Friday, February 26, 2016

Finding Teeka's Magic Stone

If you've read any of my Healer's Apprentice books (Fairy Gold, To Heal a Broken Planet, or the current WIP Into the Unknown) you know that my main character, Teeka, wears a necklace with a "magic stone" that her mother got from the gillys, the semi-mythical telepathic and telekinetic natives of her planet. The stone isn't really magic, but enhances Teeka's own psychic abilities.
When I first started the books, I based my description of the stone on one in a ring I used to own: a dark amber, with a flash of green fire inside if the light hit it just so. I bought the ring in a thrift shop, and thought, because of its size, that the stone was glass. But I've never found any glass that behaves that way. I later suspected that it was actually a rather large (and perhaps valuable) specimen of andalusite. It's a moot point, as the ring was stolen many years ago, and I also learned that andalusite only shows the color shift if it's faceted. I wanted a natural stone, stream-polished but uncut.
Friends had suggested it might be a good thing to offer copies of Teeka's necklace along with the books. They needed to be inexpensive enough to be marketable, even if I didn't make any profit, but only used them as a bonus with books. After searching for suitable stones, I concluded that it might be necessary to manufacture a fake stone of cast resin, and enlisted the aid of a jewelry-making friend, but what with one thing and another it didn't seem to be happening.
My jewelry-making friend had also suggested labradorite as a possible substitute, but I wasn't impressed with the small beads she showed me. Then I ran across larger pieces on Etsy, and purchased a few. They aren't necessarily amber (although some show glints of that color) but all the samples I've bought do produce the "green flash" which is what I wanted. I still have to determine an optimum size, plus the cost of mounting the stone in a simple wire wrapping, such as my gillys (not much into making things) might use simply as a way to carry the stones. The stones are utilized as training devices for their children.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: The Light Side of the Moon by Elizabeth Guizzetti

The Kindle edition is available for pre-order on Amazon and releases July 27. see it here

I was lucky enough to win an advance review copy in an online contest.  I liked it enough that I intend to purchase a paper copy. It's the sort of book you can read more than once.

Warning: despite the age of the protagonist, this is definitely not a children's book.

I was expecting a continuation of Other Systems, with more about Abby or at least the Khlorasons and Kiposans. To my surprise, Guizzetti went back to dysfunctional, overcrowded earth, and back to the Seattle library, to tell the story of another young girl: one too young to be chosen for immigration to Kipos. I was only momentarily disappointed, because I soon found myself engrossed in Ellie's saga. 

Guizzetti is something of a modern-day Dickens, exposing the seamy underside of her extrapolated world, but still offering a gleam of hope and kindness here and there. Ellie, like Abby of Other Systems, is a survivor: clever, determined and courageous. She takes the worst that life can throw at her, and still maintains a certain innocence, a willingness to love and trust others. The supporting cast is well-fleshed out and there are interesting secondary plots. The continuing adventure is a page-turner (screen-scroller?) but there is emotional engagement as well. I confess I was a bit teary-eyed at the end.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Princess Buttermilk Biscuit recommends Alaska Awakening by E. B. Sullivan

I just did a "review swap" with E. B. Sullivan, author of the forthcoming Alaska Awakening (Kindle, October 14). Amazon apparently doesn't allow pre-pub reviews, and Goodreads doesn't have it yet, so I'm posting it here. (She did a lovely review for Fairy Gold.)

Lies, deceit, treachery, gratuitous cruelty, courage, selflessness, love and redemption

Disclaimer: I received a free PDF of this book for review.

Three wealthy couples embark on an Alaskan wilderness adventure that turns out to be more adventurous than they expected. Their guides are thugs who demand an enormous ransom. Once the money’s paid, everyone will be released. Or so they claim.

A stressful situation can bring out the best in people, or the worst. Sullivan takes us by turns into the minds of hostages, captors and the family members who are expected to pay. Some grow; some are forever trapped in their own inadequacies. We see their hopes and dreams, their fears and failings. She teases with glimmers of hope, then snatches them away, leaping from one tense situation to another in a compelling read that will keep you guessing all the way through.

Five stars (or maybe I should dock her one star for keeping me awake half the night)

Monday, August 18, 2014



I promised a giveaway to celebrate the August 20 publication of The Hall of Doors, in a five-book print edition. I meant to get this up sooner, but I’ve been dealing with other issues (family stuff, mostly—you know how that goes). So I’m going to run the contest/drawing whatever you choose to call it for a  week past the publication date. It will end at midnight, my time (Pacific Daylight Time) on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. I’ll notify winners ASAP—within a couple of days if I can.  There will be three winners, chosen at random in a drawing. Scroll down for details.


First place: The whole Hall of Doors collection in two reading formats. Autographed paper copies of The Door in the Sky and The Mirror Door (out-of-print singles with J. W. Kalin’s wonderful color covers), and the new Hall of Doors five-book combo; electronic copies of the Hall of Doors three-book combo, The Secret Door, and The Water Door. PLUS paper and electronic copies of Fairy Gold, and a dozen note cards with cover art. PLUS a cat puppet, one of Princess Buttermilk Biscuit’s many friends. And bookmarks. Always bookmarks. (Please note that while I can access everything else right away, there may be some waiting time on the new book, as I have to order copies and then ship to the winner.)

Second Place: Same as above, minus the puppet (I only have one.)

Third Place: The electronic books listed above. If you really, really want bookmarks and promise to share, I will mail you some. 

If anyone else wants autographed copies of any of the paper books, contact me for cost, including shipping, or watch for announcements of in-person sales opportunities. I do plan to be at Rustycon and Norwescon with books and hope to line up other venues. I have only a few left of the original editions of The Door in the Sky and The Mirror Door, and The Mountains of the Moon is no longer available as a single (except at a couple of local schools and libraries), unless someone has a few hidden somewhere.

I will post a link to this blog on both my personal Facebook timeline and my author’s page at You will need to go to the author’s page to enter, so that I’ll have all the entries in one string. I’ll pin the post so it’s easy to find. Like and share the post, and enter the words “free books” in the comments. The drawing entries will be taken from that comment list; I’ll contact the winners for email (for the electronic books) and snail mail addresses. 

That’s all for the contest, but here are some links for the books. I had mixed up some of them in an earlier post when I tried to get too fancy with the listings, so I’m going to keep it simple this time. 

Hall of Doors books 1-3, print and Kindle:

The Secret Door, various electronic formats:

The Water Door, various electronic formats:

Fairy Gold, print and Kindle:

All links have been checked. The “bookgoodies” seems to go to Amazon; I’m not yet familiar with that site, but the publisher furnished the link. It’s on my “to do” list of things to check out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Snow peas and other garden commentary

Don’t those silly snow peas know it’s mid-August and they should have been done long ago? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. They did get a late start, and maybe they’re confused by climatic ups and downs. The vines on the sunnier side of the planter box are definitely beginning to shrivel up, but still they keep making pods.

Perhaps they’re aware, on some level, of their imminent demise. They’re definitely getting better at hiding the pods under the leaves, with more lurking close to the ground where I’m less likely to spot them. They’re maturing faster, too, as if in a last frenzied rush to reproduce. Sorry,  peas; your only authorized options are on the plate today or into the freezer.

The pumpkins are coming along nicely; zucchini continues to be slow. Okra, beans, peppers and cantaloupe are blossoming. The leaf lettuce, alas, is bolting, but tomatoes are ripening, and the cucumbers continue to be prolific. I shall have to make more sweet relish.