No Beauty

Once I looked at the fringe of bare winter branches
against the sky’s horizon, and thought
          Nature’s lace, so beautiful

It is still beautiful
          but cold, so cold

Blue sky, cool like the season
black branches, dead without their leaves
          The composition is distant, with no anchorage for my heart

Such abstract beauty beguiled me, when I was
warm, happy

Now I drift in a world strange to me
          the safe harbor is no more

With all havens closed, none open, abstract beauties chill me
already too numb and aching with it
          Find me warmth

But there is no warmth in a world
grown harder and colder

There is no succor, no consolation
          no beauty worth the name

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss



Remembering Warriors: Siren

Vo Arlo survived the destruction of Alexandria Station and RAN Auberon.

In between assignments, at a small college on a back-water planet, he stumbles into a mystery when the prettiest girl on campus suddenly starts throwing herself at him.

Vo, the former gutter punk from the streets.

What will it cost him to understand why he attracts such attention?

I just read Siren by Blaze Ward and enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want it to end!

Set within the milieu of academe, the novella is the brilliantly written story of an encounter between a space marine from the slums and a beautiful co-ed from the wealthy upper crust.

The characters are compelling. The narrative is compelling. I felt like I was Vo Arlo as events unfolded and he assessed and responded out of his unique blend of effective marine, man of honor, and escapee from the ghetto.

I’ll be reading more by Blaze Ward. I only hope he has more stories about Vo, because he’s a character I’m eager to spend more time with.

Siren is one of 13 stories in the Remembering Warriors bundle. (Another of those stories is my own “Resonant Bronze.”) Here’s a little more about the bundle:

One hundred years ago, in 1918, the Great War ended after four terrible years. Never had the world seen such a conflict. All touched by its scythe hoped we would never be thusly reaped again. Their hopes were but desperate dreams. Since that first armistice, there have been many more battles, and thousands have given their lives or their health to preserve freedom and escape from tyranny.

One hundred years after the first armistice we still remember and honour those brave souls. But still the soldiers fall, for the War to End all Wars did not.

10% of the royalties from the Remembering Warriors bundle will go to the Royal British Legion plus another 10% to Help for Heroes, two charities that support wounded and ex-service personnel and their families, in commemoration of the World War I centenary.

Comrades in Arms by Kevin J. Anderson
Outside the Walls by A. L. Butcher and Diana L. Wicker
Norman Blood by Barbara G.Tarn
The Rise of a Warrior by Harvey Stanbrough
Total War by Russ Crossley
“Resonant Bronze” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Siren by Blaze Ward
“The Museum of Modern Warfare” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Nothing for Nothing by Harvey Stanbrough
“The Rescue” by Blaze Ward
Soldier, Storyteller by Linda Maye Adams
“Heroes of Old” by Russ Crossley
With a Broken Sword by Stefon Mears

The Remembering Warriors bundle (with 13 titles, including Siren by Blaze Ward and my own Resonant Bronze) is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more about the stories in the Remembering Warriors bundle, see:
Remembering Warriors: The Museum of Modern Warfare
Remembering Warriors: With a Broken Sword
Remembering Warriors: Resonant Bronze

For more about other bundles, see:
Winter Warmer bundle
Mythic Tales bundle
More than Human bundle



Winter Warmer: Winter Glory

I’ve been writing mini reviews of my favorite stories in the Winter Warmer bundle to give you a taste of what the bundle contains.

This will be my last blog post about the bundle, but I want to remind you that my own novella, Winter Glory, is one of the 13 stories collected in it.

(There’s a mix of lengths: 6 shorts, 2 novellas, and 5 novels: ).

Obviously I cannot review my own work, but Winter Glory happens to have accumulated a bunch of reviews on Amazon. So I’m going to share a few excerpts with you.

The story moves along quickly. The descriptive language is nothing short of gorgeous without being repetitive or taking away from the plot. The characters are interesting, well-written… I love that the protagonists are older—I think the unconventional (read: not young and gorgeous and physically flawless) characters are relatable, and they stuck with me long after I had finished reading. —Mary Anne

The writing is lucid, elegant, smooth. Ney-Grimm creates a fantasy world of Norse legends, but with real people… the settings are gorgeous, sketched with quick perfect strokes. The culture she writes is realized in great detail in few words. I felt as if I had dropped in. —Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

A little atmospheric gem of a novella…puts you into the lead character’s shoes beautifully, and that’s a treat because the protagonist, and his society, is so alien. It’s interesting, beautifully written, and worth re-reading. —Rich S.

An excellent fantasy—well written and absorbing, with a lot of depth in both background and characters. It would be worth reading just for the fascinating details of life and different cultures in this cold landscape, but the characters are people you can care about. —Paul T.

I have been drawn to this writer’s work by her vivid use of language. This story is no exception in how it showcases her skills on that front, but what really makes it magical is that this is a story with a strong heart. In the starkly beautiful Northlands—a place that Ney-Grimm conveys so clearly it’s like watching a movie on the inside of your skull—two people who once knew and loved each other meet up again. This is their story… —Laura M.

Thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time and made the effort to review my stories. I love hearing what my readers think, and when your words are words of praise, I feel great!

Here’s the blurb for Winter Glory:

In the cold, forested North-lands—redolent with the aroma of pine, shrouded in snow, and prowled by ice tigers and trolls—Ivvar seeks only to meet his newborn great granddaughter.

Someone else has the same plan.

Traversing the wilderness toward the infant’s home camp, Ivvar must face the woman he once cherished and an ancient scourge of the chilly woodlands in a complicated dance of love and death.

Ivvar’s second chance at happiness—and his life—hang in the balance.

The Winter Warmer bundle (with 13 titles, including Winter Glory) is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more about the stories and novels in the Winter Warmer bundle, see:
Winter Warmer: Phoenix
Winter Warmer: Nutball Season
Winter Warmer: Nobody’s Child
Winter Warmer: Desperate Housewitches



Winter Warmer: Desperate Housewitches

Kimberly reigns as the witchy Martha Stewart of her neighborhood coven…until Philippa moves in across the street, with her snooty English pagan heritage and her magical one-upmanship. When the annual Winter Solstice ritual goes horribly wrong, can Kim and Philippa put their differences aside and avert disaster?

In preparation for writing this blog post, I re-read “Desperate Housewitches” by Dayle A. Dermatis.

I intended to peruse only the first few paragraphs to refresh my memory, but the story is so good it beguiled me onward for “one page more” all the way until I reached the end. I found it just as delightful, charming, and fun as I did the first time through.

The real heart of the tale is change and jealousy and making new friends, but the window dressing of witch’s hat fascinators, patchwork gift bags, peppermint fudge, and other housewifey projects adds a sparkle that makes the whole story sing.

Kimberly, who was always “the one with the best decorations, the best food at potlucks, the best parties, the best poison garden (for show only, of course),” feels threatened by newcomer Philippa, who uses magic to do her work, instead of doing the work to fuel her magic.

Their rivalry starts at Halloween (or Samhain, as the witches term it) and escalates as the year progresses to its close.

I loved Kimberly’s verve, the inventive world building of the coven and its neighborhood, the clever intertwining of the personal with the ritual, and how the whole desperate situation worsens and comes to a head.

“Desperate Housewitches” is altogether a gem of a short story. I’ll definitely be reading more by Dayle A. Dermatis.

The Winter Warmer bundle (with 13 titles, including “Desperate Housewitches”) is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more about the stories and novels in the Winter Warmer bundle, see:
Winter Warmer: Phoenix
Winter Warmer: Nutball Season
Winter Warmer: Nobody’s Child
Winter Warmer: Winter Glory



Mythic Tales at a Lower Price!

Story bundles, by their nature, are intended to offer readers some excellent reading for a modest price. I think the Mythic Tales bundle achieved that goal with its 14 titles – a mix of novels, novellas, and short stories – for $6.50.

But now the bundle is on sale for only $4.99.

If you were thinking of picking up a copy, now is the moment to do it! 😀

Remember those epic legends of heroes and monsters? Stories of great adventure woven with magic and myth live once more in this collection; read of ancient lore, magic swords, wicked beasts, courageous souls, desperate champions, and unholy bargains. Fairy tales and bold ventures come together in this boxed set.

Beneath the Knowe by Anthea Sharp
Tales of Erana by A. L. Butcher
A Sword’s Poem by Leah Cutter
On the Edge of Faerie by Stefon Mears
Sorcha’s Heart by Debbie Mumford
Tales Fabulous and Fairy by Kim Antieau
Tempus by Janet Morris
Caught in Amber by J.M. Ney-Grimm
The Warden of Power by Karen L. Abrahamson
Beautiful by Barbara G. Tarn
Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries by Ron Vitale
Tales of the Faie: The Beginning of Days by Diana L. Wicker
Raziel’s Shadow by Joseph Robert Lewis
Magic for a Rainy Day by Alexandra Brandt

Mythic Tales is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

Fourteen titles (8 novels, 1 novella, 4 short story collections, and 1 short story) for $4.99.

Note: The sale at the reduced $4.99 price is now over, but the bundle will continue to be available until February 1.

For more about the stories and novels in the Mythic Tales bundle, see:
Mythic Tales: Beneath the Knowe
Mythic Tales: Caught in Amber, Character Interview – Fae
Mythic Tales: A Sword’s Poem
Mythic Tales: Tales of Erana
Mythic Tales: Tempus
Mythic Tales: Author Interview
Mythic Tales: Raziel’s Shadow
Mythic Tales: Magic for a Rainy Day



Winter Warmer: Nobody’s Child

“Jeri combines V.I.’s social conscience with Kinsey’s bad-ass attitude and a snappy narrative voice… Dawson manages to blend her social criticism into a rich plum pudding sprinkled throughout with memorable characters.”

Those were the words of Maureen Corrigan in the Washington Post Book World, and they sum up the novel Nobody’s Child by Janet Dawson excellently.

Nobody’s Child is one of thirteen titles in the Winter Warmer bundle. I read it several weeks ago and enjoyed the book very much.

Its private investigator protagonist, Jeri Howard, felt utterly human and real. I especially liked that she was a well-grounded, middle-aged woman struggling with the normal issues that confront women in their thirties and forties, trying to discern the way she wants her life to be and how to make it so. I sympathized with her, liked her, and wanted her to succeed.

Amidst her own struggles, she pursues a missing person case that lands in her lap.

Unlike so many detective novels, this one features neither the highly dramatic neuroses of a dysfunctional detective (such as an alcoholic), who can’t relate healthily to those around him, nor the entirely carefree quilter or cook who solves mysteries on the side and seems to have no substantive problems at all.

Jeri Howard has problems, but they are honest ones, and she tackles them with honesty and good sense, just as she brings those qualities to bear on her missing person investigation.

In the course of Jeri Howard’s search for Maureen Smith and her toddler daughter, Nobody’s Child thoroughly explores all the issues surrounding the plight of the homeless. It avoids falling into either extreme pathos and melancholy or melodrama, steering flawlessly and informatively through the reality in way that educates the reader without browbeating him or reducing a complex situation to simple solutions and a political agenda.

Because the topic is dark, Nobody’s Child is a dark book. It could easily have proved too dark for me, but the protagonist, and her normal and healthy relationships with family and friends, balanced the sadness of the homeless so well that the story did not plunge me into gloom.

Additionally, the plot of the story was well constructed, and the pace of events and revelations moved along at a good clip, keeping me intrigued and interested throughout.

Here’s the official blurb:

It’s a cold rainy winter. Oakland PI Jeri Howard is having a tough time getting into the Christmas spirit—and dealing with a prickly client. Naomi Smith’s daughter Maureen ran away three years ago. At various times Maureen was homeless. Now she’s probably dead and her two-year-old daughter is missing. It’s dangerous out on the mean streets of Berkeley, for an adult let alone a child.

Can Jeri find the little lost toddler before time runs out?

The Winter Warmer bundle (with 13 titles, including Nobody’s Child) is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more about the stories and novels in the Winter Warmer bundle, see:
Winter Warmer: Phoenix
Winter Warmer: Nutball Season
Winter Warmer: Desperate Housewitches
Winter Warmer: Winter Glory



Winter Warmer: Nutball Season

I love Christmas stories, from the original about the babe in a manger through Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories and more by other contemporary authors.

As I was reading through the Winter Warmer bundle (in which my novella Winter Glory appears), I encountered a new Christmas story to love: “Nutball Season” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

I’ll share the official blurb and then talk about a few of the elements that charmed me. Here’s the blurb:

According to Officer Nick Mantino, Nutball Season runs from Halloween to Christmas. This Christmas season, he sees more than his usual number of nutballs.

First, there’s the geezer who thinks he’s been cast in Miracle on 34th Street. Then there’s Mrs. Billings, who has told everyone she’ll shoot Santa if he lands on her roof.

Mrs. Billings has scared the local children, and Nick Mantino must investigate. What he finds in Prudence Billings’ house scares him too—and makes him wonder if he hasn’t just joined the lists of candidates for Nutball of the Year.

So why do I love this story?

The biggest reason is Officer Nick Mantino, who’s lonely and longing for family, but making the best of it, doing his job and dealing with the crazies brought out by the holiday season. He’s an experienced cop, a realist, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Yet he finds his pragmatism conflicting with his basic decency and niceness, causing him to treat a Santa impersonator with kindness.

I loved Nick and found myself believing in him, rooting for him, and liking him. He’s very human and very much the heart of the story. But the plot of “Nutball Season” is clever and fun, and the happy ending is completely in the spirit of the season, encompassing healing and new beginnings.

I won’t say more, because I don’t want to give away all the good stuff. Get it, read it, and enjoy it!

“Nutball Season” is available solo, but I urge you to pick up your copy via the Winter Warmer bundle, because then you’ll obtain several other stories with it that are equally good.

The Winter Warmer bundle (with 13 titles, including “Nutball Season”) is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more about the stories and novels in the Winter Warmer bundle, see:
Winter Warmer: Phoenix
Winter Warmer: Nobody’s Child
Winter Warmer: Desperate Housewitches
Winter Warmer: Winter Glory



Beauty in the Close

          Direct sunlight flattens the sepia leaves
               of the autumnal crepe myrtle

          An opaque matte brown, the pointed ovals
               rustle in the breeze

          Oh, they are beautiful enough, forming a delicate
               pattern of leaf and frond

          But when the sun’s radiance shines through them
               transforming them into the panes of a chapel window

          Ah, then they become magical
               glowing rich russet and rose and mahogany
                    a glory of sacred glass
                         revealing the divine foundations

          Of everything

In memory of my mother:
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss




          A fall of leaves, dark red
               spilling from the dogwood spray
                    against the deep green mass of the cedar

          Is it heart’s blood?

          Trees don’t bleed
               Nor do I

          It only feels as though
               my tears were blood
                    when there are no tears, but should be

          My loss gapes
               like a wound
                    a desperate wound

          But I forgot how to sob
               decades ago

          The first time I lost her
               I wept
                    every night I wept, in secret I wept

          That time
               she came back from the lost
                    this time there will be no returning

          And this time
               I must allow nature to weep for me, bleed for me
                    mirror my loss in this, her season


In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss