Friday, April 29, 2016

Spellslinger Now Free on Smashwords

Also available on Kindle (99¢) and Barnes & Nobel (free) and Kobo (free). Go to the Amazon page after getting your free copy, scroll down below the production description and click on the "tell us about a lower price" and enter either link for B&N or Smashwords. Here are the links to the free copies (or click on the cool Smashwords widget):


SPELLSLINGER - Book 0 Prequel to the Witches of Galdorheim

What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic? There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.

That things will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?

This prequel story to the Witches of Galdorheim series gives the reader a chance to get to know the smart-aleck kid, Rune, before he got his magic down pat.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Double Double - Happy Deathday, Will Shakespeare!

Cailleach the Winter Goddess
From Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series

Cailleach is a goddess in the Scottish Celtic pantheon. Descriptions of her looks and personality run the gamut from ugly monster or beautiful protector of the land. This split personality goddess is the winter counterpart to the beautiful Bride (Bridget), the goddess of spring.

Living in the Otherworld after the Celts have stopped worshipping the old ones, Cailleach has let herself go to seed. She spends her days attempting to make sense of the hags’ potion in MacBeth (Double, double, toil and trouble). When she hears that a witch has come into the Otherworld, she begins to scheme. If Cailleach can only steal the witch’s magic, she can be young and powerful again.


The warty witch peered into the cauldron. “It’s time. How did that spell go? You’d think I’d have memorized it by now. Ah, yes.”

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw,

Cailleach dumped the slimy, mottled-brown contents of a glass jar into the cauldron.

Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one

“Let me see. Is this thirty or thirty-one days since I found the frog under the log. It says ‘cold stone’, but I’d think a cold log would work as well.”

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot.

Cailleach sniffed. “Hmm, does this look venomous, or just rotten?”

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

“Well, it’s bubbling. That’s good. Now, which of these mortars has the newt’s eye? That one looks more like a lizard’s leg, or is that goat’s gall?”

For five hundred years, she had been trying to make the spell work, and it always thwarted her. Some ingredients the weird sisters named when cooking up the brew just weren’t right. Either the witches made a mistake, or that Will Shakespeare fellow had written it wrong. Still, the notion appealed to her and she had plenty of time on her hands to play with the formula. She pushed the cauldron closer to the fire and watched the noxious eruptions rise to the top, then burst like so many boils on a beggar’s face.

* * *
Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

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

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Preview of the Week - New Book by Lorinda Taylor

The Ship Buried at the End of the World (Amazon Link)
(The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head - The Sequel)
by Lorinda J. Taylor (Blog:

While many of the participants in the Quest for the Golden Fungus have been lost, the Quest continues under the leadership of Is’a’pai’a Gold-Seeker. Di’fa’kro’mi’s Scribe Chi’mo’a’tu, with the help of wandering Remembrancers and the Star-Brings, undertakes to compose the tale of the final adventures, with the Seer Da’sask’ni’a as the principal narrator.

As the remaining Companions set forth on the last leg of their voyage, new additions to the company lead to both jubilation and tragedy. Then they must dare the dangerous Wandering Rocks and the Closing Gate before sailing to the End of the World to find the Fungus. After planting the reptile’s teeth and dealing with the results, Is’a’pai’a finally returns home to Hwai’ran’chet, bringing along a surprise addition to the company – a Sorcerer and Seer who may be far more dangerous than she appears.

And now for a fascinating excerpt from this final (who knows?) chapter of the series. Enjoy!


As we were crossing the central trading area, our senses were assaulted by wailing from an emaciated and stinking Alate who had come into our path.  “Stay – stay – speak with me!  I have long possessed a gift that I am holding for another and I have been unable to die until I find the one on whom I must confer it.  Speak – speak with me!  Stay and speak!”

We all halted even as a crowd started gathering and someone said, “That’s crazy Mat’hak’tei’a!  She claims to be a great Sorcerer and Seer.  Who knows?  She may actually be one of those.  Stranger things have happened.”

My attention had been caught by the bag the old Alate held aloft in a shaky claw.  I clutched our Captain.  “Is’a’pai’a, speak to her.  She is carrying a bag.”

“Ah.”  Immediately understanding the implication, Is’a’pai’a stepped forward.  “Have you found the one to whom to give the gift?”

The Alate skittered up, thrusting the bag in Is’a’pai’a’s face.  “Open it and learn what lies within, Eastern Champion!”

