Announcing Alterna-Teas


Some people prefer their tea strong and black as coffee.  Some people prefer their tea bright and crisp with herbal notes.  Some people prefer their tea warm and rich with cream.  With fourteen short stories to savor, we’re certain we have a flavor for your tastes.

Alterna-Teas is an steampunk and urban fantasy short story anthology edited by ElizaBeth Gilligan and published by Sky Warrior Books.  As well as my story “Reading the Leaves,” it also features:

  • “The Tea Jenny” by AH Cassells
  • “Ceremonies” by Josh Brown
  • “Tea & Trickery” by Lillian Csernica
  • “Scot on the Rocks” by J.A. Campbell & Rebecca McFarland Kyle
  • “The 13th Car” by Jaq Greenspon
  • “Cracked” by Carolyn Hill
  • “Pirate Tea” by Irene Radford
  • “A Proper Cuppa” by Pat MacEwen
  • “Tea Smoke” by Kevin Andrew Murphy
  • “Tea Leaves” by Patricia G. Nagle
  • “The Care Taker” by Denise Robarge Tanaka
  • “Evolution and Juliet” by Don Webb
  • “The Buggered OWL” by Patricia H. MacEwen & ElizaBeth Gilligan

To get you thirsty for more, here’s an excerpt from “Reading The Leaves” —

“Do you have preference for your tea? Green? Black?”

“Does it make a difference?” he rumbled.

“You’ll be drinking it,” she said. “I’d like to give you something you’d enjoy going down.” Her cheeks grew hot red the moment she realized what the words sounded like she was offering.

That drew a low chuckle from her customer. Kristy felt his eyes on her again as he took his seat, gaze less assessing and more admiring. “We can save that for after we’re done–hmm. I don’t know your name.”

She didn’t let the shiver that crawled under her skin show. “I prefer you don’t until after the reading. I don’t want to know yours either. Less chance of you letting something slip. I like to avoid cold reading, making guesses based on information my clients tell me, as much as possible.”

“Ethics?” He snorted in amusement. “I thought you fortunetellers were in it for the bucks.”

She frowned at the use of the term. “Tassieographist,” she corrected.


Kristy’s lips pressed into a firm line. “I’m not some dial-a-psychic in it to make all I can by stringing you along with a per-minute charge. I tell you what I see in your tea cup for flat fee. No more, no less.”

Alterna-Teas is available on Amazon Kindle 

NaNoWriMo 2016

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count

Now that the madness of Halloween is over, I embrace the madness of November.

I’m making my annual attempt to complete NaNoWriMo. I’ve talked in the past how November is a bit of a tricky month for me to deal with.  In addition to Thanksgiving, there’s my birthday and the anniversary of my father’s death, all within one week.  Also, Alterna-TEAS, the anthology I am, in will be dropping on November 25. It’s going to be a busy month.

I’ve got the first half of my novel Lucy Harker, Vampire Hunter, outlined.  I know what I want the ending to be, but how the second half gets me there is murky at this point.  What I do have plotted out is enough to get me to the 50,000 word point, and the ending will present itself eventually.

What happens to my other projects on I’m working on?  

  • Publishing Soon
    • Reading the Leaves – Available in Alterna-Teas anthology on November 25th, 2016.
  • On Hold
    • Chaos Wolf – Urban fantasy novel. Decided that this needs another pass to fix some problems before deciding to query again or self-publish
    • Chaos Hunt –  Urban fantasy novel.  Need to nail down the issues in Chaos Wolf before I can start this one.
    • Hummingbird –  Short story.  Needs to be rewritten entirely.
  • Trunked
    • Secret Project – Paranormal romance novella. I couldn’t get it completed by the deadline for it.  I may look at completing and publishing it at a later date, or absorbing it into a different book.

I’ll be squeezing in blog posts during the month of course.  But for now, I’m applying fingers to keyboard and writing.

Things That Go Bump In The Night – Crystal Ball Scrying

Snarkology Halloween Hop 2016

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Scrying, or trying to see visions through reflections is a common practice to most cultures with many media associated with scrying – blood, water, fire, smoke.  One of the most familiar in Western culture is the use of a crystal ball by a fortune teller.

Using a crystal ball is a staple of the pop-culture paranormal, but it’s roots go back to antiquity.  In Crystal Ball: Stones, Amulets, And Talismans For Power, Protection, and Prophecy, Sybl Ferguson writes that Druids gazed into beryls to make predictions regarding the future.  This is backed up by the oral histories recorded by Pliny the Elder.

During the middle ages, baubles of clear crystal became status symbols among the wealthy.  Dr. John Dee, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I of England, was a noted alchemist who practiced scrying using a crystal ball and a mirror.  By Victorian times, scrying into a ball was both a way to tell the future, but also a common parlor game and decoration.

Modern crystal balls are either pulverized quartz crystal fuzed with other minerals and molded into a sphere.  Or they may be solid glass.  Balls of varying price can be purchased at Renaissance Faires, New Age and occult shops, or even at

The ritual for scrying varies from practitioner to practitioner.  They room or the ball may be cleansed of negativity or attuned to the scryer’s energy by various rituals. The scryer concentrates on the ball.  What happens next depends on the seer you speak with.  Some claim that they see reflections on the surface of the ball.  Others claim that mist fills the ball, only to clear and reveal the vision inside.

Skeptics claim these visions are the result of the scryer putting themselves into a state of self-hypnosis.  The visions are nothing more than the brain trying to make sense of smudges of dirt and oil left on the surface of they crystal from handling.

One of the more well known versions of the crystal ball is the Palantir from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  Made of a dark crystal, the eight Seeing Stones are said to measure from a foot in diameter to so large that one man could not lift it. Although their primary use was communication, a user with a strong will, like Sauron or Aragorn, could force visions of what they wished onto a weaker willed viewer.   In The Wizard Of Oz here’s also the crystal ball Dorothy gazes into  to catch a glimpse of her family in her beloved Kansas. Or who can forget the scene in Labyrinth where Jareth the Goblin King juggles crystal balls while tempting Sarah?

My short story “Reading The Leaves,” features fortune telling using both scrying and tea leaf reading.  Win a signed paperback copy of Alterna-Teas (to be published November 25th, 2016) and this hand knit crystal ball by leaving a comment below before 12:00 AM EST November 1st, 2016.  Shipping to the US only.  I will pick the winning comment at random.

Alterna-teas  knit-crystal-ball

Enter the hop-wide Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at a $100 gift card!

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Results of the August Word Count Challenge

At the beginning of August, I stared a word count challenge with some friends.  My goal was to write 30,000 words over the course of the month, or 968 words a day.  I managed to write 15,221 words, for an average of 491 a day.  Not anywhere near my goal, but somewhat respectable.

Part of the reason I wasn’t able to hit my goal was traveling.  I also had to catch up on things for Mom when I came home.  I expected that and tried to build up a large enough buffer for handling those days.  Obviously I didn’t build up a large enough one.

I’m going to try to finish the rough draft of a novelette this month.  I need a minimum of 15,000 words by the end of the month.  That breaks down to 410 words a day.  I’m setting my goal for 600 a day so I have a buffer.   Right now I’m on target,  hope to stay that way since I now have a better idea of where the story is going.

And now for something completely different.

I will be a guest at Con-Volution 2016: The Age Of Monsters from September 31st to October 2nd.  I’m waiting to find out what panels I will be on.  I hope to have made it on a few writing panels this time so I will be able to talk about my story in the Alterna-Teas anthology. Expect me to be talking about costuming, crafting, and knitting.  Of course, I will also be in the Masquerade.  Hope to see you there.


tea photoI have an announcement to make.

I have made my first short story sale.

“Reading The Leaves” will be appearing in the tea-themed anthology Alterna-Teas.  It will published by Sky Warrior Books in late November of this year.

I’ll be posting more details about the release as things are finalized.

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