Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Dawning of Power by Brian Rathbone

The Dawning of Power is the debut trilogy in Brian Rathbone's fantasy series: The World of Godsland. Echoes of the ancients power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind s deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1
Life is the greatest of all mysteries, and though I seek to solve its many riddles, my deepest fear is that I will succeed.
--CiCi Bajur, philosopher

Immersed in its primordial glow, a comet soared through space with incredible speed. Three thousand years had passed since it last shed its light upon the tiny blue planet known to its inhabitants as Godsland, and the effects had been cataclysmic. A mighty host of comets followed the same elliptical orbit as the first as they returned from the farthest reaches of the solar system. Their light had already charged the atmosphere of Godsland, and the comets themselves would soon be visible to the naked eye.

The cycle of power would begin anew. Radiant energy, though still faint, raced toward Godsland, bearing the power of change.

As the force angled over the natural harbor where the fishing vessels were moored for the night, it soared beyond them over the Pinook Valley, and nothing barred its path. Beyond a small town, amid foothills dotted with farmsteads, it raced toward a barn where a young woman dutifully swept the floor. A slight tingle and a brief twitch of her eyebrows caused Catrin to stop a moment, just as a chance wind cast the pile of dirt and straw back across the floor. It was not the first thing to go wrong that morning, and she doubted it would be the last.

She was late for school. Again.

Education was not a birthright; it was a privilege--something Master Edling repeatedly made more than clear. Those of station and power attended his lessons to gain refinement and polish, but for those from the countryside, the purpose was only to stave off the epidemic of ignorance.

His sentiments had always rankled, and Catrin wondered if the education was worth the degradation she had to endure. She had already mastered reading and writing, and she was more adept at mathematics than most, but those were skills taught to the younger students by Master Jarvis, who was a kind, personable teacher. Catrin missed his lessons. Those approaching maturity were subjected to Master Edling's oppressive views and bland historical teachings. It seemed to her that she learned things of far more relevance when she worked on the farm, and the school lessons seemed a waste of time.

Master Edling detested tardiness, and Catrin was in no mood to endure another of his lectures. His anger was only a small part of her worries on that day, though. The day was important, different. Something was going to happen--something big; she could feel it.

The townies, as Catrin and her friends called those who placed themselves above everyone else, seemed to feed on the teacher's disdainful attitude. They adopted his derogatory manner, which often deteriorated into pranks and, lately, violence. Though she was rarely a target, Catrin hated to see her friends treated so poorly. They deserved better.

Peten Ross was the primary source of their problems; it was his lead the others followed. He seemed to take pleasure in creating misery for others, as if their hardships somehow made him more powerful. Perhaps he acted that way to impress Roset and the other pretty girls from town, with their flowing dresses and lace-bound hair. Either way, the friction was intensifying, and Catrin feared it would escalate beyond control.

Anyone from the countryside was a target, but it was her friend Osbourne Macano, son of a pig farmer, who bore the brunt of their abuses. The low regard in which his family profession was held and his unassuming manner made him an easy target. He had never fought back, and still the attacks continued. Chase, Catrin's beloved cousin, felt they should stand up for themselves since passive resistance had proven fruitless. What choice did they have?

Catrin understood his motives, but to her, the problem seemed unsolvable. Surely retaliation would not end the struggle, but neither had inaction, which left her in a quandary. Chase seemed to think they needed only to scare the townies once to make them realize such treatment would not be tolerated. That, he said, was the only way to gain their respect, if not their friendship. She could see his logic, but she also saw other, less appealing possibilities, such as a swift and violent response or even expulsion from the school lessons. Too many things could go wrong.

Chase was determined, though, and she would support him and Osbourne in their fight, if that was their choice. But she did not have to like it.

From bribing a woman who had once worked as Peten's nursemaid, Chase learned that Peten had a terrible fear of snakes--any snake, not just the venomous varieties. Chase planned to catch a snake and sneak it into the hall during lessons, though he admitted he had no plan for getting it near Peten without being seen. Just thinking about it, Catrin began to feel queasy, and she concentrated even more on her work. As she slid the heavy barn door closed to keep out the wind, she was submerged in darkness and had to resweep the floor by the light of her lantern.

Her father and Benjin, his close friend, were returning from the pastures with a pair of weanlings just as she lugged her saddle into Salty's stall. She watched the skittish colt and filly enter the barn wide eyed, but they gave the experienced men little trouble and would soon become accustomed to frequent handling. The lamplight cast a glow on Benjin's dark features. Bits of gray showed in his neatly trimmed beard, and his ebon hair was pulled back in a braid, giving him the look of a wise but formidable man.

