Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Halloween from the Witches of Galdorheim!


Coupon Code for 99 Cents at Smashwords (Regular $7.99)
Sale price good through October 31st

Then decide whether to spend a whole 99 cents for the entire series.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Free Books Calendar


Spellslinger - Free 15th-19th

Bad Spelling - Free 17th-20th

Midnight Oil - Free 21st-24th

Scotch Broom - Free 24th-27th

Blood Ties Tested - Free 27th-31st


So, it's a little sloppy, but it gets the point across, right?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Now in Hardcover! Large Print Tales of a Texas Boy

My seasonal bestseller in paperback large print is now available in hardcover. Yes, it costs more, but that's the nature of the process.

Just so you don't think I'm being a greedy bastard, note that I will make one whole buck from the sale of each book. I'm leaving the price at $13.99 through the holiday buying season, but at the first of the year, it'll be priced like the rest of the hardcover books. That means $15.99 or more. I haven't checked exactly. Anyway, get 'em while they're cheapest.

Here's why. I created this book from stories my father told me about his boyhood in West Texas. He was blind by the time the book was first released, so that's why its first print edition was LARGE PRINT. My father could have read this a couple of years earlier when he still had some vision remaining. But since I didn't get it done in time, my mom and I read the stories to him. He was tickled pink (as they used to say) to have his tales told. I think there was a certain amount of TALL tale to them. That's okay. He loved them, and over the years, others got to love them as well. Many people commented very positively about getting this wonderful book in a print size as a gift for their mom, grandma, grandpa, aunt, or any other older person with vision problems. The nostalgia and rural setting is an additional appealing aspect.

So, here comes Christmas buying season again. Now you can have this fun book in either paperback or hardcover to gift to a person you love who you know will love the book.




TALES OF A TEXAS BOY - AUDIOBOOK $6.95 at Amazon Listen to the Audio Sample for a bit of fun.

Bonus! They all have old-timey photos for illustrations. Some of them are from our family album. Some I found because they fit the story. Here are a few of them. As you can see, they're old and grainy, but totally authentic for the times.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Indigenous Peoples' Day

Two of my books are free on Amazon from Oct. 11-15. See below for links.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Happy Leif Erikson (Scandinavians Discover America) Day

Yes, I know the Native Americans were in North America for thousands of years before Leif Erikson's crew landed. However, he was here before Columbus. Matter of fact, Columbus never landed on the mainland at all. He's a faker. More on that on the 11th. 

In the meantime, we of proud Scandinavian Heritage honor the horny son of Erik the Red. Read all about it here.

If you've read this far, then you know the Smashwords Coupon code for a 99 cent copy of The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim is JL72K.The five-book series centers around a Scandinavian witch and her family. It's a kids' book, so rated cool for everyone.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Book Review: The Drop Dead Temple of Doom

The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom, Book 8 of the Alvarez Family Murder MysteriesThe Drop-Dead Temple of Doom, Book 8 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries by Heather Haven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lea and Gurn travel to the jungles of Guatemala to help find a missing relative. Who at the fabulous archeological site of Mayan tombs had a motive to kidnap or even kill the expedition's leader? There are plenty of suspects. But a great mystery arises when a young man is found dead on the pyramid tomb's steps. But why was he dressed in ancient Mayan garb and why was a yellow poison dart frog in his mouth.

There's a lot more going on at the archaeological dig. Even Indy Jones would be puzzled, but leave it to Lea Alvarez to not only discover the crimes beneath the crimes but who in the party had the motive to kill.

That's all I'll say. As usual, the Alvarez Family provides the reader with plenty of mayhem with Lea Alvarez sitting right in the middle of it--as usual.

Read the whole series. You'll be glad you did.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Welcome Autumn!

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

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

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

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

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

The Chinese Moon Festival is one of the biggest annual holidays in China. It is also called the Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival. According to Chinese legend, this is the birthday of the earth god "T'u-ti Kung.

Chinese Moon Festival, or the Mooncake Festival, is a celebration of the Autumn harvest. It occurs when the moon is the brightest. and the highest in the sky. This celebration is one of the oldest holidays in the world, dating back thousands of years. Early celebrations included worship of the moon as a god.
Making, giving, and eating mooncakes is a tradition on this day. Mooncakes pastries are thick and dense. They can be filled with a variety of things. Mooncake fillings are not usually sweets. It is often filled with beans, nuts, or seeds. Recipes vary.  Happy Chinese Moon Festival Day!
* * *
So, you have lots of good reasons to celebrate the week of the Solstice. Why not at least lift a glass of grog to say goodbye to summer and hello to the beginnings of winter.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Pondering Finnish Mythology

In the second book of my fantasy series, The Witches of Galdorheim, I freely messed around with Finnish myth for a couple of characters. They are sisters (cousins, whatever) who were at odds. At one point the mythic sisters, Ilmatar and Ajatar, have an epic battle in the skies. Since they're both magical, they can shape shift at will. Ajatar becomes a dragon and Ilmatar a roc. Somebody posted this picture of what could easily be a mating between a dragon and a roc. I'm sharing it because it's really neat.

The entire series revolves around a young witch in search of her own power, a power she doesn't even know she has. Anyway, you can get the entire series in a single volume. The two magical sisters appear together in book 2: Midnight Oil.

Bad Spelling (Book 1)

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

Midnight Oil (Book 2)

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

Scotch Broom (Book 3)

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

Blood Ties Tested (Book 4)

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

Spellslinger (Prequel Short Story)

What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic?

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Here Be Monsters


Setara and her genie, Basit, meet many interesting mythological creatures, but only two should be included in the category Monsters. Here’s a bit about the role each monster plays in Setara’s Genie.

Azhi Dahaka

Azhi is a dragon demon who’s supposed to be dead, but comes back to life a little bit ticked off because his blood was used by the Great Vizier hundreds of years before to create a breed of fire-breathing, flying horses.

A storm demon from Iranian mythology. He steals cattle and brings harm to humans. It is a snake-like monster with three heads and six eyes who also personifies the Babylonian oppression of Iran. The monster will be captured by the warrior god Thraetaona and placed on the mountain top Dermawend. In a final revival of evil, it will escape its prison, but at the end of time (fraso-kereti) it will die in the river of fire Ayohsust.

Even though this particular description includes multiple heads and pretty bad attitude, I also found an ancient bas relief that purports to be Azhi Dahaka. Decide what you will. A monster is a monster no matter how many heads he or she has.

Excerpt Featuring Azhi Dahaka

Setara rounded the bend in the tunnel and stopped dead in her tracks. Azizah and Kairav stood at one end of a huge cavern, heaving large stones as fast as they could. At the other end, about forty feet away, the strangest creature she’d ever seen was shooting jets of fire from its mouth. It had great bat-like wings that created a rush of wind each time the dragon stroked downward. It possessed four legs but had reared up and clawed at the air with the front set. Fangs at least six inches long lined the animal’s jaws. It seemed reptilian with its elongated head and scaly sides. However, it was huge by reptile standards, being more than twenty feet long and barely fit in the end of the cavern. Its scales rippled with colors—green, violet, orange, blue.

Basit flew around the cavern, attempting to outflank the creature. He began hurling balls of light from his fingertips. They didn’t appear to do anything other than annoy the beast, but the interruption did distract it from breathing fire at Azizah and Kairav. When it turned its head to shoot fire toward Basit, Azizah ran forward and threw another huge rock. It struck the beast’s head, knocking it against the wall.

It turned one last time and let out a loud roar that shook small stones off the walls. Then, it shrank rapidly to no more than ten feet long. With a single bound, it leaped into the tunnel on the far side of the cavern and was gone in a flash of purple and green.

Setara ran to Azizah, who dropped the stone she was just about to throw. Kairav and Basit joined them. Sheik ran in circles around the group, barking for all he was worth.

“Shush, Sheik. We can’t hear ourselves think.” Setara chastised the agitated dog. Sheik dropped to his belly panting from the excitement.

“What was that thing?” Setara looked at the grim faces of her friends.

“Azhi Dahaka,” Basit answered.

* * *

The Kraken

The Kraken is a fearsome beast. Yikes! Just look at that shot from an old movie. From Encyclopedia Mythica ( we learn that the Kraken isn’t a Greek myth at all. The good old Vikings claim the Kraken as their own.

In Norwegian sea folklore, the Kraken is an enormous sea monster which would sometimes attack ships and feed upon the sailors. It was supposed to be capable of dragging down the largest ships and when submerging could suck down a vessel by the whirlpool it created. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid or cuttlefish.

To find something like the Kraken in Grecian myth, you have to look at Ceto the Sea Serpent (she appears in the Witches of Galdorheim series). In the legend of Perseus, Andromeda is chained to a rock to be fed to a sea monster. Not the Kraken. A sea monster.

Okay, kids. Have we got it straight now? However, what do we care where any legend begins or ends. I mash up myth, legend, and folklore to my heart’s content.

Excerpt Featuring the Kraken:

Basit quickly cast a floating spell on her. At water level, the waves prevented him from seeing very far, so he rose above the surface several feet to see what was going on. What he observed sent a cold chill down his spine.

“A kraken wrecked the boat. I don’t see...wait. There’s Kairav. Dolph should be below the surface if he transformed.”

The huge head of the kraken rose again and struck down on the last broken shreds of the dhow. The sea beast was enormous, its hide an ugly, splotchy gray, with tentacles whipping around its lumpy head. Giant eyes, placed on either side of a beak-like mouth, stared as unblinking as a shark. The creature destroyed the last remnants of the boat; then cast about, searching for any survivors.

