Spotlight on Maggie Lyons, author

The World of Ink Tours is spotlighting Maggie Lyons, author of the middle grade novel, VIN AND THE DORKY DUET.

Maggie Lyons was born in Wales and brought up in England before gravitating west to Virginia’s coast. She zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book have been published in the children’s magazines Stories for Children Magazine andknowonder!


For many years I gave private piano lessons to children of all ages, which probably influenced my writing for children in an indirect way. Writing program notes for concerts of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, DC and other orchestras in the USA and UK provided the basis for a career of writing in other business fields—yes, the performing arts is a business.  All that nonfiction writing helped my efforts to become a better writer of both nonfiction and fiction, though I’m far from fluent in the art. That’s still an aspiration.  My middle-grade adventure story Vin and the Dorky Duet is directly inspired by my love of music, which found an outlet in my work in performing arts.


In terms of formal training, one summer, centuries ago, I attended a short creative writing course at Georgetown University. Informally, all those years of writing business-related nonfiction certainly helped, as have countless pieces of advice from members of my critique group and articles on writing, and reading the works of master writers.




Magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths and other disasters erupt when an inventive seventh-grader meets a challenge to win a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey if he can befriend an unsociable nerd and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother, whose initials just happen to be BS.

The story is about the disasters that pile up when a seventh-grader’s brilliant plan to meet his sister’s challenge takes more than one wrong turn. Life tosses challenges at all of us. It would be incredibly boring if it didn’t. What matters is what we learn from them.



(this is an example of the dry humor:

Although we were in the same seventh-grade homeroom and the same classrooms for a couple of periods, we didn’t sit close to each other and telepathy wasn’t an option.

(and a bit of exaggeration, when the liquid-filled key chain gets broken:

 “Eeuw! What’s that?” Eyeballs squinted at the page through the glass bricks on his nose.

(this episode shows more of Vin’s exaggeration and  Eyeball’s nerdiness:

The ball had cracked, spilling the whales’ ocean. Eyeballs picked up the key chain with a paper napkin, dropped it on the floor, and dabbed at the page with another clean napkin. Who else but Eyeballs would have had paper napkins in his pocket?

“You’ve stained my library book.”

It surprised me that a nerdy person like Eyeballs could say anything so obvious. He looked at me as if I’d totally destroyed a sacred object, blown up a statue of Einstein or something.

“You could try using bleach. My mom swears by it.” I knew as soon as I’d spoken I shouldn’t have said that.

“First, perhaps you haven’t noticed, but I don’t have any bleach.” Eyeballs’s voice hit me

colder than the gym shower. “Second, you can’t use it on paper. When I get home, I can try to get it out with French chalk and an iron.”

(this bit about Vin’s in-class note shows “boy appeal”:

“Not really, Ms. Foote, but I didn’t write it.” Snitch turned to look directly at me, wrinkled

his nose, and shot out his tongue. He looked like a constipated iguana.

Ms. Foote took the note from Snitch and glared at me.




Follow Maggie Lyons at


Twitter @maggielyons66

You can find out more about Maggie Lyons’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit


Full Media Kit, Photos and more are available upon request electronically.

Available at the Muse Bookstore:

MuseItUp Publishing’s mega event for June

News from Lea Schizas, our publisher:


MuseItUp Publishing is hosting a super duper mega event for our readers…perfect time to fill those e-readers this summer with quality e-books at affordable prices.

The entire month of June will be fast paced with…
*SUPER DUPER Discounts
*FREE Downloads
*Discount Codes
You’ll need to be fast because deals will be changing on the hour, maybe two hours, perhaps for a day…who knows? It’s SUPER DUPER JUNE MEGA EVENT and discounts, free downloads, doorprizes will be zooming by quicker than you can say, “Oh, I want that!”
To join the fun, all you need to do is LIKE our Facebook page:
because that’s where…yep, you guessed it…
*SUPER DUPER Discounts
*FREE Downloads
*Discount Codes
will be announced. You don’t want to miss this event! Oh…I almost forgot…
  1. there will be five lucky winners drawn first week of July from members who like us on Facebook until the end of June:
And what will they win?
MuseItUp Publishing will be giving away:
*one $25.00 Muse gift certificate
*two $15.00 Muse gift certificates
*two $10.00 Muse gift certificates
So what are you waiting for? Like us on Facebook! Today! The fun is about to begin…tell your friends it’s the perfect time to load up that ereader with awesome summer reading at affordable prices. Happening right here, at MuseItUp Publishing.

Discussing Marva Dasef’s Witches of Galdorheim series

It’s my pleasure to welcome Marva Dasef back to tell us more about her intriguing series about the Witches of Galdorheim. I enjoyed the first book, Bad Spelling. You can see my review of it on Amazon. Now Marva will tell us about two more books in the series. Hey, Marva, love your hat.

MIDNIGHT OIL – Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out with her brother, Rune, from her Arctic island home on a mission to rescue the boy. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding that the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

Leave a comment, with your contact information, on this post for a chance to win a free ebook.