Salty, Catrin's six-year-old chestnut gelding, must have sensed she was in a rush, for he chose to make her life even more difficult. He danced away from her as she tossed the saddle over his back, and when she grabbed him by the halter and looked him in the eye, he just snorted and stepped on her toes. After pushing him off her foot, she prepared to tighten the girth, and Salty drew in a deep breath, making himself as big as possible. Catrin knew his tricks and had no desire to find herself in a loose saddle. Kneeing him in the ribs just enough to make him exhale, she cinched the strap to the wear marks. Salty nipped her on the shoulder, letting her know he didn't appreciate her spoiling his joke.

Dawn backlit the mountains, and heavy cloud cover rode in with the wind. A light spray was falling as Catrin walked Salty from the low-ceilinged barn into the barnyard. Salty danced and spun as she mounted, but she got one foot in the stirrup and a hand on the saddle horn, which was enough to pull herself up even as he pranced. His antics were harmless, but Catrin had no time for them, and she drove her heels into his flanks with a chirrup to urge him forward.

In that, at least, he did not disappoint as he leaped to a fast trot. She would have given him his head and let him gallop, but the wagon trail was growing muddy and slick in the steady rain. Cattleman Gerard appeared in the haze ahead, his oxcart leaving churned mud in its wake. Trees lined the narrow trail, and Catrin had to slow Salty to a walk until they cleared the woods. When they reached a clearing, she passed Gerard at a trot, waving as she rode by, and he gave her a quick wave in return.

Fierce gusts drove stinging rain into her eyes, and she could barely see the Masterhouse huddled against the mountains; in the distance, only its massive outline was visible. Harborton materialized from the deluge, and as she approached, the rain dwindled. The cobbled streets were barely damp, and the townsfolk who milled about were not even wet. In contrast, Catrin was bespattered and soaked, looking as if she had been wallowing in mud, and she received many disapproving looks as she trotted Salty through town.

The aroma of fresh-baked bread wafting from the bakery made her stomach grumble, and the smell of bacon from the Watering Hole was alluring. In her rush, she had forgotten to eat, and she hoped her stomach would not be talkative during the lessons, a sure way to irritate Master Edling.

She passed the watchtower and the large iron ring that served as a fire bell, and she spotted her uncle, Jensen, as he dropped off Chase on his way to the sawmill. He waved and smiled as she approached, and she blew him a kiss. Chase climbed from the wagon, looking impish, and Catrin's appetite fled. She had hoped he would fail in his snake hunt, but his demeanor indicated that he had not, and when the leather bag on his belt moved, any doubts she had left her. How he had concealed the snake from her uncle was a mystery, but that was Chase, the boy who could do what no one else would dare attempt.

His mother and hers had died fifteen years before on the same day and under mysterious circumstances; no one understood what killed them. Since then, Chase seemed determined to prove that he wasn't afraid of anything or anyone.

Catrin pulled Salty up alongside him, and they entered the stables together. Once clear of the gate, she turned to the right, hoping to slip into her usual stall unnoticed, but instead she saw another insult. All the stalls were taken, despite there being plenty for those students who rode. Many of the townies, including Peten, rode to the lessons even though they were within walking distance. In a parade of wealth and arrogance, they flaunted their finely made saddles with gilded trim. It seemed they now felt they needed pages to attend to their mounts, and they, too, must ride. It was the pages' horses that had caused the shortage of stalls. Catrin stopped Salty and just stared, trying to decide what to do.

"What's going on, Cat?" Chase bellowed. "Have the townies gotten so fat they need two horses to carry each of them?"

"Hush, I don't want any trouble," she said with a pointed glance at his writhing bag. "I'll stable Salty at the Watering Hole."

"Strom may let you stable him there, but certainly not for free. Where does it stop, Cat? How much abuse do they think we'll tolerate?" he asked, sounding more incensed with each word.

"I don't have time for this now. I'll see you at the lesson," she said, turning Salty. Chirruping, she gave him a bit of her heels, trotted him around the block, and slowed only when she neared Baker Hollis, who was busy sweeping the walk. He gave her a sidelong glance and shuffled into the bakery. Inside, Catrin saw his daughter, Trinda, who stared with haunted eyes. She rarely left the bakery, and it was said she spoke even less often. Most thought she was daft, but Catrin suspected something entirely different, something much more sinister.

As she turned into the alley behind the Watering Hole, she whistled for Strom, who emerged from the stable looking tired and irritable.

"Cripes, it's early, Cat. What brings you here?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. He had once attended the lessons and had been friends with Catrin and Chase. After his father died, though, he had gone to work as a stable boy for Miss Mariss to help support his mother. He was shunned by most. His humble circumstances and departure from the lessons marked him as undesirable in the eyes of many, but Catrin enjoyed his company and considered him a good friend.

"I'm sorry to wake you, but I really need to stable Salty here today. The stable at the academy is full, and I'm already late. Please let me keep him here--just for today," she asked with her most appealing look.

"If Miss Mariss finds out, she'll have my hide for a carpet. I can only stable a horse if the owner patronizes the inn and pays a copper for the stall," he said.

Digging into her coin purse, Catrin pulled out a worn silver half she'd been saving for an emergency. She tossed it to Strom. "Buy yourself something to eat and take good care of Salty for me. I have to go," she said as she grabbed her wax pad from her saddlebags.

Strom rolled the coin across his knuckles as she sprinted away. "I hate to take your money, Cat, but I assure you it won't go to waste!" he shouted.

Catrin raced back to the academy, turning toward the lesson hall at a full run. Master Beron shouted for her to slow down, but she was nearly there. She reached the door and opened it as quietly as she could, but the hinge betrayed her, squeaking loudly. Everyone in the room turned to see who would be the target of Master Edling's ire, and Catrin felt her face flush.

She entered with mumbled apologies and quickly sought a vacant desk. The townies gave her nasty looks and placed their wax tablets on the empty chairs near them, clearly indicating she was not welcome. In her rush to reach the desk next to Chase, her wet boots slipped on the polished floor, leaving her suspended in air for an instant before she hit with a crash. The air rushed from her lungs with a whoosh, and the room erupted in laughter.

As soon as she regained her breath, she immediately held it, seeing Chase take advantage of the distraction. He slinked behind Peten and slid the leather pouch under his chair. The drawstrings were untied and the top lay open, but nothing emerged. Catrin stood and quickly took the seat between Chase and Osbourne, still blushing furiously.

"This isn't going to go well for you, Cat. Edling looks boiled," Osbourne whispered, but Master Edling interrupted in a loud voice.

"Now that Miss Volker has seen fit to join us, perhaps she will allow us to commence. What say you, Miss Volker? Shall we begin, or do you need more leisure time?" he asked, looking down his nose, and several of the townies sniggered, casting her knowing glances. Catrin just mumbled and nodded. She was grateful when Master Edling began his lecture on the holy war; at least he was no longer adding to her embarrassment by making a bigger fool of her.

"When Istra last graced the skies," he began, "the Zjhon and Varic nations waged a holy war that lasted hundreds of years. They fought over conflicting interpretations of religious documents, none of which could be proved or disproved. Meanwhile, the Elsic nation remained neutral, often acting as a mediator during peace talks. Many times peace was made only to be broken again upon the first provocation.

"Then there came a new Elsic leader, Von of the Elsics. He ascended the throne after killing his uncle, King Venes. Von had been clever and murdered his uncle during the harvest festival, when there were hundreds of people in attendance who might have wanted the king dead. No one could identify the killer, and a veil of suspicion hung over the court. Elaborate conspiracy theories were rampant, and Von encouraged them since they served his purposes well. Those who believed treachery was afoot were much less likely to speak out for fear of being the next mysterious death."

The teacher droned on. "Von believed his nation's historical neutrality in the war was folly and that it would be better to conquer both nations while they were weakened by the prolonged war. The Elsics did not condone the use of Istra's powers, claiming it was blasphemous, and none of their scholars were skilled in arcana. Von had no large army at his disposal either, so he concluded that Istra's power was the only way he could defeat both nations. He would use the very powers that were flaunted by the Zjhon and the Varics as the agents of their destruction.

"He staged clandestine raids against each nation, disguising his men as soldiers from the opposing nation. His instructions were clear: he wanted people captured, not killed, because he wanted slaves. Those captured were transported in secret to the Knell Downs, which we believe to be high in the Pinook Mountains. Camps were built, and the slaves were forced to experiment with creating powerful weapons using Istra's power.

