Monday, November 24, 2014

Cover Reveal for Hunted Heart

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
I met a friend online who gave me a prompt for Hunted Heart. Her idea was to have a strong heroine as the Hunter from Snow White who is given the job of killing the prince. Heartbreak, magic mirrors, and poisoned apples all wound themselves into the plot, and fifty thousand words later I had an adult take on the fairytale.

My publishing group, Myrddin Publishing, does a charity publication each year in December. This year my Myrddin effort is Hunted Heart and all royalties will be donated. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon, and you can add it to your reading lists on Goodreads.

When Tali is hired to cut out the heart of Prince Kas, the huntress can’t refuse. Tali realizes there is no escape from the dark magic of the queen’s mirror, even though her own feelings for the prince are far too complex to understand.

As they try to run from their shared destiny, Tali and Kas have to rely on their wits and each other as hunter becomes prey and hearts are won and lost.

A genderbent Snow White for adults (18+ only.) All royalties go to Save the Children.

My illustrator did a lovely job with the book. Here is Lisa Daly’s cover for Hunted Heart:

About the author: Alison DeLuca is the author of several fantasy and steampunk novels. Currently she lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter, where she wrestles words and laundry.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Goodreads.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Merry Wishes #Cover #Reveal

Merry Wishes  - By Karen Pokras   

Genre – Romance
Sub Genre – Sweet Romance
Intended Audience – adult
Type ‑ Novella

About Merry Wishes

An ugly divorce behind her, Carly Cater is looking forward to a truly Merry Christmas. With interest for her art from a high-powered fashion designer and a new romance with her handsome contractor, Jason Hardy, her life is finally heading in the right direction. That is, until her ex-husband suddenly returns to interfere, and mysterious texts draw Jason away. Is this another holiday disaster in the making, or will an offer to create a mural for the brain-injury patients at Greenbriar Manor bring her the Christmas joy she’d been seeking?

About Karen Pokras

Karen Pokras writes adult contemporary and middle grade fiction under the names Karen Pokras and Karen Pokras Toz. Her books have won several awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, the Grand Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for two Global E-Book Awards for Pre-Teen Literature. For children, her books include the Nate Rocks series, Millicent Marie is Not My Name, and Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. For adult readers, Karen’s books include Chasing Invisible, and her newly released, Whispered Wishes series. A native of Connecticut, Karen now lives outside of Philadelphia with her family.


Isn't it gorgeous?

Connect with Karen Online:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anabel Divided #Giveaway and excerpt

