Friday, March 23, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"I wouldn't do that," Meghianna said, following her nurse further into her suite. "Lord Mrillis said it isn't polite to go into people's heads without their permission. And anyway, I'm not strong enough, even if I thought I needed to."

"There you go again, talking like a girl twice your age." Nalla didn't smile, like she usually did when she made that complaint. She settled on the nearest couch and used a corner of her apron to wipe the stranger child's face. "Here now, little Megassa, there's no need for tears. We're the last ones in this place to want to hurt you."

"But--but--why does she look like me?" the other child wailed.
Meghianna frowned as a thread of dislike curled through her belly. She had learned long ago that whining and wailing didn't do her any good, and was ugly and irritating. She wondered if this girl acted that way deliberately, or only from fear. She reminded herself to ask Mrillis why she had that idea, the next time she spoke with him.

That thought made her smile. The prospect of seeing the Rey'kil enchanter every day, to learn more about magic and the women who were Queen of Snows before her, was almost as wonderful as being able to see her father every day for the entire spring and summer.

"To be totally correct, you look like her. Meghianna is your elder by three moons. And you look alike because you're sisters. Half-sisters, anyway," Nalla corrected quickly. She sighed. "And, because your mothers are cousins. Were cousins, because sweet Queen Belissa is dead."

And your mother most likely killed her, but that's not your fault, so I won't say it.

Nalla's thought rang loudly through Meghianna's head, startling her. The girl yanked her mental fingers back from the Threads, feeling a little queasy at the strength of the thought, as well as the guilt of trespassing. A moment later, curiosity overrode everything.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

Meghianna didn't know she had a sister until her sixth summer, when she went to visit her father, Efrin Warhawk.

The adventure of racing through her suite of rooms in the Warhawk's fortress, looking for the surprises her father left for her, ended abruptly when the door from the hallway banged open. Thinking her father had left his council meeting to greet her, she turned around to race from her study room to the front room to throw herself into his arms. Instead, she froze, stunned to see her near-mirror image standing in the doorway, staring at her in return. The wide-eyed surprise on the other girl's face crumpled into tears, and she went to her knees there on the threshold.

"Nalla!" Meghianna hurried across the room. She reached out to lift the other girl back to her feet when a gasp and a muffled curse from her nursemaid startled and stopped her.

"So it's true," the silver-haired Rey'kil healer muttered.

"What's true?" Meghianna asked.

Warned by the frown on the woman's ordinarily cheerful, round face, she took a step back. The Threads chimed around her, responding to the tightening in her belly. She reached with her mind to calm them. So far, only Lord Mrillis could hear when she disturbed the Threads, but she knew that was only because she was so young and weak. He had promised to keep her secret--and also made her promise in return to tell him whenever she learned to do something new, no matter how small or odd. Disturbing the Threads too much would alert others to her magical talents. Now was not the time to let the world know she had already found her imbrose. Not with this mirror image of herself crying silently on the threshold of her suite, trembling and looking at her and Nalla as if she expected to be tossed out like so much trash.

"Well, you'll find out sooner or later. And pick it from our minds, no doubt, if we try to keep it from you." Nalla knelt and caught up the little girl under her arms, just like she picked up Meghianna even now, when she was frightened or upset, with no regard for her dignity as the daughter of the Warhawk and future Queen of Snows. The stranger with Meghianna's pointed chin and red-gold hair and silvery-green eyes certainly seemed to need the coddling.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Cover Art Reveal!!!

Taa - Daa!!

What do you think?

Here's the cover for my next book set in the weird little town of NEIGHBORLEE, OHIO.


This is the next story told through the eyes of Lanie Zephyr, wheelchair-bound comedian, sports reporter, and broken semi-pseudo-superhero, one of the guardians of the weird and wonderful things kept contained within the boundaries of Neighborlee. And yes, she plays in a wheelchair basketball league.

The title comes from the title of one of Lanie's comedy CDs: "Living Proof that the Good Times Roll."

And for those of you who know my brother -- wheelchair-bound former comedian -- it's also the title of one of his comedy collections. The other one was, "It's all Downhill From Here." And showed a sketch of him holding onto his wheelchair for dear life, his eyes big with terror.

LIVING PROOF will be coming out this fall from Uncial Press, and starts up 6 years after the events at the end of the current Neighborlee/Lanie Zephyr novel, DORM RATS.

Future titles in the Lanie Zephyr stories will be along the same lines: Night of the Living Proof, Return of the Living Proof, the Living Proof Gets the Blues, Bride/Husband of the Living Proof, Son/Daughter of the Living Proof ... get the idea?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book of the Week: THREE DROPS OF BLOOD

Today we move on to the next book in my Arthurian fantasy series, The Zygradon Chronicles. All published by Uncial Press.

There are 5 books in the series:


Meghianna was chosen as the next Queen of Snows before she was born. Megassa, her sister, should never have been born. Mrillis watches both daughters of the Warhawk as they grow up and choose the paths of their lives. They could be part of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Three Drops of Blood–but which one will wait, and which one will abominate? The choices the sisters and their teachers make could affect the destiny of the World for centuries to come.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: CHARLIE BONE AND THE TIME TWISTER, by Jenny Nimmo

Book 2 in the Children of the Red King series.