"There were many failures, as most of those captured had no experience in such things, but after countless attempts, a slave named Imeteri made a deadly discovery. Weakened from working in stuffy quarters, he convinced his captors to let him work outside whenever the sun shone. His efforts were fruitless for many weeks, and many of his experiments lay about in disarray, unfinished or forgotten completely, except for the details in his copious notes. Most of them consisted of various compounds of elements he placed in clay mugs, which he sealed with mud. One day, while working on his experiments, an explosion knocked him off his feet, and he knew one of his concoctions had worked. It took many more efforts for him to duplicate his success.

"One major problem was that his explosive needed to charge in the light of both Istra and Vestra before it would detonate. As it became saturated with energy, it would begin to glow, gradually getting brighter and brighter until it would eventually explode.

"Von was pleased by Imeteri's discovery, and after several refinements and small-scale demonstrations, he declared it the success he had been looking for. Imeteri was raised to the highest status of slave, barely less than a free man. Von ordered the other slaves to build enormous statues in the likeness of Istra and Vestra sharing a loving embrace. These great behemoths became known as the Statues of Terhilian, and packed with the new explosive, they were sent to the various Zjhon and Varic cities. Appearing to be tokens of peace, they were readily accepted and revered. The wars had drained the Zjhon and Varic nations, and lacking the resources to fight, they were relieved to receive the gifts.

"It was an abominable tactic and one I hope is never eclipsed. Drawn to the statues like moths to a flame, the faithful and war-weary congregated in enormous numbers around the likenesses of their gods. All but a few of the statues detonated, resulting in cataclysmic explosions that leveled entire cities, killing countless souls. The toxic aftermath debilitated those not killed by the initial blasts, and most died soon thereafter. And so began mankind's darkest age, a time known as the Purge," Master Edling continued, his unvarying cadence threatening to put Catrin, and most of the other students, into a deep sleep.

The snake, which Catrin now saw was an olive-green tree snake, was lured from Chase's pouch by the stillness, its slender head and neck poked from the pouch, looking like a bean pod with eyes. Catrin held her breath as it slithered forward and coiled itself around the chair leg. Peten noticed Catrin's sideways glances and gave her a snide look, tossing his long, blond hair over his shoulders.

With his muscular build, strong jaw, and piercing blue eyes, he cast a striking figure, but his attitude and ego made him the least attractive person Catrin had ever met. She felt little pity for him as the snake continued to follow its instinct, which was to climb. Peten was oblivious to its presence and continued to look bored, casting his own glances to get the attention of Roset Gildsmith.

The snake slithered up the slats on the back of his chair; it brushed against his curls, and still he remained unaware. He shifted in his seat, as if sensing the stares of Catrin, Chase, and Osbourne, and turned his head to glare at them. As he did, his eyes met those of the snake, and he shrieked. His high-pitched scream and sudden movement alarmed the snake, and it struck, biting him on his nose. Catrin knew the snake was not venomous, but Peten obviously knew nothing of the sort.

He leaped from his chair, sending his desk and the snake flying. Charging from the hall, he knocked Roset and another girl from their chairs. He showed no concern for anyone in the hall, and it was obvious his only care was for his own safety.

Master Edling stormed to the back of the hall, fuming, and snatched the agitated snake from the ruins of Peten's chair. After releasing it at the base of a tree in the courtyard, he returned, pushing Peten before him, forcing the shaken young man to return the desks to order.

Chase's eyes danced with glee, and Osbourne let a giggle slip. The townies and Master Edling glared at them with eyes like daggers. Catrin sat quietly, hoping the situation would somehow improve, but instead it worsened.

"Peten Ross, you are a coward and a boor," Roset said with a haughty look. "Do not aspire to speak to me again." She turned smugly away, her jaw stuck out in defiance.

Chase seemed to think things were going very well, but Catrin could see Peten's fury rising, his embarrassment fueling his desire for retribution. How Chase could not see mounting danger was a mystery to Catrin. Perhaps he was simply caught up in his own thirst for revenge.

Master Edling concluded his lecture and dismissed the class curtly. Catrin was just glad to have the lesson over and tried to flow out with the rest of the crowd, but Master Edling barred her path.

"Miss Volker, I would have a word with you," he said, and he clearly did not wish to compliment her.

"Yes sir, Master Edling, sir," Catrin replied softly. "I'm sorry I was late, sir."

"I'll have no excuses from you. It is your responsibility to arrive before the appointed time. If you cannot do so, then I recommend you do not attend at all. Since you wasted my time at the beginning of class, it is only fair I waste your time now. Be seated," he said, and Catrin slumped into the chair nearest the door, anxiously waiting for her punishment to be concluded.

Interview With Brian Rathbone

--Why did you write this book?
A deep appreciation for the fantasy genre coupled with my life experiences and a bit of insomnia motivated me to tell the tale that had been growing in my mind for decades. Once I got started, there was nothing that could stop me.

--What was your favorite part?
There were many scenes that existed firmly and clearly in my mind long before I started writing, and getting to finally write them was a wonderful experience. I couldn't type fast enough.

--What was hardest to write?
The beginning. No doubt. That and the one-page synopsis that I can't seem to find anywhere...

--What do you hope folks will get from it?
I can only hope that those who read The Dawning of Power will come away with the same sense of satisfaction that I felt after reading books from authors such as David Eddings, Melanie Rawn, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman to name a few of my favorites.

--What's next for you?
Volkerhold: Book One of The Balance of Power trilogy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting by L. Diane Wolf

Break through your barriers with SPUNK!

Are you ready to break through the barriers obstructing your goals and move into a position of leadership? Then do so with SPUNK! Learn the steps required to overcome obstacles and become an effective and dynamic leader. The five Keys guide you through:

Developing a positive attitude
Learning people skills
Raising self-esteem
Overcoming fears
Setting goals

Joined by authors David Ambrose, p.m. terrell, Darlene Wofford, Jocelyn Andersen, Bob Johnson, C. Denise Sutton, and Bill Wilson, Wolfe’s “Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting” will energize your passion for life!

“Diane has given wisdom, understanding and honorable counsel in her book, Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! Such advice when embraced can not only set one free, but it can also lead to the path of life allowing you to be on your way to reaching your full potential. Let her words stir inspiration in your life.”
- Darien B. Cooper, author of “You Can Be the Wife of a Happy Husband”

“L. Diane Wolfe has written a terrific leadership book… The book is commended for those who need a devotional style approach to leadership. Who needs this book? Anyone who desires to strengthen their foundational knowledge of leadership.”
- Steven King, MBA, Armchair Interviews – Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Sites Winner

A professional speaker trained in a top motivation education system, Wolfe helps individuals develop passion, confidence, and an image of success. Known as “Spunk On A Stick”, the author resides in North Carolina with her husband and two cats. “With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Magic of Laven-Rock by Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak

The people of K'briadron lived an idyllic life.

Purple and blue magic created by the Jockspurs supplied their every need. That is, until the coming of the Lockstick.

Princess Kaylin Veronica and her cousin, Prince Theodore, escape the confines of their royal lives and set out to find the being who caused so many problems in their land.

Written by the author of The Wishing Flower, The Magic of Laven-Rock is a delightful fairy tale adventure where children learn that sharing is much better than fighting, and that people throughout the world are not so very different than themselves.

Title: The Magic of Laven-Rock
ISBN: 9780981777733
Author: Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak
Publisher: P.M. Moon Publishers, Limited

Interview with the Author:

What's your favorite part of the book?

My favorite part of The Magic of Laven-Rock is when Princess Kaylin gives her handkerchief to the "monster" and he begins to cry. The Lockstick stops being selfish and begins to view the world through the eyes of the princess.

What was the most challenging part to write?

I think the most challenging aspect was trying to determine just how scary to make the Lockstick without being too preachy. I didn't want to kill off the "monster". There is too much violence in this world as it is. I wanted him to change into a good person through an act of kindness.

How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Two things happened in a matter of days that gave me the idea for the story.

First, I watched a table of Kindergarteners argue over a box of crayons. The crayons did not to belong to any one child. I had placed a set of crayons on each table for the use of the respective groups. At this one table, the biggest child grabbed all the crayons and would not allow any of the other children to have access. Of course I intervened, but when I talked to him, his response was overwhelming to me. He said, "I don't want to share. No one ever shares with me."

The second thing that happened was that as I watched a news broadcast, there was a piece on the Bush Administrations plan to remove key protection for wildlife in our National Forest System. Somehow, these two events coalesced in my thinking, and the story was born.

What do you hope kids will get from reading your book?

I want the children to understand the one can talk through their problems. The peoples of the earth are more alike than dissimilar. We can work together to share our resources and solve our problems.

What's next for you?

