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The Stolen Herd by K. Madill – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]Title:  The Stolen Herd
Author: K. Madill
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1482640023
ISBN-13: 978-1482640021
Kindle:B00GBQ9V8O

Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O

About the book:

Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

First Chapter:It was a pale spring morning when a green butterfly failed to save the Alsvid herd. The wind, brisk in the early hour, carried the small creature in its swiftly flowing current. The sun had not quite risen but lit the edges of the world, colouring the sky a still and sullen grey. The butterfly, whose name was Gideon, pulled out of the rigid breeze and swirled down to the empty field below. Landing on a fat coneflower, he hungrily searched for food. An inky black bat swooped and darted behind him.

Gideon took a deep gulp of nectar and then shook his head sadly. He turned to the bat that had landed softly next to him.

“Well, Arkas,” he said gloomily. “I tried.”

Arkas nodded sympathetically and dug around the flower bed, as if he hoped to find something tasty.

“I should have put an arrow through Arion’s heart,” said Gideon, plucking half-heartedly at a petal. “His…and the rest of the horses. They’re all are as good as dead now, anyway.”

Arkas chirped in agreement then scrounged up a strawberry and stuffed it in his mouth. He had begun rooting around for more when a rumble of thunder shook the sky. The ground began to quiver and the trees that lined the meadow swayed wildly from a sudden, howling wind.

“They’re coming!” yelled Gideon over a sharp crack of lightning. “Let’s go, we have to find Daleth and Mareva.” He dove into the air and sped away while Arkas flapped closely behind.

 

* * *

 

Mareva awoke with a jolt. Her mate, Hengist, flicked one gray ear at her movement but did not wake. The cave was quiet in the early morning. The queen mare took a deep breath. The tangy smell of smoke reached her nose and lit her senses with an uneasy spark.

She shook her chestnut coat and stepped carefully through the sleeping horses of her herd to the entrance of their cave. Looking out, she faced a long stretch of white sand and deep green sea. As she listened to the rush of the surf, her instinct began to nag in slow whispers. She listened closely, and then crept out of the cave. A cold wind whirled around her, bending the flowers and tearing the leaves from the trees. Shielding herself behind a gnarly oak, she peeked down a worn path to a clearing where several figures were gathered. 

Are those humans?” she asked herself, drawing a deep breath. “Yes…that is the smell of man, but…it’s different somehow.” She inhaled again. Her nose picked up the scent of unfamiliar horses—a dusty smell that didn’t match the burnt-grass odour of her herd, the Harena. She moved closer for a better look, jumping when thunder crashed closely overhead. A storm was coming.

“Do you smell that?” asked a voice from behind. Her younger sister, Daleth, a golden mare with amber eyes and a pearly mane, had followed her. “That is the stench of man and his fire.”

“It doesn’t smell like a regular man,” Mareva said with a puzzled frown. “And that fire is black—that’s not a normal flame. There is something else… a strange scent I would not associate with humans.”

Daleth studied the clearing through narrowed eyes. She flared her nostrils, testing the air for herself.

“You are right, Queen Sister,” she agreed. “It smells like an animal that has lain dead in the sun. It is the Rakhana Army, the Silver City’s most dreadful pick of soldiers, led by that reprobate, General Caucus. That’s him there, the tallest one. I’ve tasted that scent before.” She pushed her sister with her muzzle. “We should wake the others and hide further in the cave.”

“Not yet,” said the queen, for her instinct had begun to whisper again, telling her to wait… or she would miss it. “Miss what?” she thought as watched a terrible scene unfold in front of her.

The Rakhana had caught a herd of horses, trapping the terrified animals in a ring of black fire. With fat whips, the men lashed any horse that tried to dash out of the blaze. General Caucus, his face hidden by a glinting silver mask, had cornered the herd’s king. The stallion reared and struck, but the man quickly leapt out of the way and jabbed the horse with a long stick. A jet of blue flame stunned the creature and he crumpled to the ground. Men swarmed the horse, tightly pulling ropes around his thrashing form. The general attacked the stallion’s mate with bolts from his weapon until she too collapsed, only with a loud ‘snap.’ He stood over the mare and watched her flail on the hard ground.

“Oh, no,” Daleth whispered in horror. “Her leg is broken.”

General Caucus pulled a small, silver ball from his cloak and aimed it at the wailing mare, who scrambled to get to her feet. A thunderous boom rang across the field and the mare was still. He kicked at her limp form and then strode away to where the stallion lay struggling against the ropes. Mareva strained her ears and fought to pick up what the man was saying, but his words were lost under the stallion’s furious whinnies. The sisters huddled miserably together.

The moon still cast its faint light across the land as Gideon and Arkas reached the beaches.

“What pretty green wings,” said Daleth dryly, spotting the butterfly who landed at her side. Arkas squealed and flapped over to Daleth. He nuzzled the large horse affectionately.

“Daleth,” Gideon said breathlessly. “It is good to see you, old friend; you too, Mareva.”

“Never mind that,” said Daleth impatiently. “What are you doing here, Forest Man? You’re only a lucky charm for humans. Anytime I see you, it usually means trouble.” She tossed her head warningly at him.

“Gideon, what is going on down there?” asked Mareva anxiously. “Who is that herd?”

“It’s the Alsvid. That fool, King Arion, came here to make a deal with Queen Asura. She wanted animal Bonds with his herd for her soldiers of the Rakhana. In exchange, she promised them immortality.”

“What?” Daleth shrieked. “Immortality…has he been bitten by a rabid fox? How ridiculous!”

“I thought the Alsvid were dead against Bonding,” Mareva murmured.

“So did I,” answered Gideon. “But her falsehoods fed his large ego. He actually believes his herd legends about being created for the Gods and he was lured by the lies of Asura and that wizard of hers.”

“Oh, don’t tell me that scoundrel of a magic maker, Dazra, is still hanging around and stinking up the castle?” Daleth hissed. “Why he and Asura weren’t beheaded for killing their human king is beyond anything I’ve ever…”

“They weren’t beheaded because they rule the Silver City now, in his place,” Gideon interrupted. “Most people still believe their lies about him dying in a riding accident. An accident while atop your back.”

“Hmpf,” Daleth snorted. “So, they’re still up to their two favourite pastimes, trickery and untruths, are they? I see nothing has changed since I left.”

