Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween - Last Day of Free Books

FINAL DAY OF FREE WITCHY EBOOKS AT SMASHWORDS

The four books in the Witches of Galdorheim series are all free at Smashwords. They're also for sale for 99 cents on Amazon if you prefer.

I hope you've enjoyed this month of posts on witches, vampires, werewolves, and other spooky and supernatural creatures who star in these books. Here's the rundown on each book with the free book link on Smashwords and the Amazon link at the end of each description. NOTE: If you purchase the ebook at Amazon, you can get the accompanying audio book for only $1.99.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed. Bad Spelling 99 Cents at Amazon.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her. Midnight Oil 99 Cents at Amazon.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches. Scotch Broom 99 Cents at Amazon.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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. Spellslinger 99 Cents at Amazon.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween is for Unicorns

A Diamond of a Companion

“There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn.”
Lyrics and Music by Shel Silverstein

This song kept running through my brain when I wrote about Diamond, a lonely unicorn, who meets up with Kat in her travels through the Otherworld. Naturally, unicorns are drawn to...um...maidens, so Diamond immediately joins Kat’s journey to help her in whatever way he can. That’s what a unicorn is all about, right?

Lately, I’ve seen at least two books which portrayed vicious unicorns, but in both cases, the aberration was a result of some type of black magic. Unicorns are always good, rainbows and lollypops, paragons of virtue, and all-round nice guys when it comes to their attachments to innocent girls.

But is Diamond all good? Does he really have Kat’s best interests at heart? Guess you’ll have to read more than this excerpt from Scotch Broom to find out.

Excerpt from Scotch Broom

Kat spotted Cait Sidhe angling backward to the same spot where Sianach and Cusith were converging. Frustrated by the soggy muck, Kat could only slog slowly across the swamplands. As she neared her three companions, she spotted a pond. About twenty feet across, it was bigger than most of the scattered pools sprinkling the bogs. Tall grassy bunches topped with white, feathery tufts hid much of the pond from view. When Kat finally came near enough to see the surface, she stopped to stare.

Two horses sloshed in the pool. Sunk up to their hocks in the water, they struck at each other with raised forelegs. Strangely, neither horse whinnied or screamed, but the sounds of their huffing breath made it clear they were both near exhaustion. One horse was sky blue, the other snow white. Kat looked harder and thought she saw...yes! A horn grew from the white horse’s forehead. A unicorn! A smile spread across her face before a scowl of concern quickly replaced it. Blood ran down the unicorn’s neck, splashing into the scummy, green pond water turning it a noxious brown.

The two creatures, their muscles rippling, hooves slinging the muck into the air, appeared to be matched in strength. Steamy breaths came out in blasts from the blue horse’s dilated nostrils. Kat lifted first one leg then the other out of the mire, only to have them sucked down again. Now up to her knees, she could hardly move at all. She’d lost one shoe somewhere along the way and would have to spell another up as soon as she figured out what to do about the battling beasts.

Kat reached out with her thoughts, trying to break into the mind of either the unicorn or the blue horse, but hit the same frustrating wall blocking her ability to read animal thoughts. Then, she heard something in her head.

Help me!”

It was the unicorn pleading for aid. For a moment, Kat was puzzled. She had not been able to hear the thoughts of the other creatures in the Otherworld. She felt the sincerity in the plea and had to help the unicorn.

The edge of the pond had a raised bank, which kept the water from streaming across the bogs. Kat glanced around but couldn’t see anything to use as a weapon. Pulling her legs out of the muck, she climbed atop the small berm. When the battle moved her direction, she bent her knees and jumped as far as she could. Grabbing the long mane of the blue horse, she pulled herself forward and slung both arms around its powerful neck. At first, she thought she had him when his head ducked toward the water. Her grip didn’t last long.

The blue horse reared back on its hind legs, but Kat held on, her body whipping back and forth under the horse’s neck. When its forelegs came down hard, her hold slipped. Plunging toward the water, her stomach knotted, and she held her breath. But when her feet hit the bottom the water was not quite waist deep. She fell backward onto her rear end with her head just above the surface. Kat let out her breath in relief...until she looked up into a wide-opened mouth full of black teeth surrounded by a flash of blue. It lunged at her head. She tensed her shoulders and brought her arms to cover her face in a feeble attempt to protect herself.

The unicorn had jumped backward when Kat launched herself at the blue horse. Now it lunged forward with its head down, its spiral horn pointed at the breast of the blue horse. The blue reared, barely avoiding the unicorn’s attack.

Kat risked a glance while she struggled to stand. She saw Sianach, Cusith, and Cait Sidhe were all standing around the pond, looking on with interest, but doing nothing.

“Why don’t you help?” she screamed at them.

“Who would you have us help?” asked Sianach with a mild tone.

“Me,” Kat yelled.

Cusith jumped into the pond and slogged his way through the shallow water to her side. “Grab hold, and I’ll get you out.” Kat clutched his neck and pulled herself to her feet. Looking around, she saw that the two horses stood still at opposite sides of the pool, their heads down, sides heaving.

“What is this? I cannot believe you, you people! All I wanted was to take my Winter Abroad. But could it be that simple? No! Instead, I get a bunch of gladiator animals all intent on proving whose attitude is bigger! What is wrong with you...you...see! I don’t even know what to call you!” She waded ashore holding Cusith’s fur to keep herself upright.

Sianach laughed his bugling, grunting laugh. “Not an attitude comparison at all. These two are quite intent on killing each other.”

* * *


BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween is for Elemental Spirits

AJATAR THE ELEMENTAL SPIRIT

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wait for it .... Water. The four classical four elements have been part of mythologies since the first time a smarter than average Cro Magnon decided to cash in on his superstitious tribe claiming to have a direct hot line to the somewhat amorphous deities.