Find Anabel Divided here on Amazon

Thank you so much to Alison for hosting me today on your blog! Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of ANABEL DIVIDED:
I pulled my bathrobe around me and I tiptoed down the creaky stairs, careful to not do anything that might wake up sleeping baby.
I was so not in the mood to deal with sleeping baby. She had kept me up the entire previous night, and then had had the audacity to resist napping. Yes. She needed to sleep.
I flopped down on the cushy couch and flipped on the lamp, blinking into the light. I felt a pang for my house in Mclean; there, I could have gone into the library to read, but instead, I was here, in the house I had insisted we needed. The one with the creaky steps and the small downstairs and the hardwood floors which gave the place some incredible acoustics.
Oh, I should have just gone to school at American, and not here.
I was wide awake now. Matt was right ̧ as he often was; I would have tossed and turned for a long time up there.
So I might as well read, right?
I opened the book to the ladybug bookmark and considered the handwritten pages. Most of the information that the volume contained was mundane: “Tennis date with Alicia this morning—I wish she wasn’t at work all the time!” and “Took A to the pediatrician today—the girl is growing like a weed!” But I still perused the pages, looking for something, anything . . . I needed a clue, a hint as to who she was.
After years of unconcern, I was trying to figure out my mother.
I wasn’t sure why this was so important to me now. Maybe it was Emma? I was struggling to figure out my daughter, so perhaps I thought she would make more sense to me if I could understand my mother?
Miss Marilyn had told me I had cried for my mother for days on end when she had first arrived on Caereon, but then, as time had gone by, I had stopped asking for her. It was like I had erased Cassidy from my memory, and instead transferred my affection to Miss Marilyn. Now that she and I were finally speaking again, I had asked her to fill in the holes . . . but she had had precious little information to give.
So I had given up . . . until I had found the box of papers and diaries in the library. My mother’s sloppy script filled each page, and each word gave me hope of figuring out why she had never fought for me.
Why had she let Jonathan take me away? I mean, didn’t most places give the mother the child?
Had she not wanted me? I couldn’t even fathom that. I mean, I had wanted Emma so much, and the thought of being away from her tore at my soul . . . even after a sleepless night.
Maybe this was stupid—an exercise in futility. I had read through three volumes of diaries, and none of them were particularly revealing.
But, considering everything, there was probably a good reason for that. He was, I was sure, spying on her every chance he got.
I sighed. What was I doing? It was now well past four, and I was tired, and Emma would be up at some point in the next two hours.
So then I did something that I never did. I skipped to the end.
And the words I read on the last page made me gasp.
Blurb: Anabel Martin thought that the resolution of her father's murder would bring a resolution to her problems. After all, she was starting life over in a new place, with new friends, and new adventures, focusing on attending college and raising her daughter free from the distractions of Washington, DC. She was ready to move on.
But a trip back to the District for Meghan's wedding stirs up old feelings and brings new life to old relationships. Matt is cold and distant, while Jared is caring and attentive. A woman from Matt's past, a bold public flirtation, and Anabel's desire to be truly loved lead her to a crossroads...and her final decision leaves her with more questions than answers.
Amanda Romine Lynch

Amanda Romine Lynch is a writer, editor, and blogger who grew up in Florida knowing she belonged somewhere else. She now lives in the DC Metro Area with her husband and three amazing little boys. She is the Eco-Friendly/Green Living Contributor over at the Prime Parents’ Club and strives to live earth friendly in a world of disposable diapers. When not writing about Anabel and Jared or chasing around a curly-haired boy, she cheers for the Gators (in all kinds of weather) and occasionally remembers to sleep.

You can find Amanda on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Importance of a Good Beta-Reader

From wiki commons, labeled for reuse
This week I'm sorting through feedback I got from three wonderful beta-readers. Betas are people who take my self-edited manuscript, read it, and respond with detailed notes about the current manuscript. I use a worksheet provided by my dear friend and fellow author Connie Jasperson, and it works wonders in eliciting honest opinions about my current work-in-progress.

Because that's what I need at this point: complete honesty. Glowing reviews are lovely, but in this creator's journey I desperately need signs and guideposts to help me to the next level as I develop this tangled mess that will, once day, be a somewhat polished book.

Luckily, I have those amazing betas to help. None of them held back in offering opinions, and it's an incredible thing to get inside their heads a bit while they detail what bored or turned them off as they read. All three are very intelligent, and they were quick to point out a huge section that has to be completely re-researched and rewritten.

Naturally, it would be great if the feedback was "Amazing! Ready to go to the publisher!" And of course, each time I open a beta's feedback form I'm secretly hoping for that. Instead, I always get a series of little reality checks to show me where I somehow lost my mind while I wrote. Characters 'appear' in rooms without explanation. Entire plot points make no sense. It's impossible to tell who's speaking in a scene. One character's ethnicity isn't described well enough. 
from, labelled for reuse

It's as though I got the chance to go inside those readers' brains and look through their eyeholes, like a mad scientist. And what an amazing view it is! The feedback suggests entirely new journeys for my main character, for the antagonist, and I can't wait to get started.

I have an extremely tough job ahead of me, but it's going to be fascinating - like untangling a huge knot while simultaneously fighting a hydra and taming a pack of wolves. I really can't wait to get started.

