Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Meet the Vampires in Blood Ties Tested 1

A basic premise of this novella is that the main character's father, Drakos, is a Reform Vampire--that is, a vampire who has sworn off blood. He has collected a few other vampires who are like-minded. They have vowed to go on the wagon. Here's a bit on a couple of them. More coming in a day or two. All the descriptions are direct quotes from the book.

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Tao Lung, like the others, had spent years terrorizing the Chin villages for victims. He came across a scholarly man named Zhu Xi sitting silently in a beautiful garden. He crept toward the man, believing him to be asleep. Tao Lung was surprised when the Confucian philosopher raised one hand, palm outward. Tao froze, unable to move and realized he was in the presence of a powerful magician.

The old man allowed Tao to sit cross-legged before him, arms resting on his knees, and strangely his index finger and thumb touching forming a strange shape. They remained in this position for days. When Zhu Xi allowed Tao to move again, the vampire felt at peace. He was no longer driven by blood lust. Zhu Xi died, as humans do, and Tao Lung wandered through the countryside imparting the same peace of mind Zhu Xi had given him. His wanderings brought him eventually to Drakos’s door. As their spiritual guide, he was the key to the family’s success. When the others wavered in their resolve, they went to Tao Lung. He need say nothing. The one who needed strength sat with Tao Lung as he had sat with Zhu Xi. When their mind was at peace, he released them. They bowed and went about their daily business.

Elizabeth Bathory lay in her canopied bed. A tear trickled down her porcelain cheek. While she was happy for Drakos, she regretted forever forsaking the idea of a family. Her mind cruelly flashed back to her evil days. She had used the girls brought to her from the village. When the girls disappeared, their parents took the gold purse offered and the lie that their daughter had gone off to the city to find work. They accepted they shouldn’t expect to hear from them again.

Finally, the other nobles could no longer ignore so many missing girls. When a few of the girls from noble families disappeared, they called on King Matthias to send an investigator. As it happened, the man sent caught Elizabeth in the midst of torturing a girl. Tried for murder, she stood mute while the servants who had aided her in the kidnappings tried to bargain for their own lives with their testimony. It did no good. Their bodies hung limp in the village square. But she knew the rope wouldn’t cut her life short. Pretending to be dead, being buried, then having to claw her way out again would have been annoying but survivable. As a noble, she demanded her right to a trial. The court found her guilty. According to the customs of the times and being of noble birth, the court sentenced her to live out her life in a high tower with the windows and door bricked shut.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Characters in Blood Ties Tested

It's all about the blood.

I'm done writing the fifth book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. Maybe it's the 4th, since one of the volumes--a prequel short story--is outside the activities of the other three books. This one is Rune's book. It's what happened to Rune at the end of "Scotch Broom." You might not know who Rune is either, so I'll first introduce him a bit, then talk about the characters you'll have the opportunity to meet in this final book: BLOOD TIES TESTED. If anybody wants to read it, let me know.

Rune: Half vampire and half warlock, Rune has adventured with his sister, Katrina in the first three books  of the Galdorheim series. With his double-dip of magic from both his mother and father, Rune is bound to be the most powerful warlock to come out of Galdorheim. First, though, he has to learn how to control his vampiric urges. This is an on-going battle for him throughout the series. In the third book of the series, he is forced to use his vampire's bite to save himself and his sister from the evil winter goddess, Cailleach. After that battle, he returns home distraught and suffering from PTSD.

Drakos: Rune's father. Drakos was a human warlock when turned into a vampire. Because he has strong magical skills, he is able to moderate his vampiristic tendencies. He does like to play the part, however. Living in a chalet in the High Tatras Mountains of Slovakia (not every vampire lives in Transylvania in a dank castle) with a few other vampires, he ensures the surrounding villages are safe from his companions.

When first turned, however, he didn't have proper control. He attacked Rune's mother intent on taking her blood while they engaged in a bit of hanky-panky. Ardyth, a powerful witch, nipped that in the bud (so to speak) and returned home carrying Drakos' child, Rune.

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

He does have a secret weapon at his disposal: Liebchen the Lundehund. The Norwegian Lundehunds have six toes on each foot that allow them to climb on vertical cliffs and their neck joints enable them to bend their head backward over their shoulders so that their forehead touches its back.

