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Meleena’s Adventures

Welcome to my page for everything to do with Meleena and her adventures.

This is the place where you’ll find all the latest info on what Meleena is up to including the latest releases and everything to do with her home town of Bug Flat and the continent of Gallin.

Volume one of Meleena’s Adventures, Treasure Of The Umbrunna is out now! It was released 30 November, 2015, the first of Meleena’s many adventures begins with the search for a valuable pearl.

All she wanted to do was get rich. However, when she has to sacrifice it all to help another, she’s afraid if the word gets out, people may think she’s a nice person.

The ISBN numbers are:

ISBN: 978-1-934051-86-3/Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-934051-91-7/E-Pub

You can find it in both paper and e-book forms on line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Book 2, Gods Of The Blue Mountains is now with the publisher and set for release soon. I’ll provide more details as they become available.

I’m hard at work on Book 3, Across The Endless Sea as well.

You can contact me at:

I also have a Meleena’s Adventures Facebook page at:


Just went through an extensive edit and finished it last night. Whew! Once it’s compiled, I’m sure I’ll have to go through it once again to make sure we didn’t creat more errors fixing the other errors! That’s all part of the process. What amazes me is that I got it done so quick and that I still missed what I did. Like I’ve said in many of my articles, forest through the trees!


My latest article is about Treasure Of The Umbrunna. I also tried to start an author page on Amazon and ran across a roadblock. The same happened when I tried it on Goodreads. Unless the book is actually out, they make it extremely difficult to start one. I haven’t given up yet, but…


Now that the book is out, I have pages on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Always scroll to the bottom of the page. The latest updates to this page, which are now What’s Meleena Up To, are down there. The latest events with the books will be on my Facebook page at:’s%20adventures



We listened to you. Several of you were not real happy with the original cover. The font was too fuzzy.

We listened and our fantastic art department re-designed the cover and now, if you buy the book, this is what it looks like.

Hope you like it! The back has also been re-designed to make the blurbs easier to read.

Thanks to everyone for their kind and helpful feedback.

You rock!

As always, for the latest, consult the Meleena’s Adventures page on Facebook and don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what Meleena is up to. I DO update it irregularly, whenever I feel like it, so you never know when something will pop up. I do announce it on the Facebook site, so stay tuned. For those of you new to Meleena and her adventures, you have some catching up to do!


The cover of Gods Of The Blue Mountains is out now and it’s great! The book went live in late October, 2018.


New radio interview with James Kelly on his Aspects of Writing show.

Subject: Writing with the character in mind.


NOTE: Since time accounting in Meleena’s world has no correlation to ours, I’m using our calendar and time for simplicity…when I feel like it.

Tuesday, sometime in the past:

A gust of wind almost threw off the shot. Not that wind at this distance mattered that much, but the dust that blew in her eye, did. “Blow Harvel to the winds!”

She drew back, wiped the grit out of her eyes, and re-aimed. “One…two…three!”

The nut-sized rock flew from her sling shot down to the rump of a mule hitched to a cart loaded with pottery.

“Heehaww! Heeehaw!”

“Hey! My cart.” Jaloob Spaglat ran to catch up with his runaway cart, tripped on his long robes and fell face-first in a pile of donkey dung.

Meelena rolled over on the roof, out of sight of anyone below, and laughed so hard, she had to gasp for breath. She timed her fit with the moment the Esveen church tower next door rang the mid-day bells.

“Gods, I needed that.”

Ten moments later, she broke into the street below and moseyed past Jaloob, still trying to wipe the donkey dung off his shirt and pants.

“Maybe you should just tie your robe over yourself and go home and change.” She gave him a wink and headed down the street toward the Pig Splat.

With the cursing Jaloob fading behind her, she muttered, “I love the simple life.”

Today, July 3, 2015:

Chit Chit, Meleena’s best friend and confidante stopped by her usual table at the back of the room and dropped a fresh mug of ale in front of her. He clicked his mandibles and blinked all four of his eyes. “What’s with the somber mood?”


The green-skinned half bug-half human made his chitting sound and said, “never mind.” He walked back to the bar.

Meleena glanced at the retreating figure. “Did you say something? I’m not somber, by the way. I’m concentrating.”

Chit Chit threw a hand in the air, but kept going.

“Hmmm.” Meleena took a big gulp, wiped the foam off her lips and burped. She continued eavesdropping on the three Dwarves at the next table who argued about a Dwarf girl named Della and whether she looked better with two braids in her beard instead of three. They thought nobody else in the room could understand them because they spoke in their native tongue. What they don’t know.

Today, July 4, 2015:

Since there’s no such thing as a specific date like July 4 in Meleena’s world, let’s just say this is a special celebration run by the city elite. The upper class is throwing a birthday celebration for three of theirs who happen to fall within days of each other. An excuse to celebrate with festivities and pytrotechnics that evening, to the exclusion of the regular populace, of course. A perfect time for Meleena to do her thing.

From the Otraph River, Meleena knew an easy way to breach the wall at the outskirts of the upper class enclave. It was here, where there was less chance of a fire, that the magick users set up the racks of fire bursts they’d light and send into the sky. With dusk settling in and a few ales in her belly, she had little time to do her damage before they set them off. I’ll see to that.

The breach in the wall came out at a construction area. She weaved through the planks and barriers, careful of the guards surrounding the courtyard, and made her way to a nearby stable. “Unreal. They’re so worried about guarding those fire things, they never thought of the horses.” She didn’t even bother to whisper. There was nobody close by.

With the gate open, she unlatched the door to each stall, then took her flint and lit a pile of hay at the back of the stable.

Havoc ensued. The horses stampeded out of the stable into the square.

Meleena giggled, huddled back into the shadows and watched the fun.

Soon, all attention went from the square with the magick fire bursts to the fire in the stable. Meleena crept to the racks of devices. Using them for cover, she noted the angles, aimed to burst over the rich homes. Let’s see what I can do about that.

Though she worked as quick as possible, they almost had the horse stable fire under control and the animals gathered before she finished. Attention turned toward the fire bursts again.

“Oh gods, time to go.” She finished her work and skulked away into the dark.

“What was that?” One of the magick users threw a light ball toward a shadow.

Meleena already made it around the corner of the building and waved at the ball when it poked past. “That was close.” Nobody could see her from this angle. She rushed away.

Twenty moment later, she stood along the shore of the Otraph river, turned and waited.

A single fire burst shot into the air, exploded in a bright blue star. Then over the buildings, where the single fire burst came from, bright flashes in all colors burst in a tight dome of chaos. She heard faint screams. Then nothing.

She wiped her hands. “My job is done.”

Another Morning In Bug Flat. “Oh, the Cliché! (Actually, morning, July 5, 2015 in our world):

Meleena wakes with a hangover (that’s #1), goes to the water closet (uh, that’s toilet…bathroom…loo) looks in the mirror (that’s #2), describes herself to the readers (that’s #3).

I got up too early and my head still hurts.

She plops back into bed and covers her head with her pillow.

All you writers, editors, agents and publishers, you can stop screaming now. “Oh, the humanity!”

I’m done.

Seven sun cycles (years in Meleena’s world) ago, one spring morning:

“Come onnn. Move away from that door.” Meleena kept one eye glued around the corner on a door across the alley. The other, with a twist of her head, on the iron gate at the end of the walkway behind her. So far, so good. Nobody tried to open it and disturb her.

Meanwhile, two dandies yapped on in front of the back door to the jewelry shop. They blocked her way into a treasure trove on the second floor. Her half-rat, half-human friend Vaaaven said the owner of the store kept his most valuable pieces secured there. I can’t wait to give those locks a try. If these two sons of Snorgs would just move on!

The short one pulled out a flask, took a swig and handed it to the other guy. They leaned back and started a new subject.

“Gods, no!”

With her back to the wall, she put her hands over her face and grit her teeth. In all of her sixteen season cycles (or thereabouts), she still hadn’t learned patience.

Snort. Grrumph.

“Whoa.” The smell hit her at the same time more of those weird animal noises crept up from the alley around the corner.

Chit chit once told her that to avoid bad smells, breath through your mouth. She tried that and though she could almost taste the combination of dung and dead meat, at least she resisted the urge to gag. Meleena crept to the corner and peeked around.

The two dandies, upwind, jabbered  on, unaware that twenty paces away, a sewer grate near the wall across from them raised up. Ten paces in front of her, deft, clawed tentacles lifted the grate and moved it to the side. A horror of a beast, a Gleeb, squeezed through the wide opening.

Perfect! All I have to do is get that stupid thing to charge at those two guys. That’ll clear the door.

Meleena fingered her brand-new sling shot. Though she’d practiced a bit, she still wasn’t that good. This close. I can’t miss. She eyed the wall on the other side of the alley. I don’t want to hit that thing anyway. I want it to think those two over there did. All I need is a good rock.

A cross between a small rhinoceros and a lizard, Gleebs had a soft horn sticking out front. Three tentacles with suckers along the length and four-fingers tipped with claws at the ends, grew from their back for grabbing. They ran on four legs with padded feet similar to a lion. The biggest danger was their ugly disposition, fast movement and the mouth that could expand four times the size of their body. However, they couldn’t bite down hard with their two rows of stubbed molar teeth on the upper and lower jaws. Unless the victim was stunned or stupid, poking inside the tender upper part of the giant mouth could usually force their mouth open. Most received damage from the lashing claws on the tentacles or getting run over. Gleebs usually stayed in the sewers but were known to prowl above ground occasionally. As long as one left them alone, they usually went back underground without incident. Meleena had a few close calls before.

Not this time. “Heh heh heh.”

She backed from the corner and fished on the ground for a suitable rock. “Now, I put it in here and aim it like this? No, like this.”

When she figured she had it right, she crept to the corner, gave another peek, saw the Gleeb browsing in a trash pile. The two dandies took turns with the flask and ignored the beast.

Meleena swung the sling shot around and around. She took aim at a spot high on the wall so it would bounce back and hit the Gleeb from the other side.

She turned the corner and let go.

The rock flew out of the sling and right at the horn of the Gleeb!

“Oh Gods!”

“Rrrowagh!” Flailing tentacles, angry yellow eyes aimed for her.

Her feet took on a life of their own. Aiming for the iron gate, she slipped and fell on her face.

“Rrrowagh! Aaarghmph!”

A slimy tongue grabbed her legs, then teeth clamped onto her waist. She clenched her hands on the cobblestones but lost her grip. Her whole body slipped into the gaping maw.

She vomited, screamed, jabbed at the soft flesh.


The thing tried to swallow her, but the gullet was too small. She felt the teeth gnashing around her, missing. She couldn’t breathe, or see, her eyes clamped closed. A little voice in her head said, “The soft part, top of the mouth.” What’s up or down?

The tongue rolled under, trying to force her into the gullet, but her feet were too big. Tongue… under. She twisted around. With nothing but her hands, she poked with blind fury at the soft tissue.

“Hack hack hack!”

She flew through the air in a somersault, a whirl of black, white and yellow bile and slime. Her face hit the cobblestones but she slid at least ten paces backward, lubricated from the goo covering her.

“Hack hack hack!”

Arms flailing, she tried to get up, but could get no traction. Blind also from goo in her eyes, she screamed.


Cold water splashed on the back of her head.

“Sit up, Girl!”

Still afraid to open her eyes, she struggled to a sitting position.


More cold water poured onto her head. This time, enough came down to clear her eyes. She wiped her hands in her wet hair and rubbed her eyes, then opened them.

A man with a leather apron stood before her. Nest to him were two empty buckets.

“Good, you can see now. My job is done. Maybe next time you’ll know better than to mess with a Gleeb.” He shook his head, grabbed his buckets and walked to the iron gate. “Geez, kids.”

Meleena stood, covered in black, white and yellow slime, and gave one last yearning glance at the alley. “I need more practice with my sling shot.”

Seven sun cycles (years in Meleena’s world) ago, later that day:

“Whew! You stink!” Chit Chit waved a hand in the air then clicked his mandibles. “You’re not coming inside like that.”

“I need to get washed off. I can’t stand out here in the alley forever.” Meleena wiped goo from her hair, let the yellow mucus drip to the ground.

Her best friend and mentor let out a long breath. “Hold on.” Over his shoulder, he called out, “Get some buckets of water… make it warm water. And soap.”

Meleena emptied her pockets and placed her few items on an empty crate by the door. She unbuttoned her shirt and took it off, then her undershirt, pants, underpants, but left her leather boots on.

“You’re going to stand out there in the alley, like that?” Chit Chit said.

She glanced at her feet. “Oh.” The boots slipped off into the pile with the discarded clothes.

“Oh, gods, I don’t mean the boots. You’re standing naked. You do realize, you’re… you’re… well, for a full human or whatever you are, you have all the uh… well..”

“Lots of men have seen me naked. So what?”

“But you’re still a child, well, sort of.” His mandibles clicked.

“I’m sixteen, or thereabouts!”

Commotion interrupted Chit Chit’s next retort. Four of his assistants squeezed by with buckets. When they caught sight of her, each raised eyebrows.

“What?” she said.

“Just get about it. Wash her off.” Chit Chit stood with his arms crossed.

I’ve bedded two of these guys. The other two I wouldn’t touch. They try anything, I’ll let them know who I am. “Come on, give me the soap.” She pointed to the one with the blonde hair. She didn’t remember any of their names and didn’t care.

It didn’t take long to get wet, soap up and rinse off. With some left over water, the helpers made an attempt to rinse off her clothes, but they were a total loss.

The four men disappeared inside with the buckets.

“I need to go to my room and get some new clothes on.”

Chit Chit held up a hand. “You’re going to walk through the place like that? With a full crowd inside?”

She folded her hands over her chest. “How else am I supposed to get there?

“Gods! You have no idea what your naked body does to a drunk man.”

“I do, but they’d better not touch me.”

“Yeah, and I can’t afford the damages. Hold on.” He disappeared inside.

The alley remained clear both ways. This is the perfect way to go out in the night. The alley curved both directions so nobody walking by from either end could see.

A blanket hit her in the face.

“Whatever you got into, I hope you think better next time.”

“Gleeb…it was a Gleeb.”

A Few Months Ago (Our Time) – A Four Pocket Run

“You can’t do it.” Vaaaven’s rat-nose twitched, his long white whiskers twitched on his half-human face.

Fingers flexed, two deep breaths, Meleena closed her eyes. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Heh heh.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t want to see you end up in jail, that’s all.”

“I’m rusty. I need to prove to myself I can do it.”

“Four in a row? Those dandies keep their bags tight. They never take their hands out of their pockets. That’s the worst bunch in Bug Flat.” The rat man let out a sigh. “You’re asking for big trouble.”

“That’s exactly why I picked this crowd, my rat-faced friend. It’s not much of a challenge over in The Digs, now is it?”

“In The Digs, everyone’s pockets are empty.”

“Just be prepared with the diversion…in case.”


Meleena eyed the crowd moseying along the avenue in their finery. Lots of dandies in the rich neighborhood. The men carried their coin purses tight to their waists, hands clamped around them as if everyone nearby were a thief. Like her. “Keep your eye out.”

“Go, and make it quick!”

She slipped out of the alley, blended into the throngs and moved toward the intersection.

The first target turned to gaze in the window of an apothecary.

With her knife in her hand, under her vest, she slid next to him. Shorter, by two hand spans, she could point the blade up at the bottom of his pocket, slice and open her side pocket in one smooth movement. His coin purse emptied in a split moment, the noise covered by the crowd around them. She slipped into the crowd while he still looked into the window.

Target two wore a blue velvet robe.

The blood and adrenaline rushed through her veins. She maneuvered in front and glanced back where she could see his right hand fondling a money bag on his right hip. Meleena fell back and waited.

Mr. Velvet Robe stopped at a flower vender and commenced arguing over an arrangement.

When he bent down to point at something, his robe bulged in the right spot. She brushed by, sliced, scooped, and left in one swift movement. This is great!

Target three had his bag out to pay for some bread.

No good. Have to wait.

The man paid, then left with the bread but left the bag on the counter. The vendor didn’t notice.

No challenge at all! Meleena swept by and grabbed it. She shoved a basket of loaves into the stall to distract the vendor.

A moment later, yelling and screaming came from the stall. “Heh heh heh.”

Target four walked toward her with leather armor.

A soldier, not a dandy. Don’t do it, girl. That’s a working man. You just did three good ones, leave the guy alone and pick someone else…come on. Don’t do it. Don’t do it!

The guy spotted her and sneered.

Do it!

Her Elven blade cut through the leather like cloth.

Ten moments later, she found Vaaaven lurking in the same alley. She hefted her heavy pocket from her waist. “A four-pocket run. I knew I could do it.”

Labor Day, September 7, 2015 (In Meleena’s World, just another day)

The hand cart wheels creaked in protest as Meleena tugged it along the cobblestone path back toward Bug Flat. Nestled within the rails were eight cages full of trapped black beetles she’d just harvested for Chit Chit. Since he was too busy to get away from the bar for his staple meal, she often went out to Farmer Carbenell’s bean fields to get them for him, if she was in a mood. Sometimes, it was good to get away from it all. Lately, the pressures of her life warranted mundane things like this to keep her from going berserk.

Like on the trip out, she passed old lady Frella’s farmhouse. The grump was hanging laundry then and called her a harlot and a useless thief. “All true except the useless part. Heh heh.”

Humming came from inside the closed door. Heavy blue curtains covered the windows. The laundry flapped in the breeze. Meleena stopped in mid stride.

“Don’t do it,” she said through clenched teeth.

The temptation urged her on, especially with the old hag humming away in total bliss, unaware someone was outside. A good thing the old bat doesn’t have a dog.

“How many times have I passed by here and put up with her insults?”

It was no decision. The brat always won out. The real problem came with whether she could pull off the spell. Would it work? This time?

“I’m terrible at magick… terrible. But I practiced. Maybe, just maybe…”

She practiced the spell with several unfortunate outcomes, and finally got it right. Now was the time to try it for real and put Frella in her place…at least drive her nuts for a while.

With a glance both directions down the path, she crept closer to the clothes line, keeping an ear to the humming in the house. She pulled a vial of sulfur, a stick with markings and a diamond from her magickal pouch. She rubbed the sulfur on the stick, then holding the stick up so the markings were exposed, she tapped the top marking with the diamond. “Glabzeep hzakbahtgap traszshab dnabastash!” She then skipped a marking and tapped the third one.

A faint blue aura surrounded the clothing and sheets on the clothes line. They shrunk enough that she could see it when she did it, but not enough that anyone could tell right away.

“Heh heh heh. Wait until you try to fit into that stuff, you old hag. Call me useless again.”

She started to turn, but jerked back, and waved a hand over the stick and tapped it with her palm. “Gast!”

“Whew. Almost forgot!”

The last few times she practiced she forgot to close off the spell, which resulted in some unpleasant aftereffects.

With the cart wheels squeaking behind her, she sauntered merrily down the path and into Bug Flat.

Yup, Meleena is a brat!

September 26, 2015 (Meleena Tips A Few)

The air tickled her nose. A pipe tobacco and ale aroma pushed against her face like a heavy pillow. Meleena lifted her mug and took a deep swallow of Chit Chit’s finest ale. The tickle subsided.

“Gods, girl, how many of those have you drank?” Vaaaven rubbed his rat-shaped snout of a nose and his coarse whiskers bristled.

“I don’t count. I drink until I stop. Period. I don’t feel like stopping yet.” I’m not slurring my words yet. I’m still good.

“I’ve had three and I’m already dizzy. Chit Chit makes a good brew.”

The rat man couldn’t help but slur. He had a body mass about two thirds of Meleena and none of it was muscle. She said, “You can slow down. I don’t want you to get mugged on the way home.”

“Heh heh.” His beady eyes darted back and forth. “I can get home okay.”

He knew every sewer in town and every trap along the way. “Still, take it easy. You aren’t me.” I never used to care about you. Things change.

“I just…every time I tip a few with you, I’m shocked. Where do you put it all?”

“Well, it sure don’t stay in me long.” She nodded toward the hall with the water closets.

“You still spending from that four pocket run?” Vaaaven took another drink, wiped his mouth, then slammed the mug on the table. With a loud burp, he added, “That was quite a haul.”

Meleena moved her eyes around the room. With her back to the wall, she had a good view of everyone. “I’m running low. Time to build up my stash.”

“Oh, please tell me.”

First, she chugged what remained of the mug, then slid it aside and grabbed the next one in line. If Vaaaven had wanted to, he could’ve kept count. There were four empty ones to her right and five full ones to her left. This wasn’t even a heavy night. “The Esveen chapel.”

Vaaven,who’d been in the middle of another gulp, spat all over the table. When he recovered his wits, he gasped out, “You’ve got to be kidding! The most heavily guarded places in town? Which one?”

Meleena took the fresh mug she’d just grabbed, tipped it up and gulped the whole thing down. She slammed it on the table, let out a loud burp. “Now, that hits the spot. The one at the border of The Digs.” There were seven Esveen chapels in Bug Flat but only one sat on the border with The Digs.

“You’re going to rob from the poor? Isn’t that low even for you?”

Meleena grabbed another fresh mug, tipped it and drank it down in one huge gulp. She slapped it on the table and let out an even louder burp, loud enough to draw stares from the surrounding tables. She aimed a finger toward the hall to the water closets. “Time to remove that ale.” She pointed to one of the empty mugs in the row on the right. “I’d say that one right there.”

The rat man glared at her. “Unbelieveable. Robbing the poor.”

She stood, steady on her feet, turned to the hall and said, “We’ll see.”

March 30, 2016 (Watching)

“Look at them, like sheep going to slaughter.” Meleena peered through a gap in the crenellated roof of a tower across the street from Our Holy Father of Esveen Chapel Of The Blue Almighty Number Four. That mouthful of a name designated the only holy building servicing the slums of Bug Flat known as The Digs.

Poor people from the neighborhood filed in and out at random to do their prayers to Esveen.

“You don’t think much of other people’s belief’s, do you?” Vaaaven poked his head up, then backed away.

“Pffft. Never have. That stuff is for the weak-minded.” She scrunched her face.” On the other hand, I don’t fault anyone for believing in something beyond them, if they want. I’d rather just believe in myself.”

He rolled over and aimed his beady eyes at hers. “You think people that do are weak?”

“I…I don’t know. I can’t say. Maybe foolish?” Why that bothered her, she could not fathom. Heat crawled up her face.

“And…how long has it been since you said you were going to take that place?” Vaaaven jerked a thumb toward the chapel.

“Bah! You’re not getting the plan at all.”

He peered hard into her eyes. “I’m not sure whether you’re avoiding my question or are just hiding something from me.”

A little of both, but I’ll never tell you that. Meleena peered over the edge of the building again. The breeze coming from below cooled her face.

Movement caught her eye. That same wagon she’d seen five sun cycles before appeared from the back of the chapel. A tarp stretched over the back tight enough to strain the hoops holding it up. “There, see that wagon?”

“Wha? Oh, that? What about it?”

“How many wagons have you ever seen around here with such a tight top and sealed so perfectly? Notice there isn’t a single gap anywhere?”

“So, they’re great at stretching the canvas? So what?”

“They don’t want anyone to see inside.” Meleena tapped her head. “That’s not the real clincher. Take a look around the wagon.” She poked a finger. “What’s so important they not only don’t want anyone to see inside, but they need six armed thugs guarding it, but trying to pretend they’re not guarding it?”

Vaaaven did a double take. “Well, don’t that beat…” His head whipped around. “What is it you’re really after?”

“Hhhhhh….” Meleena eased back and stared into the cloudless sky. “Something I never would’ve dreamed of doing before.”

May 19, 2016 (Springing Into Action)

The wagon approached Red Bridge. Meleena always wondered why it got that name because there was nothing red about it. The same gray rock that made the castle rose from the crenellated towers along the sides of the largest bridge in Bug Flat. It had to be the largest because this was where the Otraph River split into the East and West forks, making the span at least five-hundred paces across. This was also the main trade route into town. She pulled back into the shadows of the bushes beyond the bridge. Vaaaven’s breath tickled her neck.

“You can ease back a bit. I don’t need your spicy dinner aroma in my face.”

“Uh, sorry.” Vaaaven eased back against a fallen tree trunk, his eyes still toward the road. “What’s really going on? Why wait so long and why this particular wagon? There’ve been lots of them. I thought all along you were going to hit the church.”

Meleena eased back, blinked. “Okay, we have a moment. Those flunkies are taking it slow.” She chanced one more peek, the dusk fell, casting shadows all around.

“Do you really think I’d bother with the till in the poorest church in town?”

“Snrrgh.” Vaaaven scratched his long nose. “Well…”

“Okay, I probably would under normal circumstances. However, for once, I’m thinking bigger.” She tapped the side of her head.

The rat man frowned, glanced around her at the approaching wagon. His frown deepened. “Oh…they’re not as poor as they make out to be!”

“Hhhhh…” Meleena let the breath out, shook her head, glanced at the wagon then leaned back against the tree. “Yes and no, but not the way you think.”

“I’m all ears.” He flicked his large, pink rodent ears.

“Not to mention…” She almost said teeth, but choked it off. “We don’t have time to go into it more, but let’s just say that we’re getting what’s in that wagon….in…” She noted the position of the wagon. It came parallel to a boulder across the road, the driver and guard next to him oblivious. She’d timed this after watching the same routine for a long time. She knew there would be no other guards until they reached the next town. She turned her head to face Vaaaven “…three…two…one,” and snapped her fingers.

A bright flash turned the dusk into daylight for a split moment.

“Aaagh! What happened?” Vaaaven rubbed his eyes.

Meleena would have warned him, but he was already facing away when it happened. Now she turned toward the wagon, crossing her fingers before she looked.

The driver and guard were froze on the bench seat, their eyes glazed over. The two horses, their feet posed as if they were prancing, stood still as statues. “Gods, it actually worked! Thank you Grel!”

“I didn’t figure you could do something like that.” Vaaaven stood and walked into the open. “You never told me a thing about this…about what you’d planned.”

“I couldn’t take the chance, sorry.”

Meleena came around the tree and into the road. She hurried to the wagon. No signs of anyone either from Bug Flat or coming the other way. That isn’t going to last.

“Come one, hurry!” She went to the back and unbuckled the strap holding the back flap. When she tore it away, two rows of at least twenty children, all bound and gagged, stared back at her.

“Mother of gods! What’ve we got ourselves into?” Vaaaven stared at the desperate faces.

“Come on, help me get these brats loose.” Meleena pulled her knife and went to work on the first one. Thank the gods they tied them with leather instead of chains.

Her Elven blade made quick work of the cheap leather. After a stunned pause, Vaaaven joined in and in ten moments, Meleena stood next to the wagon with a crowd of…kids. Sniveling and whiny. I didn’t count on this.

“Uh, I hate to break this to you, but what are we supposed to do with them now?” Vaaaven’s nose and whiskers twitched.