Deities and demons have proliferated over the intervening 20,000 years or so, with the winners being those smarties who knew how to cash in on fear. The shamans, priests, and other assorted grifters.
  • Earth: The ground shakes and splits open. Uh oh, the earth god is ticked. If you’ll just give me your hard-won haunch of mammoth, I’ll intercede on your behalf.
  • Air: Windstorm coming up. Boy, are you in trouble for holding back on my share of the cave bear hide. Ol’ Wind is mighty pissed.
  • Fire: See what happens if you don’t listen to what I say. Your whole forest burns because you all are bad people. Just lay a pile of pretty shells at my feet and I’ll see if I can placate the Fire Demon. 
  • Water: Oopsie, a flood. Well, wasn’t I the smart one for building that big boat. Did I mention the fare? All proceeds go to the Water God, of course.
The natural elements wreak havoc and a clever guy makes out like a bandit. As time marched on, the elementals took on different names and personalities. The shyster’s way of collecting for multiple personalities for those four basic elements.

Before a caveman could count, um, one. The world was littered with all sorts of mythological beings lined up by the wise shaman to collect trade goods from the fearful masses.

Besides a plethora of gods and demons which I have mentioned some of already, I selected a lovely forest elemental (notice how the element population is dividing and growing) named Ajatar. She happens to be a Finnish spirit and is the main troublemaker in my second book of the Witches of Galdorheim, Midnight Oil.

Ajatar was known as the Devil of the Woods, so I set her in a magically protected forest glade. She controlled her local flora (writing tree roots, fast-growing brambles) and snakes to protect her cache of boxes, bottles, pots, a bent bicycle tire, laundry detergent, dried flowers, old tennis shoes, and Andy.

Oh, right, Andy happens to be a changeling, a human who spent much of his life in the Troll Kingdom and is now Kat’s main squeeze. Ajatar kidnapped him to draw out her sister, Ilmatar, an air spirit who had been hiding out on Galdorheim disguised as the old witch (she prefers sorceress) Mordita.

Lots of stuff happens, but the sisters finally come together in an epic battle (they’re fighting over a man, wouldn’t you know). Ajatar takes her dragon form, while Ilmatar becomes a giant white roc.

Excerpt

Ilmatar spun, danced, and dived. It was too many years since she had taken her true form. She was the wind, the hurricane, the tornado. Air she was, air she would be. She sighed, and a tree bent with her breath.

She rose with the heat, dropped low and sped across open fields when clouds blocked the sun’s rays. Yet, neither heat nor cold drove her. She flowed over or around as she pleased. When she was in the mood, she flattened everything in her path.

She laughed, and earth-bound creatures cringed at the booming thunder. She smiled, and a gentle breeze danced over hills and valleys. She reveled in her freedom and then grew angry when she thought how Ajatar stole this from her. She’d almost forgotten the power and glory that was Ilmatar.

Now, she’d get payback. Ajatar, she vowed, would regret this day for the rest of her days if Ilmatar the air spirit had any say.

But enough reveling for now. She had a job to do. Gathering free air to her as she flew, she coalesced into a cutting shaft, sharp and deadly as any arrow, and one thousand times as large. She swooped up, down, and sideways, leaving a vortex of spinning air in her wake.

Increasing her speed and the velocity of spin, she smashed through the tops of trees and touched down, a whirling cyclone in the center of Ajatar’s glade. Moss and branches whirled through the forest clearing and trees bent away from her, howling, cracking and snapping, with the thunder of rustling leaves.

Ajatar had heard her coming; she could hardly miss Ilmatar’s roar. Ajatar grew taller, rising above the treetops, spreading her vast scaled wings. Her mouth gaped and fire roared out. With a single downward thrust of her wings, she soared upward. Ilmatar’s tornado followed close behind.

* * *

BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Halloween is for Evil Goddesses

HALLOWEEN IS FOR EVIL GODDESSES

Cailleach the Winter Goddess

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

Living in the Otherworld after the Celts have stopped worshiping the old ones, Cailleach has let herself go to seed. She spends her days attempting to make sense of the hags’ potion in MacBeth (Double, double, toil and trouble). When she hears that a witch has come into the Otherworld, she begins to scheme. If Cailleach can only steal the witch’s magic, she can be young and powerful again. But the crone is cautious, she sends her minions out to learn more about the witch and to lead her to the goddess. While waiting for news, she learns that yet another witch has entered the Otherworld, but this one doesn’t make any sense. Cailleach determines this being is male, thus a warlock, but also smells of vampire. She decides to draw in this one like she plans for the first. But first, she decides to do a little homework.

She sends Bodach, the black giant, to give a message to Glaistig, the only Scottish vampire, to scope out just exactly who or what this male is: warlock, vampire, or both.

From the Monstropedia on Cailleach
She is depicted as as having an eye in the middle of a blue-black face, long red teeth, and matted hair. In several stories she appears before a hero as a repulsive hag and suddenly transforms herself into a beautiful girl. At winter’s end, some accounts say the Cailleach turned into a grey boulder at Beltane until the warm days were over. The boulder was said to be “always moist’, because it contained “life substance’. The Cailleach Beara is ever-renewing and passes through many lifetimes going from old age to youth or flesh to stone in a cyclic fashion.
The Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhain (October 31st) and Beltaine (April 30th), while Bride rules the summer months between Beltaine and Samhain. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìde as two faces of the same goddess.
She is a bringer of snows, death, and sharp storms. On Samhain the Cailleach leaves her mountains and walks the Land. The Cailleach then proceeds to "wash her plaid". Her plaid represents the sand. When the Cailleach is done the plaid is white and the Land is covered with snow. She is said to ride on the back of a wolf carrying a wand made of human skin, that she uses to strike down all signs of growth. Behind her follows cold winds, blizzards, and ice. In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter.

It’s easy to see why Cailleach is so interested in regaining her strength, to become what she had been in the olden times.

Excerpt from Scotch Broom

Cailleach groaned when she leaned over and lifted her bare foot high enough to clip her toenails with the gardening shears. She looked up and sniffed twice. The hag dropped her bare foot, stuffed it into her flipflop, and shuffled to the door. Throwing it open, she held her head high, closed her eyes, and sniffed some more.

“Drat! Not another witch.” She sniffed again. “Wait, a warlock. No, a vampire. Hmm.” She closed the door and slumped into a chair. “This is confusing. Maybe there are two.” She went to the woodshed door. Cailleach rapped three times and then stood back as it creaked open.

Bodach, her roommate and minion, dragged his crippled body out of the small hatch. “Yes, Mistrezz,” he slurred, casting one protruding eye upwards.