The hound can also close their ear canals at will (to protect them against dirt and moisture) and are able to bend their head 180 degrees backwards over their shoulders. Their fore-shoulder joints are extremely flexible and empower both front legs to be stretched straight out to both sides, for greater ease in swimming and maneuvering in the narrow crevices in Norwegian seaside cliffs where their avian prey lives.

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

Biel the Mahr: The Mahr are a race of giant vampire moths that dwell in the Carpathian Mountains. When a person was bitten by one of the Mahr, the creature would host the body of that person. A Mahr can be killed, and thus returning the soul to the original owner, by driving a wooden stake through its heart, or by finding its lair and exposing it to daylight. In Poland, they are called Mora and in Bulgaria Morava. The Mahr needs substantial quantities of blood to survive cocooning for several years.

Early on in the book-which-will-not-be, Rune and Drakos must fight off a Mahr named Biel. Not usually enemies, Biel is upset because Drakos has banned blood-taking in the area enforcing the rules via his control of a variety of folkloric creatures which were to be determined if the book had been written.

The Witches of Galdorheim series is available in ebook, print, and audio formats. Look for them on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, and on pirate sites all over the internet.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Surprise! I'm Part Irish

St. Paddy's Day - when everyone is Irish. I was always like, "Hey, I'm 25% Norwegian and some German and stuff, so I'll pass on the green beer." Looks like I'll at least have to have a sip o' the leprechaun juice.

I got my DNA tested (DNA-lite). So I'm mostly Irish,eh? Funny how not a single ancestor is from Ireland in my somewhat skimpy genealogy chart, yet there it is in green and white.

Okay, that chart isn't too forthcoming, but it is mostly green and white, so it goes up first. So, here's the map. See that green blob on the left? Yup, Ireland. Norway comes in 5th! The genealogy I do know has a lot of England, but it appears I'm more Scottish than English. I'll have to find my tartan for Robbie Burns Day. Matter of fact, England isn't even on the list! Don't bother to click, this is just a jpeg of the chart. All told, it looks like I'm goulash. This doesn't even show the Korea connection (that's on the Asia map).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rune's Scottish Trip

Rune Tells His Side

Here’s the deal. I work like a mule to tamp my vamp, then mom wants me to go off to visit dear old dad. Okay, okay. He didn’t know I existed until mom stopped by Transylvania (Isn’t that so fifty years ago. C’mon, move to someplace fun, already.) What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Mom went off to tell him he had a son. She says he’s happy about it and wants me to visit for some quality parenting time. Yeah, is there a Big Vamp/Little Vamp picnic? Think of the cool games. Three-legged race with one of the legs belonging to a dead man. Pin the fang on the peasant...literally. Instead of a pie-eating contest, how about a blood sucking contest?

I think it’s a rotten idea, but mom is forcing me to go. Luckily, she’s sending me on my own, so I can make a run for it. Since my sis is headed to Scotland, I think I’ll go there instead. She always needs my help. I swear she can hardly tie her tennies by herself. I admit when I kind of hinted to her I’d like to go along, she had a snit fit. Said I was trying to horn in on her Winter Abroad. She needed to do it on her own. Yada yada yada.

Well, she can’t stop me from going to Scotland if I wanna. After all, the trolls have that totally rad trollercoaster that goes from Norway to the Shetland Islands. I guess it goes under the sea bed, or maybe it’s just troll magic. In any case, I get to the train station in Thurso (I stole a copy of Kat’s itinerary). She walks on the platform and went ballistic. I’m pretty sure if a train was coming, she would have pushed me on the tracks.

She flounces off, so to heck with her I think. I’ll just go to England without her. Sadly, I was hoping to get some cash from Kat for the ticket. Never mind, though. I’ve got skills to earn some money. Street magic like that David Blaine guy does. I would like to know how he does the levitation trick. I can do it with magic, but...well, that’s off topic. Anyhow, I find myself playing darts for money with the Scottish Highlands darts champion. He didn’t have a prayer. Here’s what happened. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.


Rune walked up to the bar and stood waiting for the barkeep to notice him. He didn’t want to risk being pushy. They might just throw him out. He decided to be polite and pleasant.

The barkeep placed himself in front of Rune. The stocky man wore a white apron tied around his considerable paunch. Although the top of his head was as bald and shiny as a billiard ball, he had a thick red beard. He scratched his bushy sideburn and stared at Rune with narrowed eyes. “Need to see some I.D., lad.”

Rune opened his mouth, and then closed it. What was I.D.? “Excuse me?”

“Proof of age, sonny. Ye dinnae look to be twinty-ane.”

“Twinty—? Oh, identification! Right.” Rune stuck his hand in his jacket pocket and whispered a quick spell, while pretending to search. A plastic folder popped into his hand, and he drew it out. He knew witches and warlocks spending time on the mainland took various types of documents with them for identification. He’d seen a few in the Council Hall in Aunt Thordis’ office. The only one he could recall clearly was a passport, so he spelled up one of those.

The bartender flipped open the passport and examined it, looked at Rune, then back at the passport photo. “Where be this Grand Duchy of Fenwick?”

“Oh, you know. It’s one of those tiny countries nobody knows about. Like San Marino or Lichtenstein.”The bartender stared at him for another long moment, and Rune wondered if he’d gone too far on the passport. “It’s in the Alps,” Rune supplied helpfully.

The bartender just shook his head. “Ne’er heard of it.” Rune shrugged.

Finally, the barkeep said, “Ye still dinnae look to be twinty-ane.” He handed the passport back. “Whit are ye wantin?”

“Ale, please.”

Rune looked around the room, wondering if a close-up magic act might garner some cash. At the back of the pub, several men were playing darts. He picked up his pint and wandered back to watch. The players appeared to be a team since they wore matching plaid shirts. Rune thought he might pick up some spare change playing against them. He figured they’d think him an easy mark, so he stepped forward.

“Can I get in the next game?”

One man looked him up and down. “Air ye twinty-ane?”

“Yeah, yeah. The bartender checked my ID. I’ve played some darts. Maybe a game just for fun?”

“Darts be serious bidness.”

“Oh, I agree. I play with my buddies, sometimes for cash. Interested?” Rune took a swig of ale, made a face, and set the glass on a table. Ugh, the trolls make better ale than this!

The player, who seemed to be the spokesman for the group, looked at his buddies. They all grinned. The brawny Scotsman folded his muscular arms across his chest. He looked Rune up and down. Rune put on a lopsided grin, trying to look like a dumb kid.

“Sure, lad. How much do ye want to put up?”

“Oh, I’ve not got much at the moment. How about a couple pounds per game to start? When I’m up some, we can raise the stakes.”

“Pleased ta meet ye, lad. I’m Barry MacLeish. I hope ye dinnae mind I’m the Highlands champion.” The big man stuck his hand out.

“Not at all, Barry. Pleased to meet you. I’m Ru...Ron Galdor.” Rune extended his own hand to shake and winced at the dart champion’s hard grip. When Barry turned his back on him, Rune mumbled a quick spell to change the name on his passport from Rune Fenwick to Ron Galdor.

“We’ll play ane-on-ane. Be that guid for you?” Barry asked, twirling one of his darts between his fingers.

“Sure, but I don’t have my darts with me. Can I borrow a set?” One of the men held out his set of three darts. Rune weighed them in his hand. He held up one and sighted it toward the board. “Hey, thanks. These are nice.”

“Da game is 301, double-in, double-oot?”

“Great. Anything is fine.” Rune watched the dart loaner erase the blackboard next to the dartboard and write Barry and Ron at the top. He added the number 301 under each name.

Rune smiled. He ought to make enough for the train in no time at all.

* * *
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.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

Coming Up Soonish

Okay, I beat myself into submission (kinky, eh?) to complete the fifth book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. If you're keeping track, you'll know that the three main books in the series are all about the adventures of Katrina the teenage witch. Her primary magic is talking to animals. A regular Dr. Doolittle, she is. Of course, in the first book (Bad Spelling), she doesn't know that's her power. All she does know is that she is magically impaired. Not her fault and the first book explains why she's having some bad spelling problems. The second and third book in the series follow her adventures as she gains skill in her abilities and runs into all sorts of problems along the way.

The fourth book, Spellslinger, is a short story about Kat's brother, Rune. He's half vampire and half warlock, which presents a whole raft of problems. This book gives a bit of backstory about Rune's magic and how he learns to contain his vampire half.

So, what is the fourth book? It seems like Rune is a very popular guy and some faithful readers want to know more. So, what the heck, the Rune story happens after all the events of the other books. It touches on a couple of real issues for teens: What do you think of a deadbeat dad? and How Bad is it if You Accidentally Kill Someone? (Book 3 of the series).