As I do, I just want to say a huge thank you to my wonderful betas. You make writing my books possible. Cheers!
The beast SHALL be tamed. (wikipedia, labeled for reuse)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Don't Forget Me, Bro by John Michael Cummings

The last words Steve Barr ever said to his brother Mark were, “Don’t forget me, bro.” When Steve passes away (perhaps from complications from his schizophrenia or a complex reaction to his prescribed drug cocktail) Mark insists on driving back to West Virginia to visit his spiky, damaged, unloving family and try to fulfill Steve’s last request.

What follows in the novel, titled after Steve's last wish (due out this October) is a journey into the heart of starkness, an odyssey of within and without. Leaving Brooklyn and returning to his family’s broken home – in every sense of the word – makes Mark confront memories that are unbelievably bad and, along the way, golden as well.

John Michael Cummings details this journey without a trace of Lifetime-movie proselytizing or Hallmark card sweetness. Each character is real, alive, vibrant in their sodden acceptance of the ugly nature of living and being human. Only Sherry Mayer, the mentally-challenged girl Steve called his girlfriend, sees life as colorful and wonderful, a view reflected in her pink, sparkly sweatshirts and the way she eats fries - by throwing them in the air and catching them in her mouth.

The lovely language of Mark’s journey, both inner and physical, seduced me completely. It’s tough and spare, but beautiful at the same time. Look at this description of Steve, the deceased brother:

Steve was that guy on “COPS”—no teeth, no shoes, no shirt, hairy white beer belly hanging down over his dirty jeans, screaming and hollering in the street for Momma or Loretta Lou, only to whimper as the cops walked him like a child to the backdoor of the squad car.  On that last visit home eleven years ago, I had thought—he’s dead already.

Greg, Mark’s second brother, is evoked through an odd little story:

God, he was still strange.  Back in junior high, he once ate a whole lemon—bit right into the bright-yellow rind, then proceeded to chew it up and swallow it down in half a dozen face-wrenching bites, just to impress some girl who, as it turned out, wasn’t even watching.  Instead, he impressed half the guys in school.  They looked at him, at first amazed, then a little weirded out. 

And there are tiny details that catch the readers by our throats, pulling us further into this peeling, gothic world: a Snoopy figurine, with ‘angry, inverted-apostrophe eyes’. I was transfixed by the simple horror of ‘Overhead sagging power lines, black snakes frying on the sky.’ In fact, snakes appear throughout the book, most frighteningly as a metaphor for the wires Steve and Mark’s father attached to Steve’s mattress designed as homespun electro-therapy for when the boy wet the bed.

Yes, Cummings isn’t holding back in this book. Such dark visions take great courage to write, and I was lulled and horrified by those dreams.

Throughout the novel there is a struggle over burial versus cremation. Mark is entirely against turning his brother to ashes, since Steve requested a corner of the churchyard near their grandfather. This theme is expounded, always with frustrated attempts: the burial ground has a two-year waiting list. Mark cannot get legal advice quickly enough. And always his own stifled endeavors, lost promise, and mental challenges are there to catch him up, stop him from doing something heroic.

As someone who cremated both parents, I was able to read with detachment the sections giving Mark’s fervent opposition to cremation. After all, he is what is now called an unreliable narrator, and we all have different views on death and the afterlife. Still, for those readers who might not be able to read those sections with such detachment, I must advise caution for those chapters.

I loved the scenes with Sherry, and even the taut, frigid interactions with Mark’s parents are so real they bloom like funereal flowers. However, my favorite section of the book was the painting of Steve’s old bedroom with Sears paint Mark finds in the attic. The walls are covered with notes about the Baltimore Orioles, and Mark refuses to use primer or sandpaper before he splashes on the Eggshell White. His method is explained, and for me it crystallized the novel:

There was a secret reason for my slap-dash approach. If I painted over the Mona Lisa, experts could remove my cheap Sears paint, and there’d she be, unblemished and all the more radiant for the world to worship. If I soaked Steve’s walls without first sanding away scuffs, smudges, and stains, the evidence of his growing up in this little house might not be destroyed but preserved.

Not destroyed, but preserved.

Because it seems we are all looking for a piece of the future, a slice of memory even after we are dust or ashes. As we write, create, paint, or simply survive, one large portion of being human is a plea that screams, Remember this. Don’t forget me. Don’t forget me, bro.

You can find John at Goodreads and Amazon Author Central. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Syndication – Good, Duplicate Content – Bad. What to Do? by Donna Huber

 Ever since Google started cracking down on blogs that had duplicate content, I have wondered how syndication played into it. In legacy media, being a syndicated columnist was a huge feat. The columnist reached greater audiences with the same content.

Then there are the news stories that play over and over on every television station and every newspaper. Even as the legacy media moved online, the practice continued. Online news sites like Huffington Post even reposts content from other sites.

I've asked around in various groups what makes syndication okay for sites like a newspaper, but not a general blog like mine? Early answers were that they were somehow exempt from Google's algorithm. Not fully understanding, I searched the web and Google's own information and all I got was some technical mumbo jumbo that all I took away from was syndication was okay but not duplicate content.

I got into another discussion yesterday with an author who read an article about the benefits of syndication, but wasn't sure how it differed from duplicate content. It got me thinking and again I went searching for answers. I ran across the most helpful article to date on the subject at Search Engine Journal.

To bottom line the article - it's all about the quality. You really should read the article for yourself, but I'll highlight a few things I took away from it and some thoughts on syndication as it applies in the book blogging world.

Quality Matters

A lot of bloggers and authors are doing book blasts or sponsored giveaway posts. These posts usually only contain "canned" information. The whole point of the post is to be an advertisement. Ads = low quality. It is likely that Google will view these types of post more as duplicate content than syndication.

What is a high quality post? One that contains meaningful information is usually of high quality. Meaningful content may be timeless, usually answers a question the reader has on the subject, and/or provides insight possibly not found elsewhere. Interviews and guest articles usually are good examples of high quality content.

But content alone does not make the post high quality. It must be well written: free of grammar and spelling errors, contain clear and concise language, structured to be highly readable.

How to Syndicate

After reading this post, authors may be thinking "Great! I have that awesome post I wrote on my tour last month. I can syndicate that." Not so fast. You may be running into a rights issue. Who "owns" that content? When I developed my Submission Guidelines, I consulted literary magazines and other publications (both ones that have print issues and ones that are online only) to determine how they handled content submissions. Most had language detailing the rights and permissions. Even if money did not change hands over a post, it is still possible that a guest article you wrote belongs to the blogger. Just to avoid hard feelings if nothing else, I would advise authors to check with bloggers.

Bloggers, should you give permission to have a guest article syndicated by the author? While the decision is up to you, I would tend to say yes, you should. Again if you look at my Submission Guidelines, I state I have exclusive use rights for a certain period of time, after that time the author may reuse the article, but a link back to the original post on my blog is required. Why? Getting other sites to link to your blog is good for SEO purposes also it means that more readers will see your blog's name and since the post is of high enough quality to be reposted then it speaks well of the other content on your site.

Another option for syndication is to write an original article and then send it out to bloggers to post. You may first publish it to your own blog or you might not. Either way, make sure there is a bio and a link back to your website/blog. This option is open to more than just authors in the book writing sense. Bloggers can also have their own content syndicated. For example, most of my tips posts would make excellent content for syndication. I recommend including at the end of the article or somewhere unobtrusive, but visible, a statement to indicate it is a syndicated article. By indicating it is a syndicated article may encourage others who love the post to consider posting it on their own site.

Problems with Syndication
(or when does syndication cross the line to duplicate content)

According to Google, duplicate content is not grounds for action against a blog. So why have I been told not to post duplicate content? Mostly because there is a fine line between white hat SEO techniques and black hat SEO tricks. Did I lose you? White Hat = Good. Black Hat = Bad. Anything that attempts to manipulate search engine algorithms is bad. Duplicate content can become black hat if it looks like a linking scheme (meaning you are more interested in having a site post a link to your site than the content you are providing in the article). That's why the most important thing to remember is QUALITY.

