Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Retrospective

This was an excellent year for writing production. Not so great for acceptances. Thing is, I changed my focus from short stories to books. Much slower to sell (or next to impossible).

I only have one published short story (well, almost published). It will be on the Stories for Children website in January. Titled "Lemons."

I did hear from J that Wondrous Web Worlds 8 is being put together. My story, "Final Exam," will be included in the anthology. Originally published in The Fifth Di... I took this story and another with the same main character and expanded it into a book titled "First Duty" which was published by Sam's Dot Publishing in June. It's available at The Genre Mall.

Also from Sam's Dot, my Aladdinesque tales of a girl and her genie is just about to hit the streets. Titled "The Seven Adventures of Cadida," it will be available soon from The Genre Mall. Link coming soon. The first two stories are available as chapbooks at The Genre Mall.

Otherwise, I sent a ton of queries to agents for the first two books in a series I'm writing. The series is titled "The Witches of Galdorheim." Book 1: Bad Spelling and Book 2: Midnight Oil. I have a couple of fulls out to agents and crossing fingers to get some positive responses.

And, I'm shopping another YA fantasy titled "Quest for the Simurgh" to publishers. Slow going to get responses from publishers. All I can do is twiddle thumbs and wait.

The upshot? Lots of words written, reviewed, and edited. Very few submissions accepted. Maybe I should go back to short stories. I sold a lot of those.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Tis the season, as they say. Season for what?

Christmas: A conversion of the mid-winter Saturnalia Festival. St. Patrick was big on keeping the frolicking holidays, but bending them to his own purpose. Historical records seem to place the actual birth of Jesus in March or April.

Hanakkuh: Festival of Lights for those of the Judaic persuasion. Probably irritated by the Christians trying to usurp this general time period. The Jews should really try to keep their holiday separate from Christmas, so as to not besmirch their own observance. Anyone want a hanakkuh bush?

Kwanzaa: Created in 1966, Kwanzaa was made up by a California guy to highlight African-American culture. Cool thought, but I'd just as soon we'd say: "What? Obama is black? Wow, I didn't know that." Keeping separate ensures separateness.

Saturnalia: The Romans liked mid-winter to celebrate something, so Saturn got the festival. This one was usurped for the Christmas myth. Don't get all twisted. Christmas is not a celebration for Jesus. It's a way to get the Pagans to sign up.

Eid ul-Adha: This is the Moslem day of celebration of Abraham not killing his son. Well, he would have killed his son, but God said intent was okay. This Moslem day is celebrated anywhere from late October to January. I think it's December 8th in 2008, so we missed it.

So, whatever you celebrate around this time of year, enjoy, be happy, don't drink too much.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Review: Glory Rose and the Gloaming

Glory Rose and the Gloaming
by S.M. Brandsma
275 pages
Available at Amazon

This is a very enjoyable first installment in a series about the adventures of a half-fairy girl, Glory Rose.

Set in the magical time when the young Arthur is not yet King, Brandsma deftly weaves in myth and folklore in what she calls the Ensorcelled Realm. Some of the standard mythological characters live up to their advertising: trolls and stupid and ugly, and fairies are as you would expect them to be. Brandsma takes off from the old tales to make giants and dragons good guys, which pleases me no end. So, don’t expect the same old tired magical creatures. Brandsma wisely varied from the trite retelling.

The villain, a creature of hell, is not a myth I recognize. I love when I find something in a myth-based fantasy, taken from well off the beaten path. Bassarab (or Basarab) turns out to be the family name of a certain Vlad Draculea. I’m a fan of Vlad and I missed this dynasty name in my own research. Kudos to Brandsma for mixing things up a little more.

As for writing, Glory Rose is an easy read for its young adult target audience. I believe that kids as young as ten will love the stories, the many great personalities, and the action revolving around Glory’s role as the Chosen One.

Brandsma is also an adept artist and the clever line drawings at the beginning of each chapter are a delight.

I’m looking forward to "Glory Rose and the Book of Shadows." The first chapter of the second book in the series is excerpted at the end of "Glory Rose and the Gloaming."

One last thought. Gloaming is not a familiar word and, while it is explained in the book, it doesn’t give any immediate wow factor when searching for something to read. Fortunately, Brandsma’s cover art dragon takes care of that.

Friday, December 05, 2008


HarperCollins started a website for authors and wannabe authors to review books and upload parts of their own books for review.

Join for free and read and review published and unpublished works. There's an off-chance that your unpublished work might even be reviewed by a HarperCollins editor. How's that for an enticement?

I uploaded a few of the stories from "Tales of a Texas Boy" (available at Amazon). Drop by to read a bit and vote for me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


This has been a great sales month on Amazon for the Large Print edition of "Tales of a Texas Boy." I follow rankings on Amazon using TitleZ. It's an addictive tracking site. If you've got a book for sale on Amazon, you know about rankings.

This month I got my best ever ranking: 19,369. That's damned good! Tales also keeps hitting the Best Sellers list under Large Print Fiction. One sterling moment (fame is fleeting, you know), two different LP editions of Tales were on the LP bestsellers list at the same time. Whoa! That was a cool moment.

Just had to brag a moment or two. It's not like I sell thousands of books (shoot, 10s of books would be nice), but November has been very good to me. I hope December keeps up the good sales. Helps keep my nose above the holiday blues line.

Don't forget to sign up for a freebie!

Even better: buy my books. I recommend the 7x10 LP edition for $9.95. Handy trim size and the print is REALLY BIG!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Book Giveaway

Just in time for Christmas! Add a comment to this post to signup for the drawing. If you already have my email, you can send your entry by email, too. I'll need to be able to contact you if you win. Drawing ends 12/1. I hope to have all the books available to mail out by December 10th. In your comment, specify which book you'd like:

The Seven Adventures of Cadida: Aladinnesque tales suitable for the 7-12 year-old bunch. Several interior b/w illustrations. Approximately 150 pages.

First Duty: My YA science fiction.

Tales of a Texas Boy: Still going strong after a 1-1/2 years in print. I've got an 8.x5x11" Large Print edition.

Mystery book: I formatted and printed up a private reserve book of a tween fantasy. Since I'm querying this one, it's a secret. Approximately 245 pages of rollicking good fun. Appropriate for the 9-14 year-old fantasy lover.

Check my website for cover art and information on the books.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Glory Rose and the Gloaming

I'm looking forward to reading this book and wrapping it up as a present for my granddaughters. The illos are unbelievable! S. M. Brandsma is a writer living in my town, Eugene, OR. I love to see success for all writers, but especially those who are neighbors.

I'll post a review after I get the book, but it may not be in time for you to snag your copy from Amazon.

Buy the book through Amazon at Glory Rose and the Gloaming.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Seven Adventures of Cadida

Coming soon from Sam's Dot Publishing!

The Seven Adventures of Cadida

A series of seven tales about a girl and her recalcitrant djinn. This is for young 'uns. My reports are that six-year-olds love to have it read to them and 'get it'. Kids 10 and up can read it on their own. Adults enjoy the over-the-head references that the kids don't understand.

Meet Cadida, a poor little rich girl, captured for ransom by the mountain raiders, only to be selected as "mistress" to Bascoda the Djinn. It follows their adventures together as the meet flying horses, dragons, pirates, evil genies, cave demons, and lots of other mythical and real characters. Set in the pre-Islamic middle-east, the tales call on some of the creatures known to the mythology, and some real folks in a different setting. Cadida learns to handle her life without expecting some handsome sheik to rescue her. She kicks butt and takes names. Fun for all ages. Eat your heart out, Disney. My gal is tougher than yours.

Check my website page to preview the cover art and to read loglines for all the stories.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Story for Your Reading Pleasure

I've posted another short story on the ISSUU database site. I do love the look of the flash pages that appear to be real pages which you can flip through. This is my third story on ISSUU.

So, enjoy "Jonathan Swift Finds Nemo," an alternate history of just how Jules Verne got his idea for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Here's the flippy version, or go to the story page direct at: Jonathan Swift Finds Nemo.