“I’m just interested in…Peeps, over here.” She waved at a human lad of about a dozen years. “You and your two buddies.”

“Thanks, Meleena! You saved our tails. We’ve been holed up in that basement since last winter. They finally sold us. How did you know?” Peeps wrapped his arms around her in a hug.

“Not so fast!” She shoved him back and grabbed her change purse out of his hand. “Now that’s not being very grateful.”

“We need to eat.”

“I could always give you back.”

The kid’s face reddened. “What do you want?”

“You three were my best spotters. What do you think? We take care of each other, right?”

Peeps blinked. “Really? You did that for me? You have my back?”

Heat rode up Meleena’s face. “Now wait a moment. I need spotters and you guys are the best. Just be more careful and don’t get caught by these religious crazies.”

One of Peep’s friends said, “Oh, they’re not religious crazies. At least not the ones that took us.”

“Oh?” Meleena glanced between them.

“I want my mommie!” A tiny girl, screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Just what I need.” Meleena threw up her hands. She went over to the screaming tot and yelled back, “Well, then go find her. What do you want from me?”

Taken aback, the tiny girl stared at her a moment, cranked up, then continued screaming. “Mommie!”

“Oh, gods!” Meleena walked back to Vaaaven and the others. “Anyone know what to do with that…that…” She turned to the other kids and noticed more than half of them were not much older than the little one. Most of the older ones had tears in their eyes also, though were a bit less vocal.

“She’s only a baby of three. She can’t find her mommy. She’s no orphan, either. She was stolen.” A girl with green skin, about Peep’s age approached. “I was too. I know about where she lives.”

Meleena wiped her hands. “Great. Problem solved. You can take you both home. I have some drinking to do after such a heroic day.” She turned to walk away.


“Grrrrr.” She stopped in mid stride and turned slow. “What now.”

“It’s almost dark, I don’t know the way from here and there are bad people looking for us. We need help getting there.” The girl hesitated, grinned. “Besides, there might be a reward.”

Meleena did not care about any reward. Then again…No! My reputation.

In the gloom, except for Peeps and his two buddies, twenty-odd young faces stared at her, teary-eyed, hopeful, expecting.

“Gods, I hate this!”

July 27, 2016 (A Harried Trip)

“I’ll tell all of you this only once.” Meleena had their rapt attention. Those young, wide eyes, snotty noses, fat cheeks. Don’t run off screaming. Keep it together. “Do exactly as I say and maybe you’ll get home safe. Ignore me at your doom.”

A tiny girl raised her hand.

“Sssss…” Meleena let out a long breath. “Whaaat?”

“What’s doom?”

“Oh…gods!” Meleena slapped her thigh. “Just shut up and follow me. Do what I say!”

She headed across the bridge, watched the road for signs of travelers…or worse. Lucky there’s no traffic this late.

“Uh, Meleena.”

“What Vaaaven,” Meleena said over her shoulder, not bothering to look back.

“What about those guys in the cart?”

“They should be that way for at least a bell. We’ll be long gone…and no. I know what you’re thinking. If someone comes along, they can’t wake them up either. Relax. Just keep an eye out for any traffic. We need to keep out of sight.” The nearest buildings loomed fifty paces ahead. She remembered an alley near there and crossed her fingers.

Despite her stomach lurching at every shadow, she managed to get the group to that alley without losing anyone or meeting someone else. “Okay, let’s stop a moment. Now, where—”

“I gotta pee.”

“Who said that?” Meleena scanned the shadowy faces.

A tiny hand stuck up in the back of the crowd.

“Right there.” She pointed to the wall behind her. “And hurry.”


“Do you want to be left behind?”


“Gods, someone shut her up before the entire queens’ army comes down on us!” Meleena glanced both directions.

“If you don’t mind, I got this.” The older, green-skinned girl tugged on her sleeve. “Please be patient.”

Meleena ground her teeth together. “Five moments and we head out again…wait. You never told me where we’re going. Where do you live? Where do the rest of these kids live? My time’s limited, you know.”

“Let me take care of her first and I’ll guide you.”

She let the green-skinned girl take care of the baby. In the meantime, she found an old crate and took a seat.

Vaaaven pulled himself up next to her. “I must say I’m surprised.”

“If you ever breathe a word of this—”

“Hey, we both have reputations. I don’t want anyone to know I helped you do this, either.” The rat man rubbed his ears.


Halfway through their trip across town, Peeps and his two buddies took their leave. Meleena let them go. “Remember our deal.”

“We’re in your debt. We’ll never forget!” With that, Peeps and his crew disappeared into the shadows.

“Okay, you know where you are yet?” Meleena said to the green-skinned girl.

The young girl led the way to the semi-rich neighborhood a few blocks from the good side of Sivrisinek Castle.

“Okay, what’s your name ma’am.”

Meleena tensed, her jaw tightened, the blood rushed to her head. “What did you just call me?”

“Uh, sorry, Ma’am. I don’t know your—”

Through clenched teeth Meleena said, “Don’t you ever call me Ma’am!”


“Her name’s Meleena. Call her Meleena,” Vaaaven said.

“Uh, sorry, Meleena. I need your name so I can tell my father who to give the reward to.”

“Ssssss.” The pressure eased in her head. “Oh…kay. That’s okay. So, which house is yours?” She eyed the crowd of kids. “What about this bunch?”

“Oh, my dad will see they get home. My house is that red one right there.” She pointed to the left side of the street.

Meleena followed her finger, peered at the building. All the blood drained from her face. “Ah…uh…oh.”

“Blow Harvel to the winds,” Vaaaven said with a badly disguised snigger.

She tried to elbow him but he was too far away. “Uh, tell you what. Why don’t you just go ahead and take the kids inside.”

“What? Don’t you want the reward?” The girl gestured toward the house.

“Uh, not this time,” Meleena said. “Why don’t you do me a big favor. After all, I rescued you, right?”



The green-skinned girl nodded.

“Good. Forget my name. Go inside and tell them strangers helped you escape but they just left and you have no idea who they are. Got it?”

The girl arched her brows, stared from Meleena to Vaaaven, then her eyes brightened. “Ah, I get it. You want to be unsung heroes. Wow, you’re even more awesome!” She rushed Meleena and grabbed her in a tight hug.

Meleena blushed. Nobody hugged her that tight since that drunk got a little too handsy with her in the Pig Splat the other night. She pushed the kid back. “Just go, okay?”

“Got it! You’re the best!”

Five moments later, she and Vaaaven skulked down an alley toward home. “That reward would’ve been nice.”

“Look at it this way.” Vaaaven kicked an old discarded shoe out of the way. “At least you got your spotters back.”

“And we didn’t have to get face-to-face with that green terror, Crongar.” She shared a shudder with Vaaaven.

Thanksgiving 2016 (PROWLING GREL’S OLD LAB)

Meleena fumbled the bag of sunflower seeds in her hand, tossed it in the air, and pretended to drop it.

“Ah! Careful with that.”

She smiled at the sound of the squeaky voice coming from a dark, dank passage in front of her. It had been a while since she’d snuck into the dungeons of Sivrisinek Castle. Now, she needed a guide to find her way to Grel, the royal magick user’s old lab. At least she hoped it was his old lab. The sunflower seeds provided the perfect bribe for Tweet the Quick, her obnoxious but reliable…well…usually, source of all things to do with below the castle. “Come on Tweet, show yourself.”

A glimmer of light flitted in the distance along the ceiling of the passage, it grew and a small, bird-like being flitted around her head, reminding her of an oversized dragonfly at times, a pixie at others. “Been a while, Tweet.”

“Not long enough, from the trouble you usually bring.”

“Well, if that’s the case, I can always take these—”

“No! Sorry, that’s okay. What do you want?”

Meleena handed the bag to Tweet. It always amazed her because the bag was not only larger but had to weigh at least twice what the creature did. Yet, he held it and flew like it weighed nothing.

“Hold on…” Tweet flitted off, disappeared around a corner in the dark then returned a moment later. “Okay, once again, what do you want?”

“Take me to Grel’s old lab.”

“Pffft! What do you mean, old?”

“He still uses it?” She figured since he became the royal magick user again, he had the run of the castle. He could set up his lab anywhere now. Why keep it in that depressing dungeon?

“A couple of times every few days. Besides, he has to feed that dung eater of his.”

“Uhhhg, Gods! I forgot about Woof!” Meleena leaned back against a nearby wall. Grel had a pet dung eater. That vicious beast could be a problem. “Is there a way around Woof?”

“Depends. That horrid thing wanders all over now. Then again, Grel keeps it well fed so it’s not as aggressive as it could be, I suppose.”

“Just great!” Meleena puffed. This isn’t going to be easy.

“Why do you want in his lab, anyway?”

“Just stuff. I don’t know. Something I can use, that’s all.” She did not really know what she was looking for. With all that junk he had down there, she hoped to find something she could use to cause a little mischief around town. Maybe help her steal something. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I’m bored. I want to stir things up. He’s got to have something even my crummy magick skills can handle.”

Tweet flitted around, his color changing from satin white to pink and back again. “I never knew you to be suicidal. Messing with the most powerful magick user in the kingdom’s stuff is asking for…for…well…”

“Will you just try and get me there, safe?” She thought a moment. “And not like the last time, giving directions and running out on me. I don’t remember the route, and besides, I want to do less crawling this time.”

“Hmm…” I guess I can take you the long way, but I can’t guarantee we won’t find either Woof or Grel himself. You also have to worry about wards. What if he has it warded, trapped?”

She had never thought of that. “I guess I’ll just have to use my best skills to avoid them.” Now, it was a matter of the adventure and the quest as much as finding anything.

“Lead on.”


*          *          *

Though Meleena had prowled the dank, dark passages many times, she always got lost. There were just too many twists and turns and not enough landmarks. Her navigation always came to a bribe with a bag of sunflower seeds, and Tweet. Her sort-of friend never turned down that “gift”, or asked questions about what she stole from the castle. On the other hand, she had never asked him to deliberately bring her into Grel’s lab before. Tweet had not only a healthy fear of the old, once considered crazy magick user. Grel’s pet dung eater scared Tweet as well, even though he was much faster than the lumbering, slithering beast.

“These walls look familiar. Where are we?” Meleena noted sconces with torches in them, red brick walls with green slime in the mortar and a channel down the middle with effluent flowing against the direction they moved.

“You’ve been here at least twenty times that I can recall. We’re near the jail.” Tweet flitted in a figure eight. “That passage on the left leads to the jailmaster’s office. Up here on the right, that leads to the lower kitchen storeroom.”

“How do you remember all this?”

“Geez, how do you not?” Tweet surged ahead, keeping well ahead.

Meleena had an urge to draw her sword. I’m sure he just insulted me, but it’s not the first time. I need him too much to get even. She actually did remember this area, but could not help testing the little guy. Sometimes she wondered about him. In many ways, she probably could navigate some parts of this place on her own, but only if they went up, not down. In this case, they were staying level, which never happened before.

“This way.” Tweet reached a four-way junction ahead of her and went to the right.

When she reached the spot, all three choices glowed a sick orange, fluorescing from some kind of moss oozing out of cracks in what were now stone walls. No more brick. “Where are we?”

“Under the foundation of the main tower.” Tweet twirled in a loop, waved at her. “Come on, and careful. Be quiet.”

The hair stood on her arms. Meleena drew her sword. All this time, she had ignored the overwhelming mustiness and mixed odors so as not to get sick. Now, she detected something even more foul. “Is that what I think it is?” She whispered ahead to Tweet, who was almost too far ahead to hear her.

“Shhh! And yes, Woof is close. At least I think he is.”

Outside of the sickly glow, she could not see a thing amiss, yet she felt a presence somewhere ahead. Something animal…hostile. Her hand tightened on the sword.

The passage curved ahead and Tweet disappeared for a moment. Meleena slowed and crept forward, ears perked, eyes straining for any movement. She continued around the curve and caught a flicker of light. Tweet.

The creature waved at her and put a finger to his lips.

She crept forward to another junction.

“Around there,” Tweet whispered.

Meleena bent around the corner and caught a glimpse of Woof. The dung eater slithered along the floor, a huge blubbery blob of flesh, the size of a large cow. Two tentacles stretched from the mass with gaping claws, a huge mouth in the middle of his body gaped, full of razor sharp teeth, surrounded by seven eye stalks longer than her arms fully extended, each aiming a different direction. One claw grabbed the haunch from a dead cow, chomped on it, taking a few bloody bites, then threw it down. With a loud rumbling burp, it went still. Four of the eyes closed. The other three gazed randomly at nothing in particular.

She drew back around the corner. “What now?”

“Good question. Did you notice that door the carcass was lying in front of?” Tweet said. “That is, until Woof grabbed it for a bite?”

“Uh, not really. I was too busy taking in what Woof was doing.”

“Well, that’s the main door to Grel’s lab.”

A twinge went through Meleena’s stomach. “That meaning main, as in there are other ways in?”

“As in, no, not in this lifetime and not unless you are shrunk down to my size.”

“Blow Harvel to the winds!” Meleena leaned back against the wall, slipped on the slimy moss and stood up again. “Gods! What now.” She clamped a hand over her mouth.

Tweet flitted to the corner, peeked, then back again. He whispered, “No reaction. We were lucky. I don’t know how that thing hears. As far as I know, it has no ears.”

“Maybe vibration through the air…rock…who knows?” Meleena wanted to wipe the back of her hair, but did not want to find out what she just leaned against.

Instead, she crept to the corner, peeked around again.

Woof flailed his claws. All seven eyes were open, aiming the other way down the hall. His gaping maw clamped shut. “Grrrbubbb.” With that, he slithered down the hall, away from them.

“Hey, he’s heading off. Something’s up.”

Tweet flitted over her head. She felt a soft rush of air against her face and a faint whiff of cinnamon.

“I guess if you’re going to try and get in, now’s the time.” Tweet said. “Woof just headed to the main drainage system. If he goes all the way, you have probably ten moments.”

Meleena strained to see down the hall, the orange glow going green in the distance. She saw no sign of Woof now. “Okay, please…” she hated being that nice…“please keep an eye out while I go inside. I’ll try to be quick.”

“How are you sure Grel isn’t in there?”

“Well, ah…” She had not thought of that. “I’ll knock first.”

“Just be careful.” Tweet flitted off down the hall.

Meleena rushed to the unobtrusive door. The cow carcass lay down the hall ten paces. It reeked of death. Without another thought, she knocked.

No response.

She knocked again.


Wards? Many season cycles of skill and practice taught her the signs to look for, or so she hoped. After a careful scan, she found nothing. Was Woof his only ward? Did Grel retire this place after all?

“Here goes.” She gave a quick glance down the hall, saw no sign of Tweet and opened the door. Nothing happened.

The large, cluttered room was as she remembered it from the last time she’d been there. It had been a long time since she’d gone after that Umbrunna egg and the visit here. Over against the wall was the window, now dark where Grel showed her a birds-eye view of Bug Flat. She still could hardly imagine that weird image, coming from so far underground. Now, like everything else in the room, it took on a neglected, dusty appearance. Cobwebs lingered in the corners of the frame, the same with everything else in the room. Only the center and a few of the tables showed any signs of recent use. A few books looked like they’d been opened recently and the chair she’d seen him plop down in the last time looked disturbed.

She heard noise down the hallway. “Gods, already? I just got in here!”

In a rush, she scanned the cluttered shelves, full of so many odd trinkets, she could not begin to sort them in her mind. She went over to a shelf and ran her fingers over item after item, with no plan, no idea what she really wanted. Her fingers fell on a reddish wood stick, wrapped in thick paper. Something compelled her to pick it off the shelf.

Tweet flitted into the room. “You need to be quick. I think Woof is headed back this way.”

“I just got in her. Geez. I haven’t had time to…What’s this?” She pulled the stick out of the paper. It was reddish wood with a rich dark grain. Along the thick base, it had a few green gems embedded in a collar before it tapered to a point. “Hmmm. This looks pretty neat.”

“Looks like a wand to me.”

“I guess so.”

Tweet flitted around near her head. “Looks like it came with instructions. You going to read them?”

“What? Oh, these? Well…” She unrolled the paper.

With this device, you can focus a spell. Simply create your spell, aim the wand at your target and it will precisely target for you. Now for a word of caution. There are certain things to keep in mind…

Meleena zoned out after that. “Good enough. This looks—”

“We’d better go. I hear Woof.”

“Well, at least this is something.” Meleena tossed the paper aside and tucked the wand into her vest.

She came to the door, took one last look around the musty room and closed the door behind her. “Lead the way out my friend. I guess I have to take what I can get and be happy.”

*          *          *

“Te he he he he. This is going to be great!”

Meleena sat at a table by a window in Nerdal’s Books & Coffee in the middle of Bug Flat. The place, one of her hangouts when she wanted to scope the dandies coming from the shops along the boulevard, provided a great view of the street. Plus, she could get a good cup of coffee and even read something, if she had a mind.

Today, she sat amongst the usual gang of intellectuals. A few scholars, decked in glasses, two to five lenses, depending on their race, gazed at various tomes and sipped on exotic brews made at the counter next to the half man, half lizard who ran the establishment. He sat in a throne-like chair, counted his coins and calculated things on a complicated device with levers. Across from her at the other end of the long table, two Dwarves sat, puffing pipes and browsing thick books with gold trim. Two females of cat-like appearance, given the feline faces and tails, talked in hushed whispers and leafed through a pair of books at another table across the room.

Meleena sipped on a cup of coffee, strong enough to stand her spoon up straight, black, no frills. With over thirty varieties to choose from, she always had a hard time picking her poison. This time, she chose the coffee with the plain red label and a silver crown called, unimaginatively, Silver Crown. Maybe she chose that one because of the color of the wand, which she held under the table with her free hand.

Outside, the dandies rolled by, some with a wife or lover on one arm. Many by themselves, all primped and full of themselves. “It’s time to give them something to think about. Heh heh heh…”


“What did you call me?” Her face flushed. Meleena glared at the five eyes staring at her…or tried to.

The man blinked. “Uh, huh? Ma’am? I’m sorry. Did you say something?”

Meleena suppressed her anger. This fool did not know. “Nobody calls me ma’am. I’m no ma’am. I’m no lady.”

“Well, I—”

“Just remember that.”

The scholar went back to his book and scooted further away at the table. His face reddened. One of his five eyes cocked her direction, but rolled back in line with the other four. A wisp of blonde hair fell on his cheek. He brushed it away.

Meleena turned back to the window. Riled now, she spotted one particular man, frilly green shirt, haughty manner, as if he were above everyone else. He came from a hundred paces away, plenty of time to prepare.

Meleena started the itch spell. The last time she’d performed the spell, it had not gone so well for the victim. That was in a far off place. Since then, she’d practiced and practiced. She recited the words under her breath, fingered the ingredients with one hand. Ensuring five-eyes and anyone else wasn’t looking her direction, she raised the wand just enough to aim at the dandy.



Wait a moment. That scream came from inside here!

The dandy in the street did not react at all. However, all around her in the bookstore, chaos.

She tucked the wand into her sleeve and dared look around.

The beards of the two Dwarves at the other end of the table lay on the table and in their laps, spread in a halo of gray and white. She had never seen a Dwarf without a beard. “Gods, you look…look…normal! Well, except you have knobby noses.”

“Bu…bu…” The pair grabbed their faces, chunks of hair from their laps, the table.

“The book! The book!”

Meleena jerked around. “What’s going on?”

“The book’s blank…well not exactly.” Five-eyes leafed through the book he’d been reading. “What you have there? Open it. What do you see?”

Meleena grabbed the book she’d randomly selected from a shelf when she’d entered the place. It was an illustrated book on birds. She opened it and noticed there was no text, except for the colored inks in the illustrations. Anything in black ink was gone.

“My books! My books! What happened to the black ink?”

Meleena slunk down in her chair. She closed her tome, took another chug of her coffee and slinked out of the bookstore.

She made it two paces and ran right into Grel.

“Give it…now!”



Meleena pulled the wand out of her sleeve.

“If you’d bothered to read the instructions, you’d have seen that…well, never mind. Too late now. I just hope you didn’t kill anyone.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“You know, I warded that door and the only reason I wasn’t there to stop you was that I was tied up and couldn’t get away. I also warded this, but once again, couldn’t get here in time to stop you. Still don’t know how you go out of there. Wish I could’ve neutralized it.” He shook his head. “The next time you want to snoop around, just ask. You’ll do less damage that way.”

With a huff, he turned and then…Pop! He was gone…vanished.

“Guess I won’t be reading any books at Nerdal’s for a while.” Meleena kicked a discarded piece of stale bread on the ground, watched it land in the middle of the street. She slinked back toward the Pig Splat.

July 15, 2017 (Just Another Day In Bug Flat)

Meleena sipped on an ale. In the corner, a trio of hairy maybe-men played a rowdy game of Tibbits, a local dice game. She never got the hang of the game and while she focused on the three men, she found their interaction far more interesting than that stupid game. She’d had sex with the largest one, his body close enough to human to give her pleasure. However, it took several moon cycles to finally convince him she only had three random times in the hay in mind and that was that. A little trim with her dagger near his privates finally convinced him she was serious. Since then, he ignored her. When their eyes did meet on rare occasions, she detected a slight hint of fear, which suited her just fine.

In all that time she never got his name nor cared, so she called him Hairy. In any case, Hairy was drunk enough he probably could not see across the room. Of his companions, one had a pointed head and a crown of hair at the tip and bald below that which reminded her of some vegetable. The other resembled a tall, skinny dwarf. They were not far behind him at being inebriated. They all slurred their words and spoke in a non-Fasstalk dialect. She had no idea what it was. Frustrated, she could automatically understand every word, every nuance, yet she had no inkling what language it was unless someone told her or she got a clue through something the speaker said. Her talent for languages was both a gift and a curse. She was careful to keep the gift part of it hidden

“Care for a game of Tibbits?”

Meleena whipped her head around, saw it was Chit Chit and acknowledged with a scowl.

Her best friend sat next to her with a fresh mug of ale and nodded his head toward the trio. “I can’t say I’m disappointed in the tab they’ve run up tonight.”

“I’m bored.”

“You know that’s the phrase I hate more than any other.” Chit Chit grimaced and his mandibles clicked together. “Makes me want to scream.”

“Sorry, I just want to…to…I don’t know. I can’t stand sitting around.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard you say in what…a couple of bells?” Her friend and owner of the bar slapped a hand on the table and took a sip from his own mug of ale.

“The gang is off doing other stuff. I’m between jobs, I just—”

“For the gods, go out and about. I’m sure you can create some kind of mayhem. You always do.” Chit Chit stood, eyed the three playing Tibbits, then huffed off to the bar.

Meleena rolled her fingers on the table, took a sip of her fresh ale, licked the foam off her upper lip. “Decisions, decisions.”

She chugged the rest of the ale as if it were water, walked out the door and sniffed the night air. “As you implied, my dear Chit Chit, ‘Mayhem ensues.'”

July 23, 2017 (Mayhem Ensues?)

The dusty after-mid-day air tickled Meleena’s nose. She caught a glance of the sun and let loose a series of three sneezes. That left her nose running. Several passerby said various blessings in just as various languages, oddly enough, none in Fasstalk. She did not care. The sneezing attack irritated her more.

A bread vendor poked along the street with a mule. The poor beast had a stack of bread loaves piled twice his height, the top swaying precariously. Meleena caught a whiff of fresh baked bread. Her stomach growled. She noted the straps and cords tied all over, holding the loaves in place.

“Bread, fresh bread. Cheap! Twenty coppers. Nice and hot.” The further along his speech went, the lower the tone, as if the merchant ran out of energy.

Something about his voice struck a familiar beat. She maneuvered around the opposite side of the mule and pulled ahead. When she reached the next intersection, she spotted a raised porch. She climbed the steps and swiveled around a support post to glance back at the face of the bread guy without him seeing hers. “Leffey! So, you’ve stooped to ripping people off with bread now?” she said under her breath. Her skin crawled.

The man, Leffy, a real, honest-to-goodness human, like her, tried to rape her two season cycles ago. Unlike the one and only time when she was raped for real at twelve season-cycles, this idiot had no idea what he was dealing with. Much older, wiser and skilled, she turned the tables on him and did permanent damage, which set the scoundrel on a different path, or so she thought. It only made him worse until someone caught and “cured” him. She took perverse pleasure in learning that cure was not pleasant and much worse than what she did to him. What’s he doing still in Bug Flat, and selling bread?

All the pent up rage came back. From supposedly cured him did not sense that and killed him instead, she could only guess. What to do?

Already irritable and bored, she had expected to maybe stir the pot, cause a bit of chaos. Seeing Leffey again brought up a whole new set of emotions.

She blinked and stared at the street, but her new quarry and the mule were long past. “Whaaa?”

She spun and saw the top of his pile of bread turning a corner three blocks distant.

Her hand shook and slipped from the pillar. “Oh, gods! Why did I come out today?”

A sign across the street displayed the name of a dwarven bar. “It’s not the Pig Splat but dwarves can be entertaining.”

“You say something, Miss?” A man said, from down on the street.

“Grrrr…I’m no…Never mind.” Meleena chased the guy away with a scowl. She dismounted the porch and crossed the street to the bar. “So much for mayhem. At least for right now.”

July 29, 2017 (Dwarven Bar)

A blue-brown haze sat like a blanket just above Meleena’s head. From her undersized stool, she gazed across the room at the rowdy crowd. The bar stood to the right, with rows of bottles on shelves behind the barman. To the left tables filled the floor, most filled with both male and female dwarves. The majority of the males smoked pipes similar to the model Baldar liked to puff on. The females with beards braided neater than the males, smoked tobacco sticks or nothing at all. Otherwise, it was hard to tell them apart except a higher pitched voice.

In a corner opposite the door, musicians milled about on stools, on a break between sets.

She understood everything the crowd was saying, but could not tell if they were speaking Dwarven or Fasstalk. She flashed back on when she first left the Pig Splat a while ago and sneezed. All those people blessed her in various languages. Somehow she knew none of those blessings were in Fasstalk. Normally, she could not tell the difference, she just understood the words. Why did she know the difference, when normally, she needed some kind of clue they were different languages? Was this some kind of breakthrough?

She put down her mug of ale and rubbed her eyes. Automatically knowing how to speak, read and write every language sometimes drove her close to madness.

At the next table, a male dwarf puffed on his pipe without ever lighting it or putting anything into it, just like Baldar. Ever since she first met the dwarf, she had been trying to find out what he put in that cursed pipe and how he lit it without using a flame. He would never tell her.

“Excuse me.”

The dwarf looked her way. “Yessama’am?”

She grit her teeth. Nobody calls me ma’am. She kept a nasty comment to herself. “What are you smoking in that thing?”

The guy grinned and winked. “Pure pleasure, Ma’am.” He blew out a string of smoke rings, then took a big gulp of ale.


Meleena buried her face in her mug and took a swallow before she said something she would regret.

The band, composed of three women and one man, started playing a traditional dwarven folk song.