Here's an intro to the almost complete fourth book, "Blood Ties Tested." If I can browbeat my alpha readers into advising me, then it should be out soon. Since my books are all self-published (although several were traditionally published), I can put it up anytime I want.

So, here's a bit of the story. It might be changed in the final version after a bunch of people give their opinion on it. I just grabbed a chapter at random. In this one, Rune is being unwillingly transported to his vampire father's castle in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia. And the cover shown is a preliminary stab, so don't judge.


Chapter 6 – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tatras

Rune stood staring at his feet in the terminal of the Bardufoss Airport waiting for his “escort.” His mother had made sure he wouldn’t deviate from the itinerary. She’d appointed him a chaperone, like he was some kind of little kid. Well, he kind of understood why, since the last time he was supposed to visit his father, he’d absconded to Scotland. But, still, that didn’t stop him from fuming about it.

At 2:00 am, not many people were in the terminal. The whine of a jet engine on the field hurt his sensitive ears. He looked around but didn’t see anybody who looked like a vampire. A hunched old man with a walker kept eyeing him up and down. Of course, vampires could look like anybody. They didn’t have to have black hair and wrap themselves in black capes. He chuckled when he remembered the phase he went through dressed exactly like that. But he got tired of tripping on the cape and the hair gel he put on to give him that slicked back look made his head itch.

His escort wouldn’t be able to get to the airport in the daytime. At least as a half-n-half, Rune could traipse around in the sunshine. He didn’t much care for it since the sun bothered his light-sensitive eyes, but he could do it.

A huge blond man in an Icelandic style wool sweater approached him with a swaggering walk and a self-satisfied look on his face. “Rune? I am Sven, your chaperone.” The big guy chuckled and laid a huge hand on Rune’s shoulder. “You don’t look underage.”

Rune rolled his shoulder out from under the man’s paw. He wanted to make a rude retort, but held back. “So you’re a--” He glanced around to see if anybody else was close by. “Vampire? Funny, you don’t look like a vampire.”

Sven grinned and Rune noted the man’s canines grow a bit longer. “Oh, I am, boy. You’d be no match for me so don’t try any funny business. Your aunt informed of your tendency to bolt.” Sven laughed and laced his fingers together, cracking his huge knuckles. “Not many places to bolt to here in Bardufoss. I never heard of it even though I’m Norwegian. . .originally, of course.”

“Figured Aunt Thordis wouldn’t take any chances.” Rune tugged at the sleeve of his Grateful Dead jacket Kat had given him for his birthday. “My mom made it perfectly clear if I didn’t make it to Drakos’ castle, I may as well not come home at all.” Rune picked up his backpack from the floor. “So what’s next? I checked the departure boards. You can’t get to Brati-whatever from here.”

“We’ll take SAS to Trondheim, then KLM to Slovakia. We have three layovers stops, but none of them are very long. Except the one we have to wait twelve hours. The others, no more than four or five hours.”

“Good goddess, this is going to take forever. Why can’t we just drive?” Rune looked at Sven hopefully. Sven shook his massive blond head left and right. Rune huffed and jerked around toward the concourse aisle “Fine. What’s our gate?”

Sven waved Rune ahead of him, and they walked down the very short terminal passage to the Norwegian Airlines gate.
* * *
Much to Rune’s dismay, Sven kept a close eye on him for the entire trip.

At the 12-hour layover in Amsterdam, Rune rubbed his palms on his jeans, then said, “I gotta hit the gents, Sven.”

Sven leaned forward on his chair and raised an eyebrow. “Why do you want your backpack? I’ll watch it.”

“I want to change clothes.” Rune slipped out of his jacket, raised his right arm and sniffed. “Yeah, I’m getting a little ripe.”

Sven hefted Rune’s backpack, and nodded in the direction of the Herren sign. Rune mumbled, “Worth a try.” Sven grinned and gave Rune a gentle shove on his back. The boy tripped when his shoes’ soles slid on the slick floor. Sven’s giant hand pulled him upright before he fell on his face.

Get the entire Witches of Galdorheim series (except for this last book) at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Read an Ebook Sales Ends March 10


Did you know that Scotch Broom follows the general plot of Wizard of Oz? Kat (our heroine) accidentally gets stuck in the Otherworld (Oz) where she meets three magical creatures. A wicked witch (the winter goddess Cailleach) is out to get Kat to steal her magic. Rather than melting the witch with water, Kat pushes the old biddy into a cauldron of whatever the witch had been brewing. I resisted the urge to have Cailleach, the evil goddess, cry out "I'm melting!" Yeah, that's a spoiler.