“It’s gotten worse,” Gideon answered grimly.

“Did you not tell Arion what that so called “queen” has been doing to the animals in the Silver City?” Daleth asked bitterly.

“Of course I told him,” came the reply, followed by a soft pop.

Where a butterfly had been only moments before, stood a tall, lean man. He had a bony face lit by fierce, green eyes. His long hair was the colour of tree bark and he wore a green cloak that brushed the tall grass. Arkas flew up and roosted on his shoulder.

“You’re getting old, Gideon,” said Daleth, studying the lines on his face.

“If Arion was coming to make a deal with the queen, then why are the Rakhana rounding them up?” asked Mareva quietly.

“Because she had no intention of giving them immortality,” Gideon said angrily. “She just plans on turning them all into warhorses. I came to warn him that it was the army coming to meet him, not her, but he didn’t believe me. What a fool.” He watched the soldiers with an expression that was both miserable and furious.
“Oh, no,” Mareva whispered, “the entire Alsvid—finished.”

“Not quite,” said Gideon turning to her. “I managed to do one thing right today and that’s where you two come in.”

“What do you mean?” Daleth asked.

“I took his foal.”
“Good heavens, you did what?” gasped Mareva.

“I took him,” Gideon replied. “Like I said, Arion wouldn’t believe me when I told him the army was on its way. I stood there arguing with him as the minutes ticked by and with each one the Rakhana grew closer. So, I changed to my butterfly form and teased his foal into following me. He’s so young; there’s no way he could have made the journey from here all the way to the Silver City. The first time he tried to lay down to rest, the Rakhana would have just left him there…that or killed him.”

“Where is he?” Daleth asked.

“I hid him in that brush, just over there.” Gideon pointed to a clearing further up the edge of the forest.

“Oh, Gideon, his son…” Mareva whispered unbelievingly.

“He’s your son now,” said Gideon. “Mareva, I need you to keep him here at the beaches and raise him as your own.”
“Wait a minute, you mean you want us…?” Daleth began.

“Daleth,” interrupted Gideon, “I don’t trust anyone else to take him. There’s more to this and I don’t have time to…” he stopped short, as if taking a cue from the worried looks on their faces.

“There is a legend,” he said as the violent wind that whipped his hair, “about a man who rides a ‘white-eyed steed; Alsvid are the only horses to have white eyes, as far as I’ve seen. I must keep him safe. What if he is the horse from the myth?”

“A legend,” Mareva muttered. “But if the legend is about a man and men are rounding them up then wouldn’t—”

“No,” Gideon interrupted shortly. “I need you to trust me, Mareva. Now, tell no one he is here except for the Forest Council, do you understand me?”

Without waiting for their answer, he and Arkas disappeared in a rush of green smoke.

“Good old Gideon,” said Daleth with grudging affection. “Always running around sticking his nose in everyone’s business—turns out it was a good thing, this time.” She turned to Mareva. “You stay behind me and if I tell you to run, you do it, no matter what. Let’s go find that foal.”

Daleth quickly led her sister in the direction that Gideon had pointed. As they reached the small clearing, Mareva caught the fresh-morning scent that always accompanied a young horse. She pushed past Daleth and poked her face into a small hillock.

Huddled in the weeds was a small, shaggy foal. His coat was the deepest shade of midnight and his hooves were as black as coal. He would have looked like a perfectly ordinary horse if not for his white, glowing eyes that shone like two full moons in the dark morning. He looked up at Mareva’s looming figure and gave a surprised snort.

“Daleth, my goodness,” Mareva whispered in amazement. “Look at this!”

“Let me see him,” said Daleth, shoving Mareva aside. She eyed the odd shape on the colt’s flank—a white spiral, bordered with a scattering of tiny, silver spots. “There is his mark,” she muttered. “Alsvid, indeed; we should get him to the cave.” She stared back out at the Rakhana army.

The Alsvid had stopped fighting and were grouped miserably under a swollen storm cloud that had settled solely over them. Under a shroud of pounding rain, the soldiers bound the horses into a long line. The largest soldier led the limping king stallion to the front of the row and began dragging the horse away.

“That is not a fight we can win,” Mareva said warningly, after seeing the blazing look on Daleth’s face. “And if the Rakhana see you, you will be caught too. Come, Sister, we have to get this foal to safety.”

“Quickly now, little one,” Mareva whispered to the small horse. He shakily got to his feet and they rushed him to the trees outside their cave. Here, they looked him over.

“An Alsvid,” Daleth said wondrously. “I’ve never seen one before. Look at those strange eyes. Oh, how I hate leaving them to this. Now that the army has them, who knows what dreadful things fate has in store for them.”

The foal sank to his knees and laid down between the sisters. Mareva began to wash his coat with soft, gentle licks. Comforted by the queen horse’s affection, his strange eyes grew heavy, and with a deep sigh, he fell fast asleep.

“Look at that,” said Daleth quietly. “He’s settled right in already. How lucky for us too, what with no foals this year.” She swished her tail and gave the foal a small push with her nose.

“I worry about what Hengist will say.” Mareva said with a frown. “Bringing a strange male into the herd will seem like a challenge to him, don’t you think? He won’t like it at all.”

“Well, that’s too bad for Hengist, isn’t it?” Daleth answered, laying her ears back. “You are the Queen of the Harena herd and your stallion will do as you say, if he knows what’s good for him. Besides,” she added, “Gideon told us to take him and trust me—you do not want to go against his wishes.”

Seemingly satisfied with this reasoning, Mareva finished grooming the foal. “There you are,” she whispered. “You don’t need to worry; we are your herd now.”

“I wonder what his name is,” Daleth mused. “Gideon, that twit, he forgot to tell us.”

“Now, now,” chided Mareva. “Gideon might not have known it himself. This poor, little fellow; he must have one. I hate the thought of changing it on him.”

“Well, he can’t tell us what it is and we have to call him something,” Daleth said logically. “What should it be?”

“I don’t know,” answered Mareva as she got to her feet. “You’ve never had a foal. Would you like to name him?”

Daleth looked pleased. “Well,” she replied, licking her lips. “My Bonded human used to shout a very strange word just before he led his army and me into battle. I don’t know why he said it—it didn’t seem to have any effect on the enemy, but he did it every time. I always loved the sound of that word. To me, it meant victory.”

“What was it?” asked Mareva.

“He yelled, ‘Mandamus.’”

“Mandamus,” murmured the queen. “What does it mean?”

“He told me that it meant “we command,” in a very old human language, spoken before creatures decided to use the Common Words that we and the humans share now.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Mareva said with a frown. “That sounds dangerous to me, naming him after a human battle cry. It could bring all sorts of problems and we don’t want that for him.”

Daleth snorted. “Right, well if you think this little guy is going to go through this life without running into any problems, then guess again—no one gets off that easy. For starters, he is the last of the free Alsvid… I’d say his troubles have already begun.”

“‘We command,’” said Mareva thoughtfully. “Shouldn’t it be ‘I command’?”

“Absolutely not!” Daleth answered. “Who should be allowed to command on their own? You said I could pick what we call him; now, let’s name him.”

Mareva smiled at her sister’s stubbornness. “Mandamus,” Mareva said softly, touching the foal’s forehead with her muzzle. “By the Goddess Epona, we will call you Mandamus.  Mandamus of the Harena.”

The sisters stood over the sleeping foal and listened to the fading sounds of his herd being forced away. When the sun finally rose on that dreadful morning, the Alsvid and the army were gone.

About the author:

Karai MadillA chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away

a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

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Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Sandy Grave by Donna M. McDine – Win $50 B&N Gift Card

A Sandy Grave cover

Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook

PURCHASE AT:

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING: http://guardianangelpublishing.com/sandy-grave.htm

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sandy-Grave-Donna-M-McDine/dp/1616334541/

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sandy-grave-donna-m-mcdine/1118285403

The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had–especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

EXCERPT:

The lifeguards had their arms extended and attempted to move the crowd back. The tallest lifeguard said, “People, please stay back. The authorities will arrive to examine the whale to determine the cause of death within the hour. The whale must have died at sea and washed ashore.”

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzzVjJWd4hM

Donna McDine Headshot

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval RecipientPicture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. 

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email.

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Categories: Children's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Salvatore Barbera

Mary-Elizabeth-Spotless-Cow coverTitle: Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Author: Salvatore Barbera
Publisher: Sweetles Press (July 7, 2012)
Pages: 36
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985061111
ISBN-13: 978-0985061111

Buying Link:  AMAZON

The story of “Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow” takes us on the journey she travels to figure out how to get the cows at a new farm to like and accept her.

While she hopes to find friendship at her new home, instead she learns what it means to be different from everyone else. (Spotless!) Mary Elizabeth uses clever ideas and a sense of humor to help her on her quest for friends at the new farm.

This inspiring tale shows how perseverance in spite of obstacles, using a sound thought process to arrive at solutions and the importance of having fun, using humor and enjoying playtime can build friendships.

Book Excerpt:

Once upon a time……..there was a farm in Ohio with lots of Cows. They all had many spots to be proud of. One day a truck pulled into the farm. The back door opened and out came a new Cow. The other Cows were so excited to have a new friend!

But as the new Cow came out of the truck the other Cows looked on in shock!!! “Oh My!’’ ’’What on Earth?!”

It seems the new Cow, whose name was Mary Elizabeth, had no spots!

’’Where are your spots??!!’’ Demanded the Cow called Anna Belle. ’’I don’t have any spots. I was born spotless, you see.’’

Well, Anna Belle and the other Cows were horrified.

(Not mad, you had to be very careful about mad)

From now through December 31, 2013, you can purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99).

When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit http://www.sweetles.com/product/books/mary-elizabeth-the-spotless-cow-book/ for more information.

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Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures by Joe Sergi

Sky-Girl-Front-CoverTitle: Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures
Genre: Young Adult Superhero Fantasy Adventure
Author: Joe Sergi
Publisher: Martin Sisters Publishing (May 28, 2013)
Pages: 272
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1625530277
ISBN-13: 978-1625530271

Buying Link:  AMAZON

Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.

In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

Book Excerpt:

Jason turned toward the tunnel, watching with a mixture of fear and excitement as the figure emerged from it. DeDe had run up against several villains in her short career as Sky Girl, but this guy was the big one: Professor Z. He was the cream of the crop, the greatest at being the worst. After all, Professor Z was the villain that had beaten SkyBoy. Jason squinted as the villain stepped into the bank from the tunnel.

An overweight, masked teenager dressed in black spandex and a black cape exited the Z-Gate. The ill-fitting spandex failed to fully cover his mid-section, and his stained white undershirt poked through. The tunnel vanished as quickly as it had formed, causing the villain to trip over his cape and sprawl out on the bank floor. As the villain regained his footing and tried to stand, Jason noticed that the fiend’s cowl-like mask had shifted and sat askew, so that one eyehole was blocked.

“Aw, man!” exclaimed the villain.

Jason cleared his throat, and the teenager in spandex turned to look at him. He smiled as his eyes met the villain’s uncovered one. ”Um, hi. Are you a super villain?”

“Hi. And why, yes, I am,” he said as he readjusted his mask.

“You know, they never mention in the movies how hard it is to keep the mask on.”

Jason nodded knowingly as he remembered DeDe’s many complaints over the summer during their mask trials. “I know what you mean. You know, a little spirit gum will hold that thing right in place.”

“Really? Spirit gum? Like the circus guys use? I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.” The man smiled and then looked over at the wall.

“Well, okay then. Nice meeting you. I have, you know, villainous work to do.” He moved toward the vault.

Jason threw up his hands. “Wait!”

“Yeah, what?”

Jason stared at the overweight spandex-clad teen. “Um, you cannot just rob the bank.”

The villain stared at him. “I cannot? I mean, I can’t?”

Jason rolled his eyes. “Duh. First you have to announce your fiendish intentions and tell everyone your name.” Jason looked around the bank. Only the old woman remained.

The villain appeared to think for a moment. “Well, okay then. I guess there is some merit to that.” The villain took a deep breath and attempted to sound menacing as he spoke. “I’m Alex, and I’m here to rob this bank.”

Jason stared at him with an annoyed look.

“What?”

“Alex? Really?”

“What’s wrong with Alex?”

