Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marva Dasef: Midnight Oil and a Giveaway!

A warm welcome to Marva Dasef, a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation.

Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published books and the Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp. Her latest release is Book 2 in the series, a Tween Fantasy called Midnight Oil.

Marva is generously offering a free ebook to a lucky commenter who'll be chosen at random. Winner will be contacted no later than Sunday.

Tell us a little about yourself, Marva. Where are you from?
Well, when a mommy and daddy love each other, they kiss, then do some other things so a … oh, you didn’t mean it that way, did you?
I was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. I spent several years in both California and Washington, but ended up back home again.
What sparked your interest in writing?
I’ve always been a writer. We used to have a set of these really great books with fairy tales, nursery rhymes, mythology, and legends. On the front inside of the cover, I wrote something that looked a bit like hieroglyphics. Clearly, I was writing something. I have no idea what since I didn’t know how to write, but I sure was eager to learn. I’d also say those volumes set the course for the genres I love to both read and write: fantasy.
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
I’ve written just about every genre, but I tend to always return to fantasy. Specifically, I like humor with my fantasy, not some deadly serious chosen one/quest epic. I also target middle-grade and young adult on the lower end of the age scale.
Exotic, as one can tell from the book I’m releasing during this blog tour. I haven’t written any stories specifically set in my home town, but there are stories that could have been. While I like fantasy, I also present it within the real world. I use an Atlas to track where my characters are on earth, then I add magic to make it interesting.
How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
Few events except in my book of related short stories. They’re based on stuff my father mentioned about his boyhood in West Texas during the Depression.
As for people, I’ve included some friends as characters in my books. The main character’s mother in Witches of Galdorheim is named Ardyth for my friend and fellow writer Ardyth DeBruyn. A mystery set in eastern Oregon’s high desert has three characters based on another buddy and her grandparents. They got a kick out of seeing themselves in print.
What inspired you to write The Witches of Galdorheim series?
The first book in the series, Bad Spelling, started with the title. I had to figure out what went with it. It was an instance of waking up with the title in my mind. I immediately thought of a witch who couldn’t spell right, and it all went from there.
The second book, Midnight Oil, was another that just showed up in my head one day. I thought it should continue Kat’s story. I had set up a continuation point, Kat’s semi-dead father buried in an ice cave.
With the third book, Scotch Broom, I had the story first and had to come up with the title afterwards. This is how things usually work for writers. Story first, title later.
What was the hardest part of the series to write?
Coordinating three sets of characters to converge at the end. This required keeping three plots going, but not spending so much time with any one that the others are forgotten.
A good juggling act. What was the easiest?
Everything else. Having Bad Spelling under my belt, I knew my characters pretty well: How they act and react, how they talk.
Was there much research involved?
A lot, since I send my characters into the real world as well as magical parts of it. Within the magic, I like to use (or abuse) mythology, legends, fairy tales, and a lot of current cultural references. More than once, my research created a new aspect of the story.
Do you have a set writing routine?
Not a routine for actual writing, but I spend most of every day doing something publishing related. Matter of fact, I haven’t done much new writing at all since my first book was released from MuseItUp. Marketing takes up lots of my energy and time. I have difficulty writing if I’m searching for promotion opportunities. It’s not that I don’t have any time for writing, but I’m just distracted.

I did write a short story which is a prequel to the Witches of Galdorheim books. A lot of readers adore Kat’s brother, Rune. I started outlining Rune’s own book, but got an idea that wouldn’t fit in a book that follows the events in the other books, so I wrote the short. I handed it over to MuseItUp to give away as a bonus when people buy Bad Spelling from the MuseItUp store. I’m not sure whether it will be a giveaway with Midnight Oil. Either way, I’ll probably give away a PDF of the story as part of the blog tour.
What do you like least about writing?
I have to agree with that one. Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
My home library goes where I go. I’m a big fan of ebooks, so I have a ton (if they were weighed as paperbacks) on my Kindle. Some books I keep, if they’re Golden Age science fiction: Asimov, Clark, Heinlein. I’m a huge fan of Neal Stephenson’s books. I have several of his, including the entire Baroque Cycle in hardback (2400 pages of reading goodness).

I also have quite a few YA fantasy books, which I keep in the guest room. I should go see what I’ve got.
If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
Mark Twain. No contest. I love his concise, wry style. He was a very funny guy. I’d have to ask him not to smoke his perpetual cigar, though.
I love his sayings. My favorite is, "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." Have any new authors caught your interest?
My fellow authors at MuseItUp have certainly done that. I’ve read or am in the midst of reading many of the MuseItUp books. I don’t want to list only a few, so I’ll just say look at the Author List at MuseItUp.

