Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Fantasy – The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by D.Wallace Peach

Sally Cronin kindly gave The Ferryman and the Sea Witch a bit of a boost today on her blog. And she shared a review of the Unraveling the Veil series by Geoff LePard, who can’t help but make me laugh. If you have a minute, head over and browse Sally’s wonderful blog. ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by D.Wallace Peach..a stand alone fantasy The Ferryman and the Sea Witch

About the book

The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.

The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.

Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home…

View original post 520 more words

The Ferryman and the Sea Witch: Release Day!

It’s a big day, the completion of months of writing and all the tasks that go along with bringing a story to life. The muses are satisfied, the sun is shining with the promise of spring, and the mermaids are singing their enchantments.

To all my blogging and reading friends, thank you from the tips of my toes to the ends of my fingers. Your enthusiasm and spirit of friendship make all the months of toil worthwhile. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

(On sale for the month of June)

Blurb

The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.

The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.

Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. The Ferryman alone can undertake the exchange.

Yet, animosities are far from assuaged. While Brid Clarion’s islands bask in prosperity, Haf Killick, a floating city of derelict ships, rots and rusts and sinks into the reefs. Its ruler has other designs.

And the sea witch crafts dark bargains with all sides.

Callum is caught in the breach, with a long-held bargain of his own which, once discovered, will shatter this life.

Trailer

Prolog

The hemp net hung from the boom above the waves. Within its lattice of pinched knots, the slender merrow baked in the heated air. She had ceased her struggle while the sun tilted up and shadows pooled on the deck. Her graceful tail with its angelfish fins dangled from the end of her confinement. Beyond the reach of her fingers, swells rose and fell. Taunting, seductive. Rhythmic as they sloshed against the hull.

Gulls shrilled in circles above the ship.

Like a storm-torn sail, the tip of the merrow’s tangled hair dipped into the sea with each crest, shed droplets with each trough. The creature wept for her kind, for the sea breathing beneath her, a thin and desolate sound. The mournful plea filled Callum’s young head, overwhelmed the clamor of merriment arising from the Brid Clarion officers who’d captured her in their mesh.

“We should free her.” Callum drew his fish-knife. “She’s dying. They’re killing her.”

 “I spoke my mind, boy.” The brig’s captain laid a firm hold on Callum’s scrawny shoulder. “Put away the blade. It’s not our place to chart the course of another man’s conscience.”

Callum bit off a retort certain to earn him a scolding. The captain had treated him kindly, hired him on as a cabin boy, and freed him from the oily bilges of Haf Killick. By the graybeard’s good grace, Callum earned a wage. At fourteen years, he scoffed down oranges dripping with sticky juice and learned a skill that would save him from ever returning to the bowels of the relic city.

He held tight to a hundred reasons not to endanger the ship or her crew, not to interfere with the amusement of those who served in the king’s war. Well-heeled officers bantered and drank gin at the bow. How could they plug their ears to the keening cries? Pretend her torment didn’t matter?

The merrow’s sorrow twisted Callum’s stomach. The unbearable lament dredged up memories of his mother’s death in a bleak hold and his helplessness to ease her suffering.

He ducked out of the grizzled man’s grip and hauled a bucket of water from the sea. Below him, the merrow’s copper scales baked and bristled into gray flakes. They fluttered to the surface like shed petals. He splashed the water along the length of her body and tossed the bucket into the waves for more. It wouldn’t be enough. Only the sea held the power to save her.

 He drew the bucket up by its line. Movement between the swells snapped him upright, and he shielded his eyes from the sun. “Captain, the merrow are coming.”

The old man fumbled for his spyglass and pressed it to his eye. “The sea witch.” He slapped the device into Callum’s hand. “Watch her.”

“Cut away the net,” Callum pleaded. “It’s not too late.”

“You may get your wish,” the captain said over his shoulder. He strode across the deck to the admiral’s celebration.

Callum focused the spyglass on the witch. Blood drained from his face, and his mouth turned dry as sand. She swam through the wind-scoured waves, the spines of her fins slicing the water. Her tail undulated like a serpent. White-lipped rage hollowed her cheeks and sharpened the angles of her face. Nictating membranes hooded her unnatural black eyes against the sunlight’s shimmer. Three merrow trailed in her wake, their voices weaving into a ghostly dirge.

And with them came the wind. A strange amassing and curving of clouds rose out of nowhere. The sky bloomed with a greenish glow, drenching the brig in the eerie twilight foretelling a storm.

Callum clung to the rigging as the Brid Clarion officers pulled pistols from their belts. With frantic intensity, they shared a powder horn, loaded their lead, and rammed it tight. The captain pleaded his case with wringing hands, but they brushed him aside. The men marched to the gunwale, sighted along their barrels, and fired.

Lightning flashed in reply. The approaching merrow plunged beneath the waves. Callum yelled his warning, “Captain, they’re diving.”

The captain swore. He climbed to the helm and bellowed orders as Callum searched the waves, the spyglass forgotten. The sea witch’s silver tail slashed through the swelling brine like the stroke of a knife. Fins rippled along her body in a feverish dance. She disappeared beneath the hull.

Callum froze with the crew and officers, silent, waiting, the seconds unspooling like a weaver’s thread. A harsh scraping sound cut into the bow. It raked across the keel to the stern, sparing neither the flowery anemones nor sea-greens that clung to the ship’s belly.

Chaos erupted. Jacks shouted in panic as water sprayed into the hold. The captain’s orders to plug the leaks competed with the admiral’s demand for more gunpowder.

The sea witch breached the waves. She grasped the net and sliced it with a coral blade. A hail of shot littered the sea. Iron rounds speared the water. They thudded into the merrow dying in the net.

A fierce scream of grief and fury shrilled from the witch. Callum caught his breath as she slashed at the net. The sky’s whirling cauldron mirrored the turbulence in his belly. Behind her, the waves bloated. A wall of water mounded in the distance and raced toward the ship like a winter gale. Lightning flashed with a sharp crack. The echoing rumble shook the deck.

“I’m cutting her free,” Callum yelled at the storm. Fish-knife in his grip, he climbed the bulwark. Wind battered his body. He hung onto the rigging and leaned over the water. His knife swiped at the net. Once, twice. The monstrous wave curled and crashed. Another slice. Lines frayed and snapped. The net splashed into the sea.

A mountain of white froth roared into him. He crashed to the deck, tumbled, and pounded into a mast. Pain burst in his ankle. His reserve of breath blew from his lungs. The watery world tipped and rolled. Sparks flared in his eyes as something smashed his face. From every direction, the groan and crack of the wreck assaulted his ears. He kicked against the hull, chasing his bubbles. A sail trapped him beneath the surface like an iron lid. Lungs on fire, he grasped a tangle of rigging and, hand over hand, hauled himself to the sail’s frayed hem.

Mouth open, he burst to the surface of the littered sea for a desperate breath. Something gripped his ankle. A male merrow with jet hair streaming behind him drew Callum down like an anchor. Callum pried at the pale fingers grinding his bones.

Shattered wood rained around him with gear and cargo. Air bubbles ascended in pearly strands. Above him, sails wallowed as desperate men grappled for flotsam, and bodies sank like ghosts torn from their white shrouds.

Callum gave up the fight, the merrow’s grip unforgiving. The sea grew muted and green. From the gloom, the sea witch bared her teeth, tail sweeping the water like a silk fan. Behind her, three merrow bore the sun-bleached body of their kin down to rest among the coral for the crabs to pick clean.

Vengeance burned in the witch’s inky eyes. Blood red hair, woven with seaweed, billowed around her head like a dusky cloud. “Drown them all,” she said, her unspoken command bursting in his head.

Merrow swam from the Deep, both male and female, beautiful and deadly. Jacks flailed and kicked, breathed water, and bucked. Coral blades flashed, clouding the water. Sharks ghosted in to feed. As Callum’s vision faded, a hazy shape materialized in the gloom, his ship descending into the fathomless Deep as if riding on a slanted sea.

Drowsiness coiled around him. Consciousness slipped away.

And he inhaled.

Air rushed into his lungs. Someone embraced him, a mouth on his. His eyes snapped open. He jerked away. The merrow clutched his head in her palms and yanked him back into the horrific kiss. He held her by the upper arms, at once pushing her away and craving her breath.

“Breathe,” she said inside his head, her melodious voice a softly curling tide. Without a sound passing between them, he heard her command as clear as a ship’s bell.

He gulped air, pulling it from her body as if his lungs would never draw enough. His thundering heart slowed.

“Why?” he asked, the word unspoken.

She responded with a sense of confusion.

“Why help me?”

She backed away, hair swirling with the blue luminescence of a jellyfish. High cheekbones cast shadows on her pale cheeks. She studied him with eyes like black shells, and her full lips thinned into a stern line as if to hide their softness.

Her ambivalence pulsed into his mind. Gossamer tentacles swirled from the end of her tail like a frilly gown, and her opalescent scales shifted colors in the thin light. Three pink gills on either side of her ribs rippled with the water’s movement. “You aided my sister.”

Her loss swept over him, along with his need for a breath. As though she sensed his desperation, her lips met his in a gentle, open-mouthed kiss. His first true kiss and bound to mark the strangest of his life, if not his last. Her tail pulsed against his legs as they rose. He surrendered to her control, no longer fighting the strange undulation of her body.

When they broke the surface, she pushed him away, flipped her tail, and dove. He threw his head back and inhaled the wind into his lungs. The storm had passed. Clouds peeled back to reveal an empty sea but for the brig’s debris bobbing in the tranquil waves. He swam to a raft of floating dunnage and hung on. “Ahoy!”

No reply.

He hadn’t drowned, but breath didn’t guarantee survival. The ship had anchored at the edge of the Deep, leagues and leagues from either Brid Clarion or Haf Killick, far enough that he’d perish long before he paddled the distance.

The sea stirred as a menacing shape slithered through the scattered flotsam. Callum drew up his legs, the presence of sharks fresh in his memory. The sea witch surfaced. Urchin’s spines fanned from her temples and forehead in a prickly crown. Muscle threaded her arms, her body slim but bold-boned, skin drawn tight across her cheeks and throat. Her hair glimmered with pearls and beads of abalone, bewitching if not for the malevolence in her hooded eyes.

“Naris tells me you are worth saving,” she said, her voice low and full of sea whispers. She swam in a languid circle around him. “What do they call you?”

“Callum, my lady.”

The sea witch twitched a smile, revealing a row of sharp teeth. “You may call me Panmar.” She rolled onto her back with the slipperiness of an eel. Her fins and tail carved the waves, sparkling in the sun’s glare. “You cut my daughter free, but you delayed. You lacked courage. She died for your cowardice.”

The witch’s daughter? Callum’s fingers dug into the makeshift raft. He nodded but held his tongue. No words of remorse could justify or erase the truth, and his face burned with shame.

The sea witch sank beneath the waves and surfaced beside him, so close he tasted life and death on her breath. “I offer you a bargain, mortal. Accept or drown.”

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Phew! That was a long post. Thanks so much for reading and the kindness of your visit!

A Haiku Muse

My blogger friend Brad over at Writing to Freedom is having a birthday today. If you haven’t visited Brad’s blog, you’re in for a treat. He takes beautiful photos and writes poetry (often haiku) to complement them.

He invited his followers and their muses to stop by. My usual muses are negotiating with a necromancer and outsmarting reapers, so I contacted a muse escort service and this is who they sent:

A haiku muse

I didn’t know there were haiku muses, but apparently, they’re everywhere. Just check your backyard or local park. My diminutive muse flitted around the garden while I packed a picnic. She wanted to show me a place called Silver Falls.

Happy Birthday, Brad. My little muse and I wrote these for you!

hidden glades of light

sift through mottled canopies

a glimpse of magic

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fiddleheads unfurl

green curlicues and whimsy

crowning last year’s fronds

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boughs of emerald lace

spring’s parasols catch the light

fragrant in the sun

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old stumps die and thrive

nurse a woodland’s nascent growth

life cycles entwined

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silver waterfalls

glittering with frothy light

rainbow in the mist

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Happy Birthday to Brad from the land of big trees!

May Book Reviews

Summer is Coming (or Winter)! Time for some reading!

Summer is always a busy time of year here in the Pacific Northwest. The rain stops and we all spill outside. My husband and I named our deck “vacation.” So every afternoon we go outside on “vacation” to read.

May book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of a lot of poetry, two installments of a serial fantasy, a fallen angel fantasy, a thriller, and a prequel to a new mystery. I hope you enjoy them.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen Chesebro

This book is a must-have for writers of syllabic poetry. Chesebro has the experience and credentials to have crafted this easy to follow and detailed look at twelve forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry, as well as their variations. Styles range from the well-known haiku and tanka to the less familiar gogyohka and etheree. Though written for poets beginning their exploration of these beautiful forms, I learned quite a lot (and I’ve been writing several of the forms for years).

Chesebro’s explanations not only include the technical aspects of each poetic form, but a quick history, the style’s creative intent, and tips for finding inspiration and writing. These aspects of each poetic form are conveyed in a concise manner, and each section is followed by examples of her poetry and the poetry of authors I’ve enjoyed for years. The poems not only illustrate the preceding lesson but are beautiful in their own right.

The quality of this book and its citations make it useful as a “text book” on the craft of writing syllabic poetry, appropriate for academic settings. Chesebro’s conversational style, easy to understand explanations, and poetic selections also make it accessible to a wide range of learners. The book’s format lends itself to lesson-planning for young poets.

Highly recommended to poets who are just starting out or who’ve been writing for years. An excellent learning tool filled with wonderful examples of the forms.

*****

The Vanished Boy by Harmony Kent

 I read this book in two sittings. I even listened to it on my phone while working out to Jane Fonda. I couldn’t put it down. What parent hasn’t had those moments of panic when a child doesn’t call, or shows up late, or wanders off? For Carole, that scare becomes a nightmare as her son Jayden vanishes without a trace.

The first 75% of the book follows Carole as she desperately seeks clues. I was riveted to her every move, including the realistic struggle of tracking her son through social media, with all the unhelpful information and hurtful comments that come with it. The author did a great job with Carole’s navigation through the technical aspects. Her resourcefulness felt authentic as did her unraveling of the clues—even as she’s emotionally falling apart.

The story is told in Carole’s tight pov until the last quarter of the book when several other characters share their experiences in their own points of view and in varying formats: flashback-style narratives, diary entries, and an interview. This is where the details of the events surrounding Jayden’s disappearance come to life. I would have liked the story to continue with Carole, but the pov of the perpetrator was worth the diversion.

The pacing is desperate until the wrap up at the end. The plot holds together well, and there are some surprises that I didn’t see coming. A great read for fans of fast-paced thrillers.

*****

Crossroads (Winds of Love): Poetry and Prose, by Jude Kirya Itakali

I enjoyed Jude Itakali’s debut poetry book. This is no ordinary collection of poems about love. Instead, Itakali’s poems tell a story about the journey of love, beginning with a prologue and progressing through three Parts. Part 1: Longing and searching. Part 2: Intimacy and Lust, and Heartbreak and its horrors, and Part 3: The other side of love, and New beginnings. The structure intrigued me as well as how he describes some of the poetry as short stories. The styles range from rhyming sonnets to free form verse to a number of syllabic forms including haiku, tanka, senryu, and nonet.

Personally, I agree that love is a journey with parts (or stages), and it was interesting to see the poems divided this way, as well as to follow the emotional journey with the author. A favorite from the section on longing:

Hope

Sing me to sleep
Nightingale of sorrow
Soothe my lonely heart
Cool breeze of twilight
Let the robin trill in the dawn
And bring my soul hope
Let the first rays of sunrise
Beam upon the One
With whom I’ll spend, my last days.

*****

Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Book 2) by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Son of the Serpent is Book 2 of the Fantasy Angels series, and the story of the fallen angels shifts from Lilith, the instigator behind the angels’ banishment, to Dracul, the son she bore on Earth with Satan. Where Book 1 includes a large cast of pov characters, I enjoyed the narrower focus on Dracul. That said, if you enjoyed Lilith in the first book, she’s still in the picture and has some chapters of her own.

Dracul’s goal in the story is to find his mother, learn why she tried to murder him, and then kill her. Lilith’s goal is to find her perfect mate and rule a world corrupted by her evil. While she’s the epitome of despicable, Dracul is nuanced. Despite his propensity to drink blood and murder, he is full of regret and turmoil and desires redemption and love. I enjoyed the inner conflict and his emotional volatility.

The author weaves the “quest” plot into encounters with biblical characters, places, and events including Noah and the flood, Lot, baby Moses, and Sodom and Gomorrah, to name a few. I’m not especially familiar with the bible, but I recognized elements of the stories, and followed easily. Like the bible, there is rape, evil, and plenty of graphic violence.

The writing and dialog seemed formal, which gave it an authentic biblical feel. I enjoyed that aspect, though the narrative style created a bit of distance from the characters. Pacing was good, and Dracul’s emotional rollercoaster was compelling. He’s a great character, and I look forward to more of his story as the focus shifts in Book 3 to the angel Gadreel.

Recommended to readers who enjoy biblical spin offs, fantasy, fallen angels, and stories of good versus evil.

*****

House of Sorrow: Legends of Madeira by Joan Hall

Ruth lives alone in an old Victorian home. For her whole life she hasn’t believed in luck of any sort. She’s not superstitious, but there are some coincidences that leave her wondering. House of Sorrow is a look at her life, the relationships she develops, her volunteer work, and the newsworthy events of the 1960s including the moon landing and the Kennedy assassinations. Despite gentle pressure from her concerned nephew to move into assisted living, Ruth refuses to sell her home, and only she knows why.

This novella reads at a steady pace. The plot unfolds subtly, and the reveal doesn’t come with a big splash. This story is a prequel to a series, and from that perspective, it works great to set the stage. The length of the read is perfect (about 66 pages, plus back matter which includes the first chapter in the continuing series).

The details of the time are well done as is the setting, and it’s easy to get a feel for the house, neighborhood, and town. I found the characters thoroughly believable and distinct, and the unfolding of Ruth’s life is relatable. There aren’t any villains beyond the mystery surrounding the house, and I would like to learn more about the letter she found in an old chest, a letter that changed her life. Recommended for readers of mysteries, especially as a prequel to the following series.

*****

Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D. L. Finn

Finn offers a generous supply of poetry to while away the hours. Part One of this collection focuses on the author’s love of nature and her peaceful moments of reflection when enjoying the world outside. It includes a number of selections based on motorcycle roadtrips through sunshine and beautiful scenery. Part Two is entitled Seasons of the Soul and focuses on a wide range of personal emotions from dark to light, including feelings of loss, anxiety, yearning, self-discovery, and love.

As a whole, the tone of the collection is positive with an emphasis on self-awareness, gratefulness, respect, and personal growth. A lovely book for readers who especially enjoy uncomplicated, sincere, and uplifting poetry. One of the author’s nature poems that I enjoyed:

Waves

The waves glide smoothly on top
Of the salty surface, proudly…
Blending against the azure
Until they merge together profoundly.

Their roar precedes them…
As they hit land—this is where it ends…
They are positive, but they are wrong…
That was only their birth, now the journey begins.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 4, The Old Road by Teagan Geneviene

I read journey 4 on the heels of 3. It was fun reading them back to back, though I’m becoming used to the installments and look forward to them each month. In this episode, the danger to Emlyn and the Deae Matras increases since the brethren haven’t given up the hunt. This installment gives the reader a deep look into Boabhan, a member with some remarkable abilities, and a familiar face joins the group.

The writing continues to engage me, and I like the increased action now that I have a good feel for most of the characters. They’re distinct and well rounded. The story moves along at a good pace with lovely descriptions and details about this world. I have no idea where it’s going, so I look forward to starting Journey 5.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls by Teagan Geneviene

I think this was my favorite installment of the Dead of Winter (serial) Journeys so far. The backstory of the characters and world is taking less text now that I’ve come to know them, and the pace of the story continues to pick up. The dead are starting to make their presence known, the Un’Nafians are still in pursuit of Emlyn, and she’s gradually revealing her unusual skill to the Deae Matras.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of this journey and the way Geneviene gave glimpses into a variety of random characters lives as the dead came calling. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, an effective one as I’m eager to know what happened! Readers interested in the story, should begin with the first journey. Recommended to fans of epic fantasy.

*****

Happy Reading!

Book Trailer: The Ferryman and the Sea Witch

I love making book trailers and this time tried to include more video along with my images. If this is too small, you can view a larger-sized version on YouTube.

I hope you enjoy the trailer for The Ferryman and the Sea Witch.

Now available for Preorder at $.99. Amazon Global link

Thank you to the blogging community for all your kind support of my work. If you pick this one up, I hope you enjoy it.

My Mother’s Song

Image by Sue Vincent

A while ago, I wrote this 99-word story for the Sue Vincent Classic at Carrot Ranch, and I never got around to sharing it here. Sue has since passed away, leaving a hole in our writing community, and I miss her. I hope you enjoy the story.

My Mother’s Song

Even on a day of grief, the living abide no idleness. Bodies need nourishment, goats tending. The hearth yearns for fire before the wind sweeps us all beneath the dirt. I loathe our hill, the leaden clouds and cold toes, black spots on the moldering potatoes.

For years, I’d griped about my tasks while my mother had sung with the rhythm of her washboard. Of a beauty I couldn’t behold.

Now, without her, I face the quilted valley, the snow-laced mountains, branches gilded by the sun. Only now do I see, and my heart bursts with my mother’s song.

Tea Toast & Trivia Podcast Reading of Liars and Thieves

Once again, I’m visiting with Rebecca Budd over at Tea Toast & Trivia. This time I’m reading a couple of snippets from my book Liars and Thieves. The excerpts offer early glimpses into my three main characters: Alue, Talin, and Naj.

If you have a few minutes while washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom (or if you’re just hanging out on the hammock), feel free to stop by for a listen. I sound like I’m twelve years old. Ha ha.

And while you’re there, check out the other wonderful podcast interviews and readings on Rebecca’s sensational blog. There’s something there for everyone to love.

Happy Listening!

Click on the above image to head over to Tea Toast & Trivia

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And for a little more shameless promotion…

Today is my Bookbub promo for Catling’s Bane. Wish me luck! And if you’re interested, the book is $.99 cents on Amazon (and elsewhere) for a few more days.

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Cover Reveal: The Ferryman and the Sea Witch

This post feels a little like a “what I did over summer vacation” essay from grammar school. During my blogging break, I tackled my to-do list, and near the top (after vacuuming up a year’s worth of dust) I finished up a book. It’s off for a final look before I slap it on Amazon and celebrate.

The Blurb

The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.

The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.

Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. The Ferryman alone can undertake the exchange.

Yet, animosities are far from assuaged. While Brid Clarion’s islands bask in prosperity, Haf Killick, a floating city of derelict ships, rots and rusts and sinks into the reefs. Its ruler has other designs.

And the sea witch crafts dark bargains with all sides.

Callum is caught in the breach, with a long-held bargain of his own which, once discovered, will shatter this life.

And now for the cover:

Coming Soon!

(On my break, I also prepped for and landed a Bookbub promotion. Thanks to Deborah Jay for her informative post that inspired me to do the work. The notice from Bookbub set off a flurry of activity over the past two weeks as I reread all four books of the series to look for typos. It was frantic and exhausting, but I finished, and thank goodness I did the work – enough said about that!)

Now I’m back to blogging and working on a trailer for The Ferryman and the Sea Witch. Stay tuned!

April Book Reviews

Happy May! Time for some reading!

April was a month of catch up on my to-do list, which included resuming my Jane Fonda workouts from 1985 (before some of you were born!) That means I’m not reading on the treadmill anymore, but I still made time for some great books!

April book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of a western romance, a military romance, an afterlife time travel fantasy, a serial fantasy, and a horror anthology.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Seal’s Temptation by Jacquie Biggar

Another awesome action/romance mash-up from Jacquie Biggar, and this one ranks toward the top of my favorites. After a disastrous mission and rescue, the seal team is taking a breather at the peaceful cattle ranch of Chief Seal Frank Stein. Maggie is among them, still suffering from the trauma of her time undercover with the Mexican cartel. While the attraction between Frank and Maggie heats up, all is not well at the ranch as cattle disappear and calves are slaughtered. Drug smugglers and a couple of escaped convicts are causing trouble, and the team can’t help but get involved.

What I loved about the book was the depth of the characters, the whole team. This isn’t a light romance with the usual tropes. No drama queens or kings in this read. These people have serious lives and histories. They’ve risked their lives for each other, and friendships and loyalties run deep. The relationships are grounded in multi-layered emotions, in the maturity that comes from age and from facing hardships together. Personalities are well developed, and there’s a strong sense of history. Maybe part of that is because…

This is Book 7 in the series, which probably wasn’t the best place to start. There are 6 books that provide a lot of backstory and relationship building before this one. The book did read well as a stand-alone, but that said, it makes sense to start at the beginning of the series, to get to know the characters and learn their stories chronologically. It took me a bit to catch on, but then I was hooked.

To be honest, I skimmed the few sex scenes, but I did fall for the romance and action and characters. The pace moves along quickly, and I enjoyed the skilled and well-edited writing. I may have to skip back to book one and start at the beginning. Highly recommended to readers who love a military romance mash-up.

*****

Gwen Slade, Bounty Hunter by Sandra Cox

Gwen is a female bounty hunter in the old west of Kansas, and she has a problem when Jordie Kidd saves her young brother. She’s grateful, but Jordie has a bounty on his head. He’s also handsome and a nice guy. Gwen and Jordie form a temporary alliance as they hunt down the Rondo brothers, a lucrative bounty that will solve a lot of problems for them both before they go their separate ways.

This western is half romance with many of the familiar conflicts and longings that romance readers love. It’s also half action and adventure as Gwen and Jordie meet up with the brothers one at a time and bring them to justice. Readers who enjoy gunfights, danger, and hard rides will find plenty to hang their hats on.

The pace is good and becomes even better as stakes increase near the end. The plot is straightforward, but there are a couple twists too that I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed all the characters. They were well-rounded with strengths and flaws, believable emotional lives and motivations. Gwen is tough, insistent that she can play in a man’s world, but she also must rely on Jordie despite her independent streak. Trust me, all kinds of sparks fly.

This book is well-edited and has something for readers of westerns, readers of romances, and readers of both! Highly recommended.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 3 by Teagan Geneviene

Journey 3 continues with the same mystery, action, and beautiful descriptions of the two previous episodes. Zasha seeks the golden runes belonging to the mysterious staff in her possession. Emlyn runs away from the religious zealots who are determined to put her on trial, and she encounters the strange silver man who has visited her dreams. Finally, she connects with the Deae Matras.

The first half of this journey is still introducing characters, building the backstory, and developing the world. The action takes off in the second half with Emlyn’s flight. Emlyn continues to be my favorite character and her ability to see into the world of the dead is intriguing. I loved the scene with the silver spirit/man. There is still a lot to learn about who he is and what Emlyn’s role will be, which makes me eager to read onward.

The pace is moderate during the first half and picks up significantly as the journey progresses. The details incorporated into the descriptions are well researched and many of them are vivid as well as beautifully written. Characters are distinct and have well-rounded personalities, especially the women. Readers who have gotten this far will likely be hooked. I’ve already started Journey 4 of the serial. Recommended for readers of epic fantasy.

*****

Eternal Road by John Howell

Samantha has been dead since childhood, and when James is killed in a car accident, Sam becomes his guide, tasked with leading him to his eternal home. Don’t count on deep religious overtones or run of the mill theories about the afterlife in this book. The story quickly becomes a fantasy time-traveling “road trip” where Sam and James participate in key historical events such as the shootout at OK Corral, the battle at the Alamo, and the invasion of Normandy, to name a few. They also travel two thousand years into the future.

For most of the book, the plot rambles from event to event while the ultimate goal of reaching James’ eternal home takes a “back seat.” The tangents are interesting and details seem well researched, though loosely connected to the overall goal. The debonair Devil has his hand in the mix, and the sexual relationship between Sam and James offers intermissions between the tenser time-traveling activities.

Both Sam and James are well-rounded characters. Their relationship feels genuine, and the dialog flows naturally. Because Sam and James are already spirits, they aren’t in any mortal danger and they experience little fear. Other emotions, like grief and sadness, play a small part until the end when some of the more satisfying and heartfelt aspects of the story take place. This isn’t a deep philosophical read, but if you’re looking for a jaunt through time with two companionable friends, this will do it. Recommended.

*****

Wings & Fire Anthology: an anthology

I seem to be reading a lot of horror short stories lately. This generous collection of 24 stories from 16 authors fits the bill. There’s a wide range of tales here from a realistic and utterly gruesome home invasion to evil magic and fantasy. There are vampires, werewolves, zombies and, monsters in the woods. Some stories are shocking, others are clever, and there’s even a laugh or two.

As true with most anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others, but all were well written and cleanly edited. My favorites are usually those tales that offer something highly clever or original. A few that I thoroughly enjoyed: An Unsolvable Problem or Not, Abraham’s Theory on the Paradigm of Choice, Mary, The Classics, and The Great Potoo. Recommended to readers who are seeking a variety of horror short stories.

*****

Happy Reading!

Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam Hurdle – Book Release Tour

I’m back from a productive break, and what a wonderful way to start blogging again. I’m delighted to host Miriam and her lovely new book! Take it away, Miriam…

Hi Diana, it’s my privilege to be here on your beautiful blog Thank you so much for your kindness to host my Book Release Tour and allow me to share my process from pen to publication with your readers.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd, Part 7

Publish the Book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Amazon and Barnes & Noble have different formatting guidelines to publish picture books. I would have been happy to have the book on Amazon alone. But I wanted to have a hardcover version. It’s good to have a hardcover version for young children, for the school libraries and public libraries. I also wanted to have a hardcover version of this book for my library.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) only publishes eBook and paperback but doesn’t have the hardcover option. Barnes & Noble publishes eBook, paperback, and hardcover. For this reason, I published the eBook and paperback on Amazon, and eBook and hardcover on Barnes & Noble. I may inquire if the local B&N would carry my book.

Will I Write More Children’s Books?

As I mentioned on the first day of this Book Tour that I took a writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and wrote many stories. Tina Lost in a Crowd was the first story among those stories I revised and published. I may revise some more to be the Tina stories.

There are new ideas for the children’s books. I’ll keep these options open.

Blurb

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

Purchase Links

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091M586M7

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w?ean=2940162309741

Diana’s Review

Tina and her friend Erica go to the Hollywood Bowl with Tina’s parents to listen to a classical music concert and watch fireworks. During the intermission, on the way to the restrooms, Tina and Erica get lost. Thankfully, Tina remembers some words of wisdom and all ends well. This is a cute story appropriate for preschoolers and young readers, and it shares some excellent advice for kids if they ever get separated from their caregivers. The language is accessible and the illustrations are delightful. It made me want to visit the Hollywood Bowl!

***

About the Author

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Contact Miriam at –

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424