Jason glanced at his watch and hoped the police would be there soon. “It is a little plain. You want a name that invokes fear, like Professor Z, or Evil Brain, or Commander Chimp.”

Alex pursed his lips in thought. “I know—my mother always wanted me to be a doctor. So call me Doctor Doom!”

Jason shook his head from side to side. “That name is taken by a Marvel Comics villain. Trust me, you do not want them coming after you for infringement. They are owned by Disney now.”

“What about Doctor Destiny?”

“Nope. DC Comics.”

“Doctor Midnight?”

“No way.”

“Doctor Horrible?”

“Joss Whedon used that one. Neil Patrick Harris played him.”

“You mean that Doogie Howser kid?”

“Yeah.”

“I loved that show. How about Doctor Strange?”

“Marvel again.”

“Doctor Evil?”

“Oh, come on. You are not even trying now.”

The duo’s debate was cut short by the sound of sirens. Alex peered out the bank window. “Aw man, now the police are here. I didn’t even get to rob the bank.”

Jason smiled. “You had better go. You do not want to face them without a name.”

Alex, the nameless villain, pressed a button on his gauntlet and the tunnel reappeared. “Yeah, I don’t really have any weapons either.”

Jason chuckled. “Going back to your evil villain’s layer?”

Alex looked confused. “You mean my evil villain’s lair.” He stressed the last word. Jason pointed into the tunnel, and Alex read his spray-painted sign. “Darn it! You know, I thought I might have spelled that wrong.” Alex raced down the tunnel as the police broke into the bank. Jason watched as the glowing lights of the Z-Gate shrank away and vanished.

Jason threw up his hands as the police approached him. He could hear the security guard began to groan his way back to consciousness. “He is gone now. I do not think he took anything.” “Did he say who he was?” one of the officers asked.

Jason smiled. “Not really.”

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Virgin Mary in the Light of the Word of God by Dr. Labib Mikhail

Title: The Virgin Mary in the Light of the Word of God
Author: Dr. Labib Mikhail
Publisher: Nordskog Publishing
Publication Date: August 2010
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN: 978-0982707494
Genre: New Testament non-fiction

About The Virgin Mary in the Light of the Word of God

The Virgin Mary in the Light of the Word of God fills a tremendous need for a concise, elegant, Biblical treatment of Mary. Dr. Labib, as he is affectionately known, gives Mary her due full honor while fending off the many faith-damaging myths perpetuated about her.

For those not well acquainted with but interested in Christianity and its true historic beliefs, you will find a straight-forward declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel that leads to the eternal and abundant life our God always intended for mankind, through the saving and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ. For the committed Christian, you will find an edifying presentation of the true Gospel and of sound doctrine.

The book is a balanced and Biblical portrait of the Virgin Mary. It is a relevant study clarifying Mary’s role and significance.

About Dr. Labib Mikhail

Dr. Mikhail is a theologian, apologist, journalist, counselor, and television/radio, seminar, and evangelistic campaign speaker in the US and around the world.  Originally from Egypt, Dr. Mikhail is a former professor of homiletics, psychology, and journalism in Faith Mission Bible College in Cairo, where he founded and pastured churches for more than thirty years. You can read more about Dr. Mikhail  http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-virgin-mary-in-light-of-gospel.shtml.

Categories: Christian non-fiction, Non-Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Spotlight: Rast by Christopher Hoare

Title: Rast
Author: Christopher J. Hoare
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Publication Date: March 2011
Paperback: 269 pages
ISBN: 978-1-926931-43-2
Genre: High fantasy

In Rast, magic is not a convenient parlour trick, it’s a deadly force that takes no prisoners. Those who must wield it are doomed, for it never ceases to work within the mind and nerves until it destroys its master.

And now, the time of the interregnum is here; the reigning sorcerer king, the Drogar of Rast, is struggling for a last grasp on magic power while his heir, Prince Egon, must take up the deadly mantle. Egon is fearful but courageous in his duty. Not one peril threatens Rast, but many. 

While he struggles to tame the magic to his command the mechanistic Offrang adventurers arrive to seize the land for their empire. The Offrangs don’t just disbelieve in magic, they treat any attempt to discuss it with withering scorn. Then, when the Drogar falters, the North Folk sweep out in their multitudes to cover the land of Rast at the behest of their depraved Casket of Scrolls. Deepning too, a creature of earth magic in its mountain pools, stirs to gain power enough to conquer Rast.

The Prince’s sweetheart Jady does her best to support him, but she is not strong enough in the power of the lineage to bear him a magic wielding heir. She sets out to meet the caravansi of the cousin princess who is sent to be his consort with duty and anger both warring in her mind. The crisis will reveal surprising enemies, surprising friends, and as the Drogar tells Jady, “Even a Drogar may not see a future not yet determined.” While Egon goes west to spy on the Offrangs and Jady makes her way east, the oracle provided by the Pythian that lives in a cavern beneath the palace reveals, “You have no high point to see the scattered threads but must trust to those who grasp them.”

Everyone, enemy and friend, has a part to play in the preservation of Rast.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter Two
Jady pulled firmly on the reins, the tall pickaback reared to his full height and planted his aft-most claws tight into the root-born path. His long body flexed beneath her as three of his six legs pawed at the air. When his middle claws again touched the musty smelling moss she leaned forward to whisper words of an ancient language into his feather covered ears.

Pellad, Cerefrus. Dosar––let me dismount.”

The obedient animal bowed low his head to let the mail-clad maiden slip from the saddle to the forest floor.

She stood a moment, tall and slender in the shadowy forest, watching the flicking movements of her mount’s ears—noticing each glance of golden eyes into the overhanging branches. No single sound or sight held more than a momentary notice––then they were alone. The only other occupants of the small clearing lived in her memory.

Their mound occupied the center. The scavenger-chewed bones of a thousand Krachins decorated its surface, and at the summit sagged the bloodstained talisman of the Soulingas, the family of the first Soule. It hung tattered from its staff, waiting for an eldest son to reclaim and restore it to glory. An eldest son who may never be.

“I cannot help it, father,” she sobbed, falling to her knees before the tomb.

In her mind, he looked down at her and smiled. “I would not ask you to forsake the man you love…but your dreams are sterile.”

“I would receive him in shame––if that were the only way.”

“That can never be. You know he could not––and you deceive yourself if you think you would.”