See my other stories on ISSUU at:

Fish Story

If You Could See Her

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A New Place in Town

The Deepening was an on-line magazine, but had to stop due to health problems. The owner, D. L. Keur is re-opening The Deepening as a venue for Independent and small publishers to feature their works.

Check it out at The Deepening.

I'll post links to the latest articles when possible.

See Jude Gove's "Artisan's of Time" series.

Check out Nan Hawthorne's "An Involuntary King."

Read more about Jack Dixon's book "The Pict."

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Duty Now in Kindle

My YA science fiction novella, First Duty, is now available on Amazon in Kindle format.

Of course, if you don't happen to own a Kindle reader, you can buy the trade paperback of First Duty from The Genre Mall. The print edition was published by Sam's Dot Publishing - a great place to find all of your science fiction, fantasy, and horror reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If You Could See Her - on ISSUU Site

I'm posting stories which were already published here and there on the ISSUU site. Here's the mini-viewer. Yeah, you can't read it, but you can click on the link at the bottom to open it on a larger screen. I've also published a story titled "Fish Story" on ISSUU. Find it here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why Am I Even Thinking About This?

NANOWRIMO: Write 50K in one month. This is an enforced exercise on writing. Don't dwell, don't think, don't edit. Just write like a sumbitch to get to 50K words. I got 50K in 2006, but only 35K in 2007. I've got an outline going with lots of fun stuff. Enough for the magic 50K? No clue as yet. I think I'll do this just to get a jump start on the next segment of the adventures of Katya, the arctic witch. I'm querying the first two books as a single volume. It could be two short books or one long one. I'm going with the double-book just because I've not got good response on the first (which was last year's Nano). The agents are congenital idiots, of course. Just kidding, dear agents.

This series is funny, full of accurate real world info, full of funny stuff, full of great cultural references. What can I say? Agents look at a query and say "no" before they have a clue about the book. So, I will forge ahead. I will find a publisher for the wonderful world of Katya. The third part will get a head start during November.

Here's the basics so far:

Katya decides to go to Stonehenge for her winter abroad. Yeah, witches from the arctic island of Galdorheim take winter instead of summer. They can't get off the damned island unless they do. The teen witch heads for Stonehenge via Scotland and gets hung up in the Highlands with a variety of Scottish legendary characters. I'd say more, but I've not worked out all the details yet.

The first two books are "Bad Spelling" and "Midnight Oil." The series is titled "The Witches of Galdorheim."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nebula Nominee Mary Turzillo Interview

Mary Turzillo's story, "Pride," was nominated for a Nebula. The Nebula awards are awarded yearly for Best of several categories, including novels, novellas, stories, screenplays, etc. It's a major award in the Science Fiction community.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary for the Nebula Interviews page of the SFF.
About the Award

The Nebula Awards ® are voted on, and presented by,active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,500 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy. Click here for more.

See also:
There's a Dragon in My Soup - Part 1
There's a Dragon in My Soup - Part 2

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Memorium: Darren Patrick Perkins

My nephew, Darren (age 30) was killed on October 6th in a single-car accident. Today is the Celebration of Life. I made my own card for his parents and included this quote.

"Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you: whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone: wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was: there is absolutely unbroken continuity. What is this death but a gateway? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just around the corner. All is well."
Henry Scott Holland

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"First Duty" Review

Reviewed by Ed Cox for Beyond Centauri issue 22
Beyond Centauri is a magazine of fantasy, science fiction, and ewww-gross for younger readers [for readers of all ages], published quarterly on the 1st day of January, April, July, and October. Beyond Centauri publishes short stories, poems, illustrations, puzzles, articles, and movie reviews.

by Marva Dasef

Dilemma is an important part of storytelling. There must be a problem for characters to first discover, then explore, and finally overcome. From historical fiction to tales of the far future, the dilemma, the quandary, the catch-22, is always present. With her science fiction novel First Duty, Marva Dasef weighs in with a dilemma that might just change the rule of the universe.

Nyra is a recent graduate of the Space Service. She is eager to prove her worth within an interstellar police force that is controlled by the mighty government-cum-corporation IncPlan. Nyra’s service begins in a baptism of fire when her first mission is to guard the transfer of the infamous criminal Caspar. Caspar is the head of a rebellion fighting against IncPlan, and he is just about the most wanted man in the universe. But when he escapes from custody, Nyra’s troubles begin, and not in the way she expects.

Dasef has researched her novel well, and the plot and landscape are developed and presented clearly. Earth’s population had spread to colonise a multitude of other planets. On occasion, human physiology has been adapted to survive in differing atmospheres, and this ensures the side characters who enter the story are interesting and often unique. Space Service’s primary function is to police the huge gulfs of space between the human colonies, and to ensure that IncPlan’s law is followed to the letter, without question. The universe is safe under IncPlan’s rule, but nothing is ever as it seems.

When Nyra next meets Caspar, it is as his hostage. She comes to learn that he is far from the savage criminal IncPlan has drawn him to be. Caspar is a gentleman, a man of morals, fighting what he claims is the good fight against the injustices of the hierarchy. Nyra is intrigued by Caspar, but not convinced by his reason, and she’s willing to play along for now. However, when certain facts arise concerning IncPlan, and her family, Nyra’s beliefs and loyalties are shaken up. But where does her first duty lie? To the pursuit of truth? Or to the laws of her masters which she has sworn to enforce?

Although First Duty has depth and detail, Dasef ensures that her first duty is to entertainment, as this kind of science fiction demands. The plot and characters have their dilemmas and intricacies, but this tale never forgets to have fun. Dasef has created a universe here, a future for an ever-changing human race that’s just begging to be filled with more stories.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Winners Are (drum roll)

First place draw was for Lorrie Struiff. She chose a large print edition of "Tales of a Texas Boy."

Lorrie Unites-Struiff lives in West Mifflin, near Pittsburgh PA. She has published short stories in various genres, but her favorite is humor. Lorrie is now working on a paranormal novella titled Gypsy Crystal.

Second place draw was for Ruby Blotzer. She chose "First Duty."

Ruby is a SAH Mom that loves to read, write, and just hanging with her kids. I write lots of poetry and fan fics. Mostly though, she wants to be a full time writer. You can read a bit of her work on

and just her general opinion on the world around us at


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Book Drawing Complete!

The two winners have been notified. When I hear back from them, I'll post a little bio of each. Hey, how cool! Both are writers. Hmm. Maybe all the entrants are writers. I think I know a lot of authors.

Anyway, to those who entered, I'll be sending an email to confirm that you're a big, fat loser. That wasn't nice. How about winner-impaired?

If either of the winners chooses to not participate, I've got all the little pieces of papers saved and will draw another.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last Chance to Enter

My book giveaway drawing will be held October 1st. What time? Well, when I wake up and have my first cup of coffee.

Post a comment to enter or email your addy to me. Anyone in the draw at (say) noon or so will have a shot at winning a copy of "Tales of a Texas Boy" or "First Duty."

Now, if you have no idea what these books are and just happened to stumble on this blog, you can still enter. My curiosity is piqued. How many people pay attention to the places I list this great give-away opportunity? Damned few, it seems.

Here's your last shot to get a freebie from me until I become a "famous" author. This is a reward for people who wander by or know me. Are you one?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spotlight on Books - Horror, Mystery, Suspense

Again, Dianne Salerni provides a great list of books to read. Past monthly spotlight pages are available via links at the bottom of the page.

October's focus is (what else?) Horror, Mystery, and Suspense. This month, the spotlight features books by Laurie Pooler-Pelayo, ChristyTillery-French, Rhiannon Frater, Steven Payette, Mary Clay, Marilyn Meredith, and Lesli Richardson, as well as two anthologies -- onewhich features Marva Dasef as an author, and one which was publishedby Michael Katz.

Monday, September 22, 2008

PODCast of a little Eddie story

One of the stories from Tales of a Texas Boy is on YA Lit Review in living sound! The reader did a great job, and the music is cool, too.

Take a few minutes to listen at YA Lit Review - Out of the Chicken Coop

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free Book

Everybody is giving away free books. Hey, methinks, why not? I'm going to try one of the giveaway lotteries. So, just post a message here begging for a book. I'll throw everybody's name into a virtual hat and pick a winner. I'll contact you for your mailing address, and send off a free copy of "Tales of a Texas Boy" OR "First Duty." Your choice. So leave your book pick in the comment and let's see what happens.The drawing is open to any country. Shudder. I hope postage isn't too much, but I'll foot the bill. I promise. And I won't cheat on the drawing to get a US winner.

I'm going to post this same note on LiveJournal, MySpace, and my blog as well. However, only one entry per person please. I might decide to give away more than one. Maybe two, or three, or four, or ?

Article by Bryan Catherman

My friend, Bryan Catherman, is a writer. He's found his niche in non-fiction. This article appears in the current (Summer) issue of the November 3rd Club on-line magazine. It presents political articles and stories from all points of view.

When a Republican Goes to War - by Bryan Catherman
Bryan Catherman was a moderate-Republican who went to war. Now, after looking into the eyes of the Republican agenda, he’s found himself moving left. He’s previously published nonfiction articles with The Salt Lake Realtor, Burnside Writer's Collective and Rocky Mountain Sports Magazine. His fiction has appeared online, in print, and even as a professionally recorded audio short-story. He contributed a chapter to the book Letters From the Front Lines: Iraq and Afghanistan, and has recently contributed to a book forthcoming from Tyndale House Publishers. In addition, KUER, a National Public Radio affiliate, recently recorded and aired an editorial he wrote about the Veteran's Affairs Mental Health

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fleeting Fame

It was cool to notice that one of my "Tales of a Texas Boy" editions got #1 on the Amazon list of Books/Large Print/Short Stories and Poetry. As I write this, it's still up at #5. At the same time, my other Large Print edition (yes, there are two) was ranked at #6 on Books/Large Print/Lit and Fiction.

Having two of my editions high on the ranking search lists at the same time makes me feel like J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. Hey, I got my rankings not from being a "you must read this or you will die" popularity, but from the good old public finding my book and thinking it would be okay to buy a copy or two.

Not having any big publicity and advance buzz, I'm satisfied with this. People will find Tales and they'll enjoy reading it. I know this like I know the sun will rise tomorrow. Heck, I'm so sure of this, I'll refund your purchase price if you buy Tales and don't like it. Just leave me a comment or email me at You want to read it and get your money back even if you liked it? I'm cool with that. After all, I don't have to live in your head, just my own.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Happy Reader Speaks

First Duty - available at The Genre Mall.

Al Past, author of the Distant Cousin Series, read my little scifi book, "First Duty" and sent me a mini review. It's nice when somebody likes a book enough to tell the author. Thanks, Al!

Nyra Hutchings, ambitious daughter of low-level working-class parents on a dead end mining planet, manages to join the Space Service, the military arm of IncPlan, the all-controlling governing entity of the 23-planet federation. It doesn't take her long to realize the authoritarian nature of the regime, and to learn of active bodies of resisters determined to overthrow it. As she awakens to her people's bleak plight, her sympathy for the rebels grows until she finally joins them. The conclusion of this slightly young adult novel leaves plenty room for sequels, as the struggle is only beginning.

Those young people who enjoy science fiction, especially the sort with implications for today's society, should enjoy this story, and perhaps be eager for further developments.

Al Past
Author of the Distant Cousin series

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spotlight on ---- History Around the World

Dianne Salerni's excellent Spotlight page features historical novels. Previous months' Spotlights are accessible in the Archive links at the bottom of the page.

Spotlight on Historical Books

Available for your reading pleasure are books based on the history of many countries from Ancient Greece to 19th Century Paris, from Vienna to Scotland, from China to the Caribbean. There's someplace and somewhen to pique everybody's interests.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I'd love to air my political views on my blog, but I've tried to preserve it for information on writing and publishing.

I was clicking through my friends' blogs to find an interesting post by one of them. It stated that her blog wasn't a place for political debate, so she was going to monitor comments to make sure they all fit with her concept of what can or cannot appear.

Hey, she has every right to do that. Free speech and all that, right?

Problem is five or six of her blog posts immediately before the one announcing the change to monitored comments all proselytize fairly heavily for a certain candidate for high office. I'm sure she got a few blog responses that might have disagreed with her very politically slanted posts.

So, what did she do? She refused to allow debate on the subject (fine), but only after she pushed her own political point of view. And, I might add, her views on said candidate have zero to do with her normal blogging subjects. Like mine, she focused mainly on writing and publishing, plus fun things about her family. Cool shoes.

It made me decide to keep this blog on the writing and publishing topics. If I posted things in the past that were too 'political', I apologize for that lapse in subject matter. However, at no time have I ever tried to silence anybody who wished to respond to my views. Yanno, that's just un-American.

Snit over and back to the regularly unscheduled programming.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pat Wood - Hot Hot Hot!

This interview was originally posted in August 2007. Pat's book is now a yearling and is doing very well. Believe it or not, I finally had a chance to read "Lottery" and I recommend it without reservations. So, on with the first birthday celebration of Patricia Wood's book

Today, we talk with Patricia Wood, author of Lottery, a book released by Putnam in August (2007), but is now available.

I started seeing a book title mentioned here and there on the internet. I thought, "why is everybody getting excited by Shirley Jackson's famous story all over again?" Turns out that "Lottery" (not "The Lottery") is the debut novel of Patricia Wood. Predictions is that this Renaissance woman's novel will become a best seller.

The fabulous Miss Snark mentioned it on her blog in a very admiring post written with the usual Snarkly humor. Then, a link from Kimber An's blog, then other mentions and pretty soon, I've just got to go take a look myself.


Patricia was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She has served in the U.S. Army, worked as a Medical Technologist, horseback-riding instructor, and most recently as a marine science teacher working with high-risk students in Honolulu. Patricia is an avid SCUBA diver, has assisted with shark research, won the Hawaii State Jumper Championship with her horse Airborne, crewed in a 39-foot sailboat across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to San Francisco, and is now pursuing her dream of writing. Currently a PhD student at the University of Hawaii, her work is focused on education and the study of disability and diversity. She has been fortunate to have the guidance of author Paul Theroux, who spends his winters in Hawaii and has been her mentor. Patricia lives with her husband, Gordon aboard ORION, a 48-foot sailboat moored in Ko`Olina, Hawaii. She has a son, Andrew who lives in Everett, where Lottery takes place.


Perry's IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won't forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And most important, she taught him who to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of 31. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery tickets wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, LOTTERY is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.

Read the review by Bernita Harris.
Read the review by John Coyne.
Check out Pat's Website. Read an excerpt from Lottery here.
Read Pat's Blog here.

Whew! Now, we'll get on with the interview.

Marva: Hi Patricia. Thanks for taking my questions. Your resume, listed above in your bio, only lacks working on a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Do you bring a little of all those experiences to your writing?

Patricia: I have never considered that my age or circumstance puts limits on me. My interests are mercurial and varied. If something piques my curiosity, I am motivated to learn about it or do it. One caveat. You will never hear that I have parasailed or jumped out of an airplane.

Marva: Where did "Lottery" come from? Somebody you know or some past experience? Dream? Epiphany?

Patricia: Combination over-active imagination, dream, and conjecture. The two words: What if?

And then the characters. They took over and started talking to me. They arose out of my subconscious.

Note: Patricia's brother-in-law, Jeri, was born mentally challenged. Working as a public school teacher, she dealt with many students whose needs were not met by the system. Her father won the Washington State lottery--hence the Lottery theme--giving Pat inside info on how lotteries work. Finally, Pat is a doctoral student at the University of Hawaii enrolled in a Certificate program in disability and diversity. Whew again.

Marva: I slapped the book blurb up top. Is there anything else you'd like to add about Lottery to pique the interest of potential book buyers?

Patricia: I wrote Lottery because it mirrored what I want to read. I love books that move me. That make me think in different ways. I adore endearing unconventional protagonists and seeing them grow and transform and while I do not require happy endings I want a book that satisfies me. That when I close the last page I sigh and say, "I LOVED that book." and then I think of three or four of my friends I can pass it on to.

So if I add anything it would be "You will want to pass this book on to all your friends."

Marva: Your website says you use "beta" readers. Can you explain that a little bit? How do you get beta readers? And do you keep them chained in your basement?

Patricia: They are my swabbies (sic) below deck ARGGHHH!

My beta readers originated because I live in a marina. If you know anything about sailing, you will know that sailors are great readers and will read anything. They are also cheap--too cheap to buy books! Whenever anyone would discover I was an aspiring novelist, they would ask to read my work and they actually WOULD read it and comment! My first beta reader was my good friend Bob from Wandering Star in the next slip. He is a blazingly fast reader and one of my fans. Although he prefers mysteries and thrillers, it was a tip off to me my work was getting better, when he would give me increasingly positive feedback. As each person communicated to another of their friends my beta group increased. I recommend finding voracious readers NOT writers. Many of my novels have been read by captive audiences crossing the Pacific! Another one of my readers shares my name -- Pat. She lives in California and has read all four of my novels and several of my short stories. She is the demographic I write for. I suggest to writers to invest in as much energy finding a group of beta readers as they do in their writing.

Marva: You mention writer Paul Theroux as your mentor. How did you get so lucky? Are you a stalker?

Patricia: It would seem so! It is one of those serendipitous occasions in life. I have been an avid horsewoman and have taught riding in the past. A friend of a friend recommended me, when Paul and his wife told her they wanted to take lessons. Although I was a bit reluctant (I shirked from getting back into giving lessons again and I only knew Paul from his books and interviews) -- they both have been a delight.

We have become great friends. It goes to show you that networking and maintaining wide interests help. I refused payment and Paul offered to read my work. He liked what he read and became my mentor and friend. Keep in mind he did NOT send me to his agent and he did NOT show my work to his publisher. It is a collegial relationship about reading and writing and as such is invaluable.

Marva: How many agents did you approach before being snapped up? I know at least one name, which we won't mention. Also, did you try publishers directly?

Patricia: Only one publisher - McAdams I believe -- and that was with my first novel. I was quite naïve. The rest were agents and they probably number in the neighborhood of between 50 to 70 (I queried some twice). Keep in mind that was for all my novels and over three years.

After attending the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference in 2005 and meeting the author Holly Kennedy and taking a class from Jacquelyn Mitchard I was able to refine my query, start understanding how the business worked, and ultimately was started on the path to creating Lottery and being published.

Marva: Lottery is your debut novel, but do you have a trunk full of old manuscripts in the closet? What else have you published? What future plans can you reveal?

Patricia: I still love the premise of my first novel and I have a total of four completed (including Lottery). I am the finest example of being picked out of the slush pile. I have no real publishing credits outside of a couple small articles in horse magazines that I never ever mentioned in my query.

As far as my next novel I will be cryptic. It is still being edited and will focus on endearing characters in tragic-comic conditions.

Marva: I like to end every interview with a spot where the interviewee can spout off about anything they want. Go.

Patricia: I guess I'll end with what every author is prepared to be asked: What is your advice to aspiring novelists?

My advice? Keep on writing. I think many writers get stuck on one book. You need to write several and FINISH each one, go back and edit, and then start the next. Rinse and repeat!

I am not one for ongoing writers' groups as I think over-all other writers' opinions often times can be detrimental but I am a great one for choosing a writers' retreat or conference that you can attend every year. Get to know other authors through other venues. Teaching riding opened up doors that I might not have had. Keep your eyes and ears open for those great premises...oh yes...and write.
Keep writing.
And never stop.

Marva: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. We all, of course, wish you monster sales when the novel comes out in August. A reminder to my readers: You can order Lottery from Amazon right this second.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I mentioned before that I kindlized (kindled?) my book "Tales of a Texas Boy." It duly appeared on Amazon, complete with the cover art. Cool.

I tagged it on TitleZ, along with my print copies, books in which I am featured, and books by friends. I like to keep an eye on sales. By the way, if you do have a book up on Amazon, TitleZ is a handy way of viewing the ranking without going clear into Amazon to do so.Surprise! Somebody or other I know must have a Kindle and thought, "What the heck. It's only $3.16 discounted. Why not?"

Thank you anonymous buyer. Or if you're the culprit and I know you, tell me and I'll be nice to you for at least a month or so. Or, you could go back in and buy one of the three print versions also available. Yeah, I'm going to add the links now, so you may now leave this post if you want.

Tales of a Texas Boy - Kindle Edition $3.16

Tales of a Texas Boy - Trade Paperback $8.95

Tales Large Print Edition (8x10.5" trim size) $12.56

Tales Large Print Edition (7.4x9.7" trim size) $9.95

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kindle Edition of Tales Now Available

Yes, one more way to read Tales of a Texas Boy. I'll not be satisfied until you, dear blog reader, choose one for your very own.

Here are the links to all of the editions:

Amazon Large Print Paperback $9.95 (smaller trim size than the next)

Try it. You'll like it. Little Eddie promises.

*Also carried by Barnes & Noble. Prices are different.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Get Tales of a Texas Boy Free!

Amazon has put the large print edition on it's 4 for the price of 3 list. This is not the 8x10.5 size, but the more compact 7.4x9.4 size. I can never remember the exact dimensions.

Still, the book lists at $9.95 (less than the $12.56 for the larger trim size with fewer pages), so plunk it in your shopping cart along with three other books also in the 4 for 3 list and you get the lowest price book for free. The $25 free shipping still applies.

How can you beat a deal like that?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

First Duty - On Sale at The Genre Mall

FIRST DUTY by Marva Dasef (that's me)

Order your copy from The Genre Mall. $7.70 plus $4.00 S/H
Order directly from my website for an autographed copy.

THE GREAT NORTHWEST [SDP] -- Years ago, Robert A. Heinlein thrilled millions of younger readers with his YA novels filled with adventures among the stars. Remember The Star Beast? Citizen of the Galaxy? Podkayne of Mars? Starman Jones? Now comes a YA novel from Marva Dasef that is surely the adventurous equal of those long-ago tales.

First Duty is the story of Nyra Hutchings, a young woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, who is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.

Cover illustrated by Dan Skinner of Cerberus.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spotlight on ---- War and Conflict

Dianne Salerni, author of "High Spirits: A Tales of Ghostly Rapping and Romance," has collected another great Spotlight book page on her website. This month features books on War and Conflict.

Check out the books and links at Spotlight on Books.

Great historical books covering everything from the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War, and on.

The link is always the same, although the Spotlight topic changes monthly. Dianne archives all past Spotlight pages so you can browse for your favorite genres.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

Jeffery Lloyd Castle - a two-book wonder. Rummaging thru my bookshelves for something to read (other than tons of ebook and on-line great stuff), I found a copy of "Vanguard to Venus" by Castle. It's a book of the month club hardback. Published 1957. Cool, methinks, the Golden Age or at least close to it. Here is the backcover copy:

LIFE Magazine says there are more than TWO MILLION science fiction fans in this country. From all corners of the nation comes the resounding proof that science fiction has established itself as an exciting and imaginative NEW FORM OF LITERATURE that is attracting literally tens of thousands of new readers every year!
Why? Because no other form of fiction can provide you with such thrilling and unprecedented adventures! No other form of fiction can take you on an eerie trip to Mars . . . amaze you with a journey into the year 3000 A.D. ... or sweep you into the fabulous realms of unexplored Space! Yes, it's no wonder that this exciting new form of imaginative literature has captivated the largest group of fascinated new readers in the United States today!

Warms your cockles, eh? Now we all know when Science Fiction became mainstream. This book's publisher (Dodd, Mead) is pretty darn sure that Castle's book announces the GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION! Woo hoo!

From the jacket flap:

There is an accuracy and integrity about the writing of Jeffery Castle which distinguish his work from the FREAKISH IMAGININGS of lesser writers. And there is more than a touch of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells at their best in the verve and excitement with which he crowds the pages of this new book.

Oh, I guess that's the freakish imaginings of lesser writers such as Manley Wade Wellman, H.P. Lovecraft, E.E. Doc Smith, Jack Williamson, Murray Leinster, Karel Capek, John W. Campbell, C.L. Moore, Stanley Winebaum, Henry Kuttner, Eric Frank Russell, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and others. Oh, that was just the 1930's!

My conclusion is that Sci Fi went mainstream around the 50's. I'm not a student of the history, but I recognize and have read all of the above. Never head of Castle, but I'll salute him in getting the big time publishers to figure out this crazy stuff was going to be big. Really, really big.

Just a blast from the past that I found interesting and amusing. The book ain't half bad either.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cool Looking On-Line Reader

Upload samples of your own work for readers. Now, let's see if I can embed this properly. Click on the little preview to go to the larger version. Sez here in the fine print, anyway. Oh, that's from my book "Tales of a Texas Boy" as published in e-format by Cantarabooks.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Weirdly - Vol 2: First Review Out

Weirdly is an anthology of speculative fiction by a motley crew of writers. It tends to the spooky, weird (hence the title), and somewhat icky.

Read the complete text at Cocktail Reviews.


What a great selection of weird and wonderful tales. Weirdly Volume 2: Eldritch is perfect for readers who like a bit of strange. The authors have explored many aspects of our world that could be possible—just that society tells us that it isn’t so. Who really knows if vampires don’t exist? Who can really prove that ghosts and parallel lives aren’t there right under our noses?

I prefer to keep an open mind, and on more than one occasion while reading I believed that there is more to this world where we live…we just don’t see it—or have lost the ability to perceive such things for ourselves.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

IAG Spotlight - Science Fiction

Dianne Salerni, author of High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance, presents a monthly spotlight of books by independant authors. This month, the spotlight is on Science Fiction.

My book, First Duty (available through The Genre Mall), is featured along with several others. Each book is presented with descriptions, cover art, and links.

Visit Dianne Salerni's Spotlight On page. The genre changes monthly. At the bottom of the page, Dianne has provided links to previous months' spotlights.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

All Dressed Up and Ready to Go

The latest incarnation of Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print now has the Search Inside feature. This is a handy-dandy trim size for young and old alike.

The 18Pt type is eyesight-impaired friendly. I can even read it without my glasses.

The trim size (dimensions) is an easier-to-hold 9.7 x 7.4 x 0.3 inches with 138 pages.

Price: $9.95 and eligible for free shipping and handling.

For my readers who were so kind as to review one or more of the other editions of Tales, feel free to drop by this book's product page and click the star ratings at the top. If you'd like to repost your review, too, I'd appreciate that as well.

A big thanks to all of you who've told me how much they liked this book. It means a lot to me when a reader sends me a note telling me "I laughed, I cried. Thanks so much for writing this."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now on SALE! Weirdly, Volume II

Ebook NOW on sale at Wild Child Publishing. $5.95

From paranormal to weird, from chilling to odd to scary, Weirdly Volume 2: Eldritch 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.

Soldiers must reach their destination before the undead get to them first... What does the picture on the wall mean to Jen? Fate holds something in store for Lewis—but is it what he wants? Lillie embarks on another quest... Is the young man who sees and hears fluffy beings insane? An old letter urges a young woman to the train station—but is the train that puffs into view real? All these tales and more. Dare you read them?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

All Three Editions Now Available

There are now three trims size of Tales of Texas Boy. Buy all three. I won't mind.

Tales of a Texas Boy $8.95 Tradesize paperback, 6x9, 12pt type.

Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print $12.56, 8x10 paperback, 18pt type.

Monday, June 02, 2008

News From Sam's Dot Publishing

Marva Dasef's "First Duty" Reaches Earth

Order your copy from The Genre Mall. $7.70 plus $4.00 S/H

THE GREAT NORTHWEST [SDP] -- Years ago, Robert A. Heinlein thrilled millions of younger readers with his YA novels filled with adventures among the stars. Remember The Star Beast? Citizen of the Galaxy? Podkayne of Mars? Starman Jones?

Now comes a YA novel from Marva Dasef that is surely the adventurous equal of those long-ago tales. First Duty is the story of Nyra Hutchings, a young woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, who is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.

Marva Dasef lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and a fat cat. She has dabbled in a variety of genres, with fantasy, science fiction, romance, literary, children's, and historical fiction published in a variety of on-line and print magazines. First Duty is her breakout into longer fiction.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Encore: Michelle Moran - Walk Like an Egyptian

UPDATE: Nefertiti is now available in paperback!

Buy it at for only $10.17! The entire great story at a bargain price.

Michelle Moran had a vision of a Queen of the Nile. No, not the notorius Cleopatra, but the more mysterious Nefertiti. Was she a Pharaoh? What was she like? There’s a lot that the average person doesn’t know about her. Michelle has done all the work for we curious, yet lazy, folk. She has painted a portrait of a lady hidden in the mists of time for the rest of us to enjoy.

Michelle was always a history buff, focusing on the great English writers from Chaucer to Milton. She had a chance to go on an archeological dig and turned into a history maven. From her travels (she’s been everywhere) to her research, she homed in on Nefertiti. She spent four years researching and writing the novel and it just came out on July 10th. It’s already very successful, beyond the wildest dreams of most of us writers.

Since I’ve been a follower of Michelle’s History Buff blog, I’d thought about bothering her for an interview. With the release of NEFERTITI it seemed the perfect time.

Please visit Michelle’s website for a host of background information about the Egypt described in her novel. She has lots of interesting facts, including a really fun interactive family tree.

In addition, Michelle hosts the blogs History Buff and History Buff Interviews.

And, of course, Nefertiti: A Novel is available wherever fine books are sold. Try Amazon if you like to order on-line, but I'm sure the book will also be showing up in your local bookstore.

Now on to the interview.

Marva: Michelle, thanks for taking the time to answer some burning questions about your new novel, “Nefertiti: A Novel.”

I noticed some recent documentaries on Egyptology on the History Channel and on Discovery. Strangely, much of this news circles around Nefertiti and her husband, Akhenaten. Did you have any idea the release of your book would coincide with these new discoveries?

Michelle: The timing was certainly fortuitous, with the identification of Hatshepsut’s mummy taking place just a few days before the release. Another story that has been bubbling away concerns the very bust of Nefertiti that had first sparked my interest in her story. It has been on display in Berlin for decades, but recently there has been pressure from the Egyptian government for its return, creating a diplomatic war of words. So certainly I feel that timing helps. But on the other hand, there remains a great deal left that we are always discovering about Egypt, and so much that is timeless about its appeal. Ultimately, people respond to the story, and to a period in history that enthralls us.

Marva: The bust of Nefertiti is one of the most recognizable artifacts from ancient Egypt. What drew you to write about this famous, yet mysterious, queen of Egypt?

Michelle: My travels to archaeological sites around the world have been enormously influential in my writing career. In fact, my inspiration to write on Nefertiti happened while I was on an archaeological trip. During my sophomore year in college, I found myself sitting in Anthropology 101, and when the professor mentioned that she was looking for volunteers who would like to join a dig in Israel, I was one of the first students to sign up. When I got to Israel, however, all of my archaeological dreams were dashed (probably because they centered around Indiana Jones). There were no fedora-wearing men, no cities carved into rock, and certainly no Ark of the Covenant. I was very disappointed. Not only would a fedora have seemed out of place, but I couldn’t even use the tiny brushes I had packed. Apparently, archaeology is more about digging big ditches with pickaxes rather than dusting off priceless artifacts, which were kept far from the clumsy hands of amateurs!

Volunteering on an archaeological dig was hot, it was sweaty, it was incredibly dirty, and when I look back on the experience through the rose-tinged glasses of retrospect, I think, Wow, it was fantastic! Especially when our team discovered an Egyptian scarab that proved the ancient Israelites had once traded with the Egyptians. Looking at that scarab in the dirt, I began to wonder who had owned it, and what had possessed them to undertake the long journey from their homeland to what would become Israel.

On my flight back to America I stopped, as I mentioned, in Berlin. With a newfound appreciation for Egyptology, I visited the Altes museum where Nefertiti’s limestone bust was being housed. The graceful curve of Nefertiti’s neck, her arched brows, and the faintest hint of a smile were captivating to me. Who was this woman with her self-possessed gaze and stunning features? I wanted to know more about Nefertiti’s story, but when I began the research into her life, it proved incredibly difficult. She’d been a woman who’d inspired powerful emotions when she lived over three thousand years ago, and those who had despised her had attempted to erase her name from history. Yet even in the face of such ancient vengeance, some clues remained. Those clues formed the structure of Nefertiti: A Novel.

Marva: Research. The biggest part of an historical writer’s time is spent simply researching. Tell us a little about your methods and sources. Then, how do you apply the research to your novel? And a chicken-egg question. What came first? The research or the plot?

Michelle: I begin by purchasing what feels like every book ever written on the subject I'm interested in. Sometimes that means our mail carrier will be delivering sixty books to my house in one week. It takes me several months to go through them, and when I feel like I have a pretty strong outline of my subject's life, I make a storyboard and begin to look for holes. Whatever holes I find, I try to patch with an event that is coherent with other facts, logic, and human nature, (three fairly constant guiding stars.) If I have doubts with a setting or a scene, I have friends in the archaeological world who can advise me on whether or not something I want to include is realistic.

Which means that all of the major events and characters in NEFERTITI are based on fact. Even the description of Nefertiti’s palace and the images she had painted beneath her throne are historically accurate. Archaeologists today are extremely lucky that so much of Nefertiti’s life is well-preserved. But it wasn’t always this way. After Nefertiti’s reign, her enemies tried to destroy her memory by demolishing her city. The historical character of Horemheb, in particular, wanted to be sure that nothing of hers remained, so he broke her images down piece by piece and used them as rubble to fill the columns of his own buildings. Fast forward three thousand years, however, and as Horemheb’s columns began to deteriorate, what was found hidden inside were the perfectly preserved shards of Nefertiti’s image and life story. The irony! I think that this is the core of what we trust in as writers- that the essence of our subjects’ lives will come tumbling out through our stories, if we only chip away at the right spot…

Marva: Nefertiti is your first novel. It’s getting a great reception for a debut novel. What was the process from finished manuscript to publishing?

Michelle: I am represented by the wonderful agent Anna Ghosh at Scovil Chichak Galen, and she took on the task of submitting the novel that a previous agent had suggested I write. But my heart hadn’t been in the book. It was set in the 20th century, and my specialty – what I studied in college and what I’ve since become an amateur historian on – is ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages. We had quite a few near-misses with the novel, where editors wanted to purchase the book but were turned down by the acquisitions team, (since all sales have to be approved by committee.) After Anna had completed the rounds of all the major publishing houses, I began to panic that I’d been dropped as a client. That is when I started Nefertiti, a project I was extremely passionate about. Anna waited patiently for two years while I worked, and eventually went on to sell the novel and its sequel for six figures to Crown. After that, her foreign-rights colleague Danny Baror sold Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen to more than fifteen countries.

I do believe there is a moral to this story, which is to be persistent and not to be afraid of starting a new project. Much as Thomas Edison famously found 1,000 ways to not build a light bulb, I have thirteen books that I’ve written thus far- and just because they’re not published doesn’t mean I didn’t learn from them, or that the stories aren’t worth telling. It’s even possible, though unlikely, that with some reworking I may publish one or more in the future. I think what aspiring writers need to understand is that if something isn’t right for the current market, that doesn’t mean they should simply give up. With each book you’ll get better as a writer, and eventually you will strike gold!

Marva: What are the important points of Nefertiti’s life? What made her worthy of historical study, aside from that fabulous face?

Michelle: As a young girl Nefertiti had married a Pharaoh who was determined to erase the entire Egyptian pantheon and replace it with a single sun-god he called Aten. It seemed that Nefertiti’s family allowed her to marry this impetuous king in the hopes that she would tame his wild ambitions. Yet far from showing restraint, the royal couple pushed Egypt’s fragile peace to the breaking point, as Nefertiti joined him in building his own capital of Amarna from where they ruled as god and goddess. The powerful Nefertiti did have a sister who tried to keep her grounded, and in an image of her found in Amarna, the sister is depicted standing off to one side, her arms downcast while everyone else enthusiastically praises the royal couple. That image served as the kernel for the novel’s narrative. The story, (as told by this skeptical yet kind sister Mutny) is about not only the historic clashes that swirl around the kingdom, but also Mutny’s own struggles for normality and love in the shadow of a demanding Queen’s constant crises.

Marva: I’d like to know something obscure that you discovered in your research about her. What about Nefertiti excites your imagination the most?

Michelle: Perhaps Nefertiti’s style, the individualism that still set her apart even millennia later. This ranged from her radical approach to politics and religion, down even to the seemingly trivial fact that she had double ear-piercings at a time when no-one else apparently though to do the same. Then, as now, this “uniqueness” soon had its imitators! Nefertiti’s daughter, for instance, developed her own perfume line. It probably would have been similar to the fragrance found in King Tut’s tomb, which was made with:

One quarter cup coconut oil
6 drops of essential oil of spikenard
6 drops of essential oil of frankincense

So look for those ingredients in the spikenard aisle of your local grocery store!

Marva: I always like to end an interview with an open invitation for the interviewee to fill us in on anything she’d like. Go for it.

Michelle: Well, I have an open question of my own. I’d love to see her story adapted to the big screen, but who (amongst actors you’ve heard of!) would blog readers like to see playing the role of Nefertiti and the other leads?

Marva: Good question for my readers. I'll chime in with Angelina Jolie for Nefertiti. She's exotic enough for the role. As for the other leads? Catherine Zeta Jones for Mutny. With these women, who cares who plays the men?

Thanks, Michelle, for giving us the low-down on Nefertiti. I look forward to reading it and writing a review when my copy arrives.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Duty - Scifi for June Publication

Sam's Dot Publishing is a good friend of mine.

Well, Tyree, the managing editor must be in any case.I sent Tyree "First Duty" a science fiction novella yea these many moons ago. It's finally on the front burner and scheduled for a June release. I would LOVE to show the rough cover art for the book, but I'll hold off until Tyree tells me it's a done deal.In any case, here's the book's backcover blurb:

Nyra Hutchings, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life.

I would like to give credit where it's due. I posted my original query letter and synopsis on my critique group's forum. A lovely young woman, who goes by EmeraldSky, wrote the above and I just couldn't find fault with it. Thanks, Em! You're a peach and write a hell of a query paragraph.

To add to the short form, "First Duty" is a pure scifi. No romance here, folks. I really don't think that the heroine needs to fall for some hunky space cadet. Nyra is her own woman. She has to make some tough decisions, but she's up to the challenge. I hope folks will enjoy the story.

Support the Troops, But a Ribbon Doesn't Cut It

My good friend, Bryan Catherman, is an Iraq war vet. He wrote an article then read it for an audio report on KUER radio (University of Utah). Please visit the KUER site and listen to his article. The following is only the introduction, not the article itself.

I'm passionate about issues effecting military veterans, especially veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Over the past couple of days, congress has squabbled over fixing the outdated Montgomery GI Bill, a program to help soldiers get an ducation. Some of our Congressmen and women don't want to update the outdated program because soldiers may leave the military for better options.

I've also recently learn the hard way that the VA Home Loan program, designed to help soldiers purchase a home, has ratcheted down it's olicies such that it's more difficult for a Veteran to use a VA program than conventional or FHA home loan programs, the same programs on-veterans use to purchase homes. (The VA loan does not give oldiers any money, it's only a guarantee from the US Government overing a portion of the loan should the veteran default.)

But the issue I'm most passionate about is the funding, stigmatization, and making available of mental health programs for eturning veterans. I'm a veteran of the Iraq War and I've used these services. I believe this program saved my marriage, family, career, and even my life. I'd like to invite you to listen to a personal essay about my observations from within the VA mental health clinic.

KUER Radio Audio Article

If you'd like to learn more about how you can truly "support the troops," visit I belong to this organization and strongly believe in the work were doing. I hope my recorded essay has encourages you to do more than simply say you "support the troops."

Brave Rifles!

Bryan Catherman

Iraq War Veteran

Addendum: Bryan posted a comment:

Some of my friends and family have asked what they can do to help our Vets. There are a number of things we can do.

1. Learn more about and join the IAVA as a supporter. (An Internet search for "IAVA" will take you there. I'd love to post a link by it probably won't make it through the spam filter.) You will receive occasional e-mails outlining different ways you can take action and support our Veterans. The IAVA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.

2. You can make a donation to the IAVA; big or small it all helps. Or purchase a copy of CHASING GHOSTS by Paul Rieckhoff because a portion of each sale goes to the IAVA. Buy it on the website and you can get it signed by the author.)

3. Learn more about the documentary, "Reserved to Fight" by Mirror Lake Films. I saw this film the day before I walked through the doors of the VA. This movie follows 4 veterans for 5 years and I firmly believe going to the screening saved my life. (I will so be holding a screening at my home, so if you're in the Salt Lake area, look me up.) "Reserved to Fight" will air on PBS in November but you can pre-order your copy now. The soundtrack is awesome too!

4. Take it one step further and donate to Mirror Lake Film's Voice for Veterans Outreach Program, an effort to get help for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets. They're also trying to share their documentary at colleges and universities across the nation.

5. Call, E-mail, or write a letter to your Senators and Representative expressing that you'd like to see them care for our vets by increasing funding for VA Mental Health, passing the New GI Bill, and supporting our troops in meaningful ways, ways that are more than just lip service.

6. Chat with Combat Veterans, this war or any war. Ask them about their service. Look for ways to help them. Listen to them. You might not be able to completely understand, but you can still listen.

7. Vote.

8. Pray for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Discount Code

Just because you've read this blog, you can get a $1.00 discount off "Tales of a Texas Boy" trade paper back edition.

Here's the code to enter for the discount: 95NPA44K

Here's the link to apply that discount to the purchase.

Let me know if you try to use the discount code and it doesn't work as advertised. This price will get you Tales for $9.95.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

April Isn't the Cruelest Month

Well, not in terms of my book sales. I had a nice pop up on Amazon sales for the Large Print Edition of "Tales of a Texas Boy." I don't know why, except I have a suspicion that a certain 'SarahJen', who bought a copy from me a couple of weeks ago, has coerced her friends and family into buying their own copies.

Now, I'll press the point that if you have any kind of connection of Texas or you liked "Huckleberry Finn," then I suspect you really would like "Tales."

Okay, I'm only comparing "Tales" to "Huckleberry Finn" in that it's a first person narrative of a pre-teen boy, written in a Southern dialect. I obviously don't have the themes and great writing of Mark Twain, but if you liked Huck, you'd probably like little Eddie, too.

Buy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or directly from me.

If you don't have those links by now, then I guess you never will.

Have a great May!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

IAG Featured Writer: Celia Hayes

Celia Hayes is author of "To Truckee's Trail." She lives in San Antonio, Texas and likes to write about the Southwest. Here is part of a review of "To Truckee's Trail" I wrote in an earlier post:To Truckee's Trail, by Celia Hayes is a partially fictional account of pioneers making a journey by wagon train across the western American plains and mountains in search of a better life. Drawing on the journal of an energetic and multi-talented doctor and from interviews with some of the participants done in later years, Ms. Hayes paints a portrait of the extremely difficult struggles pioneers of the early 1800's experienced.

I recommend To Truckee's Trail because it is entertaining and educational. A fine work and a worthy read. The book is available at and other booksellers. Celia's website is found at

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Story in May Issue of Sorcerous Signals

"The Cursed Valley," a gripping tale of murder and revenge, is available for reading and your vote in the current issue of Sorcerous Signals.

Illustrated by Marge Simon and written by lil ol' me.

First paragraph:

The guards brought Vendevor the Wizard into the castle's main hall, converted to a temporary courtroom for the trial. Vendevor, stripped of his bag of magic herbs, cowered under the glare of Tain, the centaur Lord of the Valley. Tain wanted to show mercy, but the wizard's crime was too horrible. The wizard had poisoned the lake, killing three of the resident merfolk. It was murder, plain and simple, and Tain had to pass judgment.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Miracle of Discounting

Tales of a Texas Boy - Trade Paperback Edition

Through the Miracle of Amazon's Megalithic Corporate Presence, Tales is now offered at a miserly $9.86 on Amazon. Buy something else and toss in a copy of Tales to get that free shipping on $25 or more.

How did this happen? I caved in, that's how. I took my files and trotted (in cyber terms, I clicked) over to Amazon's book printer, CreateSpace, and made up a new edition. This edition is only sold on Amazon. Because the book is printed by Amazon facilities, no shipping is involved in getting a copy from somewhere else, thereby eliminating the additional shipping and allowing Amazon to take less on their share.

I can't even sell the book at this price unless I did add something on for shipping. So, I'm not going to sell this direct from my website any longer. The LARGE PRINT edition is still a better price from my website at $12.95, which includes shipping.

If you don't like Amazon, then the book is also available through Barnes and Noble. Or send me an email on my Contact page of my website: and we'll work a deal. You can also order the Large Print edition directly from me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I've Been Eviled

Evil Editor posted a shredding of my query letter. Since it takes a month or so to collect all the fake plots for a query, my REAL query is much improved. Still, EE's points are well-taken, even if he doesn't know that bound is the past tense of bind, in addition to 'going in the direction of'. Oh, well, nobody's perfect. Check it out at:

Evil Editor Shreds My Query

To rise to my defense, here's my query letter (at least the meaty part) after a lot of aid and assistance from the fine folk on the Query Tracker Forum. Feel free to make suggestions. I'm always fine-tuning.

Dear Lovely Agent Person:

[something here to show that this isn't a spam query, but that I know a bit about the agent] I hope that BAD SPELLING, a completed 44,000 word middle-grade fantasy, might appeal to you.

Katya wants to be a good witch, but her spells don’t just fizzle, they backfire with spectacular results, like when she tries to transform a rabbit into a frog and plasters the walls with green goo instead. She discovers that a shaman has put a curse on her father’s glacier- bound body, and it’s not only ruining her magic, but it’s spreading to the rest of her arctic island home. Katya and Rune, her half-vampire brother, race across the Barents Sea, fighting off polar bears, giants and magical attacks. Leaving the curse behind, she discovers her magical affinity with animals. She must use her newfound skill to confront the evil shaman and stop him from destroying her home and family. . .never mind burning her at the stake.

[paragraph boasting of my many writing credits]


Thursday, April 17, 2008

IAG Featured Writer: Dianne Salerni

High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance
by Dianne K. Salerni
Buy it at

or Barnes and Noble

ISBN-10: 0595423507
ISBN-13: 978-0595423507

In mid-nineteenth century America, spirits knock and tables tip for Maggie and Kate Fox, two teenage sisters who convince people they can talk to the dead with their mysterious rapping noises. Before long, neighbors are begging Maggie and Katie for the chance to receive messages from dead relatives and older sister Leah realizes that their "prank" has real money-making potential.

Soon, the sisters hit the road to bamboozle newspaper editors, politicians, and the public at large and start a national craze for spirits and ghosts. Their fame grows--but could their powers actually be real? See the good and the bad that can happen when three sisters land in the limelight and come to their own conclusions about what’s true, what’s right and what’s important.

The neat thing about this book is that it's based on the true story of the Fox sisters, who more or less started the entire Spiritualist craze in the 1850s. But more than just showing this thin slice of the times, the book is a fully realized description of pre-Civil War life on the east coast of the US. This isn't a period heavily covered in fiction. The focus on mid-nineteenth century America is mostly toward the Civil War and the antebellum South.

In the first few chapters, I was worried. They seemed kind of repetitive, going through all of the Fox sisters various rapping techniques, but then Ms. Salerni gets rolling and turns the book into a can't-put-it-down page turner. High praise for High Spirits? Yes, but I'm praising it in the context of what it is: a personal story of a young woman caught up in a lie that lasts for years, a lie she can't get out of even if it means losing the love of her life.

We want to yell at Maggie to grab her guy and head off to the arctic with him, but that "just was not done." We learn of the social mores that require Maggie to defer virtually every decision about her life to her overbearing older sister, Leah.

Her younger sister, Kate, isn't any help since she not only enjoys the deceptions the girls put over on a naive public, but begins to believe that the rapping she performs by cracking the joints of her toes is actually a message from the spirits.

Ms. Salerni is a teacher in "real life" so I'm not surprised the book ends with a page or two of discussion questions. Interestingly, this list made me think a little harder about the book. Darn, I hate when a book does that! Seriously, the book is educational in a highly entertaining way. Ms. Salerni asks: "How did the common view of females in the nineteenth century work in the favor of the Fox sisters?" and "Is it possible that good can be accomplished through deception?" and "How was it that people could be so easily fooled by what, in hindsight, seems an obvious fraud?" Yes, indeed, the subject matter of the book is a perfect vehicle for making kids think about such weighty matters. . .and have fun doing it.

My overall assessment of "High Spirits" is that it's certainly worth reading. Unfortunately, it is a POD, which makes it a pricey paperback. I hope Ms. Salerni tries for an agent and commercial publisher. It seems to me this book should be a good seller for a wide variety of readers. Those that like historicals will find plenty of good detail to keep them interested, romance readers will shed a tear over poor Maggie's lovelife, folks interested in spiritualism will find a fascinating history of a pair of the original spirit rappers.

I certainly recommend the book to anybody who is interested in the subject matter, but also to the general reader looking for a darn good tale.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Time To... Volume 2 Review

Kindle Version Now Available at
Buy A Time To... Volume 2 on the Wolfsinger Storefront

From Fiction Factor Reviews:

Carol Hightshoe continues to amaze me with the quality of stories she chooses for her e-zines (The Sorcerous Signal and The Lorelei Signal). She's brought another delightful collection together to commemorate the second year of publication. In "A Time To… Volume 2" the stories are well-written, thought provoking and moving. While many of the authors are new, their style and delivery is rich and strong.

Growing up with fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and written by Hans Christian Anderson, I have a special place in my heart for "The WITCH'S REVENGE" by Barbara Davies. She captures the feel and atmosphere of Anderson's work in this sequel to "The Tinderbox". One of my favorite tales, she turns it on it's ear and tells it from the witch's point of view. Justin Stanchfield's "PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST IN MANGANESE AND COPPER OXIDE" is the story of the relationship between a mother and daughter and he brings it to fruition when the daughter finally understands her mother's need to create.

"HARLEYS IN DRIFTWOOD" is a story I read when it was first printed in the Lorelei Signal and I was struck by how it reminded me of some of the early fantasy stories I'd read as a young teen. It left me imagining so much more than C.A. Casey had written and I remembered why I fell in love with the genre.

It would be hard to choose a favorite in this well-crafted collection, but "KASERIE'S CHOICE" is certainly in the top three. Linda Epstein does a wonderful job of world building in a short story format. Never an easy task with so few words, but I was immediately transported to the world she had created and enthralled by the growth of the main character, Kaserie. "MENTOR FOR HIRE" was another favorite and Gloria Oliver had me feeling Rees's frustration, delight and consternation in turn. The tale left me hoping and believing that Rees would find a way to turn this half victory into a full one.

Too often I hear people say that they can't relate to science fiction or fantasy because it has nothing to do with the real world, but Marva Dasef showcases how socially oriented fantasy can be with her story "THE DELEGATE." Even androids can have "a dream" of being human and their struggles can mirror our own world.

Well worth the time and money, A Time To… Volume 2 is a must read for the science fiction and fantasy lover. I'm looking forward to the next anthology...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amazon Sales Rank

You may or may not know that the Amazon sales ranking is formulated from various arcane number, positions, sales, competition in similar categories, and examining the entrails of small sacrificial animals.

There's another number plastered on an author's book. I'm not sure at what point it appears. Maybe when a search by category puts the book on the first page of the results list. Anyway, I posted a while back when I toyed with the search categories to find combination which made my book #1. I was just joking around about that.

However, today I got an actual, real, genuine number. My book "Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print" was ranked #6 in the category Books/Large Print/Fiction and Literature.

My book right up there under John Grisham's in a very big grouping. Wow! I'm impressing even myself.

Of course, it will drop rapidly, but it was nice to have a little spurt of sales that legitimately put me on a best seller list.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

IAG Featured Writer

Barry Yelton Of Scarecrows and Scots

Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (September 26, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595401856
ISBN-13: 978-0595401857

Buy it at

Barry Yelton’s story, Scarecrow in Gray, is a fictionalized account of his own great-grandfather’s service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. We first meet Francis Yelton as he’s plowing his fields and thinking what a lucky guy he is: farm, good wife, two beautiful daughters. He knows the war is going on, but hasn’t felt any urge to join up. He’s not a slaveholder and doesn’t particularly agree with slavery, but he just wants to continue with the bucolic life he’s living.

However, war does impinge on his life. Local men have taken on the task of conscripting (drafting) any male of more or less the right age and physical condition. Francis doesn’t want to be thought a shirker, so he decides to enlist rather than be conscripted.

Francis goes off to sign up with his neighbor Whit. They end up spending their entire service together for the last few months of the war. By this time, the Confederate Army is almost a shambles, still fighting only through the stubbornness of the Generals. Robert E. Lee is worshipped by his men, but I have a very difficult time sympathizing with the leaders on either side of this war. Lee continued the war well past any decency, all for some mystical "honor." What is honorable about sending wounded and starving men against the well-fed and well-equipped Federals?

But this isn’t really a story about war, but about one man’s experience of it. Francis is an honorable man; that’s why he continues the fight. He feels regret at the killing and sympathy for even the dying Union man from whom he asks forgiveness. Francis knows full well that the scenes of war and his role in it will haunt him the rest of his life.

Mr. Yelton clearly wants to paint a sympathetic portrait of his great-grandfather. We can only hope that his positive portrayal of Francis was close to the truth. The fact that Francis did not join the Confederacy until late in the war shows he was a reluctant soldier. Mr. Yelton describes many incidents of Francis showing humanity and sympathy for both his fellow soldiers and even the blacks he’s fighting to keep enslaved. He shares food with a black man and is beaten up by some of his fellow soldiers for doing so. He asks a dying Union soldier to forgive him. It’s clear that Francis does not relish war or killing.

"Band of Brothers" is an apt description of the real reason why men fight in wars. Do they ever fight for their country? They might say so, but men go to war for very personal reasons. The man fighting next to them, their mothers and fathers back at home, their wives and children.

This is what Francis Yelton did and we can sympathize with him, no matter what we feel about a war waged to enslave another people.

Now, to the mechanics. Is the book well-written? Yes. I was very pleased with Mr. Yelton’s writing ability. He’s darned good. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in Civil War lore. I’ll warn that some of the fighting scenes and the aftermath are fairly graphic, but no more than you might see in PG-13 movies. Descriptions are vivid and on-point. Just a note here about what that means. I’ve found more than one book that takes an extended break from anything having to do with the characters and storyline. This annoys me. I don’t want a multi-page gap in the story describing mountains or flowers. Stick to the point and you’ll keep me reading. Mr. Yelton puts in just the right amount of descriptive information to keep you in the scene.

Very well done. I'm glad I had a chance to read it.