One other departure from the general Oz plot is that one of Kat's companions is a traitor working with Cailleach. You could read the book to find out which of these companions turns out to be the bad one.

Sianach: "Monster." In Scottish Gaelic oral tradition, a extra large predatory deer. Other research indicated that the basis for Sianach might be the Irish Elk, which is now extinct.

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

Cait Sidhe: In Celtic mythology, there’s a fairy (or fae or faerie) for just about any purpose. Cait Sidhe is a shape changing creature who spends most of her time in the form of a very large black cat with a snotty attitude.

I couldn't resist having a horse of a different color (you know what I'm talking about Wizard of Oz fans), so I included Diamond a Unicorn. Who doesn't love unicorns?

Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Smashwords (all ebook formats - #FREE)

Midnight Oil (Book 2)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Smashwords (all ebook formats 99 cents using code RAE50)

Scotch Broom (Book 3)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Smashwords (all ebook formats 99 cents using code RAE50)

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim 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. 
Smashwords (all ebook formats - #FREE)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Rune Magic


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

In my Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. Kat, the teen witch introduced in Bad Spelling, just couldn’t get the pronunciation of the runes right. The results she got were often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she was a bad speller.

I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches. Runes are like hieroglyphics in that each run stands for a word or concept rather than a letter. I found a handy phrase chart and stole what I could. Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is a word of power.

In Bad Spelling, Kat’s teacher listens to the misspelling witch as she attempts a simple transformation spell:
Kat held her wand over the pentagram and repeated the spell, omitting the spell’s finishing word. Miss Mariah shook her head. "Katya, you said îgwaz instead of perßô."
Later, Kat’s aunt Thordis uses a runic spell to enable her to speak with Katya’s dead father. I found this spell to raise the dead on an Icelandic runic stave site (how cool is that!).
When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. She zipped through the incantation:

Þat kann ec iþ tolpta,
ef ec se a tre vppi
vafa virgilná
sva ec rist oc i rvnom fác,
at sa gengr gvmi
oc melir viþ mic.

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

Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Smashwords (all ebook formats - #FREE)

Midnight Oil (Book 2)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Smashwords (all ebook formats 99 cents using code RAE50)

Scotch Broom (Book 3)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Smashwords (all ebook formats 99 cents using code RAE50)

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim 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. 
Smashwords (all ebook formats - #FREE)

Monday, March 05, 2018

Charmed I'm Sure

How Charming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Scotch Broom: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not at all. Hopefully, you won’t have any need of the ogre.”
Find all ebooks in the Series on Smashwords
Priced from Free to 99 cents for Individual Books
Code RAE50 from March 4th-10th
Spellslinger - Free
Bad Spelling - Free
Midnight Oil - $0.99
Scotch Broom - $0.99
Multi-Book Volume (all of the above) $2.00

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Thar Be Monsters!

READ AN EBOOK WEEK - March 4th-10th

The entire Witches of Galdorheim series has a few characters featured in all the books. I thought introducing the stars of the series a good setup for the Smashwords sale going on this month. Oh, yeah, it's going to be BIG! All four books in the series will be free or 99 cents in ebook. 

Two more major forces in the Witches of Galdorheim series aren't witches or warlocks, but they are magical in their own ways. 

Salmon the OrcaHeroes don’t need to be human or even a sexy male alien. When a witch’s power is speaking to animals, a hero can turn up anywhere, even in the middle of an icebound arctic sea.

In the Witches of Galdorheim series, Katrina the teen witch, has the ability to speak with animals. She doesn’t even know she has this ability until she leaves her home, Galdorheim Island. Since the island is somewhere in the middle of the Barents Sea above the Arctic circle, leaving home isn’t a walk in the park. Crossing iced over water in bitter cold weather is hard enough, but when the ice starts to break up and some dangerous creatures appear, it becomes a life-threatening situation. Kat and her brother, Rune, confront an angry and sleepy polar bear. He wasn’t in the mood to chat.

Fortunately for the kids, a HERO appears. Just because he happens to be an orca (killer whale) makes him no less heroic.