A couple of authors who are not Musers have impressed me. Melissa Conway and Lindsay Buroker both make me want to read whatever they write.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Be sure to have as clean a manuscript as you possibly can. You won’t win my favor if your book is littered with typos and incorrect word usage. That’s my thirty-five years as a technical documentation writer and manager talking. I’m an addicted proofreader. Even if your editor gives your manuscript a clean bill of health, look it over again. Did you say ‘poured over a book’ when you should have said ‘pored’? Did you spell lightning as lightening? I think words that are correctly spelled homonyms are the hardest errors to pick up.
Wise words. So, how about an excerpt from Midnight Oil?

MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff.

When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

Excerpt: When Kat and Rune accompany Ivansi on the trip to Siberia to lay her father to rest, a strange storm catches them unaware.

The wind picked up until it whistled and moaned around the sturdy little craft. The waves climbed higher and rougher. The boat would rise on a wave and slam down into the next one, sending sheets of icy water cascading off each side of the bow. Kat tried to see what was ahead, but spray rattling against the windshield blurred her view. As fast as it drained off, a new wave splashed over it again. She hoped Ivansi knew what he was doing. She noticed he didn’t even bother looking at his instruments, and then she saw why—the compass spun crazily, giving no clue to their direction. Ivansi’s knuckles were white on the wheel spokes as he struggled to keep the boat headed into the wind. He kept his eyes glued to the one small area of the windshield kept clear by the wiper. Kat looked around for something to hang on to.

"Big wind," Ivansi said.

"When will it stop?" Kat yelled over the roaring wind and sea.

Nadia spoke to Ivansi, and he replied in Sami. The girl translated. "He not know. Storm not, not…" She glanced at Rune, and he supplied the word she wanted. "Natural."

Kat looked around at the whirling water. "Magic?" Kat shouted above the howl of the wind and the sound of the waves smashing against the little boat.

"I think so," Rune yelled back. "Don’t you feel it?"

"All I feel is seasick," Kat replied, her stomach lurching up and down in time with the waves.

Kat looked toward the stern and her father’s ice casket. To her horror, she saw how it lay at an angle instead of straight across the boat. One of the cleats tying down the block started to pull out of the top rail. She waved at Rune and pointed. "The ice is slipping!"

Rune and Nadia both looked back. Rune let go of the handhold. Kat knew he was going to try a spell to set it right. Another wave crashed against the boat. Rune lurched away from the bulkhead, banging his head and fell to the deck, pulling Nadia with him. He struggled to stand and grabbed the handhold again. He winced and held his hand to the side of his head, too stunned to continue his spell.

The boat slammed into another wave trough, and the block slipped a few more inches. Kat feared it would slide off the boat at any moment. She edged out of the wheelhouse and dropped to her hands and knees to avoid the worst of the wind.

Ivansi glanced in her direction. "No! Stay!" he shouted. She ignored him and continued to creep to the stern, water and wind lashing at her, holding the sides of the boat or anything else she could get a grip on.

"Don’t, Kat! You can’t do anything about it," Rune yelled. With both hands occupied keeping himself and Nadia upright, he was unable to stop her.

She looked back at her brother and saw the desperation in his eyes. "Got to try," she whispered, knowing the howling wind would whip away any words she spoke.

* * * * *
Midnight Oil / Available at
MuseItUp Publishing

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free ebook!


  1. Hey Marva! Hey Pat! Marva, I'm in the middle of Missing, Assumed Dead and loving it! You rock, girl.

  2. Hello fellow Muser. I just had my first tween mystery come out at Muse. Love the cover for your book, and you definitely have me intrigued.

    Lora Richards
    Dee Days Mysteries

  3. This series has an interesting premise. Sounds like a good book to read.

    HM Prévost

  4. I just love to see how Marva pops up everywhere on the internet. Great job! Another successful book.
    C.K. Volnek

  5. I enjoyed learning more about Marva and her writing. She's lots of fun and such a talented writer. Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

  6. Marva, I love how you mention that humor is essential in fantasy. I couldn't agree more. Nothing's as deadly to me as fantasy or science fiction that takes itself too seriously.

  7. Hey Marva! I'm a friend of Pat's, and I too am intrigued by Midnight Oil. Can I find your first book of the series on Muse It Up? I always like to start a series at the beginning, so I don't miss anything. Keep on crossing out all of the wrong words, seems like you're doing great!

    -Dave D.

  8. Thank you all for showing up here quicker than I did. There will be giveaways. I hope to contact evrybody by Monday since I'll be drawing the winners on Sunday.

    David: Yes, both of the books are at MuseItUp. For the giveaway, I will be offering the winners the choice of Bad Spelling (book 1) or Midnight Oil.

  9. Hi Marva,

    Since I have read and enjoyed both books and looking forward to the third, I'm hoping you write a continuation of the series. The characters in your books are so interesting, maybe we can have an offshoot of Rune, or Andy, or Kat's mom. Now there is story that I'd like to read.