I am currently writing a teachers' curriculum manual to accompany The Magic of Laven-Rock, however, Rajah and the Big Blue Ball is my next release. It is due to be released on or about the 15th of March 2009. I am under contract for five more Rajah stories, These are fun stories with a real-live dog as the protagonist. In each book, Rajah has to find the solution to a problem. In the first one, Rajah as to confront something that scares him. He has to look at the unknown.

Thank you for inviting me to be on your tour, and for allowing me to share my books with your audience.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

CSFF Presents: Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow by the Miller Brothers

Strange visions...hideous monsters...startling revelations... Hunter Brown never expected a summer like this, and it’s only getting started! After one of his infamous pranks backfires, Hunter unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient book and key. Little does he know the mysterious book is a gateway to Solandria, a supernatural realm held captive by the Shadow. In Solandria, Hunter joins forces with the Codebearers, a band of highly trained warriors who form the Resistance to the Shadow. But before he can complete his training in the ways of the Code of Life, Hunter is sent on a mission far more dangerous than he ever bargained for. Now with his life in peril and the future of Solandria hanging in the balance, Hunter is headed for a showdown with the Shadow and a battle to save his soul from a fate worse than death! Is Hunter’s knowledge of the Code deep enough to uncover the secret of the Shadow, or will the truth be more than he can bear?

Visit the Miller Brothers’ Web site - or the Miller Brothers’ blog -

For more information, view the CSFF Tour Participants’ Links:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Review of The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs


Ancient portals. Myth and magic. What if the old legends were true?

After the death of their mother, teen brothers Hadyn and Ewan Barlow must adjust to a depressing new life. But when a secret viking runestone opens the door to a world in peril, they are given a choice: join the battle or never find their way home.

In the Hidden Lands of Karac Tor, names are being stolen. Darkness spreads. As strange new powers awaken within, will the Barlows reluctantly answer the call to fight? Or will they succumb to Nemesia’s dark spell and join the Lost...forever.


Although it was toured earlier
as Christian fiction, The Book of Names is a good book for teens who are into fantasy. Hayden and Ewan are believable and interesting characters that I think boys will identify with especially. I particularly liked how they did not forget who they were just because they were magically transported to another world. (For example, you'll find slang, teenage sarcasm, references to television, etc.) The action starts slowly, but picks up toward the middle. An interesting mix of theology and mythology. I'll be passing it onto my fantasy-loving son.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem by Karina L. Fabian

We have the cover art, so May I present to you....


…."Wisdom of the Ages, Knowledge of Eternity, and I end up a babysitter at the Smart Humans' Convention."--Vern

Here's what some folks have said already. (Vern is preening.)

Magic, Mensa & Mayhem
, made me laugh, everything from quiet chuckles to outright snorts. MM&M brought to mind Craig Shaw Gardnerʼs humorous Tales of Wuntvor, with its phraselong Elvish names and clash of magical races, each with its own culture and quirks that would make a UN official tear out his or her hair... There are enough puns to elicit groans from even the sternest critic. A quick read and an enjoyable one.
Jody Lynn Nye, author of An Unexpected Apprentice and co-author of the Myth-Adventures series.

Religion and humor suffuse this well-imagined and densely plotted comedic mystery, based on a short story of the same title. Cursed by St. George to serve the Faerie Catholic Church, dragon detective Vern now sleuths in the mundane world. His latest (unpaid) assignment is to babysit a group of faeries attending a Mensa meeting. Vern quickly has his claws full juggling crises, from invisible brownies to two elves whose rivalry threatens to become interdimensional war. Distinctly memorable and occasionally silly supporting characters, from Brunhilde the Valkyrie to Native American trickster Coyote, steer the action. While the conclusion sticks perilously close to genre formula and the narrative is jumpy throughout, most readers will forgive the clichés (and Vern’s groan-worthy puns) and chuckle all the way through. Publisher's Weekly

Order it at Swimming Kangaroo!

To celebrate, Karina will be posting something about the book, from interviews to memories about its creation, on her blog

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem Tour Begins with How Vern Came to Be

To celebrate the publication of Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, I am having MM&M Mondays through April. Order Magic, Mensa and Mayhem through Swimming Kangaroo Books.

They say there are no new stories--just new ways of telling the same story. I found this irritatingly true when I was trying to come up with a new dragon story for an anthology called Firestorm of Dragons.