Basit dropped back beside Setara and spelled them both invisible to the kraken but visible to each other. He didn’t want his mistress to panic if she couldn’t see him. He whispered just loud enough for her to hear. “Be quiet. When it leaves, I’ll spell you to shore.”

“No,” she whispered in return. “We can’t leave Dolph out here with that monster. We must find him first.”

Basit shook his head in frustration. He could not send her to shore once she had spoken her wishes to him. She had tied his magical hands.

“Very well. But be quiet until—”

The genie hesitated. The kraken had sunk below the surface. Was it gone? Or was it swimming toward them beneath the waves? Basit sank down and looked in all directions but saw nothing in the murky water. The kraken was so huge, it had stirred muck from the bottom and clouded the sea about them, but he could feel the water roiling from its movements. The beast still lurked nearby.

Basit rose to the surface again. The sight of Dolph clutched to one of the kraken’s tentacles while it smashed up and down on the surface struck terror in even his staunch heart. He turned to Setara. “Quick! How should I help?”

“Wait. I think Dolph can handle this.”

“You have more faith in him than I,” Basit responded with a grim frown.

The kraken writhed and twisted with Dolph hanging to its tentacle. It dove again, dragging Dolph down with him. The sea became still. Kairav made his way to their side, and Basit included him within the invisibility shield.

“Shouldn’t we do something?” Kairav asked as he floated nearby.

Setara said, “Not yet.”

“The boy might already be dead,” Basit said, frowning. Why was his mistress failing to send aid to Dolph? Again, he could not go against her spoken wishes.

* * *
If you'd like to be nice to me, you can buy ebook or print here:

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Print

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Excerpt - Ultimate Duty

ULTIMATE DUTY - Amazon A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties. 

Remy Belieux, 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 enslaved her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion.

As her heart pulls her toward Phillip, the leader of the rebel group, she finds herself questioning where her loyalties truly lie. Now she must choose, fighting for her life against impossible odds.

Excerpt R-RATED Nobody should read unless over 16 or accompanied by a parent.

Remy made herself comfortable sitting sideways on the bunk next to Cassie. They set the viewing console between them. “So, which do you recommend?”

Cassie scrolled through the vid list. “That’s good. That one too. Oh, oh! Here’s the best one.” She tapped the screen to select To Have and Have Not.

“What’s it about?”

“Man, woman, sex. You know, the usual. Oh, and it’s the one with the whistle line.”>
They settled with their backs against pillows to watch. The grainy black-and-white images puzzled Remy. “The color’s missing. And it’s two-dimensional.”

“Hush. It’s supposed to be that way. That’s why they called it film noir.”

Remy shook her head, but figured if she watched, she’d get used to the flat, gray-toned images. Cassie put her hand over Remy’s. Remy didn’t move her hand away. When the woman named Slim in the vid said the line about whistling, Cassie surprised Remy by leaning over and kissing her lightly on the lips. Cassie drew back and looked into Remy’s eyes, the question from her kiss continuing in her glance.

Remy considered the offer, then shrugged her shoulders and quirked her lips in a lopsided grin. “Why not?” she whispered, then leaned into Cassie, returning her kiss. Remy felt the softness of a woman’s lips, different from a man’s. Or at least different from Kiru’s butterfly touches and deep caresses. She wondered if she should be doing this? Was this right? The tingling in her belly said yes. 

Cassie ran her hand under Remy’s shirt and cupped her breast, gently squeezing. When she ran a finger around her nipple, Remy gasped.

Momentarily confused, Remy didn’t know what she was supposed to do. With a man, it was obvious, immediate, primal. With another woman, the need felt different, yet somehow the same. Remy mirrored Cassie’s caresses, trusting her partner to guide her with her own actions. What made her feel good? It must be the same for Cassie.

She felt gentle fingers exploring her body. Remy’s thoughts flashed back to Kiru’s face, his touch, his masculine smell of sweat and cinnamon. Cassie smelled sweet, like lilacs—lovely, soft, and inviting. Remy cleared her mind, determined to learn and savor this new sensation wherever it led. She had to know where her feelings would take her, then she could be complete. She let Cassie lead her to that completeness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

New Book Review

A Taylor Madison Mystery: Diamondback (Taylor Madison Mysteries Book 1)A Taylor Madison Mystery: Diamondback by Elizabeth Dearl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A mystery writer, Taylor Madison, travels to a small town in west Texas (she's from mid-Texas) to confront her aunt about the animosity between the two sisters. Sounds fairly commonplace, but the fun starts when she ends up being deputized to help out the annual rattlesnake festival. If you don't know about such things, the book quickly explains what it is and what happens. Why is Taylor deputized? Good question, but it seems to be because the sheriff's office is shy a deputy, and Taylor is a mystery writer. Also, she's known to some extent in the small town from her mother and aunt both growing up there.