Is’a’pai’a did so, and I peered into the bag.  It was full of teeth such as might be extracted from the jaw of an enormous reptile, and my setae prickled and stood on end.

“Seer, do you have a tale to go with these teeth?”

“If you will take me to the nearby public refectory and feed me until I no longer hunger or thirst, I will tell you the tale.”

Well, that was easy enough to do.  Mat’hak’tei’a stuffed herself with wood chips and shredded fungus until I thought her belly would burst even as a crowd pressed around to receive her tale.

“Mighty Captain-Leader, once long ago there are fortresses in all the lands of the South, ruled by a great Champion named Pai’grin’a.  In those parts it is the custom to seek out holy springs and bring water to the fortress to bathe the Mothers at certain festivals.  A Seer tells Pai’grin’a to go to a particular spring for the rites of lat’nol|, but when it gets there, it finds a huge reptile guarding the spring, ten times as big as even that Champion who once traveled with you, who has been taken to the stars.”

We all jigged in astonishment.  How did this mad old Alate know about Ki’shto’ba?  We had told our tale in the fortress, but we had never mentioned that our Champion had been taken to the stars.  We began to pay closer attention.

“This reptile kills many of Pai’grin’a’s guards, but the Champion will not give up and fights long and hard.  Finally the reptile says to it, ‘Yield to me, Warrior fool.  You cannot kill me!  I am sacred to the War King!’

“But Pai’grin’a does not yield.  ‘Water from this spring must be taken to the Mother, and if I return without it, I am disgraced and as good as dead anyway.’  And it fought on.

“Finally it senses that the reptile is weakening and it picks up a huge boulder and bashes the reptile’s head.  ‘Ai-i-i, now you kill me in spite of my divine strength.  You are the mightiest of Champions, and so before I die, I will give you a gift.  Cut off my head and pull out my teeth, and sow them in the soil as if you were planting the fungus spores or the seeds of fruit trees, and I promise you a great wonder will result.’  And the reptile expires with a prodigious thrashing that in itself almost kills Pai’grin’a.

“Pai’grin’a’s companions advise it not to accept the reptile’s gift, because such creatures are notorious for their devious natures.  But Pai’grin’a, swelled up with its own prowess, scoffs at its companions for being weakling cowards, and it pulls the many many teeth and plants them as if they were the seeds of fruit trees.  And immediately the ground begins to heave and then it opens up and out leap burly, bristly Warriors with huge jaws and a terrifying smell of invincibility about them.  They begin to attack Pai’grin’a and its remaining companions, but these Tooth-Warriors are not very smart and have little strategic sense, and when Pai’grin’a throws a stone at one of them, they do not know who threw it and they all turn and begin to attack one another.  Gradually they kill each other until only five are left, and these realize they would do better to surrender and to offer their services to Pai’grin’a instead of dying for no reason.  And that is the origin of the Tale of the Sown Warriors, who still live to this day in some part of the Lost World of the South.

“Half of the reptile teeth are not sown, however, and as time goes by these teeth pass from Champion to Champion and fortress to fortress, until no one knows what has become of them.  But, good Easterners, one day I was foraging in a distant land – yes, I have wandered far, even as you have – and I came upon this bag in an abandoned cave-shrine, where the sea goes in and out and makes great spirit-music.  As I picked it up and peered inside, a ground-quake struck and I rushed out of the cave even as its ceiling crashed down behind me.  I brought the bag out with me and I stored the words of the cave-music in my remembering – ‘These are the seeds of the Sown Warriors.  One day you will give them to an Eastern Champion.  Until that day comes, you cannot die.’  And so I have lived longer than any other Sorcerer ever on this world.  I beg – do you have any more of that wonderfully delicious orange berry that I ate just now?”

The Chief of the establishment shoved another bowl at Mat’hak’tei’a, who unconcernedly began to stuff herself again.

We all stood confounded.  Finally, Is’a’pai’a said, “If giving away this gift dooms you to die, I would not think you would be so eager to part with it.”

“Yes,” said Wei’tu, “I am wondering how many other bags of teeth you have given away in return for food.”

And Bu’gan’zei said nervously, “Can you see anything concerning my head?”  He had already asked the fortress’s Seer that question and received only an inscrutable stare in return.

“One day your head will be parted from your body, but not yet,” said Mat’hak’tei’a.

Well, that remark shook us, too, because how could this ancient creature know about that prophecy?