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

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

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

Find all ebooks in the Series on Smashwords

Priced from Free to 99 cents for Individual Books
Code RAE50 from March 4th-10th
Spellslinger - Free
Bad Spelling - Free
Midnight Oil - $0.99
Scotch Broom - $0.99
Multi-Book Volume (all of the above) $2.00

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Advice. Not That You Asked For Any

Writing a character-driven series.


There are two ways to write a series:
  1. Planning out all the books in the series ahead of time.
  2. Writing the first book as a standalone, then realizing you could write another.
For those of you who opt for option one, you better find somebody experienced in this multi-book planning ‛cause I ain’t it.

If you hit the payoff end of book 1 and keep writing, stop whatever you’re doing. Type THE END where book 1 naturally ends, open a new file, and take all the stuff you jammed at the end of book 1 and put into book 2.


If you’re a diligent newbie writer, you’ve purchased (or checked out of your library) a few books on writing: how to write novels, how to write scenes, how to write romances, how to write memoirs, etc. Now, look back a few words and note the word “scenes.” That’s key to a series. A series book is one big giant scene. There may be other scenes to follow that biggie, but don’t go there unless you’re James Mitchener’s reincarnation and plan to write the entire history of the world in a single volume.

The elements of a BIG scene (e.g., an entire book) are the same as scenes within chapters, and chapters within books.

A standalone book has beginning, middle, and end (sunset, fade to black, happily ever after).

A series book has beginning, middle, and end with a transition setting up the next BIG scene (e.g., the second book).

You may not know you’re writing a series when you start out, but you should have a good feel whether there is more. You can imagine a reader saying, “And then what happened?”


You might be merrily reading along, enjoying the tale, admiring the writer’s skill (not too many typos), and prepping yourself for the big payoff at the end. But when you get to the end, there is no payoff. You’re left frozen in time. The villain holding the sharp blade sneaking up behind the hero, he brings the blade up and is just about to strike and.....nothing. The writer figured you’d be so enthralled with finding out what happens next that they’ll surely buy your next book.

Nuh uh. The only time this is a valid ending is if you’re in the 1950’s, munching popcorn in the first row watching another episode of Buck Rogers. A cliffhanger is all well and good if you know going into the deal, and you’ve laid down your quarter to enter the theater that Buck most likely won’t get knifed by the villain, and you’re perfectly okay to come back next week to see how said villain is thwarted.

Thing is, that movie house is also offering a feature film with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s why you paid your quarter to be satisfied by an ending that naturally progressed throughout the narrative.


You should care because you’ve pissed me off. Yeah, I’m just one person, so my opinion doesn’t matter. That’s entirely true. But do you really believe I’m the one and ONLY person in the entire world that holds that opinion? You’re sadly mistaken. I’m special, but not that special. If I think that way, then a whole lot of people—potential buyers—think the same. You’ve just lost your audience.

Think about your own life. You live your life in stages. The end of one stage suggests the next, but the next stage is its own part of your life. Sometimes, your life takes a surprising turn. You were headed toward point A, but somehow or other events led you to point B instead. If you could map out your whole life (or, say, your parents could do it for you), you and everybody around you would be bored silly.

So, transitions can be smooth:

You graduate from high school and continue on to the college where you had applied to become a rocket scientist.

Or rocky:

You graduate high school, but you met this guy in the summer and he’s part of a biker gang, which you thought totally cool, so you blew off college and rode the back seat of a Harley across the country.

In either case, the graduation from High School is the natural ending point of that stage. But if you’re sneakily planning to write a series, you briefly mention admiring the black leather jacket on that dude who rode by the graduation ceremony on his Harley. You lock eyes with him. He grins and winks. You feel a little tingly, but shake it off to march into the next phase.

Uh, oh. We’re planning a series, right? Well, you might pack all your bags, have a going away party, and even start the drive to your college of choice. You spot the dude on the Harley as you pass by the diner, but you just drive on.


But you now have a satisfying end to book 1 with a hint of the events of book 2, but you’re not leaving in the middle with the villain stabbing the hero in the back. You (the main character here, of course) may just keep on driving to college. That could be another book in the series. Or you could pull a U-turn in the road and head back to, um, grab a burger at the diner. Yeah, a burger and a handful of tight jeans.

A fork in the road can act as a transition between books in a series. At the end of book 1, you present some possibilities, but you have ended this stage (or book). Book 2 picks up with one of the forks you have offered in book 1.

Friday, February 23, 2018

PDT: Pacific Demon Time


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.