“We have another foreigner in the swamp. Get out there and find a skrat to check. No, not a skrat. I smell vampire. Find Glaistig and send her to investigate.” Cailleach patted him on the head. “There’s a good boy.”

“Can you tell me where Glaistig is hiding?” Bodach examined his armpit and sniffed.

“Go to the standing stones on the north side of the loch. She has a cave there.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach dragged his limp legs behind him. He began to unfold in a way the eye could not follow. When he reached the door, he needed to bend and shuffle through sideways to fit.

“Bodach, stay with Glaistig and do as she says. She might need some muscle.”

“Yes, Mistrezz.” Bodach ducked and went to seek Glaistig, the Gray Lady.

Cailleach closed the door behind the giant and sat again. She twanged the long hair protruding from the wart on her chin. “This is all very disturbing. Two foreigners stomping around in my bog within hours. This second, though, he’s strange. Yes, male. That much is clear. But I smell on him both warlock and vampire. Very odd, indeed.”

She went to the dusty bookshelf beside the fireplace. As she tapped each book with her gnarled finger, it spoke its title aloud. The Compleat Book of Bats. Care and Feeding of Monsters. Selling Love Potions on the Internet. Vampires: The Myths and the Facts. She took this one off the shelf and flipped through the pages. An occasional groan or scream emitted from the book, depending on the chapter topic.

“Ah, here it is. ‘Vampire Half-Breeds.’ Hmm. ‘Cross breedings with werewolves, ghouls, and Sasquatch have been cited, although most of these stories are second-hand accounts at best. It is believed that vampires could breed with any species; however, it is most likely this only occurs when the other creature is in an altered form. The werewolf, for example, must be in its wolf mode, not its human aspect.’”

Cailleach stuck her finger in the book to hold her place and plopped down on her rocking chair. She must be mistaken about the invader. This was a scholarly work, although a little dated having been written in 1549. But it seemed to deny the possibility of a warlock-vampire mix. She’d have to study this a bit more. Still, the vampire smell was strong. Without her power, all she could do was wait for Glaistig to report. The only known true vampire in Scotland, Glaistig wouldn’t waste a minute of darkness beating feet to catch up to the male, determine what he was, and report back.

Satisfied she could do nothing more, she leaned back in her rocker, intending to read the rest of the chapter. But sleep overtook her, and she was soon snoring in her chair.
* * *

BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Halloween is for Wizards

HALLOWEEN IS FOR WIZARDS

Wizards, Sorcerers, Magicians, Warlocks

These are the males of the species Homo Spellcasterus. Please comment on how you use these terms in your own writing. If you’re not a fiction writer, feel free to give your opinions as well.

A magician, wizard, sorcerer or a person known under one of many other possible terms in fiction is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources. Warlocks, who are normally the male counterpart of witches, tend to be portrayed as evil, perhaps because ‘war’ is part of their title, and who doesn’t hate ‘locks’?

To supply some examples:

Wizard: In medieval chivalric romance, the wizard often appears as a wise old man and acts as a mentor. Long, white beards and robes seem to be required for most wizards.

Wizard of Oz
Dumbledore and Harry Potter
Discworld has a plethora of wizards, many inept
Gandalf in Tolkien’s Middle Earth
DC Comics and Marvel Comics both have wizards
Dungeons and Dragons and similar role-playing games
and Mr. Wizard, the science guy before Bill Nye the Science Guy

Copyright Disney Inc.
Sorcerer: Often an alternate term for Wizard. Many of the above mentioned wizards are sometimes referred to as sorcerers (except Mr. Wizard), but there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in doing so.

Magician: This seems to be the catchall phrase for spellcasters, but also includes stage performers with sleight-of-hand tricks, showgirl sawing, and disappearing and reappearing showgirls and white tigers.

Warlock: In Medieval tradition, warlocks are male counterparts to witches. However, modern Wiccans consider the term pejorative.

In some role-playing games, warlocks are demon summoners. After obtaining said demon, they can control them, make them pets, change their litterbox, etc. This usage may stem from the derivation from the Old Norse varð-lokkur meaning caller of spirits. However, the Oxford English Dictionary (the definitive source for all things magic) does not concur. The Oxford suggests the term warlock comes from warloke meaning to secure (a horse) as with a fetterlock. How this translates into a spellcaster, I have no idea.*

My Mashing Isn’t Very Up. I tend to use the standard definitions, although the Witches of Galdorheim series refers to male witches as warlocks. I see nothing pejorative about it. My apologies to any offended Wiccans.

BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Halloween is for Trolls

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 Witch Extravaganza month of October. Oh, yeah, it's going to be BIG! All three main books in the series are free on Smashwords.

Trolls in the Witches of Galdorheim

Trolls. What do you imagine? Maybe something like the big ugly pictured here. In my Witches of Galdorheim series, I wanted a cave-dwelling bunch of uglies, but dwarves didn’t seem right for my book. Then I started hearing music inside my head. You know how that goes, right? It builds and builds until it has you screaming in frustration, willing to even listen to some other music to at least swamp the tormenting sound.

But before I could find a MP3 file of "Henry the VIIIth" by Herman’s Hermits, I stopped and listened. My muse was whacking me in the head via earworm. The music was Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. Duh. Trolls.

Despite the canards on trolls from the likes of Artemis Fowl or Pratchett’s Discworld, I thought they could be heroic if given sufficient ale.

From the Free Dictionary/Encyclopedia:

A troll is a fearsome member of a mythical race from Norse mythology. Originally more or less the Nordic equivalents of giants, although often smaller in size, the different depictions have come to range from the fiendish giants – similar to the ogres of England – to a devious, more human-like folk of the wilderness, living underground in hills, caves or mounds.

Hey! They’re not all flesh-eating giants who turn to stone in the sunlight. Some are devious little guys who live in wilderness areas (no doubt protecting endangered magical species).