Bloggers may be thinking "hey, I never have to write another post. I can just post syndicated articles all the time." I'm not sure if that would be a wise move. I think that the algorithm looks at the ratio between original content and duplicate content when determining if a site is trying to artificially influence search engine ranking (how high on the list a site is when someone searches for a subject).  Adding in a few original posts will also keep your readers interested. It is no secret that many book blogs share the same readers so if you only have content they can also find on another site they may stop visiting your site all together.

A third problem with using syndicated articles is related to the problem above. If 10 blogs post the same article then Google's search algorithm decides which blog gets the top billing when returning search results. A couple of things play into it. One, the site that posted the article first may get pushed higher. Two, sites with better page rank get higher billing. I'm sure there are other factors, but you get the idea. The other sites may rank higher than yours in search and therefore your blog isn't "found" by new readers.

Speaking of page rank… That is another problem you can run into with syndicated posts. If you have 10 blogs that have a lower page rank than you pointing to yours through a link then that might not be so good for you. And possibly worse you are linking to sites with lower page rank. What is page rank? It is a scoring system that Google uses to rank your site's content. The better the content the higher the rank. You linking to a site is seen as an endorsement of sorts. I don't fully understand page rank, so I'll leave it at that. An option you have is to make the links "nofollow".

Bottom line: syndicated content can be great for both bloggers and authors, if you used appropriately. Use it for good not evil by devoting the extra time to making sure that one post is worth being syndicated.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.
Original post:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of Art, Affairs, and Angst

I'm in the middle of reworking my next manuscript, and I have a confession to make: while I edit and work with original characters and concepts, I've been cheating.

I've been having an affair.

Each morning I've spent in the arms of a new love, that of fan fiction. I've written quite a few stories (never ever to reach the light of day) about existing characters, ones someone else created.

It's an intoxicating exercise, one many view as degrading. "What's next, One Direction stories about Harry Stiles?"

If you think about it, fan fiction has been alive for centuries. Medieval bards sang lays about heroes his audience already knew. And more recently, some of the most successful books and movies center around previous writings: Wicked. Les Miserables, the Broadway opera. Once Upon A Time. 

Fan fiction is despised, but it shouldn't be. After all, those writers ask the question inspiring authors everywhere: What if...?

What if The Wicked Witch of the West was friends with her sister?

In writing and posting my fics, I've learned something very important. Angst is one of the most vital components of a good story, and it is also one I avoided for years. My characters were understanding, reasonable people for the most part. They accepted their fates head-on instead of railing at tragedy and the other characters.

There's no one to blame but myself for this; I really suck at drama in real-life. I'm not a Real Housewife. When anger boils up, I'm the one scurrying away just as quickly as possible. If I do have to confront an issue, you can safely bet I'll do it in the worst possible way.

A moment for a deep breath - that's a huge revelation, by the way. Make of it what you will.

In any case, with copious feedback from the fan fiction sites, I see there must be no more scurrying and hiding from angst and drama. A slew of overly calm characters will quickly grow dull and bore the audience - and this from the calmest person possible. (...unless, of course, my back yard is on fire.)

So as I rewrite my next book, the largest note in red letters to myself is: PUMP UP THE ANGST. SQUASH THE CALM.

Whether I follow that line of reasoning in my own life remains to be seen.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Karen Pokras and Wishes: Cover Reveal #romance

I adore her Nate Rocks books, so I'm thrilled there's more Karen coming in a spanking new series...

Author Karen Pokras is pleased to announce her debut contemporary romance series
The Whispered Wishes Series photo 4f08fb50-f6f7-4246-8894-326c8d7dab77.jpg
Coming Soon: Book One: Ava’s Wishes
 photo 90fc00b3-9b70-48f5-98f4-22972c94d6b3.jpg

About Ava's Wishes:
Ava Haines had big plans for her life. Her short-term goals included passing statistics (on the third try), graduating college on time, and securing a job in the art gallery on Main Street. Her long-term goal was to one day own an art gallery of her very own. Oh sure, she would someday like to fall in love and get married, but all of that was secondary to making sure her other goals were in line. Fellow student Max Wallis and esteemed photographer Thomas Malloy were just minor distractions she was more than capable of handling. She was entitled to a little fun once in a while, right? But as reality took a tumble, Ava began to wonder if she really was able to manage it all. Could all her wishes come true?