This book takes up soon after Book 1 ends. Charlie Bone is still stuck going to the horrific Bloor's Academy, but at least now he has a circle of friends who are willing to take chances with him, despite misunderstandings and letting the bullies and (quite honestly) psychos with power and influence manipulate them.

I think the worst part of the whole situation poor Charlie has to survive on a daily basis is that his own family has thrust him into the school and daily harassment and unfairness. Granted, just his father's side of the family, and considering what has happened to his father -- vanished, presumed dead, but with hints that he's still alive and lost somewhere out there -- as punishment for defying their will ... Charlie needs all the help he can get.

He's an ordinary boy in a lot of ways, but he's learning fast to deal with his unwanted gift, and when a situation drops almost on top of him, he's willing to take responsibility and help out.

In this case, a magical time travel object (which is pretty nasty in and of itself, considering how it captures its victims) takes a boy from nearly a century ago and drags him forward to the present Bloor's Academy. Bad enough to lose everyone and everything you know and love, but the nasty relative who got you in trouble in the first place is still around, and he hasn't improved with age and he's determined to destroy you. Charlie and his growing circle of friends, including people who are learning to get around their problems, to the rescue!

Fun series. I'm glad I bought a stack of the books and they're just waiting for me to have time to read.

Friday, March 16, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"It is a good thing for the next Warhawk to train to be a Valor," Lyon continued. "No matter how many Noveni return to Moerta, our race will always be tied to Lygroes through the vales and the Valors."

"And the Rey'kil can never say that the Noveni have no part in Lygroes," Mrillis added softly, listening to an inner voice while his physical vision clouded for a moment. "There will come a day when there will only be one land for those who wish to live, and all will need to share it and forget that there ever were three continents and three races." He shuddered, feeling as if the images that prompted those words had been yanked out of some deep, until then silent, part of his soul.

Athrar held out his hand, with the ring Ceera had made for him softly glowing on his thumb. Sparks danced on the tips of the wings and beak of the stylized warhawk engraved into the thick band, physical witness of the power that had slid through the room and stirred the Threads like an errant, warm breeze.

"Did you do that...or was it done to you?" the boy asked. His hand shook just a little.

"What did you see?" Mrillis countered.

"It was a web, all different colors." He swallowed hard, audibly, but he didn't go pale. If anything, his eyes shone with wonder, not fear. "It just fell out of the ceiling and covered you. Then it melted into you." He shook his head. "But that isn't right, either."

"I think the sooner you go to Ceera for training, the happier we all will be." Mrillis stood and gestured for the boy to follow him. "If you will all excuse us, I think it is time for our prince's first lesson in using his imbrose."

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"So, you want to be a Valor, do you? Just because you're sensitive to the power of star-metal?" He managed to hold a straight face just until panic and disappointment made the boy's face go pale. Then he laughed and reached across the gap between their horses, grasping his forearm in a salute of equals. "I can't think of anything more blessed than to have the Warhawk's heir counted among the guardians of the lifeblood of our land. I assume your uncle approves?"

"He admitted he was jealous," Athrar said with a grin.

"Just until I realized how proud I was," Afron Warhawk admitted less than an hour later, as Mrillis settled in for a pleasant, informal evening in the family quarters of the fortress. They were only six: Afron and Queen Elysion, Lyon and Lady Gretha, Athrar and Mrillis. "This is what Lady Le'esha dreamed of. Unity between our two races, a bridge over the differences between us. Noveni can no longer say that we are two separate races and there are no obligations between us, when this proves that we are brothers beyond the ties of blood. This is something no one can deny."

"Especially when they despised those of mixed blood who proved we were all one blood," Elysion said softly.

Mrillis swallowed hard against the heat and choking sensation in his throat as he watched the gray-haired Warhawk catch up his wife's hand and kiss it, and saw the tender, sad light in his eyes. Their four children, half-bloods, had been murdered, and still no one was quite sure who was responsible. Blood magic had been involved in the vicious storm, but no one knew if it was Encindi practicing the forbidden arts, or Noveni who turned to forbidden things in a bid for power, or another Rey'kil who had sold his imbrose for the sake of power.

"I will always acknowledge the debt the Noveni owe to the Rey'kil for sharing Lygroes with us, when our own lands were overrun with star-metal poisoning and the Encindi invaders," the Warhawk continued after several moments when everyone was content to stare into the fire and visit sad memories. "Just as generations of our race took shelter here, so will generations give service in defending the vales and the cup of life and power before that debt is repaid. As long as there is magic in our bloodline, the family of the Warhawk will lead in that defense."

"Witnessed," Lyon and Athrar said together. Father and son exchanged grins.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

How old was the boy now? Fourteen? Mrillis had a fleeting moment of feeling incredibly old. Where had the time gone? He had been younger than Athrar was now, when they first met; although he doubted the boy remembered, being practically a newborn, spending most of his time eating and sleeping.

Mrillis couldn't remember a time when life had been that simple for him. Had it ever, even when he was a newly orphaned boy, watched over by Le'esha and Graddon?

Then all other thoughts fled as he felt a pressure, a presence pushing against him. That particular resonance of a Noveni touched with imbrose grew Athrar rode closer. Mrillis almost reined his horse to a stop, to give him time to comprehend. Instead, he gathered up his sense of self and sent it questing along the Threads, toward that untrained, fledgling imbrose.

Athrar? He nearly burst out laughing when the oncoming rider yanked on the reins, making his horse swerve and half-rear up in reaction. So, you can hear me. That's very good, for someone untrained in imbrose.

Mrillis? The boy's mental voice cracked just like his physical voice did. I'm not insane? I'm not imagining it?

Not at all. When did it start?

Lady Ceera gave me a ring made of star-metal for solstice. sang to me, even before I took it from the pottery box that held it. By this time, the two riders were close enough for Mrillis to see the strained, crooked grin on the boy's square-cut face.

"Better stop that and talk normally," he called. "You're draining yourself." He bit his lip against another grin at the relief clear on the boy's face. "Estall bless us, but you've grown. Ceera won't recognize you." He shook his head in amazement.

Athrar had to be two hands taller than he had been half a year ago. He had lost the childish roundness in his cheeks, and the hands gripping the reins were long and narrow and showed calluses from hours practicing with sword, bow and spear.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

He sighed, and closed his eyes as an extra-hard gust of icy wind slapped him as if in rebuke. Not too long ago, all Rey'kil had blamed the Noveni, especially their nobles, for the death of Le'esha, Queen of Snows. The rebels among them who had set about to drive all Noveni from Lygroes, even resorting to murder and wholesale destruction of homes and estates, were still unidentified and roaming freely.

At least they no longer think Endor is their leader, Ceera offered.

I thought you were going to sleep, he retorted, and grinned again into the darkness. Just ahead, the woods seemed to split apart, and he could see the towers of the fortress, gleaming with torchlight.

With you thinking so loudly? She laughed. The wind is especially loud off the sea tonight. I keep thinking I hear children crying, through the thickest stone walls. Remember to point out the glories of winter in the Stronghold, if that new Valor insists on being trained by me.

Yes, my Lady. Mrillis laughed quietly, echoing Ceera's laughter. His smile faded when the sound of her voice left his head, and he knew their connection through the Threads had ended. He clucked to his horse, urging a last burst of speed from the tired, cold beast.

Halfway across the open ground between the forest's edge and the fortress, a horseman rode out from the massive gates and raced across the snowy, hard-packed ground to meet him. Mrillis saw the golden hair flying wildly in the wind and the way the rider hung low over the horse's neck, and recognized Athrar racing out to meet him. How long had it been since he saw the boy? He felt a twinge of guilt at neglecting the young prince's lessons, but knew it only made sense for Athrar to spend his time with his uncle now, and learn all the things necessary to be Warhawk someday.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


From Uncial Press
Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

Mrillis felt the Threads hum as he approached the Warhawk's winter fortress. Despite the lateness of the hour and his long ride in icy, dry wind, he felt a new surge of energy. Somewhere ahead of him, someone had picked up one of Ceera's many trinkets of star-metal and had disturbed the Threads. They made a particular resonance that couldn't be mistaken for any other vibration when someone touched the Threads with their imbrose. A Noveni had discovered he had just enough Rey'kil blood to sense the presence of the Threads. That was likely why the Warhawk had requested him to make the journey from the Stronghold at this time of year.

Interesting, Ceera agreed, when he touched a Thread and sent the information and his impressions back to her. Whoever it is will want training immediately. I wonder if they'll request that you or I train the new Valor? I've had a long, hard day and I'm going to bed now. Please don't wake me with the news, no matter how important this one thinks he is.

Yes, my Lady. I hear and obey.

A sensation like a light slap on his cheek came through their connection, which broke with an almost audible snap. Mrillis snorted and grinned into the winds that bit at his exposed skin. A new Valor waited for him at the Warhawk's fortress. He didn't know what amused him more; the new name that had formed in less than a moon's time for those Noveni who had discovered their imbrose and were tapped for guardianship of the vales, or the nobles among the Noveni who insisted that only the Queen of Snows or High Scholar Breylon should be their teacher.

How things had changed, in only a few moons. Why was it that the Noveni believed so easily in the existence of the Zygradon, when no one but those who had forged it could see or touch it? Why was it such a high honor to be named a guardian of the Vales, and by extension a guardian of the Zygradon? And why was it such a sought-after situation, to have magic, when only this past spring all Noveni hated and feared Rey'kil and wanted to migrate as one body to Moerta?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book of the Week: BRAENLICACH

Today we move on to the next book in my Arthurian fantasy series, The Zygradon Chronicles. All published by Uncial Press.

There are 5 books in the series:


A new enemy arises to challenge Mrillis and Ceera as they battle plagues, an unknown enemy and treachery within the Noveni and Rey'kil alliance. Has the Nameless One survived, or has someone else taken his power? Endor's sister, Triska, is Ceera's heir as Queen of Snows, but arrogant and temperamental. Are they what they seem, or something else, something dangerous? 

During a star-shower, Ceera has a vision of the star-metal sword. She brings together the surviving makers of the Zygradon to forge the sword, Braenlicach. The children of the makers of Zygradon and Braenlicach inherit their parents' links with the magical objects. 

Uneasy years of peace pass, as they mature. Plagues return, and the young guardians take Zygradon out to heal their land, but they are betrayed from within. Traitors within the Stronghold attack, wantonly killing those linked to bowl and sword. Mrillis is left to save his world, but in doing so, may lose all that he loves.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

When Ceera woke up, Mrillis turned most of his attention to entertaining the little girl and keeping her quiet. Besides, the talk of numbers and provisions and arrangements for sailing from Wynystrys to Moerta bored him. He had one question, and asked it as soon as the visitors left and Le'esha called the children out of their hiding place.

"Why can't they just walk to Moerta?" he asked, on the heels of Le'esha commending the children for being so good.

"Walk?" The Queen of Snows blinked, visibly caught off balance, and sat down in her chair. Then she laughed. "You mean the tunnels that we use to travel between the enclaves? Oh, my dear, do you know how far it is from the shores of Lygroes to the shores of Moerta?"

"Magic makes the distance shorter," Mrillis said. Now he was confused. He knew that if he rode a horse, it would take him one whole moon to travel from Wynystrys, on the western shore of Lygroes, to the Stronghold, on the far northeastern tip of the continent. Walking the tunnel from the Stronghold to the island, however, took less than a day. He had never gone into the tunnel, but he had stood at the barred door of the entrance. He knew the tingling in his fingertips and the whispering in the back of his mind was his imbrose, reacting to magic at work.

"Yes, magic does make the distance shorter. And only those of Rey'kil blood, with strong imbrose, can use the tunnels. There is no tunnel under the sea, reaching to Moerta."

"We could build one."

"Hmm, yes, but how much power do you think it would take to dig a tunnel, much less keep the weight of all that water and stone from crushing it?" Le'esha sighed and smiled and reached out her arms to the children.

Ceera, who was sleepy again, crept up into her lap. Mrillis leaned into the warmth of her arm around him and rested his elbows on the arm of her chair.

"I don't know," he admitted, after thinking a long while.

"That is knowledge you must grow into. Just as you will grow into whatever talent the Estall has given you."

Thursday, March 1, 2018


 Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

"They won't find it because the Rey'kil can't be trusted. They pretend to be our friends, but they're killing us off slowly. Star-metal isn't poison--until the Rey'kil change it with their magic. They want this entire world to themselves."

"That would be a little hard to manage, with the Encindi chewing on their borders and the Nameless One using his blood magic to counter everything they do," the third man said.

"How do we know there really is a Nameless One? What is the difference between their so-called clean magic and his blood magic?"

"The difference between life and death," Le'esha said.

All three men turned as one, the third leaping to his feet, and they bowed to her. She paused in the doorway, studying the three intruders, before coming into the room. She walked past the shelves and glanced briefly through the gaps between the jars before sitting at her table.

"High Scholar Breylon and I have a proposal for you to take back to the Warhawk and his Council." She tipped her head to one side and waited until, one after another, the three men sat. "We will send scholars and enchanters from the Stronghold and from Wynystrys to settle in Moerta. They will study the places where star-metal lands and discern the difference between the star-metal that falls on Moerta and what falls on Lygroes.

"It could be that the difference is not in the star-metal, but in the land itself. Something in our soil might act as amethyst in a cup of wine, to nullify the poison. When we know what that difference is, we will try to duplicate it in Moerta and give your land back to you."

"That is most generous, Lady," the Warhawk's brother said, standing to give her a deep, respectful bow.

For the next hour, Le'esha conferred with the Warhawk's brother, Lyon, over the details of the plan. Mrillis watched the first man, who stayed silent, and considered his accusations.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

Eavesdropping wasn't nice, and Le'esha frowned on it, but he sensed it would be worse to step out now and face these intruders. If they were angry enough, they might thrash him. What would they do to Ceera if she woke up and started crying or attacked them for hitting him?

How much longer would Le'esha be gone from her office? When would she come back, stop their rude talk, and send the strangers on their way again?

"And just why are the Noveni refugees? Because our land is poisoned, a little more every year. What poisons us?" the first man snarled.

"Star-metal," the Warhawk's man said. He sounded bored and made a face at the third man, turning his head so the first couldn't see him. Mrillis liked this man, whoever he was.

"Exactly. Star-metal falls on Lygroes just as much as it does on Moerta, but why aren't Rey'kil crops blighted? Why don't Rey'kil cattle fall sick? Why don't their women miscarry and their children die young? Why aren't their springs poisoned and the wild animals running mad?"

"The Estall loves the Rey'kil better than the Noveni?" the third man said. He slouched in his chair and closed his eyes, to all appearances ready to fall asleep.

Mrillis grinned, admiring his attitude toward the angry man. That still didn't excuse his feet on Le'esha's table.