Okay, we get to the nitty-gritty when the Sheriff is murdered in his own home using rattlesnake venom. While we big city fellas might find that odd, you just need to accept that in west Texas, it's not that farfetched.

All of the above is to show you that you're not getting a mystery cozy here. The unusual setting, background of the MC, and all those rattlers guarantee this isn't very cozy at all.

I like Taylor and feel her actions to be believable and sensible (sort of). I suspect the next book in the series will give the audience plenty of unusual crimes and perplexing social commentary on small towns.

Since I'm a hereditary West Texan although I lived there only when I was a wee lass, I have read quite a bit and done additional research for my own writing about the area. I even sent the author a link to my own tale about rattlesnake hunting. I hope she enjoyed it (if she read it).

I'll gladly read more of Taylor Madison's mysteries in the additional books in the series.

Recommended, but not if you're really snake-phobic. I'm not, so I enjoyed the details included in the book.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Have a Joyous Solstice!

Summer Solstice – More Than Just the First Day of Summer
(June 20th 8:32PM PDT, June 21st 03:32 UTC)

The term “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol,” which means sun, and “sistere” which means to stop. The name reflects the fact that the sun seems to pause briefly when it reaches its annual southernmost or northernmost position in the sky before reversing direction. It’s called ‘solstice’ because they are the points in the year where the sun appears to stand still in the sky from the perspective of a watcher watching the sunrise or sunset.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the second book of my Witches of Galdorheim series, “Midnight Oil,” the exact time the Solstice occurs is crucial to the plot. The magical midnight oil is a curative required by a tribe of mutant Nenets tribespeople to heal the radiation poisoning which deformed them. It must be administered at the exact time the Solstice occurs. The year I selected had to have that event occur (somewhere in the world) at almost precisely midnight on June 20th. Some confusion about the exact moment of the Solstice almost leads to the restorative oil to arrive late at its destination. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want the whole series in a single volume? No problem. THE COMPLEAT AND TRUE HISTORY OF THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM is only $7.99 and a HUGE savings over buying the books individually.

Also available in other ebook formats at Smashwords for the same price.

Happy Adoptive, Step, and Blood Dads - You're All Special

To all you guys who are taking the job seriously. Special kudos to step-fathers who treat their lady's kids like their own. Also, adoptive dads, a big huzzah for not believing your genes are all that special. You've proven how special they really are.

My husband, Jack, is both a step- and adoptive dad. He went well beyond the call of duty when he not only took on an 8-year-old and 11-year-old as a stepfather but also adopted them when their own biological father (boo on you) signed them over to avoid paying child support (he never did pay any).

I wrote TALES OF A TEXAS BOY  in honor of my own father. I figured the best I could do for him is to immortalize his tall (and partly true) tales. I call it fiction since I can't know exactly what happened when Dad Boles brought his bear to town, when the little red hen took up residence in Ma's kitchen, or how he really met May West in a little diner in East Texas.

On the other hand, nobody else was there, so how I wrote the stories might be the honest truth. Who's to say?


* In our family, my brothers and I called my father Honey just like Mom did. Okay, so we were a little whacky; we admit it freely.

Want to get your own father a great gift (or your step-father or your brother who is a great dad or for yourself whether you're a dad or not)?

Large Print at Amazon - Perfect Dads' Day gift.

Ebook at Amazon ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS

Audio Book at Audible

Photo-Illustrated Ebook on Smashwords

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Celebrate Juneteenth!

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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Little Nostalgia for Dads

When my father was in his 80’s, he just happened to say, “Did I ever tell you about the cattle drive?”

Thanks, Dad (I actually called him Hon for Honey—long story). Wait until you’re hitting the down slope of life before you mention to your writer daughter you had something interesting to tell me about when you were a kid.

After a chat with light details based on his failing memory, I wrote “The Cattle Drive” starring my father when he was a kid growing up on a West Texas farm during the Depression Era.

What else might he have to say he hasn’t bothered to mention for the last few decades. As it turns out, quite a bit. A lot of it’s funny. After all, a person remembers the humorous event or odd character. Most of the stories also included farm and wild animals. Even better.

Eventually, I wrote a lot more stories to go with the original six or seven I got published in various zines and sites. He got a kick out of them and believed every word was absolutely true. Well, I had to make up a lot of the details, but they were more or less almost true tall tales.

Before he died, I put together 20 or so stories and put them into a single book titled “Tales of a Texas Boy.” I read the stories to him as I wrote for his comments and corrections. It occurred to me that I was reading the stories to him because he couldn’t read them himself. He was going blind with macular degeneration.

I decided that a large print paperback version of the book would appeal to other elders, particularly those with failing vision and/or who grew up in a rural environment.