I don't know why, but I felt determined to get into this anthology from DragonMoon, so one afternoon, I cornered my husband and demanded he brainstorm with me. Rob has a brilliant mind; plus, as a cadet, he read every science fiction and fantasy novel in the Air Force Academy library and had been struggling to keep up ever since. If someone had popularized a particular take on dragons, I trusted him to know it.

He did, too. No matter what idea I came up with--from the dragon as a victim to dragon in human form, he remembered someone who'd done it before. After a frustrating half hour of "How about...?" and "Been done," we called a break to go watch TV with the kids.

Our favorite show at the time was Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, a comedy improve, where comedians do skits. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles have a noir schtick that pokes fun at those movies of hard-boiled PIs of the 40s and 50s. As we sat on the couch laughing, I realized I could write comedy noir--with a dragon! Rob hadn't heard of one, so from there, I started mining the cliché's.

Wrong side of the tracks: Let's put him on the wrong side of the Interdimensional Gap.

Disrespected by authority, unable/unwilling to get an "honest" job: The Gap recently happened, and the two universes don't trust each other. People in the mundane universe especially don't trust a real dragons. One thing's for sure--the US isnt' giving him a Green Card.

Chip on his shoulder: What better for a dragon than a bad run-in with St. George. Of course, our St. George killed dragons, so I decided to twist that. Faerie dragons, I decided, can't die, so George would have to find some other way to inconvenience/incapacitate him. I decided to make Holy Mages, and George put a spell on Vern: he took away all his dragon glory--size, strength, flight, magic, fire--then told him he could earn it back by serving sentient beings under the direction of the Church. (I had no idea then how important this idea would be to the DragonEye, PI, universe.)

From there, I added a damsel in distress, a romantic lead, a diabolical plot, and got "Dragon Eye, PI."

"Dragon Eye, PI" appeared in Firestorm of Dragons--much to my joy!--and I had the opportunity to see how others treated the theme of "dragons." I was floored by the imagination of my fellow contributors.

And I'm so very grateful to editors Michelle Acker and Kirk Dougal, and Gwen Gades, publisher of DragonMoon. I could not have done it without you!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem by Karina Fabian

We have the cover art, so May I present to you....


…."Wisdom of the Ages, Knowledge of Eternity, and I end up a babysitter at the Smart Humans' Convention."--Vern

Here's what some folks have said already. (Vern is preening.)

Magic, Mensa & Mayhem
, made me laugh, everything from quiet chuckles to outright snorts. MM&M brought to mind Craig Shaw Gardnerʼs humorous Tales of Wuntvor, with its phraselong Elvish names and clash of magical races, each with its own culture and quirks that would make a UN official tear out his or her hair... There are enough puns to elicit groans from even the sternest critic. A quick read and an enjoyable one.
Jody Lynn Nye, author of An Unexpected Apprentice and co-author of the Myth-Adventures series.

Religion and humor suffuse this well-imagined and densely plotted comedic mystery, based on a short story of the same title. Cursed by St. George to serve the Faerie Catholic Church, dragon detective Vern now sleuths in the mundane world. His latest (unpaid) assignment is to babysit a group of faeries attending a Mensa meeting. Vern quickly has his claws full juggling crises, from invisible brownies to two elves whose rivalry threatens to become interdimensional war. Distinctly memorable and occasionally silly supporting characters, from Brunhilde the Valkyrie to Native American trickster Coyote, steer the action. While the conclusion sticks perilously close to genre formula and the narrative is jumpy throughout, most readers will forgive the clichés (and Vern’s groan-worthy puns) and chuckle all the way through. Publisher's Weekly

Order it at Swimming Kangaroo!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Eretzel by William McGrath


The story continues where Asulon, the first book in The Sword of Fire
series, left off. The travelers: Prince Daniel of Asulon, the grim
swordmaster Moor, the traveling priest and wise man Simon and princess
Rachel of Eretzel have escaped from the evil Antiochus, Emperor of
Unicornia and slayer of Anak, last of the Earthbound angels.
They sail for Eretzel, the land where East meets West and where the
nations of the earth will gather for war. Also aboard the ship are the
Anakim, the giant sons of Anak. They have sworn vengeance upon the
murderer of their father. But can a being who has slain an angel be
killed by mere giants?

Eretzel sits at the crossroads of the earth, between the merchants of
the West, the warriors of the North, the vast and hungry populations
of the East and the gold-rich lands of the South. Antiochus desires to
rule the world and his path to conquest runs through Eretzel.

Visit William's website, The Sword of Fire.

For more information, check out the following this week: