My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome...Wednesday?...Meet author C.S. Splitter

Well, little pretties, it's not Wednesday, but we're welcoming author C.S. Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles, The Reluctant and his new release, The Willing.

Splitter is one of the funniest guys I know; he really comes up with some hilarious shit. I know I chuckled once or twice during the interview, so sit back and have a laugh or two as Splitter reveals some interesting things about himself and Tom Crayder.

If you could be any fruit, what would it be and why?

That's a dangerous question to ask a guy with my inappropriate sense of humor.

I am officially going to say pineapple. Sort of prickly on the outside with a tough husk, but sweet on the inside. I also like tropical climates, so that fits.

Or, a banana...

(Any inappropriate jokes are solely the responsibility of the reader and their own warped mind...)

Tom Crayder is not your typical hero. How did you come up with the idea of Tom? Is he based on someone you know?

Tom is based on a lot of people. Some are real and some are characters from TV shows and movies. He is an “every man.”

Tom wants to be John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, but he ends up being a combination of Jack Tripper, Tim Allen, and Hawkeye Pierce. If you know who all of those people are, you watch too much TV! He would like to be the “cool guy,” but he is just not equipped to make that happen.

I think that is part of the reason why so many people, men and women, can identify with him. He is like someone you know...maybe even you.

I believe that ordinary people can be heroes. The single mom who holds down two jobs to support her kids is a hero. That soldier who is scared to death but storms the beach anyway is a hero. The list goes on. Most heroes are not born, they are self-made because of the choices they make.

Now...that does not mean that Tom is always a hero. He does some very questionable things. He has weaknesses that get exploited and has his own opinion of right and wrong, law and justice included.

Those weaknesses also make him very real to people. At least that is what they tell me.

Along the way, he shows that his mouth sometimes works faster than his brain and he has a bad tendency to make jokes that are not appropriate to the situation. Personally, I can relate to that.

Do you plot your books, or do you write by the seat of your pants?


I want to be the architect of my stories so I do a lot of outlining. I even write backgrounds on all of my characters so that they remain consistent and believable.

Then, about half way through the actual writing process, I start getting better ideas about how to get to the end of the story. The ending does not change, but how I get there does. Not to sound like one of those “artist” type writers, but I end up grooming the stories and trimming them.

I want to be an architect, but I end up being a gardener.

What was the first book that you read that inspired you to read and/or write?

The first book I ever read was “The Pokey Little Puppy.” I fear I have taken on some of his characteristics as I have gotten older.

The first “real” book I ever read was “The Riddle Maser of Hed.” That was the first time a book whisked me away to another world. After that, I devoured Pierse Anthony, Zelazny, Eddings, Cook, Tolkien, and other gifted authors.

It is interesting....I do not read the genre in which I write. I think I read one Clive Barker book way back and I read the first Patterson “Alex Cross” novel, but my favorite genre is fantasy. I used to read a lot of Clancy, but I stuck to the Jack Ryan character.

So much for writing what you know, huh?

These days, my favorites are Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) and Michael J. Sullivan. I also love the first three books that George R.R. Martin wrote in “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The man writes beautiful prose and the story telling in those books saved fantasy for me.

If anyone influenced my writing, it was Glen Cook and his “Black Company” books. His characterization was unique and his were the first “gritty” fantasy books that I remember reading.

This question is directed to Tom: boxers or briefs?

Tom would tell you that briefs are too restricting. He would say that he is more of a free spirit and wears boxers when he has to wear underwear. Bow-chicka-wow-wow.

How did Tom learn the skills he needs to make it through some of the dangerous situations in which he finds himself?

Tom is faking it. Don't we all do that sometimes?

He grew up on TV and movies so when he finds himself faced with danger, you can almost hear his brain going through its files to figure out which boyhood hero he should be imitating. He tries his best not to show fear, but we know that is only a facade (facade is my word for the day).

As for the gun play, Tom likes shooting and practices often. I haven't revealed it yet in the books, but he competes in some competitions.

Tom has bad habits which include junk food. But, in “The Willing,” we find out that he is actually trying to get into better shape for his new role in life. In the future, we are going to find out that he is taking self defense classes, too.

How does Tom keep such a cool head when his world crumbles?

Tom is a pilot. Now, I don't know what it is about pilots, but they always sound like they are in complete control of the situation.

Back the the late 90's, I was on a flight where the pilot came on the intercom and announced that anyone who felt the need to smoke could do so out on the wing. He also said, “In the event of a water landing—well, let's be honest, there is no such thing as a water landing—if we crash into the water and you survive, the person next to you may be used as a flotation device.”

While a pilot could not get away with that today, it gave me complete confidence in his abilities because he was comfortable enough to joke about such unlikely events.

Tom thinks pilots are cool people. I don't know if that is true, but every one of them I have known acted “cool.” Tom acts cool even though his brain is whirling.

Are we going to see more Lorena?

Lorena is a character that many people, including me, want to know more about. She is not the typical femme fatale. She is a real woman with a hard edge. She comes off as very hard hearted, but we start to see a different side of her in “The Willing,”

The third book is going to be Lorena's story. “The UnMasked” is planned for a June 2012 release and it will tell the story of how Lorena's character was formed and how she came to be involved with an organization that dispenses justice outside of a broken system.

What is the most important thing a good book must have?

I think the most important thing a writer can do is make the reader care about the characters. Strong characters were always the thing I looked for as a reader and that is where I start as a writer. Even my “good guys” are more than a little gray and some people do not like Tom at the beginning of the first book. But, as the reader gets to know him, they come to like him even if they do not agree with all of his decisions.

I take pride in turning questionable characters into favorites. Lorena is another good example of that because she starts out as a home wrecker who might even be a sociopath and, by the end of the second book, most readers have come to really enjoy her.

There is probably a lesson there about not judging books by covers and how that applies to people...

The second critical element to a good book is the story. The story has to be good and it has to have some surprises here and there to make the reader keep turning pages to find out what happens next. There are many theories about what makes a good story. I think that as long as you make the reader feel like they are “there” experiencing the story, you are most of the way to having a good story to tell.

In the thousands of books I have read, those with compelling characters and stories are the ones I remember most fondly. Writing styles and techniques might vary, but I think readers are more flexible on those points.

Tell us about “The Crayder Chronicles.” Why should we read your books?

The books are full of action/adventure, thrills, suspense, and some mystery. There is also some humor mixed in there to keep things from getting too heavy. Two books have been published in the series thus far.

“The Reluctant” introduces us to Tom Crayder and centers around several moral dilemmas he faces. It asks the question: If you were asked to do something really bad for very good reasons, would you? Could you? (ok, that might be two questions...).

In the book, Tom must decide whether or not to become an instrument for delivering justice to bad guys who are beyond the reach of the law.

The second book, “The Willing,” is really about the relationships he has developed and we learn more about some secondary characters we met in “The Reluctant.” Lorena has a lot of “camera” time but we also get glimpses into Tiny, Jake, and other familiar faces. Some of those returning will surprise you.

Think of “The Willing” as “It's a Wonderful Life” meets “Deathwish.” I know, that sounds should try writing it!

I am so thankful to my readers that I cannot adequately express it. “The Reluctant” went nuts on Amazon in January and reached #24 over all in free eBook fiction and #2 in both Action/Adventure and Contemporary Fiction. Did I take screen shots? You bet! My favorite has my book right there next to James Patterson's latest release and I have requested that the photo be displayed on my casket in the event of my untimely death.

I owe any success I have had, or will have, to the readers and those that have become honest to goodness fans. I put my contact information in the back of my books and love hearing from them!

Thanks for having me here, Dale! And thank you for taking the time to read and review my books.

But the fun isn't stopping now that the interview is over. You can tweet Splitter, check out his blog, visit his author page on Amazon, facebook him, and most important, check out his books!

The Reluctant:

Action, adventure, suspense, and thriller in one story told with a liberal dose of humor.

Tom’s problems are not unique. His business is failing and his wife has to work too many hours to make ends meet. He is under some rather large financial pressures and wants more from his marriage and his life.

He finds his respite in the air as a private pilot. Unfortunately for Tom, he is behind on payments for his plane and is forced to take odd jobs from a local crime boss. Tom is no criminal, but the errands he is running are just slightly on the wrong side of the law and the money is almost good enough to allow him to make his plane payments.

Just as things begin to come under some semblance of control, he meets a woman who just might represent the adventure he seeks. He soon discovers that appearances, and beautiful women, can sometimes be deceiving.

“The Reluctant” is the first in the Crayder Chronicles series and yet is a stand alone story with a satisfying conclusion of its own.

The Willing:

Book Two in "The Crayder Chronicles"

How far would you go to protect your friends and family?

Tom Crayder is the All-American guy next door with a business, a wife, a son, a mortgage, and an expensive hobby. He is also a politically incorrect, wisecracking operative working for a shadowy organization dedicated to administering justice outside of a broken system. Not even his wife knows of his other life when she finds herself unwittingly involved in a drug war.

Strap in with Tom as he navigates his way through the strata of a drug cartel. Lock and load with Lorena, a hard-hearted assassin, as she lends her deadly skills to Tom’s fight for his family. Sit back to watch Tom and Lorena figure out how to work together without killing each other.

Join the rest of the cast from "The Reluctant (Crayder Chronicles)" as they pitch in to track down the hitmen that threaten their associate.

Some mysteries are solved. Some questions are answered. Some live. Some die.

Splitter's Amazon Author Page:

SplittersWorld Blog:


Twitter: @SplitterCS

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: My Enchanted Life, by Laura Eno

My Enchanted Life
Laura Eno

18-year-old Emma Winslow is settling down for a rocking summer vacation in Georgia before trucking off to college. Except she never makes it. Instead, she finds that she's inherited a house in England, and once she arrives to check it out, it seems she may not ever leave.

This was a totally fun story filled with enchanted worlds and creatures and characters. There's a little bit of evil, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of betrayal. In short, a little bit of everything.

The characters are believable and likeable. Laura's drawn a picturesque world that glitters enchantingly. I like how the seemingly you-just-know-he's-going-to-be-evil characters don't quite turn out that way, characters you think you're going to don't, and characters that you never really paid attention should have. Nothing is quite as it seems in this enchanted world. Yeah, you gotta love that aspect.

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again.

I. Love. Surprises.

If I have one complaint, it's that the pace was a little frantic. This isn't a long story...and it should be. I would have loved if Laura drew the story out, took more time in drawing out scenes. In fact, some of the transitions between scenes were abrupt and could have been a little smoother.

Overall, very enjoyable story, with an ending not too predictable and wholly satisfying...with a peek into a sequel that I'll be sure to read.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

So last week, Haley meets up with an old Earth crush, Ian, and she finds out that she has more than one reason to distrust Tuggin. Other than him being a cold-hearted Menta witch, it's Haley's fault that Tuggin's parents are dead.

Ruh roh.

Haley moves on, Tuggin-less.



I didn’t care anymore that I was sitting on a bed with a hall god. All I cared about was the dread feeling scorching my insides, as if a bomb had exploded in the pit of my stomach.

I leaned away from Ian. “Tuggin and Elana’s parents are dead because of me?”

“It’s okay.” A lock of hair fell over my face, and Ian tucked it back. “I know this is hard, but you need to understand what’s going on.”

I tried to focus, but I wasn’t sure I had enough brain cells left to get the job done.

“See, Tuggin and Elana's parents are the ones who kidnapped you.”

“Oh. Wait. What? Why?”

“That’s the question of the century. Anyway, they slipped through the gateway to Earth then were killed during an attempt to rescue you. Tuggin and Elana were taken in by that Menta group, and were brought up—trained—to feel nothing but hatred and a desire for power. They don’t care about people…certainly not about you. They blame you for their parents’ death.”

My mouth dropped open, and I covered it with my hand. “Elana’s my friend.”

“Elana is incapable of friendship. The Menta camp took care of that.”

I closed my eyes. No, no one could be that good of liar. I thought of Tuggin; he was a very good liar.

Ian went on. “Unfortunately, the people sent to get you back died too. That’s when they lost track of you.”

“Stop.” I scrunched fistfuls of hair, punishing myself with pain. “Just stop talking because I don’t want to hear it.”

“Neither Tuggin or Elana care about you, but I do.”

I blinked at him. Wha-huh?

Ian’s liquid smile poured through his lips. “Go to sleep.”

I gazed at his eyes, so deep, so gentle, so beautiful. He looked as though he moved through chocolate syrup, but every word he said was crystal clear in my mind.

My body felt as though it would suddenly cave in from exhaustion. “I really need to get some sleep.”

I barely made it under the blanket when my eyelids closed. I wondered where we were going in the morning; the question never made it to my lips.


The next morning, I sat on my bed with my head in my hands. People had died because of me, and the idea sat on my mind like a stone gargoyle. I’d never wanted Mom so much in my whole life. Maybe I didn’t need those power stones to get Mom to remember me. Ian was on Earth and he remembered me, so maybe no one remembering me on Earth was just another one of Tuggin’s lies.

“I bring morning meal,” Tanner said with a grin when she came in with a breakfast tray.

I rubbed my eyes. How could she be so happy? Oh, that’s right. She didn’t have the weight of the dead on her head.

"I eat with you, hmm?”


Tanner didn’t seem to notice my pissy mood, chattering away while she ate. I nodded now and then, but didn’t really pick up on anything that she said. My stomach resisted the runny eggs—but at least these were a normal color, like on Earth. I nibbled on a few nuts, and then pushed away the food. I couldn’t wait to leave this dungeon. Maybe seeing the sun and breathing fresh air would do something for my mood.

“I’m done.”

Tanner raised her eyebrows, but picked up the tray. “You dreth. I return for you.”

After rubbing the cream on my face and feet, I packed the jar in my backpack. I slid the sandals Tanner had given me onto my blistered feet and wiggled my toes. Definitely better than shoes.

A little while later, Tanner and I padded through narrow tunnels, our footsteps muted by the dirt floors. Heavy beams supported the low ceiling. I kept any eye on them, not liking the creaking sounds they were making, or the puffs of drifting dust.

The tunnels were broken up with wide chambers, from which more tunnels sprouted. I had no clue how Tanner knew where we were going…each tunnel looked exactly the same. I was starting to feel like I was part mole.

We finally turned up a steadily rising tunnel. It leveled off, and we came to a dead-end where Tanner climbed up a ladder. She flipped up a trap door and sunlight knifed through the underground gloom.

Tanner scooted up and out of sight. I gripped the wooden slats and hauled myself up, the tender skin on my face stinging from the sharp sun. I blinked at the glaring sand, and Tanner handed me a cone-shaped hat and a long, thin cloth.

“Thith protect fathe. The thun thtrong.”

“Thanks.” I plopped the hat on my head, and its wide brim shielded my eyes. I let the sheer fabric cloth-thing slide through my fingers. I stared at the desert, and dread trickled into my gut like sand in an hour glass. I’d almost died out there.

Ian and an older guy approach with three camels tacked with bright red blankets and square-shaped saddles. They wore rope halters, and the reins were strung through wooden pegs pierced through their noses.

“I Hawkin,” said the man. He came only to my shoulders, with the same red hair pulled into a tight ponytail as Tanner. “Ian take you home?”

I didn’t know where home was; I’d forgotten to ask. Ian nodded once; so I copied him.

Hawkin gave me the reins to a camel. “You ride before?”

The camel studied me through its long lashes. “What about my sleipnir?”

“Sleipnir can’t survive the desert,” Ian said. “You’ll need to leave him behind.”

I felt a twinge over breaking my promise to Adrana about returning Sorrel. Another sharper twinge punctured my chest when I thought that maybe Tuggin would make her feel better over her loss. Not that I cared, of course.

Clearing my throat, I decided that even though the camel had fat ugly lips, his eyes were pretty. “Does he have a name?”

“He Flax,” Tanner said.

“Daughters,” Hawkin muttered, and then said, “Ian long been friend to our people. You be thafe with him.”

Hey. Good news for once. Ian and Tanner wrapped their cloths around their necks and faces, and then hooked them to their hats.

“I thow you,” Tanner said, taking the cloth from me and showing me how to wrap and secure it. “Thith called tharan. It protect you from the wind and thand.”

“Works for me,” I said.

“Peathe to you, Papa.” Tanner kissed Hawkin on the cheek.

“Thafe journey, daughter.” He tucked his hands into his robes.

“Ek, ek.” Tanner tapped her camel’s front leg with a stick, and the camel knelt.

“Here.” Ian plucked a thin stick tucked under Flax’s saddle, tapped his front leg, and said, “Ek, ek.”

“Do I get on it like a horse?” I asked, eyeing the kneeling camel.

“Yup.” Pointing to the hole cut into the front of the saddle he added, “Hold on to this handle.”

I mounted.

“Tap his shoulder with your stick, and he’ll get up,” Ian instructed.

I tapped Flax’s shoulder and leaned forward. When his back end rose into the air first, I flipped over his shoulder and hit the ground on my back. “Oof!”

Flax snorted and curled his upper lip. Tanner giggled.

“Sorry,” Ian said, hauling me to my feet. “Camels stand on their back feet first so you want to lean back, not forward.”

I ducked my head to hide my burning face.

“And you forgot to hold onto the handle.”

“Right,” I said. I mounted again.

“Lean back,” Ian reminded me when I tapped Flax’s shoulder with my stick.

I leaned back when Flax wobbled to his feet, and I was still on his back. I gave Ian a thumbs up.

“You’re a quick study.” Ian mounted his own camel. “Let’s go.”

The camels plowed through the sand. I swayed to the sideways rhythm, feeling like I was being rocked in a cradle. It was pretty relaxing, except for the hot wind touching my tender face and my skin burning where the saran didn't cover me.

“Talk to me, Earth-kin,” Tanner said.

“What about?” I asked, spitting out the saran when it slipped into my mouth.

“Where your family? Did you leave friend behind on Earth? Ith Earth full of metal?”

It was tough work, trying to open my mouth as little as possible so the cloth wouldn’t slip in when I talked. “No, Earth has plenty of nature left. My mom’s still there, and I don’t have any real friends. There was Elana, but turns out she was a liar. And there was her brother, Tuggin, who I hung out with a while.” I shrugged. “Anyway, turns out neither were my friend.”

On Earth I’d been ignored. Then came Elana, the first nice person I’d ever made friends with, and she’d only pretended to like me.

“Haley? You all right?”

I had new friends, a new home, a new destiny ahead of me. And though it was a crushing thought, I’d have to use the power stones to save the Eyid’s harmony and say good-bye to Mom, let her go as if she were dead—I couldn’t go home and that was a part of my life I would never get back. Maybe Ian would help me get over it. “I’m good.”

No one talked much, and I spent the day watching the endless sand. The monotony was exhausting. Everything seemed so dead, and it made me think how close I’d come to being dead myself. The sun rested on the horizon like a flaming orange when Ian signaled us to stop. I hopped off Flax and stretched.

“Tired?” Ian asked me.

“Absolutely.” I pulled the saran from my face. “This saran thing works pretty good, but it keeps getting in my mouth.”

“It called tharan,” Tanner corrected.

“Saran?” I asked.

“Tharan,” Tanner repeated.

I lifted my hands and turned to Ian. “Isn’t that what I said?”

“It really is called a tharan,” Ian said with a wink.


After eating a cold dinner of spicy dried meat, I sat on my blanket and watched the sun sink while Tanner snored softly nearby. The sun burned like a fireball, igniting the sky and sand. I shifted closer to the fire and stuffed my hands in my pockets, shivering when Ian came and sat with me.

“Cold?” he asked, laying his blanket over my shoulders.

“Not really.”

“Do I make you nervous?”

“Of course not,” I lied.

Ian chuckled.

“I forgot to ask where we’re going,” I said.

The corners of his lips twitched. “My home. I hope you like it enough to stay.”

Things were definitely looking up. Smiling to myself, I watched distant lightning streak across the sky, like gnarled fingers trying to grab the stars. I shivered again. I’d seen lightning tear up a mountain and set buildings on fire. Could Tuggin see it, too?

“I love lightning, don’t you?” Ian murmured.

I glanced at him. “I guess, in a destructive sort of way.”

“There’s power, energy, and strength. There’s no other force on this globe that can match it.” Ian looked sideways at me. “Except air, maybe.”

A flicker of insight lit my brain, and I rubbed my palms on my pants beneath the blanket. Thinking back, I’d never heard Tuggin mention heat or lightning or anything to do with fire.

Ian smiled, very very slowly. “It’s late. We should get some sleep.”

I gave Ian his blanket back, and he left me to go to his own bed. When I closed my eyes, it was blue eyes, not green, that I thought about.


Two days later, we left the endless sand and began to climb the Dry Hills. The camels’ soft hooves made no sound on the rocks. My butt was totally sore, and I shifted in my saddle then dragged the back of my hand across my forehead. I felt gross and sweaty and longed for a cold shower.

“How much farther?” I asked Ian.

“We’ll be there today.”

My camel fell into step behind Ian’s while we trudged up a hill. Ian paused at the top, and when I pulled up beside him, I turned my gaze to the horizon.

A stone tower jutted into the skyline, a line of gray rocks on the ground circled it. Clouds of smoke drifted in the air. Was that…?

As if sensing my unspoken question, Ian said, “Welcome to Ralos.”

Pic of the Week!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pic of the Week!

My daughter has totally gotten the photography bug, and she (in my humble opinion) takes fantastic pictures. She is panting to get into high school, where she can start taking photography classes and learn a thing or two. She has a couple of years to go.


Since I'm a fan, I thought maybe you all might become fans as well! I will share a pic of the day. You be the judge.

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

Sunday is back!

Last week,Haley came face-to-face with the Fire Eyid, woke up in a strange place, and had her heart (and her world) rocked when she meets up with her Earth crush, Ian.



Ian wasn’t wearing his usual Earth uniform of a tight shirt and jeans that highlighted his jacked body in every good way possible. Instead, his totally fine body was hijacked by loose-fitting black clothes, all the way to his sandaled feet. His dark hair was longer than I remembered, falling below his ears and sweeping across his eyebrows. His green gaze zeroed in on me like taser beams, and my heart gushed blood to my head.

Ian strolled toward me. “How’re you feeling?”

I couldn’t think of a word meaning confused, smitten, and ecstatic. I could hardly think of any words at all. “What are you doing here?”

“I live here.”

My heart had a mind of its own, trying to escape my chest so it could pant at Ian’s feet. “You’re Eyidoran?”

“Yup.” He sat next to me.

Ian, one of the best-looking hall gods ever, sat next to me on a bed. My brain worked faster than my mouth when I tried to talk, and neither worked right because I stuttered, “How—what—where?”

“I bet you’re wondering how I found you. Right?”

I nodded.

“Let’s see, where to start?” He looked at the ceiling as if the answer could be found carved into the beams. “About two months ago, I went to Earth to find you.”

“You did?”

“Yup. See, your kidnappers died right after you went through the gateway as a kid. You disappeared when you were adopted by your Earth-kin mother, and I,” he tapped his chest, “went to find you.”

“Are you from Sardeena, too?”

“You mean Sabina?” Ian laughed. “No, and neither are you.”

I wrinkled my forehead. “Tuggin said…”

“He lied.” Ian got up and paced the room. “Did he tell you what he is?”

“I figured it out.”

Ian stopped to study me. “You’ve turned out to be very…resourceful.”

I grinned and ducked my head. “If you were liking me…” I winced. “I mean, looking for me, how come you never, you know, talked to me?”

“Think about it. If I told you I was taking you home to another globe, you would have thought I was bat shit crazy. You’d never have come with me.”

My toes curled. Didn’t he know that I’d follow him anywhere? “Do you know where by brother is?”

He stalked to the end of the room, and then turned back. “I didn’t know you had a brother. Anyway, Elana found you first, and that made the whole situation kind of sticky.”

“And Elana was there because…”

“Are you hungry?”

I blinked in confusion, but then my stomach growled. Loudly. “Um, yeah?”

Ian smiled. “Tanner? Can you get her some food?”

Tanner had been watching us from a chair in the corner. “I return.” She leaped up and bounded out of the room.

Ian dragged the chair to the bed. “Haley, I need you to listen to me very carefully. Elana, and her brother, can’t be trusted. She was sent to Earth to spy on you.”

My heart decided right then it wasn’t worthy of beating. “Why?”

“To be honest, I don’t know why. See, the only people who knew why you’d been sent through the gateway in the first place are all dead. So the question remains: why were you sent through?” Ian tapped a finger on his chin, and then shrugged. “When I found out a witch had been sent to find you, I had to try to get you back, I couldn’t let you fall into their hands.”

“Witch? Then, that means, Elana really is a…a…”

“Menta,” Ian finished for me.

“Why would she…who…”

“The Mentas are your enemy.”

No, that was wrong. What were those region names again? I couldn’t remember. “No, the enemy is in the fire region, Laka something.”

Ian gave me a funny smile. “Lak ‘Toom.”

“Yeah, Lak ‘Toom. That’s where the enemy is from.”

Ian folded his arms over the chair back, and then rested his chin on them. “Why?”

“Because whoever wants to control Eyidora wants to burn it, right? Doesn’t it make sense that he’d come from Lak ‘Toom?”

Sighing, Ian straightened. “You have to remember that things aren’t always as they look. Take Elana for instance. You thought she was your best friend.”

“Why would she do that to me?” As soon as I said the words I remembered: to control me, control my dreams, steal my stone. Just take your pick.

“See, I think they want something you have.” Ian’s gaze strayed to the chain around my neck. “They’re very deceptive, you know, those Mentas. Can’t trust them.”

My heart bobbed once then sank. Did the Mentas have the other three stones? Did Tuggin? My heart constricted at the thought of Tuggin using me. I quit arguing; I knew what Ian said had to be true.

Ian touched my chin, forcing me to meet his gaze. “I wish, for your sake, they weren’t traitors.”

I lost myself in the green sea of his eyes, and tried to focus. He sounded distant, his mouth forming words two seconds after he’d said them.

“They lied to you.”

“Lied,” I repeated. Ian’s gaze took hold of me. With my head spinning, I decided I didn’t like Elana much anymore. The bitch had betrayed me.

“You can trust me.”

“I do.”

“You need to come with me.”

As if there was any doubt about that. The thought of pleasing Ian, making him happy, agreeing with him, filled me with delicious warmth. “Of course.”

Tanner burst into the room carrying a tray.

“Eat,” Ian said. “I’ll come back later.”

“I glad you come with uth.” Tanner set the tray on the nightstand and sat in the chair Ian had just left. “It be adventure!”


Tanner tipped the chair back, balancing on two legs. “Yeth. I go with you.”

“Aren’t you a little young?” I asked, trying to hide my disappointment that I wouldn’t have Ian all to myself. Tanner looked all of twelve years old; kind of acted like it, too.

Tanner giggled, dipping her head. “I ten years and eight. How old you?”


“Seven…teen?” Tanner wrinkled her forehead.

“Ten and seven?”

Bob and swish. Add a giggle. Tanner headed for the door. “Eat. You feel better.”

I nibbled the chunky brown bread and some kind of casserole thing with green leaves and lumpy white stuff that I thought might be potatoes. The casserole was heavy but, channeling Porky Pig, I scarfed it all then downed the entire pitcher of water. I felt bloated but completely satisfied.

I limped to the mirror on blistered feet. The loose-fitting pants were so wide they almost looked like a skirt flowing around me. I had no clue what they were made of, but the fabric was light. My sunburned nose, cheeks, and forehead had peeled so that I was spotted with pink patches of new skin. My cracked lips were swollen. What had Ian thought of me? I rummaged through my backpack, wishing I had chapstick.

I twirled the herb and studied my necklace. Did this twig thingy have the power to show me where the stones were, through the mind of one of the gods?

I cleared my throat and looked over my shoulder to make sure I was alone. “Um, Nomer? Can you help me see where the stones are?”

I waited for the vision, or whatever. Nothing happened, so I stuffed the herb back into my pack.

Tanner knocked and burst back into the room. Kicking off her sandals, she sat cross-legged on the bed. “I back to talk, I tho full of questions I no wait for the morrow. Earth-kin, what you do in dethert alone?”

“I guess I was kind of lost.” I paused. “But it’s great that Ian’s here.”

“I know Ian long time.” Tanner bounced her foot against the bed.


“Ian and I very clothe.”

I froze. My heart stretched tight against my ribs like guitar strings. What did Tanner mean, she and Ian were close? How close?

“You ath well?” Tanner hung one leg over the bed and swung it back and forth.

“And I what?” I didn’t feel so fabulous anymore.

“You have clothe friend?” Tanner popped off the bed and twirled. “I like friend!”
Before I could answer, Ian poked his head in the door. “Can I come in?”

Giggling, Tanner swung the door open. “We talk about you.”

Ping! One of the strings in my heart snapped. I didn’t like the way Tanner looked at Ian, all adoring like. Then I wondered if that’s what I looked like around Ian.

“All good things, I hope.” Ian winked at me.

“I no tell you.” Tanner laughed.

Ping! There went another heartstring. My body deflated like a whoopee cushion that someone’d just sat on.

“Here’s something that’ll heal your skin.” Ian gazed at the small jar he held then gingerly, almost reverently, set it on the nightstand.

“Thanks.” I couldn’t meet his gaze. Of course Ian’d never be interested in me…he was a former hall god, and I was a mutant with a peeling face.

“Tanner, go make sure everything’s ready for tomorrow,” Ian suggested.

“I thtay and talk to Haley. Hawkin will prepare.”

Ian and Tanner locked gazes for what I thought was an eternity. Ping! Another string ricocheted off my ribcage.

“Tanner, leave us now,” Ian said firmly.

“I go.” She bobbed her head and swished her ponytail. Back to her bubbly self, she said to me, “I thee you on the morrow,” and skipped from the room.

“I wanted to be alone with you.” Ian sat next to me. “I hope you don’t mind?”

“Nope.” My heart jumped up and ran away with my breath.

“I realize that I should have explained things better.”

I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I sat on them. “Explain what?”

“About Tuggin and Elana. See, I know all this must seem whacked to you, coming to a globe you didn’t even know existed, and then the shock of finding out that your best friend lied to you.”

“You got that right.”

“Like I told you, they’re both traitors, but you in particular can’t trust them.” He paused. “Do you know their parents are dead?”

“Yeah, Tuggin told me.”

“Did he tell you how they died?”

I shook my head.

“See, it’s because of you.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review: Demon's Apprentice, by Ben Reeder

Demon's Apprentice
Ben Reeder

Fifteen-year-old Chance has been abused, betrayed, and beaten for 8 years. Sold by his father into slavery to a demon, he's been forced to perform dark magic for his demon master. His aura is rotten. His soul is doomed. But his life isn't over. Chance summons the strength and wit to break free from his dark bonds, only to be thrust into a world where magic and darkness continue to follow him.

This was a terrific book, and I liked it quite a bit. In fact, I've already recommended my daughter read this book. The characters have depth and are well-drawn, motivations are clear. The plot is well paced, with excellent tension in all the right places. The bad guys are bad, the good guys good, and our main character is stuck in a gray world where a good guy can do bad things. I absolutely loved that.

A word of warning to younger readers: there is a bit of cussing...not that I mind, of course, I've been known to sling a few off-color words in my day, but some people care about that sort of thing.


"The bed was on the left wall, a little desk as opposite the door, and there was a dresser on the right. There was a boxy little machine on the desk, and a dozen spools of thread. The dresser looked like it was supplying the desk's thread habit, and also like it was pimping out yarn and cloth on the side, too."

That's just a taste of the delightful imagery that the author has sprinkled throughout this book like dew drops on rose petals. It was a real treat to read his clever prose. I could have bookmarked page after page and filled my blog spot with examples...but I won't.

Okay, so here's what bothered me.

I had trouble following the ages. Our MC is fifteen, and he's a sophomore in high school. Most of the kids he encounters drive, which make them sixteen, and I assumed they were all sophomores (though their ages/grades are never made clear)...yet the leader bad boy was mentioned as a freshman. I guess he could have been held back a year, or maybe the reference was to the guy's previous year. The whole issue was not made clear and left a clueless kind of residue in my mind. And yes, it bothered me, because I kept trying to figure out how old everyone was, and in what grade.

Also, the younger sister seemed as though she was maybe twelve years old...but by my calculations she couldn't have been more than seven or eight. And one flash-back dream sequence, when Chance was seven, started out sounding seven, but ended with thoughts and obsevations more atuned to an older kid, say fifteen. I think the young voices were a little lost.

And the type font is too small!

Regardless, the pros far out-weigh the cons. I hope this is a first book in a series, because I will definitely continue reading if there is more to come.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

Wow, it's been a looong time since you babies have seen this story, but Haley's back, along with Tuggin, and a whole mess of issues.

Where we left off: Haley escaped Tuggin, pretty sure he's planning to put her 6 feet under, and got lost in the desert. She's hungry. She's thirsty. She's dying. She gets a visit from the gods, and realizes she doesn't want to die. She pushes on, finds an oasis, is just about to be discovered by some peeps she sees off in the desert, and bam! She falls into a sinkhole, gets bit by *something* in the dark, and starts dying all over again.


Let's move on. Enjoy!

Chapter Fifteen

The air swirling around me felt like a kiss. Not a good kiss, either. Not loving or warm or seductive, but hateful, hot, and blistering. It was the kiss of death. It felt as though my skin had melted away, and I wanted to die just to get away from the pain.

“Can you hear me?”

I whimpered. If the Eyidoran gods cared about me at all, they’d let me die.

“Open your eye-sss.”

“No.” If I looked as bad as I felt I really didn’t want to see.

“Do it,” the voice commanded.

My eyes fluttered open. A sharp-angled man knelt next to me, and I flinched when he reached toward me. He smiled, and then rubbed a fingernail over the spot on my arm where the spider had bitten me. I screamed at the flare of pain.

An image of a little kid flashed in my head. He was maybe ten years old, glaring at his reflection in a mirror. He screamed then flung his hand forward as if he were going to smash the mirror; there was a flash of light, and the sound of shattering glass.

I flinched.

Pointy Guy put his hands on both sides of my head, his palms cooling my skin. It almost seemed as if his fingers sucked the pain away like sponges.

He let me go. From where I lay on the ground, I checked out my surroundings. Uh oh. Blurred edges, shadows, air cool and damp—I’d been there before, whenever one of those Eyids came to talk to me. I was dreaming.

I scooted back against the wall. Ugh. The air reeked like smoke and hot wax. I stared at the guy, and he stared back at me. He had a pointy face and nose, set on a small head that was totally bald and bobbing on a thin neck. His slightly gray skin was a sharp contrast to his green eyes.

“I’m Sss-oltar, the Fire Eyid.”

“Not you,” I blurted.

“You don’t want to talk to me after I helped you in the desert?”

“Nala helped me.”

Soltar’s smile showed two rows of sharp teeth. “It was a...harmonic effort, wouldn't you sss-ay?”

I hesitated. “Don't think I would.”

“I think you have the wrong impression of me.”

“No, I think you’re out of control, fighting with everyone. And you know what else I think? I think you started the hole in Earth’s ozone, which started the whole global warming mess.”

“How clever of you. That was an effect I hadn’t anticipated, but I’m only doing what comes naturally when the Web isn’t harmonized.”

“Really?” I wondered if my sarcasm was going to get me zapped.

“Thirteen generations ago de-ssscendants of the Eyids vied for power and broke the Web. They were the ones out of control. The Web, when harmonized, maintains harmony amongst us. Without it,” Soltar shrugged, “we fight. I can’t help it if I’m sss-tronger than the others.”

“What do you get if you win?”

Soltar cocked his head. “There are no winners in this fight. Not amongst the Eyids, anyway. Others, however, fight for power and greed.”

“I don’t get it. You need the stones to harmonize this web thing, right?” Soltar nodded. “Can the stones be used for anything else?”

“No, and they won't help you get back to Earth.”

I ignored the heat rising in my cheeks like red flags. “What good would it be for anyone to steal them, then?"

Soltar steepled his fingers while he studied me. “You raise a good point. Ordinary mortals have nothing to gain from stealing the stones. Others, however, are special…gifted. Take the Eyid descendants, for example. There are some who desire to control nature by re-arranging the stones in the Web, if that were possible.”

I didn’t remind him that the only person I knew of who wanted to do that was his descendant. “Why?”

Soltar shrugged. “The desire within one’s soul is unique. I could not speak as to what compels one person to such extreme, as it would be very different from, let’s say, your own.”

“Sorry, I'm on Team Harmony,” I retorted. As if.

He continued with a small smile. “Then, there are others who would take advantage of Eyidora’s disss-harmony to rise to their own level of power. Not sss-o much power over nature, but power to control the globe, power to control the people.”

I pursed my lips. Wasn’t that what war was about, even on Earth?

Soltar ran his hand over his bald head. “Power is a harsh ma-ssster, Haley, able to bring even the most noble to her knees.”

If Soltar meant to include me in the whole man-lust-for-power scenario, he was wrong. He rolled his head on his neck. It made little popping noises that made me clench my teeth. And why’d he have to stand so close to me? The heat pouring out from him started me sweating.

Soltar’s long coat tickled the floor when he paced, stirring up little dust clouds. “I sss-ee you wear a sss-stone.”

I followed his gaze to my necklace. “It was a present.”

“It doesn’t belong to you.” He glared at me, as if I’d stolen it.

I lifted one shoulder in a shrug.

Long, knobby fingers slithered from beneath his tunic and grazed my stone, and then Soltar slipped his hand back into his tunic. “Four sss-tones. United, hold the power to control destiny. Control fate. Control the globe.”


“What would you do to get power? How far would you go?” His tongue flicked the air, probing, like a snake.

I stared at him, refusing to answer. He was baiting me, trying to get me to say I'd use the power to trip back home. I'd already promised to help. What a tool.

“Sss-ome have killed for it, betrayed for it. Sss-ome have even broken their promis-ess.”

Nausea crumpled my muscles, forcing me to my knees. I rested my forehead on the cold, stone floor. "I think I'm going to be sick."

“There are those to help you on your path.” Soltar bent close to me, whispering, “If I were you, I’d accept the help offered.”

“Help,” I whispered. Something cold and wet licked my forehead. Did I have a dog? I couldn’t remember.

“It all right. You be fine.”

I cracked open my eyes. A delicate, brown face peered at me through a thick film. I blinked until the face came into focus.

“Greetingth!” lisped the brown face. “I Tanner.” She smiled, her teeth sticking out a little over her bottom lip.

I raised myself off my pillow. A wet cloth fell into my lap; my feet poked out of the bottom of cream-colored pants. My soggy muscles couldn't support me, so I flopped back onto the bed.

Tanner perched at the foot of the bed with her legs folded beneath her. The tiny girl peered at me with eyes the color of pennies. She’d pulled her reddish-brown hair into a tight ponytail, and she kept bobbing her head, making the ponytail swish.

“What you called?”

“Haley.” I wrinkled my nose at the stuffy air. “Where am I?”

“Dunehill. We thand dweller.” Tanner picked at the blanket covering the bed. “You Menta?”

“God no.”

“What power you have?”


“You bit by Molken thpider.” Tanner bobbed her head. Swish went the ponytail.

I gave her a blank stare.

“Their bite fatal, but you not dead.” Tanner nodded excitedly. “You healed.”

“Oh.” I studied the red welt on my arm. Odd how that tiny little mark could cause a whole lot of pain. “Is it always fatal?”


The welt on my arm had a small cut slicing through it. Dang, those spiders must have some sharp teeth. Did spiders even have teeth? “You helped me?”

Tanner said, “Balm on arm, wet cloth on head. You burn tho hot.” Bob and swish.

“What about Sorrel?”

“Who ith Thorrel?”

“My sleipnir.”

Tanner nodded. “Oh, yeth. He with camel herder. Tho what about your power?”

I considered my floppy state. “I'd say I'm pretty powerless at this point.”

Tanner’s face slumped, but the corners of her mouth stayed slightly curled in a permanent smile. “You could, if you have thtone?”

I jerked upright then leaned back. “How’d you know about that?”

“You talk in thleep.” Tanner tilted her head to one side. “I never thee before. It thtrange.”

Now I picked at the blanket. “Did I say anything else?”

“You talk about power, and the thtone, and you athk for help.” Tanner looked like a bobble-head doll. Bob and swish. Bob and swish. "I not leave thide whole time. You need me.” Tanner clasped her hands together, her face splitting into a wide grin.

I felt my cracked lips with the tip of my tongue. My mouth tasted like I’d been gnawing cinder blocks. “Could I have some water?”

Tanner sprang from the bed. She didn't walk so much as bounce to a small cabinet. Humming to herself, she poured water from a clay pitcher and handed me a cup.

I drank the whole cup down then set it on the nightstand “Thanks.”

Tanner grazed the milky stone of my necklace with her thumb. “Thith your thtone?”

My mouth went dry again. Would she try to steal it? I hid it under my shirt and changed the subject. “I got sucked under the sand. How’d you find me?”

“You caught in thand whorl.” She pointed her index finger in the air and twirled it. Camel herder thee you over old part of village when you fall. Whoosh, right through thand.”

“Huh, I don’t remember seeing a town anywhere.”

“We under thand.”

“Under?” I looked up at the ceiling. Thinking about how the sand had squished me had me gasping for air, as if I were being smothered again. No way. Time to jet this place. I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, but my head spun and my stomach wrenched and I had to clutch the bedpost.

“Haley, no alarm. You fall in abandoned part of village where tunnel not throng.”

I put a hand to my head and plopped back onto the bed, waiting for the dizziness to go away.

“Where you going?” Tanner toyed with the water pitcher, spinning it in her hands.

“I don’t know.”

Tanner swayed as if she listened to music in her head. “I have friend. He help me with your healing. He help you now.”

The door open behind me.

“Hey there, Haley.”

For a minute I thought I was back at school. Or I was dreaming. Or maybe I was dead after all, and this was heaven. My heart cartwheeled and I nearly fell off the bed.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Funnies!

Here are six reasons why you should think before you speak!

Have you ever spoken and wished that you could immediately take the words back? Here are the Testimonials of a few who did....


I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in tow and asked loudly, 'How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?'

I turned around and walked back out and never went back. My husband didn't say a word...he knew better.


I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls. I was unhappy with the women's type I had been using. After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store.

He asked if he could help me. Without thinking, I looked at him and said, 'I think I like playing with men's balls'


My sister and I were at the mall and passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts. As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help.

I replied, 'No, I'm just looking at your nuts.'

My sister started to laugh hysterically. The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away. To this day, my sister has never let me forget.


While in line at the bank one afternoon, my toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and ran amok. I was finally able to grab hold of her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons.

I told her that if she did not start behaving 'right now' she would be punished.

To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, 'If you don't let me go right now, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!'

The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing. I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked out of the bank with my daughter in tow. The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were screams of laughter.


Have you ever asked your child a question too many times?

My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly. One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch, in between errands It was very busy, with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, I smelled something funny, so of course I checked my seven-month-old daughter, she was clean.

I realized that Danny had not asked to go potty in a while. I asked him if he needed to go, and he said 'No'.

I kept thinking 'Oh Lord, that child has had an accident, and I don't have any clothes with me.'

Then I said, 'Danny, are you SURE you didn't have an accident?'

'No,' he replied.

I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, because the smell was getting worse.

Soooooo, I asked one more time, 'Danny did you have an accident?'

This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants, bent over, spread his cheeks and yelled 'SEE MOM, IT'S JUST FARTS!!'

While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing, he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down. An older couple made me feel better, thanking me for the best laugh they'd ever had!


This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a very embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future, likely think before she speaks. What happens when you predict snow but don't get any! We had a female news anchor that, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman and asked:

'So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last night?'

Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too they were laughing so hard!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Confession of Closet Critic

I don't think I'm *really* a closet critic. I read, I review, and yes, sometimes I criticize...but I'm not a critic. I just like the sound of that...closet critic. Nice alliteration. Even if it's kind of a lie.


So, a while back I was reviewing two separate books, and I was annoyed at how the author had gleamed over, what I had thought, pivotal scenes. One was a fight scene, the other was a torture scene. As I had mentioned in my review, I'm not necessary a gruesome girl who gets off on reading about torture and worships movies like Hostel (talk about gruesome, and yeah, I've seen them all), but I wanted at least a piece of the scene for my little tidbit thrown my way so that my brain could analyze it and embellish it in whatever sick way my mind wanted to take me. I believe I had said that that approach to writing the scene was unimaginative, or cowardly.

Wow. Bitch much?


It was the same with the fight scene (a different book). It was like the whole scene had been condensed and glossed over and then, bam! It was over.

I repeat: I'm not a gruesome girl, really, but the reason I wanted to have a little embellishment on these scenes is that both were pivotal events for the character. They were life-changing events. They molded and shaped the character to harden and toughen and evolve. And we missed it. Both times.

Now to the confession.

As I was reading through my current WIP (Kiss Me Dead) I came upon a fight scene. 3 guys against 1. The character gives one guy a solid kick to the chin that sends him flying, he cracks his head against the pavement, and lights out. The other 2 left standing go on the attack. Then you know what I did?

Wait for it...

I condensed. I glossed. I believe my exact written words were, "A few kicks and punches later..."

Read it again.

"A few kicks and punches later..."

Um. Wait. What? Is that imaginative or brave writing? No, it's unimaginative and cowardly. Granted, it was in no way a life-changing scene for the main character...but it was pivotal. It was a cause that created an effect. It forced him into a situation where he made a decision he might not otherwise have made.

"A few kicks and punches later..."

I cringe every single time I read that sentence. How uninspiring. How *lazy*. Apparently, I can talk the Shit, but I can't write it.

But I *can* edit it! And I will.