About Karen Pokras:
 photo f01de962-d9d1-4642-8137-e32a6ba56b26.jpgi
Karen Pokras writes middle grade and adult contemporary fiction under the names Karen Pokras and Karen Pokras Toz. Her books have won several awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, the Grand Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for two Global E-Book Awards for Pre-Teen Literature. Karen is a member of the Society of the Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). For children, her books include the Nate Rocks series, Millicent Marie is Not My Name, and Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. For adult readers, Karen’s books include Chasing Invisible, and her soon to be released, Whispered Wishes series. A native of Connecticut, Karen now lives outside of Philadelphia with her family. For more information, please visit

Follow Karen:
Book covers designed by Najla Qamber Designs.  Books 1-3 - Models: Models: Courtney Boyett and Willis Totten
Book 4: Models: Courtney Boyett, Sara Beck, and Brittany Weidman Model Photographer: Casey Boyett

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cover Reveal for Huw the Bard by Connie J. Jasperson

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
I'm beyond pleased to feature the incredible work of Connie J. Jasperson on my blog again. She's showing off a sparkly new cover for a spanking new book, one I can't wait to read.

The book is Huw the Bard, and she's bringing us back to her bawdy, bittersweet medieval universe.

First, a taste of what's in store for the lucky readers:

Despite his best efforts, he’d become rather seedy-looking, and his clothes now sported stains he couldn’t remove. Few people would give him work much less a meal, thinking him a ne’er-do-well who might rob them of their valuables.
At last, he managed to make his way to the town of Lumley, which marked the nearest border between the duchies of Grefyn and Weyllyn. Lumley answers to the Grand Duke Weyllyn. I should be safe enough here, he thought. But just as he was about to step out of the hedge and onto the high road, a troop of mail-clad Crows appeared riding down the road in the distance, all bravado and noise. Ah. This is why game has been scarce the last week. The Grefyn saves his gold by making his Crows live off the land and the poor must starve. I remember hearing he makes them sleep in the stables when they come to an inn. They have to buy their own ale and because of his parsimony, they bully everyone and take what they want rather than pay for it.
Settling back into his hedge, Huw waited until long after dark before finally making his way to the backdoor of the Spotted Dog, an inn where he’d spent many an evening with his harp while traveling from house to house in the old days as a journeyman. Knocking quietly, he waited in the dark, hoping Glyn had heard his tap.
When the door was opened, it was with shock he saw his host. Glyn’s face bore many fresh bruises, and his left eye was swollen shut. “Who is it?” The cleaver in his hand gleamed in the light of the kitchen.
“It’s me, Huw Owyn,” Huw replied, horror tingeing his voice. Someone had beaten Glyn mercilessly.
Glyn’s fist reached out and pulled him into the light. “You’re not welcome here,” he whispered, upon seeing it was truly Huw standing there. “There are Crows nesting in this town, looking for your sort, and they’re not being gentle about it.” Abruptly releasing him, Glyn said, “Wait a moment. I’ve a bite to spare for you.” The man turned back to the kitchen and returned with something in his hand. Thrusting a trencher of bread filled with stew at Huw, Glyn firmly shut the door in his face.

Huw vanished into the darkness. Crouching under shrubs in the shadows outside the city walls, Huw said a quick prayer of thanks and a blessing for poor Glyn, who’d tried to help him despite the presence of Crows in his common room. Then he ate every last scrap, feeling the pain of hunger diminish with each mouthful. He’d never tasted anything so good in his life. When he finished, Huw ghosted among the piles of refuse and the privies in the alleys of Lumley, making his way out of town as silently as he was able.
And here's what the book is about:

Huw Owyn is the last true bard in Waldeyn.

Fleeing a burning city,
Everything he ever loved in ashes behind him,
Penniless and hunted, no place is safe.
Abandoned and alone, eighteen-year old Huw the Bard must somehow survive

It’s two-hundred leagues to safety,
And then two-hundred more.

A lot can happen to a man on a journey like that.

Without further ado, here is the lovely cover:

Connie J Jasperson, Author
Connie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, and is the Olympia area municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. Music and food dominate her waking moments and when not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

You can find her blogging at: Life in the Realm of Fantasy

Tower of Bones Series – Book I, Tower of Bones takes the reader to the world of Neveyah, where the Gods are at war and one man holds the key to winning that battle. Book II, Forbidden Road is the follow-up, and picks up the story six years after the end of Book I, Tower of Bones.
Tales from the Dreamtime, a novella of new fairytales told in a traditional style, consisting of two short stories and one novella.
Billy’s Revenge Series Huw, the Bard takes you to the world of Waldeyn, and a medieval alternate reality. Fleeing a burning city, everything he ever loved in ashes behind him, penniless and hunted, Huw the Bard must somehow survive.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


image courtesy of Flickr
Off I go to sit in a tilt-a-chair and get my teeth scraped. I don't seem to get cavities any longer, since every tooth that could be filled is now silver. However, that scraping thing... the old gums have receded, apparently, and the tech doesn't seem to heed my cries of pain when her torture device dental tool goes for a big flake of tarter or whatever it is called.

So, waah and whine. Yes, I know I'm lucky to have access to regular checkups and I'll be happy when I'm old gumming my apple crisp, but right now I dread several things:

Loss of time on my new novel. I want to edit that thang. Waah!

The taste of dentist in my mouth. It's going to linger for several hours; I can already feel it. Blech!

The free little pack of floss destined to sit in a drawer with all the other free little packs of floss. Note - must clean out that drawer after I edit the novel.

Hunger - dentist appointments always seem to come at lunchtime. Boo!

Toy chest - maybe I would like an eraser or styrofoam plane too??? Just sayin

Boredom - nothing to do but listen to the hygienist and not talk back, what with the glaved fingers in my epiglottis and all.

Oh, I guess she might put on the Chew for me, but that returns us to the hunger issue.

No, look - I'm being a big old baby here, but I've had to physically restrain myself from canceling this appointment for those reasons. Nothing to do but suck it up (along with a lot of saliva) and suffer through.

Next on the fun to-do list : Boob squish day!
ONE of them is smiling. (Wiki commons)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Incredible Thaumaturge - Flash Fiction

This post is a response to Chuck Wending's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write a 1000 word story that is 'SomethingPunk', but it can't be steam, diesel, or cyber.

My punk is Tattoopunk (tattoos give the energy powering Natasha's world) and I offer it here. Thanks so much for taking a look.

The Incredible Thaumaturge

Natasha touched her palm to the base of the thaumaturge device. With a whine it clicked on; she counted the seconds as it booted up and the screen flickered to show the familiar visage of Nix, her best friend. The machine was running by the time she counted to nine – five counts faster than a day earlier.

Her ink strengthened at an alarming rate.

Colors, lines, and strange symbols swirled within the tattoo. At thirteen she was taken to the Energy Artist, and after several hours of thirst, hunger, and having to pee, she had her tat.

Officially she was an adult as a result, and thus she and Nix could enter a courtship ritual if they desired. Neither of them willed it: he was in love with the dark-eyed machinist on the second level, and Natasha had no thought for romance. She was too busy in a search.

Her thaumaturge was old, but she knew how to boot in memory and power from surrounding devices. As she twiddled the knobs and plucked the strings, keyed in words and numbers, her palm flamed as the energy surged within the tat. She hated to admit it, but the sensation was incredibly pleasurable.

