Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin or Turnip

The humble turnip was the original vegetable used for creating the 'jack o lantern' but when the custom moved to America the larger and softer pumpkin became the popular choice for lanterns.
Carving the pumpkin has been a custom in America since around 1837 to celebrate harvest time, and wasn't associated with Halloween until the mid to late 19th century.
So, there you go. The humble turnip was ousted by the pumpkin.
I would rather carve than eat turnip any day. Pumpkin though, especially pumpkin soup or baked pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables, all year round.

Winter time, with fresh baked bread and warm pumpkin soup sounds cozy. Although here in Australia our seasons arrive in different months, our recipes are similar. Right now, as October winds up and November looms, we are preparing for a hot summer. Thank goodness the ocean breeze lifts the humidity and cools us as the warm winds from our vast interior bring stifling heat. 
Already the bushfire season has started in earnest. The pool is looking more inviting each day.

Thoughts of harvest festivals and spirits seeking vengeance are far from our thoughts as the time for Trick or Treating arrives.

The cupboards are stocked though, for All Hallow's Eve.

Not a turnip in sight. Not even a carved pumpkin here. Still... the kids love the dressing up and we enjoy seeing them celebrating Halloween.

As a Halloween TREAT to readers, EXILED: Autumn's Peril is available to download FREE from Amazon. Have you grabbed your copy yet? Please let your friends know this offer will last till 31st OCT. Then the free 'door' into Caleath's the world closes again! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trick or Treat...

The idea behind Trick or Treating comes from the old custom of collecting foodstuffs for the feast to celebrate Samhain. 

Believing Samhain was a time when the door to the otherworld opened and allowed the spirits of the dead to revisit their homes, people prepared feasts, inviting the spirits to share their repast. 

The open door also meant nasty creatures could pass through as well, and to protect against them costumes were often worn. The collection of goods from families was hoped to bring good fortune for the giver, and the idea of collecting in costume became part of the custom. 

The Christian church's All Hallow's Eve/All Saints Day was the day that the souls of the dead could pass on. 

Until that time they wandered among the living, and on All Hallow's Eve they had a chance to avenge any wrongs done to them while living. 

Thus wearing costumes or disguises became popular so the spirits didn't recognize people. The custom of baking soul cakes and 'guising'... trick or treating began to be common too.

Today as part of our Halloween TREATs, you have a chance to grab a FREE copy of book one in the Chronicles of Caleath.
Exiled: Autumn's Peril...

 Here is a glimpse into one version of the first chapter. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween.. Origins...

So, Halloween is being promoted aggressively in Australian shops this year. Alongside aisles of Christmas decorations we have elaborate pumpkin lights, lamps, figurines, chocolates, cobwebs, witch motifs etc etc.
Halloween...when the border 
between the living and the dead opens...

The trick or treat custom has been gaining popularity here too. Ten years ago having children arrive dressed up as ghouls and wanting sweets was a rarity. Now it's wise to be prepared.

Looking at the origins of the commercial hype the blame tends to immediately be focused on the American hysteria generated during Halloween. This trend towards Trick or Treating seems to come from the USA but the preoccupation with Halloween dates from a different continent and custom base.

There are several sources of celebration. So although the American's have taken the commercial side of the night to levels unparalleled, they are only borrowing from previous traditions. We in Australia are competing for the precious commercial dollar and are following hard in their footsteps.

Despite the origins, some stories are quite dark and scary, fairies swapping children in their cots... etc, the spirits of the dead returning... the children seem to enjoy dressing up and overdosing on sugar.

As long as they don't bounce off my walls when they have consumed their ration of sugar, it's ok with me!

 As a treat, no tricks involved, I am offering Book One in the Chronicles of Caleath, FREE on Amazon for five days leading up to Oct 31st.
If you have not yet discovered this epic fantasy science fiction series... take this opportunity to join Caleath and his adventures FREE.

Happy Halloween.
Offer opens on Oct 27th USA time.. so allow for global time zones. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This is like taking a glimpse into the future...
I'm honoured to be chosen to be part of this "THE NEXT BIG THING" blog hop and I’d like to thank Wendy Laharnar for tagging me. 
It is fun to participate. 
This gives us all a chance to view future releases from authors we admire as well as introduce us to some works in progress. 

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book? At present the working title is 'Signs of Reason'.

Where did the idea come from for the book? The idea came from being adopted and discovering my birth parent. The series though has an underlying theme of questioning what makes a species sentient. 

What genre does your book fall under? Fantasy and science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? No idea. I would like to discover new talent. I try not to imagine my characters as known actors, lest I 'borrow' from another author or screenwriter.  

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  When  Archie's mother is murdered he discovers his true identity and must embrace a dangerous destiny.

Will your book be self-published or represented                                   by an agency? I am not yet ready to consider publication. I need to complete book two in the series before I can call book one finished.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The  first draft took about three months to complete. Rewrites/edits/getting critiques are not yet complete. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Any books incorporating epic fantasy, evolving dragons, quests, romance and family history.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? A little of life, discovering my birth mother, a little imagination and love of dragons, magic and all things fantasy.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? This series follows Archie's journey to self discovery, finding his family, realizing his own self worth doesn't rely on his heritage, and the old adage 'man is the maker of his own fortune'. 

On October 31st, my dear friends will be answering the questions about their fabulous novels. So for a treat, hop over and visit them.

As a prelude to Halloween, return on the 27th - 31st October 

 A Halloween TREAT. 
Your chance to download Book One in the Chronicles of Caleath EXILED: Autumn's Peril. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excerpt From SIGNS of REASON my WIP...

A short glimpse into the future...
Taken from Signs of Reason... unedited. Taken from Chapter Twelve.

“Two young boar and they weigh more than you think.” Kyler dumped the carcasses beside the fire. Ildikó roared, impatient for food. “Take what we need from the smaller beast.” He straightened and hefted one beast onto his shoulder before continuing deeper into the cave.

She’s been restless all day.” Tamzyn spoke inside his head, while she butchered the second carcass. “Her wound has closed. I think she’s ready to leave.”

Kyler didn’t answer as he greeted Ildikó.

“Do you want to leave?” He tossed the boar to the dragon and watched her catch it between formidable jaws. “How do you feel?” He sent the query, trying to replicate the thought formula Tamzyn taught him. Ildikó turned her head until her black eye could watch him. “You heard me?” A rush of excitement sent shivers down Kyler’s spine. “I think she heard me!” he called aloud.

Ildikó sent him a projected image. Strong and clear, it brought goose bumps to Kyler’s skin. In the vision, a blue sky hosted a magnificent black tipped sky daemon. With broad wingspan and heavy bone structure, a bronze colored male flew across familiar landscape. The creature rose, dived, inverted and baulked. Each maneuver, more complex than the last, seemed designed to defy gravity. Kyler swallowed. He shared a wave of emotion as Ildikó snorted and her neck frills stood erect. Iridescent scales gleamed and her readiness to accept a male dragon’s attention needed no explaining.

“Your wound has healed, Ildikó.” Kyler stood his ground as the dragon stretched her head toward his chest and exhaled. He smelt the acrid odor of the boar’s entrails on her breath. One hand lifted to touch the fine scales protecting her snout. “He’s coming for you. Handsome and strong, he’ll make a good mate.”

Flowering Wyldwood filled the air with pollen. The incessant chatter of cicadas and crickets muffled the sound of buffeting wings. A daemon’s cry whispered through the cavern. Ildikó surged toward the entrance, her nostrils flared, her head lifted as she tested every scent. Kyler followed her to the entrance, keeping between the dragon and Tamzyn.

Shadows marred the deep magenta sunset as the bronze drake descended and dropped a carcass. Recognizing the dragon’s gruesome gift as a human corpse, Kyler flinched. Ildikó preened and extended her wings. Iridescent scales shone in the last rays of sunlight. Despite the bleeding corpse, Kyler’s heart swelled with pride, his pulse raced and he struggled to stand motionless as the dragon shared her impatience.

As darkness fell a second shadow shot toward the cavern entrance. Before the first drake landed, a challenge rang across the valley.

Ildikó bated. Her head snaked forward to hiss approval of the bronze male’s gift. Leathery wings buffeted the air in the cave and blew Tamzyn’s fire into disarray.

Kyler dared not take his eyes from Ildikó until the second shadow materialized into an angry black daemon. This creature carried the bulk of a small horse between taloned claws. With a roar, the black drake tossed the horse toward the cave mouth and turned to face the bronze male.

Stifling odors filled the cave when both male daemons bellowed defiance. Smoke and flame licked from savage snouts and fangs, a hand-span long, glinted red in the fading light. The ground beneath Kyler’s feet shook as the creatures landed. Dust billowed where they scored the dirt with talons and barbed tails thrashed. Their deafening roars dislodged pebbles. Debris began to fall from the ceiling as reverberations bounced around the cavern.

“Kyler, come away.” Tamzyn shouted, as he remained stationary watching with Ildikó, sharing her excitement. “Please, come away.”

Kyler lifted a hand, ignoring her plea while the two sky daemons closed in combat. They lifted into the air, and pummeled peace from the valley. Teeth and talon, tail and wing tips all became weapons as each creature tried to gain ascendency.

Ildikó whistled and her neck frills fanned. Her tail swished but her eyes didn’t blink. Kyler moved closer to the entrance. An overhang blocked his vision of the battle, so he edged clear of the cavern’s maw. Open mouthed and breathless he watched as black talons tore through bronze wings.

The bronze drake baulked, the muscles of his neck ballooned for a heartbeat before he blasted the sky with flame.

Kyler’s heart skipped a beat.

When the black daemon responded in kind, orange flame illuminated the clearing. Sparks and balls of fire ignited shrubs and clumps of dry grass.  Crickets, cicadas and the forest dwelling creatures fell silent as the dragons fought for Ildikó’s attention.


He turned. Tamzyn’s fear jarred his senses. Ildikó swung her head as Kyler peered into the deep shadows of the cave. The female dragon tasted Tamzyn's fear and Kyler sensed her interest in the battle waned when instinct drove her to seek frightened prey.

“No Ildikó!” Boots slipped in loose dirt as Kyler scrambled to distract the daemon. The air shook with a deafening roar. Kyler tried to spin magic, to protect Tamzyn. He needed time to focus.

Flames enveloped him. Burning air scorched his lungs. Kyler’s shirt smoldered. The smell of charred hair tasted rank. As the roar that bludgeoned his hearing faded, Tamzyn’s scream tore through the fracas. Smoke choked Kyler and blocked his view of the female sky daemon. 
“No!” In desperation, he gathered all the power he could muster in a heartbeat and tried to command Ildikó. “Leave the girl, leave her alone!”

Inside his head, Ildikó forced him to share an image. Through smoke and beyond scattered coals, Tamzyn cowered behind a broken stalagmite. A sullen query formed without words. Why waste flesh?

Kyler struggled forward. From the corner of his eye he saw the black sky daemon crash into the cliff face and slink away on damaged wings. The bronze lifted into the air, flames and smoke followed him while he trumpeted his victory into the night.

“Ildikó…” Words would not placate the daemon. The dragon cocked her head and folded her wings. Black eyes glinted as her gaze followed Kyler’s move into shadow. He tried again to send her an image. This time he shared a memory of Tamzyn, embraced in his arms, and added to his sending a hint of the impatience and lust the dragon shared with him.

Ildikó lifted her head and snorted. With an excited squeal, she backed away from Tamzyn and turned her attention to her suitor’s bloody offerings. She shrieked with delight and tore the human carcass to pieces. Blood dripped from gnashing fangs while she fed on the victor’s gift and left the horse untouched. Once the feasting ended Ildikó stretched her wings and tucked them beside her body. Neck frills flared when she moved to greet the bronze drake.

Kyler sank to his knees, only now aware of blistered flesh and smoldering clothes. He lifted his head to watch Ildikó silhouetted for a moment in the cave entrance. Spot fires died as the victorious dragon came to collect his prize.

“May Ort watch over you Ildikó.” 

Monday, October 22, 2012 for FREE book promotion... or 

Follow the link to discover a great site that does book promotion FREE. 

I have just applied to have EXILED: Autumn's Peril hosted there. Will let you know how things go as I learn more.

What a great idea. A few of the other Muse authors have used the site and their books and pages look terrific. is affiliated with Amazon, one reason I felt confident of signing up..
Looking forward to some positive results. 

Will be tweeting and posting when my book is listed. :)

Rochelle Weber's Five Rose Review of EXILED: Autumn's Peril

Last Sunday, I got distracted and never went online.  Hence, I never notified Ms. Skinner that her review was posted.  Therefore, I have decided to leave this review up for two weeks so that Ms. Skinner will have another week in which to promote this review.  Many thanks, readers. 

Exiled and driven by guilt and vengeance, Caleath, adept in virtual reality games, finds himself on a world where magic rules. Assassins hunt him, ghosts haunt his nights, a sorcerer covets his knowledge and a beautiful hostage complicates his escape.

Washed ashore from the wreck of the Albatross, tortured in mind and body, Caleath uses his dreaded nanobots in order to survive and reluctantly befriends the young Gwilt Their search for the survey satellite, which could lead Caleath home, unveils the terrifying world of “a dark soul, black magic and a bloody sword.”

On this perilous journey, an assassin destroys Caleath's healing nanobots, and exiles from his home planet follow his every move. He takes the beautiful Nasith, of the Ferran clan, hostage to keep the assassins at bay, but her presence endangers him more. A sorcerer forces Caleath to aid the Council of Mages when he discovers Caleath carries vital knowledge that could save the Sharyac people from the invading Tarack, a species of giant ants.

I bought this book for my grandson for Christmas.  He does not have an e-reader, so I had to download it to my computer and give it to him on a flash drive.  Which means, it was on my computer when I needed something to read.  When I asked him what he thought of it, he said he had difficulty getting into it, because he felt like it started in the middle.  There is a lot of backstory that is revealed as you read the book.  But I found it engaging and worth the wait.  I guess my grandson just doesn’t have my patience.  No one washes up onshore after a shipwreck without a backstory.  They were on that ship for a reason—getting away from something, going toward something, leaving something or someone behind.  Caleath is no exception.

This book has elements of sci-fi, fantasy, the paranormal—Ms. Skinner does an incredible job of world-building.  As a writer and editor, I know how difficult it is to write three dimensional characters.  My science fiction takes place in the foreseeable future using plausible technology (and no math—I didn’t do well in Math). I couldn’t imagine tackling the kind of world-building Ms. Skinner has done so flawlessly here.  And yes, her characters are well-drawn and three dimensional.  My only complaint is that this is Book 1 of a seven book series.  Seven?  Really?  I need to buy six more books?  Ah, well…  I’m up into the teens in the Honor Harrington and Harry Dresden series.  And I scarped up all seven Harry Potter books.  I guess I can get the other six Caleath books, too.  Fortunately, they’re all out. 

Editor's note... there are actually eight books in the series. Book Six is in editing process at present, due out soon. :)

ON SATURDAY 27th OCT EXILED: Autumn's Peril will be available FREE on Amazon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review of EXILED: Autumn's Peril by Rochelle Weber.

Click on the link to read the review!

Thanks Rochelle... I am thrilled you have taken the time to read and review Autumn's Peril.

Friday, October 12, 2012

OMNILIT Best Seller / Reader Rating for EXILED: Winter's Curse

Stays of Rio and Exiled: Winter's Curse have both made it to Omnilit's Best Seller List.
Thanks to those readers who have bought copies!