“To appease your skeptical natures,” said Mat’hak’tei’a, “I will only say that my life must come to an end sometime.  I have no fear of death.  I understand the fruit and the twigs of the Afterworld are more tender than anywhere in this world of reality.”  And she tossed more berries between her jaws and chewed lustily, dribbling juice down her palps.

My ocelli had begun to ache.  “Is’a’pai’a, take the gift.  We all know this answers the Seeing of Ko’zim’tuk’zei.  Apparently, this Seer is on Ko’zim’tuk’zei’s path and the fortress’s Seer is looking elsewhere.”

So Is’a’pai’a accepted the gift from Mat’hak’tei’a, who began to praise our Captain – “Remember the tale, magnificent hero!  Do not forget to remember the tale!”  Then she grabbed a large bundle of twigs and bolted off down the byway, but before she lost herself in the crowd, she turned around and cried, “North!  Go north!  You will regret your stubbornness if you do not pay a visit to the Northern Guardian!” and then she was gone.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reviewed Author of the Week - Lorinda J. Taylor

Note: This is the final book in the series, "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head." Good news! Lorinda wasn't ready to leave her termite world, so a sequel to the series is now available. I'll post information about the new book, "The Ship Buried at the End of the World," on Tuesday.

The Revenge of the Dead Enemy by Lorinda J. Taylor
(The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, Volume Six)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Buy on Amazon

So you think you can't empathize with a giant termite? We've had many insectoid and arachnid heroes in literature. Consider "Charlotte's Web." If you didn't get teary-eyed when Charlotte died, then you must have a heart of stone. Other stories empathetic toward multi-legged creatures: Ant Bully, It's a Bug's Life, Bee Story. I'm sure there are others. I don't usually seek out books about bugs, but I could come up with these examples in a few seconds.

So, what about the entire epic journey "The Labors of Ki'sh'toba: Volumes 1-6?" I have previously reviewed 1-5, not to mention the 2-volume "Termite Queen" saga. I liked them...a lot. I continually complained about the difficult names, places, and concepts with the conlang (constructed language) of the Termite world. Too many apostrophes and a bunch of other punctuation I have no clue how to pronounce.

I will complain no more. I still can't pronounce 90% of the termite language, but I can visually recognize the names of the main characters. All have become familiar and lovable in their own ways. Di'fa'kro'mi, the Remembrancer (storyteller) is quite an adept author considering he had to invent a written language in which to tell the tales. I know, the real Remembrancer is Lorinda Taylor, but she is such a wonderful writer, I was immersed in the stories as if they were really told by Di'fa'kro'mi.

As I did when first reading "Charlotte's Web," I wept over the death of some of my favorites throughout the entire six volumes. I cried for termites? Yes, I did, and I'm not ashamed.

The entire tale of Ki'shto'ba and his labors (modeled on the Greek Hercules myth) is hard to get into, but an epic worthy of the difficulty of the journey.

I completely and thoroughly recommend the entire six volumes. But you might want to start with the Termite Queen books to allow yourself to ease into the idea of termite heroes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Freaky Friday Freebie (April 15th-16th)


I decided to try out a giveaway every Friday. Click on the covers below to get your free book of the days for April 15th and 16th. The only hint you get is the free book is one of those pictured in the graphic. A different book every Friday, so come back every week for another.

Freaky Friday

All of the books are Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Go ahead! Click up a gift for yourself.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Heads Up - Freaky Friday Freebie 4/15 and 4/16

Heads Up!

The Freaky Friday giveaway is available on April 15th and 16th. Starts at midnight on the tomorrow and runs until 11:59PM on the 16th.

Here are the possible books you can obtain free from Amazon on the Freaky Friday special. One of them is free tomorrow and Saturday. Just stop by this blog on April 15th or 16th. Click on the book covers that looks like this graphic. You will be whisked away to Amazon to collect your free ebook. Easy, right? The fun part is you don't know which book you'll get until you click.

No, don't click now. You have to wait for the post on April t15h to do your clicking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reviewed Author of the Week (4/13/16)

To Have & To Hold: a Continuing Montana Love Story (A Country James Novel Book 2)To Have & To Hold: a Continuing Montana Love Story by C.J. "Country" James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Buy at Amazon

Book 2 of the Montana Love Story series immediately hits the reader as the polar opposite of Book 1 (Through Better and Worse). First, we discover that Franklin Jarvis has a "lady" friend, Catherine. Hey, why not? Even old (vigorous) dudes deserve a little loving. Next, we find Dree, the female lead of book 1, not living happily ever after. She resents how she's treated on the ranch and the darkness that invades her soul returns to sour her on her marriage to Jake and much more. So much for that romance trope.

I think the word 'romance' has a fuller meaning in this series than standard Happily Ever After romances. C.J. James seeks to show us how it works in real life. The road is not only bumpy, but the characters could crash and burn. Dree is teetering on the edge of insanity when she receives bad news (no spoilers) that jerks the rug right out from under her tenuous grasp on happiness with Jake.

Read the book's back cover description for a taste of the trials and tribulations. Don't expect a happy ending because the Jarvis saga is far from over. To tell the truth, I liked this book more than the first. It's down and dirty, showing the ugliness of life as well as the love that carries the characters onward.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reviewed Author of the Week (4/10/16)

Through Better & Worse: a Montana Love Story (A Country James Novel Book 1)Through Better & Worse: a Montana Love Story by C.J. "Country" James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Buy it on Amazon
Recommended 4-1/2 Stars Rounded Up (that's a pun) to 5.

Not many books are perfect, but this one's darned close for the genre: Contemporary western romance. The details of cattle ranching and division of property I know to be accurate, however, it might be a bit more information than the non-country reader would like. I can just hear the romance fans yelling, "Get on with the kissing!" Nevertheless, I very much appreciate a book that doesn't slide by the setting and circumstances with no more than a how-do-you-do along the way. Readers who like technical details will be pleased.

This is not your bare-chested, sexy cowboy romance (though Jake ain't bad). Those western-romance-lite books are mere cotton candy representations of real ranch life and real ranch people. Author, C.J. "Country" James, knows the people she writes about far better than most. She's taken a pen name for the Country series, of which this book is the first.

Not only does the pseudonymous James write truly and honestly about the modern west, but is also an artist and has recorded her own audio versions of the book. With a woman that talented, you can't go wrong reading or listening to her books.

The first encounter between Dree Blake and Jake Jarvis couldn't have been worse. Jake has a teenage mind inside a man's body. Driving his fancy pickup too fast, he wants to get around the old clunker pulling a horse trailer. But there isn't room to pass. Narrowly missing Dree's horse trailer by a hair, he yells insults at the girl driving the rig. Neither one has any desire to see the other. Ever.

But the Fates are fond of creating coincidental meetings. Dree is heading to the Jarvis ranch to help teach the hands a new, more humane, method of castrating bull calves. After a demo, Dree and the two men from the Montana Department of Agriculture are asked to stay around for the upcoming roundup of the calves. Just as she's putting her mule, Cougar, into the stable, who should come driving in all la-di-da except the man who nearly drove her off the road.

Jake figures Dree is at the ranch to rat on him. He waits nervously for the blow up from his grandfather, Franklin. But nothing happens. Relieved, Jake is grateful the blocky little lady has kept her peace about the encounter.

Dree recognizes Jake all right, and figures out he's the heir to the Jarvis Ranch. It wouldn't be in her best interests to cause a ruckus. Besides, Dree does not like all. An incident from her childhood, violent beyond measure, gives her horrible anxiety attacks. The result is Dree is too quiet and too easily dismissed.

With this inauspicious beginning, Jake and Dree are forced to learn more about each other. They each find the other isn't quite as horrible as they first thought.

As the story progresses, a lot happens, but that'd all be spoiler material. However, this is a big R Romance, so you have an idea of how it turns out. What will surprise the hell out of you is how.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Freaky Freebie - April 9th

Thanks to those of you who clicked through on my blog yesterday. This weekend's free book is a collection of short stories by myself. Most were published in one place or another on-line. Since many of the on-line short story sites disappear, I decided to collect all of the stories in one book. A smaller version of the book containing only the stories suitable for all audiences is always $0.99.

Here's where you can get your free copy of MIXED BAG 2: SUPERSIZED today. Please review. People don't seem to review story collections on Amazon. I know it's hard since you can like some of the stories, hate some of the stories, and 'meh' on others.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Freaky Friday Freebie (April 8th-9th)


I decided to try out a giveaway every Friday. Click on the covers below to get your free book of the days for April 8th and 9th. The only hint you get is the free book is one of those pictured in the graphic. A different book every Friday, so come back every week for another.

Freaky Friday

All of the books are Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Go ahead! Click up a gift for yourself.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Freaky Friday Now Runs 2 Days

Heads Up!

Another Freaky Friday giveaway available on April 8th and 9th. Starts at midnight on the 8th and runs until 11:59PM on the 9th.

Here are the possible books you can obtain free from Amazon on the Freaky Friday special. One of them is free tomorrow. Just stop by this blog on April 8th or 9th. Click on the book covers that looks like this graphic. You will be whisked away to Amazon to collect your free ebook. Easy, right? The fun part is you don't know which book you'll get.

No, don't click now. You have to wait for the post on April 8th to do your clicking.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Reviewed Author of the Week - L.J. Cohen

Note: Even if I really like a book, I still get in my shots. It's all about loving an author. If I didn't love them, I wouldn't read or review the book, but I reserve the right to take those shots.

Stranger Worlds Than These: Short StoriesStranger Worlds Than These: Short Stories by L.J. Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Buy at Amazon

This collection of seven stories is an easy read, particularly because the author has a smooth way with words. Her characters are well-drawn, the reader can discern the problem, and see there are choices to be made.

This mix of science fiction and fantasy reveal a very talented writer. I happen to know LJ Cohen has a number of books out and is also a successful editor. I can't fault these stories in any way, except for one thing--a personal peeve.

I may be the only person on the planet who has this problem. So take it for what it is. Just my thoughts. Nobody else will care and, if they read the following, many others will promptly tell me I just don't get it, I'm a mean bitch, or I don't know how to read. That all may be true. Okay, you've been warned that I'm going to be contrary.

My main problem with short stories of this type is that they STOP rather than END. What does that mean? Take, for example, the first story, "Diversity." It brought us along with the main character as she discovers she has a purpose to her life she didn't expect. It's not a spoiler to say she is a mixed blood human/alien. She had been brought up to believe that her grandparents had left their home planet of Tevhun to better their life, much like immigrants do today. The first generation intermixed with humans and Varna was the resulting half-breed, with a foot in two worlds. That's a great setup. Ultimately, Varna goes to Tevhun, presumably to assist the Terran delegate to negotiate various treaties between the two worlds.

Any more of this would be a spoiler, so I'll skip to the chase. At the end, Varna has a choice. But we, the readers, aren't told what she chooses to do. The story STOPS. If it were to END, we'd learn what Varna decides, then assume other things go on in the future. They can be saved for a sequel.

Literary short stories stop this way most of the time. But this book is science fiction. The purpose of SF is to extrapolate a future. I would feel better served if the author gives me an idea of the continuation. Essentially, this is a cliffhanger. A device used by authors who think by leaving the reader in the air, it will force them to buy book 2. Sorry, but I don't buy book 2 unless book 1 has a satisfactory ending of its own. Short stories, by their nature, never have sequels. Don't leave a cliffhanger. You leave this reader frustrated no matter how well the stories are written. And these stories are really good. I just needed another sentence or two for each story to be a full meal and not an appetizer without the anticipated meal.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Review of the Week (4/3/2016)

Future TenseFuture Tense by L.J. Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Buy the book at Amazon

Matt has a superpower, and he hates it. Not only does it show up randomly, he can't control it or direct it or change it. Knowing the future leads to heartbreak and fear, feeling helpless. It's a superpower he wishes didn't exist.

When he sees a future event for a girl, Amara, he's desperate to stop what he sees happening to her, but everything he does seems to push her closer to the disaster rather than away.

That's a lot of weight on a 17-year-old boy in the foster care system. When he meets Amara's grandmother, Rose, he's baffled by her ability to see the future like he does, but with far less detail--she only gets a fortune teller's vague visions. One thing Rose can teach Matt is how to read the clues of what leads to an event. Maybe that little bit of foretelling will help Matt control his visions.

Future Tense is an absorbing YA read (adult language warning). Matt is a good kid. We readers are rooting for him throughout. We also hope he gets the girl and learns how to use those Tarot cards.

My only complaint, and it's small, is that I felt too much time was spent in Matt's head. While he's tortured by re-runs of events he saw but could not prevent, we readers don't need to go through them every time. Yes, we know what the smell of smoke means after the first three or four mentions. Leave the fifth through umpteenth in Matt's head and show us what's happening to him in the moment. The action is well-done and easy to visualize.

Like YA paranormals with tortured teens trying to overcome obstacles? You'll like Future Tense. The end is satisfying, but does allow for additional books in the series. I'd love to see Matt learn to control his visions and begin to use them for good.