obligation and stretches the boundaries of her abilities.

I also write a weekly column for a newspaper in Creswell, a nearby small and growing town. The column gives me deadlines and puts me in front of the keyboard to keep me stimulated on a regular basis. The Creswell Chronicle also archives my columns on the web so they are accessible to anyone who is interested. My children keep track of me that way.

How has living in Oregon affected your writing?

It is the basis of all my stories, they are all set in Oregon. I’m grounded now and appreciate where I am. I find a rich environment here. When I take a character to Seattle, I suffer the pain of having to go visit and research. The same applies to San Francisco or the coast. In the first retirement novel, "What Next, Ms. Elliott?", Ruth Elliott sadly needed the make a mid winter trip to Arizona. Very nice for me.

Where do your ideas come from?

Something I see, a woman walking by my house daily in very short, shorts but using a cane, an isolated farm house, a woman sitting on the curb of a parking lot to cry. Anything that stimulates my interest. The three retirement stories started from a telephone conversation with a friend-I think the honest word would be gossip.

Was there ever a moment you thought you couldn’t write?

No. Not even when I didn’t really know how. There were lot’s of moments when I was afraid no one would be interested–there still are.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Between one and two years. "Marge, Back on Track" will be officially released next week and I am revising the first draft of the next book in the series, "Anne Marie’s New Melody" (The title is always subject to change.) I am hoping to be able to hold it in my hands next fall.
How do you manage time for writing?

Mostly, I get up very early. I am active in several groups as well as serve as chief chauffeur for my mother which all take a lot of daytime hours. I don’t watch much TV so I have do have free hours when my husband is involved and I can disappear.

How can readers learn more about you?

Visit my website, Besides information about me and about what I write, there are links to all my connections.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lots of New Stuff

My, but it's been busy around here lately.

Tales received a lovely review on Cocktail Reviews, which I've mentioned here before. Read the review here. Here's the summary:
A lovely set of tales, read in one sitting. I couldn’t put the book down. With a wonderful voice throughout, Ms. Dasef brought sadness, humour, and contentment to my day. I’m very glad I selected Tales of a Texas Boy for review. Delightful!

I received the proof copy for the ebook version of Tales of a Texas Boy, which is published by Cantarabooks LLC. Originally scheduled for a November release, it looks like it will show up within the next week or so. How fun is that!

Of course, today is the scheduled release date for Weirdly published by Wild Child Publishing. I've got a few stories in that, so I hope you'll buy a copy.

Jo-Brew posted about Tales and her interview of me on Women Writing the West. I encourage everybody to check out the site if you're interested in a writers' organization for western authors, those who live in the west and those who write about it.

And I invite you to check a new blog I found titled BitchAngelEditor. I read that as Bit Change lEditor, so I thought it must be French (l'editor). See what an editor would like to say about major problems with submissions--those show-stoppers that might keep your book from being published. Words to the wise.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Weirdly Gets Its First Review

The first review of the horror anthology Weirdly is on Cocktail Reviews.

Buy the ebook at Wild Child Publishing.

Being an egotistical writer, here's a quote from the review on one of my stories:

The Country Faire

Oh! Much delight with this one. Gritty, to the point, the voice in this story is punchy and spot on for the subject matter. MC has an unfortunate incident happen at the country faire. One that she insists on correcting year after year…

Payback is a bitch.

This tale got my evil side going. Yeah, now where’s my knife…?

Review written by White Russian of Cocktail Reviews.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Writers Meet

Not too many attendees, but the writers had fun yakking and exchanging books. I've posted photos on my website if anybody would like to take a look.

Writers Meet at Daneland - September 12th

Friday, August 31, 2007

Meet the Authors Event - September 12th

Meet the Authors at Daneland Park, 1199 N. Terry Street in Eugene, Oregon. On September 12th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, nine local authors will be discussing their books and signing copies. Some authors will read from their works.