"The Rey'kil have magic. That's how they keep their land clean and their homes and farms and people healthy. Why don't they use their magic to help Moerta?" He stomped over to the Warhawk's man and glared down at him, hands jammed into his fists. "Why doesn't the Warhawk demand answers? I know he must have the same thoughts, the same questions. Why don't the Rey'kil suffer the poison of the star-metal, when it falls on their land as much as it does on Moerta?"

"My royal brother has asked." The Warhawk's man stood, with his gloved hands clasped behind his back. Mrillis imagined his knuckles turned white from the effort not to strike the other man. "He has asked without anger, with respect for our allies who have made room for us. Our allies who have given up fertile farms and rich mines to our use, who have shared their knowledge, their skills, their magic with us. The wisest minds of my brother's court study with the leaders of the Rey'kil, seeking that very answer, and they have not found it yet."

Monday, February 26, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: RANGER'S APPRENTICE #1: The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan

This book is proof of the adage that the best book promotion is word of mouth.

I was prepared to like it and be hooked even before I found it at the bookstore. Because a writing friend has talked about it several times. She and her husband listen to the audio books of this series on long drives, and they got started because their grandsons love the books.

So yeah, I'm going to be looking for the rest of the books as soon as I have more room on my to-be-read shelf.

What's the story? Young Will is our hero, an orphan, growing up as a Ward of Baron Arald. The Wards don't have parents to guide them into crafts or guilds or apprentice them, so choosing day is their chance to grab onto the future they want. The other 4 Wards his age know what they want, and have proven their abilities, so being accepted into their chosen fields of study is easy. Not so for Will. He's too small and thin to enter battle school -- but that's what he wants because he believes his father was a warrior who died a hero in a massive battle just before Will was born. His only real option is to go into farm work.

At least, until Halt the Ranger says he thinks Will has what it takes to be a Ranger. The problem is that Will doesn't really know what Rangers do, other than a lot of somewhat frightening rumors. But what choice does he have? It's an adventure, learning what Rangers do, learning the truth behind the rumors.

As Will and the rest of the fief learn, he made the right choice. Even someone young and small and afraid can do important things, even if they seem small. It's the impact of your choices that matter.

I'm gonna love this series.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

The one with the crest of a leaping, blue battlecat on his overtunic gestured at the shelving. "She has enough medicine in this room alone to tend half the villages on Moerta for a year. It just isn't right."

"What isn't right?" The man who had stood with his back to Mrillis, studying a tapestry on the far wall, turned around.

He wore a closely trimmed beard in dark gold and his skin was the color of freshly forged bronze. He wore the wings-spread crest of the Warhawk across the chest of his overtunic. He couldn't be the Warhawk, high king of the Noveni; Mrillis knew Afron Warhawk was a man in his late thirties, and this man was perhaps in his early twenties.

"The Queen of Snows willingly shares all the Rey'kil healing powers and knowledge with our people. All we have to do is ask. How many healers has she sent to the sufferers on Moerta this year alone?" he continued. He walked across the room and settled down in one of the low-backed chairs hung with thick woolen blankets, which sat in front of Le'esha's worktable.

"We shouldn't have to ask," the first growled. "The Rey'kil owe the Noveni. We shed our blood daily to fight off the warriors of the Nameless One--a rebel Rey'kil. He's their problem, not ours. Why should we fight for Lygroes?"

"Perhaps because the Noveni are refugees in Lygroes, and defending Rey'kil land keeps us safe as well?" the third man asked in a lazy drawl. He sat down and put his still-wet boots up on the edge of Le'esha's table.

Mrillis nearly darted out from behind the shelves, to knock the intruder's feet back to the floor. The prickle of discomfort up his spine, which warned him when Le'esha's visitors were dangerous, warned him now to keep silent. He glanced at Ceera, asleep with her thumb in her mouth. He knew his first duty was to protect the little girl.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

One fall day when Mrillis was six, some Noveni visitors and their careless words opened to him a wider view of the World. He and Ceera had spent the morning in their sheltered corner of Le'esha's office. Though the sky was black and churned with clouds and lightning and the sea heaved like a mad beast, sunshine and sweet air reigned indoors. It was washing day, and those children who didn't work were expected to stay out of trouble and amuse themselves quietly.

The two children retreated to their corner of Le'esha's office with scrolls for him to read, beads and a tiny loom for her to play with, and enough provisions to last them through the day. Biscuits and jam, dried apple slices and a pitcher of cider. Le'esha had shared their cider late in the morning and then had left them alone while she tended to an emergency in the public healing rooms. The children fell asleep, lulled by warmth and quiet and full bellies.

Mrillis woke to the sound of unfamiliar voices. He got up on his knees and peered out between the sealed jars and boxes of powders, salves and dried herbs sitting on the shelves.

Three men stood by the open door of Le'esha's office. She was nowhere in sight. The strangers were Noveni, with their tangled, golden-brown curls and brown eyes. They didn't wear cloaks, so someone at the gates had taken their wet clothes. No one could enter the Stronghold without passing the gatekeeper's tests, so Mrillis wasn't worried. Someone had brought the three men to Le'esha's office, rather than making them wait in the welcoming hall. Either that, or the three had chosen to be rude and wander around, going where they hadn't been invited. Mrillis didn't like the way the men scowled and looked around the room.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book of the Week: ZYGRADON

Today starts a focus on my Arthurian fantasy series, The Zygradon Chronicles. All published by Uncial Press.

There are 5 books in the series:

Hope you enjoy these excerpts!

Child of Blood or Child of Life, both born in a fierce winter storm. Mrillis was orphaned in a battle against the Nameless One, the most evil enchanter the World had ever known. Raised by the most powerful Rey’kill enchanter of their time, Mrillis and Ceera grew up as brother and sister, and discovered their destinies and magical talents – and knew they would always be together. 

When the Nameless One targeted Mrillis, to either destroy him or turn him into the Child of Blood, all the armies of the World joined together to defeat him. He left three children, Three Drops of Blood, according to prophecy. The oldest, a boy, became Mrillis’ friend. Endor, Mrillis and Ceera grew up together, exploring their talent, learning their destinies, and fighting to find a cure from the ravages of star-metal that poisoned their world. 

Almost by accident, Ceera attempted to use star-metal as metal, and tame it. And from her hammer, the Zygradon was born, to harness all the magic of star-metal in the world.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: THE STARK NAKED 21-DAY METABOLIC RESET, by Brad Davidson

This is one of those situations where you start reading a health-related book and you think, "This is too good to be true, there's gotta be catch."

Then you get far enough into it and you realize no, it's NOT too good, it's very true. The catch is that it's gonna take some dedication and discipline and planning to make it work.


On one level, the author makes the whole change-your-eating-habits-and-fix-your-metabolism-and-have-all-the-energy-you-want proposition sound so common sense and DO-able. And yet when you realize what you have to put into it, the rearranging in your schedule and your pantry ...


For three weeks, you have to stick with the eating plan, the limitations, the cleansing of your system to, yes, reset your metabolism. After that, you reintroduce foods into your menu, paying careful attention to the impact of each new food, so you can determine whether it's friendly to your new, rearranged digestion and energy and habits. Sounds simple, right?


I want to do this, but ... I'm a sugar addict. And that's just one of my excuses. I think I'll start off slow, applying a few principles at a time from the book, until I get acclimated to better habits, like no carbs in the morning and drinking hot lemon water first thing, and essentially build up the strength to take the plunge. Yeah, that's the coward's way, but a wise woman knows her limits.

Friday, February 16, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

Until Kyle came by and ruined it. He's got this smirk and this "I told you so" attitude. He actually said that to one of the tech guys, when I finished my shot and could finally walk off. Something like, "Told you she'd do it." Yeah, like the big jerk knows anything about me? I fell into that whole stupid trick of Alyssa's, where she keeps referring to us by our character names. A couple times I really felt like we really were Jess and Bridger, teaming up against the bozos running the colony and threatening to destroy an important valley area with this power plant. Like we could understand each other. Then Kyle does something stupid like burping and ruining the shot. Or shaking up cans of beer to make like champagne, to celebrate with the stunt guys when a scene goes right. I am definitely not going to sit around and watch the other people filming their scenes if I'm not going to be in them. Nope, gonna use homework as an excuse to hide in my trailer.

Sometimes it's really hard to pretend Kyle is Bridger when we're doing our scenes. And then there are times I turn around and catch him watching me and I just get this weird shiver all over. Not like the scum-bums in our class who think anything in skirts is fair game, and if you're not one of the popular girls then you should be grateful for attention from them. You know? Why does he watch me like that all the time?

Mom is waking up. I better get off. Another day of filming ahead of me. We're going to be in the water most of the day, either swimming up to the power plant intake, or getting pulled downstream when the dam blows up. Fun, fun, fun. Maybe I can talk Mike into changing the big heroic scene, where Jess steals Bridger's coat and makes colony security think she's him, and they shoot her, letting Bridger get away. Either talk them into killing Jess or capturing Bridger and letting the aliens-disguised-as-animals break him out. What do you think?

Thursday, February 15, 2018


 Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

Wednesday, August 16

Okay, things aren't quite so bad as I thought they'd be Monday morning. Maybe it was stage fright, even though there's no stage? The cameras do kind of look like prehistoric monsters.

Anyway, the first two days of shooting weren't so bad. Mostly because I was doing all my solo shots, where Jess has run away from the colony and trying to survive out in the wilderness by herself. The animal wranglers are pretty nice, and some of them know who Mom is, so they were nearly asking for her autograph. You should have seen some of the other actors staring, when they let me handle the falcon that brings Jess this mutant-looking rabbit with bug eyes. Got to play with the wolf cubs, too. They said I have "the touch." Well, duh. You grow up playing with wild animals, you know how to talk to them, y'know?

I was feeling pretty good, other than being a little ticked that they changed some of Jess's lines. Hello? We're on an alien planet. What makes them think that the aliens speak English? It's not like we have a Universal Translator or anything. They cut all my lines where Jess talks to the animals and then kind of slaps herself for being stupid enough to think they'd understand. Of course, they're working on bigger hints that the animals who protect Jess and bring her to Bridger are aliens. So I guess that works out. I hope it's better on film than it felt when I was saying the lines.

You know how we were goofing around, pretending we were scouting and setting up traps for colony security and helping Bridger escape traps and all that fun stuff? We were such little kids, but it was so much fun. There were a few times during the shooting when I could actually slide back into that pretending so hard it became real. That made everything a lot better.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

Honestly, I'm wondering what I'm doing here. Sunday we were supposed to spend the whole day reading through the script and just figuring out the subnotes or whatever Mike the director calls them, you know, what the characters are thinking underneath the lines. I learned not to volunteer what I was thinking when I wrote the lines. Turns out, writers are the lowest of the low in Hollywood. The guys at craft services get more respect than writers. They feed us, in case you were wondering. Weird how I'm picking up the lingo so fast. I certainly don't want to pick up much else of anything around here. Anyway, it turns out that even though I'm the writer and I created half the characters, I don't know what anybody is thinking when they say the lines that I wrote. Conrad Emerson, the guy who plays Captain Simmonds, and Kyle Hawkes are about the only actors who didn't sneer at me when I explained why lines had to be said a certain way, so lines later on in the script would make sense. I think they didn't sneer at me because I met both of them before filming, and they both know I'm the writer. Everybody else is all, "You're just a stupid kid, what do you know?" The second time someone snarled at me, Mike snarled back at them that I was the writer, so yeah, I did know something, since I knew what was going to happen later in the script, and it just showed that none of them had read the script yet or they'd know what I was saying made sense. Didn't stop them making faces and muttering at each other, but at least they didn't do it out loud where he could hear it.

What a bunch of jerks. Actors are all jerks.

Yeah, that includes Kyle Hawkes.

Now that you've picked yourself up off the ground, here's the scoop. Even though he was so nice to me in April, the guy is a bozo. He's an overgrown adolescent. Just as bad as the jerkfaces in our class. Getting back to what I was starting to say before, about Sunday, we were supposed to spend the whole day going through the script. We didn't because Kyle and some of the stunt crew guys and most of the lighting crew guys were out drinking and goofing around Saturday night, until Sunday morning. So they were all sleeping late and hung over. None of them -- except Kyle -- had to show up for the meeting, so what did they care? So when Penny came by the trailer Sunday morning and said I'd be free until after lunch -- and added, "Like usual," so that means those bozos have done this before -- she offered to have someone drive me into town if I wanted.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: DARK IN DEATH, by J.D. Robb

Thank goodness for e-book borrowing capabilities at the Cuyahoga County Public Library!

I reserved this book 4 months ago, and when the book showed up in the stores, started checking my place in the queue waiting to read the next book in the adventures of near-future homicide detective Eve Dallas. I was 91 -- but my position in the line dropped quickly. Either the library had a lot of e-book copies, or people did like me and read fast! As in neglected other duties to read....

This particular adventure has some uncomfortable parallels with both popular movies (Stephen King's Misery) and current crime events, where people take out their frustrations on innocent parties. In this case, a successful crime writer has a wacko fan who turns quickly from adoration to menacing. The fan, who intends to be a writer too, decides that the writer has stolen her work of genius and warped it. It won't do any good to point out that the book was in pre-production before the fan sent the completed manuscript to her, without permission, wanting feedback.

The fan decides she's going to prove what a good writer she is by writing and improving on murder scenarios. She's decided villains are the real heroes. Yeah, warped. Eve and her allies are in a race against time to figure out who the next victim/target will be and prevent another murder, while identifying the wacko writer-wannabe fan. Chances are good she'll finish "rewriting" by killing the writer whom she once adored. Oh, yeah, and "write" Eve into the story line, too.

My favorite part of these books is the ever-developing relationships and interactions and the changing dynamics among the characters. Great fun to jump back into the familiar world, despite the murderous circumstances.

Friday, February 9, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

Monday, August 14

Hey, Sam --

I figured out why they wanted me to play Jess. This is a two-bit outfit. All the guys on the crew are grumbling about it. They do everything as cheap as they can, and that includes hiring kids with no acting talent or experience. One of them even told me that I was like a bazillion (his words) times better than the slinky dame (his words) who was here last week. They said she was crawling all over Kyle, on camera and off. They were laughing about how she was past fifty, makeup three inches thick, and her full-body girdle creaked every time she moved, playing this matriarchal witch who wants Bridger to donate to a big test tube baby factory. Can we say double-ick-gross-vomit?

Kind of makes me think selling my first-ever script wasn't so incredible. If that's the kind of stuff they're buying.

They were laughing about how uncomfortable Kyle was, having to be nice to the old bimbo off camera. Even though she doesn't have a lot of credits (at least, ones she'll admit to in public, according to Ricky the animal wrangler), she has powerful relatives in the business. So they didn't shoot her with a tranquilizer the first time she tried to play tonsil hockey with Kyle. Not part of the script. Maybe they bought my script because Jess most definitely does not kiss Bridger?

Anyway, we got here on Friday night, and the Internet was out at the hotel, so I had to wait to report to you like I promised until we actually got out on location this morning, with the trailers, and they got the wireless signal up. I swear, the first thing I'm going to do with my check for acting is get a portable wireless doohickey thingy. You know what I mean? I don't want to have to depend on everybody else having a signal I can link to.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

"You complained that Jess had all the good lines," Alyssa said with her characteristic smirk.

"That's why it was great. Less work for me." Kyle thought he could breathe again when Raine's nose crinkled up and she smiled. Relief -- she understood that he was joking.

"You have to help me convince Raine to take a screen test, see how she'd do playing Jess."

"I don't know how to act," Raine said, coloring a little more.

"Neither do I," Kyle said.

"But--" A cute little wrinkle dug in between her eyes when she frowned and her mouth opened and closed, visibly confused.

"Until I helped my cousin Jamie with his graduation project in film school -- that's him over there on the patio, the bear--" Kyle gestured. Jamie was watching, enough to raise a hand when everyone turned to look at him. "Until I did that film, I never did any acting. In the pilot, the guys on the crew were calling me Pinocchio -- to my face -- because my performance was so stiff. It got better."

"That's what you think," Alyssa muttered, and winked at Raine. She let out a squeaking snort of a giggle.

"Yeah, and I felt like an idiot, but less of one. You'll do fine."

"Listen to the man," she said. "Would Bridger lie to you?"

Raine blushed again, while Kyle muffled a groan. He hated how Alyssa kept referring to him as Bridger. Marvin said it was a trick to get actors to "be" their characters. Kyle felt like he had something many-legged crawling inside his shirt. He had seen what happened to guys in high school and college who believed their press releases about what great athletes or scholars they were. Just about the time they really thought they were "all that," they tripped over something big and ugly. Usually something they didn't want other people to know about them. Usually in a big, public way. He didn't want that to happen to him. It would, if he let people talk like he was the character he had played.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

Kyle managed to sound fifty I.Q. points more intelligent as he said goodbye to Menger. The show's creator chuckled and shook his hand again, and admonished him to take good care of himself, because the first season was going to be an active one. Anyone who wasn't used to the rigorous shooting schedule of a television series could get wiped out and crash very easily.

"Yeah, well, the guy sure doesn't know you. Mountain Man Garrett," Jamie muttered, once Menger had exited into the hotel room.

Kyle knew he shouldn't stare, but something like dread held his attention on the five people seated around the poolside table, talking. Maybe the smart thing would be to go inside. The more he stared, the younger Raine looked to him. He knew exactly what he would do to a guy who stared at Katie like he was staring at Raine.

Jamie just laughed at him and leaned back, his notebook on his lap, and put his feet up on the patio table.

Disaster struck, in the form of Alyssa looking around and gesturing at him, then beckoning him to come over. Kyle knew he should have listened to his gut instinct and gone inside about five minutes ago.

Raine looked even younger when he walked over to the table and Alyssa introduced him to Raine, her mother, Dr. Rilke, and her agent, Larry Pondsby. His palms felt like waterfalls as they shook hands.

"I thought your script was great," he said, and hoped no one noticed when he wiped his hands on his backside. Raine's big gray eyes got even bigger and she blushed just enough to notice under her creamy tan. She had to be an outdoors type of girl, to have that good coloring so early in the spring. Kyle thought about asking if she liked to go canoeing or hiking. He didn't, because that sounded lame in his head.

Monday, February 5, 2018


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing:

"Does she like animals?" Kyle asked, trying to redeem himself. "Just from the way Jess interacts with the animals in the script, I get the feeling the writer knows animals, how to work with them. Wild animals. Back home, we get a lot of people who don't even go to the zoo. They ignore our safety warnings and then talk to the animals like they understand English and..." He shrugged.

"Yes, indeed. Raine, so I'm told, has an incredible gift for animals. Her parents run a wildlife rescue center and she is something of their secret weapon, able to calm sick animals so they can be treated."

"Is that a fact?" Alyssa took another step off the patio and tipped her head to one side, studying Raine. "What do you think of her, Kyle?" She laughed when he just shook his head, unsure what she was getting at. "Does she look like Jess to you? Can she act?" She turned back to Menger.

As a matter of fact, Raine did look a lot like Kyle envisioned Jess, when he read the script.

"How old is she?" he had to ask.

"Hmm, still in high school. She's the protégé of a colleague. That's how she came to have consultant credit in the pilot script," Menger said.

"Triple threat," Jamie muttered.

"How's that?"

"She writes, she's a critter wrangler, she's cute, and if she can act..." He shrugged.

"That's four," Kyle had to say. His cousin snarled silently at him, earning soft chuckles from Alyssa and a thoughtful look from Menger.

"Excuse me," Alyssa said. "I shouldn't take long, but--"

"No need," Menger said. "I spotted a coffee shop next door. I think I'll settle down there and get some notes jotted down while the ideas are still clear in my head."

"Sounds good." She nodded to the three of them and set off around the pool.