In Bad Spelling, Kat and her smart-aleck half-brother, Rune, (also happens to be a vampire, but has absolutely no resemblance to the Twilight guy except they’re both cute as hell) are directed by Kat’s flash-frozen dad (Rune calls him a pop-sicle) to visit the Troll King. At the Hall, she requests assistance from King Ole, the Norwegian Troll King. He arranges for her and Rune to ride the Trollercoaster, which starts in Norway and ends up in the Ural Mountains. From there Kat, Rune, and a changeling troll named Andy travel to Siberia to find Kat's family.

Clearly, trolls are good. They are nice, helpful, cheerful, and sing fairly well too. Yet aspersions continue to be cast upon these misunderstood creatures. Shame on all of you for making them the bad guys all these years!

Excerpt from Bad Spelling

Chapter Fifteen - Three Trolls on a Bridge

Kat ran to where her brother and the three trolls faced each other. The trolls stood shoulder to shoulder, their big, splayed feet firmly planted in front of the footbridge. They bared their chunky yellow teeth and growled at Rune. Although hardly reaching Rune’s shoulder, they each outweighed him. Clearly, the trolls did not intend to let him cross. Looking up and down the streamlet, Kat wondered at their careful guarding of the bridge. Kind of silly, she thought, since anyone could easily step across the rivulet without even getting wet feet. She wondered if these were children, given their short stature. However, their long knives looked very grown up.

Enunciating each word, Rune held his hands out to show they were empty. Kat had no idea what her brother was saying, since Rune was speaking Old Runish. Except for a few spell words, Kat didn’t understand the ancient tongue.

Evidently, neither did the trolls. Rune spoke again, louder this time, and took one slow step forward. At this move, the troll on the left lunged at them, jabbing at Rune with his knife. Rune sidestepped the rush, and the troll, taken off balance, stumbled and fell flat on his face. Kat stepped over the troll and grasped his arm but only caught hold of his sleeve. He screamed and pushed her away. The other two trolls ran at her with their knives raised, yelling as they advanced.

Rune stuck out his foot and tripped the middle troll. The last troll standing went after Rune. The young warlock threw up his hands, arms crossed to fend off the attack. A bright red light arced from his hands to hit the charging troll in the face. The troll dropped his knife and fell to the ground, screaming and rolling around with his hands pressed over his eyes. Rune snatched up the knife and held it to the middle troll’s neck. Kat sat on the one she grabbed, pulling the knife from his flailing hand. The recipient of Rune’s flash attack kept his hands over his eyes.

Rune spoke again in Old Runish, shouting to make himself heard. It didn’t do any good; the trolls all continued screaming and squealing at the top of their lungs.

Kat jumped up from the troll’s back and grabbed Rune’s hand, pulling the knife away from the troll’s neck. “Rune,” she yelled, “tell them we won’t hurt them!”

The thrashing troll froze then turned his cumbersome head toward her.

“You can speak our language!” He slapped the troll nearest to him, who abruptly stopped screaming. The one whose neck Rune held the knife to spread his fingers to peek at Rune and Kat.

Rune released the troll and stood up, looking a little sheepish. “I just assumed—” He stopped then shook his head.

Kat crouched on her knees next to one of the trolls lying on the ground and patted him on the shoulder. “We mean you no harm. We’re Wiccans from Galdorheim. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”

Slowly, the trolls climbed to their feet, looked at Kat, then at each other. The three trolls huddled, conferring together. Kat heard a murmur but couldn’t make out what they said.

Kat continued, searching for something to say. “My Aunt Thordis…” Three pairs of troll eyes turned to her and opened wide. They stared at Kat. The middle troll elbowed the one on his left, who giggled. The troll on the right gave a great whoop of laughter then slapped the middle troll on the back. All three trolls broke into huge guffaws and ended up leaning on each other, wiping tears from their eyes. Rune and Kat stared open-mouthed.
* * *

BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (Free at Smashwords)
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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Halloween is For Sorceresses

Mordita the Witch (She Prefers Sorceress)

Hands down, readers' favorite witch on Galdorheim is Mordita. She's powerful, all right, but it's her wicked sense of humor that makes her a fan fav. She also has some secrets, which are revealed in Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim, Midnight Oil.

Kat meets Mordita in Bad Spelling. In Midnight Oil, the two have become close friends. Even Aunt Thordis gets along with the sorceress since Mordita helped rescue Kat and Rune. Well, they pretty much rescued themselves in Bad Spelling, but Mordita's skill with a scrying crystal helped greatly.

While Mordita has tons of magic, she prefers to maintain her old hag appearance just to keep the Galdorheim witches from stopping by to visit. Mordita is alone, and she likes to keep it that way. She's not quite alone if you want to count a fat orange tiger cat named Kudzu.

Mordita is a mystery. Why did she come to Galdorheim if she doesn't want to consort with the witches and warlocks? Simple. She's on the run, hiding from her evil sister, the elemental forest spirit Ajatar.

Many years before, the two sisters fought over a man. Not that he was all that special, but neither sister wanted to concede anything to the other. Sibling rivalry at its worst, and most dangerous.


Excerpt from Midnight Oil:

Kat sprinted up the cobbled pathway to Mordita’s door. She remembered the first time she’d come to the old witch’s home, she’d gotten zapped by the spike and horseshoe doorknocker. She learned fast—don’t use the knocker. She rapped on the wood instead.

The door swung open. Kat walked into the dimly-lit living room, and the door closed behind her. Glancing around, she waited for her eyes to adjust. She didn’t see Mordita, but her familiar, a fat orange tiger cat, curled on one of the damask-covered chairs by the fireplace.

“Kudzu, where’s your mistress?” The cat opened one eye a squinch and nodded toward the door leading to the kitchen.

“Thanks.” Kat hurried over to the kitchen door. “Anyone home?” One never walked through a closed door without an invitation from the home’s occupant. The door swung inward, and Kat stepped into the tiny kitchen. Mordita leaned over the stove and pulled a tray from the oven.

“Ah, Katrina, I’m glad you stopped by. I made cookies for your trip.”

“So, you heard already?”

The old woman chuckled. “You know I hear everything.”

Kat smiled. No doubt Mordita kept track of current events. “Thanks for the cookies, but I have to hurry. We’re just about ready to leave.”

The sorceress tossed the cookie sheet into the air. The cookies flew off, circling the kitchen twice. Kat ducked to avoid the flying disks, which grouped into a neat pile and dropped into a waiting basket. The lid slammed shut, and the basket jetted over to Kat, who caught it on the fly.

