May 30, 2012

Summer Teen Reading Party! Welcome Rebecca Ryals Russell, author of ODESSA, PROPHECY and HARPIES

Welcome Rebecca! Today author Rebecca Ryals Russell is offering an excerpt to her next book from her Seraphym Wars series, HARPIES, following ODESSA and PROPHECY (see details at end.)

* Chris Verstraete is also appearing today at Rebecca's blog so check it out! Talking about dogs and the latest story!

** AND---check the prizes being offered at the TEEN SUMMER READING PARTY!*

CONTEST: Be sure to comment at Rebecca's blog to be entered in her contest. See details here.

About the book:

HARPIES follows 15-year-old Griffen as he discovers why he has been transported from his home on the Outer Banks of South Carolina on Earth to a desolate beach somewhere on a foreign planet.

Accompanied by a talking bird, Griffen begins a quest to fulfill his role in a prophecy and find his way home. Joined by 12-year-old Seth, a strange fire-bug, and 14-year-old Mercy, a runaway with Empathic skills, Griffen learns to control his new ability to pull lightning from the sky at will—especially while battling demon-dragons and sea monsters who want them all dead. The trio, accompanied by an oddball Burrowing Elf, transport downriver toward an island Griffen keeps seeing in visions. Narciss has other plans for the three intrepid Vigorios, however, and Griffen discovers a brave side he never suspected he had—unless he was playing video games. But this turns out to be no game.

**Here's a Chapter Two excerpt from HARPIES:

I woke stiff, sore and damp.

The last thing I remembered was the ocean lapping up my legs as the tide came in. But I no longer lay in the water or even near the water. Coarse dune grass poked through my shirt itching the skin on my chest. Dry sand scratched my legs, arms and cheek. I blinked several times to clear the sleep-webs from my eyes. Nothing felt broken or even bruised as I curled one leg up then the other and examined my arms.

I sat up. Had I been struck by lightning last night? Did I fall asleep on the beach and dream the storm? Why hadn’t Mom come looking for me? She’d never let me sleep on the beach all night--she’d be too worried.

The leaden sky promised rain. Normally turquoise, the sea had turned a deep shade of gray—reflecting the dark sky. I looked down at the grass. I’d never seen this kind of grass before. It was coarse and grayish, like the sky and ocean. I plucked a blade examining it closely. Definitely not like the grass on my dunes at home.

The dunes at home. The thought startled me. Where was I if not home? Where was I sitting and how did I get there?

“Dracwald, Griffen Oisin Gilmore. More particularly, the Province of Toterra along the Planora Coast. Welcome,” a small shrill voice chirped into my ear.

I leapt to my feet and spun around. I was alone as far as I could see. Not another soul nor house existed. Where were the cottages lining the Outer Banks island in South Carolina where I lived?

Into my other ear the same shrill voice said, “You’re not looking in the right place.”
My head jerked up, gaze scouring the sky.

“I’m here,” the voice chirped into my right ear then instantly, “No, here,” into my other ear. My head flew back and forth until my eyes twirled in their sockets making me dizzy. I plopped onto the grass waiting to regain my equilibrium. A slight pressure settled on my shoulder. I jumped, my head whipping around.

A tiny gray bird about the size of a wren with plain, solid gray feathers sat preening. “Camouflage.” I glanced back at the oppressive sky, “For a mirage. How droll.”

“Indeed,” the mirage twittered.

I startled and the bird fluttered up then landed on my other shoulder. I spun my head, struggling to see him.

“Say something again.” I gaped, eyes wide.

“Better get a move-on or trouble will find you,” the bird obliged.

Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

Eighteen-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

About PROPHECY (77 pgs.):

Many millennia ago Laud asked for a volunteer to live on the planet of Dracwald and guard the Prophecy of Solsyl. Jeremiah Holyfield, immortal member of the Conscientia volunteered and for many years lives as the Reverend in a small village. The Prophecy of Solsyl tells of the demise of Narciss, the demon dragon who rules Tartarus. When Narciss learns of its existence he declares he will not stop hunting the Guardian until he has the Prophecy in his possession. When Reverend Jeremiah Holyfield’s village is burned to the ground by Narciss, he must traverse half the planet of Dracwald to protect the Prophecy of Solsyl. Along the way he discovers the value of friendship, forgiveness and love.