You will recognize the familiar style of Kaytalin Platt’s cover illustration as being similar to that of Bad Spelling.



















by Marva Dasef

MuseItUp Buy Page:

MuseItUp Author Page:




Twitter Handle: @Gurina

Book Trailers:


Amazon Buy Link:

Direct Link to the Book Trailer:

Also, the book trailer will be featured at on January 20th. Voting is between the 21st and 26th.


Marva Natters On

First off, thanks for having me on your blog today, Barbara. Just like the good old days of last September when we participated in that crazy MG/YA Blogathon. Well, this is a bit quieter since I’m just running around from blog to blog telling people about my new book release, Midnight Oil.

You asked me about traveling to the places where my books are set. I’m afraid that I haven’t yet gone to the Arctic, Norway, Finland, or Siberia, but that’s certainly on my bucket list. I’m particularly interested in Norway because my grandmother was born in Trondheim and came to the US when she was sixteen years old. What an adventure for a young girl to have!

Mostly, though, I rely on the internet and atlases to give me an idea of what an area is like. It certainly has piqued my interest in travel. I wish I could visit the magical part of the real world. Being mundane, however, I don’t think I’ll make it to Atlantis or the Hall of the Mountain King (the troll kingdom). It’s fun for me as a writer to mesh the real world with the magical world of the imagination.

I’ve always been a huge fantasy and science fiction reader. I like my fantasy with tongue-in-cheek humor. The great epic fantasies don’t appeal to me. In know, I’m a heretic since I didn’t like the Lord of the Rings as a book, however, I loved the movies. I can’t even remember all the old time authors I read growing up. What I do know is that if it doesn’t have more than a little comedy, my attention wanders. I’ll thoroughly enjoy a children’s’ book like the “How to Train Your Dragon” series, but can’t get into Twilight or the Hunger Games. I guess I’m more kid than adult in my reading tastes. I do read more  MG/YA fantasy since it’s my primary writing genre.

You asked what my favorite is. I’ll go with Fall. Indian summers are the best. Frost on the grass in the morning, and the sun beating down on you in the afternoon. Well, that’s the Pacific Northwest version. Your own geographical region may vary.

I would like to say a word or two about series. My advice to writers is to make each book stand on its own legs. I hate being left in the middle of a story with the expectation I’ll be dying to read the next book. I want the question in my mind, “What happens next?” But I hate being forced to read to find out. Write a complete story for each book in a series. Leave the cliffhangers for the ends of chapters.

Which leads me to mention the other two books in the Witches of Galdorheim series. I think you can read Midnight Oil and be fully satisfied getting a complete adventure, BUT, if you find the book interesting, you can find Bad Spelling (already available) and Scotch Broom (coming next spring).

The Witches of Galdorheim 1 – Bad Spelling

A klutzy witch, a shaman’s curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.

The Witches of Galdorheim 3 – Scotch Broom

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

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

While dodging the goddess’s 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.


I’ll be looking forward to the Stonehenge episode. I was just there a year and a half ago with my grandson and his cousin and this will bring back good memories.

Thanks, Marva, for sharing the info about your books with me and my readers (who will not forget to leave their contact information for the drawing for a free book).

Spirit Stealer by Sue Perkins

Finished reading Spirit Stealer by Sue Perkins. Middle Grade mystery from  MuseItYoung Publishing. Sort ‘o scary.

I interviewed Sue during our September Blog Tour of MuseItYoung Publishing’s Middle Grade and Young Adult Authors. I read Spirit Stealer on Kindle and I really enjoyed it.

You can find my interview with this New Zealand author on this blog on September 8.

With both boy and girl protagonists, this book is appealing to readers of both sexes. Since all of us here are readers, we love libraries, don’t we? Libraries are safe places, right. Well, don’t bet on it. Could characters actually come out of the books? The setting of this book in a library makes it doubly intriguing.  

The plot involves two different boys and their encounters with the spirit stealer who lives in the library. The first boy is a street urchin who needs a warm, dry place to sleep. And the other boy is the son of a librarian. It’s interesting to see how the girl character spans the stories of both boys. You’ll want to read the book to see if the stories merge and to find out if the evil green phantom is ever vanquished.

Disclaimer: I purchased my copy of this book and was not paid for reviewing it.

My Guest: C. K. (Charlie) Volnek

The Blog Train is pulling into the station; it’s the end of the line for the Muse authors of books for young adults and middle grade readers on Stories a la Mode. It’s been fun and exciting to get to know the other eleven writers who signed on for this excursion.

My last guest is C. K. Volnek, also known as Charlie. She’s written a book that has great appeal to this Native North Carolinian—Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. I remember studying about the Lost Colony when I was in grade school. I think it’s a subject many people have pondered, and Charlie has taken on the job of discovering more about those long-ago happenings—even if she has to make it all up. And with her amazing imagination, she has created a mystery within the mystery.

Now, let’s find out a little about Charlie herself. See what choices she would make—or not.

Herrrrrressssssss Charlie!

This or That?

Hi, I’m C.K. Volnek, author of tween novel Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, which became available September 23rd, through MuseItUp Publishing. This interview really has nothing to do with my book, but it was fun to answer these unusual questions and help you get to know who I am. Though as you get to know me, I hope you’ll choose to find out more about my book as well.

I’m also so excited about my book birthday, I’m giving a FREE e-copy of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment. Good luck!
Puppies or Kittens? Oh, they’re both so cute, especially with the new you-tube videos of the stick-up kitty. But my heart still belongs to the canine side. Puppies can only warm my heart and make me smile. They are filled with unconditional love, crazy happy to see when I’ve only been gone ten minutes and always willing to bear a shoulder when I’m sad. They have provided many a laugh, much affection and tons of acceptance. To me, they are just kids with fur and I can’t imagine my life without them.

Beach or Lake? Having grown up in the middle of the United States, and I mean literally the middle…I loved our vacations to the beach. Feeling the sand between my toes, gazing at the beautiful blue-green ocean and searching for iridescent seashells were thrilling. But I still enjoyed coming home to the lakes surrounding my home. The ocean is powerful and massive, wild and untamed while lakes are serene and picturesque, stunning and majestic. Dream Lake in the middle of the Rocky Mountains rivals all my memories of our beach visits.

Paperback or Ebook? Noooooo. It’s so hard to choose. My hubby got me a Kindle for Christmas and I absolutely love it. Even my hubby, who said he would never read off a Kindle has been found downloading books. But, call it vanity, I still can’t wait to see my books in print form, to feel them in my hands and be able to autograph it to favorite family members and friends.

Soda or Lemonade? I like Lemonade, but I’m still a soda fan. There’s just something about the bubbles fizzing and popping in my mouth, tingling as they make their way to my stomach. I know I shouldn’t enjoy it so much, but Diet Coke is my one major vice.

Green or Blue?  Oh, please, give me yellow. I love the sunshiny happiness of this color. I can’t help but smile when I see it. Plus it only reminds me of the sun. Yes, I’m a fair-weather lover. Give me summer any day.

Werewolves or Vampires?
I do love paranormal books and movies, but I really don’t like either Vampires or Werewolves. Sorry to all the Twilight fans. Give me a creepy monster or something less human.

Romance or Urban Fantasy?  I enjoy both when there is a strong hero or heroine with lots of room to grow. Give me a character I can empathize with and I’m with you.

Mustard or Ketchup?  Depends. For burgers and fries, nothing like a thick glob of ketchup. My hubby says I can never enjoy my burger unless it’s ‘messy.’ J But for a turkey or ham sandwich and nothing compares to a good honey mustard. Mmmmm.

Day or Night?  They each have their distinctive moments. I love daytime…a nice walk in the morning or evening, a day at the lake or park, or meeting friends and family for lunch or dinner. But night time is ‘my’ time. My hubby is an early bird and I’m a night owl, so that’s my time to be alone…to write, edit or create whatever my muse leads me to.

Now that you know me a little better, I hope you’ll take a peek at my Tween novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.


Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Islandwithout a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil. 

Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what really happened. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, it’s up to Jack to uncover what the evil is and why it haunts his island. But can he destroy it…before it destroys him?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by C.K. Volnek. Available now by MuseItUp Publishing

You can find out more about me and my books at my website,

E-mail me at ckvolnek (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Friend me on facebook (C.K. Volnek) or Twitter (CKVolnek.)

I’m also on Good Reads and Jacket Flap.

You can also watch my book trailers on youtube at or by selecting ck volnek.

My books are available at the MuseItUp Book Store:

as well as Amazon and many other fine book locations on-line.

Thanks for stopping by! And remember…I’m giving a FREE e-copy of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment. Good luck!

C.K. Volnek

Charlie, it’s been a pleasure reading all about you and your book. Thanks for being my last guest on the Blog Train. It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it? I’m so glad I got to know you and the others better. Now I must read all of these books and review them for my readers. Hey, I hope I’m lucky enough to win one of the free books. And how about you out there in cyberland? Be sure and leave a comment for Charlie.


And here is a reminder that the free Muse Online Writers’ Conference starts on October 3, a little earlier this year than before.


My Guest: Chris Verstraete

I would like to welcome Christine Verstraete as my guest today on the Muse Blog Tour.

Christine is an award-winning author and journalist from Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies, Steampunk’d, Timeshares, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance from DAW Books. She is author of a nonfiction book on miniatures, In Miniature Style II, and a children’s mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery.

You can read more about Christine at her site:

Here is a tidbit to tempt you into reading Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery: Sam, her Bff Lita, and a mischievous Dachshund named Petey face a cranky housekeeper, a dog-hating gardener, and an ancient family curse as they search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh’s famous painting, “Starry Night.”

Petey sure is a cute dog. I’m always game to read a story that has a Dachshund in it.

This is the cover of Christine’s non-fiction book, In Miniature Style II.

Christine is going to talk today about Writing and Rejection.

Writing and Rejection

By Christine Verstraete

Get a rejection? It’s part of being a writer, right? You hear other writers say, oh well, suck it up, be a big boy/girl, resub that manuscript and move on to something else.

What they don’t say – (at least aloud) – is that after that email or letter is read, they, too, go through those horrific periods of self-doubt, self-flagellation, and fight the urge to throw the computer across the room when they’re not crying in the bathroom or gorging on ice cream.

C’mon, admit it. It’s not as easy as all that to just act like nothing happened.

Most writers put their heart and soul (and yes, hopes) into each project. And while you shrug your shoulders, move on to something else and do resubmit that manuscript, (eventually), it still feels like a part of you has died when someone says no or they’re not interested.

Even when you’ve been writing for a while, it still can feel like the universe is against you when that one place you thought was a good fit, well, isn’t. You can’t help but make it personal, can you?

Why does getting an answer on a manuscript feel so personal, especially when it’s a generic “not for us” answer? (And what does that really mean?  Is it: A. Not for us – it’s just as it says. B. It sucks but we can’t say that. (Lawsuits and all.) C. We already have something similar (why not say that?) or D. Yes, you really do suck?

As impersonal as a form letter or a rejection can be, and as good as we are at putting distance between ourselves and our work, you can’t help but take it to heart. Sure, you shouldn’t, but admit it, don’t you do that—sometimes?

So, cry, pout, get depressed, but send it out again.

There has to be someone else out there who also thinks, wow, great story!

That’s great advice, Christine. There have been times when I wanted to cry, pout, and get depressed. It’s not easy to pick yourself up and send it out again. But that’s what we do!

My Guest: Marva Dasef

Hi Everybody,

You are going to find today’s guest, Marva Dasef, to be a prolific and original story teller. I suspect that her home in the Pacific Northwest had a lot to do with her choice of subject matter for her supernatural/historical fiction novel, Bad Spelling. The book is to be released on October 14th, but the trailer is already out. It’s beautifully done and I will try to give you the link. If it doesn’t work from this blog, you can always paste it into your browser. And I highly recommend that you do.

Book Trailer:

This blog post relates information about the Shamans of Northern Siberia, the setting of the story.

Leave a comment for Marva to be entered into her drawing.

Marva Dasef is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat.  Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation.  Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published books of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. A few more are scheduled for 2011 and 2012 from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.

I asked Marva if she has any hobbies. Here is her answer: No hobbies. I never comprehended the concept since I quit collecting horse pictures, statues, etc. when I was around 11. I like to watch old TV on Netflix. I went through all the Doctor Who episodes available, and I’m now working my way through Young Indiana Jones. I wish I could hook Netflix to my TV, but our TV is too old to do that. Maybe someday.

BAD SPELLING – Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim

A klutzy witch, a shaman’s curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home. 

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo.  A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way. At the Troll Kingdom, a young troll, Andy, joins the siblings in their quest to find the shaman and kill the curse.


Andy is a troll…sort of. Stolen at birth by the Trolless Gorm to replace one of her newborn triplets, Andy is through and through troll. He loves his brothers Endy and Indy, respects the troll King Ole, and is overall pretty happy being a troll.

However, when Gorm is near death, she tells Andy that he’s bortbyting, a changeling. His real family is the Sami tribe of Siberia. Well, we already know that Kat’s father is a Sami from Siberia. Hmm. Coincidence? I think not.

Let’s talk about the Siberian side of the family.

The Samis (also spelled Sámi or Saami) are a widespread extended clan of people closely related to the North American Eskimos and Aleutes. You’ve heard of Samoyed dogs, the breed of sled dog bred by these northernmost indigenous people. The Lapps are the same people just a little further west. There is lots of interesting information on the Sami people out on the internet. I discovered them by trundling around the web looking for an indigenous people living in Siberia. I wanted Kat’s father to be completely different from the Euro-Nordic witches of Galdorheim. I hit the motherload with the Samis. These are the perfect folks to be the middle link between witches and trolls. The Free Encyclopedia is a treasure trove of information. I spent a lot of time following links and reading. These are people not widely known by the “civilized” world.

The Samis of Siberia are primarily hunter/gatherers with fishing being a major food source. You can imagine that near the Arctic Circle, farming is not possible. Russia pulled the same dirty trick on the Samis as the US pulled on the indigenous tribes of North America: relocation. They moved them all next door to the Barents Sea, which, naturally, is not a desirable piece of real estate. I know we could all go on and on about the injustices of the world, but that’s not what I’m doing here. I encourage you to follow the links from the Free Encyclopedia. It’s an addictive trail of fascinating information.

But the central idea in the Witches of Galdorheim books is the existence of this type of people exactly where they are in Siberia. Worked out great for my story. In “Bad Spelling,” Kat has to deal with a shaman of the Sami people. First she has to find him, and that’s a pretty long journey in itself. Along the way, she meets Andy and they travel to the Siberian north to find him.