The hypnotic melody and rhythm took Meleena to a far off place. Soon, languages, the mysterious dwarven pipes and Leffy the rapist faded into oblivion.

March , 2018 (Voting Day)

“Are you going to vote?” Vaaaven twitched his long nose. His rat-like whiskers danced on the end of his nose.

Meleena let out a long sigh through clenched teeth. The whole idea of picking a new mayor of Bug Flat left her with a bad taste in her mouth. Jeevey Ledder, the last mayor, supported the campaign to round up all the riffraff in town, including the likes of her and Vaaaven. Though that campaign promise never happened, it was the thought that counted and she knew the real story behind it. Jeevey was a merchant in his day job and one reason he came by his wealth and prominence in the community was through a constant flow of bribes. Those bribes were to people like her and Vaaaven to steal goods from his competitors that would boost his business. Then, to have him play nice with the dandies and campaign for an end to the same corruption he practiced…well…

“I have a better idea.”

“Ssss…” Vaaaven caught his breath. “I see that look in your eye.”

She grinned. “Step right this way.” Meleena bowed, held out her hand, and gestured toward a nearby dark alley.

Across the street, three pollsters stood on the street corner, each with a box full of voting chits. Each box was labeled with the name of a candidate. Voters could choose which candidate they wanted to vote for, sign for a chit and take it to the polling place in the palace guard building next to the entrance to Sivrisinek Castle. Inside the building were booths where they could then drop off their chits in any of the three large bins.

Meleena did not like any of the three choices these guys represented. There were more in other locations, though they held just as much appeal.

When voting day ended, accountants from the largest bank, the Zawdone Gold Depository, would count each chit and tally the votes. Tomorrow, the winner would be announced.

With one last look at the three pollsters, out of the dozens stationed around town, she slinked into the alley, with Vaaaven at her side.

It was all a matter of numbers. The candidate with the most gold, hired the most pollsters to carry more of their boxes into different parts of town, touting their best features. There had also been speeches and parties where some of them promised what they would do to either change what the current mayor did or continue along the same lines.

Each voter could only place one chit into one of the bins. Their name and identity would be verified when they voted and they would be checked for multiple chits to ensure no cheating.

“Where are we going?” The rat-man practically rubbed against her as they walked.

“We’re going to have some fun, that’s all.” Meleena suppressed a giggle.


Late into the evening, voting was over, the guard house closed down. In the pitch dark, Meleena, with Vaaaven at her side, slinked along the wall while they dragged three large boxes with ropes from the cart she had commandeered earlier.

“Shhhh! Don’t let those things bump into the wall. Now, go check the side door.”

Vaaaven crept forward and tried the handle. “Locked, of course. You’re going to have to do your thing. You know, I’m no good at picking locks.”

Glad for a rest, Meleena let go of the rope and crept up to the door. She glanced both ways and spotted not a soul. All was quiet. She took out her tools and after making sure the lock wasn’t protected by a magickal ward, she made quick work of it and opened the door. “Okay, put on that Garashabba ring and go inside and make sure nobody’s guarding the boxes. We only have about half a bell before the accountants come in to start on the chits.”

Vaaaven slipped the ring on his finger and faded away into invisibility.

She felt his presence as he slipped by her through the door. A few moments later, he came back and popped into view.

“Okay, we’re clear if we hurry. Nobody’s in the main room. They’re all down the hall but we have to be quick in case someone decides to come out and have a look.”

“I see that look on your face. What’s wrong?” Meleena said.

“The door may not’ve been warded, but the boxes themselves are.”

“Heh heh heh.” She leaned her back against the wall and patted the top of one of the boxes. “After we left this afternoon, did you by chance wonder where I went?”

“Uh…well, yeah. You kind of left me. I thought you were mad, or in one of your moods or something.” Vaaaven’s eyes flashed in the gloom.

“Take a look at this box, here.” Meleena pointed to the side. “Look familiar”

Vaaaven squinted at the spot. “Hey, that looks—”

“Eeeyup. Just like the magickal ward marks in there, right?”

“How did…” The rat-man looked at the door, then the box and back to the door again. He sighed. “Never mind. Is this one real, this ward?”

“Mmmm…close enough. It should do just fine.” She grinned and winked at him. “It’s amazing what a low-cut shirt and puffing up one’s chest can do under the right circumstances.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, well, you’d have to be a gir…I mean….well, you know….”

“Yeah, I do. Now, let’s get busy.”

Working with practiced coordination, they slipped the three boxes into the building and switched them with the real ones. As they were dragging the last one out, someone came down the hall. Meleena and Vaaaven froze, halfway to the side door, totally exposed.

The figure came to the end of the hall, yawned, gazed at the three boxes in plain view, never looked to his left, then turned and went back down the hall.

Meleena’s heart was in her throat. Vaaaven trembled. Neither said a word, but continued to ease the box into the alley.

Meleena went back to each of the bogus boxes, uttered a phrase over each, then rushed out the door. She locked it and tied the rope around the boxes and dragged them down the alley the way they had come.


Pre-midday sun came through the window in the Pig Splat. Meleena sat with Vaaaven and Baldar at a table, all nibbling on the remnants of an early lunch.

“It’s sure taking them forever to count those votes, isn’t it?” Baldar nibbled on a cracker and took a puff from his pipe. “They were supposed to be done with it long before sunup.”

Meleena suppressed a giggle and gave Vaaaven a sidelong glance. “They must be making sure, I suspect.”

The door swung open and Leeth strolled in. He carried a sheet of paper. He spotted them and came over to the table. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!”

“What’s going on?” Meleena batted her eyes.

“The election!” Leeth plopped into the first available chair, grabbed Meleena’s mug of ale and took a big gulp, just as Chit Chit came over with a fresh pair for each of them.

Leeth ignored the bar owner and flapped the paper in the air. “This is crazy! They finished the first count by two bells. They couldn’t believe the results and did it again. By dawn, word leaked out and the candidates all converged on the building and demanded a visual recount in front of the accountants. It soon turned into a spectacle.”

He gave Meleena back her empty mug and grabbed the fresh one in front of him. After another swig, he wiped his mouth and continued. “Each of the known candidates got fifteen votes each. Exactly fifteen votes. Can you believe that?”

“Wait a moment. Fifteen. How many candidates were there?” Meleena counted on her fingers, all the while, keeping Vaaaven in her peripheral vision and trying not to laugh. “I think more people voted than that.”

“Uh, no kidding.” Baldar took another puff of his pipe. “So, who got all the rest of the votes?”

“This is where it gets crazy. Doonbar, the simple-minded stable boy at the Otraph Inn!” Leeth dropped the paper on the table and then slapped his hand down on top of it.

When everyone gasped, Meleena almost forgot to, then remembered, and let one out as Vaaaven wrenched his face into the start of a laugh. She kicked his shin under the table.

Time to go somewhere where I can let it all out. I never knew elections could be so fun!



Bug Flat – Meleena’s home town. Bug flat is the place where it all started. Meleena grew up in this modest town. It has a castle (Sivrisinek Castle) that dominates over the rest of the small city (a bit larger than a regular town). It sits in a curve of the Otraph River. There are the rich areas, the slums, and the regular places as well as the town square known as Head Choppers Lawn (each of these other named places will be addressed separately). Bug Flat is where all of Meleena’s adventures start. It’s also where she learned her main trade, which is thievery, and all the skills that go along with it.


Fasstalk – The common language of the world. Though there are thousands of languages spoken throughout the world, the common language that binds all cultures together is Fasstalk. Nobody knows how or why it became the universal language, but it did. The only persistent rumor is that the trend was somehow sparked by the mysterious lost race called the Rammanuta. There’s more to say about this mysterious race, but that’s for another time.


Rock Mimic – An always hungry beast that mimics rock. It’s favorite hunting method is to lie flat and blend in with solid rock. When someone steps on it, it devours the unfortunate person or animal. Very hard to detect. An experienced adventurer can detect them by the strong mortar smell.


Chit Chit – Half human, half bug. Owner of Pig Splat and Meleena’s best friend. He has four eyes and his “skin” is lime green. He has wings that normally stay folded against his back. He also has mandibles that click when he’s annoyed or laughing.


Esveen – Local religion. Has many fanatics. They hate magick. There’s much to this weird religion, but I can’t say more about it now without revealing major spoilers. Let’s just say it plays a major role in several of the stories, especially Gods Of The Blue Mountains.


Baldar Bane – A Dwarf that accompanied Grel on his first attempt to get the pearl. Baldar has bright green eyes, a face full of beard and rosy cheeks, when you can see them. He prefers and ax as a weapon. He carries a pipe that he never lights, never fills, yet smokes all the time. It’s a complete mystery to Meleena, and she’s never been able to figure out how he makes it work. It even has different aromas, depending on the day.


Sivrisinek Castle – The castle that dominates the town of Bug Flat and the home of the queen of Meleena’s kingdom. Meleena has quite a history with the castle, having spent a lot of time roaming the passages, robbing various rooms. However, she’s only recently become familiar with the dungeons, where Grel the magick user lives with his pet dung eater, Woof. The dungeons, in fact anywhere within the castle, is never accessible to her without help from her tiny friend, Tweet The Quick. This creature knows every passageway in the castle and is helpful with the correct bribe and/or threat. There’s a lot of history with Meleena and the castle throughout the series. NOTE: The word sivrisinek is the Turkish word for mosquito (in case you were wondering).


Gleeb – An obnoxious beast that runs in the sewers underneath Bug Flat and other towns throughout the area. A cross between a small rhinoceros and a lizard. Has a horn sticking out front, three tentacles with suckers along the length and four-fingered claws at the ends, coming from its back for grabbing, and two rows of stubbed molar teeth on the upper and lower jaws. It runs on four legs with padded feet similar to a lion. The biggest danger is it’s ugly disposition, fast movement and the mouth that can expand four times the size of its body. However, it cannot bite down hard and unless the victim is stunned or stupid, poking inside the tender parts of the giant mouth can usually help one escape, unless the hapless victim gets too close to the tentacles.


Blow Harvel to the Winds! – A common curse in Meleena’s world. Nobody really knows who Harvel is, or was, but that hasn’t stopped the phrase or the curse from being used. It’s the equivalent of son of a gun, or drat or any other colorful metaphor you want to substitute. The origin of the phrase has been lost in time.


Rabell – Rock creatures that look like stalactites and sometimes stalacmites. They are natural and all over the world. They are a face in the rock and tend to remind people of different people each time they look at them.


Aunt Leena – Meleena’s aunt who raised her in Bug Flat. Meleena left “home” when she was ten years old. The last she heard, her aunt was dead, but she isn’t sure. One day she may go back and look up Aunt Leena.


Gallin – Gallin is the continent in which Meleena’s adventures take place throughout the first and second books (and more). It’s a large expanse that includes multiple mountain ranges, deserts, forests, lakes, rivers, everything you’d expect on a continent roughly equivalent to the size of well…use your imagination. I’ll leave that for maps and further adventures. Let’s just say it’s big!


Baldar’s Pipe -As in the description of Baldar Bane above, this pipe is a total mystery to Meleena. She’s tried to get him to reveal its secrets but all he does is wink at her and reveal nothing. He smokes it without lighting it, never puts anything in it, it smells of different flavored tobaccos and he can put it away without burning his pocket. He’s not the only dwarf with one either, as she discovers in further adventures. They’re just as secretive about their pipes as Baldar.


Burning Jelly Beasts – They’re made mostly from acid, they’re related to amoeba. These creatures live in colonies of 40-45. They’re super-aggressive and won’t stop attacking until they’re dead. Their “blood” is corrosive to armor and weapons, unless magickally protected, and even then, they should be washed off as soon as possible. They can strike wounds with bites from spontaneously formed mouth stalks full of teeth, or acid burns from striking with potent slaps of flagellating paddle-like arms. They can also spit which is the worst, especially if one gets hit in the unprotected face.


Time – The Moment – Measurement of time is different in Meleena’s world. I used my own terms to measure things and if you’ve read any of the books so far, you’ll have noticed there’s no seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc. The shortest time measurement is the moment. That’s equivalent to about a minute. A second would be a split moment. That’s about as precise as time gets in Meleena’s world. Though there’s science and magick in her world to varying degrees, these practitioners handle more precise measurements different and I’m going to keep vague on the specifics. If a situation ever comes up where I need something more detailed, you can be sure it will be creative, but that’s as far as I’ll stretch it when it comes to time and measurements. This is, after all, a unique world, NOT ours.


Grelnik – Grelnik, also known as Grel, is the head magick user at Sivrisinek Castle and Meleena’s mentor and protector – whether she wants it or not! He’s a tall humanoid with four eyes, a beard he keeps tied in three braids, and long gray hair. He sometimes wears the standard magick user (nobody every uses the term “wizard” around him because he considers that a dirty word) robes and hat, but he’s often seen in blacksmith garb. He used to be banned to the dungeons of the castle after a falling out caused by the chief antagonist in Treasure Of The Umbrunna. No more spoilers.


The Series Continues – This is the last post of the year and I just wanted to wish every one of you a great new year. It’s been a fun ride and I’m looking forward to great adventures in 2019!

We now have two books going forward with Meleena’s Adventures. Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains are out there and I hope you are enjoying them. Right now I’m hard at work on Across The Endless Sea and already have A and B for the fourth book, though I haven’t settled on a title yet. I also have ideas for books five and six, though I still don’t have firm A’s and B’s yet.

I never figured I’d been writing fantasy way back when, though I never discounted it either. My focus back in 1995, when I first started, was science fiction, icky bug (horror) and adventure/thrillers. It was my wife that convinced me to take up fantasy, and I had a lot of fun digging into the world of Meleena. It was really, no different than any of the other genres for me. Still an adventure, Meleena’s world just happened to be fantasy instead of real world. So, it continues.

I’ll get back to tidbits from her world in January 2019.

All the best!


Queelan Lodar – Queelan is human and his skills lie with a sword. He’s got a quick wit but has a dark cloud hanging over him at the loss of his wife many years ago. He has a special connection with Meleena which would be a major spoiler for those that haven’t read the first book, Treasure Of The Umbrunna.


Slab – Slab is a vast underground city on Osterland Island. It’s called Slab because of the large stone that covers the only known entrance. The real name of the city has been lost to the ages and even when it was known, legend has it, the name was unpronounceable to humans. Even Meleena, who would be able to understand it and its true menaing, probably couldn’t pronounce it. The city has been visited and settled and abandoned many times over the ages, corrupted beyond measure. Rumor has it the complex of underground caverns were originally honed out by the Umbrunna, then refined by the alien Rammanuta. Nobody knows for sure, and more details would constitute spoilers.


RammanutaBuilt most of the buildings in Slab. Considered a magickal race. Some think of them as mythical while others think of them as gods. Came from the stars. Kept the world at peace until they just left and the world went back to chaos.


Blue Mountains – Home of the Gods Of The Blue Mountains. This range is a dividing like in the continent Meleena lives on. The mountains run northwest to southeast in approximately the ten to four o’clock direction. They’re mysterious and forbidden due to a magickal barrier that nobody has been able to penetrate. At night, strange, loud rumbling and lightning emits from within the mountains that everyone calls the “gods playing.” Nobody knows the real source or cause of this almost nightly event. It can be heard far away from the mountains and up close it’s quite disturbing. That’s one reason there are few settlements. Buildings have to be quite sturdy to withstand the vibration.


Tome Of Blad – The written history of the Snorgs. While the Snorgs themselves are not known for writing or reading, they actually (at least some) do. Despite being concocted by what seems to be an experiment gone wrong, though that’s not the case at all, there’s a certain civilization to them if one somehow got to know them and looked beyond their uh…limitations. This tome is quite interesting, if one had the ability to read it.


Vaaaven – A rat-faced slime ball that is part human and part rodent. Meleena has known him since they were kids. They’ve had an uneasy partnership more often than not, and if anyone besides Chit Chit would be considered a friend and ally, it would be Vaaaven. There’s a lot more to this guy than what first appears in Treasure Of The Umbrunna.


Snorg – Snorgs are everywhere in Meleena’s world. She’s run across these misunderstood creatures all her life. They’re big, smelly, and at first glance primitive. They’re appearance is half gorilla and half pig. They came from the mountains where a meteorite crashed and caused the original gorilla creatures to mutate into Snorgs. Can be aggressive. Almost always ill-tempered and not too bright, at first blush. Have their own civilization and can be peaceful. Pig snout and green warty skin. Razor sharp tusks.


Fillinia – The hometown and capital city of the elves on Meleena’s home continent. It’s a large, walled city dominated by a main castle and many smaller palaces. It houses three distinct elf races. It’s the scene of quite a bit of drama for Meleena and her crew. It’s also the hometown of Wiz, Niin, and their family. It plays a key part in Gods Of The Blue Mountains.


Woof – Woof is Grelnik’s pet dung eater. It’s a blob like beast with a dozen eye stalks and a large mouth full of teeth that crawls across the floor of caves, scavenging for food. They’re normally quite vicious but can be tamed if domesticated early, or magickally controlled. They normally have quite a nasty disposition and two claw-like appendages for grabbing.


Xalat Beast – A cross between a giant rooster and a bull. Can tell them by their smell. They’re natural to the world. They’re not predators, but can be fearsome when provoked. Herbivores but if mad, will tear apart their antagonist. Clawed front legs with hooks at the back of the shins, hooves for the back with bull-like body. They have antlers, but a head like a rooster with a comb and a long hooked beak for foraging in large bushes. Voracious eaters that can destroy a crop. More a nuisance but can be used for their meat, or riding by those skilled enough to tame them. Can also be used to kill by assassins with the skill to make them seen tame until the right moment. Not very common.


Fillinia – Fillinia is the hometown of the elves. It’s a walled city filled with palaces and castles. Its inhabitants contain the three main races of elves, the Hradlan, the Quixlof and the Praalen. Though they intermix to some extent, they also have their own enclaves separated with common areas where they conduct business and politics. Despite constant infighting and an oppressive religious sect, the city is quite vibrant with a booming economy.


Tweet The Quick – A cross between a mythical Pixie and a humming bird. Tweet has a penchant for sunflower seeds and hangs out in the dungeons below Sivrisinek castle. If anything is happening in the castle, especially in the dungeons, he probably knows about it.


The Digs – The Digs is the slum in Bug Flat. It’s the home of most of the poor people and the ne’er do wells. If you want to find trouble, that’s the place to start. Meleena grew up in a little better place than that, but once she went out on her own, she spent plenty of quality time there. She knows every inch of the place and most of it’s inhabitants. Most smart people avoid the place or if they don’t, go there for a specific reason, not usually on the up-and-up.


Rabell – Rock creatures that look like stalactites and sometimes stalacmites. They’re natural and all over the world. They’re a face in the rock and tend to remind one of different people each time they look at them. Some have names if they choose to tell you. Meleena meets a few through her adventures. They can be found anywhere there are caves.


Time – The Bell – I use a completely different time (as well as) distance measurement system in Meleena’s world. I’ve already gone over a moment and the explanation of the vagaries of time in her world. A bell is the rough equivalent of a hour. Towers throughout the land as well as those with chronometers (yes they do exist in Meleena’s world) mark off bells throughout the light and dark periods (more on that later).


Kanerra Mountains – A line of mountains northeast of Bug Flat that sit between Bug Flat and the Blue Mountains. On the other side are the Kaddalaa, a race of tentacled beings that have a taste for human flesh. So far avoided by Meleena and the gang.


Time – Sun Cycle – A sun cycle is the equivalent of a day. The description should make that pretty obvious. The sun cycles through the sky one time. Therefore, that’s a day. Nothing simpler than that! Oh, and the night period is just the other half of the sun cycle. It’s NOT a separately designated time period. The sun cycle INCLUDES the night. Just to be technical.


Wiz – Wiz Clarrava is an elf magick user. He’s Elf of the Fillin tribe. It takes Meleena a while to learn to trust him. He has quite a large family and his name has nothing to do with his skill as a magick user. He has several cousins, also named Wiz, some no good at magick.


Asbryxzybratha Crossing – A crossing deep in a canyon controlled by dragons. On the way to the Blue Mountains from Fillinia. They meet a key character here.


Donnick – Innkeeper at the Inn of the Valley – He has three eyes, two regular ones and one big one in the middle of his forehead. He can read people with uncanny accuracy. Friendly and able to mimic with a few select spells.


Is Meleena’s World Based On Anything Real? – In a word, no. When it comes to my other genre, yes, I’ve culled inspiration from the real world. However, when it comes to Meleena’s world, while the building blocks for everything, of course, have to come from some knowledge or sense of reality (geography, basic flora, fauna, architecture, language, religion, food, etc.,), her world derives from another place. It has no basis on anything in the real world as we know it. Does the real world influence how I put it all together? I’m sure it does. The core influence of Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy stories from the past such as the works of Andre Norton and to a much lesser extent than you may realize, Tolkein, play in there. However, just as much, so do The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent and others all have influences. I can’t forget Saturday morning cartoons, Saturday afternoon B-movies as well as the fantastic and freaky artwork that was quite often much better than many of the stories within those books on the science fiction and fantasy shelves. Plus, there was my original polka-dot sewer incident in kindergarten (my imagination) which led to all of this in the first place.

In a nutshell, and I don’t apologize for the cliché, Meleena’s world isn’t based on real places or real incidents, and isn’t meant to be. I save that for my adventure/thrillers and icky bug (and maybe science fiction if I ever get back to that genre).

There you go, the explanation – long version.


Time – Season Cycle – A season cycle is the equivalent of a year in Meleena’s world. When one talks about being twenty, that’s twenty season cycles of twenty years old. A millennia is a thousand season cycles, bla bla bla.


Thommm – A dragon at Asbryxzybratha Crossing. He’s a dragon Meleena and crew meet during their adventures. Thommm transports them across the river and ravine. Then he and Meleena develop a personal connection. I’ll just leave it at that.


Osterland Island – A large island off the east coast of Meleena’s home continent of Gallin. This island is the setting for much of the action of Treasure Of The Umbrunna. It has a diverse geography and is the home of the main populace of the Umbrunna clan in the novel. That’s not to say there aren’t other clans around the world, but in this story, it’s the home of this particular group. It’s also the location of the vast underground city everyone calls Slab. Now that’s another story!


Roving Teeth – The equivalent of a shark. Very nasty. The size of a cow and aggressive. Will attack and eat anything. Not very intelligent. Can’t hunt in schools because they’ll attack each other unless there’s plenty of other food around.


Esveen Symbol – A crest consisting of a Y with lightning bolts at the top of each arm of the y and a five pointed star just above where the two lightning bolts almost touch in the middle.


Thank You! – I want to take a moment to thank all of you readers for the positive reviews. While there have been one or two who haven’t found Meleena or maybe my writing to their liking, the overwhelming majority of you have expressed your pleasure with Meleena and her adventures. I sincerely thank you for your kind words and support! It means a lot, and right now, I’m pressing on with the third book in the series, Across The Endless Sea. I already have the basic idea for book four and inklings for book five dancing around in the back of my head.

While many who write fantasy and some who read it automatically think in trilogies (maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but it needs to be emphasized again), I’ve NEVER intended or even considered Meleena’s Adventures to be a trilogy. I’ve called it her “adventures” for a reason, as in “multiple” with no set number. As long as I keep coming up with ideas and my publisher agrees to keep putting them out, I’ll keep going.

Rock on!


Glurg – An aggressive but quite stupid quadruped, similar in size to a cow, but with two tentacles and a long sucker-like mouth with fine teeth at the end. Likes to eat poison berrybush fruit. Their blood is quite toxic which makes their meat useless.


Xarlan Castle – Meleena’s world is full of many vast and elaborate castles. One such is the main castle in Fillinia, the capital city of the elves. It’s quite elaborate and would put the famous fairyland castles of Germany and Disneyland to shame. Those elves sure like their architecture. Meleena has been there once. However, since she approached (mostly) from the ground, she’s never seen the full extent of the structure…yet.


Niin – Wiz’s younger sister. She’s also a magick user. Her mother calls her Weelee, which she hates. She’s very good at her craft, which is something the men of her clan don’t take seriously, especially at first. However, Meleena does, and it riles her that the elf’s family doesn’t at first give her credit for her capabilities.


Inn of the Valley – An inn in a valley between two volcanic peaks, run by Donnick. On the way to the Blue Mountains in Gods of the Blue Mountains. It sits before a lake that’s populated with various creatures Meleena and her friends encounter along the way. It’s been known as a popular way station along various routes in the area.


Dragzghat – Most common Dragon dialect. While there are many languages throughout Meleena’s world, the dragons only have a few in the mix, with Dragzghat being predominant. As her friends describe it, it sounds to them like a horse sneezing. Meleena automatically can speak it without accent.


Boimarran The Swift – The king of the dragons. Boimarran is the king of the dragons in the region Meleena visits. While not the only king, she’s one of the most powerful in the region. Also, just because she’s a female does not mean she’s a queen. To dragons, that makes no difference.


Fun Stuff – As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been rotating through my encyclopedia, or glossary, of Meleena’s world. I go from characters to places to things to icky bugs (critters), to standards. There’s a lot, and though at first, I was hesitant to do something like this, several fans suggested I do that because of the complex world I’ve built. What I didn’t want to do is have to create a dictionary. That is a big verboten deal for me. The last thing I want is my readers stumbling over words they have to learn or try to pronounce just to get what’s going on. Sure, I’ve thrown in a few doozies here and there but they’re not terms. These words are names of something. I also try to make them as phonetically pronounceable as possible, and keep the more complex ones to one-offs. At the same time, this is an entirely made up world, so I do have creative license. Being a fantasy setting, there’s going to be some stuff.

These stories are supposed to be fun, not work, so things shouldn’t be like a college textbook. I think back on Dune and the very complex dictionary/glossary required to understand half the novel, or so it seemed to me. It’s one reason I never got into the series. To others, that whole thing made it more immersive. Hey, it’s a classic. Don’t get me wrong. However, I didn’t want you, the reader to have to depend on the glossary to navigate through the story. These glossary names and descriptions are just bonus items. You don’t need them to enjoy the story. They just add extra color to things if you want to read through the entries. They’re supposed to be fun stuff, NOT required reading!

So…take this all as just that. Fun stuff. Trivia. Additional Easter eggs.


Xarlan Castle – The castle in Fillinia. It’s quite elaborate with multiple sections, towers, dungeons, courtyards and secret passages. It has to accommodate and satisfy the three races of elves.


The Garashabba Ring – This is an invisibility ring with quite a history, but one I can’t tell you without major spoilers. Let’s just say that it makes one invisible, everyone thinks it’s cursed, and it would be the crowning treasure of any thief to possess, if not for said curse. What only a few know is that it isn’t cursed at all. It does it’s job perfectly, with no ill effects. That makes it even more valuable to those that know the true nature.


Work On The Third Book Progresses – While progress is a lot slower than it used to be, I’m deep into the story of Across The Endless Sea. Things are coming along nicely on that front. Meleena has got herself into a difficult jam and has to figure a way out of it, as usual. There are plenty of twists and turns for her to navigate along the way and lots of weird stuff to confront. She has her hands full!


Tucu: Part 1 –  I’m breaking tradition a little bit, here. I’m introducing you to a character you haven’t met yet in the series. While I could just wait and bring him (it IS a him) in when the time comes, I’m doing so because of personal timing, which I have to keep secret (or I’d have to kill you), and because it also reveals no spoilers that will affect the third book, Across The Endless Sea. Call this an origin story, be that as it may. The origin part of the story is that we were driving back from Disneyland one year when we could afford to go. That place always stirred my imagination and was a big part of who I am. Too bad, though it’s gone through many fantastic innovations, it’s now priced itself out of our vacation possibilities anymore. Oh well, what was once a good thing…no more. Anyway, at one time, it was a huge source of inspiration. So, there I was full of said inspiration, at four-thirty-to around five in the morning, on a wet, foggy morning, just leaving Anaheim on the freeway. Traffic was light. Still, there WAS traffic. I pulled up alongside a beat up fuel tanker truck. As I drew next to it, I happened to glance over and saw a half scratched off, defective decal on the side. The black letters were supposed to say one thing, but they came out T.U.C.U. instead of whatever they were really supposed to say, which I never figured out. With a head still swirling with thoughts of Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted House and a bit of Mister Toad, I thought, yeah, Tucu would be a cool name to add to Meleena’s world. I scrambled for a pen and wrote it onto my hand and later transferred it to the back of one of my business cards (or something).

Folks, there you have it. The origin of a character in Across The Endless Sea.

Down the line, once the book is published, for those of you that read it (or want to read it), I’ll add in here a bit about this character. He IS quite a character!


Bloogna – Similar to a wild boar but, more vicious can extend its mouth three times the size of its body and has razor sharp teeth. A very ill disposition. Razor sharp tusks. Fast and about the size of a large boar.


What Sub-Genre Is Meleena’s Adventures?

Once again, I’ve been out of the loop due to unforeseen circumstances such as being out of town for a star party, still recovering from surgery, trying to edit Spanish Gold, etc. Needless to say, I’ve been preoccupied. However, not to neglect Meleena, I have a little snippet.

Someone just this morning asked what sub-genre of fantasy Meleena’s Adventures is. Off the cuff, I said medieval and science fiction, because after all, the stories contain a good dose of both. However, to get more serious, they started as sword and sorcery with a mix of science fiction. That’s probably as close as one can get to what Meleena’s Adventures is all about. However, you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, and no, I’m not making excuses for that cliché!


Meleena’s Story IS An Adventure

While in broader terms, genre-wise, Meleena’s Adventures is fantasy, I have to point out that when you get right down to it, like all other genres I write, it’s an adventure. There was recently a discussion on one of the Facebook fantasy sites I’m a member of and someone asked “What type of fantasy do you read?” My response was that I actually don’t read much fantasy at all. Why? Because most of the time it rambles on too much and rarely gets to the point.

What kind of surprised me was all the people that liked my post!

Yup, not only did they like it, but some responded with the same feelings.

I have the same issue with similar genres in that the authors like to ramble on and on a bit too much.

In my stories, I like to get to the point. I don’t like to ramble. Some may not like that. Some may want me to stop and smell the roses and use more literary allusion and all that.

The way I look at it, if it’s something I wouldn’t want to read myself, why should I write it?

Since I write fantasy (among other genres), I figured I needed to read the current genre, as well, to get a feel for the mechanics and what people are reading now. I suffered through a few of the endless tomes and came away wishing I hadn’t spent the money and time on something where one little thing took a hundred pages to happen. THAT folks, isn’t what my writing is all about.

One little thing takes a paragraph, not a hundred pages. Time to move on to the next thing!

Therefore, while my fantasy world is a setting, the story is still an adventure. It moves, things happen. It progresses from A to B.

If that breaks the norm, if my books are three hundred pages instead of a thousand, yet more happens, so be it.



Once again, I skipped a week due to being otherwise engaged, this time at the happiest place on Earth. For those of you not in on that phrase, I was at Disneyland once again. My favorite place since 1956, not to date myself, but it’s a long-standing source of inspiration. It never fails to spark my imagination, no matter what stage my writing is in. This trip was no exception. While nothing directly sparked something for either genre I’m currently writing, what it did do was refresh my never-ending enthusiasm for writing and to keep on coming up with new stuff. My bottomless well from the polka-dot sewer (my imagination – long story) is alive and well and will continue. I look forward to entertaining you!



I’ve been a bit lax in progress on Across The Endless Sea lately. While I have been reading chapters to the Henderson Writers Group, of which this upcoming Monday I’ll be reading Chapter 54, I last left off writing at Chapter 60+ something in fresh material. That was over a month ago. I’ve been otherwise occupied with multiple projects. While I already know what to write, I just haven’t sat down and “dun didded” it yet. That will come. I’m about three quarters done with the story. I’ve known were B is from the beginning, though I’ve tweaked B several times along the way as the middle has evolved, it’s still basically the same. As a pantser, I’ve done this with every book. I write linear so if I don’t have B out there to write to, I have nowhere to go. So never fear, I know where I’m going and am having a great time getting there with Meleena and the gang. As usual, there are plenty of surprises and genre bending. As James Rollins told me a long time ago, don’t be afraid to blend genres if it works for the story. Besides, it’s my world. I can do what I want, and I will! I think you’ll enjoy the results.



This question has come up in my mind because it’s come up on the forums on Facebook often enough as people struggle to define their particular fantasy genre. Are they high fantasy, low fantasy, sword and sorcery, bla bla bla. As I stated before, Meleena’s Adventures, like every other genre I write, is an adventure in a fantasy setting. While it tends to be in the sword and sorcery camp, you could say it’s also colored with bits of science fiction. In that sense, it’s true to the name of the section it would sit in if it were still on the shelf in Barnes & Noble – the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section. Why? Because that’s what it is. Fantasy/Sci-Fi. I learned a long time ago, with some sage advice from James Rollins, not to be afraid to blend genres if the story (and my muse) called for it. When it comes to Meleena and her adventures, that’s exactly what I did. That’s especially true starting in Gods Of The Blue Mountains and the current work in progress, Across The Endless Sea. However, while it wasn’t as visible in Treasure Of The Umbrunna, if you really think about it, it was there all along. You just have to think about it and you’ll see the connection.


Acid Beast/Lion – Sort of like female lions, solid black, large mouths full of razor-sharp fangs. Two needle sharp horns from their skulls. Tentacles protrude from their rib cages that spit yellow (venom) fluid on the ground. The venom will dissolve the soles of ones boots.


Green House District – Green House, as opposed to greenhouse. Named so because many of them are painted green. A rich area in Bug Flat. Meleena has spent a lot of time there in her burglary days. She knows each address intimately, and outside of being caught once or twice, has profited with little notice, but also with only moderate reward. That’s one reason she’s been able to stay under the radar for so long. She did not get too greedy, unlike some of her contemporaries who ended up in the castle dungeon or at head-choppers lawn.


Far-dan Gaglaglaglagatta – Zella’s mate. A male Fazgratta and chief gardener of the western region in Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Doesn’t like Meleena and her friends but tolerates them because of Zella.


Meleena’s Ability With Languages – Though Meleena is mostly human, as humans go in her world, she’s also not quite right. “Thar’ be somethin’ funny ’bout that thar’ girl!” Yup. In a way, I gave Meleena a super power of sorts. Not in the Marvel way, as I’m not really into the superhero thing. This is, after all a fantasy world, not a comic book world, though I certainly wouldn’t object if someone stepped forward and offered to turn her stories into a comic series. Anyway, I digress.

Meleena isn’t some princess in disguise, some girl who is really royalty who doesn’t know it yet. I wanted to avoid that cliché and frankly, I’m pretty sick of that whole scene. She’s also not a typical girl either. I wanted her to be distinctly female, but not, at the same time. She doesn’t possess the typical stereotypical female instincts as we know them. She grew up different in her world, and doesn’t even have that tool set. She’s raw and unrefined in her world. This is deliberate and she’s going to evolve throughout the series.

On the other hand, I also wanted to give her a leg up. She needed something besides thieving and fighting skills, which plenty of her friends have as well.

In this case, I decided to give her one of my huge fantasies. I’ve always had a fascination with languages. The problem is that I never wanted to take the time or do the work to learn the many languages in our world. What happened was that I became familiar with many languages, learned a smattering of words, learned how to at least recognize many of them, but not enough to carry on even the most rudimentary conversation in ANY of them! Eventually, due to attrition, I DID learn enough to get into trouble in Spanish and Turkish. Whoop tee doo.

To this day, I’m still fascinated with languages, but since I’ll never get to where I want, I decided to give what I could never attain to Meleena. As you’ll see when you read her adventures, she knows her stuff, automatically. Her ability is BEYOND even what C3PO can do. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, oh well. Let’s just say, language is NEVER a barrier to her.


WHERE TO MY CHARACTERS COME FROM? – This is a normal author question that I get asked often. In the case of Meleena and her world, many of them are random thoughts, inspired by many people I’ve known. Some of them are combinations of characters from TV and movies or even D&D games I’ve played, given my own twist. Many I’ve just pulled out of the air. If they happen to resemble someone real, it’s purely coincidence. That’s the way many authors do it and that’s why we often have that statement at the beginning of the book “Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental” or something to that effect. We have to, because otherwise, virtually ANY character we make up, if given enough twisting, can be made to resemble some real person. With several billion people on this planet, it’s bound to happen. So, in order to keep things sane, we hold the freedom to create unique people that may or many not resemble someone in real life. It’s purely unintentional, for the most part. Where it may be a little intentional, the person actually inspired by it may not be the person one thinks it is. I have a lot of fun coming up with characters, and place no restrictions on myself with where I draw them from. I will say they are NEVER directly from a single real person. The main traits, or something about them may be inspired by a real person, but that’s it. Sometimes they’re even a tribute.


NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE HERE! – I’ve always said, and still do quite often, that once I discovered I could write, it’s become a passion, NOT a hobby. That realization hit me way back in 1995, well after I’d been at it in various forms for several years. 1995 was the breakthrough when I wrote my first novel, and never looked back. However, back then, I had no clue I’d be where I am today. I guess none of us ever do. I had my big dreams, like any new writer, but it didn’t take long to find out those big dreams were far from reality. I knew right away I didn’t have the luck of lightning striking in a bottle, which is one of my well-worn quotes. Some people just have all the luck. I’m not one of them. It was pretty clear right off that the only way I was going to get anywhere was through stubborn persistence and hard work. Oh, and one other thing. I really didn’t give a shit. Yup, that was always the real underlying thing about my motivation. While I did struggle and have frustrations while trying to get published, my main motivation, has and still is just to write and create these stories. Getting them out there and read by YOU, the public, is still secondary. While it can be a very satisfying bonus, that’s still not primarily why I sit down to write in the first place.
I do it because I love it. Period.

The fact that many of you are enjoying my novels is a reward for all that hard work, but to be honest, I still would’ve wrote every single word you may be holding in your hands, or have already read!

Still, looking back, it comes as a shock to think that twenty-five years ago, I sat down at a very primitive computer and banged out my first novel, just to see if I could really do it. As of today, I can go on line and see the proof of my success with three novels already in the can and #4 in the works right now. I already have a bunch of MS’s waiting in the wings as well. I’d say this passion has paid off far more than I ever could’ve imagined!


King Johan The Blue – The leader of the Blue Vests army and Queelan’s old friend. His kingdom is northeast of the Blue Mountains. So far, he’s only appeared in Treasure Of The Umbrunna. His next appearance will probably be in book #4, but that’s not set in stone. My original idea for him never panned out, but we’ll see how things go. That’s just the way the chips fall sometimes.


THE UMBRUNNA – The title of the first book is called Treasure Of The Umbrunna. However, what exactly ARE the Umbrunna?

The Umbrunna  are a race of rock eaters. Three times the height of a human they have a honey-brown carapace with black blotches and stripes that remind one of either a honeybee (in Meleena’s case) or a to some, a ladybug. They have two sets of mandibles, a pair of regular eyes below two pairs of honeycombed insect eyes. They have six claw-tipped arms with a long reach (the full length of their body) and four muscular clawed legs. The creatures are highly intelligent, have their own culture and language, and are generally peaceful unless attacked. Their language is almost unpronounceable to humanoid races, but with extreme skill such as what Meleena possesses, she can at least understand them. On the other hand, they can, with some difficulty, pronounce words in Fasstalk, and some have picked up the language out of necessity. Generally, they shy away from other civilizations, but are not complete hermits, as Meleena finds out.


FRANKERA LODAR – This would be considered a minor spoiler, of sorts. However, I’m not going to give it all away jussincase you haven’t read the books yet.

Somewhere in one of the books, Meleena finds out she has grandparents. On the fraternal side, she discovers this man was her grandfather. Now, usually, I pull the names out of the blue, but in this case, the first name, Frankera is a bit personal. My own fraternal grandfather’s name was Frank and this is in tribute to him. I was lucky enough to know my grandpa. He lived a long life, but unfortunately, I lost him while I was off in Spain on my first tour in the Air Force. Still, I’ll never forget him and the many experiences I had with him and the stories and memories. This one’s for you, Grandpa!


REAL WORLD VERSUS MELEENAS WORLD CONTINUED – Back in June of 2019, I talked about if Meleena’s world was based on anything real. I was mainly talking about real-world situations. In this case, I want to talk about the world itself, as in flora and fauna. I’ve had some of my critiquers at my writer’s group call me on some of the plants and animals in my world. I use a mix of fantasy icky bugs and real-world animals and plants. The way I look at it, I don’t have to go to the extreme and make EVERYTHING up!


The biggest reason is that it’s MY world! Plain and simple. It’s my fantasy world and since it is, I don’t necessarily abide by any strict rules. That means I can pretty much do what I want as long as I stick by my own rules. That’s something that includes genre bending, which I discussed at length with my buddy James Rollins. He used to write fantasy before he switched to thrillers. He told me there’s nothing wrong with throwing other genres in the mix as long as you blend it in and not make it too jarring. That’s the key. On the other hand, since it’s my world, given it’s fantasy, I can create whatever I want. While some might try to impose certain conventions on me to call it fantasy, just go to Wikipedia and look up all the categories and sub-categories of fantasy that are out there now.

I rest my case.


HOW MANY MELEENA BOOKS WILL THERE BE? – I mentioned this last year in another post. I’m currently working on book number three, but I bristle, at least a little bit when people “assume” I’m working on a trilogy. After all, “all” fantasy novels are trilogies, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not EVERY fantasy is Lord Of The Rings. Geez! I already have book four in mind and the glimmerings of book five brewing. The fact is that I have no definite plans on a quantity. That’s why I called it Meleena’s Adventures. That does not specify any quantity. Also, nowhere in the title of any of the books is a subtitle stating book one of a trilogy, or anything like that. There is a book one, book two subtitle, at least on Amazon, but who’s to say there can’t be a book twenty-seven?

On my other page titled the Limnophobic Chronicles, I allude to the fact that I like to write what I know. That’s because Detach and his adventures are based on real-world. In the case of Meleena and her adventures, it’s my world, and not based on anything except whatever I pull out of thin air. That means, as long as I can, or feel like it, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m compelled to. It’s my calling.

So, be prepared. It won’t happen overnight, but with your patience, I hope to reward you with plenty of entertainment along the way.


CLIVE CUSSLER –  We gettin’ old. The last time I lost an author I admired was the unexpected passing of John McKinna, who wrote the wonderful Ben Gannon diving adventure series.  Before that, it was Andre Norton, who I never got to chat with. Even though Clive Cussler had nothing to do directly with Meleena’s Adventures, he’s one of the reasons I’m writing today.

As we age, it’s inevitable we lose loved ones and friends. The same with influences. I’m just happy they had something to do with my life, whether directly or indirectly.
As for the case of Clive Cussler, well…there’s a bit of history with him.

One of my first huge inspirations to take up writing started in an aircraft hangar at Torrejon Air Base in Spain. It was called Hangar #6 and was two down from the AGE hangar where I worked. AGE stands for Aerospace Ground Equipment and is the stuff you see on wheels being towed around the flightline at the airport. Anyway, during Desert Storm, troops were using Hangar #6 as a way station on the trip to the “theater.” There were cots set up on the main floor and lines with coffee, hot chocolate and other drinks and snacks. There were also restrooms, portable showers, phones and the lot so people could call home. Also, there was a donation library. My wife and kids used to go there and volunteer to help serve the troops. I’d walk down there at lunch time and visit. Sometimes I’d help serve in line if they’d let me, which wasn’t often (too many cooks in the kitchen), or just hang around.

I had a chance to scour the library and even donate books to it. One I found and borrowed my self was called Raise The Titanic. The title alone struck me because of my interest in sunken ships. It was by some guy named Clive Cussler.

That book changed my life! I have to give credit where credit is due, though. There were many other books along the way, but that one title, Raise The Titanic was a huge boost. From that point on, along with another book by (I’d swear) Bentley Little, my first college classes ever, plus stuff at work, and things in my personal life with a group my wife and I were involved with, all drew me into writing. It wasn’t until a few years later I actually sat down at a keyboard and followed through, but that was a start.

Jump forward to 1997, two years after I wrote the original manuscript for Lusitania Gold. I’d already written several times to Clive Cussler and he replied every time. Such a nice gentleman. I was working at the rubber extrusion plant in Frederick, Oklahoma. I found out he was doing a book signing in Ft. Worth, Texas. While it was a several hour drive, I was prepared to get off work a little early and drive down there just for the chance to meet him. I left work after researching all day for the preventive maintenance manuals I was writing. That meant crawling around in dirty and very hot machines (the air averaged around 130 degrees) and the air smelled of burned rubber, sulfur, chemicals, and was full of flocking.

On the way to Fort Worth, the left rear tire on my truck almost fell off. Somehow I’d lost all the studs. Luckily, I stopped in some Podunk little farming town with a tractor repair shop who happened to have studs that fit and I was back on the road again. I made the book signing just in time. When I met Clive, we stood together with his arm around me, while I kept my arms close to my side so (hopefully) he couldn’t smell me. He was so gracious and signed Flood Tide with “To my model for Dirk Pitt. Get it up!”

I keep that photo tacked to the bulletin board at my desk at work. I treasure it along with photos of James Rollins and a few other people I admire.
I’ve read almost every book Clive has written or co-written.

Clive, you will be missed. RIP.


WHO OR WHAT IS DAWG? – If you’ve read either or both of the Meleena’s Adventures novels, you should be familiar with Dawg. I’ve described him several times within each story but it boils down to a flop eared hound, if slightly varying brindle coats, short haired for the most part. He speaks when he wants to and usually has something profound to say when he does. He knows things. However, he can also be just a dawg. He’s that mysterious presence that shows up throughout Meleena’s life and provides key info and sometimes key help. He has a real name as well, which I reveal in one of the stories. He’s also maybe not be exactly what he seems. I like to keep him somewhat of a mystery. The wizard Grel knows a lot more about him than Meleena, which bugs her, but she knows she can’t press him about it. Dawg makes one particular appearance near the end of Treasure and surprises everyone. Okay, he’s full of surprises. You’ll just have to read the books to find out for yourselves.


LEETH VESSLAW – With all the talk of COVID 19 going on, I thought it would be a good time to introduce one of the main sidekicks in Meleena’s world. That is healer and tracker, Leeth Vesslaw. Leeth, built like a wrestler, has mahogany colored skin and is covered with tattoos. He starts the series with black, frizzy hair surrounding a bald top, due to his religious (monk) leanings, but later has it shaved off due to a particular incident. Everyone likes that look so he sticks with it. He’s also gay, or as they say it in the story, he likes men (since they have no word for gay in Meleena’s world). He’s persecuted, just like in our world, for his leanings, but the crew is sympathetic and doesn’t care. They love him all the same, and especially Meleena, who has her own issues with taking on ANY friends, regardless of who they love.

As for healing, so far in the series, Leeth does more work as a tracker, his other specialty. He heals more battle wounds than sickness when he does heal. However, there’s one particular incident…anyway, I did not want to bog the world down with too much reality by having a lot of people sick. Wounded? Yes. Sick, not so much. After all, this IS a fantasy world, an escape, not a college textbook. As far as I’m concerned, even with all the mayhem Meleena either encounters or creates, it’s still an escape for a few hours of reading. There’s enough suffering in the real world. Sure, there’ll be a few diseases popping up here and there, but unless I think it adds something useful, I’m not going to dwell on some incurable or dwelling disease to distract from your day. Leeth will take care of it. The good doctor (healer) is in…mostly.


Lordi Bridge – A rundown bridge leading in and out of Bug Flat. Admittedly, this bridge only has a very minor role in Meleena’s Adventures. It’s also a nod to something out of the real-world. It’s the name of a Finnish heavy metal band that came to prominence in the last decade after winning (of all things) the Eurovision contest. They wear monster costumes and have a similar look to GWAR, though their music is a little more tame. Some say their look is a direct copy of the Virginia-based band that has been around for decades. To tell the truth, I’ve hardly listened to Lordi’s music, which I DO like by the way, but I couldn’t very well name the bridge the “GWAR Bridge,” so Lordi Bridge it is. I guess you have to be a metal fan to understand!


Kargh rock – Hard as metal but still looks like rock. Light as a feather. Walking across it feels like regular stone. Great for hiding things and passages. Needs to be fastened down but requires magick or other mechanical means. Stomping on it does not give off a hollow sound unless one is attuned to looking for it.


Religion In Meleena’s World – While religion is often a key to any world building, it’s something I don’t dwell on much in Meleena’s world except when convenient for plot purposes. I do use the bizarre Esveen, as mentioned above previously, as the cult-like religion worshipped by the bad guys. However, most people that worship it aren’t bad people, it just happens that the bad guys, real fanatics, are priests of this cult. For the most part, the populace tend to follow various pagan gods as yet to be defined. Some are benign and some won’t be. Meleena isn’t part of any of it. Period. However, that doesn’t mean she won’t get into mayhem now and then with various groups. We’ll see. On the other hand, leaders in medieval type societies, typical of fantasy worlds often have religious backgrounds, with priests as either sidekicks to royalty, or some kind of holy men as advisors or flat out leaders of said societies which brings complications into any governmental situations Meleena might find herself in. Not always, but wherever inspiration may take me…


Social Distancing In Meleena’s World

It comes up a lot on the forums I participate in about whether the current situation will somehow reflect in our work, whether in our fantasy writing (to stay myopic to the subject) or in other writing, of which I’m quite diverse. I can tell you right here that at this point I have no plans to do that.


It’s not that I don’t feel some social responsibility to reflect what’s what in the real world as in whether any of my characters smoke…bla bla bla.

Some day, we may come to long for the good old days where we used to be able to group together, hug, kiss on the cheek, shake hands (not one of my favorites), whatever. I don’t see making any radical changes to my FANTASY world just to reflect something affecting us at the moment.

I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon.

Meleena’s world is a fantasy. It’s not real. It’s an escape to take you away from the real world for just a little bit.


On the other hand, if it works for some dramatic instance…

Nah, that’s still jumping on the bandwagon even if I just thought of a great scenario. A thousand other authors probably just did as well.


Queen Rona – The queen of Sivrisinek Castle in Meleena’s home town of Bug Flat. The queen has a sordid history, not through her own fault, but much of it hasn’t been explored yet. What has been explored so far, in Treasure Of The Umbrunna would be considered a major spoiler so I’d have to kill you if I told you. She plays a significant role in Treasure. Future books? We’ll see.


Desolation Zone – This is a large, roughly rectangular feature on the side of the world that’s north of a more normal finger of desert. To hike across it is deadly. There is no water and when it rains, the water catches fire when it contacts the ground. There is life, but it’s not water based and is deadly to all other life. The only practical way to get across is the Sling Caravan, built by the mysterious religious cult, the Berella. It’s a location unique to the third Meleena book called Across The Endless Sea, which as of this writing, is still not complete. This is my first entry derived from that book.


Cut Off – Was just thinking about this yesterday. While hanging in our back yard, I had a flashback of our trips to Disneyland. My wife, by accident, found a stash of candy we picked up from last year down there as well. That got me to thinking that with all that’s going on, I’ll be cut off from one of my favorite sources of inspiration. It is, by no means, my only one, but it’s still a good kick in the pants for me. After all, whether you know it or not, I grew up with Disney and Disneyland never far from my thoughts, or thought processes, at least as far as my imagination is concerned. This is all mostly in obscure and indirect ways, but still there.

As we’ve been seeing with the pandemic and all, the Disney company, a humongous big business is having a tough time with their cash cows, their parks, closed. That says nothing of all the little people who have been devastated by unemployment, let alone becoming sick or outright dying from this virus. That’s not the point of this discussion.

With the Disney parks being closed, we can no longer make a trip there for the forseeable future. It may be quite a while until we’re able to as well, unless a vaccine becomes widely available. Is that going to mean all of my inspiration and ideas are going to dry up?

Hah! Not a chance!

On the other hand, it’s always nice to be able to get that boost by going to the happiest place on earth. This being cut off might have happened anyway due to the skyrocketing costs or any other host of reasons. Right now, we can blame it on the pandemic. Who knows what might’ve ensued otherwise? Rest assured that the well hasn’t dried up. I may be cut off from Disney, but not a single memory or previous inspiration from the place has been lost.


Shen Town – A small town to the southeast of Bug Flat. Meleena saved a bunch of kids from a Xelophod Beast there once. So far, this place doesn’t play a prominent role in the series, but is part of Meleena’s background.


HOW SICKNESS IS HANDLED IN MELEENA’S WORLD – On April 11, I talked about social distancing in Meleena’s world. I’d now like to address how I handle actual diseases since the “you know what” is on everyone’s minds lately.

Like I alluded to before, that’s not something I dwell on unless I dream up a particular plot point. Besides not wanting to jump on the bandwagon, it’s not something that has been a particular interest. There’s a major plot point with healing between the first and second book, but it has nothing to do with a disease.

As far as diseases go, we have our healer and main tracker, Leeth to take care of that. Plus, to some extent, our magick users Wiz and Niin have some capabilities in that area. I have not yet addressed any innate abilities Meleena may have. We’ll see. Let’s just say disease is something I haven’t explored yet in any major way. To tell the truth, I really don’t want to, now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, just because everyone else is. We need to think of something else. Plus, if I write about it now, it won’t see print for maybe two, three or four years. It’ll be way to late for the bandwagon and will end up in the passe category. There are way too many other things that interest me.



There’s nothing cooler than to have a map in a fantasy novel. To tell the truth, there’s nothing cooler than to have a map in any adventure story or thriller, if the map is relevant and done well. That’s just the thing. It needs to be RELEVANT and DONE WELL.

When it comes to Gods Of The Blue Mountains, it was more or less that not only did it finally occur to me, but it was also requested by several readers. Duh! I should’ve thought about it right off, but I was too busy being busy when I created Treasure Of The Umbrunna to get it done. Turns out, I actually HAD a map, crudely drawn, of Osterland Island and sort of integrated that idea into the map we used in Gods.

My crude chicken scratch for Gods went to the publisher and luckily Jo Wilkins did a bang up job for me.

I’m not one to cry over spilled milk, so that’s something to be included in future books. Once I finish Across the Endless Sea, I’ll chicken scratch either one or two maps, depending on what I feel is warranted for the story and what the publisher will allow. Have to remember the first term, RELEVANT. We’ll see.



During the course of Meleena’s third adventure, Across The Endless Sea, she goes on the search for her long-lost mother. That’s the impetus that sends her on a deadly voyage across the endless sea. I’m not giving away too much by stating that she discovers an astounding revelation about her world. It’s bipolar. While you’re already going to draw all kinds of images in your mind of what that means, I’m not going to tell you the actual implication and let you guess until you read the book. While it isn’t the super duper major plot teaser of the story, it’s a biggie, so be prepared.



Weather, like every other natural phenomenon, is something that’s there. It’s not an effect I dwell upon, but use to color the world. There are a couple of particular scenes where weather plays a significant factor in each book. It’s something I don’t spend a lot of real estate on. I’ve seen some authors that go to great lengths to describe every nuance of the weather from scene to scene, which is fine. However, I only add enough details, where I see it warranted, to bring the scenes to life if I feel it’s needed for something. A few words can go a long way.

As for climate, Meleenas travels are far and wide, so the climate varies. However, with the crew’s magickal armor and clothing, outside of their faces and hands, they’re pretty much immune to everything except the extremes. On the other hand, they aren’t immune to smells, sounds, all matter of magick and certain weapons!



Last weekend, I finished the final fight scene with Meleena in Across The Endless Sea. I now have the final chapters to complete and the rough manuscript will be dun didded. Then it’ll be time to set it aside for a few months. After that, I’ll pick it up again, then start going through it.

In the meantime, I’m going to try and hook up with the writer’s group again and continue reading and getting my chapters critiqued. I last left off at Chapter 56 and as of right now, I’m up to Chapter 76. I have a ways to go to catch up! I’ve been off line with the group since they went virtual due to the pandemic. I just got a web cam so I’m going to try a few meetings first before I start reading again and see how it goes. The camera seems to work just fine but I was having some trouble with the audio. Once I work out that bug I should be good to go.

It was with a great sense of relief and accomplishment that I got to that fight between Meleena and the bad guy. Now I just have to wrap things up so she can go home and get ready for her next adventure, which I already have an A and B for.



Uh, no.

For a fantasy setting, she has certain abilities, which are to be expected for beings in this type of world. She has advantages and disadvantages just like anyone else. However, in the sense of superhero type abilities such as the Marvel or DC comics type powers, a big no. I bring this up because it was brought up on one of the fantasy forums (not my characters specifically, but in general) I frequent on Facebook. I just want to clear the air for MY readers.

Oh, and to be clear and shatter your expectations, she’s no closeted princess waiting to discover she’s heir to some throne. That was never in the cards from day one. That’s someone else’s story.



Once in a while on the forums I frequent, something similar to this comes up. A wide array of subjects are discussed.

To put it bluntly, in my world, I don’t. No need because it’s all made up. If anything, what amounts to fact checking was the occasional mechanics of battle with weapons early on, which I did using Age Of Chivalry fighters with real weapons to figure out what I had to work around because my fights were unrealistic in the real world. I solved it in my own way.

As for anything else, since my entire world is made up, the only fact checking I do is by relying on the encyclopedia I created of facts I made up from the book!

That’s right. Many of the subjects I’ve been describing right here on this page have been gleaned from that same encyclopedia I made up as I created this world for Meleena. Granted, her world didn’t come from a complete vacuum. With a background in science, geography, geology, botany etc, all from paying attention in high school, plus reading some books back in the day, I picked up enough over the decades to invent what I needed to create Meleena’s world.

Once in a great while, I may need to look back on something to get a reminder of a fact I can then completely turn on its head. Sometimes that “fact” comes from another fictional book, not a textbook! Most of the time, it’s still in my head.

So, for any facts about my world, outside of a bit of weapons use, I’ve relied on my imagination and the encyclopedia I already made up to fact check Meleena’s world.

Maybe one day I’ll run across some weird real fact about something I can then turn on its head and use in my fantasy world. Hell, maybe some stuff I’ve made up are things I unconsciously already gleaned from real facts, based on a visit to a museum or maybe something I read in a science book back in the day. You never know, but since this world is mine, the “facts” are mine. There’s nothing to check as long as I follow my own rules.



While I’m not actively working Across The Endless Sea, that does not mean I’m not thinking of the third book in the Meleena series. As I mentioned above, I’ve already written the climactic confrontation with the bad guy, so what’s left are the final “mop up” chapters and conclusion.


I’m also right now busy putting the finishing touches on the other novel in my stable at the moment, Spanish Gold. That’s taking up all my time at the moment. Once that gets done, Meleena is one of the “other things” I need to get back to.

As part of the publishing process, I alternate between fantasy and adventure/thrillers at the moment.

Of course, then there’s the icky bug I submitted last year. We’ll have to see about that…



While Across The Endless Sea is still languishing at the moment as I’m in the middle of editing another book, I’m actually already thinking of book four again. While I have a title in mind, I’ve been tying in elements from book three to this fourth volume.

Before I start any story, since I’m not an outliner but a pantser, the key for me is to always have A and B. If I don’t have that, I have no start and no finish. Therefore, I have no goal to write to. As of right now, I almost have the B solidified for book number four, which is my main goal right now. Once I have that, while I may tweak it as the writing goes on, that will be what I write for.

B in Across The Endless Sea has been tweaked a little since I first formulated it a couple of years ago, but the gist of the story hasn’t changed at all. I wrote for my goal and have jussabout reached that. Now that I have some tie-ins for the next one, I can sum that all up and come up with a solid A and B before I start writing.

Once again, as you can now tell, Meleena’s ongoing adventures were never meant to be a trilogy. Oh please!



Though I’ve talked about this before in my weekly blog articles, it came up in one of my forums so I thought I’d quickly address it here, especially since ALL the names are pulled out of thin air for Meleena’s Adventures.

I’m saving most of the how and why’s of naming for the blog article, but if you wonder where I get the names and why for Meleena’s world?

I literally, and you can take that any way you want, pull them out of thin air. With few exceptions, they don’t come from anything in the real world. I only have two rules. They have to be pronounceable (I’ve fudged on this on a few rare occasions), and they can never be the names of celebrities. In the case of celebrities, in my real world adventure/thriller Gold series, I accidentally named a character after another fictional character from a crime drama from the 40’s. I had no idea until someone pointed it out to me. However, since it was pure coincidence and I’d never seen the movie or read the book, I decided to leave her name as is. She’s a minor lead, so to speak. Otherwise, I’ve never had that issue that I know of.

Keeping names pronounceable is key to a point. Even with pronounceable names, a lot of times me, as a reader, will fill in my own blanks anyway. So, unless the character’s name is super simple, I may end up giving the character my own name anyway. That’s just me. However, I leave things the way I do for you readers that are more meticulous and like to keep track. Therefore I try to make it more simple and pronounceable.



Wednesday, I finally finished the first draft of Across The Endless Sea. Woohoo! I’ve been on vacation and have had time to get down to it and over the past week have had time to finish up the final few chapters. I even left a leadup to book number four, which has Meleena following her dwarf friend Baldar on a quest to help him with an issue with his father.

Now I have to set the whole thing aside for a few months, then go back to it with a fresh set of eyes and tweak it. This MS is the one I’ve been reading to the writer’s group and left off something like twenty chapters ago since our last live meeting. They’ve been meeting on Zoom, but I’ve only attended one so far, and all of my time was taken up because of a presentation so they never even got to the reading. Maybe I’ll start attending more regular and get back to reading chapters where I left off, but otherwise, I’m not going to touch the story for a while and work on something else.

Fresh set of eyes.



Without giving away an unexpected spoiler, at the end of Across The Endless Sea, since it IS a series called Meleena’s Adventures, Meleena is back in town. Between then and starting the next adventure, will she sit idle and rest, or take off on the next adventure?

At the beginning of this section, it started as a series of short stories. The sub-title of that section is “What’s Meleena Up To?” Should I add a few more unique real-time adventures here between books?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on how busy I get with other projects in the next coming months. It’s not like I’m not brimming with ideas, off-the-cuff spurts of inspiration. You never know. I may be eating breakfast, driving to and from (most likely to) work, eating lunch, even doing my job at work when the muse strikes. All I have to do is remember it when I can sit down and type.

On the other hand, as some of the above stories formulated, I might have just sat here with a blank slate and started typing. That has happened about as much as sitting down with an already pre-conceived notion.

We’ll see how long, if at all, Meleena’s back in town this time. Maybe not at all, so don’t hold your breath. It all may be out of my hands, depending on my muse and what life throws at me, or…just as much at what I feel like doing. At the same time, I so much appreciate YOU, the audience for checking up on her. I’m sure SHE appreciates it as well!



The Billit High Command is the government head of a race of extreme bigots in my upcoming novel, Across The Endless Sea. This group and their followers only plays a minor role in the story, but they’re a reflection of some of the people I’ve been seeing on TV not only recently, but have known throughout my life.

I added them in not out of any overt political statement, but just as color and diversity for my world. Both of those terms may be considered oxymorons considering what they represent. However, I wanted to reflect all different races, political groups, societies and beliefs in my dynamic world, and why not a race of extreme bigots? They’re like Mikey. They hate everything. Meleena soon discovers that and has to make her own choices how to deal with them. As minor a part as they play, it’s all part of the adventure.



Okay, why am I jumping on the bandwagon during these trying times? Why do I have to drag Meleena, in her own world, divorced from this cruddy mess we live in, to our reality?

I don’t!

She lives in a different universe.

It’s sort of the same time as us, but in a completely different plane of existence.

So, that being said, what’s she up to right now?

She happens to be between adventures, that’s what.

If I revealed what happened at the end of Across The Endless Sea, I’d have to kill you, so I don’t want to do that.

Instead, I’ll just tell you she, of course, survived, otherwise her “adventures” wouldn’t be “adventures” at all, at least anymore. Plus, as some of you know, I abhor a trilogy and Across The Endless Sea was the third book.

Guess what? I’m already setting up for book four, but in the meantime…

Meleena is right about now probably having a bit too much to drink, maybe being a bit naughty, and probably getting involved in something she should keep her nose out of. All in a typical sun cycle for her.

However, she won’t dawdle too long, as she already has an urgent quest to help a friend coming up. She can’t be too distracted.

So, whatever she’s doing, while she may be a bit hung over, distracted a bit, she’s surely having a good time…probably. Plenty of adverbs…



Recently someone or two has bought copies of both Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

Thank You!

From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely hope you enjoy both of Meleena’s adventures. That’s the entire purpose of my writing. First, I write for myself, but second I write for you, the reader. I make every effort to put out the best, most easy to read story for you. I want you to get your money’s worth, and time for your purchase.

That being said, I’d also love to get your opinion. I understand not everyone of you may enjoy what I write. On the other hand, there are those of you that stick around because you DO enjoy my stuff. Either way, I’d love to hear about it.

Besides sales, reviews are the lifeblood of an author. They let other people know how an author is doing. It’s sincerely appreciated when you can give feedback, no matter how small or large on what we, as authors write.

The catch is that you have to take the time and effort to do it. Plus, you have to have an account with whatever site you purchase the book from. That goes hand in hand.

I urge you to support ALL authors and write a review of all the books you read. It helps them and it helps everyone. Positive or negative.

Right now, as a READER, I have 1,754 reviews listed on Amazon, most of them books. There are actually more than that, but some are so old and obscure, they don’t even register in the current Amazon analog. I know because I keep track on my own computer.

I know who many of you fans are, as I communicate with you through my Facebook pages and web site. I appreciate you all.



In my real-world novels, I’ve addressed little people in two of them because I feel they deserve representation as much as anyone else. One of my heroes as a child was Billy Barty. If you don’t know who he was, you’ll have to look him up. However, you might be familiar with Peter Dinklage from Game Of Thrones. Right a bell now?

In Meleena’s world, I’ve always dealt with little people including a major sidekick in Baldar, our friendly dwarf. I’ve also included the likes of minor character Tweet The Quick, and a few other icky bugs (creatures) to go along with them.

People come in all shapes and sizes and quite often, little people are left on the sidelines. I’d prefer to include them wherever possible as they are just as much part of our world as everyone else.



Seeing as how this is Labor Day weekend, I just thought about Meleena’s world and holidays. So far, I haven’t addressed any in the course of the three novels.


While I try to keep building a living and breathing world, holidays is one thing I’ve never got around to. It’s not that holidays have never occurred to me, it’s just that they haven’t presented an artistic or creative inspiration for me. While many of you writers out there can probably come up with all kinds of stuff, for me, I’m kind of ambivalent to holidays. To me, the majority of them are just “another day off.” While that in itself is something to celebrate in a way, the core reasons to be off just don’t much resonate with me that often. Therefore, in my writing, the inspiration doesn’t come through as well.

Eventually there will be some kind of holidays in Meleena’s world. When they occur, they’re going to be weird, as I see fit, and something that comes in handy to the story. If they don’t affect the story in some creative way for me, I’m not going out of my way to throw them in juss cuzz. On the other hand, I’ve added in plenty of other stuff juss cuzz, so why not holidays? Seems hypocritical in a way, but then again, building a holiday is a lot more work than adding in unique icky bugs, or plants or customs, at least to me. Personal taste.

If I get inspired, you’ll all be the first to know when you turn the page in the next Meleena novel. It won’t be in Across The Endless Sea, at least I don’t think it will. I’m pretty sure I didn’t create a holiday in that one. Then again…once I do a read-through…I might surprise myself. After all, I started writing that one like three years ago?

Happy Labor Day. Be safe!



While I may be writing in another genre, since I DO write multiple genres, Meleena is never far from my mind.

Little…subtle things can trigger a thought toward Meleena. Then again, I get constantly barraged with fantasy posts daily since I’m a regular participant in a fantasy Facebook group. That’s not the case with Detach and his gang. While I signed up for the International Thriller Writers Facebook group, I hardly ever see a post from this group. On the other hand, I get plenty of posts from the Horror Writer’s Association of America Facebook group, of which I’ve been a member for quite a while as well. That makes me think of those characters too.

On the other hand, with Meleena, since she’s the only female major character I write, she’s unique for me. Therefore, more different things remind me of her than any of my other characters. It can be something on the news, a certain TV show, watching other women, just sitting at breakfast and pondering. Meleena is special. She’s evolving, but at the same time, I never want to evolve her to the point she’s not what attracted my audience in the first place. I hate when an author does that. Just like Jack Reacher is always Jack Reacher, Meleena will always be Meleena. She’s just going to grow and develop subtleties…nuances…the reader will learn more about her as she learns more about herself. Yet at her core, she will still be Meleena. I never want that to change.



Meleena is between adventures at the moment. In her world, there is no 2020. There is no pandemic, crazy politics, crappy music, crazy electronics. It’s the same ole same ole. Then again, her world has changed forever. Due to certain events since her first full adventure in Treasure Of The Umbrunna, followed by Gods Of The Blue Mountains and her latest adventure, Across The Endless Sea, several things have happened.

She’s learned a few things about herself.

She’s learned a few things about her family.

As she wanders the streets of home, which happens to be Bug Flat, her eyes see the familiarity in a new light. She’s more aware, more awake, maybe a bit more jaded. Yet, she also sees more possibilities.

She’s gained a few awakened abilities which may help her when her pockets are empty.

At the same time, conflicting emotions are straining in her subconscious about how to act on her newfound abilities.

The world has become a lot more complicated.



Since masks have become the norm lately here in the real world, what about Meleena’s world? Would she ever wear a mask of the style we do? Since plagues have never existed as of yet, though they may be mentioned at some point, for what reason WOULD Meleena wear a mask of our type?

Possibilities might include to deflect a bad smell or as a disguise.

For Meleena, the more likely possibility would be as a disguise because as for masking or deflecting a bad smell, she could just get one of her magick user friends to work a spell for her to do the same thing. A spell would be far more effective unless it was spur of the moment.

Then again, a disguise would not need that either when she has access to invisibility. However, that’s not the point. Maybe she doesn’t want to be invisible specifically. Maybe she want’s to be visible but blend in, which is different. In that case, a mask would be better.

Then again, a mask for Meleena would be far different than what we’re seeing during the pandemic. It would be more like a Mardi Gras type, with eye holes, something that covers the entire face.

When she’s out burgling, she sneaks in the shadows. She might do that fully visible but sneaking, or invisible. A mask would be irrelevant.

However, if she’s picking pockets in a crowd of revelers, a full face mask might come in handy to blend in with the masks everyone else is likely wearing. A half face mask would look downright suspicious.




This subject comes up a lot in the fantasy forums I participate in on Facebook, especially with today’s politically charged climate. So, in Meleena’s world, how are politics handled?

The simple answer is they’re not. Not in any significant way that reflects on our times. Meleena’s world is an escape, not a reflection. While there are some elements of the real world translated into my fantasy world, obviously, the whole point is to escape all of our present-day troubles for a little while.

Sure, Meleena’s world has politics of a sort, but those that she usually avoids, or creates havoc for. They in no way consciously reflect today’s life nor do I have any current politicians in mind with any of my characters. That would be the furthest thing from my mind when these people and creatures pop into my mind.

There are kingdoms and queendoms and other political systems, prejudices and class systems like any other world. However, I have my own take and use them to make up a fun story. Once in a while, maybe a moral statement creeps in there, but I think they’re universal and not something (hopefully) too polarizing. If so, so be it. It’s not intentional, or meant to be preachy. These things are just there because it’s a dynamic world and SOMETHING has to happen or it wouldn’t be a living, breathing world, now would it?

On the other hand, in each adventure, Meleena, despite all her foibles, is confronted with several moral decisions. In the end, she has to decide which way to go. Every hero or heroine has to make those decisions in the end. Is that political? Is that religious? I don’t think so. I think it’s just an obligation to be true to myself, to the story, and to you, the reader.

Take it as you will.



When it comes to a freshly minted first draft, that’s always the question. Has it been enough time to have let the manuscript sit? Do I have a particular deadline? Do I feel the inspiration to dive back in? Am I busy with other projects?

When IS the right time?

I take all those things into consideration before I DO dive back in.

The thing is that at the moment, none of them have met my criteria just yet. I have many reasons for that.

However, starting back into the project may be sooner than you think. That decision may be prompted by my writer’s group. Eventually, now that I’m slowly adapting to the awkwardness of Zoom meetings, I may attempt reading again. After all, my writer’s group IS a critique group. That’s the whole point of our existence. Therefore, it would behoove me to take up where I left off in the story, which is about twenty chapters behind, since I completed it. Yeah, it’s been THAT long!

We’ll see.



You may think that book sales are the lifeblood of every author. You are correct. However, the other side of the coin is what people think of your book also plays a role.

While I never pay attention to reviews until AFTER I read a book, others don’t. In fact, I may be shooting myself in the foot by saying this, but I never even LOOK at the book on line because I almost always buy my books in the store. That being said, when I DO buy them on line, I look at the synopsis, maybe check the overall rating, use the “look inside” feature then totally ignore the overall rating anyway. To me, the important things are the book blurb and the “look inside” features.

However, I’m not everyone. Reviews are a key issue.

So, when a book as few or no reviews, readers may not pick up a book because it has no other info, regardless of what the back blurb or “look inside” says.

We need reviews!

Tresure Of The Umbrunna has 14. That’s a decent number.

Gods Of The Blue Mountains has 3. Not great.

Both books have sold way more volume than the reviews reflect.

Getting reviews is like getting blood from a turnip. People just don’t like to review. On the other hand, Amazon has this policy for not allowing reviews unless you buy a minimum of $50 per year.

Guess what?

Apparently, that only applies to other products!

That does not apply to books, movies or music. At least it’s not supposed to.

The other day, a writer friend told me that Amazon now allows anyone to do a five star review with no narrative. That’s right. You can now rate something with five stars with no writing. Huh? Hey, if it works, it works.

I and every other author I know could sure use some love!

I’m just saying.

Then again, if you don’t like the book, I still value your opinion.

A review is a review.

I just hope I brought some joy into your world. That’s my ultimate goal.



One of my favorite actors of all time is Kurt Russell. I’ve enjoyed him since I used to call him “Mr Disney.” In fact, it was a weird unsubstantiated rumor that Walt Disney’s dying words were “Kurt Russell.” I think that’s probably urban legend, but it’s still a fascinating tale nontheless.

Back in the 80’s, it was a real thrill when we lived in Spain and used to rent videotapes at a tape club we belonged to. One of the first movies we got was Escape From New York. We saw Kurt in a brand new light. It was never the same after that. Then there was The Thing and Overboard and so many others.

When I came to writing Across The Endless Sea, I got the inspiration for one special character on the way back from Disneyland. There’s a whole story on how that character came about. One of his mannerisms is a direct tribute to a character Kurt played in one of his movies. If you’re a big fan, you’ll figure it out right away. That’s all I’ll say. If not, it’s just something you should enjoy as a quirk.



You may have noticed I skipped a week here at Meleena’s page. My usual Saturday post was missing. The reason was that I was driving back from Tombstone, Arizona. This morning, I’m echoing this week’s regular blog article on visiting historical sites. The subject matter boils down to how we describe locations.

The unique thing about Meleena’s world is that it’s entirely made up. There IS no reference point. I have only lived there in my head, so no matter what I describe, none of you can travel there on vacation and say “hey, I thought it would be bigger…better…smaller…more colorful…have more buidings…whatever.

What I describe is it. Period.

That all means that my descriptions are only the foundation. Your imagination fills in the rest of the blanks.

Unlike a story set in the real world, I’m not burdened with verifiable details.

Now, what kind of responsibility does that place on my shoulders?

For me, my job is to provide the framework, give you adequate descriptions with enough detail so you can fill in your own picture. My philosophy is that the last thing I want to do is bog down the story (action) by over-describing details about locations. I provide enough to get your imagination going so you can fill in your own picture, which frankly, you’re going to do anyway.

As with the real world, no matter how much or how little detail someone uses to describe someplace, once you visit it yourself, you’re going to see it different. That’s what I’ve found with every place I’ve ever been to. Words and photos help (yeah, a photo can be worth a thousand words but even that isn’t always enough), but to be there yourself is always best.

In a fantasy world, there are no photos. There can be fantastic art, sure, but even that may not adequately convey between the author and the artist. It makes me wonder what Tolkein would’ve thought of the fantastic movie trilogy.



I put the Kindle version of Treasure Of The Umbrunna for sale on one of those book marketing sites on Veteran’s Day. While I didn’t expect to set the world on fire, I wasn’t prepared for zero sales.

Yup, didn’t sell a single book. Even at $.99. That’s right, 99 cents which has been the discounted price of the e-book for a while now.

Why would I air my dirty laundry to you all?

Why not?

You get it all here at Fred Central.

I not only soar but I sometimes stumble as well. This was a bit of a stumble.

I’ve done book events where I haven’t sold a thing. This time I did a sale on a web site, exposed to several thousand people and didn’t sell a single book.


Maybe nobody visited the site on Veteran’s Day.

Maybe nobody likes fantasy.

Maybe they either didn’t like the cover of the blurb.

Maybe they just wanted it for free.

Can’t say but all I can do is move on and try again somewhere else.

In the world of COVID, I’d still much rather do my personal selling on line than at book events anyway, if I can help it. It’s a lot more comfortable!

What I miss is personal interaction, signing the book, seeing the anticipation of someone digging in.

What I don’t miss is the sitting for hours in the sun or the cold or the wind, the petty spats with adjoining booths (only one time so far), the constant trips to the restroom, the uncomfortable chairs, the food, the potential lack of sales, the loading and unloading. The drive…

Still, that moment of personally signing a book for someone is priceless.



Paralleling the article I just did on my Detach site about changes, here on Meleena’s page, I’d like to address freedom.

I’m currently reading a book where the author put a big disclaimer at the beginning of the novel about a place in the story. He said that though the location is real, he used it in a fictional way, so that those that lived there would not come back at him for getting it wrong.

In a fantasy setting, I don’t have that problem. Since Meleena’s world is entirely made up, I have the freedom to do whatever I want!


However, it’s not all sunshine and roses.


Once I make up a place, I have to stick with those rules.

That’s right. Once I make up a town, region, continent, or whatever, then put it in stone, I now have to abide by those rules I just made up. Whenever I use that place, I have to stick with that description. The trick is to always leave it open ended enough to keep filling in more blanks as I go along.

That’s usually easy.

Then again, if I have a major river that runs east to west, but then I slap a mountain range right in the middle of the river, but there is a town on the river, located on the other side of the mountain range, I have a problem.

I DO have freedom, but within boundaries.

Whenever I have to fact check my own made up world, I have to keep track of what’s what. That’s the only thing about having freedom.

Not as simple as it sounds, is it?



In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be doing an article on music and writing. In the meantime, like I did with Detach and the Gold series, I thought I’d address how and if music influences Meleena and her world.

For obvious reasons, I can’t exactly name drop bands in a made up fantasy world where they don’t even exist. In fact, bands, per se, don’t exist unless I make them up. However, in my completely invented world, so far, I haven’t even thought of music except in the most superficial way.

Funny, someone who lives and breathes music has not even considered music as an important part of Meleena’s world.

You might think as I write her story, I’m playing medieval chants or dulcimer ensembles or some age of chivalry soundtracks or something, just to get me in the mood.

Think again.

I usually write, or did write with jets taking off in the background, a radio blasting call signs, or more recently (historically), the TV blasting in the next room. Or, more commonly, silence with the only sound an occasional car driving by on the street and either the heater kicking in or more likely, the A/C.

What’s going on in my head?

Setting up scenes, seeing what I’m attempting to write. If there’s any music at all, it may be one of the ride themes at Disneyland or something.

I don’t wear headphones. I usually can’t stand them after years of having to wear them on the flightline in the Air Force.

So, when I’m creating Meleena’s world, music usually doesn’t even occur to me except as superficial color. Since it isn’t a real world and is a fantasy setting, there are no electric guitars, amp stacks, double bass drum sets, synthesizers, ear-splitting volume, cookie monster vocals versus clean vocals.

There are occasional acoustic stringed instruments and hand-held drums, plucked this and that. All the stuff that the snooty “unplugged” snobs at MTV like when they tout “real music.”

I’m just being sarcastic now, but the truth is, in Meleena’s world, I haven’t got around to using music to its full potential yet. It’s coming in book four. Took a while, but the inspiration wasn’t there until I got the idea a while back.

In the meantime, what would the soundtrack for a Meleena story sound like if one of her adventures were ever made into a movie? I couldn’t venture to guess, but I can imagine it would be medieval of some sort. Maybe a bit of rock and roll in it, I can only hope. After all, they did that with A Knights Tale.



The lucky thing about a made up world is that it will never be on the same kind of lockdown we’re under. Given that Meleena’s world is a fantasy world, and not urban fantasy, I’m not held to the same standard as our real world. That means that there’s no way I’m going to visit, re-visit or reflect our current situation. We have enough of that to deal with already.

I’ve brushed on the idea a bit in past posts, but at this point, we have enough people already primed for a flood of stories to hit the market in the next few months/years that I have no intention of jumping on the bandwagon.

Does that mean Meleena and crew will never deal with a plague or disease? Of course not. It may come up someday if the muse ever strikes, but to tell the truth, I’m rather sick of it all at the moment, so don’t hold your breath (and no, that’s not meant as a sarcastic or cruel or unintentional cliche). I already have ideas for several more books in the series and they don’t include viruses.

We’ve already dealt with it in the first book anyway, and that was way before anyone ever heard of COVID!

So, what’s upcoming for Meleena?

If I told you I’d have to…

Is that another cliche or what?

Let’s just say if there’s any kind of lockdown, it won’t have anything to do with a sickness (virus is not a common word in her world). It also won’t necessarily be widespread either, if I decide to use one at all. Like I said before, don’t hold…

In a nutshell, Meleena and friends are carrying on, going about their “bidness,” getting ready for their next adventure.



The other day, someone bought a physical copy of Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

I don’t know who you are, but thank you!

Now I can only hope you’ll enjoy the read and post a review.

Every little bit helps.

While I’ve finished the third manuscript and am already formulating the A and B for book number four, I have been letting things sit in Meleena’s world for a while due to working my other Gold series, another book on top of that one called The Cave. That doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned Meleena.

For my process, whenever I create something, I need to set it aside for awhile, then come back to it with fresh eyes. That way, I can see it from a fresh perspective. In that way, I can better see flaws I might have missed the first time around. However, that’s not all. I will then try the thing through a group of beta readers and get their feedback before I ever think of submitting it. If I decide to, I might read it to my writer’s group. If I do that, the process will take a year and a half to two years. It’s a very slow process! It all depends on how much time I have between books and what my publisher wants at the time.

In the meantime, I still have Spanish Gold coming out and I’ve almost finished reading Across The Endless Sea to the writer’s group.



I’m going to talk more about this in one of my weekly blog articles because it was inspired by a recent Facebook forum post. However, since we’re here, I might as well address it now.

Why did I choose to draw Meleena as a female instead of a male protagonist?

The simple and short answer, and the most truthful one is “juss cuzz.”

Now, if we’re going to get into some deep thinking, which is what I’m sure you’re more interested in, I did it because why not? I guess it’s my nod to write what you don’t know instead of write what you do know. In that respect, since I’m obviously NOT female, how can I possibly relate to a female?

All I can do is observe and try to do it right.

At the same time, I don’t like falling back on cliches and have the female in jeopardy and falling apart and crying in every scene, bla bla bla. There was a recent forum thread about males being too misogynistic.

That never even dawned on me. I wanted a strong female character who not only doesn’t fall into the usual cliches, but breaks the mold. I think I’ve done that with Meleena. In fact, in many ways, she goes against many of the usual female tropes and has to learn some of them due to her rough upbringing. I won’t give away any spoilers in case you haven’t read any of the books, but she definitely goes against the mold. Plus she IS a brat. She does a lot of stuff most girls and women would never do in this world as a matter of maturity or societal norms. Yet again, she’s also raw and as the stories go on, she matures and learns new things, develops skills and more humanity.

The point is that she’s no way typical or cookie cutter. I hope my readers can appreciate that.



Since in Meleena’s world, they don’t have specific holidays, or at least ones I’ve invented for her world yet, what would Meleena be doing right about now, this day after Christmas in our world? In her world, it’s just another day…

Or is it?

She’s just completed another adventure when she traveled across the Endless Sea. She already has another adventure calling, one that will take her someplace few people in her known world have ever traveled.

In the meantime, she’s free for a bit, so mayhem is sure to ensue. After all, Meleena’ can’t just sit around and do nothing. It’s not in her nature.

Will she drink herself into oblivion?

Will she do some naughty things with someone she meets up with?

Will she be her usual bratty self?

All I can say is for once, she doesn’t have to scrap around and save up funds this time so she can get from A to B for the next big adventure. That’s a mixed blessing because now she has idle time.

That’s where she gets into real trouble…



This was supposed to be out yesterday but it wasn’t delayed because of the holidays, as you might have guessed. No, it was because of an oil change. I had to get up early and drive across town to the dealer and spend extra time waiting because I didn’t get there first.


Because I don’t set goals.

Why again?

Because I don’t need to.

Writing is a passion for me. I don’t need to set goals. I don’t need any artificial deadlines or benchmarks to strive for to motivate me to write. I write because I HAVE TO, I NEED TO, I WANT TO. Therefore, I write at my own pace and get things done in their own time because I love to write. Plain and simple.

I’m not disparaging those methods for other writers, because obviously, they work and are sometimes necessary for them. For me, not needed.

As far as Meleena’s Adventures is concerned?

I expect to get back into book #3 any time now, Across The Endless Sea. As you who have kept up with this know, I finished the raw manuscript (MS) last year (it’s still hard not to say this year for 2020!) and I still haven’t finished reading every chapter to the Henderson Writers Group. If I continued, it would probably be another year before I finished that stage so I don’t know if I’ll go that far with things. I left off at Chapter 56 and the book ends somewhere in the high 70’s, chapter 78 to be specific. After editing, that may change but that’s it at the moment. Then there’s book #4, of which I’ve already got a good idea of A and B. So, there’s much ahead for Meleena and the gang. It’s just a matter of time.

The thing is that I don’t need to set some artificial goal or deadline to get anything dun didded. I’m already motivated by my will, urge to write, and imagination, which is always bursting at the seams. It’s just a matter of sitting down to write when the muse strikes…which it often does.

Then there are my other book projects which I’m also working on. That’s another story…



Meleena loves her ale, but as far as mind altering substances, that’s about it.

This morning, before I came in here to write this weekly snippet, I was reading my latest book, an icky bug story, and the protagonists and her friends drop acid for the first time. The setting is the 80’s. This is a key to the plot of the book.

That made me think about what might happen to Meleena if she were exposed to some kind of mind altering substance. With her innate abilities, which are already other-worldly compared to ours, my mind took off in all kinds of directions.

As it is, in our real world when someone drops acid, or any other hallucinogen, it can go a lot of ways. Some okay, a lot of them horrendously bad. I can just imagine how bad, nowadays, given the state of the world. Wanting to tune in and drop out just doesn’t have the same connotations it once did.

In Meleena’s world, with magick and monsters and mayhem, I can only imagine how that might affect her.

One day, she may be poisoned in such a way that she takes a little trip. I can tell you right now she’s never going to deliberately do any substances just for fun. It has to have a purpose. Ale is her vice, and it’s hardly a vice because it’s a natural staple. It can surely be abused, but not by her or her friends. I just don’t want to go there.

There are still plenty of icky bugs to introduce, some who may have venom that may introduce hallucinations, fevers, chills, other side effects. There may be other things our intrepid hero may have to endure to persevere in the end. We shall see. Can I combine effects from an acid trip into it? Not sure if I want to, but it might be fun to use it. I’m still getting into the actual trip part of this current book I’m reading. I have to see where he goes with it, which I believe is the part where things start to go wrong. Not sure if I want to take Meleena there. If I did, it would be for some dramatic purpose.

As for other drugs, nope, not my thing. If it don’t cure her, I’m leaving that for other authors to deal with. Addiction is not my deal.



Meleena’s is a big world. When I set out to figure A and B plus the title of her third adventure, I always envisioned she would go far and wide. In the case of Across The Endless Sea, it never even occurred to me that she would circle right back to the other side of her own continent! I also never envisioned her falling off the edge of her world. No, I’m not one of THOSE!

While it’s sometimes hard to describe the vastness of a world without getting too boring or turning the book into a paperweight, it still can be dun didded with a bit of adventure and brief description. Meleena and crew delve into another place and get an inkling of just how large their world really is.

Now I just have to figure out how to draw the maps…



While some people get their thrills reading a story, as a writer, I happen to get mine doing both. Since this is a passion to me, I have found that once I get my groove going, my adventures pour out. While due to not only time constraints, but the physicality of mechanics, I have to write in (inconvenient) fits and spurts at times. However, my thrill of creating each of my adventures, no matter the genre, never dulls even being interrupted on a regular basis. This transfers right along to the editing, tweaking, and reading it to my Henderson Writer’s Group (if I get the chance). It’s the same when I read chapters or sections for an audience at a book signing. While I may get a minor dose of the “cold dead hands” syndrome even when I read from one of my already published books (that is, the never-ending urge to edit and re-edit), I still retain the thrill of the adventure of the thing I created.

When someone else shares my thrill, it’s an awesome experience. If they don’t, oh well, I tried. Not everyone will share my enthusiasm, but that can’t be helped. Some won’t care for my writing style. Some won’t like the genre. Some won’t care for the characters or the language, the point of view, the setting, the cover…the list goes on. It goes with the territory. However, some will get it and that’s great for me. Regardless, I’m still going to keep on creating these adventures, whether it be this series or another one. I cannot adequately describe to you the feeling of sitting down at the keyboard, shutting off the outside world, and letting the ideas flow from my fingers. My hope is that you, the reader will be able to pick up on some of it. All the best!



A while back, about what was it…August of last year…I finished the Across The Endless Sea first draft. Then, I set it aside. From that point I was in the middle of purging my file cabinets, and ran across the original draft of my very first novel, The Cave. I’ve been slowly but surely (and don’t call me Shirley) editing The Cave.

Progress on The Cave is at a snail’s pace, but I’m getting there.

I purposely set Across The Endless Sea aside to let it brew a bit before I revisited it with a fresh set of eyes. I’m starting to get an itching to get back to it again. I still have that major project with The Cave. Plus, I also have the upcoming release of my other genre novel, Spanish Gold. Things are “bizzie.”

However, that’s never stopped me before, so eventually, one day, I’m going to drop everything and start from the first page of Sea and begin the second draft. One thing I’ve been delaying as well, I left off reading to the Henderson Writer’s Group at chapter 50 something. I still have 20 something chapters to go if I wanted to finish reading the entire thing to them. The thing is, there are only a few of the original group left that were there when I left off. Probably enough that would recall at least a bit of what was going on, but all I care about is immediately what’s on the page. Story continuity is the job of beta readers which will come later.

Why bring all this up?

The one reason I’ll mention today is that I’m already formulating my A (beginning) and B (ending) and a title for book #4. Once again, I have to emphasize, that just because this is a fantasy series, it’s not a MANDATORY TRILOGY! Oh please!



I pulled the trigger and started the framework for the 4th Meleena adventure the other day. Unfortunately, the 2nd COVID shot got in the way and all I have is the title, header and Chapter 1 label. No text, except I copied the last few paragraphs from Across The Endless Sea to remind me where to start. At least that’s something!



Usually when I sit down to write, I slam out a chapter at a time. However, lately, things have not been going as planned. So far, the new book now has A and B formulated, and I now have a title, which is already implanted in the header of the new draft. When I sat down to seriously start writing, things didn’t go as usual. That is not entirely uncommon, though rare at the same time. Contradictory, I know, but what can I say. I have three quarters of a chapter dun didded and that’s it. In fact, the last time I touched it, I spent most of the time re-reading what I’d previously wrote before adding a bit more, then got interrupted again.

Maybe with this three-day weekend I can get another and better start.



The working title is “Rumblings.”

I’ve now written all of Chapter 1 and because I’ve been rather scatter-brained lately, as far as getting much dun didded, what I’ve managed to do is my form of procrastination. I’ve got a solid first chapter, have now edited it at least three times, and am ready to go on to Chapter 2.

Why is this unusual for me?

I almost never do that. I never go back and tweak a chapter so much. I just spew out my verbal diarrhea in spurts and worry about cleaning it up later. I tend to get it all down in flashes, not go back except to recall what I wrote before to remind me where I left off.

Here’s the problem.

Each time I went back to re-read the last part before I started up again, I went right into edit mode! Instead of just skimming over it to remind myself of where I was at, I went into the same mode I was in with my other project, The Cave.

So, with that in mind, by the time I got to the end and ready to start fresh with Chapter 2, I ran out of time.

Then, I skipped a significant number of days before I got back to it again. Rinse repeat.

In the meantime, I had other issues to deal with like taxes, other finances, blog articles, reviews, life in general.

I need to get back in a writing pattern with fewer disruptions. That’s been the trouble lately. I may just do an article on that sometime soon for the Fred Central blog.

It’s no wonder my writing a novel went from six months to two years!



On my Gold Series page, I talked about tunnels. Here, in Meleena’s world, things are a bit different. While I do address tunnels, this being a fantasy world where nothing is much based on the real world, I have no basis for tunnels of any historical reality. In that case, while tunnels can play a part as a convenient tool at times while Meleena is in a city or town, the fact is that she’s more than likely to encounter caves in her travels. Of course what are caves mostly composed of?


Yup, tunnels that lead from one cavern to another, sometimes endless passageways that loop back upon themselves, or come to dead ends. I tend to think that many caves have far more tunnels than actual caverns, or what one would consider caverns. Not being a professional or even amateur spelunker, I can only assume these “connecting parts” lead to the far rarer caverns. I may be wrong.

This leads to my pure imagination in Meleena’s world, where the mix is whatever I decide it to be. In book four, it’s going to be a healthy mix since she’s going underground. In the past books, she’s done extensive travel underground. Most of it tunnels, but occasional caves.

I love to use tunnels and caves in my writing, no matter the genre. We’ll see what comes up!



I just received some feedback from a reader who finished Treasure Of The Umbrunna. He liked it and is starting on Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

Another fan!

Say no more! Say no more!

As the Monty Python quote goes, keeps the incentive going as I’m now closing in on the end of Chapter 2 of the fourth book, Rumblings. One day, I still have to get back to editing book #3, Across The Endless Sea.

Patience, Grasshopper.



This upcoming week, I’m declaring castle week at Fred Central. That means that both my book pages will address castles as well as my regular blog page.

In Meleena’s Adventures, I take plenty of advantage of my experience with castles. During my time in Europe, I had plenty of experience visiting everything from fully preserved and magnificent edifices to broken down ruins, barely recognizable as something of their former glory. I like to use this knowledge to full advantage in building Meleena’s world. Of course, the castles I use in Meleena’s world are not ruins, but fully functional and living and breathing, working buildings, at least so far.

Do I take real castles and use them in Meleena’s world? The true answer is bits and pieces.

Personally, the reality of castle life was not so grand, so more than likely, outside of the safety factor from a pillaging standpoint, hovels were probably a lot more comfortable to live in, as if that’s saying much given the primitive living conditions of the times. Not a rule, of course, because who wouldn’t want security over comfort? In my fantasy world, I throw all that out the window and do other thingies. Castles may not be all that great inside, in reality, but in Meleena’s world, even knowing what I know, they can be even better or worse, just a different worse. You never know!



For those of you that have read the Meleena series, you know that the the chief magick user of Bug Flat and Sivrisinek Castle, and a close friend of Meleena, Grel, has four eyes. Why did I do this?

The really unglamorous and simple answer to it is “juss cuzz.”

However, if you want to get into the deep candyrock psychedelic profundity explanation for it, I thought about it just now for maybe…ten seconds, and came up with a bit deeper meaning for your reading pleasure.

In a galaxy far far away, in a time before political correctness and the cancel culture, like the 1950’s and 60’s, kid with glasses used to be called “four-eyes.”

Today, we can have none of that.

Did I really get the inspiration for Grel from that?


It never even occurred to me until just now as I’m writing this, but I’ll just bet you, or someone else did, who is into psycho whatever.

My truth goes back to juss cuzz. However, to add a bit onto that, Grel also has his beard tied into three ponytails. It clashes with his eyes. Where did I get that? You’ll never guess so I’ll tell you. The bass player from the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish. While he only has his beard in two ponytails, or more correctly, braids, I thought, why not three? In fact, since I added three to Grel, I’ve since seen other Viking types and metal heads with three braids in their beards. Even four. So, there you have it.

Back to Grel’s eyes. He’s no different from Chit Chit, the Pig Splat bartender and Meleena’s best friend. He also has four eyes except only two of them are human and the other two instectile.

So, sorry to disappoint you, no deep seated psychological meaning.

Juss cuzz I thought it would be cool. Besides, it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. I was later reminded of Douglas Adams and a character he had with four eyes. I can’t say my inspiration came from him, but I can’t say I came up with the idea first either. Would never claim that on anything. I’ve said over and over again, everything has been done before. It’s how I present it that makes it my own.



In the fantasy forums, in fact in the fiction forums, the question often comes up what super powers would you like to have that your hero has, if any?

In my real-world novels, none of my characters have any super powers. Here in Meleena’s world, being a fantasy setting, I have the freedom to create anything I want. At the same time, if I created a “perfect character,” there would be no drama. There would be no reason to write anything because the character could solve any problem.

So, while my character could have something nobody, or few could have, it could not be a panacea for everything.

As I’ve outlined before, Meleena has a few abilities that help along the way. Her one big thing is languages. She can read, write, speak, utter, any language, without ever being exposed to it before. This is something I’ve always wished I could do in real life. I’ve been fascinated with languages since I was a little kid. I remember visiting my grandparents in Laguna Beach, California and visiting a bookstore and the section I was glued to, besides ships, was the language section. There were so many fascinating languages! The same for our library back home. While I never became any good at any of them, I retained a lifelong fascination with words and languages. Therefore, I decided to give this ability to Meleena. How she obtained that is something mysterious and open to more character development over the series. It comes in handy at times but it doesn’t always help, as it shouldn’t.



While I’m a far cry from the end of book four of Meleena’s Adventures, I’m already contemplating and tweaking and refining B, or the ending as I go along. I know what it’s going to be, basically, but as I go along, I keep thinking of little tweaks and things to refine it. This is natural and is a part of my writing process. My main goal is still solid so that’s no issue. However, as I write and discover new things as I go along, always aiming for that goal, I also consider new things to tweak. Since I just posted articles on how to start and stop a story, I figured I’d let you all know a little more on my process. In the meantime, I still haven’t returned to Across The Endless Sea yet. I guess I’ll need to get to it soon.



It seems that due to circumstances unknown to me at the time, I’ve sold more of Meleena’s Adventures than I ever thought. While it took awhile to see the results, I’m glad I did. I was in no big rush on this end but what I do wish was that more of those people had posted reviews. While I can’t expect miracles, reviews are what some book sales sites use to gauge whether to allow a book to be posted for sale. For us small, traditionally published authors, getting our book out there is hard enough. When web sales sites won’t even post your book without a minimum number of reviews, it’s a self-defeating thing, especially when most who read never review anything.

Amazon made it a little easier by allowing reviews without a word picture. However, it’s relatively new and older books like both my Meleena books can get lost in the shuffle. I’ve been able to feature Treasure on a couple of book sites, but not Gods because it doesn’t have enough reviews yet. Given the amount of sales, I should’ve reached that point by now.

Oh well, nobody said marketing was the best or easiest part of writing or publishing!



As those of you that follow me on Facebook know by now, I’ve been gone for a week on vacation. While I missed my weekly blog, my writing was never far away from my mind. Along the way and during our trip I found plenty of potential inspiration for further Meleena adventures. Will I ever use this information? Who knows? Maybe directly, maybe indirectly. It’s just like Disneyland. It could be the starting off point, or a direct influence. Without further adieu, below are a couple of shots of what I’m talking about. Keep in mind that they may or may not EVER be used for anything, but the main gist is that I want to give you all an idea of how us writers are always coming up with ideas.



I’m currently writing book four of Meleena’s adventures. It’s a little late to start adding stuff to number three, Across The Endless Sea. However, as far as Rumblings is concerned, it’s, shall we say, an open book.

While I obviously have the beginning down, I also know the ending. I haven’t written the ending yet, as I never do that ahead of time because it could alter slightly, but I always know where I’m heading. It’s the middle that’s the adventure and where I add in all the twists and turns and surprises.

This is where the inspiration from San Francisco might come in handy.

What could it be?

Just from the photos above, it could be a lot of things. At the same time, what I end up using may not come from anything I shot in a photo. It might be sounds, smells, just an atmosphere I experienced. It could be the walk up the hill from the hotel to Lombard street. It could be walking along Fisherman’s wharf, despite there being no specific water adventures so far in the journey. It could very well be something from that tree in the first image. Or, it might be one from the multitude of other photos I haven’t shown yet or never will (I took a lot).

Since the adventure has just begun, I have no restrictions where I can pull inspiration from. This recent trip is but one of many lifetime experiences I can draw from. If not, there’s always my old standby. It’s at the outlet of the Winny The Pooh ride at Disneyland. There’s a row of benches surrounded by trees with a chocolate shop the family always goes into. I like to wait on the benches and just absorb the greenery around me. Splash Mountain is just across the way. It’s a peaceful place. It’s my favorite place, outside of the rides in all of Disneyland.

We’ll see.



I can tell you she certainly isn’t at home cleaning the pool, which I’m about to do before the winds kick up!

As it turns out, she’s currently on another adventure at the moment and visiting her grandfather Grel.

This time it involves earthquakes, dwarves, and some nasty magick.

That’s all I can say at the moment.

Oh, and she’ll be talking to some rocks.



It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book signing. With the pandemic in full force, very few to nobody has been able to get out and do one. I know of a few that have tried with minimal results. Now that things are opening up, and with more people getting shotted up, things are looking brighter on that front. By this time, I have two books in the series to display, which is nice: Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

This fall, my publisher is trying to organize an event here in Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to it. If it goes off as planned, I’ll be able to plug all four of my books so far published. I’ll address the next two on my other page, Detach And The Gold Adventures.



I’ll have to admit that I’ve been neglecting my writing lately. Not for any particular reason, juss cuzz. So, without further adieu, in about the past week, I’ve been making time to catch up with where I left off in Rumblings and started getting back to it. While things haven’t been going gangbusters, I’ve managed about a half a chapter a session. Since my chapters are relatively short, that translates to about between one and a half to three pages a sit-down. What happens is once I got caught up, I’d just start writing on an idea I’d been pondering over the past few weeks. Then, as I laid that down, I pondered some more over the next day and laid down a bit more and so on and so on. I added a few twists and ended up a bit different than what I originally envisioned, but still on the original linear path I set out at the beginning. So, in a nutshell, I’m still going from A to B but with plenty of twists and turns along the way. To you, the reader, you’ll never know because it will all be new to you. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride once you get to it.



During the course of Rumblings, Vaaaven, the half man, half rat person, makes a sudden appearance as the adventure is getting going. It’s so startling, it gets everyone rattled. While usually at their side, nobody noticed he was even missing. Freaked out, Meleena and the gang react badly. What’s going on? One of the mysteries brewing in the new book.



If any of you wonder where I get ideas for the castles I incorporate into Meleena’s world, wonder no further. All I can do is explain by example. Below are some photos except they don’t have my usual witty narration. None needed. If you are a Facebook friend, you’ve seen most of these already. If not, all I’ll say is they’re a mix of castles from Spain and Turkey. They’ve provided plenty of inspiration. The one photo you won’t see here because I didn’t even have a good camera way back when, is a trip to Hearst Castle when I was a very young whippersnapper back in the early 60’s. Some of the memories are still vivid, but I have no photographic evidence to go with it. You’ll have to look it up. All of this, plus the obligatory shot of Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland have been more than enough real-world inspiration for me to draw word pictures of just about any castle I can possibly imagine.



In the new Meleena adventure, Rumblings, Meleena must stop the world from rumbling. In other word, she must stop a massive series of earthquakes that started upon her return from her last adventure across the Endless Sea, and before she even had time to tip a few ales.

How would you stop earthquakes?

Magick? Slight of hand? Devious means? Swordplay? Words?

She’s about to find out and it isn’t going to be pretty.



There’s been discussion on some of the writing forums I follow of how cliche it is to always have elves and dwarves in fantasy. First off, that’s not always the case in fantasy. Second, I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, EVERYTHING is already a cliche, so I don’t worry about it and just write what I feel like writing and if someone doesn’t like it, too bad. Read another book. It’s my world, so I’ll populate it with whatever characters I want. Another thing is that some are complaining that elves and dwarves scream Tolkein. Well, guess what? I was never a fan of those plodding and hard to read tomes. Does that surprise you? Sorry if I’ve offended any sensibilities here, but while I loved the epic movies, it was a real slog to get through the books. I read them in high school when I was changing sprinklers at night at the Desert Aire Golf Course in Palmdale, California in the summer of 1969 after I graduated from high school. I’d do a run, then sit in the maintenance shed with my feet up off the ground watching the scorpions skitter across the floor while I slogged through another endless chapter with no point of view. Plus, it wasn’t like that was the first book I ever read with either elves or dwarves. So no, Lord Of The Rings was no influence on my choice to have either Wiz, Niin, nor Baldar in my stories. They’re in there juss cuzz. I’ll let people debate the pros and cons all day but you, the reader can rest comfortably knowing that my reason for including them was because I wanted them and that’s it.



Inspired by my Disneyland adventure of name inspiration, which I’ve discussed for the name Tucu, I was driving home from work this past Friday and got behind a small SUV. The name stencil had a few letters missing. My mind was drifting, especially in the incredible heat we’ve been experiencing every day lately. My car’s thermo-meter (my goofy word for thermometer) said 125 degrees, the A/C was blasting away and not even giving me a chill or a headache for a change, and I was stuck in a bumper to bumper slog at about twenty miles an hour behind this guy for several miles of stop and go. I kept looking at that defective name and couldn’t help but play at it as my imagination ran wild. In the end, I came up with the name for a dwarf character. Bisawd Stimi. His friends call him Awd and yes, he’s heard all the “Odd” jokes, which I’ll bring up. The Stimi clan is powerful and his place in the new book Rumblings is already set in my mind and for you to discover. All of this from sitting in traffic behind a vehicle (SUV) with a name and a few letters missing. Go figure, huh?



Some of you may wonder where I come up with all the weird words I utilize in Meleena’s Adventures. After all, her world is completely made up. Does that mean all the names, places, and things are?


It’s mostly a matter of coinkydink.

99% of the weird words you see for names, places and things are made up. With the exception of Sivrisinek Castle, which I’ve outlined previously (sivrisinek is the Turkish word for mosquito), all the names I’ve pulled out of thin air.

Does that mean they might not, by coincidence, be tied to something real?

Of course they might.

I can’t possibly know every word in existence, so there’s at least a moderate chance that whatever word I make up can coincidentally be some real word in another language. So be it. I’m not the least worried about it. Why? Context and because I simply DON’T KNOW EVERY WORD EVER MADE UP IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Therefore, it’s new to me, so if by coincidence, it happens to be real in some other language or culture, so be it. I’m pretty sure most other fantasy authors don’t spend too much time fretting over their made up words either. At least I hope they don’t. Given the almost but not quite infinite possibilities with letters, vowels, and consonants, it can happen.



I was just now, as of a few minutes ago, reading on one of the forums, as in a fantasy forum. The initial poster was complaining about how most of the posters lately were into hard fantasy, which from what I’ve been seeing, is not true at all. I guess the person is just hyper-sensitive to the genre because he doesn’t write hard or high fantasy.

I responded with something like that while Meleena’s Adventures is sort of high fantasy, it’s also a mix, which is pretty obvious, given especially Gods Of The Blue Mountains. I also name dropped (which I’m not afraid to do, to pay forward friends) James Rollins. We had a discussion about mixing genres at a Las Vegas Writer’s Conference years ago and were discussing one of my other novels at the time. This was before I ever started Meleena’s Adventures.

James told me to not be afraid to mix genres a bit. He did it in his thrillers, and it worked great. I’ve always kept that in mind. It’s especially true in Meleena’s Adventures as those of you that have stuck with me have seen. I hinted at it in Treasure Of The Umbrunna and went full bore with it in Gods Of The Blue Mountains. It will continue in Across The Endless Sea.

Some may find it “jarring” to cross genres like that, but think of this. Meleena’s Adventures is MY world. I completely made it up, so it’s my rules, my world. Therefore, anything goes. Let me surprise you!



For the first post-COVID event, I will be at a book signing. It’s been a long time. This is the perfect opportunity to not only meet and greet you, but sell some books and sign them. I’ll have hard copies of both Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

The event will be at the Clark County Public Library at Flamingo and Maryland Parkway (or thereabouts) on August 7, 2021 between 10AM and 4PM. Included within that time is two hours for each of us authors to sell books and time for panel discussions and other things. I’m not sure what my time slot (or slots if I’m on a panel) is/are going to be yet, but as soon as I know, I’ll announce it here along with more details For those of you within a practical driving distance, would love to see you there!



While I was on vacation last week, I had a chance to add in a few more chapters of Rumblings, book four of the Meleena’s Adventures series. As you all know, I’ve never had any intention of making this a trilogy. Anyway, there’s going to be some drama for one of the characters, and while the main focus is on Meleena, I’m not going to neglect her sidekicks. As you that have stuck with me know, Wiz has had his issues. This time around, another character has a go at it. Of course, I’m not going to spoil the surprise yet.



I still need to edit Across The Endless Sea. However, the basic story and most everything is there, so only minor tweaks and maybe a few cuts may be expected when editing comes around. There are, of course, going to be surprises for the reader. Meleena goes on a search for her mother. It takes her to many strange places. She makes new friends, takes on new foes, and of course, as I like to say, “mayhem ensues.”

Part of that journey involves a long trip by sea. This is Meleena’s first ocean voyage. She will also travel by two other new means, but I’ll leave you guessing as to how.

There will, of course, be new icky bugs to confront, befriend, trick, avoid, and just watch during this adventure.

Meleena will also learn a few new things about herself along the way.



I know this is a repeat, but I have to get the word out again. I’ll be at the Clark County Library at Flamingo and Maryland Parkway on August 7, at the Local Author’s Literary Fair. Over 40 of the local authors will be represented in showcases that include vendor tables, panels, presentations and just all around literary fun! I’ll be there the entire time and will be manning my own table (shared with another author) from 2-4 PM and will have copies of both Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Would love to see any of you locals there. For those of you out of town and who can’t make it, will miss you all! It’s great to be able to get out again, even if it’s masked up. It’s been a long time!



Today’s the day. I’ll be at the Clark County Library at Flamingo and Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas for the Local Author’s Literary Fair. It’s now grown to 70 authors and will be represented with showcases that include vendor tables, panels, presentations and literary mayhem! As I’ve said twice before, I’ll be there the entire time and will man a vendor table from 2-4 PM where I’ll be selling all four of my books, including the two Meleena novels, Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Would love to see you there!



Right now I’m in the middle of two book sales with both Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains on Book Lemur. The sale for Treasure was last Wednesday the 11th. The sale for Gods is the 18th. Both books will be available on Kindle for $.99!

It would be great to get Meleena out there to some new fans for not quite a dollar a shot. These sales are actually perpetual right now so you can go anytime to Kindle and pick them up. They are also both available as hard copies for discounted rates on Amazon. Treasure as low as 3.96 and Gods as low as 12.00 used. Of course, they are both available new at the regular price of 17.99 for those of you willing!



The big sale wasn’t so big from this particular web site, as it turned out. I have to remember that, as I’ve used them before and it was the same thing. I guess burned once…twice…no third time. Oh well…learn and move on.

This recalls one time at a Las Vegas Writer’s Conference when I talked to a professional book marketer for one of the big six guys who said he’d market my book for me. Keep in mind that this was BEFORE I had anything published yet. His price? $35,000! I kid you not. $35,000. He didn’t even blink when he quoted me that price. I can imagine he didn’t have many if any takers at the event. He put on an interesting presentation, but the stuff he talked about was waaaaay out of our league, especially all of us just beginning our publishing journey.

Book marketing sucks!



Meleena’s Adventures writing may, truth be told, go on hiatus for a while, depending on how things go. My concentration with publication is going to be elsewhere for a bit. That doesn’t mean I’m going to desert her and her adventures. It’s just that I have other things to take care of. In the meantime, while I’m not actively working on Rumblings at the moment, there are parallels to the other series I’m working on. It has to do with earthquakes.

While in the other book, I’m addressing a fault line, in Rumblings, Meleena is going to be going BELOW the source, to the cause of the fault line or lines moving in the first place.

Folks, this is not just a few shrugs or stretches or groans in the surface of the planet. This is the core of the issue! Maybe one day, you’ll see.



Here it is, two weeks since I last posted and I’m not afraid to say nothing much is going on. So what? Things don’t always happen in the life of a writer. Last weekend, we went down to Anaheim for war games with our age of chivalry group, therefore I didn’t post. This weekend, I’m still waiting to hear from my beta readers on a book from my other Gold series. In those two weeks, I haven’t written a thing. I’ve heard plenty about fantasy on the Facebook forums, enough to inspire a few of my regular Tuesday articles. As for what I’ll talk about next week? I’m working on it!



One thing that gets us a long way as authors is book reviews. While so far, Treasure Of The Umbrunna has the most reviews out of all the books I’ve published, the second Meleena book, Gods Of The Blue Mountains has the least. The reviews far distance the sales but from the feedback I got, a lot more people liked it than reviewed it. Either that, or you were all afraid to tell me it sucked. In any case, I’d still appreciate an honest review of what you liked or didn’t like about it. Hey, if you want to read it again and are into e-books, it’s still available on Kindle for 99cents! Give it a whirl and let me know what you think, good or bad.



Someone on one of the Facebook forums asked what the differences were between some of the major fantasy sub-genres. I define Meleena’s Adventures as the title implies, fantasy adventure. That pretty much sums it up. It’s not epic fantasy or some of the other sub-genres commonly used. In a way, the Meleena series is a genre all on its own. For hard-core fantasy fans, it may not be your cup of tea. If you’re the adventurous type and don’t mind a bit of genre bending, well, keep on reading, keep on supporting the series, and we’ll see where it goes!



I sometimes wonder how Meleena would react to things in today’s world. Given that she lives in a completely made up world, her actions are only partly based on reality. With all that’s going on with our society, how would she react to today’s climate of divisiveness and friction?

Not only that, but from the aspect of the current generation, jerked from her world into ours, how would she react to technology? While her world has a certain taste (without giving away too many spoilers), it’s in a different context than to be slapped down into the current real world from hers, raw, with no other context. Her reactions might be unusual to say the least.

Juss wunnering…(that’s “just wondering” for those of you where English isn’t your native tongue). I like to play with words and sometimes forget my audience.



This question came up in one of the fantasy forums I frequent. I thought I’d address it here and now so those of you new to her world would be aware. There is none in Meleena’s world, at least up to this point.


She’s too busy having fun, adventuring, getting into trouble, and causing mayhem to be bogged down with a love life.

Yeah, not every female in the world has the mandatory love life. While she gets an occasional glimmer, she has no room for that in hers. That’s just not her deal. I’ll leave that to other writers and authors to write to their great abandon and stick to what I do best, adventure. There’s room for every style and mine does not include romance!

Just so you know.



Last Saturday, my usual posting day, I was participating in IST, International Steel Tournament at the Renaissance Faire in Las Vegas. It was a draining but rewarding weekend. I killed at archery, which was more of a surprise to me than probably anyone else! I’m too old to participate in the sword or jousting activities. So, I skipped a week, but in the meantime, there wasn’t much news anyway for that week. However, the weekend was full of unintentional research in realism for medieval combat. It made me think of the many people asking such questions about sword fighting and archery and such combat with and without armor on the Facebook fantasy forums. People, this type of event is where you get a dose of reality! If you want to know what it’s really like compared to what your actually writing, you can see how you have to “cheat” to make your story work! I do with magick. There’s no way Meleena and her gang can do what they do in the real world! That’s why they call it fantasy. If I wanted realism, I wouldn’t be writing Meleena’s Adventures. Plain and simple. I know. I’ve watched real simulated combat in all kinds of armor and have hefted real swords, blunted and dulled for safety purposes, of course. I’ve also held real un-safed swords in Spain, and held all kinds of other weapons like maces and such. I’ve held pieces of plate armor and chain mail. That stuff isn’t light! Therefore, magick. Case closed.



In the past week or so, I must have seen a dozen queries on the Facebook forums (and no, I won’t call it Meta) about religion. Do you use it? How do you use it? Should you use it? Bla bla bla. In Meleena’s world, if you’ve been paying attention, Esveen has a place. It’s the predominant relijjin (my Fred word) for religion. Sometimes the belief is significant to the plot, sometimes a petty annoyance. What I will say is that it’s neither a message nor a lecture, a condemnation, an opinion, a personal plot, a nefarious way to undermine the candyrock psychedelic profundities of anyone’s beliefs, or non-beliefs. It’s pure and simple just another way to add color and plot elements to a dynamic fantasy world. After all, what’s a dynamic realistic (ha ha) fantasy world without politics and religion, conflict, humor, monsters, geography, weather, inhabitants, measurements. Come on people!

I’m done.



The subject keeps coming up on the Facebook fantasy forums of where we, as authors, come up with the names for things. Where do I come up with the names for people, places and things in Meleena’s world?

The truth?

For the most part, they come out of the ether.

That’s right. They come out of thin air.

Sometimes, a name may be inspired by some deep seated memory of something I have previous knowledge of.

Sometimes it’s inspired by D&D, either from the game world or from when I was an active player.

Sometimes from something I read.

Once in a while, as I’ve infamously explained, the name comes from the odd circumstance, like the defective truck decal.

Mostly, the names just pop into my head on the fly, as I’m writing. Once I get the name in my head, I write it down in my Meleena’s Adventures encyclopedia which keeps track of such things. Then I also add it to my spell checker so I keep the spelling consistent.

So, boys and girls, there you have it. My magickal secret. I’ve covered it before, I thought it worth repeating.



For those of you paying attention, you may have noticed I skipped another Saturday. This time I was still at the happiest place on earth. Someone on Facebook asked me where that was, even with the photos I posted, so I have to specify Disneyland. That’s the original park in Aneheim, California, NOT the World site in Florida. I love that original park! It provides so much inspiration for writing, both directly and indirectly. I’ve mentioned that multiple times, probably here and in my blog articles. I’ve even posted photos somewhere. This time, I’m going to do the same, but just a few photos this time. No need to oversaturate things. No, I won’t write any story with Disney in the title for obvious reasons. No, I won’t write anything even remotely related to fan fiction. What I do is get inspired, like in a muse. The place helps spur me on in many ways. These are mostly ways you’ll never see or even figure out. That’s the way it should be. Besides, with the thousands of lawyers in their employ, I couldn’t even mention or give credit to anything I wanted to use without a flurry of cease and desist orders. They’re very protective. That’s okay. It’s enough to enjoy the place and derive inspiration. Thank you Walt. I still feel your impact.

My favorite place in the entire park, right outside the Pooh ride.

Selfie looking the other direction.



How’s that for a marketing title?

Right now, things are quiet on the Meleena front. Sales of Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains have been slow, so interest in the series has waned. As a consequence, I’ve been concentrating on my Gold series and other projects lately. As a marketing ploy, it’s probably not wise to be so blunt, but that’s just the way I roll. Take it or leave it.

I have completed the first draft of book number three, Across The Endless Sea and have started book number four, Rumblings, but have set all that aside. With nobody buying the first two books, I need to put all my energy into the ones that ARE selling.

Does that mean I’m giving up on Meleena and her adventures?

No, not at all.

I’m going to continue to write her story whether anyone buys the books or not. That has never stopped me before, when I wasn’t published, so it won’t now. The key to whether you, the readers see them or not is whether any new people buy the ones that are out there already. If enough new people show interest, I can get new titles published. It’s simple as that.

In the meantime, if you have not done a review yet, that would be much appreciated. The more reviews I get, the better the books sell to new people. That’s a fact. Every review helps! Just a few words, a rating, something! Thanks!



While Meleena may be on hiatus for the moment, ideas for her aren’t. Stuff is always popping into my head. Breakfast, driving to work, sitting in the office, wherever I am during my daydreaming, ideas for her and my various other stories are swirling around in my head. I don’t just forget these things either. They rinse, recycle and repeat, refine and stay there. Once in a while, I may write down a reminder on a sticky note. I currently have two above the monitor, both pertaining to Meleena at the moment. You never know where they may lead…or when.



While I’ve alluded to them before in the Treasure Of The Umbrunna, Meleena meets up with aliens in the third, so far unpublished adventure, Across The Endless Sea. The Rammanuta she has seen have all died out but built much of the ancient architecture she has seen in Treasure. In Sea, she meets a different breed, and a not so benevolent race group of off-worlders. This adventure is a mashup of fantasy and science fiction that my friend Jan Bechtum said reminded me of another author I can’t recall at the moment. What I’ve done is nothing new. In fact, my friend and fellow author, James Rollins once told me there’s nothing wrong with mixing genres if it helps the story, or you just want to do it. He does it with his various thrillers, and I took that to heart long before I ever started writing about Meleena and her adventures. For those of you who have read Meleena’s Adventures, you know what I do. For those of you that haven’t yet, get ready to be thrilled.



Over on the Detach page, I talked about beer money. You just have to go there to see what I’m talking about. That made me think of Meleena and the fact that she’s a big ale drinker. If you’ve read the books, you know she goes through a lot of it. If you’ve ever actually drank ale, not beer, you may wonder about her tolerance. Maybe not. After all, this is a made-up fantasy world. Then again, ever wonder the alcohol content of the ale in Meleena’s world?

When I used to drink, which has been a while (I can’t anymore because of all the pills I take now), for decades, it’s only been an occasional dark ale. I lost my taste for hard liquor or much of anything else almost forty years ago. On extremely rare occasions now, I’ll have a very small glass of sangria, but that’s about it. A bottle of ale is too much for me as it reacts with all the crap I have to take on a daily basis.

I digress. When I was in Jolly Olde’ Englande’, I developed a taste for ale and dark beer, just like my coffee (decaff of course). That was primarily in 1990, but actually started in 1972, where the seed was sewn with a local brew called Worthington E, which I don’t think exists anymore. Anyway, I was never fully aware of the alcohol content of the darks, but it seemed to be a bit more than the lighter piss most call beer nowadays. In fact, the only real beer I ever liked was a very hoppy brew my grandpa used to let me sip when I was a little kid in Playa Del Rey back in the fifties called Brew 102, a local Ellay (Los Angeles) beer that also no longer exists. It was cheap but it was really good, to my very young taste buds. Regular beer just tastes like flavored water to me.

When I created Meleena, I wanted her to have a particular drink, and mead just didn’t fit for her. Besides, I’m personally not a fan of it as it tastes like crap to me. So, ale it is. Throughout the series, including the books you haven’t seen yet, she samples a variety of styles and likes them all, so far. They vary in strength, but her constitution can take it because it’s part of who she is.



I just signed a copy of Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains for someone last night. It’s been a while since I’ve done that for either book and it was a happy time for me and for Meleena. As others have told me repeatedly, they’re great stories. I can tell you I certainly enjoyed creating them, along with book #3 and the start of book #4. When and if the series will continue to be published beyond that is hard to say at this point, at least for the time being, but it will continue. With the other things I’m working on, it may take a while. Those that know my history know that I don’t give up. The more you all buy the books, the more chance the series will continue to be published. For now, I’ll continue to drop a chapter or two now and then of book #4 and continue on until such a time interest picks back up in the series. We’ll see.



It just so happens that today’s post falls on New Year’s Day. So, without further adieu, I want to wish all of you a happy 2022. For those of you that are glass is half empty types, let’s hope 2022 is better than 2021. For those of you that are glass is half full types, let’s hope 2022 is just as good if not better than 2021!



This may sound strange coming from a fantasy author, but I don’t read much fantasy. You may wonder why?

One reason is that as often as not, when I have, the story inside didn’t live up to the fantastical artwork on the cover. Now this brings up the question of why?

Until I became a writer myself, learned the ins and outs of the mechanics, and also have put literally thousands of books under my belt as a reader over sixty years, I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long time.

The fact is that while fantasy often has great imagery and fantastical icky bugs (beasts and monsters), what it always lacked for me was getting to the point. Whenever I picked up a fantasy book, right off I was assaulted with words, and words, and words, and quite often little substance for page after page before anything actually happened. After reading adventure and thriller novels, mysteries and whatever, this was not something I was prepared to put up with.

Then there was the totally omniscient tome Lord Of The Rings. I read it over the summer working at a golf course during the evenings, changing sprinklers. Between runs, I sat on a stool in the gardening shed, reading and keeping my feet off the floor as scorpions ran around on the ground. I somehow got through all three tomes, only because I had nothing else to do, plus I felt I had to read them because it was the thing to do at the time (I’d just graduated high school). I had no idea back then why I found them so boring, yet I persevered and finished what I started. I can say that those three original volumes were not the catalyst that turned me on to fantasy.

Later on, as I started seeing more fantasy novels in the Stars & Stripes bookstore in Spain in the early 70’s, I tried a couple but could not get through the first chapter of most of them except Andre Norton’s, which were much shorter. They were more like an adventure.

What was it?

Fantasy is too wordy. It doesn’t get to the point. It rambles a lot.

My wife is a huge fantasy reader. Most of her tomes clock in at five hundred to a thousand pages. She doesn’t always like them, either, but that’s all she reads, and she loves most of them.

I’m currently reading one where the first two were okay. This third one is a lot of rambling. The author is in love with words with rambling narrative. A lot is happening, but at the expense of taking forever to get to the point. Plus, if you haven’t read the first two books, you’ll have no idea what he’s talking about half the time. I’m just at two thirds of the way through and all I want is to get it overwith. It’s almost insufferable to have to sit down and get through another twenty plus page chapter.

A book shouldn’t be that way. A narrative should be brisk and to the point.

That, my friends, is why I don’t read a lot of fantasy.

Some will say Meleena’s Adventures is too short, not deep enough, whatever.

All I can say is I write what I’d want to read and get to the point. I hope it lives up to the cover artwork and more. That’s all I can hope for.



I just finished that fantasy I was reading and while the ending sort of redeemed the ponderous tome, it was with a huge sense of relief I reached the end. I’m now reading another genre that gets to the point and it’s such a breeze to sit there and get to the point. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

I have another fantasy right now by one of my favorite authors that is writing out of his normal genre. I’m going to wait a while before I give it a try.

Going from Fantasy to another genre showed such a stark contrast in styles it was stunning.

That, folks, is why I hardly ever read fantasy. What I write, which is in a fantasy setting, has more in common with adventure and thrillers in pacing. You’re not going to find me writing a nine-hundred page tome for Meleena. You’re not going to find me writing fifteen to fifty page chapters, nor full-page paragraphs of narrative.

I’m going to get to the point without a lot of rambling. If that makes it something other than fantasy, despite the setting, so be it.



I recently gave a copy of Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains to someone, specifically so they would do reviews on Amazon. She promised she would, good or bad.

It hasn’t been that long yet, but during this waiting time, as an author, we always wonder with good justification if the reader will even read the books, start them, get bored with the first one, then put it down and never finish. Or, read the first one, decide it isn’t for them and never get to the second one. Or, read the first one, like it okay, then read the second one and not like it. Or, love them both, can’t put them down. Then, through all that, never bother to do the review they promised.

For those of you that are not published, did you know that probably 70-90% of readers never leave reviews, from those that just buy the books on their own, read them through other means, or more specifically, are given them to read for reviews? Yeah, that’s right. Even those that are solicited, or specifically given a book for review hardly ever give said review.

One thing I will never do is pay for a review. Giving away a book for a review is one thing, but paying someone to give a review is something else. That just isn’t right. To me, if someone has to be paid to say something about your book, it isn’t honest. Sure, you could say that about giving them the book, but giving them a book and paying them on top of that is going too far. So, I don’t mind giving a book for a review, but my limit stops there.

Will I get one for Treasure and Gods? We’ll see. I’ll give it a while. It’s not like the review stats are going anywhere but I’ll take what I can get. Which reminds me…have you done a review of Meleena’s Adventures? If not, I’d sure appreciate it!



I obviously haven’t touched on her adventures in the thread above in a long time. Instead, I’ve relegated those little shorts to these entries on occasion. In her world there is no COVID, impending war with other countries, inflation, radically opposing political sides (at least per media and some limited personal knowledge), and the list goes on. After all, I created her world to take her away from all that.

Sometimes I wonder how Meleena would react given all that’s going on in the real world.

My answer?

I stop thinking about it.

That’s right.

Sorry if I’m disappointing some of you, but the entire reason I started writing about Meleena was an escape from the real world. I did not want to write about COVID, conflicts with other countries, sharp political divides and whatever else we’re dealing with in the real world. We get enough of that already. It’s called a fantasy for a reason!

Does that mean I’ll never address something similar in my world? As a plot device, maybe, in my own form and in my own way. However, it’ll, of course, be on my own terms. We’ll see, and the intent won’t be to remind us of the realities of this world, though some of it might. After all, Meleena’s world has to be relatable for you to have an interest in it. Then again, it doesn’t have to reflect what’s happening now. I’m not saying it won’t to some degree, but that’s not where I get my inspiration. I’ll leave that to the thriller writers.



Some may wonder why I decided to write in the fantasy genre when I don’t usually enjoy reading it. I’ve probably answered that question multiple times here, yet I think it’s worth a revisit.

For a long time, about the only thing that attracted me to fantasy were the fantastical covers. When it came to try and get into the story, more often than not, the writing didn’t live up to the cover artwork. The same could be said for a lot of science fiction. Book covers can be a great marketing tool, yet they only go so far, and I learned a long time ago that I can get burned very easy that way. This was way before self-publishing was even a gleam in the entrepreneur’s eye.

There were always a few fantasy novels I liked, but let’s make this clear, Lord Of The Rings was not one of them! It was a perfect example of what was wrong with the genre for me. I forced myself to read it out of wanting to see what all the fuss was about and with boredom while on breaks at my job. I liked the movies a lot better than the books. Not too many years later, when it came to the prequel, The Hobbit, I took one look at it, leafed through a few pages, and put it down. No thanks!

To be honest, it was Dungeons And Dragons (D&D) that got me into writing fantasy. It was thereafter computer games, of which I exclusively played fantasy RPGs (still do occasionally), which were basically dungeon crawls and hack and slash adventures, with a story thread holding it all together.

Key in on the “adventure” part of this deal. I’ve always been an adventure-oriented guy. That was the key. If I were to write fantasy, it had to be lean, mean, and an adventure set in a fantasy world. This story would not be a thousand-page tome that took a hundred pages for one little thing to happen.

It wasn’t until my wife, who is a huge fantasy reader, kept bugging me to write a fantasy that I finally broke down and wrote something that was inside me all the time. Meleena was bursting to get out of me, and I finally put it down in electrons.

It isn’t everyone’s fantasy, for sure. There isn’t a lot of intrigue and rambling and characterization. This is a plot driven adventure set in a fantasy world. Plain and simple. It’s not just hack and slash and reeking of D&D points and stats. It’s a fantasy series set in a unique world that’s hopefully something you will all enjoy. Some of you already do, at least from the feedback I get. A few have not warmed up to Meleena or my writing. That’s natural. I can’t win everyone and don’t expect to.

The bottom line is that in this case, I decided to write fantasy in the model of what I’d like to read. Not that it’s supposed to be any better than anyone else. It’s just what I would pick up or enjoy if I were shopping for a fantasy story. I rarely, if at all, every come across a fantasy story even close. That’s not a brag, that’s just a point of why I hardly ever read the genre. My eyes have glazed over from some extremely popular books. I keep trying and mostly failing. I have plenty to choose from since my wife reads fantasy all the time. I do pay attention! I still have to do my own thing and if you enjoyed the first two, you should enjoy the rest whenever I can get them published.



On the Detach page, I just talked about earthquakes. What about Meleena’s world?

As it happens, quakes come into play in a big way in the fourth installment, Rumblings. Notice a clue from the name?

Since I grew up around quakes and experienced a few, including one while thirty feet up in a tree, they are not far from my subconscious. To this day, I’m not comfortable in tall buildings, no matter what part of the country I’m in, but in particular, anywhere in the west!

Why not write that stuff into a story…or two?



Today, I’ll be at a book signing at the Clark County library at Flamingo and Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas. I get a chance to meet and greet and sell copies of Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Hope to see you there!



When I think back on how I got started with Meleena’s Adventures, I regressed to the initial creation and wondered what real places may have inspired her settings, adventures, travels…whatever. Are there any real places integrated into the story?

The quick answer is somewhat indirectly. Is that vague enough for you?

The truth be that as I wrote and write about Meleena, there’s no specific place I had or have in mind in the real world. Well…that’s not completely true. My somewhat worldly experiences have exposed me to a multitude of different environments.

There is, of course, the fact that I used to play D&D and in fact, still, on occasion, play the more solitary RPG on my computer. Those adventures were and are full of places I could potentially use when it comes to Meleena. The hard truth is that while I certainly got inspiration from RPGs (role playing games), what I actually write comes from a different place.

As the adventures progress, places will pop into my head. Some come from real life in combination with exaggeration to make it fit what I’m doing. Once in a while, a real place may inspire one or tuther of the locations.

For instance, castles in Meleena’s world are great exaggerations (sometimes) of the real-world castles I visited while overseas. I cherry pick what I want and create something new. Even one right here on the West Coast has had a small role. Then there’s the landscape as described when Meleena moves from one place to another. A foggy hillside near the coast of a place in Turkey, driving to a certain ski resort in Spain, driving down to Ellay from Palmdale, California all may play a role in what Meleena encounters in her travels. I feel lucky enough that I have been to so many places I can choose from. Therefore, as I write, this stuff just pops into my head and I adapt it, or not, to what I’m writing.

There’s no place in Meleena’s Adventures that comes directly from real life. It’s an amalgam of hundreds if not thousands of other places mixed into what I like to think of as a unique world. I love what I do!



In fantasy, it’s quite common to see complicated names. Since it isn’t normally a real-world (even considering urban fantasy), you can’t exactly name a mystical character or creature something real-world or common. That will jerk the reader out of the story. These names must have something about them that makes them fit the world. Okay, sometimes one can get away with conventional names in fantasy. That does happen. However, if you want to make up fantasy names, it’s not that hard to slip into the complicated and unpronounceable. This can be very annoying.

In Meleena’s world, while I do occasionally slip in a complicated name, that’s not the case with regular characters. The names pop into my head, but I look at a big factor.

Is it easy to pronounce?

If you have to struggle just to decipher the alphabet in a weird name, you’re more than likely to either give that character a nickname or just forget them. I much prefer my made-up names to be easy on the eyes and tongue. Like I said, there are a few notable exceptions, but I also handle that situation in a way so the reader isn’t left hanging. I’ll give the character a nickname or just use the complicated name once or maybe a couple of times. These aren’t my main characters.

Simplicity makes for a much better and more memorable read!



Another example of what I said previously about the writing being too wordy, or dragging a lot in fantasy, is another one I just read by a famous author who also happens to be a personal friend. I will not mention any names or titles, but just give another picture of what I’m talking about.

In action and adventure novels, the pace is brisk, with little dragging narrative. However, in most fantasy, and the reason I’m not a fan, is because it’s a bit more literary, with lots of description and pondering and thinking by the characters. This goes beyond character development, at least for me. This makes the pace drag. I found that in my latest read.

If the book is well-written and a good story, I can go from as little as a day or two to almost a week. I’m talking an average of 350-500 pages. If not, as in the case of this fantasy, it took me two weeks to read!

The density of the material is what caused this extra-long time. While the same story, an epic one, could’ve been told in three hundred pages, it had two-hundred extra pages of fluff. At least that’s the way I see it. Certainly, fantasy fans don’t care about this and in fact relish it. However, I much prefer, as I’ve stated many times before, to get to the point. My eyes glaze over. I have to keep re-reading or stopping in the middle of a chapter, only to lose my place and have to go back over and over again. This is why I don’t enjoy such a style.

You won’t find that in Meleena’s Adventures. I say what I need to say and move on. I don’t dawdle and ponder endlessly, or describe something in intricate and intimate detail. THAT is why I don’t read most fantasy and I sure wouldn’t want to impose that fluff on my readers.



Right now, Meleena is in the middle of an earthquake adventure. Seeing as how I’m currently working on a new icky bug adventure set in Las Vegas, well…she’s going to be at her own adventure for a while. Because of where she is right now, she may have time to party a little before things get a lot more restrictive, but we’ll just have to see how things pan out. All it takes is time…



I didn’t post anything last week because I had to work that weekend. It’s a rare thing but won’t be the only one. In the meantime, did I do anything writing related? Well…not much. Outside of posting my weekly blog article on Marketing, about all I did was a tad more investigating into Amazon Ads. Still not ready to pull the trigger because out of all the writers I know, I only got two responses from anyone that’s actually tried it. Considering how much it could potentially cost me, I’m still a bit iffy on giving it a try. If I do, I sure hope it does better than Facebook Ads. That’s all I’ll say about it.



Okay, I missed a Saturday because I was working. The only real news I spotted was about a new movie on the Titanic. I go into that on the Detach page.

It made me think of how Meleena might act if she were onboard a large ship.

Guess what? I already DO know how she’d react because she WAS on a giant ship in Across The Endless Sea. Let’s just say mayhem ensues and she and her friends don’t quite make it to their destination the easy way. Only time will tell if you ever get Sea in your hands. It’s quite a ride.



Speaking of earthquakes…which I just did on the Detach page, what about Meleena and her world?

As part of world building, an author may or may not choose to add seismic regions to the mix.

I did for one simple reason.

It’s not only something on my mind occasionally, but makes a great plot basis, even in a fantasy world.

So, what’s going on in Meleena’s world right now?

To quote the great Jerry Lee Lewis, “There’s a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on!”



To tell the truth, I have little about politics in Meleena’s world. I think I mentioned a vote at one time, and some of the quirks of the Elves and Gods of the Blue Mountains. Outside of that, her world isn’t that kind of world and outside of coloring things a bit to make the world more vivid, I leave that stuff to other authors. At least I have so far. With the barrage of stuff going on in the real world, well…that’s just not where I’m at.



No, I’m not talking about Frank Zappa’s band The Mothers Of Invention. I’m talking about actual mothers. While Meleena isn’t one…yet…she has the potential. There are also plenty of mothers she runs across in her adventures. In light of Mother’s Day, I’d like to honor all the mothers in Meleena’s world.

There are many, from her aunt Leena to Queen Rona in Treasure Of The Umbrunna. Wiz’s mother to the queen of the gods in Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

I salute you all!



While technically, the Meleena series are fantasies, to me, they’re all still adventures. That’s the truest definition of everything I write, regardless of genre. I never started out to make some kind of statement about whatever, I started writing for the thrill and exploratory aspects of everything. I could always see this stuff in my head, and as my skills became better, it was just a matter of taking the time to write it all out. I found out that I enjoyed every part of the writing process including editing, marketing materials and even cover design and more. Though I did not design my covers, I made suggestions and approved of them. I not only self-edited, but worked with editors and proofreaders to make each story as clear and accurate as possible, grammar and syntax-wise. The research was a lot of fun as well which helped me make some technical aspects accurate. To me, it’s all part of the adventure!



I’m continuing on the never-ending struggle to market the Meleena series. As I may or may not have mentioned before somewhere, I’ve been researching Amazon Ads. This seems like it might be a way to get the word out. The issues are the complexity of the rules and all the nuances to make it so I’m not just throwing money away, like on Facebook. Apparently book buyers don’t care about anything to do with them on Facebook. However, at Amazon, that’s exactly why they are shopping there and looking for books.

So, with that in mind, what to do?

A big part of it is setting a budget so you don’t go broke.

Then there’s the ways to advertise it, from auto (letting Amazon decide) to manual setup.

In manual setup, you have to pick key words, and apparently, dependent on the word, you get charged varying amounts. I’m assuming you don’t get charged the total for all key words, but instead only when someone clicks on your book using that key word. Or…they see your book somewhere and it’s attached to a certain keyword (or words) associated with that entry.

This could all get very expensive quick if you don’t set a daily limit. Keep in mind that that daily number is multiplied by 30 days (or whatever) each month so you get a bill of $100+ dollars every month, depending whether anyone actually clicks on your book. Also keep in mind the more you spend, the more prominent your ads.

The other keys are having a good author page, a good cover, and a good blurb.




The thing about world building is that there are mainly two ways to go about it. Pre-build or do it on the fly. This is not to ignore countless hybrid variations either. How do I build Meleena’s world? Outside of the occasional idea that brews in the back of my head, I discover her fantasy world as I write. When I need things, I just make them up. It’s simple as that. On the other hand, I always know my main goal, and write toward that. Without a goal, all that world-building and writing will be for not. While I have no patent on creating worlds, I’m not alone in my madness. Mapping everything out ahead of time would just suck all the creativity and fun right out of the process for me. On the fly is just how I do it, but as I said, isn’t the only way. If you’re a writer, you have to find what works for you. In the end, it’s the result that matters.



This is something many authors are faced with during their evolution. Has it ever happened to me? I was going to say never, otherwise I wouldn’t have so many manuscripts in the can. However, when I get real honest, I’d say I spent a good bit of time staring at a blank page BEFORE I got serious about writing.

The whole deal is that you don’t just decide you want to write and sit down and start. That was a mistake I made before I knew what I was doing. I had no plan, just a desire. It wasn’t until decades later that when I got serious, I always had a plan, or as I call it, I figured out “A and B” before I ever started. Once I had that, it was easy to sit down to that blank page and let it flow.

I’ve always had a plan since I became a serious writer. I’ve never just stared at a blank page since the early 70’s.



I’ve had the past week off, so you might think I got some writing done. Nope. This vacation was for a home project which even as I write this, isn’t done yet. I certainly feel my age! On the other hand, I’ve had little down time to even think of writing except I did finally get a click on my Amazon Ads account. I also sold one of my books, so I guess something is finally happening, at least at a trickle. Gotta take whatever one can!



Whether directly or implied, I’ve discussed tropes. On one of the fantasy forums, this subject came up and the poster was worried about using a trope. I had to give my two cents and that is: “Everything is a trope. Period. What makes it different is your voice.” Therefore, I say who cares if it’s a trope as long as you write it well and in your own voice. That’s what makes all the difference. How does any series or even individual novel writer get anything done without covering some kind of trope? Simple answer is they write what they want but in their own voice and it’ll be unique.



Meleena, grudgingly at first, does a favor for a friend that betrayed her. The goal is to retrieve a plant that will help to fully resurrect him. The biggest problem is that the plant only grows in the realm of the Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Nobody has ever survived entering that domain to tell about it. Somehow, she finds a way to get in and of course, mayhem ensues, but in the most unexpected ways. Will she and her friends survive to tell the tale? Will they be able to retrieve the plant and save her old friend?



Someone on one of the fantasy forums asked what our main character’s extra abilities might be, if any. I brought this up years ago but thought it would be a good idea to go over it again.

Meleena is, for the most part, nobody special. She’s not some forgotten princess, or a key figure. She’s just a thief with an underdeveloped sense of morality. She’s evolving. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t unique and special. While pretty much normal in all other respects, she does have one or two unique abilities.

The main one is that Meleena can read, write and speak (within physical ability) every language on her world. She even understands the slang and nuances. This is her superpower, if you will. She also has a unique memory that she can visit called her internal library. She is not in complete control of it, but she’s getting there.

The language thing is something I’ve always wanted to do in real life. Of course, I could never get above learning a few words here and there in many languages, but never got nowhere near functional in anything but Spanish and Turkish, and even that’s severely limited to very bad grammar and syntax. I always wondered what it would be like if someone could just automatically understand all languages, sort of like C3PO in Star Wars and his three million forms of communication.

Meleena was born with the gift for gab, but not in being a smooth talker. Far from that. While she can automatically communicate in any language, she doesn’t have the diplomatic skills to always utilize that ability, unlike her mother, who’s a diplomat. Therefore, the ability to communicate with Meleena only goes so far, advantages notwithstanding.



I’m doing all the legwork on the Gold series right now but once I get a handle on how it all works, I’m going to try my hand at Meleena’s Adventures ads. Keep in mind that this ad thing isn’t free, so I have to stick to some kind of reasonable budget. We’ll see.



I’ve always wanted to include a volcano in my stories and since Meleena’s world is entirely made up, I had the freedom to do it anyway I wanted. In this case, I used an extreme example in Gods Of The Blue Mountains. There’s a lot more to it but let’s just say it isn’t about lava!



Amazon Ads is by far, the most lucrative on-line marketing technique I’ve found so far. After trying several of those e-book ad sites, I finally got results with another novel, Spanish Gold. I’ve now sold six books since taking this venture up in May. That might not seem like a lot to some of you, but it’s a hell of a lot better than zero! As indie authors, we all have a struggle to get the word out and since I’m still somewhat leery of COVID, it beats the hassle of in-person events, at least so far.

So, now it comes down to getting the word out on the second Meleena book, Gods Of The Blue Mountains.

I just started the campaign here in July, but hits are coming in. No sales yet but it took over a month for things to pick up with Spanish Gold. We’ll see how Gods does after a couple of months.



No matter what genre I’m writing, the adventure never ends. That’s because each story, regardless of genre is an adventure. Whether it be fantasy, thriller, or icky bug, each story is full of things happening. I picked up this style because that’s what I like to read. I’ve found the same style, to different ends, to be the most enjoyable. I don’t call my fantasy series Meleena’s Adventures for nothing. Plus, what about Detach’s Search For Gold doesn’t inspire adventure? I hope you all like my style because I’m sticking to it!



The third Meleena novel, Across The Endless Sea is languishing here on my computer. I read three quarters of it to the writer’s group and have done at least one clean edit. Unfortunately, it hasn’t got a second, third or final blush due to sales of my fantasy series.

I’m working on that and right now I’m marketing Gods Of The Blue Mountains on Amazon. We’ll see how that goes and if sales pick up, the third book may look a lot more attractive to my publisher. Only time and luck will tell.



In Meleena’s world, there are no bathrooms, but instead, “water closets.” I chose that term just to be different. During her adventures, she and her friends use everything from toilet type fixtures to squat holes, from rivers to new-technology showers. After all, using the facilities for whatever purpose are part of any world, regardless. Those pesky little details!



So far, using Amazon Ads, I’ve sold three copies of Gods Of The Blue Mountains. That’s six potential new fans! Of course, a review or two would be nice…



The one superpower (if you will) that Meleena has is her skill with languages. This is something I’ve always wished for myself, but of course, I can barely speak Spanish, Turkish, and now a smattering of Dutch with very bad grammar. Not exactly on par with Meleena’s skill. Something she inherited from her mother (a diplomat), she can speak, read, and write in any language automatically, even every variation of slang. To some extent that includes intent, but that is one aspect that only goes so far. She’s far less adept at intent, especially when it comes to interactions with other people. If it’s in writing, she seems to automatically know intent as well as the nuances that go with it. However, spoken, as in face-to-face, she’s no different than most people. Okay, maybe a bit more perceptive (which makes her mother a great diplomat), but her sense of intent is not nearly as well developed. It can cause plenty of misunderstandings!



Some of you may have noticed my absence from here last Saturday. Nothing especially nefarious going on. I just simply got tied up with other things and skipped a week. No drama!

As for today’s subject, I’m having my first live book signing in almost a year out in Primm, Nevada, which is about 50 miles away on the California border. There’s a fashion show mall out that way and a bunch of us local authors are setting up near the escalator. My buddy Stepheny Murray organized it. He’s another local author with a bunch of books published. He once got me a gig at a senior center a few years ago. Great guy!

I’ll have all of my books there today including Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. I expect to have a great time regardless of how many I do or don’t sell. See you there!



Okay, the book signing was not exactly a success, sales-wise. Oh well, it’s a crapshoot every time. This time it didn’t pan out but was still a great networking opportunity. Why? Got to network with other authors and my publisher (who I shared a booth with). I still had a good time and at least was able to pass out some cards and bookmarks. Oh, and I got to meet Steven Adler’s (former Guns and Roses drummer) mom, who sat right next to us while selling Steven’s autobiography, Sweet Child Of Mine. The day was an adventure!



Without going into a long story, D&D has inspired my fantasy novels with Meleena. It’s manifested from tabletop role playing to computer games. My interest waxes and wanes with computer games, depending on if they fit my rather narrow criteria. This year I found a great old-school game called Eschalon Books 1-3. Loved that game. Right now I’m giving Baldur’s Gate a go as when I was first exposed to it decades ago, I didn’t like it. This time around, I’m having a lot of fun with it, though it’s weird actually following strict D&D rules. To me, few of these games have a story I pay much attention to. It’s the gameplay and accomplishments I go for. That being said, it fits right in with my fantasy worlds.



I didn’t post last Saturday because I was at Ren Faire. How does that pertain to writing? Like Disneyland, it’s a source of inspiration, no matter what I write. Nuff said.



Since starting the Amazon Ads thing, at least I’m getting some results. Gods Of The Blue Mountains continues to sell. Can’t complain about that! Now, all I need is some nice reviews, which is like getting blood out of a turnip. Oh well…



Someone recently asked a question on one of the forums if there’s fantasy map making software. I think that’d make a great new article. The work comes from actually having to locate such software, if it exists. It could be a boon for fantasy writers because if you’re like me, you enjoy a good map now and then. Since the map in Gods was interpreted from my crude scribbles by my publisher, I have nothing to complain about. It’ll be interesting to see what I can find.



When I post these little stories every Saturday, it’s a real pain to keep track of all the Facebook groups. In fact, some of them look so much alike it’s hard to tell which is which. That led me to almost getting banned from one fantasy site because what I post is considered spam, or not conducive to what the site is all about. That’s fine because I didn’t even know I’d signed up for that particular group! There are so many, I lost track of the rules. I’ve been warned, hung my head, and went to the penalty box in shame. There has to be a better way…



We haven’t heard what Meleena is up to lately. Right now, she’s off on an adventure taking her to the center of the earth. Of course, mayhem ensues. This is after she went across the endless sea on a search. It never ends for her!



I’ve stated many times my influences from the world of Disney. Which section of Disneyland do you think gives me the most inspiration? You’d think fantasyland, but that’s not quite true. While I love Mr. Toad, Alice In Wonderland, and even the carousel, I actually get more inspiration from Pirates Of The Caribbean and the Haunted House when it comes to Meleena. Everyone has their favorites for inspiration. Those are two of mine.



Besides the already published Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains, I’ve completed Across The Endless Sea and started on Journey To The World’s Core (title tentative). I took a hiatus from Core to work on a new icky bug.



My fascination with languages goes back to when I was a little kid. Vacationing at my grandpa’s house in Laguna Beach, California, for instance, I visited a bookstore and the language section. I had a hard time choosing wich language to start with that wasn’t Spanish! I already had a Spanish language record set at home, so I wanted something else more exotic. I chose Laotian of all things. I never got very far with it but still recall a couple of phrases all these decades later.

Today, I’m using the Duolingo app to not only relearn Spanish, but added Dutch and Navajo to the mix. Sorry, no Laotian this time. I just makes me think again of how I added that fascination into Meleena’s life, except she didn’t have to do any work. It came automatically!



The third Meleena novel, currently languishing on my computer, is about how Meleena goes in search of her mother. She has to travel to a strange land on the other side of the world, across the Endless Sea. Along the way, she finds strange things to deal with, especially once she reaches the other side of the sea. It’s a whole different world from what she’s used to. The polar opposite is part of the plot of the fourth book, Core. There’s a good bit of Steampunk in there, or maybe science fiction/fantasy would be a better description. I took James Rollins’ advice a long time ago and never had a problem mixing genres. We’ll see how it goes.



In Across The Endless Sea, book three of the Meleena saga (unpublished so far), Meleena sails on a massive ship. While there is some requisite magic and steampunk goings on, when I break it down, I loosely modeled this ship after the Great Eastern, the cursed ship that laid the first transatlantic cable at the turn of the 20th Century. I remember when I was in London in 1972 and took the hydrofoil along the Thames to Greewich, we passed the creepy old dock where the Great Eastern was launched. I never forgot that.



I could’ve skipped a week but decided to wish you all a happy holidays. Meleena and crew don’t have a particular holiday season in their world but can be seen having fun whenever one of the various holidays pops up, spread throughout the year. As for you, all the best!



Just a quick update. I’ve been utilizing Amazon Ads. So far, I’ve only posted Gods Of The Blue Mountains for the Meleena’s adventures. I had the most success here in the You Ess and A and Jolly Olde’ Englande’. I just started in Australia and don’t have enough results yet. We’ll see.



Just this morning I was thinking of Meleena as I am trying to learn four different languages on Duolingo. I think of Meleena who through wishful thinking, I gave the talent of knowing every language. Fat chance I’ll ever get close to that but if I can get a grasp of Spanish, Dutch, Navajo, and Hawaiian, I guess that’s about as close as I’ll ever get.



Each Meleena adventure is set in a fantasy world with monsters, mayhem, and mystery. In each story, Meleena and her team end up with a goal, and she often has to make a moral decision she’s not used to. After growing up on the streets of Bug Flat, she had it rough and reflects that in her personality. She would get nowhere without her companions and there’s more to Meleena than meets the eye. Over the course of the adventures, she and you learn more about her. Is she always successful? Of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be a series, but that success isn’t always what’s expected. Within her fantasy world, I mix in some science fiction and even steampunk (which becomes more apparent with each subsequent novel). My inspiration to write fantasy mainly came from Andre Norton, though there have been a few others like R. A Salvatore that have added to that. Also, my love for D&D and roleplaying games has played part. The biggest influence is my imagination set free in a world I created. I couldn’t ask for better than that.



I recently posted all four of my (so far) published books in Australia. That includes Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. We’ll see how that goes.



While I’d thought about it many times, and actually incorporated it into my previous novels, it was James Rollins who solidified this method for me. When I write almost anything, I don’t restrict myself to a single genre, even though the main gist of the story may be one.In the case of Meleena’s Adventures, they’re based on multiple fantasy genres mixed with some science fiction and even a little steampunk. I’ve never had an issue with this in any of my stories. That conversation with James at a writer’s conference just confirmed that what I did already was okay.



It’s always the same. I get a call or phone message on my home phone, which I don’t give out. Okay, it’s in the extremely rare phone book if you can find one but still, my on-line presence doesn’t use that phone number. The speaker always has a thick accent where it’s a sure thing English isn’t their first language. While I have no problem with that per se, it just seems funny it’s always the same voice.

Next is the book they mention. It’s always Treasure Of The Umbrunna, my first book. They never mention the other three I’ve published.

The gist of the call is that they want me to hire them to market my book. I can’t recall the exact words but it boils down to bla bla bla likes your book and it would be a good fit for bla bla bla.

If they’d done their research, they’d see that I’m traditionally published. That means this type of marketing is handled by my publisher, not me. They assume I’m self-published.

The clincher is when I tell them to contact my publisher by e-mail if they want to do “bidness” with me. Out of the six or seven times they’ve called in the past few years, not once have they ever contacted my publisher.

That should tell something.

If you have a book out, whether self or traditionally published, I’d be wary of such calls.



Today I’ll be at the Clark County Library (Maryland Parkway & Flamingo in Las Vegas, Nevada) from 11-12:30 selling both Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Hope to see you there!



While I consider just being there a success, selling something at a book signing is a big bonus. Last Saturday, I sold two books. One each of Treasure Of The Umbrunna and Gods Of The Blue Mountains.



While I’ve talked about how I live my fascination with languages through Meleena before, it hit me this morning as I’m concentrating on Spanish on Duolingo. When you’re older, learning a new languages isn’t as easy as how kids can absorb this stuff. While I already had a fundamental grasp of Spanish and incredibly bad grammar, doing the lessons for real is quite different. I’d be learning to conjugate a verb while all Meleena has to do is talk and it just comes out. I remember going to this bookstore in Laguna Beach, California when I was a young spud staying for the summer with my grandparents. The store had hundreds of books on foreign languages. I bought a book on Chinese and record course of Laotian. Never learned diddly from either one because it actually took effort (which I didn’t have in abundance at the time), and I had no native speakers to talk to. I guess I’m glad I get to live that fantasy through Meleena.



I know I’ve stated it before someplace, but one thing I find annoying is when a character evolves to the point that he or she isn’t what you originally signed up for. I see it all the time in series where the author feels compelled to add in an evolution of the character. It’s often into something that might not be as interesting as the original. I’m not saying characters shouldn’t evolve, but I like to see the elements that made them interesting remain. In the case of Meleena, of course she’s going to evolve. Through each book, we learn more and more about her. At the same time, I won’t forget she’s still a brat.



There hasn’t been much movement on the Meleena front lately. While I completed the third book, Across The Endless Sea, and started number four tentatively called The Core, I’ve been working other projects, though Meleena is always on my mind.



I know diversity is a hot button topic. I thought about the characters in Meleena’s adventures. They pretty much represent me and the people I’ve lived and dealt with throughout my life. That, my friends, is casting a wide net. To me, it’s nothing about diversity as much as just the way life is for me and many other people. I like to write what I know and that means a diverse cast of people/creatures because that’s been most of my life. In some situations, I don’t describe them at all, or minimally to instead let you fill in the blanks as you see fit.



It goes without saying that my influences are varied when it comes to Meleena and her adventures. From tabletop gaming to computer role playing games, to a few old fantasy classics, to personal experiences, there’s a rich pool of inspiration. A good example of what I like is a recent prequel book to the new Dungeons And Dragons movie that I’m going to see tonight. The book was written very well and was so easy to read, I hardly noticed the effort until I reached the last page, and it was done. THAT is a great book. I hope the movie lives up to the prequel book. Stuff like that is as much an influence as anything.



I mean, I’ll take whatever I can get, but it would be nice to get some WORDED reviews. Since Amazon allowed reviews with no words, it makes it hard to know what someone liked or didn’t like about a story. I’ve sold way more books that reviews I’ve received. Not that I’m complaining that much, but the more reviews, the more prominent a book is featured on Amazon. If you haven’t already done so and get a chance, could you give a few words with a review? It would be appreciated.



The Las Vegas Writer’s Conference is going on right now. So far, I’m glad to hear nothing but positive feedback. It’s critical that you attend at least one in your lifetime. I’ve done ten live events, but never one virtual yet. Maybe one of these days I will, and it sounds like they work just as well.



The movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was a great movie. I had a fun time from start to finish and it reminded me so much of Meleena and her adventures. While I don’t abide by the D&D “rules,” by any means, it’s all still similar. Highly recommended.



In fantasy, the stock valuable metals made into coins include copper, gold, platinum and whatever other metals you want to throw in, some made up. In Meleena’s world, it could be any or all, but mostly gold for convenience, if I mention the specific metal at all. There are many things of value in her world including gold, gems, and whatever. Some would call it cliche to use such and such. I confess I really don’t care. I’ve got plenty of other details to figure out and I’m fine with gold. While Meleena may never be rich, at least she knows how to steal or earn something of value to someone, gold included.



Some of you may have noticed I’ve been absent here at Fred Central for a couple of weeks. I just got back from Spain where we (my wife and I) had a great time visiting a few old haunts. As with all best laid plans, the part including the car didn’t go so well so I turned it back on the second day. Long story. As a result, I never got to visit any of our old haunts that were outside of Central Madrid (Madrid Centro). Oh well…Had a fabulous time anyway and am glad to be back home!



I intended to get back in action last week, but after a very frustrating experience trying to post to the latest version of Facebook, I gave up for the time being. I hope I can figure it out this time. After returning from Spain, I got sick (sinus infection), and I fully appreciated the week off to recover. I was able to write several more articles for the blog and did plenty of thinking. The next two months are full of book activities as well. I sit on two science fiction panels in June and July (one each) and have a book signing in July as well. Things are picking up!



There are many authors I like but I’ll admit I do have favorites in each genre. In the fantasy genre, the list is far slimmer than the other genres I read. A big reason is that I’ve found so many fantasy books that didn’t live up to the cover art. I have an issue with droning on and on with not much happening. The top of the list includes Andre Norton and R.A. Salvatore. While by no means a comprehensive list, they were/are the ultimate influences and the top names that represent what I like in the genre.


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