May 28, 2012

Summer Teen Reading Party! Welcome Jan Fischer Wade, author of VEILED VIRTUES

Today I welcome Jan Fischer-Wade, author of VEILED VIRTUES. (** Be sure to read to the end for her contest and prize!!)

**Visit Jan's blog today and comment for the contest (check details at end of this post first) then go to Jan's blog for more on my latest works. **

Thanks for having me on your site today Chris!

I want to know where everyones favorite place to read is, but also, where they usually end up reading. I love reading in bed, but I usually dont have the time. I find I can read the most when traveling (on the plane or riding in a car). What about you?

I am having a blast with the Summer Teen Reading Party and I am so excited about this month long event! We’ve got lots of great books and authors there – many for $1.99 or less. I hope everyone visits! Make sure to read the rest of this post to find out how you can enter to win a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!

This summer, I will be working on the finishing touches to the sequel to Veiled Virtues so I won’t have time to read much else. The sequel is entitled Latent Legacy and you can read more about it on my website listed below!

Here is a bit about my novel, VEILED VIRTUES:

When Paige Stewart left America to house-sit in England, her only thoughts were to get away from her controlling mother and to have fun. Little did she know that her working holiday would find her hearing eerie voices, experiencing alarming dreams and bleeding from old scars. Although Paige's differences confuse and disgust her, she opens up to the shopkeeper of a strange metaphysical store in town, where she finds much more than tarot cards and crystals. Soon, Paige is stalked like prized game. Relentlessly pursued, her holiday takes a turn for the eerie and dangerous. Her only saving grace may be a modern-day English knight who sweeps her off her feet and recognizes the true virtues the American teen unknowingly possesses.

Veiled Virtues is available at the following sites: Amazon OmniLit Smashwords MuseItUp Publishing Diesel Kobo BookStrand AmazonUK

Coming soon to Barnes & Noble and iTunes!!!

Never-before shared excerpt from Veiled Virtues: A visit to the towns new age store, Magogs.

“Come into Magog’s with me,” I challenged.

“My mum would kill me if I did,” Lydia said.

“Oh, come on. She won’t find out. Aren’t you curious?” I needled.

She stopped and looked at me. “All right, but only a quick run through, agreed?”


We walked the short distance to Magog’s, and I pulled the door open to let Lydia go in first, but at that same instant, a very tall, broad man emerged from the store and startled us. With his long hair and physique, he looked like one of those professional wrestlers on television. He had an intense look about him, and Lydia and I exchanged glances when he passed us. What had he been shopping for in there? I was sure he wasn’t browsing for a fairy statue or aromatic candles.

We entered the store, and I immediately noticed a small group of people toward the back wall. Nathaniel, Avery, and Julia were talking together. Julia turned her head toward us first.

“Hello, Paige.” she called.

“Hey, Julia,” I said.

Nathaniel turned around quickly and walked toward us. “Hello, ladies. What a pleasure.”

“This is my friend, Lydia.”

“Delighted to meet you, Lydia” he said, his eyes bright with amusement. He shook her hand.

“Um, hi, uh, it’s nice to meet you, too,” Lydia stammered, and I grinned, recognizing the familiar effect of his close presence on one’s ability to speak intelligently.

“And this is my cousin, Avery,” Nathaniel said to Lydia, gesturing toward his cousin a few yards away, “and that is Julia,” he added.

Lydia nodded in their direction.

“We were out and about doing some shopping and thought we’d stop by,” I explained nonchalantly, but yearned to feel the warm glow Nathaniel’s close presence emitted.

“Hey, you guys didn’t clean out Fawn’s, did you?” Avery asked, noticing our sacks. “We’re heading over there in a bit,” she added, referring to herself and Julia.

“Trust me, we left you plenty,” I assured her. Avery had to be at least two sizes smaller than both Lydia and I.

Avery and Julia showed Lydia some necklaces, but the large sword mounted on the wall once again drew me in. It was hypnotically appealing, like it should mean something to me. I needed to touch it.

Nathaniel’s voice broke my concentration. “Avery, before you go to Fawn’s, I think you should give Paige a complimentary reading.”

“What?” I asked. Avery agreed to do it and Nathaniel winked as if I were in for a real treat.

From behind the counter, she pulled out a deck of cards and held them up. “Tarot card reading. Here, sit.” She pointed to the stool opposite her, and I complied.

About Jan’s giveaway:

Enter to win a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!!! One lucky winner will be chosen from the commenters on her blog (including emails to her from non-Book Blogs members), "Likes" and "Shares" on Facebook and Tweets about her book, Veiled Virtues, or the Summer Reading Party site (include @veiledvirtues in your tweets!). It's that easy!!! She will be having other giveaways during the month on her blog as well, so make sure to visit it!

May 25, 2012

Summer Teen Reading Party: Welcome to Emerald Barnes, author of Piercing Through the Darkness and Read Me Dead!

It's another day for the fun Summer Teen Reading Party! (** NOTE: I'm also appearing today at Emerald's blog**)

Today I welcome Emerald Barnes, author of Piercing Through the Darkness and Read Me Dead.


It’s on the edge of her memory like a word on the tip of her tongue, but Kandi can’t remember what it is to save her life.

Despite being a cop, Jimmy can’t protect Kandi from the one thing that haunts her. She’s in danger and doesn’t even know it. After it happened, her brain repressed her memories of the accident, and now, she’s taking a Biology class under a man who wants to see her dead. The memories have started coming back, and it feels like she’s miles away from him. How can he protect her when she doesn’t even know she needs protecting?

Can these characters pierce their way through the darkness?


Alexia Wheaton’s problems go beyond picking a dress and a date for homecoming.

For seven years, Alex has lived with a painful memory - her parents' horrific murder. As the sole witness, she has kept quiet to protect herself, but when the local newspaper reveals her secret, Alex is plagued with fear that her parents' murderer will soon find her - and silence her forever.

Alex is catapulted into a race against time to save her own life and bring her parents' murderer to justice.

Emerald, thanks for stopping by. She's talking about something we've all faced one time or another. Read on - and be sure to go to the end to see how to win a copy of her books!


Relatively small word, huge meaning. Criticism can be hurtful but if given in the correct manner, helpful.

As an author, I opened myself up to criticism. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do before. I don’t have a thick skin. I get hurt easily, and when someone downs something I love doing, I’m not going to lie, it hurts.

But, as it turns out, I’ve learned a lot over the past year based on some criticism I’ve received about Piercing Through the Darkness. I’ve listened and learned about some habits of mine that might exactly not work in a novel. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to ignore what things people say because they are too hurtful and not constructive at all.

I remember the first time I sat in a writing class. I poured my heart into a short story, the short story that Piercing Through the Darkness was based on. I turned it in and waited for my other classmates to read it and criticize it.

When that day came, I was a bundle of nerves. (Note: There were only six of us in our creative writing class.) Some of the feedback was very helpful; some of it not. When I made it to university and was taking the courses required to get my emphasis on Creative Writing, I was even more nervous. There were about 20 people who were reading my short stories.)

I got the work back with X’s on two or three pages not to mention countless other paragraphs marked out. My heart sank. I had marks on there that said, “NECESSARY!!!!!” “SERIOUSLY!!” I wanted to crawl under my desk and pretend that I wasn’t even there and that they weren’t talking to me.

In edits though, I realized they were right. What they had marked out wasn’t necessary. So, I edited and came out with a completely different story than when I began. A much better story.

As an author, we all know that edits are IMPORTANT whether you like them or not. Criticism may hit hard, and when they (whoever they are) say, you have to have a thick skin being a writer, they weren’t wrong.

I’m quickly growing a thick skin. Rejection letters, people who don’t like my novella – well, I can’t take it personally. People are going to hate what I write just as some will like or hopefully love it.

So, I take these not-so-good reviews and use them to my advantage. I’ll use them to make my writing better, and I’ll use them as a tool to keep myself humble when I hit it big. Okay, just kidding about that last part. But I will use them in order to make this year a better writing year than I did last year. I may not write three novels this year like last, but by gosh, I’ll write a dang good one!

That’s what I did for my new release, READ ME DEAD. I took what I learned from PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, and I kept that in mind while writing again. Don’t let it get to you though. Learn from your mistakes and move on. That’s all we can do in the end.

So, take that criticism and turn it upside down. Wait, that’s a smile. Take that criticism and make your writing better! It can’t hurt, right?

CONTEST: What’s the best criticism you’ve received? Tell me here in a comment and you could win a copy of each of my books!

Connect with Emerald Barnes:

* Website
* Blog
* Facebook

May 24, 2012

Corner Cafe Opens Soon! Check out the Cover!

I have a new story coming out in a fun new project called
The Corner Café: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories, Edited by Dani Greer and Helen Ginger, with special assistance by Bob Sanchez, and cover design by Sherry Wachter. (check out the just released cover!)

Featured are stories by the following authors: Marian Allen, Shonell Bacon, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, W.S. Gager, Helen Ginger, Dani Greer, S..B. Lerner, Audrey Lintner, Morgan Mandel, Maryann Miller, Bodie Parkhurst, Bob Sanchez, Mary Montague Sikes, Red Tash, and Christine Verstraete.

In my story, "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete, a rescued pup helps cafe owner Gina Mason find love and thwart a would-be robber.

May 22, 2012

Summer Teen Reading Party! Welcome to Penny Estelle, children's author and solar pioneer!

Today I welcome author Penny Estelle who's turned her 21-years of writing all the principal's notes as a school secretary to writing her own stories in ebook form. She did start that "Great American Novel" way back then, stuck it away, and came back to writing again—35 years after she retired. Now there's perseverance!

** Go to the SUMMER TEEN READING PARTY for prizes and more!**

Estelle originally wanted to write romance but found her niche in writing for kids. She now has three stories out. In BILLY COOPER'S AWESOME NIGHTMARE (coming JUNE 1), 7th grader Billy thinks he'll skate by on his oral report on some William Tell guy. All that changes when he meets the 14th century legend in person. BUY: (June 1) MuseItUp Publishing

In HIKE UP DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN, it's every kid's dream come true when the school bully Jason Crew turns into—a toad!! Now 10-year-old Andy Thompson and Jason's brother Danny have to reverse the spell, by hiking up that dreaded mountain—if they survive.
BUY: Solstice Publishing

In A FLOAT DOWN THE CANAL, 12-year-old Pam Simpson has to babysit her brother, his friend, and entertain her prissy cousin, Candy, whom she doesn’t even like. Their float down the canal to get to the pool turns the day from horrible to the best of her life. BUY: Smashwords

Her other story, a bit different, is nonfiction about living green and using solar power in SOLAR – ONE FAMILY'S REALITY. Solar – One Family’s Reality BUY: Smashwords.

Talking with Penny Estelle:

What inspires you?

My inspiration comes when I see or hear something that triggers a story idea for me. Once I get an idea and start to form the story, I want to get it down on paper right away because if I don’t, the idea will be gone the next day.

What inspired this story/book?

For Hike Up Devil’s Mountain, I saw my grandson playing with a certain mythical beast. I came up with a great, surprise ending of a story – and all I had to do was come up with a beginning and a middle!

What's your favorite line from the book?

My favorite line is at the end, but that would give the whole surprise away, soooo I am going with this one. The bully is somehow turned into a toad. They decide to try saying a spell that might turn him back.

“Okay, okay, just let me think for a minute,” Andy said. After a few seconds he pointed the stick and said, “Here sits a toad where there once was a boy, so please turn him back,” then there was a pause as he tried to think of a word that rhymed with boy, “so we could feel joy!” Andy’s eyes lit up with pleasure for making up the great spell.

If I wasn't writing, I'd be....

We live on 54 acres and believe me, there is always a project going on – normally something outside! We also do a lot of four-wheeling and exploring. We have tons of dirt roads everywhere and though we have lived there almost three years, we haven’t even scratched the surface on checking them out!

Besides writing, I'm...

... Kind of embarrassed to say it, but I am a jigsaw puzzle junkie. This is sometimes a downfall as until a started puzzle is done, most everything else stops. And…um…is gambling a hobby?

Do you include your hobby/interests in your work?

It’s funny you should ask - I just finished a puzzle that was of a mean looking wizard that glowed in the dark. I have an idea forming in the back of my head that involves a wizard trapped in a jigsaw puzzle!

Tell us about your pet/s:

Truth be told, I am not a huge animal lover. When we moved to our property, I wanted a dog so she could bark, alert us if anything was amiss outside during the night, as I am not a lover of the dark either! We ended up getting a 3-year old black Lab. Afterwards we found out she was abused in a puppy mill. She was terrified of anything and everybody. It didn’t take long at all for her to warm right up to my husband and me, but when anybody comes over, she goes right to her corner and doesn’t come out until they are gone.

She has managed to weasel her way into my heart and is now my walking partner wherever I go! Oh yes – and in the three years we have had her, she has probably barked 10 times! Oh well, what are you going to do?

May 14, 2012

Peregrine Falcon Nest Webcam - See the Babies!

What a difference a few days makes! You can see the three babies now. Getting big! One egg didn't hatch though. See the webcam.

May 11, 2012

Welcome Peg Herring, author of DEAD FOR THE MONEY, Book 2 of the Dead Detective Mysteries

Welcome back to Peg Herring, author of the new
Dead for the Money (The Dead Detective Mysteries) Be sure to check out her contest below! (And the cool book cover!)

Schedule: Peg Herring’s Blog Tour for May (and one post in June) consists of a mix of interviews with Seamus, the Dead Detective, and posts on writing. Yesterday’s stop was at the LL-Publications blog, who publish the Dead detective Mysteries. The next stop is on May 15 at Terry O'Dell's blog.. The full schedule is posted here. When the tour is over (June 11), the complete Seamus interview will be posted there as well.

Prizes: People who comment on any blog post on the tour will be entered in drawings for several prizes: Dead Detective T-shirts, copies of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY and DEAD FOR THE MONEY (paperback or e-books available), and the chance to be a character in the third of the series DEAD FOR THE SHOW. Multiple winners will be drawn.

About the Book::

When Seamus is asked to take a detective-in-training along on his next investigation, he reluctantly agrees. Mildred seems nice enough, but it quickly becomes clear that she has her own way of looking at things.

William Dunbar thinks he was pushed off a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan, and he fears his beloved grandson Bud might be blamed. Delving into the secrets of family and staff, Seamus sees no one who benefits except Bud. He also detects an undercurrent between Bud and Scarlet, the tutor who works with Dunbar’s grand-daughter, Brodie. She’s done wonders with the girl but seems antagonistic toward Bud.
Then Brodie disappears and Seamus must do what he can to help her despite weather, greed, false leads, and the interference of the partner who is supposed to be helping him.

A Dead Guy Talks about You Part 5

By Peg Herring

First, I’d like to thank Chris for inviting me to Candid Canine again.

Interviewer: We’re talking with Seamus, a cross-back detective who returns to earth to investigate murders for the victims. Now, Seamus you invade the mind of a host, a living person, and try to learn his or her secrets. You can’t, however, read their minds, so you have to piece things together. Have I got that right?

Seamus: Right.

Interviewer: What if the mind you enter is abnormal?

Seamus: That makes things even harder. If a person’s fuzzy from alcohol or drugs, obsessed, or extremely angry, the mind is kind of off track. It makes it hard for us to be in there; they can actually eject us. Even if we manage to stay, it’s difficult to get a clear idea of the person’s intentions or memories.

Interviewer: If you believe your host is a threat to others, what do you do?

Seamus: We can try to distract him, which works for a while.

Interviewer: Distract him how?

Seamus: In normal circumstances, I stay still and quiet in a host’s mind in order to let him or her function normally. Hosts feel a little sick from the extra presence, but they’re able to go on. If I want to make trouble, I holler, move around, and generally make a pest of myself. That makes a host feel nervous, sick to his stomach, and very agitated.

Interviewer: Sounds nasty.

Seamus: The problem is that a determined host will adjust fairly quickly. They aren’t incapacitated or anything like that. And sometimes they just get angrier.
Interviewer: So if that doesn’t work, what do you do?

Seamus: My next move in a dangerous situation would be to jump to the victim. I might be able to warn him, get him to run away or defend himself.

Interviewer: You don’t make him sick?

Seamus: He’ll have the slightly ill feeling, but with someone I want to help, I speak quietly and communicate a simple message, like “Turn right,” or “Look!”

Interviewer: You can’t tell them “That man is going to try to kill you”?

Seamus: (Chuckles) How would you react if a voice inside your head said that?

Interviewer: Oh. I see what you mean. I’d think I was going crazy.

Seamus: Right. A whisper the person can accept as his own mind telling him something. Most people say they had a hunch or a premonition.

Interviewer: But it’s really you, looking out for your host.

Seamus: Not every time, of course. But you’d be surprised.


Seamus moved to where William Dunbar stared into the void as if searching for something. If Dunbar did not know who killed him, life had left him with a bitter question: who? And if he knew who had done it, the question might be even more difficult: why?

“You’re the detective?”


The man rubbed the railing with a fingernail. “I’m trying to make up my mind about all this.”

Seamus waited. It was not his way to press, though in his view, it was better to know. At least, for most.

“What did they tell you about me?” Dunbar asked.

“Not much. I guess they figure it’s your story to tell.”

He shrugged helplessly. “I was relaxed, focused on the water. Suddenly I was falling. I felt the resistance of the wooden fence rail against my stomach. My legs left the ground. I grabbed for the rail, but I was too late. I was over the fence before I could even call for help. My shoulder hit the ground on the other side.” His jaw jutted, lips tight, but he continued. “My reflexes were too slow, my body too stiff, my mind too overcome. At forty, even at sixty, I might have saved myself, but—”

Disgust tinged his voice. “It’s like they say. Old age isn’t for sissies.” He turned once more to face Seamus. “One thing I am sure of, though. I did not fall over that fence. I was pushed.”

May 10, 2012

Solving crime - in miniature

This may be old hat to some, but it's still interesting and worth another look.

Check out the video showing the miniature greenhouse crime scene used in a past CBS CSI episode featuring the "miniature" killer.

May 07, 2012

Wow, Soylent Green is Real! Dangers of Animal and Human Devaluation in China

Warning to the squeamish: this is incredibly sick.

I've written before about the dangers of a culture in which animals or humans are devalued - namely China.

Forget centuries of "tradition." There is something wrong when rare, exotic or household animals are routinely killed for parts and eastern medicines in the superstitious, ignorant belief that the animal parts offer some kind of cure. Tigers. Elephants. Dolphins. Whales. Rhinos. You name it, there is a market in China for animals for use as exotic "ingredients." And that is only the ones I know of, (never mind the horrid fates of some dogs and cats as well.)

It's not surprising maybe, though no less shocking, when a major news outlet reports that pills comprised of human flesh are being sold, and coming from - yes - China! See story - "South Korea Cracks Down on Human Flesh Capsules from China" - here.

YIKES! Soylent Green, the "magic" pills in real life! But consider this: in a culture where humans and animals are continually devalued, is this really a surprise?

When mothers who dare to try to have more than one child are taken away, their babies (even at eight months of pregnancy)are ripped from their wombs for disobeying the law, should this be a shock?

When animals, like dogs, are mistreated, tortured and sold for food or pelts, should this be surprising?

When people are kept ignorant and uneducated (hence controllable), they will cling to what they know - centuries-old practices that have no place in modern society. But... I am sure that the uneducated are not the only ones who procure "traditional" medicines as I am sure many of these items have a good pricetag.

Of course greed certainly has no borders, nor does depravity. Time and again, the US and other countries have witnessed the consequences of dealing with China: faulty, cheaply made, and even dangerous or deadly products made in deplorable conditions.

This reveals a whole new low that manufacturers in China will go to. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? - C. Verstraete

May 06, 2012

Welcome to Marva Dasef, author of SCOTCH BROOM

Today I welcome Marva Dasef, who is introducing the interestingly named SCOTCH BROOM, the third book in her Witches of Galdorheim series.

** Check out the rest of the SUMMER TEEN READING PARTY for great prizes!! ** - I'm also at Marva's blog talking about, what else, but dogs and animals and...


* MuseitUp Bookstore

About the Book:

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

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

** Download a PDF Sampler of all three books in the series and the bonus short story, Spellslinger, here.

** Watch the SCOTCH BROOM trailer

Leave a comment to win a free ebook of any of the Witches of Galdorheim. To win a GRAND PRIZE, read the posts carefully, then answer the easy quiz on Marva's blog between May 27th and 31st. All the information and links you need will be posted.


Researching Celtic mythology, I knew I wanted to use some of the lesser know magical creatures. I also decided that they needed to be “like” animals, but not quite. The reason for this is obvious to readers who’ve been following Kat’s story from the beginning. Kat’s magical ability is to talk with animals. She has greater or lesser success depending on the innate brain-power of a natural animal. For example, she chats along nicely with Salmon the Orca since a killer whale is the largest of the dolphins and are at the top of the IQ charts. I believe the ability to communicate to others shows greater intelligence. Sorry. Don’t want to offend any fish out there, but you guys just aren’t that bright.

I found two mythic creatures who met my criteria. Sianach, a huge stag (possibly a Red Deer) and Cusith, a giant-sized green dog with a braided tail.

From my favorite source, Encyclopedia Mythica.


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

I’m a bit leery of that rounding up women part, but decided that was just an ancient attempt to keep women close to home. Clearly, not much has changed except for the mythological excuses.


"Monster." In Scottish Gaelic oral tradition, a large, malevolent, predatory deer.

That’s to the point. Other research indicated that the basis for Sianach might be the Irish Elk, which is now extinct.

Now that I’d identified a couple of mythical critters, then all I had to do is get them together with Kat. Since she was tricked into entering the Otherworld (land of fey), she has been searching for the hall of the Trow King. She meets Sianach first and he agrees to guide her to King Connor’s hall. What Kat find strange is that she can’t look into Sianach’s mind; he can close off his thoughts from her. This makes Kat a bit nervous since Sianach, while seeming to be amenable to helping Kat, is also very vague as to his reasons for doing so.

The two begin their search for the Trow Hall, although Sianach claims, reasonably, that in the Otherworld, there is no such thing as a map to anyplace. They’ll have to seek the Hall in other ways. Apparently, Sianach’s method is to simply wander around through the swamps.

They camp for the night, and the next morning, Kat meets another denizen of the Otherworld, the giant green hound, Cusith.


Sianach grazed near the edge of the small clearing. When the lean-to disappeared, he raised his head. “Good morning. I thought you were going to sleep all day.”

“You sound just like my mom.” Kat let out an exasperated snort. “Besides, it can’t be past eight o’clock.”

“I do not carry a timepiece.”

“Of course, you don’t.” Kat opened her pack and rummaged through it. “Cool. I’ve still got the granola bar.” Her head snapped up when she heard something large crashing through the underbrush. Sianach stood stock still, staring toward the ruckus.


“Omigosh, what’s that?” Kat’s voice trembled as she looked to Sianach for an answer. The hairs on her neck and arms stood at attention.

Sianach turned toward a nearby tree and struck his antlers against it. The clash of antler against bark rang like a warning bell. Kat didn’t expect the loud clang coming from horn against wood.


“Hide,” Sianach said in a breathy whisper. His head raised now and pointed toward the howl that sounded closer than before.

May 04, 2012

Peregrine Falcon Nest Webcam

Peregrine falcons are expected to hatch any day now in a nest on the WE Energies plant in Wisc. (*Sat mid-morning: she's still sitting and waiting....)

Check out the webcam. There are also still photos of various nest sites.