Friday, July 29, 2011

How I Almost Got Killed by a Cute Guy

Missing, Assumed Dead
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

Marva Dasef
Twitter Handle: @Gurina

MuseItUp Buy Link:
MuseItUp Author page:
Book Trailer:

Win prizes with your comments! Free ebook to one commenter, and a grand prize of ebooks, a printed book, and a $10 gift certificate for the MuseItUp Bookstore.  See this page for details.

* * *

I'm Kameron McBride. Call me Kam.

When I earned my degree in Computer Science, and got my first job as a systems analyst at a major software company in Seattle, I figured all I had to do is keep my eyes peeled for Mr. Right. Not that I was in any rush to get married, but I didn't want to miss something good while I was busy building my career.

Just one minor little detail. Well, make that two. Dad died. That just about killed me. He was always my best bud. Mom and I soldiered on, though. Then Mom started feeling bad, really weak. The doctor diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis. She got treatments, but MS doesn't have a cure. So she got weaker and weaker until she couldn't walk around anymore. She went from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair. But she kept herself busy with geneaology. I don't see the appeal myself, but it makes her happy.

Any thoughts of even getting a date went out the door. Don't get me wrong. I love my mom and don't resent a single second of the time I spend taking care of her. After all, she took care of me and sacrificed a lot to get me through college.

Then I got the letter. Talk about weird. Some guy I'd never heard of disappeared seven years ago, and he was declared dead. Strange enough, but even stranger, I was named as the executor of his estate.

I wanted to shuck it off, but Mom told me the man was related to my father. Seventh cousin, twice removed or something like that. She said I had to go. She wanted anything having to do with the family, you know, photos, birth records, stuff like that.

So there I was, driving through the gawdawful foresaken wilds of eastern Oregon, trying to find some bump in the road town called Rosewood. Of course, I got lost. Who wouldn't? Every chunk of scraggly sagebrush looks like the next and they don't seem big on road signs.

Lucky for me, a Deputy Sheriff found me sitting out in the middle of nowhere. We had a minor little disagreement at first. He wanted to shoot me. But I forgave him for that when I looked into those baby blues. Ahem. Right. Anyway, here's a brief description and excerpt.

Back Cover:

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.


The sky had turned a deeper blue as the sun continued its trip behind the mountain ridge. The shadows lengthened on the east side of the scraggly shrubs. The faint hum of a car engine drew her eyes southward. “Good, I could use some directions.” But she was alone on an otherwise empty road. Maybe the approaching vehicle held a friendly soul, but it could just as well carry a serial killer.

Using her shirttail as a hot pad, she gingerly took hold of the door handle again and climbed back into the car. Goose bumps rose on her arms when the still blasting air conditioning hit them. She turned on the emergency flashers then opened the glove box, looking for something to use as a weapon. “Ah ha!” Kam pulled out a two-inch canister. “Pepper spray? Crap, just hair spray, but that shit burns eyes. Better than nothing.” She tucked it between her right thigh and the console to hide it from view, her finger ready on the button.

The vehicle grew larger and revealed itself to be a Ford Expedition SUV painted Oregon green. The lights on its roof flashed blue and red for a moment then went off. “A cop. Excellent.” On the other hand, she’d heard of guys who decked out their rides to look like cop cars.

The SUV pulled up behind her and stopped. After a long pause, the door opened. A man in khaki climbed out and walked forward. He stopped behind the car and wrote something, probably the plate number, on a pad. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but the rest of him looked pretty good. Tall. Well, maybe not too tall. Slim and dark, just how Kam liked them. Watching him approach, she wondered idly how he managed to keep the razor-sharp creases in his uniform in this heat.

When he reached her side window, he gestured for her to roll it down. Kam cracked the window a couple of inches. She noted the badge and the Smokey Bear hat. “I don’t think I was speeding, Officer.”

The man chuckled, showing fine smile lines at the corners of his full mouth. He had great teeth. “No, you weren’t, but I wondered if you might be lost. A lot of people get themselves turned around out here.”

Kam gave him a rueful grin. “Yeah, lost isn’t the half of it. I’m looking for Cork Hill Road.” She hoped he was the real deal, but she sure as hell wasn’t opening her door. Tin badges were easy to buy on eBay.

“License and rental agreement?”