Azi (or Azhi) Dahaka

Aži Dahaka is the source of the modern Persian word azhdaha or ezhdeha (Middle Persian Azdahag) meaning "dragon", often used of a dragon depicted upon a banner of war.

Azhi Dahaka was created by Angra Mainu (the son of Angra Mainu and Autak), or the Ultimate Evil, to oppose goodness and truth (Allan, et al., 1999). Literally made of the unclean khrafstra, animals such as snakes, toads, scorpions, frogs and lizards, this dragon embodied corruption.

In the Avesta, the Azhi Dahaka is described as a three-headed, six-eyed, dragon-like monster. He is said to have a thousand senses, and to bleed snakes, scorpions, and other venomous creatures. He also is said to bring or control storms and disease. His wings were said to be so enormous that they would block out the sun.

In the Shahnameh written around 1000 AD, Azhi Dahaka was semi-anthropomorphosized as Zahak or Zohak, though many of the older characteristics were retained in the new version.

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.
* * *

A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Amazon Kindle on sale for only $0.99
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Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Persian Myths: Ahura and Anahita

FAIZAH'S DESTINY: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 2 borrows heavily from Persian mythology, but the gods pretty much match up to the Roman and Greek gods. Essentially, every civilization re-uses the same gods, but give them different names and their own special flavor.

The heroes are often the mighty warrior types: Hercules, Gilgamesh, Samson. Since I’ve written this book for kids, my heroes are teenagers, not at all like the legends (but they might become legendary themselves). They’re not in already in the mythology, so you’ll just have to read "Faizah's Destiny" to find out about them.

As usual, the "real" info is from the Encyclopedia Mythica.

Ahura Mazdah
In Persian belief, Ahura Mazdah ("Lord Wisdom") was the supreme god, he who created the heavens and the Earth, and another son of Zurvan. Atar, his son, battled Azhi Dahaka, the great dragon of the sky (note that Azhi shows up in "Setara's Genie"), and bound it in chains on a high mountain. The dragon was, however, destined to escape and destroy a third of mankind at the final reckoning, before it was slain. Ahura Mazdah was the god of prophetic revelation, and bore both Ahriman and Ormazd.

As leader of the Heavenly Host, the Amesha Spentas, he battles Ahriman and his followers to rid the world of evil, darkness and deceit. His symbol is the winged disc.
The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means "the immaculate one". She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher). The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals.

Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the 'Great Goddess' which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath). She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra.

I use Ahura more or less as described in the mythology site. Because he was the leader of the Amesha Spentas (the good guys), I decided to portray him like Zeus or Thor, just another god amused at the foibles of humankind, but rarely steps into the action. He is also equated with Mithra, so I have him married to Anahita. Ahura shows up in only one chapter ("Demons and Deities") and he chats with Anahita about the progress of the heroes. He claims to have set up the whole situation (just like a man).

I made Anahita my main character’s supporter. She appears to Faizah hovering over a lake. She tells the girl that one or more of her companions (three boys, wouldn’t you know) will be seduced to the dark side by demons. In typical godly fashion, she can’t give Faizah a straight story; she only hints at what might happen.


Each time the light dimmed, it returned brighter than before, pulsing in time to the beat of her heart. As the shape within the light grew more and more distinct, a part of Faizah’s mind wondered if she should be afraid. Somehow she wasn’t. Instead, she felt a strong attraction to that glowing figure and walked to the lake’s edge to get a better look.

The apparition hovered a few inches above the surface of the lake. Faizah could now see, through the shimmering aura surrounding her, the figure was that of a woman. She was looking out over the lake to the point where the shooting star had disappeared over the caldera rim. Clad in a golden cloak, a diamond tiara adorned her brow, and two small lions lay at her feet. The figure turned slowly to look directly at Faizah, and a gentle smile curved her lips.

Faizah gasped in sudden recognition. This was the goddess Anahita! She did exist! Faizah stood entranced as the patroness of all women, the goddess of water and fertility, and of war, came gliding smoothly over the surface of the lake toward her.

As the figure halted before her, Faizah glanced quickly over her shoulder at their campsite. The boys hadn’t moved, and she could hear Menog’s rumbling snore. She turned back to face the goddess.

“They will not awaken, Faizah,” Anahita’s lilting voice sounded in her ear. “I would speak to you alone.”

“Why...what...why have you appeared to me, Goddess?” Faizah stammered, her voice trembling.
“My husband has listened to your thoughts, Faizah. Ahura favors your purpose. He sent Menog to guide you through the cavern.”

Faizah’s eyes widened as she struggled to grasp what she was hearing. Ahura, too?

“Ah...we are grateful to Ahura for his favor. But...but, if he is protecting us, why did the boys become ill? Why didn’t I get sick, too?”

Anahita’s musical laugh was the tinkling of bells in a breeze. “Pazuzu of the southwest wind controls this valley. He guards it jealously and blows illness toward all who enter. This is why no one lives here.” Her smile widened. “And I might have had some small part in keeping you from getting sick.”

“I have read that Pazuzu can kill,” Faizah ventured, “yet the boys only have a cough. Did you do that, too?”

“No. That was your doing. Pazuzu can indeed kill. The medicine you made is what saved the boys. There is magic in you, Faizah, which is stronger than you know.” Anahita looked over Faizah’s shoulder at their little camp then back at Faizah. Her smile vanished, and her face became serious.

“I, too, favor your journey. But your friends,” she continued with a gesture toward the sleeping boys, “have lost their purpose. Be always on your guard, Faizah, for powerful forces oppose you.”

“If you favor our journey, Goddess, can you not tell me where to find Master Wafai?”

“A fair question, but the answer, I’m sorry to say, is no, I cannot.”

“But...but, you’re a goddess! Surely?”

“Master Wafai is safe; you needn’t worry about him. You are destined to follow a different path.”
Faizah’s brow wrinkled with concern. Why would she be selected by Anahita? She stammered, “What path?”

Anahita’s gaze lowered. “Many no longer believe in us, the gods and goddesses. As their belief wanes, so does our influence in the world. I, my husband, Ahura, my brother and sister goddesses, none of us are as strong as we once were. There are those, like your Master Wafai, who serve us still, and so we retain some of our strength. Even you doubted our existence, but your hope that we were real allows me to appear to you.”

“I’m sorry I ever doubted, Goddess,” Faizah whispered. “What must I do? Is it right that we go first to find the Simurgh, or should we be doing something else?”

“So many questions!” Anahita’s musical laugh drifted across the water. In the distance, a peacock’s raucous shriek seemed to answer her. “Listen, my pet calls to me,” she said. Then her smile faded, and her eyes mirrored the seriousness in her voice.

“Know this, Faizah. I will protect you as much as I can and lend you what assistance I am able. Even so, your success or failure depends on you. Your own wits and your own strength are far more important than any aid I may give you.”

Faizah trembled at the thought that a goddess would depend on her for anything. “Who opposes us?”

“Dev, for one. He relishes the darkness. Darkness begets ignorance, and ignorance begets folly.”

“Dev?” A cold chill ran down Faizah’s back. “The god of war? He is against us? Master Wafai said Dev plots the final war that will destroy the world!”

“This is true. Now you see why it is so important that you succeed in your task.”

Faizah took a deep breath. This was serious. “What else can you tell me? Will we have to face Dev? We’re not heroes. We’re kids. How can we fight a god?” Faizah chewed her lower lip with anxiety.

“I doubt Dev will oppose you directly; he would think that beneath him. Instead, he will send his minions to do his bidding. You must be ever watchful, Faizah, for you cannot know what form they will take. It could be an animal, a human, even a demon sent to turn your friends away from you.”

Anahita’s words did nothing to ease Faizah’s mind. A demon! What could they do against a demon?

Faizah's Destiny: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 2
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

 In print and ebook at Amazon. Currently discounted to $0.99
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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.

Setara's Genie: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 1
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?
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Friday, February 16, 2018

How Much is That in Dog Years?

Chinese New Year is February 16th. The year will be represented by the Dog. Dogs are nice. Everybody likes dogs, except for cat people. No matter which (both or neither) be sure to support your local animal shelter, especially if it's no-kill.

One must remember that the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog, symbol of intelligence and protection, can also turn the year 2018 into a sensitive period, during which activists and students, but also ordinary citizens, feeling deprived of hope and socially excluded, won't hesitate to demand radical changes to their life conditions, and to preserve the future of their children.

It is often said that the Years of the Dog are carriers of violent conflict. Actually, only the Years of the Metal Dog can be related to warlike and destructive energies, because of their reinforced metal. The next planned year of the Metal Dog is in 2030.