“Quick enough for you?” The old woman cackled. Kat knew Mordita’s patented cackle was worse than her bite, so she just grinned. She stepped in front of the witch and threw her free arm around her shoulders.

Mordita raised one hand and patted Kat on the shoulder. “Now, now. We’ll see each other again soon.”

“You promise?” Kat asked, hoping she might know for certain.

“Just an educated guess,” Mordita replied, slipping out of Kat’s hug. “But I have something else for you.” The crone reached into an apron pocket and withdrew an amulet hanging on a silver chain. She slipped it over the young witch’s head.

Plucking it up from her chest, Kat looked down at it. It, too, was silver, but tarnished so heavily it seemed almost black. “What is it?” She squinted at the dim shapes and symbols etched into the silver disk.

“It’s a good luck coin. I know it’s hard to see, but that’s Medusa. I got it from her…um, that is, my family passed it down to me. Medusa personally handed it to a great, great, great something-or-other relative of mine.”

“Wasn’t Medusa evil?” Kat asked, a frown tugging at her mouth.

“Not all the time, dear. Mostly, people just misunderstood her. Don’t you worry. The amulet protects against snakes.”

“Snakes?” Kat’s voice rose an octave.  “Why will I need protection against snakes? Will I run into snakes?”

Mordita frowned and then made shooing motions with her hands. “Now, now. I don’t see anything like that. It’s just a gift.”

“Thanks.” Kat gave the witch another hug. The old lady squirmed from Kat’s grasp.

“Enough, girl. Run along and find the boy.”

“I’ll try. See you later.” Kat sprinted to the front door, and it opened just in time for her to pass through. Pausing, she looked back, wishing she’d said something more, but she had no idea what.

Bolting down the walk, Kat was glad she’d cleaned the slime off the stones, even if Mordita didn’t appreciate it. I still owe her a three-fold favor.
BAD SPELLING (Free at Smashwords)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

SPELLSLINGER - A Witches of Galdorheim Story (99 cents at either Amazon or Smashwords)
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.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Halloween is for Werewolves

HALLOWEEN IS FOR WEREWOLVES

Werewolves: An Alternative Transportation

Werewolf from New Moon
The most well-known werecritter is the werewolf. At this time in the cycle of what’s hot, what’s not, werewolves are getting great press via the Twilight books and movies by Stephanie Meyer.

I have to admit it. Werewolves can be totally sexy guys (gals) in human form. Meyer finally got one legendary being right. Well, she agrees with my concept, which I used before I read any of the Meyer saga. To tell the truth, I still haven’t read any of the books, because the first movie put such a bad taste in my mouth. OMG, Edward loves Bella because she SMELLS good?!?!? Gimme a break.

As we all know, werewolves are shape-shifters. When the full moon rises, your normal guy (or gal) changes into a werewolf. Sometimes, they are portrayed as mindless beasts who’ll rip the throat out of anybody they come upon. Other portrayals show that the maintain their human intelligence when shifted. Since the legends vary so wildly, I decided to not only have my werewolves remain intelligent, but also able to shift from human to wolf form at will.

How do I justify this turning away from the legend? I don’t need to. Some folks will howl in disgust with my tampering with the myths. Let ‛em whine or even bark. I’ve seen authors do just about everything with the tropes: weres, vampires, demons, fairies, angels, ancient gods. That, I believe, is perfectly okay. You want a half-vampire, half-demon? I’ve seen that in paranormal more than once. Gods less than god-like? Yup, been done.

Anyway, I have a six-pack of werewolves in “Bad Spelling.” Here’s a taste (ha ha, get it?) of my werewolf mashup.

EXCERPT

Rune joined them. “Are we going to stand around here all day? Where’s the alternative transportation you told us about?”

Andy tore his gaze from Kat and scanned the slope. “There it is.”

Kat looked where Andy pointed and gasped. “What—?”

“Don’t worry. They won’t hurt us,” Andy said with a confidence Kat didn’t quite trust.

“But werewolves?” There was no mistaking them for regular wolves. Besides being twice the size of the largest of the wolves, the eyes gave them away. Even from a distance, Kat could see them gleaming with intelligence.

“Look behind them,” Andy said.

The big wolves loped along easily; they were harnessed to a sled, bouncing along behind them. The speed with which they approached told her they would have no problem pulling a heavy load.
The wolves came up the slope and stopped in front of them. The lead werewolf looked at each of them with some interest. Kat felt like an item on a menu, like when they faced the polar bear.

The lead wolf said, “Good morning. Hmm. Humans, not trolls. Interesting.” The wolf looked over his shoulder at the others. “Remember, King Olaf hired us to deliver these people to where they want to go. You are not to eat them.” The other wolves nodded, but their long tongues hanging over gleaming, razor-sharp teeth was not a reassuring sight; their mouths dripped saliva in a most disconcerting manner.

The lead werewolf turned his pale yellow eyes back to Andy. “So, where are we going?”

Andy briefly explained what they wanted. The werewolf nodded and said, “If I understand correctly, we are looking for the Sami tribe. Do you realize they’re nomadic?”

“Sort of. All I know for certain is they spend much of their time on the northern coast.” Andy glanced at Kat. “Anything else?” She shook her head.

The wolf stared at Andy for a moment and then said, “Well, come closer so I can smell you. The girl, too.”

Kat hung back. “Why do you want to—? Oh, I understand. You can find the Samis through our scent.”

“Very good, young lady,” the werewolf answered and sniffed at her outstretched hand. He licked it once. Kat jerked her hand back. “Taste helps, too,” the werewolf answered, with a hint of humor in his gruff voice.

“What’s your name?” Kat asked.

“I call myself Mazi in my wolf form. I try to keep my human life separate.” The werewolf raised his head and howled. The other wolves joined in the chorus. Goose pimples rose on Kat’s arms. Then, they all fell silent and pricked their ears, turning their heads this way and that. From off in the distance, Kat heard a faint answering howl.

“Hop on the sled. It’s time to go,” Mazi said.
* * *
BAD SPELLING - Book 1 of The Witches of Galdorheim Series (FREE ON SMASHWORDS)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series (Free with Smashwords Coupon BA36E)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?


SCOTCH BROOM - Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series (Free with Smashwords Coupon TH89T)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.


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. 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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Halloween is for Vampires

HALLOWEEN IS FOR VAMPIRES

Glaistig the Scottish Gray Lady

I Scotch Broom, I present Glaistig as a vampire woman who has entered the Otherworld because she no longer wants to live off the blood of humans. Within the magical realm, she can safely feed on the various magical creatures without killing them. Once I discovered her, I knew she had to be part of the Scottish story. While a vampire, she’s got a soft side that appeals to Rune. In other words, she’s not all bad; she’s just been fabled that way.
n

I discovered Glaistig at Monstropedia, a must-have link for paranormal and fantasy writers. The picture is from that site so it might be misuse of copyright. But they started it! (http://www.monstropedia.org/index.php?title=Glaistig)
According to one legend the glaistig was once a mortal noblewoman, to whom a fairy nature had been given or who was cursed with the goat's legs and immortality, and since has been known as The Green (or Gray) Lady.
In most stories, the creature is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half is that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.
In the diverse and changing traditions of the Highlands, the Glaistig was seen as both benevolent and malevolent towards humans. In one aspect she even takes the role of the Banshee, wailing at the death of important people.
The glaistig may take the form of a beautiful woman, especially one already known to the male victim; after offering sexual favors like a camp follower, she leaves her male victim with his throat cut, every drop of blood sucked from him. Other such tales have her casting stones in the path of travelers or throwing them off course.
In some variant stories the glaistig may be seen as benevolent, fond of children and a protector of old people. Libations of milk were poured for her, especially on selected stones; this veneration may be linked with older fertility customs. The glaistig has been described in some folklore as watching over children while their mothers milked the cows and fathers watched over the herds.
The glaistig frequented the lonely lochs and rivers in the Highlands of Scotland, such as Ardnacaillich, Donolly Castle, Loch Fyne, Crathes Castle and in Wales at Caerphilly.
Excerpt

Rune, Kat’s brother, is searching for his sister while Cailleach is searching for both Rune and Kat by sending one or more of her minions to find them. Glaistig’s job is to find Rune, determine whether or not he’s a vampire, and to bring the boy to the goddess.

As the sun eased down to hide behind a mountain range to the west, a movement to his left caught his attention. It looked like a tendril of smoke rising from the swamp. Since it was unlikely anything could burn in the bog, he watched the gray mist with interest. He notched up his vampire vision to watch. The smoky mist grew opaque then solid. A figure formed, but as if a statue made of granite, it was solid gray. Watching closely, Rune waited to see what this might be. He had studied all types of magical beings and couldn’t recall one like this.

The smoke woman, for he now recognized the shape as female, wafted toward him on the air. When it stopped a few feet away from him, it slowly gathered color from the moors. Heather green, water blue, dried grass yellow. The colors mixed and swirled and finally settled on the figure, giving her the approximate colors of a woman with blonde hair, a pale, gray face, and dazzling blue eyes staring at him in silence. She wore a long dress and cape, both the color of morning mist.

Rune ventured a greeting. “Hello?” The woman didn’t speak, but she moved again, this time circling him. Rune turned to keep her in his sight.

“I am Glaistig.” Her voice was as soft as the smoke from which she formed.

Without his vampire hearing, Rune wouldn’t have been able to hear the whisper. “Ahem. I’m Rune. Nice to meet you.” Rune wondered whether to offer his hand to shake and decided not to risk it. He’d heard some magical beings poisoned those who touched them.

The pale woman looked him up and down and then nodded slightly. “You are vampyr?”

“Um. Is that a problem?”

“Not at all. I am also.”

“Oh. I should have guessed. Night. Smoke. Oh! I remember who you are!” Rune snapped his fingers. “Glaistig, the Gray Lady. But you’re not a true vampire, are you?”

“It depends upon my mood and how a person treats me. If I meet a man on the road, and he tries to grab me, I dance away and let him follow. I lure him to my lair. Then, I take his blood. But if a man tips his hat and wishes me a good evening, I leave him with a smile.”

“That’s a relief. My name is Rune, and I’m here looking for my si—” Rune stopped and considered that if Glaistig was a vampire and thought he was too, he shouldn’t mention he had a witch sister. “Uh, a female friend. Have you seen a girl with black hair?”

“I have not, but Cailleach may be able to help you.” Something darker than the blackest shadow lumbered out of the night. Glaistig glanced at the giant coming up behind her. “It’s all right, Bodach. This man is a vampire.”

The giant halted by her side and glared down at Rune, who swallowed hard and craned his neck to look up at the ugly face on top of the nine-foot tall body. The giant sniffed. “As you say, Glaistig. We take him to Cailleach?”

“Yes, we do.” Turning to Rune, the Gray Lady beckoned with her index finger. “Come, Rune. We shall visit the goddess.”

“Well, that’s okay. I’ll just look over there,” Rune replied, pointing in the opposite direction of where Glaistig appeared to be headed.

Bodach took two long strides and grabbed Rune’s arm before he could react.

“Uh, since you put it that way.” He pulled his arm away from the giant and followed Glaistig.

The Gray Lady smiled at him. “I’m so happy you agree. Bodach is Cailleach’s very faithful servant. I doubt he would take no for an answer.”

Rune nodded glumly. It looked like he was stuck for now. Still, it might be a good thing. This Cailleach might be able to help find Kat. But why would being a vampire all of a sudden be a good thing? He could sense that if he had not been a vampire, Bodach the giant, would now be crushing his skull between his two gigantic hands. And who was this goddess Cailleach? The name didn’t ring any bells.

Rune followed Glaistig, with Bodach close on his heels. Over the thumps of Bodach’s heavy footsteps, he heard the skittering sound of a small animal in the grass as they walked away.

* * *

SCOTCH BROOM: Book 3 of The Witches of Galdorheim
#FREE at Smashwords to the end of October with Coupon TH89T
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to Stonehenge, but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld within the Scottish Highlands with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

BAD SPELLING: Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim is permafree on Smashwords.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Halloween is for Warlocks

HALLOWEEN IS FOR WITCHES WARLOCKS

The Witches of Galdorheim series is all about witches...and warlocks. While some people insist warlocks are always evil, and think that's as nonsensical as saying all witches are evil. Or all people. Or all puppies.

One warlock in the series plays a major role in all three novels and has his very own prequel story about his own experience growing up on an island full of witches and magic. You don't just perform magic without a little practice, or things might get very out of control.

Rune: Kat's younger brother is the offspring of a witch and a vampire. Don't give me any grief about vampire's not being able to breed yada yada. This is my fantasy book, and I'll write it any way I want to.

Anyway, Rune has a double-dose of magical ability since he has inherited his witch mother's spellcasting talent, but also can call on his vampire side for some benefits. His biggest problem is keeping his vampire side in check. The slightest hint of blood sets him off. He struggles with his blood craving and hopes to overcome it someday. In the meantime, everybody makes sure Rune doesn't see so much as a pricked thumb.

Kat asks Rune for some packaged spells to help her in her scheme to run away from home. Always loving an adventure, Rune decides he has to come along with his sister. Not only does he love her, but he also finds her clumsy spelling a source of infinite amusement.

Excerpt from Spellslinger

Rune stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets and stomped down the street, his shoulders hunched. A clump of dandelions hugging the white picket fence leapt out at him, their squeaky little growls and slashing petals pulled a grin from the eleven-year-old warlock for a moment until he remembered he was in a bad mood.

He punted the attacking flowers with a transforming spell turning them into a tumbleweed rolling along the street. Rune sprinted after and gave  it a kick with a Beckham bend. The shrub careened out of control over a picket fence and into a yard. Lilac, a witch who lived in the cottage, stepped out on her porch. “Rune, get that thing out of my garden!”

“Yes’m.” Rune felt his cheeks redden. He pulled out his wand and flicked it toward the offending bush. The shrub shook, then hopped in the air. When it landed, it sunk its brand-new roots into the ground on the edge of Lilac’s koi pond. The rose buds adorning the stems burst into full bloom and a few petals dropped and floated on the water.

Lilac smiled. “Congratulations, Rune. You charmed your way out of a telling-off.” The witch walked back into her home.

Rune continued on his way, his shoulders settling, a frown tugging the corners of his mouth back down. His friend, Dalton, had joined the Wolf Pack and seemed to forget that Rune was his best bud. The Wolf Pack wasn’t exactly condoned in the witch community, but as long as the transformed boys didn’t actually eat anybody, the warlocks turned a blind eye. Rune had promised his mother and aunt that he’d not get involved in the group. As a half vampire, the only vampire, he already had plenty to worry about without also taking on a wolf form. The boys’ play sometimes drew blood. No way could Rune keep from going mega-vampire at the sight of blood.

It sucked. Since he wouldn’t join the pack, they all stopped letting him hang out with them. Now he was stuck in the 'so not cool' group to which his older half sister already belonged. She couldn’t cast a spell that didn’t blow up in her face, and since Rune couldn’t join the other boys in the Pack, he felt like an outcast. His mind pinged, and the word “outlaw” blazed in his head. Yeah, that’s what he’d do, spell up a place of his very own. To heck with Dalton and those other boys turning themselves into werewolves. He’d become an outlaw, a real gunslinger. Or how about a spellslinger? That had a nice ring to it.

That’s it. He’d go old west, old U.S. west. He’d watched about a zillion westerns, so he figured he could conjure a proper old west town and he’d be...what? The leader of a bandit gang? The Sheriff of a little town taking on the bad guys? Yeah, he’d be the hero.


* * *
Spellslinger, Rune's own story is free on Smashwords (also free at Smashwords, first book in the series, Bad Spelling) and you can listen to the Spellslinger audio book free on SoundCloud.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Halloween is for Classy Witches

HALLOWEEN IS FOR CLASSY WITCHES

The entire Witches of Galdorheim series has a few characters featured in all the books. I thought re-introducing the stars of the series a good setup for the Witch Extravaganza month of October. Oh, yeah, it's going to be BIG! All four of the books in the series are available in Audio format.

To set things up for the big month, here's a bit on two more Witches of Galdorheim characters who play a major role in all four books.

Ardyth; Kat's and Rune's mother is one of the three most powerful witches on Galdorheim Island. You wouldn't believe it from her somewhat scatter-brained demeanor. Kat's pretty sure she behaves like a flibbertigibbet just to irritate her older sister, Thordis. When writing the books, I always pictured Ardyth as looking like Candice Bergen.

Prior to the events in the series, we learn that Kat's father Boris, a Siberian fisherman who was stranded on Galdorheim, is frozen between life and death from a ice cave collapse. What was he doing in the ice cave? Ardyth is mum on the subject.

After Boris' semi-demise, Ardyth visits Transylvania to meet an eligible warlock. Unfortunately, Drakos had been attacked by a vampire and was turned himself. Ardyth escapes with her life, but pregnant with Rune.

Throughout Kat's adventures, Ardyth steadfastly supports her daughter, even if it must be from afar.

Thordis: Ardyth's elder sister and Kat's aunt, Thordis is the top witch on Galdorheim. Most of her duties are administrative, but she rules over all of the witches and warlocks on the island. Still, her gruff exterior and nose-in-the-air attitude hides her love for her niece and nephew. Her take-charge attitude and powers allow her to assist Kat in her adventures.

Kat's mishaps force Thordis to tolerate Mordita since they must work together to keep the kids from sure death at every turn. In my mind's eye, I always see Endora from the Bewitched TV series (are you old enough to remember watching it?)


Spellslinger (99 cents everywhere)
All books in the series are available in Audio Format.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Halloween is for Klutzy Witches

Katrina the Klutzy Witch

Tap tap tap squeal!!

Is this thing on? Oh. I don’t need a microphone? Alrighty then.

My name is Katrina Galdorheim, but I'd rather you call me Kat. Try to convince my mother and aunt of that and you’d most definitely bring on one of her lectures. Especially if you try to argue with Aunt Thordis about ANYTHING! She’s the chief administrator and de facto mayor of our little island village full of witches and warlocks.

So when she implies I’m a L-O-S-E-R, everybody pretty much agrees with her. Oh, most of the other witches are nice enough to me, but the whispers behind my back are none too subtle.

A couple more people to introduce for this story.

My mom seems like a ditz, but her magic is just as powerful as Aunt Thordis’s. I think Mom just likes to be the total opposite of her overbearing sister. Don’t tell Aunt Thordis I said that.

My only real friend is Rune even if he is my brother (half) and crazy good at magic. Everything comes so easy for him and it’s enough to make me insane. The only thing he does have trouble with is keeping his vampire half in control. I know how hard it is for him. If he sees even a drop of human (well, witch or human) blood, he totally freaks. Eyes go blood red, canines grow. Yeah. Seriously. But he’s working on it, and will beat the blood-sucking monkey on his back someday.

What else can I say? This book is about me mostly, though mom, Aunt Thordis, and Rune all play a big part in it. So my problem is that I can’t cast spells without them going wrong. Not just little, teensy so-what wrong, but big, gigantic, totally outrageous wrong.

When you’re living on an island populated by witches, and the island runs on magic, being magic-challenged doesn't just suck, it's downright dangerous.

This excerpt makes clear just how much of a klutz I am. Don't worry, though. Things get worse, but eventually they do get better.

Bad Spelling - Chapter 1 Excerpt

Kat ran up the steps of the schoolhouse as a flash of red light pulsed from the space beneath the front door. A screech of girlish laughter followed by shouts of “yes!” and “whoa!” got louder when she pulled the door open. Her heart sank. Dang it. Late again.

A muffled bang accompanied by puffs of red and violet smoke billowing out from the back of the room gave her cover to rush to the last available seat. When the smoke cleared, Kat rolled her eyes, barely controlling a snort. Her brother Rune’s used-to-be vampire bat now clung to his finger chirping angrily while his best friend’s was-a-rat now stared with hungry eyes at it in the temporary form of a scruffy gray cat.

Unfazed, Miss Mariah cleared her throat and glared at the boys. “Would you please wait for everyone else?” Rune and Dalton grinned at each other and transformed their respective familiars back to their original forms.

Grow up, bro. Really! Kat thought, but a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She was proud of Rune’s mad skills, since she couldn’t spell herself out of a beanbag chair. She knew she had the power; everybody knew it. What she lacked was control. Every spell she tried to cast went wrong in the most disastrous way.

Rune’s bat flapped to the rafters and hung upside down, glaring down at his owner. Rune dodged a drop of guano, picked up his wand, and tapped it on the desktop. With a high-pitched squeak, the bat dropped to the desk and folded its wings, but it didn’t look happy.

Miss Mariah muttered, “Fiksu aasi noita.” She watched Kat as she hunched over and dropped her book bag on the floor. “Nice of you to join us, Katrina. See me after class about your tardiness.”

She faced the class. “Now then, please take out your chalk and wands for today’s lesson, which is,” she shot a semi-annoyed look at Rune and Dalton, “transformation.” The Wiccan students rustled bags and whispered to each other while they did as told.

When the witches and warlocks in training looked up, she continued. “Although some students can transform without benefit of pentagram and wand, those of you who are beginners, or less motivated—” she paused and gave Kat a hard look, “must practice first with the proper equipment.”

Kat’s face warmed, and she sank lower into her chair. Heaving a sigh, she set her brown bunny, Teddy, on her desktop and fumbled in her bag for her spell book, yew wood wand, and chalk.

Merry, the curly-haired blonde witch sitting next to Kat, waved her arm in the air.

“What is it, Merry?” Miss Mariah asked.

“Can you make Katrina sit somewhere else? Whenever she’s near me, my spells don’t work right. She’s a jinx.”

The class snickered. Kat grimaced at Merry. If I got my hands on her…aw, what’s the use? 

“No, everybody stays right where they are,” Miss Mariah snapped. She pasted on a fake smile and continued in a treacle-sweet voice. “Now, class, draw the pentagram on your desktop and place your familiar in its center.”

The younger students practicing their first transformations looked to the board where, under Miss Mariah’s control, the chalk drew a practice pentagram stopping short of completing the last of the five points.

She tapped the board. “An unattended pentagram can cause all sorts of problems, the least being a tusser or  tomte taking advantage of an open gateway. They’re harmless for the most part but like to play tricks. So be  prepared with your spell before completing the pentagram.” More than one kid smudged an opening in their already drawn star. “Children, you must focus. Don’t let yourselves get distracted.” Miss Mariah adjusted a child’s grip on his wand as she walked by.

Merry curled her lip and hissed, “You’d better not screw me up. If I can’t work this spell right, it’ll be your fault.”

“Tough luck, Merry,” Kat snarled. “If you’re such a great witch, my being here shouldn’t make any difference.”

Turning away from Merry, Kat finished the final leg of her pentagram and set the bunny in the center. “Stay right there, Teddy,” she whispered to her little brown rabbit, setting a chunk of carrot in front of him. He made a dash for the edge of the desk. Kat hauled him back. “Cut it out. You’ll smear my chalk lines.” She stroked his soft fur for a moment. “Hope this works.” He twitched his nose twice, closed his eyes, and hunkered down.

Kat checked her spell book one last time, took a deep breath, and completed the spell with a loud “Fullgerður!” and a dramatic sweep of her arms, just missing Merry’s head with her wand. Merry shrieked and jumped out of her chair. She glared at Kat while wiping green goo off the side of her face. “Your rabbit stinks. Just like your spellcasting!”

Kat’s mouth hung open for a moment; then she clamped it shut when she glanced down at what was left of Teddy sitting in a pool of slime dripping onto the floor. Merry was right about one thing. The goo smelled like pond scum.

Teddy looked up at his witch with sad, bulging eyes, the top half of a frog’s body floating in the green glop. Kat groaned. Poor, long-suffering Teddy. Green and slimy—that was the good part. The pink nose and floppy ears—not so good. If she couldn’t master transformation and the other mid-level junior spells, she’d be left behind again.

BAD SPELLING - Book 1 of The Witches of Galdorheim Series (FREE ON SMASHWORDS)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?


MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?


SCOTCH BROOM - Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.


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. 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.