The Samis practice shamanism with various shamans handling different parts of life.

The Tadebya advises on the right time to go fishing or move the village (the Samis are nomadic). He handles the practical day-to-day needs of the people.

The Vidutana deals with the heavens so is the go-to guy if you’re in need of heavenly guidance.

The Sambana is more like the crazy monk living in a cave somewhere. Everybody around knows he’s got some kind of power, but he’s also dangerous. He can cast evil spells, deals with black magic, and is an all-around unsavory character.

This is very simplistic, and you won’t have to try very hard to find differences in my interpretations of shamanistic matters with real-world examples. But, hey, I’m writing a fantasy here and am allowed to mess with all things magical to my heart’s content.

Excerpt (the Shamans)

Ivansi rocked from one foot to the other and then rubbed his right mukluk against his left calf. He had much to do before leaving, and he wanted to get on with it. He’d never say it to anybody, but he didn’t think his grandfather was that good a shaman. Even so, it wasn’t his place to question shamans of the tribe. For now, all he wanted to know was whether or not his hunt would succeed, but his grandfather never hurried things along. None of the shamans ever did.

The hunt he proposed was dangerous; that he knew all too well, since his own son, Borisi, disappeared many turns of the sun before. His chances of success were good, for he was a seasoned hunter, and would not be going alone. But even a large kayak could easily disappear into the fierce Barents Sea, never to be seen again.

Ivansi’s mind wandered to Borisi. A few months after his son disappeared, Ivansi had steeled his nerves and gone to seek the assistance of the Sambana, the village shaman who could contact the dead. Unlike the Tadebya, who sought the guidance of the gods in everyday matters, or the Vidutana, who could provide information on the heavens, the Sambana lived alone and away from the tribe. The very nature of the Sambana’s talent made him a fearful presence, so the tribe avoided contact with the old man unless absolutely necessary, which seemed to suit the ancient shaman just fine. The people were convinced the Sambana had gone crazy years before. The rumor was the Sambana’s wife had run away with a witch man. Some said the Sambana had lived for more than a thousand years, but nobody could prove it one way or the other.

Ivansi had feared his son was dead but wanted to know for sure. The Sambana sought Borisi’s spirit in his seeing flame but could not contact him. Usually, the purpose of contact with the dead was to aid the soul into the afterlife. Since he could not speak to Borisi, the Sambana decided the young man must still live. He was lost, obviously, but not dead. The Sambana told Ivansi not to worry; he would protect his son against evil. The Sambana sent a magic shield to seek Borisi wherever he was and surround him.

Ivansi’s attention returned to the present when the Tadebya snuffed out the flame and looked up at him.

“Your hunt will succeed, but you must return within seven days. Stay not one day longer, no matter how good the hunting.”

“Yes, Tadebya, I will.” Ivansi exited the shaman’s tent and went to tell the rest of his hunting party they could leave right away. The five other hunters had prepared the two kayaks and loaded the gear needed for the week-long trip. With twenty hours of dark each day, it made no difference whether they began the hunt during the day or at night, although they preferred to travel during the dark times and hunt in the twilight hours.

Marva, this is very interesting reading. It’s clever the way you have interwoven the two different cultures by placing Kat in the middle.  I’m looking forward to reading the whole story. And congratulations, also, to Kaytalin Platt for the beautiful book cover.

It’s been a pleasure having you on my blog today, Marva. Thank you.

My Guest: Meradeth Houston

Our Blog Hopping Guest today is Meradeth Houston, the author of Colors Like Memories. Meradeth has an unusually fine imagination and her book sounds very interesting. It is not only a story of redemption, but is layered with historical references to the American Civil War. She is sharing some actual photographs of the Civil War with us.  Welcome, Meradeth.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Barbara!

Tell us a bit about your book, Colors Like Memories:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. In order to save her best friend’s life, she’s going to have to face her past, but her ghosts won’t make it easy. Especially his.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this ‘breath of life’ she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It’s a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren’t enough, she’s now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia’s not exactly the best role model for. If she can’t figure out a way to help her, Julia’s going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

When Edison arrives at school, Julia’s plan to focus on her work is thrown into chaos. Somehow, he knows way too much about her past. To make matter worse, Edison sparks more than just her curiosity. But he’s one more distraction, and Julia has no time, especially when she accidentally reveals her true identity to her assignment. To help her grieving friend, she’ll have to face her past—it’s the only way she, and her best friend, will heal. But to do so she’s going to have to return to the scene of crime and relive every vivid detail of what happened the day of the accident. If she can’t accept what happened, she’ll be forced to leave the Sary and lose any chance she had at saving her assignment’s life. It’ll take learning to trust Edison, and herself, to face the true color of her memories.

Cover TBA J. Release by MuseItUp in May 2012!

I can be found at my website (, and my blog ( I’d love to have people stop by!

Contest: comment here for a chance to win Colors Like Memories when it releases. Please leave a way for me to get in contact with you! Winner will be announced on my blog at the end of the month!

A bit about me: I’m a scientist by day, writer by night (well, really, whenever I can sneak it in). In my spare time, I like to travel with my husband and have recently gotten into photography more. I’m a pretty crazy-busy person, but writing is my passion, and I love books!


I greeted his tombstone the way I always did—with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.

            I folded my legs under me, shuddering as the chill of the damp grass seeped through my clothes. “I keep hoping one of these days you’ll be here waiting for me.” The words were tradition. Some small part of me still clung to the hope I’d come over the hill to find him leaning over his grave, wearing a sly smile. He died so very long ago, but I couldn’t stop wishing.

            Leaning forward, I rested my forehead against my knees and closed my eyes, longing for a few minutes of rest. A few minutes to pretend it was someone else buried beneath me. I tried to explain this to him, but tonight I didn’t have the will to pretend it was more than starlight that listened.

            It took a long time to notice, building imperceptibly until I finally looked over my shoulder. Someone was there, watching me. It hadn’t been a sound that alerted me so much as the feel of their gaze, heavy in the darkness. After so many nights spent here, I knew the difference.

Civil War era Women

Nurses and Officers at Fredricksburg, Virginia

A word about research: I haven’t mentioned this much, but about a third of Colors Like Memories is set during the past—the Civil War, actually, when Julia loses Derek. (The Sary can be kind of old, though they generally don’t act that way.) Anyhow, when I first started writing the historical part, I was really nervous. I mean, I know how much of a stickler I can be about facts in other books, so making sure I had things correct in my own was a big concern.

So, what’s a writer to do? Well, first, I wrote the historical part J. I know, a little backwards, right? Well, I knew what I wanted to have happen, so I started out there knowing I could layer details in later. Then, I turned to books and the web. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how much information was out there on the Civil War! I spent a lot of time pouring over lists of names, tiny details, random information, anything you can imagine.

There were a few things I knew I’d need: the state of medical knowledge and practice at the time (Julia’s a nurse back then). Thankfully I know how to work with chloroform myself (thanks to my time in the lab), so I could use those little details, too! I also found as many pictures and other sources to try and get the clothing right. I’m writing in the Gone With The Wind era, but Julia would never be caught in one of those get-ups. (Well, maybe, but certainly not while she’s working.) Anyhow, those made for some fun times.

The hardest part about this was working out which battle to set things in. I knew I needed a couple of things: a big fight where one of the armies was camped in an area for a while ahead of time; a place for Julia to work nearby; a early morning battle; a forested area; a cemetery where they buried the dead; and I had a general year in mind. This item took forever! I finally settled on the Battle of Fredericksburg (which I found a little ironic, seeing as Derek’s full name is Frederick). Anyhow, more information about this cool site can be found here: From there, it was easy to pick up more details about the time and place (like, it was foggy on the morning of the battle, which played in perfectly to the story).

I still worry about whether or not I managed to get everything right! Still, it was a blast to write, and I learned a whole lot in the process!

Meradeth, I know all the history buffs and historical fiction buffs are going to love reading your version of the Civil War. And with Sarys, yet! Sounds like a winning combination.

Thanks for being with us today, Meradeth, and especially for the photographs. When you get your book cover, let me know and I will display it for the enjoyment of my readers.


My Guest: Rebecca Ryals Russell

Let me introduce you to Rebecca Ryals Russell, another guest hopping along the Muse Blog-a-Thon Trail. After you read about her writing, you will be treated to an interesting and surprising aspect of her life.

Rebecca is well known as the Yellow Hat Writer. Hey, Rebecca, where’s the yellow hat? Never mind, the one you’re wearing is lovely.

Rebecca writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy and Horror while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin. ( )

She is a fourth generation Floridian. She was born in Gainesville, grew up in Sunrise, lived in Orlando and Jacksonville before moving outside Lake City to care for ailing parents.

The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and secretary, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories. Her main interests are her four children ages 22, 19, 17, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, going to movies, reading, discussing philosophy with her 17-year-old son.

Over the course of the next few years she has several books being published.

Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works.

Leave a comment for Rebecca’s posting. One commenter will be chosen at random to win a FREE ebook or other PRIZE, such as an illustrated calendar, keychain, cover art notepad. You can’t win if you don’t comment. More details available at

Rebecca is adept at creating complete worlds (steam punk) for her fantasy series, The Seraphym Wars. Here are glimpses into some of Rebecca’s books.


14-year old Zarena spends time with a Holy Order of Clerics on their hidden world of Revrum Natura, while she receives training in Martial Arts, Herbology, Astronomy, Weaponry and Mind Control. Destined to become the leader of the Vigorios, child warriors, who will assist the Seraphym in the war against the demon-dragons of Dracwald, Zarena grows up in a hurry. Lonely and homesick, she meets a Mermaid who encourages her to talk about her training. Is this new friend too good to be true? Zarena learns a valuable lesson about trust and betrayal—a lesson that will serve her well as leader of the Vigorios.

I regret to say I could not get the cover of Prophesy to download.


For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy of Narciss’s future doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.

But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.


17-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from an attack when she was 15, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets sweet and sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest, but harbors a secret past that ironically would destroy all the faith she has placed in him. A handsomely roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams and makes sudden appearances in unlikely places, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.

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?




April 2011-Odessa, Seraphym Wars YA Series-available at Amazon

July 2011-Zarena, Stardust Warriors MG Series

September 2011-Prophecy, Seraphym Wars

October 2011-Don’t Make Marty Mad (adult Horror story)

November 2011-Jeremiah, Stardust Warriors

January 2012-Harpies, Seraphym Wars

February 2012-Laman, Stardust Warriors

April 2012-Mercy, Stardust Warriors

June 2012-Magaelbash, Stardust Warriors


You are going to enjoy reading about the memorabilia Rebecca would put in a garage sale.

I just can’t believe she could really part with this stuff. It’s worth more than money; although, some of it is probably worth a lot of moola. 

Both of my parents died recently, as in the last seven years; so I’ve had to deal with getting rid of a lifetime’s accumulation of their stuff. And both were ‘collectors’, so there was A LOT of stuff. I still have some I haven’t been able to sell, but will soon because I’m tired of dealing with it. So one day I thought. “What about having a Teenaged Garage Sale? How fun to recall the things that were so important to me at the time.” And so, here’s my list. Now remember, I grew up in the 1960’s, graduated from high school in 1974. So some of this stuff will sound completely alien to you and some of it, I realized while making the list, is popular again. How funny is that?

Mounted 1000 piece puzzle of Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings

12-string acoustic guitar

Several notebooks filled with poetry and short stories

A few old 35mm cameras

Several photo albums of black & white photos, artistically shot

Brown leather wedge chunky high-heeled shoes, quite worn

Dark purple hip-hugger double-flared bell bottom jeans with a wide brown leather belt

Nylon multicolored halter top that ties behind the neck and at the waist, worn with white hotpants and no bra

Black fishnet stockings and shiny black knee-high boots

Wild and colorfully flowered button-up tunic with a split from bottom to bellybutton and matching hotpants (short shorts)

Pucca shell necklace just like Drew’s (who sat in front of me in English Lit and I had a major crush on; he was a surfer and wore sandals to school!)

Flower-Power sheer bedroom curtains and matching bedspread; neon pink, lemon yellow, lime green flowers the size of my hand

Iggy Dolls (trolls) with neon hair and brush

Clip-on roller skates and key (These clipped to the bottom of your shoes, then slid to fit and tightened with a key. But after going about three feet would have to be tightened again; over and over.)

The Monkeys, The Beatles,  vinyl albums and portable record player

Homemade, quilted, full-length skirt with elastic waist. (Made by my mother for Christmas when I was about 12, I lived in this skirt all winter—it was like a blanket. I think I still have it someplace in the closet.)

Buick Special painted turquoise blue with a black roof, no AC (rubber-bladed fan on dashboard),  family owned (bought from Grandpa for $800 earned on my first part-time job working Saturday mornings as a claims taker for Allstate Insurance Co.),  3 foot-long ‘Go Turtle’ decals on both rear fenders (ordered from Turtle Wax car wax company), Ooga horn installed by Daddy.


Rebecca, thanks for visiting us at Stories a la Mode today. This blog is certainly in a different mode.

My Guest: Barbara Ehrentreu

Today we have with us on the Muse Blog Tour—Barbara Ehrentreu. During this past year, I have been getting to know and like Barbara, even though it is an online friendship. We aren’t just sisters in the Muse Family. Our books were accepted at the same time and Lea announced that the Muse “was being invaded by the Barbaras.” So we have kept up with each other through emails and on the Muse Gab Room and the Muse Author’s Site. We were both biting our nails hoping we would get permission to use quotes from Dr. Seuss in our books. And we did get the permissions. Wheeeeuuu!!! Welcome, Barbara.


Barbara lives in Stamford, Connecticut, with her husband and two grown daughters, but she spent most of her life in New York State. She is a retired teacher who now tutors children who have learning difficulties. Since she was a little girl, she has loved reading and writing. A few years ago, she received her Masters in Reading and Writing K-12 and became a certified Reading teacher.

Barbara stays very busy and wears lots of hats. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children’s story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online. She writes book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI.

When she wanted to attend a workshop with Paula Danziger as the leader, she wrote three chapter of a YA story that just popped into her head. When Paula took an interest in working with her story, she was thrilled and decided it had merit. So in the next two years, she worked on finishing it.

The book became If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and it has recently been published by MuseItUp Publishing. This is what Barbara says about Muse:

Being a part of MuseItUp Publishing has brought me another online family and I am thrilled to be one of the increasingly large members of this warm and encouraging group.

Well, mates, I’m here to tell you that Barbara has a winner here. I have just started reading the book and am just getting into the conflict. Already I can tell that Barbara knows a lot about the teen mind and the situations that come up in high school. There are issues and also some romance.


Here is an excerpt from Barbara’s novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, a young adult novel about the trials of being high school students.

 “If you have been checked on your somersault, you can jog around the gym until the bell rings.” Miss Gaylon is going to be nominated most annoying teacher in the whole school soon.

Why do we have to run now? Did I have any energy to do this?

Jennifer and I start to run, but soon she forges ahead of me. Is this a race, I wonder? Or am I so slow, she can pass me anytime she wants to? We’re halfway around the gym when suddenly I see Jennifer starting to slow down. She stops running and starts to walk. She looks almost white, and I wonder if she is really sick.

“Jennifer, are you okay?” I pass her at a slow trot.

“Just tired I guess. All of a sudden I felt a little faint. Don’t laugh. It can happen to anyone.”

“Did you forget to breathe as you ran? That could cause it.”

“Very funny, Carolyn; did I forget to breathe?”

“I thought it was. Do you need to see the nurse?”

“No, I’m fine, but I’d like to sit down.”

“There’s Miss Gaylon. I’m sure if you tell her you don’t feel well, she’ll let you.”

“This is funny. Now it’s me who needs to go to the nurse, but I’ll be okay. Just need to sit down. Once I do, I’ll be all right.”

Jennifer slows down, and soon she’s stopped completely. I look at her, and she looks way too pale. I grab her around the waist and walk her over to the bleachers. Miss Gaylon notices and comes over immediately. Jennifer looks dazed.

“Jennifer Taylor, are you sick? You don’t look good at all.”

“Miss Gaylon, I think she hurt her foot, twisted her ankle, but she’s okay now. I’ll stay here and check on her.”

“Let me see that ankle. Hmm, it doesn’t look swollen. You will be fine in a few minutes. The bell is going to ring soon. You stay there, and in a few minutes go get changed.”

“Thanks, Miss Gaylon. I’m feeling much better now.”

Jennifer looks at me with surprise and happiness.

“You are always amazing me, Carolyn. I guess I should have eaten a little more at lunch. Now I remember. I got sick after breakfast today, too. No wonder I have no energy. Thanks for helping me. I might have fainted if you hadn’t brought me over here.”

Across the gym, Becky and her partner are staring over at Jennifer and me. Becky mouths to me, “What happened?”

I mouth back, “She’s sick and needs to rest.”

“Are your plans off?” Becky keeps miming to me.

“No, she’s feeling much better now, must be her period.” This is the last lie I want to tell

Becky today. All of the lies I have told seem to be lying in a puddle at my feet.

The bell rings for the end of the period, and I race toward my locker. I change in a flash and run down the hallway to my other locker. I grab my books and streak down to the front door.

Meanwhile, I scan the halls for Brad. I don’t want to bump into him again.

I’m in a fog racing toward the front door. Brad comes from the staircase, and we are

separated by a hundredth of an inch. This time we meet face to face in the middle of the front hallway. Jennifer walks out of the gym looking a little frazzled. Jennifer Taylor looking frazzled?

The end of the world is coming. Brad sees her and walks straight over like a guided missile. “Jennifer, you look awful. What happened?”

“Brad, I’m so glad to see you. I felt sick in gym, but it’s probably not eating enough for

lunch. We had to run, and I couldn’t keep going. Do you know who helped me though? She’s like my savior—Carolyn. She got me over to a seat, and I didn’t even have to go to the nurse. What a girl.” She smiles at me. Even better, Brad smiles at me, too.

“Jennifer, it’s the least I could do for you,” I say. “Now we’re even, right?”

“Yeah, I guess we are. See you outside in a few minutes. You’re ready I hope?”

“Yes, I zoomed over and got my stuff. How about you? Are you feeling okay now? We

could postpone this you know.” I keep my fingers crossed.

“No, I’ll be fine. You’re coming over, and we’ll study, okay?”

I look at Jennifer and wonder why she didn’t tell him about the makeover.

“What do you mean you’re studying? I thought we were going to spend tonight together.”

Brad sticks out his bottom lip and pouts.

“Tomorrow night, I’ll go out with you. Remember, my parents only allow me one night a

week for dates.”

“Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow and see you tomorrow night.”

“Thank you, Brad. You do understand don’t you?” Jennifer purrs to him, rubbing her hands up and down his arm. Brad puts his arms around her and gives her a big hug. Jennifer gets up on her tiptoes and kisses him on the cheek. I’m way too jealous to continue watching this sappy scene.

I walk outside and try to forget what I just saw. Brad will never like me the way he likes

Jennifer. I don’t think she cares about him as much as he likes her, but she can sure twist him around her finger. I want to learn how to do that, too. One minute he’s angry and sullen, the next he’s hugging her. For the fifty thousandth time in my life, I wish I could.

Barbara, that is a teasing example of your story that leaves us wondering what is going to happen to these three youngsters. We just gotta find out!

Thanks for being with us today. And hey, everybody, I’m over at Barbara’s blog, also. Please drop in and learn about an aspect of Wounds—the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.


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