Natasha’s search led her back in time. A desire for knowledge, a thirst to discover what happened before consumed her, and she searched the recorded stories beyond what was taught in her schoolroom at the side of her governess. The manuscript she found a day earlier looked promising; its kodachromed pages ('graphed before they crumbled to dust) hinted of forbidden secrets and an age no one remembered any longer.

‘There were those whose ignorance had no bounds, and they discharged voltage will-nilly, with no thought of their children. Although we know little about them, it is said they were able to harness their inner power through use of graphics, numbers, and colors, and amplify it…’

“Child.” A slim hand, framed with hand-sewn frills, slid over hers and stopped the frantic search. Her governess was silent as she walked through the manse, and often she had surprised Natasha thus.

A turn of the wrist and the thaumaturge clicked Off. Natasha wrestled down her frustration and forced a bland smile of compliance onto her face. She had come so close! Still, now she had a promising lead, and she could return to it easily.

“Child, you radiate too much. Temper your power, or Senator Flux himself will knock on our doors.” The governess smoothed Natasha’s black braids with her frilled hand. “Mind me, now. I want no midnight abductions – you deserve a dull life.”

Natasha nodded again, and with a heave of the bosom her governess withdrew her fingers and slipped out of the room.

The thaumaturge blinked with an incoming message from Nix: “Let’s meet at the greenhouses after midnight.”

“Very well,” she wrote, and sent her response with a careful surge of energy from her palm.


“How was Willa?” Natasha handed Nix a cucumber sandwich stolen from the kitchens earlier.

He bit into the stale bread with a slight wince. “Uninterested. She knows I’m infatuated, but there are several others after her kisses. Bloody sons of diplomats and earls!” With a burst of fury, he hurled his sandwich into the dead plants inside the dark building.

Natasha put her head on his shoulder. “She’ll see your loyalty and vision in the end – I’m sure of it.”

Nix blurted a rude word, tucked his arm around her, and they nestled together for warmth in the ruined glass. “And your search?”

“Getting closer. And…” She was uncertain whether to tell him about her tat. “I – I powered the Thaumaturge in nine counts today.”

His arm dropped and Nix withdrew. “Nine seconds! It takes my father three-quarters of an hour to get the screen to flicker, and he thinks he’s brilliant when it does. Nine?”

“Puffy is worried the Senator will discover it.” That was their name for her governess, due to the woman’s leg-of-mutton sleeves.

“Gosh.” Nix rose and helped Natasha to her feet. “I must go to bed, and you must as well. Tomorrow?”

“Of course.”


‘Once the connection between hypothalamus and ink is made, power increases exponentially to the point of giving the user any ability, even when contact is not established…’

Natasha’s reading was interrupted again by a frantic message from Nix. “Willa said Yes!” he enthused. “Dancing and dinner tomorrow under the stars. I won’t be able to meet at the greenhouse, though.”

No, I suppose not, she thought with a grin. Her search had yielded ripe fruit, and it looked as though Nix found his as well.

Those musings were cut off as the door burst open. A man with silver hair and eyes strode in, seized her wrist, and pulled Natasha to her feet. “This is the wench?” he snarled.

Puffy shook her head; the governess's chipped nails plucked at her starched frills. “Senator Flux, please do not hurt her!”

“Hurt? Why, Madam, this little slice will be the star of my collection.” The silver man held Natasha’s palm to his nose, sniffed her skin, and licked it.

“What?” Natasha was bewildered.

“Nine seconds. Is it true?” His silver eyes flashed, and white dents appeared beside his flared nostrils.

Nix. Willa. Nine seconds. With a heart full of lead, Natasha realized why her friend was able to secure Willa’s hand for dinner and dancing, and how he was able to fund his pursuit. “I found a way for everyone to harness my powers!” she screamed. “Give me three days – we will all have that conduit for the asking!”

The Senator snorted. “And do you think I would allow such knowledge to be freely given? No, small one. You will be mine.”

No arguments would serve, then. Natasha held up her tattooed palm and closed her eyes. With an inner click, her nerves and the colors in her skin combined as she called up the energy galloping within and spent it in a long, furious blast.