The authors include Dan Armstrong, author of "Prairie Fire" and "Taming the Dragon"; Tom Arnold, author of "Checkpoint Charlie"; Diane Bentley Baker, author of "Child of Light"; Jo Brew, Creswell Chronicle columnist and author of "What Next, Ms. Elliott?"; Marva Dasef, author of "Tales of a Texas Boy"; Elbert DeMoss, author of "Sweet Oregon"; Peter Jensen, author of "Secrets of the Sonnets"; and Sandy Jensen, author of "I Saw Us in a Painting"; and Linda Kuhlmann, author of "Koenig’s Wonder."

There’s a bit of something for everyone’s interest: historical, thriller, biography, memoirs, poetry, non-fiction, and fantasy. The event will take place in the clubhouse. Come spend a pleasant September afternoon at Daneland to talk with the authors, munch a cookie or two and drink a little fruit juice.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review - Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma

Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma
by F J Warren
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Exposure Publishing (June 18, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846858194
ISBN-13: 978-1846858192

Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma is a quick read. It's also sweet, lovable, readable, and fun. It didn't take too long for me to feel I was reading Dickens, but a more entertaining Dickens. Sure don't want to put you off on that. F J Warren has a knack for the 19th Century style. Set in 1808, the story follows the intrepid Archie when he is both saved (from the noose) and condemned (to marriage) all within days. His Dilemma is how to handle a firebrand wife who controls his every move and (of course) the money. Leave her and he faces gaol if not hanging. Stay and he faces a harridan the rest of his life. As it turns out, his dilemma is solved but in a surprising way. No, I won't tell you because I'm sure you'll enjoy reading the book and finding out for yourself. I'm making it my reviewing policy to not award five stars to any books, so Warren's book gets my top rating of four stars. I'll knock off the one star for some typos, okay? There's certainly nothing wrong with the plot (darling), writing (workmanlike), or typography (nice wide gutter so you don't have to break the book's spine).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review - Tonia of Trelawney

Tonia of Trelawney by Jacqueline C. Grant
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (December 20, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0595394175 ISBN-13: 978-0595394173
About the Book:
In the charming novel Tonia of Trelawney, two young girls set sail upon treacherous and pirate-infested seas to escape the tyranny of an angry slave master. Author Jacqueline C. Grant paints a vivid picture of life on a sugar plantation in seventeenth-century Jamaica.

In 1670, Tonia, a young slave girl, lives at the Trelawney Sugar Estate on the island of Jamaica. She thinks this is the only life she will ever lead until she forms an unlikely friendship with an English girl named Maggie, whose family recently moved to Jamaica.

For reasons unknown to Tonia, Master William, the plantation owner's nephew, hates her. She longs for nothing more than to buy her and her mother's freedom so they can flee from William's cruel authority. Tonia and Maggie devise a daring plan to leave Trelawney by disguising themselves as boys. By hiding in hogshead barrels being sent to the port for shipping, Tonia and Maggie escape from the plantation and set off on their journey to find the great pirate Henry Morgan and hire on as part of his crew.

Tonia of Trelawney tells the adventurous tale of two brave girls who become the most unlikely of buccaneers. Come along on their turbulent voyage as they learn the ways of the ocean and reach beyond the limits of their strength and courage.

About the Author:
Jamaican-born Jacqueline C. Grant holds a master’s degree in Latin American history and gender studies and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Caribbean history at the University of Miami. She called Trelawney Sugar Estate home for several years and now lives with her two children in Miami, Florida.
I just finished Tonia of Trelawney and my main complaint is that I wished the book was longer. Ms. Grant tempts us with a story about a time and place that most of us only know from Pirates of the Caribbean. What I read, I liked...a lot.

What I wanted was more. We get a glimpse into plantation life in Jamaica and the buccaneers inhabiting the area in the 17th Century. Darn it! More! I learned that the name 'buccaneer' comes from 'boucon' for the smoked meat the pirates took on their voyages. I learned some about sugar cane plantations.