“Sure.” She opened the center console and pulled out the papers with her left hand, then shoved the rental agreement through the two-inch opening. She couldn’t figure out how to extract her license out of her purse without letting go of the spray.

“Your license?”

“Why don’t you just direct me to Cork Hill, or if that’s too hard, how about Rosewood.”

“I’d be happy to, miss, but I really do need to see your license. Paperwork, you understand.”

Kam released a deep breath breath. She stretched her arm across her body trying to reach her purse on the other seat. She grabbed the strap and pulled it toward her. It slipped out of her left hand. She automatically lifted her right to grab it. “Shit!”

Instantly, the officer’s manner changed. The smile disappeared, and he took a step back, pulling his gun from his left-handed holster. “Drop the canister out the window,” he ordered. “Do it now.”

Kam squeaked and threw her hands up. The canister flipped out of her hand and flew at the windshield. It bounced back and landed in her lap. “Now what?”

“Pick it up and push it out the window. Slowly.”

“You already said that.” She picked up the spray with two fingers and dropped it out the window. “Hey, I don’t know if you’re a real policeman. Anyone can play cops and robbers.”

“Please step out of the car. Use only your left hand to unlatch the door and keep your right hand where I can see it.” The barrel of his pistol never wavered from her torso.

“Take it easy. I’m opening the door.” He stood outside the reach of the door’s swing. Kam decided she’d rather fight outside the car, than be shot inside it. She got out with her hands still raised.

“Now move to the rear of the vehicle,” he ordered. When Kam obeyed, he took a step forward, never taking his eyes off her, knelt, and picked up the canister. Straightening, he glanced down at the canister then back to her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he re-holstered his pistol. “Sorry, but…hairspray?” He took off the aviators and smiled.

* * *
Bio of the author: 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 and a few more scheduled for 2011 and 2012 from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.

The Witches of Galdorheim Series (Beginning October 2011)
Bad Spelling: A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Midnight Oil: Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Scotch Broom: A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Past and A Future, Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction




This year, I released my collection of fantasy and soft science fiction stories, which are suitable for both young adults and adults.  Many of these stories were previously published in genre magazines, both print and online.  A good friend of mine suggested putting these together and publishing them in a print edition.  I reread all of my stories and decided which ones I wanted to put into the collection.  I tried to include the ones which I most enjoyed reading. I also wrote a couple brand new stories to include.  

As a reader, I enjoy fantasy above all else, however, I also enjoy reading soft non-technological science fiction.  When I put the collection together, I decided to include stories from both of these genres.  When writing fantasy, it’s important to create a story which is believable, even while being unreal.  The reader has to be able to think what you’re writing could happen.  They have to be able to suspend their disbelief long enough to be pulled into the story.  

The same is true when writing science fiction.  I am not a science person.  I don’t understand quantum physics, but I do understand people and relationships. When I write my science fiction, I place my characters in a place and time in the future. I write stories not about space craft but about how people will interact with each other. These are the stories in my collection.  I hope you are intrigued and would like to purchase a copy for yourself at 

FLIGHT OF THE ROC – Lona is a budding sorceress, but her tutor isn’t too impressed with her skills.  When he sends her off to collect a roc’s egg, she finds herself in a heap of trouble.  Part of the trouble begins when she meets handsome, young Tom.  Tom agrees to help her collect the egg, but disaster strikes when the egg hatches.  Will Lona chose the roc or Tom?

BLURRED VENGEANCE – Vain and aggressive, Temur ignores the warnings of his dream vision, as he seeks vengeance for his father’s death.  With his friend and confidant, Jamthrak, Temur rides across the steppes toward town.  On the way, unforeseen events cause him to lose focus.  He regains his strength and continues on.  Once in town, he meets Bota, a buxom woman unlike those of his village. He arranges to bring her back with him to be his first wife. Then, using his skills of magick, stealth, and cunning, he tracks down his father’s murderer.  He completes his task, but encounters yet another young woman, Mira…this one a slave.  He saves her, but in doing so, causes strife between Bota, Mira, and Jamthrak.  He should not have ignored his dead father’s warnings.

WHO WILL HEAL THE HEALER – Niane, a young sorceress, is aware of her elderly mentor’s feelings for her, but she cannot return them.  She trusts to the Moon Goddess to guide her and Marzan, her mentor, to train her as the next court sorceress.   Yet something, deep, dark and disturbing has taken a part of Marzan.  Can she save herself and her mentor when the powers of darkness threaten?