“But Rast…without the Soulingas––?”

“Your brothers and I are patient with you, but––”

“I could never love another!”

“Have you given any other the leave to win you?”

She knelt silently for many minutes. “Am I making it hard for him?” she said, at length.

“You both know his duty.”

“And yet his father has never spoken harshly to me. Surely if the Drogar saw the error of it he would have ended my hopes.”

“Even the dead cannot see into the mind of a Drogar.”

She breathed in sharply. The thought of her Prince becoming a Drogar in his turn was frightening. Would his gentle glances become veils of ice-hard magic? Not Egon––surely not Egon!

“Do you know why the Drogar sends you at this time?”

“This time? What do you mean?”

“Your Grandfather, my father, saw omens in it.”

“He didn’t speak to me of what he saw.”

“A commission to Deepning is never given lightly.”

She opened her eyes wide to take in the evidence of the tomb. “Three times have I come. Five times if I count the journeys with you and my brothers.”

“But this time the Drogar’s words are stronger, his intent more given in detail.”

“I know not why.”

“Go, Daughter, be about your mission. We cold bones will delay you no longer, but we will ever hold your life to our charge. We will never take rest until you and a husband kneel here—until the son you shall make together can be prepared to take up our talisman.”

Without another word or backward glance she stood and walked to Cerefrus. He bent to allow her to mount. Continuing along the forest paths she rode until she could see the dark overhanging rocks of a mountain through the branches.

Here she dismounted again and set the pickaback loose in a forage dell until her return. She settled the bow of sinew, horn, and wood across her shoulders, tightened the coil of long dark hair beneath her leather helm and glided forward beneath the tangling branches into paths no mounted warrior could follow. Testing again the Vales of Deepning Pools she trembled slightly, shivered within her taught nerves. She stifled her misgivings and set out upon the mission.

The Drogar spoke of some future sons of Soule. Did he mean the words in truth, or were they mere bolsters for her courage?

She walked watchfully; stepped softly. No gentle forest animals stirred, no bird flew. The trees grew tall and twisted as if they had wrestled, each with the other, for every scrap of sunlight falling dappled into the forest. Jady knew the secrets of each. She smelled resin weeping from wounded bark, wooden tears seeping from the trunks where tree had flailed against tree in wind-borne combat. She knew the smells of every forest dweller, and feeling her soft leather boots sink to their moss covered roots, caressed them in her walking.

The Deepning Pools lay above her, in a hanging valley upon the edge of the mountain.

She bent her footsteps up through the slanting trees and followed a path made by the many feet of the only animals strong and fierce enough to live near the magic Vale—the sharptoothed Krarks. Broken branches told of the rough passages they forced with their segmented bodies. Here and there, a fallen tree lay torn in two by mighty claws. Jady reached to touch the crystal-tipped arrows at her waist, and plunged on up the path.

She walked more quickly for about a league. When she felt the magic singing—the distant hints of dangerous melody ringing in her ears—she stopped to take the gossamer net from her pack. Woven by a wraith of midnight sorcery, the heirloom was handed down from distant ancestors. It had shielded generations of warriors from the spells. Fierce, dark-haired men with arms like the roots of trees. Men who let fly the crystal tipped arrows from tempered bows of horn and wood. Brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers, descended in unbroken line until at last, the only watcher of the forest was this high-breasted maid—the last of the Soulingas. She carefully draped the shimmering silver over her head and wrapped its folds about her. Safe within the wispy filament from the sirens’ temptation, she stepped gently on, spells buzzing futilely against the gossamer shield as angry bees against the keeper’s net.

Few but the Soulingas could venture into the Vale of Deepning Pools. Even Drogar magic rarely clashed with the fey enchantry—except at a few intervals in the circle of time, force was blocked by force. Prince Egon knew where the Pools lay, but had never glimpsed their glowing, living liquid. Only the Krachins were drawn to the fetid swamps by their lust for sour smelling vapours. The Guardian of the Forest must mark their comings and goings, and when the moment was right thwart their fell intention. Thwart also the evil purpose of the Pool creature, whatever strange reality it might possess––and prevent it gaining living sacrifice.

Only flying crystal point could secure payment and account in such magical commerce.

About Christopher Hoare

Christopher Hoare lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. As a lad he lived, breathed, and dreamed aeroplanes, won a place at RAE Farnborough learning to engineer them, but found the reality didn’t fit the dream. Did a stint in the army and then away to Libya to join the oil circus. Flying objects only appear as tools when they now appear in his writing.

His stories never take place next door to the lives most people live; the less charitable find similarity in characters who tend to be stubborn, independent, and contrarian. Perhaps there’s a connection between the worlds he portrays in fiction, and his working life in oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada.

He has written stories set in Anglo-Saxon Britain, in modern industrial projects, in the alternate world of Gaia, and the fantasy world of Rast. Sometimes known to satirize jobs and organizations he knows. Likes to write central characters who are smart, beautiful, and dangerous women who lead their male counterparts to fulfill dangerous duties they’d rather avoid. Gisel Matah in the Iskander series is perhaps the most Bond-like of these, but Jady in Rast can match her in many aspects.

Visit his website at http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ to learn much more, and download the free novella “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship”. You can find his blog at http://trailowner.blogspot.com/

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Book Spotlight: BUYING TIME by Pamela Samuels Young

Buying Time Virtual Book Tour November and December’10

Title: Buying Time
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing (November 1, 2009)
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
ISBN: 098156271X
Genre: Legal Thriller

PURCHASE HERE!

Buying Time is a scandalous tale of blackmail, murder and betrayal, evoking John Grisham with a dash of Terry McMillan.

Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems.

In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Soon, a determined federal prosecutor is hot on Waverly’s trail. But when the prosecutor’s own life begins to unravel, she finds herself on the run—with Waverly at her side.

EXCERPT:
PROLOGUE

Veronika Myers tried to convince them, but no one would listen. Her suspicions, they said, were simply a byproduct of her grief.

Each time she broached the subject with her brother, Jason, he walked out of the room. Darlene, her best friend, suggested a girls’ night out with some heavy drinking. Aunt Flo urged her to spend more time in prayer.

Veronika knew she was wasting her time with this woman, too, but couldn’t help herself.

“My mother was murdered,” Veronika told the funeral home attendant. “But nobody believes it.”

The plump redhead with too much eye shadow glanced down at the papers on her desk, then looked up. “It says here that your mother died in the hospital. From brain cancer.”

“That’s not true,” Veronika snapped, her response a little too sharp and a tad too loud.

Yes, her mother had brain cancer, but she wasn’t on her deathbed. Not yet. They had just spent a long afternoon together, laughing and talking and watching All My Children. Veronika could not, and would not accept that the most important person in her life had suddenly died. She knew what everyone else refused to believe. Her mother had been murdered.

“Did they conduct an autopsy?” the woman asked.

Veronika sighed and looked away. There had been no autopsy because everyone dismissed her as a grief-stricken lunatic. When she reported the murder to the police, a disinterested cop dutifully took her statement, but she could tell that nothing would come of it. Without any solid evidence, she was wasting everyone’s time, including her own.

“No,” Veronika said. “There wasn’t an autopsy.”

The funeral home attendant smiled sympathetically.

Veronika let out a long, exasperated breath, overwhelmed by the futility of what she was trying to prove. “Never mind,” she said. “What else do you need me to sign?”

* * *
Later that night, Veronika lay in bed, drained from another marathon crying session. She rummaged through the nightstand, retrieved a bottle of sleeping pills and popped two into her mouth. She tried to swallow them dry, but her throat was too sore from all the crying.

Tears pooled in her eyes as she headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Don’t worry, Mama,” Veronika sniffed. “I won’t let them get away with it.”

Just as she reached the end of the hallway, a heavy gloved hand clamped down hard across her mouth as her arms were pinned behind her back. Panic instantly hurled her into action. Veronika tried to scream, but the big hand reduced her shriek to a mere muffle. She frantically kicked and wrestled and twisted her body, but her attacker’s grip would not yield.

When she felt her body being lifted off the ground and carried back down the hallway, she realized there were two of them and her terror level intensified. But so did her survival instinct. She continued to wildly swing her legs backward and forward, up and down, right and left, eventually striking what felt like a leg, then a stomach.

As they crossed the threshold of her bedroom, she heard a loud, painful moan that told her she had likely connected with the groin of one of her assailants.

“Cut it out!” said a husky, male voice. “Grab her legs!” he ordered his partner. “Hurry up!”

The men dumped her face down onto the bed, her arms still restrained behind her back. The big hand slipped from her mouth and Veronika’s first cry escaped, but was quickly muted when a much heavier hand gripped the back of her neck and pressed her face into the comforter.

Fearing her attackers were going to rape, then kill her, Veronika defiantly arched her back and tried to roll her body into a tight ball. At only 130 pounds, she was no physical match for her assailants. They easily overpowered her, forcing her back into a prone position. As one man sat on her upper legs, strapping her left arm to her side, the other man bent her right arm at the elbow and guided her hand up toward her forehead.

During the deepest period of her grief, Veronika had longed to join her mother. But now that she was face-to-face with the possibility of death, she fought valiantly for life.

That changed, however, the second Veronika felt something cold and hard connect with her right temple. She stiffened as one of the men grabbed her fingers and wrapped them around the butt of a gun. At that precise instant, Veronika knew with certainty that her suspicions were indeed fact. Her mother had been murdered and now the same killers had come to silence her before she could expose the truth. And just like her mother’s death, her own murder would go undetected, dismissed as the suicide of a grieving daughter. A conclusion no one would question.

As the man placed his hand on top of hers and prepared to pull the trigger, a miraculous, power-infused sensation snuffed out what was left of Veronika’s fear, causing her body to go limp. The heavy pounding of her heart slowed and she felt light enough to float away.

Completely relaxed now, Veronika closed her eyes, said a short prayer, and waited for a glorious reunion with her mother.

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Book Spotlight: THE STAFF OF RAHGORRA by Mark Oetjens

Title: The Staff of Rahgorra
Author: Mark Oetjens
Publisher: Conquer Publishing
Publication Date: June 15, 2010
Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN: 0984119205
Genre: Science Fiction

PURCHASE HERE!

Another time, another galaxy. The mysterious crime lord Thrull has aspirations beyond controlling the underworld in a single corner of the galaxy.  Thrull wants to bring the galaxy under one rule and build a legitimate Galactic Empire.  For years he has been training an army of his followers and building his own private Armada.  But he knows he must also find the Staff of Rahgorra, a weapon of mythic power. To keep Thrull from finding the Staff the Galactic Security Bureau, peacekeepers of the galaxy, has pressed back into service a banished agent.  Chameleon Del Rey was expelled from the GSB for avenging the death of a friend and for practicing the forbidden art of Jai Kin.  Now he must train a young apprentice to use Jai Kin and find the Staff of Rahgorra before Thrull does in order to avoid a war that will stretch across the galaxy.

Excerpt

Thrull did not react as a side door of the observation lounge hissed open. He continued to watch the shuttle’s approach as the sound of boots striking the cool marble floor echoed through the lounge. His visitor finally came to a halt two meters behind and just to the left of him. After more than a minute, when the shuttle had almost reached the landing bay’s magnetic doors, he glanced up to see Tok’s reflection in the glass.

“You have news for me,” he said gruffly. It was not a question.

Tok seemed to stiffen his posture. “We just received word that the transport has arrived,” Tok said.

Thrull nodded. “Has the rest of the trap been set?” he asked. This he phrased as a question.

“Yes, Sire,” he said. “Linu contacted us an hour ago. She and the Talon should be here within the hour.”

Thrull turned to face Tok. “Good,” he said. “Tell her I want to see her as soon as she gets here.”

“Certainly, Sire.”

Thrull paused, looking the young man up and down. Hard to believe it was almost fifteen years ago that he had first taken them under his wing. Tok had been the youngest, only nine. He taught them everything he knew. They became his family, his thirty children. And now, after just fifteen years, he had gone from a mysterious upstart with a band of teenaged commandos to the verge of taking over the galaxy. “Would you please escort our guest up here. I’ll be in to see him shortly.”

“Yes, Sire,” Tok said, but Thrull was already halfway to a second side door.

“Ironically, I don’t read a lot of science fiction, so I couldn’t compare it to another book. I’m more of a sci-fi movie and TV buff. I guess The Staff of Rahgorra is sort of a mixture of Indiana Jones and Star wars.”

— Mark Oetjens

Mark Oetjens was born in 1971. He grew up in suburban Chicago. As a child he was diagnosed with Dystonia, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder. Though there is no cure for Dystonia, surgeries and rehabilitation allowed him to walk with only a slight limp by the time he started high school. He received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Anthropology, both from Northern Illinois University. As an adult a brain tumor, completely unrelated to his Dystonia, threatened to disable him a second time. Thanks to radiation therapy the tumor has disappeared.  Mark currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Mark’s latest book is the science fiction novel, The Staff of Rahgorra.

You can visit his website at www.conquerpublishing.com.

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Book Spotlight: WIG BEGONE by Robert Seymour

Title: Wig Begone
Author: Robert Seymour (aka Charles Courtley)
Publisher: Matador/Troubador
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
Paperback: 248 pages
ISBN: 1848761732
Genre: Humorous Fiction

PURCHASE HERE!

Charles, a newly qualified lawyer without a penny to his name, plunges into the archaic world of the Bar as it was thirty-five years ago. After a stroke of beginners’ luck – and a taste of good living – he soon becomes established in practice battling away in the criminal courts, conducting court-martials in Germany and on one horrifying occasion actually appearing in a commercial court, “winding up ” companies of which he knows nothing! He encounters a wide range of clients including an Italian motorist charged with assault, who claims to have been savagely attacked by an elderly lollipop man wielding his road sign. On top of that, there are instructing solicitors who never pay him and even one who has departed this world altogether yet still manages to operate on a shadowy basis from the vicinity of Bow Road in East London. Court-martials take Charles abroad where he encounters a German policeman’s dog whose canine expertise is deemed to be perfectly sound evidence and samples a night out on the other side of the infamous Berlin wall just making it back to the safety of the West. Wig Begone is an exhilarating tale of Charles’ early career with disaster often lurking round the corner and culminating in his own appearance in front of England’s most notorious judge!

Excerpt

‘Charles Courtley,’ declared the Treasurer of Galahad’s Inn, eighteen months before.  ‘You are hereby called to the Bar of England and Wales.’

That was it.  Finally, I had achieved my dream and become a barrister.  True, it had taken me some years to pass the exams but I had made it at last!  Now for the formal dinner in the grand surroundings of Hall and then the last bus home – I reckoned I had just about enough money on me for that.

Frankly, Andrea and I were still very hard up.  Married for three years, we were living in a dingy basement flat in Peckham; all we could afford.  Not only was it damp all the year round and freezing cold in winter but constant electrical shorts often announced themselves with a loud bang.  It was also miles away from the nearest tube.

The call ceremony took place in 1972 and I was about to eat the last dinner in Hall reuqired of me.  These twelve compulsory events were regarded as being equally important to passing the exams.  Nonetheless, it felt good to sit down at the hhigh table in Hall that night as a barrister and not a student.  For the first time, I wore my brand new bar robe over the pin-striped trousers and black jacket which would be my uniform from now in.  The fact that these items were bought second-hand from Moss Bros. worried me not at all.

“Even if one person only in 50 years time, were to read a copy of my book,long discarded but now rediscovered in somebody’s attic, I would be rewarded enough.”

— Robert Seymour

Robert Seymour, (under the pseudonym of Charles Courtley) is a retired judge who lives on the English coast with his wife, Jane, of 38 years, and a small dog called Phoebe.

He is the author of Wig Begone, a tale of a young barrister’s triumphs and tragedies. As well as adapting his novel into a screenplay and writing a sequel, he contributes to legal newsletters and blogs.

Find him online at http://courtleyprocedures.wordpress.com.

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Book Spotlight: TOTO’S TALE by K.D. Hays & Meg Weidman

Title: Toto’s Tale
Author: K.D. Hays & Meg Weidman
Publisher: Zumaya Thresholds
Publication Date: August 25, 2010
Paperback: 248 pages
ISBN: 1936144611
Genre: Children’s Middle Grade Fiction

PURCHASE HERE!

Toto the terrier and his pet girl Dorothy have their world turned upside down by a cyclone that rips their house from ground and spins it into the land of Oz. In this strange place, cats grow way bigger than they should and they speak the same language as Dorothy. So now Dorothy spends her time talking to a giant cat, a walking scarecrow, and a hollow man made of metal.

The five of them follow a brick road to see the Great Lizard who is supposed to give them something. Although Toto is hoping for a pork chop, he will settle for a trip back to Kansas. But when they reach the Great Lizard (who turns out to be a big human head), instead of helping them, he sends them out to kill a witch.

Toto enables them to survive attacks by killer bees and mad wolves, but the annoying monkeys with wings prove too much even for him, and the monkeys are able to carry him and Dorothy to the witch’s castle.

Once there, he realizes the witch is after the shoes that Dorothy picked up when they first landed in Oz. He also realizes that the witch can be destroyed with water. It becomes a race to see if the witch can trick Dorothy into giving up the shoes before Toto figures out how to melt her.

But even if he destroys the witch, they still have to figure out how to get home…

Excerpt

I’d smelled fear on the humans all morning, and the
stink was really getting on my nerves. I mean, we all
knew a windstorm was coming, and it was going to be
rough; but the humans didn’t have anything to worry
about. They’d just go down into The Hole and wait till
it was all over.
It was the chickens who should have been worried.
Their house was so flimsy it was likely to take off
and fly away in the next windstorm. But chickens are
too stupid to think about these things, so they weren’t
worried yet. Meanwhile, Auntem gave off enough
worry scent to cover every living thing in the entire
state of Kansas, and as I said, the smell was pretty
annoying.
So, yeah, I knew I wasn’t supposed to chase the
chickens, but I couldn’t help myself. When those lamebrained
layers started bragging about which one of
them could fly fastest, I decided to let them prove it.
I took off after Eggy, baring my teeth like I was
going to rip all the feathers out of her tail. It felt
really good to run. It also felt good to get some revenge
on the chickens. Ever since yesterday, when the
nasty old neighbor tried to stab me with a pitchfork
just for digging a little hole in her garden, everyone
here had teased me for running home with my tail
between my legs. They would have done the same
thing—it was a big sharp pitchfork, and the neighbor
is as mean as a wet cat.
The chickens, in particular, had acted like I was
the only one who had ever shown fear in the history of
forever. Now I decided I’d put a little fear in the
chickens so they could demonstrate why their name
means being a coward.
“Squahhhhh!” Eggy yelled as she ran across the
farmyard with me right on her tail. “That giant rodent
is going to eat me!” Her big fat feathered body
bounced ridiculously from side to side as she dashed
around on long spindly legs.
“I thought you could fly,” I barked. “And you know
I’m not a rodent.” I chased her into a corner between
the water trough and the barn.
“I can’t fly in this wind, you fool,” she squawked.
“Excuses, excuses.” I got ready to pounce on her,
but she turned fast and hopped out of the way. Then
she ran straight for the henhouse.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” I muttered as I shot after her.
She would have to pay for that rodent remark.
The other animals always make rude comments
about my size, but I think they’re just jealous because
I get to sleep in the house with the people. I’m small,
yeah, but I’m a lot bigger than a rat. And I have a
much nicer tail.
“He’s coming this—squaaah!—way,” one of the
other chickens shrieked.
They had been pecking in the yard, trying to eat
up all the loose bits of corn before they were blown
away by the storm coming across the plains. Now, instead
of eating, they scrambled frantically to get away
from me, squawking and flapping and looking about
as ruffled as they could possibly get. I loved it. I ran in
circles, snapping occasionally to keep them moving.
Then I saw one obnoxious old hen who had pecked
at Dorothy’s ankle last week. I really did want to bite
her. So, I opened my mouth extra-wide and headed
straight for her big fat chicken butt.
“Toto!”
I had to stop when I heard that voice. It was Dorothy,
my pet girl.
“Stop something chickens, Toto,” she said.
With her flat face and small mouth, she can’t
really talk properly, but I still love her. Auntem and
Unclehenry, the other people, are always making her
work when what she really wants to do is roam the
fields with me, chasing grasshoppers and digging for
shiny beetles. She needs me to protect her from work.
If you do too much work, you end up dull and sad like
Auntem, or pinched and mean like the mean neighbor
with the pitchfork.
I want to protect my girl and keep her just the
way she is. I love everything about my Dorothy, from
the smell of her shoes to her sloppy habit of throwing
things everywhere. She throws a stick or ball, and I
have to go pick it up for her. Then, instead of putting
it away, she just throws it someplace else, and I have
to pick it up again. It makes no sense at all, and
sometimes I get tired of cleaning up after her. Still, I
love her, and I’ll do anything she asks.
When I know what she’s asking, that is. I have to
pay attention really hard to understand human
speech, and usually, I don’t bother
Right now, though, even if she didn’t use many
real words, I could pretty much tell what she wanted
me to do just from the tone of her voice and the way
she looked at me, as if she wanted to tie me up like a
shock of wheat and throw me into the barn loft. She
was annoyed, and I could smell a little anger on her,
too. But underneath it all, there seemed to be more
fear than anything else.
Fear of the storm, probably.
With one last look at the fat old hen, I turned and
trotted over to Dorothy. I wagged my tail and hoped
she would pet me for a minute and that I could help
her forget her fears about the increasing wind and the
dark clouds growing like mountains in the sky. Maybe
she would also forget I’d been trying to scare the
chickens and that I’d chewed on one of her shoes this
morning before breakfast. She would forget it all, and
we’d just…
It didn’t happen.
She looked at me for a bit, like maybe she was
going to pet me, but when she bent down, it was just
so she could tuck a loose flap of leather back into her
shoe. That piece of leather is always coming loose and
tripping her, so she really should let me chew it off for
her, but whenever I try, someone always stops me.
“Dorothy!” Auntem barked as she stepped out of
the back door of the house, “Something up something
chickens.”
She can’t talk any better than Dorothy. They
practice a lot—it seems like they’re always barking
about something—but their language is so different
it’s difficult to translate into real words.
Anyway, I guess Auntem had just told Dorothy to
round up the hens, because that’s what she did. She
ran around waving her arms, herding them all into
the henhouse. I could have helped, but somehow I
didn’t think she wanted me to run around after them
again.
So, instead, I trotted over to the barn to watch
Unclehenry bring the cows and the horses inside. He
was having a hard time holding the door open because
the wind blew it closed. He kept turning to look over
his shoulder, as if there were a monster behind him.
But it was just dark clouds and grass bent low under
the weight of the coming storm. The wind moaned
almost like a voice as it gusted along the eaves of the
barn.
That sound made me shiver, and I had to admit I
couldn’t wait until it was time to go into The Hole.
The Hole is, well, a hole—dug out under the
house—and since the house is very small, The Hole is
even smaller. It’s not much bigger than the ones I dig
out in the yard to bury my pork chop bones. But it’s
deep and smells of worms and roots, a rich aroma that
reminds me of underwear. It’s a damp, comforting
place much more interesting than the hard dry
ground above. So, I never mind the wind and storms,
because I know they mean a visit to The Hole.
With a loud thud, Unclehenry slammed the barn
door shut and started toward the house with a lantern
and pail of water. Maybe it was time already! I hurried
to get Dorothy so we could go down into The Hole
together.
I couldn’t find her. The henhouse was closed up
tight and sounded and smelled full of hens. I could tell
Dorothy wasn’t in there. She couldn’t have gone into
the barn, or I would have seen her. So, she must be in
the people house. I pushed through the hole in the
screen door, ran inside and headed straight for the
door in the kitchen floor, expecting to see she was on
her way down into The Hole.
She wasn’t.


Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Toto’s Tale?

Kate: I started writing fiction seriously in 1999 when Meg was a little over a year old. I finally had an idea for a book I thought I could finish! The first draft took about two years, written mostly at night when Meg and her brother were asleep. As the kids got older, it became easier to find time to write for a while, but now everyone’s schedules are so busy that it’s just as difficult to make time for writing as it was when they were small. I’ve written five historical novels and two contemporary mysteries – the historicals under my name, Kate Dolan, and the contemporaries under the pseudonym K.D. Hays. Toto’s Tale is my eighth book and my first children’s book. It’s also my first book with a partner.

Meg: It’s my first book, period.

About the Authors

K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.

Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.

You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.

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