I think Ms. Grant has a wealth of knowledge about the location and era and she could have doubled the size of this book giving us more details.

I was entertained and my interest piqued with the story of two girls adventuring with pirates to earn Tonia's life out of slavery. This is exciting stuff and very readable for girls and boys.

Add to it, Jacqueline! How about a sequel, following Tonia's and Maggie's lives after this adventure?

Friday, August 24, 2007


My latest review comes from Prof. Stephen Holder, past Chair of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University:

"I enjoyed reading Marva's book. American local color writing has always been a favorite genre, and she handles this very well. She creates characters colorfully and effectively. She was smart, I think, to avoid having the boy make any thematic conclusions on his own, and leave them for the reader to think about. The book is a very nice snapshot of one kind of life. I tell students that the chief reason for reading literature is to gain insight into the possibilities of the human experience, and that certainly would be true in this case. Overall, my compliments!"

My husband happens to be an old friend of Steve's and he wrote telling him I was pleased to get the kind words. Professor Holder responded:

"Glad I could make Marva's day, but it wasn't just polite praise: I really liked the book. I think in genre it is somewhere between what we call Regional Realism (e.g., Garland, Jewett, Harte, Kirkland, et al.) and Creative Nonfiction (e.g., E.B.White, Roger Angell, et al.)."

To be compared to Bret Harte is fabulous. Now, I'll have to look up the rest of those people and see who the heck they are. It's amazing how much I've forgotten about American literature since college. As you might know, I attended Bedrock U. with Fred Flintstone so most American Lit of the time was limited to some wall decor created by the Anasazi. I graduated Magma cum Lava, of course.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Something to keep you entertained

Here's one of those fun quizzes. What book are you?

You're Cat's Cradle!

by Kurt Vonnegut

You believe quite firmly that free will deserted you long ago and far away. As a result, it's hard to take responsibility for anything. Even though you show great potential as a leader of a small 3rd world country, the choices are all made ahead of time. You're rather fond of games involving string. Your fear of nuclear weaponry is trumped only by your fear of ice.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Review: Taming of the Shrew

Today, I'm reviewing "The Taming of the Shrew" by Will Shakespeare.

Mr. Shakespeare has taken an old story and given it some twists to delight the audience standing in the pit. Loaded with double entendres and sly turns of phrase, the play whizzes by despite its three-hour running time. I commend the Bard of Avon on this comedy, except for an unfortunate sexist theme. Should Kate think of Petruchio as her Lord and Master? Not in this day and age, buddy. Oh, well, the ending did show Kate dragging Petruchio off to bed. I'd say that despite Kate's references to Petruchio as her Lord, the reality back then is much like today. The men think they're in charge of things, but maybe that's just what the women let them believe. I'd give Will Shakespeare four stars out of five. As for the actors who presented this bit of Shakespearean fluff, five out of five for a lively and fun performance at the Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I dropped by Kimber An’s blog and joined in a discussion about the new Flash Gordon series on the Sci Fi channel. That set me off looking at connections between various science fiction movies and series and the actors who play in them.

It seems that many of these actors get around and stay within the genre. For example, the lovely, kick-ass Karen Cliche (pronounced Kleesh) showed up on Flash Gordon. I exclaimed to spouse: Spouse! That’s the same actress who played in that show we liked that got cancelled. What was it? Oh, yeah. Adventure, Inc. So, I looked up Karen on the IMDB movie database and found she had also showed up in a few other series I enjoyed. Namely, The Dresden Files and Mutant X. I recall seeing her in both. I like her. She seriously looks both stunningly gorgeous and like she’d kick your ass and take no names. She’s typecast, but does she care? She’s getting steady work in various TV series all having a science fiction theme.

That led me to think about Stargate. I’ve enjoyed that series a lot. When Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, of course) moved on, then Ben Browder of Farscape came in to lead the intrepid SG-1 team.

Claudia Black of Farscape also joined in the fun on SG-1. Typecast? Again, I don’t think they care as long as they get work. Too bad they decided to end SG-1. Sigh. Why do they keep doing that to series I like. My hubby and I truly believe we’re the kiss-of-death to any series if we like it. We have a ritual now. We turn on the ol’ TV to watch one of those series we like and immediately start saying how much we hate it. We’re hoping the Perverse Imp is fooled and will not realize we actually like the show – a lot.

What are your favorite short-lived series? Go look it up on IMDB, search for the series name, and find the actors. Check the actors’ filmographies. Amazing, isn’t it? The shows you like keep hiring the actors you like. May they keep on with those series forever.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Book Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti: A Novel by Michelle Moran

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (July 10, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307381463
ISBN-13: 978-0307381460

What if your sister was called "The Beautiful One" and was married to a Prince while you can’t even go on a date because your father insists that you wait on her hand and foot? You’d probably be a little more than ticked off and looking for an opportunity to throttle the selfish bitch.

On the other hand, you know that your sister was cashiered into service to the realm and her job was to keep her nutcase husband in line. Maybe you’d put up with her for duty and country.

This is the situation faced by Mutnodjmet, the sister to the Queen of Egypt, Nefertiti.

Michelle Moran has combined a lot of careful research on the Eighteenth Dynasty of the Egyptian Pharaohs with some insight into sisterly duty and love. Told from the point of view of Mutnodjmet (Mutny), Moran weaves a tale of power, love, intrigue, murder, and religious turmoil.

I like historical novels that pay more than lip service to events and settings. Moran has satisfied my desire not to say "oh puhleeze" when an author wanders off into a fantasy world leaving facts dying by the wayside. Historical romances tend to do that (don’t hit me!) because their purpose is to take the reader on a journey away from their own lives and to bask in the great loves and passions, which just happen to be set in some historic time and place.

Moran has found a balance to satisfy we avid watchers of the History Channel with those who dote on Oxygen (a romance-oriented cable channel if you hadn’t heard). About half-way through the book, I googled Nefertiti, Akhenaten, Amunhotep, and others to see how well archeological reports jibed with Moran’s retelling. Pretty darned close, I’m pleased to say. I’d think "what about such and such" and the next few pages answered my questions.

On the other hand, getting into the head of historical figures is nearly impossible with not much more to go on than some statues and bas reliefs found in excavations. This is why Nefertiti is a novel and not an historical treatise. Moran brings the people to life by imbuing them with personality, desire, hate, prejudice, love, and ambition. This is where the novelist shines: making the reader feel for the characters.

Okay, as for Moran’s writing, I found her style flowing and descriptive. I could see the temples, statues, and the Nile barges. I learned a lot about herbal medicines of the period, since Mutny was a healer. Was she really? There is no historical evidence of this, but it fits the persona of Mutny Moran has chosen. So, too, with Nefertiti. Was the most powerful woman in the world really such a petulant and insecure girl? Moran presents a compelling argument given the context of what we do know for historical fact.

I liked this book a lot. I’m glad I found Michelle Moran in my wanderings through the blogosphere. Her site, the History Buff, is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in history. I’d recommend this book highly to any reader and especially to those who have a fondness for watching the History Channel.

If I gave out stars or thumbs-ups, this book would get 4-1/2 out of 5. Why not 5? Well, I’ve got to hold back something, don’t I?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Amazon Search Inside

How fun is this? My book's Search Inside feature is now up and running on Amazon. Also, it's up and running on every Amazon in the world. Now, the French, German, and Japanese can all be puzzled by West Texas dialect. I think the Canadians shouldn't have any problems, eh?

Tales on Amazon

Tales - Large Print on Amazon

Or if you prefer to read product pages in foreign languages, try these links:

Tales on Amazon Germany

Tales on Amazon France

Tales on Amazon Japan

China doesn't seem to be interested. Go figure.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tales Now on Presale

Tales of a Texas Boy finally has a page for presale on Cantarabooks, the publisher producing the ebook version. The ebook is a shorter version of the magnificent, wonderful, funny, touching print edition.


Look for the title in the left-hand column. The ebook is in 8-1/2x11 PDF format and sells for $4.95.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sir Richard Burton - No, Not That One

I read a biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton about a million years ago. My thought was that this was one wild and crazy guy. How’s this for some factoids:

Burton traveled throughout the Middle East dressed as an Arab in his role as an Orientalist, Ethnographer, Explorer, and Writer.

He traveled with John Speke into the wilds of Africa in search of the source of the Nile River. He was also sent by the Royal Geographical Society to explore East Africa and discovered Lake Tanganyika (well, the indigenous folks already knew it was there).

He spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages.

He translated the most popular English-language version of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana.

He brought the Arabian Nights to the attention of the Western World by his collection and writing of the many stories told by Scheherazade.

Hey, it goes on and on. How he managed to stuff so much into one life is beyond me. I’m lucky if I explore the wilds of the local shopping mall.

Burton was born in 1841. He attended Trinity College at Oxford, but was permanently expelled for attending a steeplechase and insisting students should be able to do such things. He joined the army, becoming a Captain in the East India Company. He served in India, initiating his life-long love of the Orient. He had a talent for learning languages while in the army.

He asked for leave from the army to explore the Middle East and became very familiar with Muslim society by traveling as an Arab. Talk about dedication, he had himself circumcised to make his disguise complete.

I don’t have room enough here to give you a complete history of Burton’s travels and accomplishments. He lived his own life, causing no end of grief to the establishment.

I wanted to bring this amazing man, known as 'Ruffian Dick' to your attention and encourage you to read one of his many biographies or his autobiography (preferable) and delve into his other writings. I’m sure you’ll at least be intrigued enough to pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra or his translation of the Arabian Nights.

For the science fiction fans, you might recall him as a character in Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series.

A decent article about him with a fairly comprehensive bibliography is available on the Free Dictionary site.

Much of his writing is available as free downloads. See this complete list of on-line resources.
Sir Richard Francis Burton died in 1890. As an obituary described: "...he was ill fitted to run in official harness, and he had a Byronic love of shocking people, of telling tales against himself that had no foundation in fact." Ouida reported that "Men at the FO [Foreign Office]... used to hint dark horrors about Burton, and certainly justly or unjustly he was disliked, feared and suspected... not for what he had done, but for what he was believed capable of doing..."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I've made a variety of announcements about my books and where you (dear friend) can buy them. Here's are the links and basic info:

My Website Both the regular trade paperback size and the jumbo print edition. I sell these using a PayPal click through. There are buttons for each of the sizes. They are both the same price ($13.95 US) and I autograph them and ship them to you. Shipping is included in the price, so I think this is your best deal. Also, seniors (65+) can email me for a discounted price.

Amazon: Both editions are on Amazon now. Again, the price is approximately $13.95. There are alternative booksellers if you click the New/Used link. I think the bottom price is $13.69, so not much savings. On Amazon, you pay $3.99 for shipping unless you have more than $25 in your shopping cart, then shipping is free. So, if you want to buy my book along with your copy of Harry Potter, this becomes the best deal.

Tales of a Texas Boy - Regular Edition on Amazon
Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print Edition on Amazon

For some reason, the LP edition doesn't show up in searches. I've got to get after Amazon for that. The LP edition also has less information on it. Amazon claims it ships in 4-6 weeks, rather than being In-stock as it says for the regular edition. Possibly, the problem here is that both titles are similar, so Amazon is ignoring the Large Print edition.

Lulu: This is my POD printer. They are NOT my publisher, despite the fact that bit of misinformation is being corrected. Nevertheless, both editions are for sale here through my storefront. Again, the price is $13.95, but the shipping cost is less than Amazon if you're buying only one book.

My Storefront on Lulu

There are a few other sites selling the book, but none have particularly good prices. If you're looking for a book and want to get comparative prices, use the AddAll Book Search site.