ASHLEY OF ASHLAND – Ashley is the younger son of Brandon, Duke of Ashland.  His older brother, Gerand, has been betrothed to the lovely Princess Thalia since birth.  Unfortunately, Ashley loves Thalia and she him.  Gerand is a womanizer and a brute. When they devise a plan to run away, Ashley and Thalia encounter obstacles and terrors, not the least of which is pursuit by Gerand and the king’s troops. Will the plain, younger brother win the hand of the fair princess or be executed as a traitor?

THE WATCHER – Zerelda lives in a land of women.  Her job is to watch for the young men who come to impregnate her Lady.  As a child, she has a vision wherein she meets and loves a young man.  Knowing this not allowed to her, she believes her vision is false.  Yet when the man of her vision appears, she is torn.  No one has ever told her she is beautiful.  No one has ever told her of life outside her community of women.  Yet, Prince Ulric does all this and more. Will he cause her to become a betrayer of all she holds dear?  Can she be saved?

ENCHANTRESS – When Merlin meets young Viviane, a priestess of Avalon, he knows she will be his downfall, but he cannot ignore the pull of love she holds over him.  Using his own magick, he tricks her into lying with him during the festival of Beltane.  Once she has lost her virginity, they approach Morgaine for permission to be together.  They set out traveling, and as Merlin teaches Viviane more and more magic, he realizes the love he holds for her will destroy him, yet he cannot deny it.  Will Merlin come to his senses before he is lost forever?

DRAKONI – Torn from her modern day world and thrust into a world of dragons, evil magicians, and handsome elves, will Farah succeed or die trying?  In her own world, she is a successful zookeeper working with lizards, but once a freak accident propels her into the land of Draknoll, she finds herself in a field, lost and alone, until Josef, an elf, aids her.  With his help, they set off to his village. On the way there, the evil magician, Cor, attacks them and kidnaps Farah.  Dragged before the king, she must defend herself and prove she is not who they think she is—a Dragon Woman.  Of course, when Drakoni, a great bronze dragon, comes to her rescue, she, herself, begins to doubt who she is.  Fortunately, Josef is there to help her embrace not only her new life but her new love, as well.

HESHE- Lyda’s stepfather sells her to the highest bidder after her mother dies, leaving her no choice but to flee her captors. To survive, she hides, disguised as a young man. Unfortunately, this disguise backfires when she meets the handsome, talented Garwen, who also has a secret to hide.  Will the young noble woman tell her benefactor who she is, or will her pursuers capture her and take her back into slavery?

THE BABY MAKERS – In a world where cloning is possible, Reese and his wife, Akira take the chance to have a child they could never have on their own.  Unfortunately in their part of the world, the government does not recognize these children as citizens.  After the baby is born, Reese and Akira go through the necessary steps to acquire their new child.  One of these procedures turns Akira into a robot who will do anything to keep Reese away from the baby. Loving both his wife and child, Reese has to make a decision to keep their family safe and intact.  Will he make the right one?

3-D PICTURES – Avery sees people in 3-D pictures.  The government thinks he is crazy and sends him to a shrink.  As he waits in the doctor’s office, the 3-D picture in front of him comes alive.  Suddenly a beautiful, petite woman appears perched on his lap. She tells him of his destiny and his heritage. Elvina and her people have been waiting for him for many years.  Will he go with her through the picture, or allow himself to be “cured?”

SCREEN SAVER – Clancy works for an agent, Shianna, who represents the freaks of the world.  With all the nuclear fallout, the agency is thriving.  Clancy, however, longs to leave his world and travel the stars. The computer program arrives as a demo, promising instant transport.  When all hell breaks out at the office, will it be Clancy’s ticket to survival or a rip-off which brings him to destruction?

ISOLATION- The world as we know it is gone.  The rich are isolated from the dying poor.  Rader and Caryn are fed up with living in isolation, away from fresh air and real food. Rumors abound of places where people can still live.  When they meet by accident, they decide to make a break for it.  Unfortunately, outside their isolated living quarters, disease, for which they have no immunities, runs rampant.  Their mutual attraction and determination keep them going despite the many hazards they face outside the walls. Will Caryn and Rader make the right decisions when they search for freedom?