Turns out the grandmas and grandpas did, indeed, want to read or listen to these stories about a pet bear, a flying pig, a stubborn jackass, skunks in a cornpatch, and lots more.

I thought since this is my blog, I’d let those who are interested know about Tales. They might have somebody in their life (or themselves) who’d like funny and sometimes sad stories.

So, here’s where you can find the book in ebook, print, large print, and audio formats.

Ebook, audio, and regular print paperback: Tales of a Texas Boy - Kindle edition (on sale for 99 cents)
Audio Editions:
 Audio Book at Amazon   Audio Book at Audible

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Have a Legendary Dad?

Large Print at Amazon - Perfect Dads' Day gift.

You've heard the phrase "A Legend in His Own Time." That's when somebody does something so extraordinary they create a legend around themselves. As time moves on, the legendary aspect grows and morphs into something bigger and, well, more legendary. That legend is helped along by authors writing about the person. Some people have reputations built on very little reality.  19th Century writers hungry for audience share exaggerated the feats of such legendary characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill Cody. These mostly untrue stories made good press for the city folks back east.

Then there's another type of legend. It's when an author bases a book on a real person nobody has ever heard about, but exaggerates the person's feats to make for good reading; the writer creates the legend. Can you think of a case where this has occurred? I imagine there are many, considering possible biographers who hero-worship their subject past the point of reality.

Then I come to my own mini-legendary person: Little Eddie from Tales of a Texas Boy. The stories in this collection are mostly based on some brief vignette passed to me from my father. Those of you who have read the print edition might have slowed down enough to peruse the Foreword where I lay out that Eddie is my father and some additional background on his life. Nothing too exciting there. He just happened to have a few incidents in his life that I could turn from a passing comment into a short story.

I made my father a legend. The stories I wrote about his experiences are so enhanced, they have become the stuff of legends. Yes, a very small part of the population know the stories. However, how long will the Tales books be out in the world? I published the first edition in June, 2007. Coming up on the 3rd anniversary next month. In three years, more than 2000 people have had possession of the book in some form. They may have even read it. If I keep the book in print, how many people will get to know Eddie in ten years? I should mention that the majority of those potential readers picked up the book in the last year.

What's my point here? Not sure other than to state my realization that even not so famous people can become legendary to some extent from some author deciding to write about them.

Tales of a Texas Boy is available in ebook, print, and audio formats. Side note: this book in large print is a popular Fathers' Day gift for those who may have lived through the Great Depression themselves or simply grew up in a rural area. They'll feel right at home.

Ebook at Amazon ON SALE FOR ONLY 99 CENTS

Audio Book at Amazon

Audio Book at Audible

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Book Review: Bad Spelling (The Witches of Galdorheim Series) by Marva Dasef

Book Review: Bad Spelling (The Witches of Galdorheim Series) by Marva Dasef
Review by Heather Haven 

About this book
: Kat can't catch a break. Her mother, brother, and aunt are super witches, but Kat can screw up the simplest spell. Her poor familiar, Teddy the Bunny, puts up with being turned into a half-frog, half-rabbit pile of green goo among other indignities. Every spell just goes wrong, wrong, wrong.

Everyone knows she's got the power, but assume she isn't trying hard enough to master the principles involved in witchcraft. The fault might just be her dead father. A Siberian fisherman, he didn't have a lick of magic, but her mother loved him anyway. Now that dad is buried in a ice cave, Kat decides to find her father's family. Maybe they'd take her since she sure doesn't belong on an arctic island run on magic.

Her super warlock, half vampire brother Rune decides she can't get along without his magic, so the two of them set out across the frozen Barents Sea to Norway, then by troll train to Siberia where her father's family lives.

Along the way, Kat makes some unusual friends, figures out how to use her magic and falls for a changeling troll. Beauty is, as everyone knows, only skin deep.

From Reviews:

• "I think this would be a fun read for any age, and a good 'hook' book for a middle grade reader." — Conda V. Douglas

• "She skillfully plays with familiar themes and myths, but weaves them into an intriguing and original story." — Edith Parzefall

• "There is also a larger narrative in the book which is intolerance." — Vixenne Victorienne "Kymberlyn Reed"

Monday, June 07, 2021

Book Review - Casting Call for a Corpse

Casting Call for a Corpse: A Fun Detective Cozy (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries Book 7)Casting Call for a Corpse: A Fun Detective Cozy by Heather Haven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Call me a fan. I've read the entire series of the Alvarez Family Mysteries and have enjoyed every one of them.

I'm giving my rare 5 star rating to this 7th book to honor the previous six. I don't usually stick to cozy mysteries, but Heather Haven knows how to keep a reader wanting more. I hope this isn't the last we see of Lea and the rest of the Alvarez family solving corporate crimes which strangely almost always involve dead people not just corporate shenanigans (the ostensible purpose of Discretionary Inquiries, the family investigation agency).

I needn't add any plot details because that's what readers are for: reading the books and enjoying the plot as it unfolds.

Lucky for you who haven't read these books yet. The full set of 7 books is available as of the time I am posting this review.

One other note: Check out Ms. Haven's other books. They're all as entertaining as these are.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day - 2021

I could not think of any more fitting words than those of Abraham Lincoln delivered at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 memorializing the fallen soldiers.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Remembering the Fallen Warriors

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

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

Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father


Saturday, May 29, 2021

In Memoriam 2021

Everyone has lost someone in war. Go back far enough, maybe it was the Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, maybe even the Hundred Years War. It's good to take a moment to honor them.

There are also those who go without remembrance even though they gave their lives, not voluntarily, but because others just had to shoot, bomb, and kill. We don't know many of their names, but I'm pretty sure my grandfather did.

My Memorial Day remembrance is for the horses and mules who were absolutely essential to and died because of war. WWI. My grandfather was a veterinary in the Expeditionary Forces in France. This is what he recalled (loosely interpreted by me).

Ebook     Large Print    Audio
From Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father
Pa’s Story
World War I took many young men away from their homes and sent them off to foreign shores. Eddie’s Pa was one of those young men. He has his own tale to tell.

In 1916, I was still a young buck and not yet married, so I signed up with Black Jack Pershing to go after Pancho Villa. Ol’ Pancho and his banditos had come into US territory and killed a bunch of folks in Columbus, New Mexico.

I was real good with horses, so soon I was the veterinarian. This was just as well, as I didn’t take well to using a gun. I’d never studied vetting in school, but I’d grown up on a farm in Nebraska and knew just about all there was to know about horses and mules. We chased Pancho and his gang just about all over Mexico, but never did catch up with him. A couple years later, I was still in the service, so I ended up goin’ to France with Black Jack when he got to be a General. I could have decided not to go as I’d done my time, but I knew Black Jack could put me to good use.

We were on the troop ship for weeks. Everybody was seasick for the first few days. The horses seemed to fare fine in that regard, but I was worried we couldn’t exercise them enough. We brought them up from the hold, a few at a time, and let them stretch their legs. We’d lead them in a quick walk around the deck. With the metal decks, we didn’t want them to move very fast for fear they’d slip and fall. I’d hate to have to put down a horse with a broken leg, so we took it real easy. As a result, the horses were not in good fightin’ shape by the time we landed in France.

It took some time, but me and Joe, who got assigned to be my assistant, got them in shape again. Mostly the horses were used to pack gear, but a few officers still rode them. Black Jack Pershing liked to ride on occasion, as did Captain Patton. I thought we should only have mules, since they make better pack animals than horses, but there were never enough mules to go around.

We weren’t in too many battles directly as we were the supply line for the army, but in 1918 it turned pretty bad when we went into the Argonne Forest. They called this an ‘offensive.’ I can see why as it offended me a lot. The fighting went on for nearly two months and only ended in November when the big guys signed the Treaty at Versailles.

In that short two months, it was hell on earth. Thousands of men died. One whole division, the 77th, was cut off for near a week and held out surrounded by the German forces. It was some battle, I can tell you. Almost all day long, I could hear the shells bursting and the sharp reports of rifle fire. And I heard the screams of dying men and horses.

The worst part for me was the horses being swept up in the middle of the battle. It broke my heart to go out on the fields after the fighting passed by and after the dead and wounded men were collected. Sometimes the ground was so soaked with blood that my boots were covered before I got back. A horse with an artery torn open bleeds gallons of blood; men only a few pints. It angered me when I thought how much the horses gave. They didn’t even have a say in goin’ to war. Men, at least, had a choice.

I carried a sidearm and had to shoot more horses than I can count. Those we could save, we’d bring back to the line and see if we could treat their wounds. It was a second heartbreak when they wouldn’t heal proper and we’d take them out behind the tents to put them down. We dug a deep trench to bury them for health reasons and we kept digging every day to hold them all.

While we treated the horses, close by we could see the wounded men being brought back from the battlefield. Legs and arms were already gone or had to be cut off by the doctors right there in the field. From the history I’d read about the Civil War, this was just about as bad. If the choice was amputate or die, then they had to do what was necessary. We dug another trench to hold the arms and legs the doctors cut off; the dead soldiers we wrapped in oilcloth to be sent back behind the lines, where we hoped to send their bodies back home to their families.

All told I spent twenty months in France. It was the worst part of my life and I hoped and prayed we’d never see another war like this again.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Mom Friendly Tales for Mothers Day

Mothers Day is coming up on Sunday and you still have time to get her something nice. If your mom is in the same generation as my mom she grew up in the 20's and 30's, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book she will enjoy. Also, if she's sight-impaired, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audio book.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. I think you'll enjoy them too. The descriptions of stories below are of particular interest to mothers.

Here are the buy links:
Large Print Paperback Amazon $9.99
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook  - On sale through Mom's Day for 99 cents.
Smashwords EPUB/MOBI Name your own price as low as 99 cents.
Audiobook (also available through (only $6.95)

Here are a few of the twenty-one stories included in the book.

Ma’s Story

Mothers have their own joys and sorrows. Too often they keep their feelings to themselves and even their own families don’t know.

WHEN I WAS a boy, my Ma was a woman of few words, which surprised quite a few folks. The town ladies came out to visit on occasion and she’d go to town to return the favor, but mostly she listened. That did set her apart from the gossipers and them that just liked to talk to hear themselves.

Crossin’ the Creek

Kids went to school, but they didn’t exactly catch the school bus outside the house. Getting to school could be an adventure.

IT’D BEEN RAINING forty days and forty nights is what Ma said, but I only counted up eleven days myself. She did tend to put things in Bible sayin’s, so I won’t say she was lyin’, just exaggeratin’ for effect.

The Thief

The Great Depression was beginning to seep into the lives of the people in West Texas. Insulated to some extent, they began to see the repercussions of the droughts by the people who came south from Oklahoma for relief from the dust storms.

IT ALWAYS MEANS a good time when Pa lets me go with him in the truck. I liked the truck a lot and sometimes he’d let me drive a ways, too. This time, Pa planned on goin’ further than Hereford. We were goin’ to go to Amarillo, the trip some fifty miles. It would take us most of one day to get there and do what we needed to do, so we’d have to camp overnight somewhere along the way.

Out of the Chicken Coop

Most animals on the farm were there for a purpose, rarely as pets. That meant that animals were not allowed in the house like they are today. If they got in, however, it wasn’t always easy to get them out again.

WHEN I WAS just a little kid, no more’n seven if I remember rightly, I was down in the chicken yard tossin’ grain like I was tol’. This one little red hen started followin’ me around instead of peckin’ up the grain like the other chickens. I thought it strange, but just went about my business.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

New Series Now Available from D.L. Keur

Death Scent: A Jessica Anderson K-9 MysteryDeath Scent: A Jessica Anderson K-9 Mystery by D. L. Keur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Available now on Amazon. Print and audio coming soon.

When I saw this book grouped with the cozy mysteries, I groaned just a little bit. You see, I was lucky enough to be able to read the pre-publication edition.

Cozy, this is not, in my opinion. It's an exciting, unique story of a woman and her dog, and her dog, and her dog, and her dog...

No, I'm not a broken record. The strong, yet vulnerable Jessie Andersen has gathered a pack of dogs who are devoted to her and listen to what she wants them to do for her. Since they speak multiple languages (English, German, Dog), they get Jessie and Jessie gets them in return.

When Jessie Anderson had to leave her job as a police officer in Colorado because of the trauma of seeing her partner killed and being wounded herself. She couldn't be a cop any longer.

Returning home to her family's dog training facility, she realized she could continue serving and protecting while still a civilian. She already has her pack, but knows it's difficult to get certified for search and rescue dogs. She turns to technology and gets her own drones--small flying machines operated by the controller on the ground--and begins training herself to use the drones effectively.

On a test run, the drones pick up a view of a person lying still on the ground. Since the person wasn't moving and was more than two miles from her position, she calls 911 to report the possible injured person.

The Sheriff's office follows her directions to the location of the body--a dead woman--and Jessie quickly finds out that no good deed goes unpunished, as the Sheriff's department confiscates her drones and their computer controller as "evidence," since the flights are video-recorded, and the law can see what Jessie saw. Jessie's videos provide a place for law enforcement to start for evidence gathering. There's even a very blurry picture of the killer as he escapes in a red pickup!

Jessie returns to working with her dogs, and tries to find a new way forward in her plans ...without her drones.

...Well, this is a mystery, so you know that eventually Jessie and her dogs will become more deeply involved in the manhunt. Anything more would be spoilers, so I'll continue with my impressions.

This is a great start to what will be a series. I can hardly wait for the others to be released. I like Jessie a lot, and I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery.

Some things that sets this book above the usual run of cozies. There are lots of wonderful details on the dogs, their personalities, how they are trained, and even certified for search and rescue work. This attention to detail makes this a great read much better than a standard cozy mystery with a cat or a chihuahua in a bakery. Jessie's dogs are real, their training serious, their results incredible. Jessie is an amazing woman. I suspect the author is just a little (maybe a lot) like her character. Dawn Keur can write a helluva story.

P.S. Check out Keur's other books for interesting, well-written tales.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Warrior Women - Faizah's Destiny

 I'm honoring the women warriors from past centuries.

The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.


The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.

Before Mohammad, Arabic religion was based on pantheons of gods and goddesses, much like those of the Greeks and Romans. In “Tales of Abu Nuwas 2: Faizah’s Destiny” I’ve called on Ahura and Anahita, the Greek equivalents to Zeus and Hera. Anahita was not only the protector of women, but she was also the goddess of war, a protector of women warriors.

Real female warriors existed in the Pre-Islamic world.

Artemisia (or Anahita in some sources) was a daughter of Hecatomnus, the founder of the Hecatomnid house that had ruled Caria since the beginning of the 4th century. She was the warrior-Queen of Halicarnassus (now in modern western Turkey). She was also an admiral in Persian King Xerxes navy, coordinating a land/sea attack against the Greeks.

She definitely kicked butts and took no prisoners. I do wonder, though, if this fighting queen was real, noting the similarity of her name to Artemis. Still, the Greek Artemis was an archer who led a pack of wild (Amazon?) women.

Persian and Scythian women regularly fought in battles through the 6th Century (when Mohammad appeared on the scene). Of course, most of their names were scrubbed from any written histories, in the same manner as the war goddess Al Uzza. An interesting an informative essay is on artist Thalia Took’s site ( She creates amazing Goddess trading cards.

Finally, this blog has descriptions of many female warriors. Definitely worth reading.

Iranic Scythian Female Warrior

Persian Female Warrior

Artemisia in Battle Against Greeks
In my research, my image of Faizah was influenced by these female warriors and goddesses of the middle-east. We learn Faizah’s old enough for marriage. Her teacher and mentor, Master Wafai, laments it would be a waste if she were to marry rather than continue her studies of the magical arts.

Faizah’s best friends are boys (Harib and Bahaar), and we discover early on she’s prepared to fight the town bully to protect the boys. Later, the ex-slave boy, Qadir, joins the others at Master Wafai’s school. He becomes part of the group, although remains cool, although willing to join in the search for Wafai.

So, Faizah is smart, educated, no shrinking violet, and she learns that if your friends are boys “you just had to pretend certain gestures, noises, and smells didn’t exist.” Even her background as a hard-working farmer’s daughter prepares her for war as many other of her middle-eastern sisters in myth and history have done.

But first, she has to ‛convince’ the boys she should go on the search for Master Wafai...even if she’s just a girl.


“Faizah! What are you doing here?” Bahaar blurted. “And why are you dressed like that?”

She grinned, enjoying their aghast looks. “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a woman wearing trousers before? It’s not that unusual.” She walked past them, starting up the eastern path, as they stared open-mouthed. “Come on, let’s get moving.”

Qadir was the first to react. “Oh, no. No, you can’t come. You’re a, a?”

“What? A girl?” She turned to face them. “You think you’ll have to watch out for the poor little girl?” Suddenly, she punched Bahaar in the chest. The unexpected blow knocked him flat on his back.

“Think I can’t take care of myself?” She shoved Harib’s shoulder while she hooked her foot behind his leg, sending him to the ground next to Bahaar. “Since when?”

That left Qadir. The tall boy was too big for her to take on physically. Faizah stood her ground, fists clenched, as he raised his hand and took a step toward her.

“We told you we didn’t want you along. Just turn around and go home.”

“Who’s we?” Faizah asked; her lips tightened with disdain. “I didn’t hear anybody make you leader! I can go anywhere I please, and you can’t stop me!”

Harib and Bahaar cautiously picked themselves up, their glances darting back and forth between Faizah and Qadir, who stood toe-to-toe, glaring at each other.

No one moved or spoke for a long, uncomfortable moment.

“What’s it going to be?” Faizah broke the tense silence. “I come with you, or I’ll follow you. You decide, but either way, I’m coming!”

She turned to Bahaar and Harib. “Well?”

Bahaar cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak. He shut it again and turned to Harib. “What do you think?”

“Oh no. You’re not putting this off on me!”

“Fine,” Bahaar said and cleared his throat again. “I say Faizah comes with us. We’ve been friends for a long time, and we’ve always looked out for each other.” He glanced at Harib, who nodded. “She can handle herself. We’ve never had to take care of her before. We won’t have to now.”

“That goes for me, too,” Harib added, looking at Qadir. “We never should have listened to you in the first place. Just because she’s a girl, doesn’t mean she can’t handle herself. Besides, dressed like she is, nobody would know she’s a girl, anyway.”

Qadir never took his eyes off Faizah as he slowly lowered his hand. “All right.” He nodded once, shortly. “But you’d better keep up, ’cause I sure won’t help you.”

“You won’t have to, Qadir,” Faizah said over her shoulder as she started for the pathway leading up into the foothills. “You may not think so, but I really can take care of myself.” To Bahaar and Harib, she added, “Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!”