It’s MuseItUp Publishing Monday, and I’m ending my paranormal month with Bad Spelling, an adorable children’s novel by author Marva Dasef. I’ve only just started reading this one myself (I was saving it for Halloween), and it’s so much fun! Anyways, onward and forward….
BAD SPELLING – Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim
A klutzy witch, a shaman’s curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Bio: Marva Dasef is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published books of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. A few more are scheduled for 2011 and 2012 from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.
If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.
The young witch, accompanied by her warlock brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way. At the Troll Kingdom, a young troll, Andy, joins the siblings in their quest to find the shaman and kill the curse.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am retired from a career in tech writing and programming. I wrote very little fiction while working. I don’t know how so many of the authors do it with full-time jobs, kids at home, or whatever.
But I did have a few short stories, which I pulled out to see if they had any value. I found a couple worth keeping with a thorough rewrite, so I started there. I wrote a lot of short stories (more than 40 published in various places) before I tried any longer work.
One year, I participated in Nanowrimo and managed a 50K word mess of a novella. I did manage to get it down to a 38K MG adventure book. But it broke my 5000 word maximum barrier.
My family is small with only my mother and one brother who live in the area. My two sons are grown up and long gone. My husband and my greatest joy is when our granddaughters visit. Unfortunately, that’s not near often enough, but it’s certainly a bright spot in our year when they do.
How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?
I’m actually a genre-hopper. I write stories that occur to me and they may be in just about any genre. When I got the initial idea for “Bad Spelling,” I became an MG/YA writer for a series of three books. Prior to that, I wrote a science fiction novel (twice, once as YA and rewritten for adult) and fantasy stories mostly based on middle-eastern mythology.
Where do you get your ideas?
Um. I don’t know. I’m sure that things I’ve seen or heard about percolated into a storyline, but most often I don’t know when or where the initial concept began. With “Bad Spelling,” I thought of the title first, then had to figure out a story to go with it.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you while you were growing up?
“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. Before I discovered science fiction via this book, I was pretty much all about horse stories: the Black Stallion series, Misty of Chincoteague, Black Beauty, King of the Wind. All of these, and more were by go to books.
“Stranger” totally turned my head around. It combines science fiction with mysticism and a little fantasy. I found almost all my reading material in the SF/Fantasy shelves after that.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
Yes. I know when I’m finding housework to do I’m bereft of ideas. Sometimes, it’s not being blocked, but wondering what the heck I’m trying to accomplish. That’s stymied me a few times. Eventually, I shrug it off and get back to work.
Random Question #1: Light or dark chocolate?
By itself, light chocolate. With a cream center, I like dark chocolate.
Do you work from an outline, or do the characters dictate the plot (I’m a mix of both)?
I outline, but find that I keep changing the outline as I have new thoughts, find something interesting in research, and so on. Or the characters are cleverly manipulating me.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I went with a very small publisher who also published on-line ezines. He’d accepted a few of my stories. When I developed a couple of the stories into a novella, he took those as well. The same publisher took a second book, again short stories. Subsequently, I’ve gotten my rights back and have self-pubbed both books as ebooks. It’s the popular thing to do these days. I know more than one author who first went with a traditional publisher who has now uploaded their books to Kindle and Nook on their own.
I also self-published a book of stories based on my father’s tales about growing up in West Texas during the Depression. I added a lot to fill out his one-paragraph descriptions of events, and did a lot of research to keep the stories historically and geographically accurate. This book has been my best seller. Even with an eleven-year-old first person narrator, my biggest fans are older people who grew up in rural areas. It strikes a chord with them. I’m all to happy to oblige.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not with the Witches of Galdorheim series, of which “Bad Spelling” is the first. I love the whole series and I totally love the publisher, MuseItUp. Anything I write in the future will be sent their way first.
Do you have any tips for new authors marketing their first book?
Understand that you will spend a considerable amount of time marketing. You can’t slack off on that or you may as well not bother to get published at all.
Random Question #2: Favourite colour?
Emerald green. Love the wonder City of Oz. I also live in Eugene, which is called the Emerald City, has the Emeralds baseball team, and the University of Oregon’s colours are green and yellow. How else could I not love green?
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The only thing I based on my real life is dealing with frustrations when those around you find fault with what you do. Fortunately, my MC overcomes her “fault,” that of not being able to use her magic.
Do you have any favourite characters?
My favorite character in “Bad Spelling” is an orca, sometimes called a killer whale or toothed whale. Orcas the largest member of the dolphin family. My main character, Katrina and her brother, Rune, meet Salmon when they’re crossing the ice-covered Barents Sea in the Arctic. When they reach the floe ice (some open water between chunks of ice), they’re threatened by a polar bear.
Salmon and his pod mates come to their rescue, chasing the polar bear away. Then, he rescues Kat a second time when she falls into the water. This is the first time that Kat discovers her magical ability to talk to animals. Why she didn’t find about this talent earlier is all part of the story.
Random Question #3: Tea or coffee?
Coffee with fat-free 1/2-1/2 and sugar-free french vanilla flavoring. Totally guilt-free.
How did you come up with the title?
It literally just popped into my head. My next thought is that it had to be a witch who could not cast spells. I love puns. Many of my chapter heads are puns or cultural references. For example, “Scry Me a River” is one of my favs. Scrying is crystal reading.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Surf (the internet), follow random ideas around the web. I’m pretty much a slave to my computer. After so long working all day with computer at my career, it’s hard to break the habit.
Last Random Question: Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or horse, bird or whatever else floats your boat. LOL.
We have only a cat now, but I’ve been the parent of dogs, horses, and reptiles. Never had a bird, but my husband used to keep a salt water aquarium. I love all creatures, great and small.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I don’t believe in not publishing a book you love. If you can’t find a publisher, then publish it yourself. If you love it, somebody else will too.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write easy, edit hard.
If it was possible, would you ever want to meet your protagonist?
Sure. There’s a lot of me in Kat, so I hope we’d get along. I have granddaughters her age, so I know I can have a good time with teenagers.
I don’t have any writing projects right now. I’m finding the marketing aspect is taking up all my time. Since I have two more books already in the pipeline, I think I’ll just wait to get through the releases, then start looking for my new story. I did write a short story which is a prequel to the series titled “Spellslinger.” It will be included with “Bad Spelling” as a bonus story for buyers.
She left the house through the back door. She’d take the alley to avoid the snickering bi…witches. The back way had its own dangers, but she’d rather face the Wolf Pack than the snotty girls. The teen boys in town formed the group years ago, maybe even hundreds of years. The faces changed, but the club remained the same.
After school, the boys met in the back alley and performed self-transformations. The elders frowned on this practice, or did so in public. More than a few times, one of the senior witches or warlocks had to help a boy return to his original form.
To join the club, each boy had to self-transform three times. The first two could be anything the boy wanted. The third transformation, at least for the initiation, was a Level One wolf: a cub. After that, the boys needed to master each level before moving up. Tundra Wolf, Dire Wolf, and finally, Werewolf. Kat was glad Rune didn’t join them. He said being half vampire was already cool enough.
The fading light of the setting sun cast deepening shadows as Kat made her way down the alley. She smothered a startled gasp when she saw glowing red eyes a dozen yards up the narrow street. She wasn’t sure whether the boys changed shape only, or if they became real wolves, or worse yet, werewolves. A chill ran down her spine. When Rune saw blood, his vampire side took over. He couldn’t control himself yet; was it the same with the Wolf Pack? Maybe these wolves were real enough to attack her.
She stopped in the middle of the alley, undecided. Should she return to the street or face the Wolf Pack? At least the stuck-up girls wouldn’t go for her jugular. Nevertheless, she also knew turning her back on even a normal wolf was not a good idea. Surely, the warlocks wouldn’t allow outright attacks even if they turned a blind eye to the illicit transformations. She decided to go forward and slip out of the alley between the next two cottages.
She thought the shadowy figures moved closer. Or was it her imagination working overtime? She quickened her pace trying to reach the gap between the houses before the pack. It was nearer than turning back. The approaching sets of eyes flared and glowed a deep ruby red. Kat could now make out the wolf shapes loping toward her. She looked wildly around and saw she couldn’t reach the gap in time. She had nowhere to run.
Heart pounding in her chest, Kat’s breath grew fast and shallow as she watched the glowing eyes draw nearer. The wolves spread out, trapping her against the building. The snarls and bared fangs sent a shiver up her spine. She looked around, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. Just her and the wolves.