LOVE IN A DIFFERENT HUE – Chiri and her husband are not on the best of terms. He married her for her connections.  Her father is a leader in the robotics field.  By marrying Chiri, Tevon was guaranteed a partnership in a very lucrative business.  Shunned by her husband, Chiri becomes intrigued by her father’s latest creation, Devro. What would you do if a blue-skinned robot wanted to protect and love you?  Chiri isn’t sure until he takes her in his arms.

DOWN SO LOW, THE GROUND LOOKS LIKE UP – Sylvan is a telepathic empath and is hired by a mining company to help them ferret out swindlers. Unfortunately, something on her new world made her talents go ballistic. She drinks herself into oblivion to compensate for her psi talents.  When Deveneaux finds her, he’s attracted, but he is also on a mission to find his dead brother’s daughter.  Can Deveneaux save her from her demons, or will he lock her up for propositioning an officer of the law?

REBELS WITH A CAUSE – Shayleena is tired of living her life through holovision.  She wants a real life with real people. When she sees an ad for volunteers to help with juvenile offenders, she signs up.  She not only finds meaning in her life, but a connection to real people, including Bradon, a visual artist with a dream.  Together, they hope to find a future for themselves and for the young people who’ve been thrown away by society.

CLOCKWORKS – John lives in Structured.  His ancestors came from Upheaval, a country where time means nothing. He decides to take a trip—learn about his history and see Upheaval for himself. What will he do when he tries to trace his roots and finds his structured life is now in chaos? 

You can learn more about me and my other work at

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover?

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

My name is C.K. Volnek, Author and Story Teller. My first MG book, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND will be available September 1, 2011. Yay! It’s a tween ghost story, with some chilling Native American folklore thrown in, and based on a true mystery that has never been solved, the mystery of the Lost Colony. In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace. Many have speculated on what happened to them, but no one knows for sure.
That is until twelve-year-old Jack Dahlgren moved to Roanoke Island. He’s not exactly happy about leaving the only home he ever knew in Ohio to move into his great-grandmother’s creepy beach house. Then he discovers his side of the island is haunted by a terrible evil beast. No wonder the local kids steer clear of him.
It’s up to Jack to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family. 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 this beast is and where it came from. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, Jack will uncover why the evil haunts his island, but can he destroy it … before it destroys him?
And what did happen to the Lost Colony? Guess you’ll just have to read my book, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND to find out.
But that’s enough about my book. You’re all here to find out the importance of a Cover…here we go:

How important is the cover art of a book?

This question was posed recently in my Authors’ group. I found the responses very interesting. For these writers and readers, a cover was an important draw. A good cover sets mood and tone as well as just looks good. Some people loved photographs. Others art. Some bright colors, others dark. It was unanimous overall though, that it depended upon the topic of the book and what the reader is in search of.

I found a wonderful quote regarding covers from

According to a Times Online article, the story you slaved over for years, and then waited two years for it to be published and hit the shelves, has about the same time it takes to sneeze once or twice to make an impression. The article, You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover, points out that “Studies show that a book on a three-for-two table has about one and a half seconds to catch a reader’s eye. If it is picked up, it is on average glanced at for only three to four seconds. ”

I decided to test it out for myself. Was the cover of a book that important to me? Was I really one of the visually fickle of today?

So, standing in front of the multitude of book at a local book store, I glanced up and down the rows and tables. I was pleased when I found I could pass by the cover art if the title jumped out and grabbed me. I looked again. When this happened, it was generally if there wasn’t much cover art to be had. I guess to my visual eye, the title was then the cover art. Sigh… I guess it still boils down to the visual grabbing me first.

So, yes…I actually did fall into that fickle visual majority when in a book store. If I see something appealing, I give it a second look. At second glance, I’ll read the title and if I like that, I’ll move onto the blurb. Sometimes I’ll move into the first page, but most times, if I’m intrigued enough by the blurb, I expect the rest of the book to do the same.

How about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?

(Mind you, this test was based strictly on window shopping. I have found I can pass by the cover if I’ve already read a review or blurb of the book. If my interest had been captured beforehand, I was already on the lookout for the book.)

Thanks for stopping by!

C.K. Volnek

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are We There Yet?

When I was a kid (fourth of five), we used to take these long road trips for vacation. Dad would pack us in the car at O-Dark-Thirty in the morning and head on out. And let me tell you, driving to South Dakota from Indiana is a long, long road.
So anyway, we'd get an hour out of the driveway, and the questions would start (everything takes longer when you're a kid, let's admit it): "Are we almost there yet? How much longer? When do we stop? I have to go!" And after Mom got tired, us kids would start in.

The reason I'm sharing this is because the most often question I get, from writers and potential fans alike, is, "How long did it take you to write your novel?" That, and its brother variant "How long should it take to write my novel?" It's the literary equivalent of "Are we there yet?"

I think the biggest mistake young writers make (and I'm certainly no exception) is impatience. They get an idea in their head that a novel should only take three weeks to write, and then get frustrated when the rough takes several months. They get it in their head that they're running out of steam, and next thing they know their novel is gathering e-dust in their hard drive, or moldering in a notebook under their bed, untouched for months or maybe years. What an injustice to one's talent, leaving a project unfinished like that.

I've only published two novels, and I'm working on my fifth manuscript right now. The first MS took four years to write. I confess, the second one remains unfinished in its infancy. The third MS turned out to be my first published work. The rough draft took fifty-five days to write, and the edits took about another year and a half, if it was worked continuously. As it was, I'd edit it, then submit it to a few places. After every five or so rejections, I'd edit it one more time, weed out more adverbs, correct more errors, change some of the prose, find a better line here, flesh out that concept there, and so on. As it was, the editing/marketing stage took another three years. That was Becoming NADIA.

The next project took about a year and a half to write the rough and edit, using tools I'd picked up from the critique process. These times I'm giving you do not take into account the final editing stages, working with my team of professional editors. This is just the blank-page to ready-to-submit process.

What you want to do as a writer is slow down and take your time. You're taking my mind (as a reader) on a journey, whether it's a journey of three blocks or a thousand miles. If you make each scene a revelation, show me something new, make me open my eyes just a little wider, and look at a situation from a different angle, all on the route to South Dakota, you'll keep me from asking, "Are we there yet?" And I can tell you one thing for certain: If you're asking it to yourself, you can bet I'm asking it when I read it.

Plan where you're ending your story, then, whether you’re a Planner or a Pantser. At least know where you're going. Then you'll know for sure when you get there, and the trip won't have felt like it was dragging on.
'Cause, brother or sister, the trip takes as long as the trip takes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Writing Sequels

By YA fantasy author Andrea Buginsky

I never would have imagined that writing a sequel could be harder than writing the first book. I figured once you wrote your first book, it was all downhill from there. Boy, was I wrong! I learned a lot about writing working on the second book in “The Chosen” series:

1) Keep Lists: if you’re going to write a series, you have to keep lists of your characters and their attributes, the places your characters frequent in the stories, the bad guys, a timeline of events, and anything else that will carry from book to book in the series. The last thing you want is to change a character trait or event date that you had in book one to something totally different in book three. You WILL have readers who notice.

2) Draw a map: If your stories are involved in a world unlike ours, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by drawing some kind of map to remind you of where everything is. Even if you can’t draw, put together some kind of map/grid showing you where everything in your story is. Make a list of the different areas, towns, villages, etc., and where they’re located. Again, this will help you keep track of where the different areas are from book to book.

3) As you continue to write more books in the series, you may start to run out of ideas. Keep a list of ideas for new adventures your heroes can go on, and add to it any time you think of another one. You can even use ideas you receive from your fans. If you receive fan mail with questions about why they haven’t done this, or why don’t they do this, add it to the list! The fan who had the idea will be flattered when he or she sees their idea in print.

4) Remember to write little “reminders” of previous adventures in the newer books, especially in the second and third ones. Newer readers may not have read the first or even the second book in your series yet, and you’ll want them to understand what’s going on. It will also entice them to go back and read the entire adventure in your earlier books.

5) When you start a story-within-the-story, be sure to continue it throughout the series. You may wish to make notes about the events to remind you of them, so you’ll be sure to include them in future books.

These are just some suggestions to help you keep track of the different attributes of your book. You may want to start a notebook or journal to help you keep track of everything. As you continue to write more books in your series, you’ll begin to remember most of these attributes without having to look at your notes. But they’ll be a great reminder of all of the hard work you did to create your babies, and a treasure you’ll want to keep always.

Andrea Buginsky is the author of "The Chosen," available from Solstice Publishing.