Friday, February 28, 2014

Dawnflight to appear in the Eggcerpt Exchange

My novel Dawnflight will be featured in the promotional brainchild of Author Tina Gayle, the "Eggcerpt Exchange!"

About Dawnflight:
Gyan is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien, a son of her clan’s deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon’s conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything...perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.

Roman by his father, Brytoni by his mother, and denied hereditary rulership of his clan because of his mixed blood, Arthur is the supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness...most of the time.

When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul’s mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan’s ancient right to marry any man—but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur’s greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied. If Gyan and Arthur cannot prevent Urien from plunging the Caledonians and Brytons back into war, their love will be doomed to remain unfulfilled forever.


Gyan let Arthur initiate the attack. While advancing to meet the blow, she stumbled, fell, and rolled to her stomach. As expected, he quickly moved in to claim the victory. The crowd cheered. But before she could feel the prickle of his sword on her neck, she twisted aside and hooked his legs with hers. Luck favored her; with a startled yelp, and equally startled noises from their audience, he went down. She scrambled to her feet and pinned him under the point of her sword. Amid the overall roar of disappointment, she could pick out phrases like “Trickery!” and “Not fair!” But the taunts didn’t bother her; victory had never tasted sweeter! Her only regret was that Ogryvan and Per and the rest of her clan couldn’t savor it with her.

Studying Arthur for a reaction, her grin soured. For several seconds, he stared at the sky as though stunned; whether physically or mentally, she couldn’t tell. Her concern rose as she wondered if she had injured him. Finally, he shook his head and attempted to sit up, but her sword barred his way.

“I concede the match, Chieftainess.” He released his sword and waved his open hand. “I won’t try anything unique. You have my word. Thank God my enemies aren’t half as devious as you are.” His grin could have stopped the sun in its course…and it was having an arresting effect on Gyan’s heart as well. “But I wouldn’t advise using that move in battle. Much too risky.”

“Oh. Yes, I—I know.” Chiding herself for how silly she must sound, she sheathed her sword and thrust out her hand. He tugged off his gloves and accepted her unspoken offer, gripped her forearm, and hauled himself up.

Pain stabbing her arm forced a strangled gasp from her throat. He shifted his grip to her hand and gently turned her arm to expose the underside. A long cut lay perilously close to one of the veins, seeping blood. He traced the vein lightly with a fingertip.

“When did I do this?” His voice was a hoarse whisper.

Staring at the cut, she wondered the same thing. Probably during their initial clash, though she really had no idea. She shrugged. Even that motion made her wince.

“Chieftainess, I didn’t mean to—” A stricken look shattered his bearing. He squeezed her hand. “God in heaven, Gyanhumara, I am so sorry.”

She wanted to reassure him that she’d be all right; the wound looked clean and wasn’t much deeper than a scratch. In fact, it was the least of her concerns. Enchanted by the sound of her name on his lips and mesmerized by his gaze, she felt the world seem to collapse to just the two of them. His face hovered over hers, his lips a handspan away. The warmth of his nearness had an intoxicating effect. She was acutely conscious of the tugging of her heart, as though it was trying to pull her closer to him. It wasn’t an unwelcome idea.

Until March 20th, enter the Goodreads giveaway for 1 of 10 signed print copies of Dawnflight:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dawnflight by Kim Headlee


by Kim Headlee

Giveaway ends March 20, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The fine art of character naming

What's in a name?

Names are crucially important because of the ancient implication that if you can name a thing, you possess power over that thing. Hence the biblical implication of stewardship over the animal kingdom when God gave Adam the power to name all the animals—and why God never reveals His name to us mere mortals but goes most commonly by a word that translates as "I am." (end of Name Theology 101 :)

The meaning of a name is also crucially important to the person or fictional character because it defines that person. This is why you very rarely see, for example, a research scientist named Bunny or a stripper named Gertrude.

Much of my fiction is based in early medieval (used to be known as "Dark Ages") Scotland & northern Britain, so my characters have Scottish Gaelic, Brythonic Welsh, or sometimes Latin names. I needed to know what they meant, and decades ago I stumbled across a very interesting web site called Kabalarian Philosophy. Among other things, they offer name analysis -- and if the name you need isn't in their database, you can still request that it be added.

The primary character in my Arthurian Legends series is Gyanhumara (Guinevere), and her Kabalarian name analysis goes like this:

—Begin Kabalarian "Gyanhumara" name analysis—
  • Your name of Gyanhumara has created a practical, responsible, stable nature, and you desire to direct the efforts of others rather than to take order or ask permission.
  • You have a determined, self-reliant, capable nature and resent any interference, although in your desire to help you are inclined to become involved in the lives and decisions of other people.
  • You like to make your own decisions and to be the master of your domain.
  • You feel a limitation in your own expression when it is necessary to reach another through tact and understanding.
  • Although you are honest and fair, a directness in speech is a source of much consternation to you, and you often regret what you say.
  • You also have a tendency to worry.
  • It causes you to be too serious, and interferes with happiness and relaxation that comes with naturalness of expression.
  • Health weaknesses centre in the head appearing as headaches, head colds, and eye, teeth, ear, or sinus problems.
—end report—

Compare this with "Guinevere" (I would have been including links for brevity, but that's not how their system works these days) and you can see why I needed to invent a new name for my kick-@ss character! (Which I had done in =1988=, long before that web site was a gleam in anyone's eye, btw.)

—Begin Kabalarian "Guinevere" name analysis—
  • Your name of Guinevere creates a very sensitive, inspirational, and idealistic nature.
  • You have an appreciation for all the fine and beautiful things in life, and could excel in music, art, drama, or literary undertakings, where you could find an expression for your deeper feelings that you would not find otherwise.
  • As a result of your love of the out-of-doors, you would experience the most peace and harmony out in the quiet of nature.
  • Your sensitive nature causes you to lack self-confidence, and to withdraw from arguments or turmoil, as any discord reflects quickly through your nervous system.
  • You cannot stand pressure and desire to work where there is no confusion.
  • This name restricts proper verbal expression; as a result, you are often lonely, craving understanding of others.
  • Yours is a very deep, reflective nature, but others would never know it as you keep your deeper feelings within.
  • Tension resulting from the use of this name would affect the heart, lungs, and respiratory organs, or the nervous system.
—end report—

You can see what a great resource this is for writers! The other tool I use to help define my characters is their Western Zodiac sun-sign. The late Linda Goodman wrote two excellent books titled Sun Signs (goes into the characteristics common to the various signs) and Love Signs (goes over all the various Zodiac pairings and how their relationships benefit & suffer as a result). For example, the most powerful combination is the Scorpio-Scorpio -- when their relationship is hitting on all cylinders, they have the potential to conquer the world together. My Gyanhumara was already a Scorpio (Oct 31), but reading Love Signs convinced me that my Arthur also needed to be a Scorpio (Nov 14 and the feast day of Saint Dubric, who corresponds to my Merlin character). And so forth.

Happy naming! :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TurboTax 2013 Installation Error 1603 Demystified

Today's post is a public-service announcement for owners of older computers upon which they are trying—and failing—to install TurboTax 2013 software.

My household boasts several computers, the oldest being an XP desktop model that I have used for running TurboTax pretty much since XP became a stable operating system, well before the days when Vista became a gleam in anyone's eye. This is the computer that gets exposed to the Internet the least, and therefore it's my go-to choice for having to deactivate the antivirus software just to get other programs like TurboTax to install.

Understand that I have been running TurboTax far more than usual lately, because my late father-in-law left the legacy of three years' worth of unfiled income taxes to have to square away. So perhaps my nerves are a bit more raw than usual in this regard. In any case, I was not pleased to see "Windows Installer Error 1603" while attempting to install the 2013 edition of TurboTax for Business, since the filing deadline of 17 March for my S Corporation was looming. This error happened not once but twice—the first time I hadn't shut down the antivirus software as I should have done—and it entailed an inordinate amount of wasted time as TurboTax rolled back the installation.

After giving myself a day to simmer down, I found the following link via Intuit's virtual help center: Error 1603 fix. Steps and links to the various patches are listed there if you need them. But wait, there's more.

I have been programming computers since the days of toggle switches (four decades at least), and when Step #1 directed me to a site for downloading a European Union FONT extension for an OS-level fix, I said, "Wait. What??" But it was a Microsoft site so I clicked the "Download" button... and got a page that read only "Bad Request" in letters so tiny they seemed apologetic. As well they should have been.

Hoping for the best anyway, I followed the instructions in Step # 2—which seem daunting but in actuality are very straightforward, and I downloaded & installed the Business patch. 

Four decades of computer programming have taught me to hate having to watch an installation "thumbsucker" bar with my heart in my mouth, and it certainly kept leaping there even after it passed the dreaded 31% mark, the point at which the installation had failed twice before—it ground to a near halt at 51% and again at 74% before the TurboTax and Windows gods deigned to smile upon my efforts.

The bottom line: Don't bother with Step #1, which doesn't work.

The only question remains whether I need to install the patch for TurboTax Deluxe when I get ready to compile the tax records for my household and my father-in-law's estate. If I'm feeling brave that day, I may just try to install it without taking that step. I will let you know what happens either way.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy February & Valentine's Day from The Dawnflier!

Happy Valentine's Day! May it be filled with love and happiness for you and everyone you hold dear.
Congratulations to Sherri W (already notified), who won an ebook copy of Dawnflight for her Nook from Barnes & Noble! All my books are available on most platforms, as well as in print, and reviews are always welcome.
Please wish me luck in the contests I have entered! Morning’s Journey has been entered in the “Novel with Strong Romantic Elements” category of the HOLT Medallion contest, wherein my 2006 novel Liberty (HQN Books, writing as Kimberly Iverson) was a 2007 finalist. Winners will be announced 14 June. I’ve also got three entries in a contest for unpublished works…and I need to get busy on my own judging packets, due later this month!
To learn more about Morning’s Journey, I have an awesome new book trailer which may be viewed here. It runs like a movie trailer and features a voiceover track by the narrator of The Color of Vengeance, a short story excerpted from Morning’s Journey that’s available as an audiobook and Kindle Select ebook. The first three of you to reply to this blog post will win a coupon code for 50% off the retail price of the Morning’s Journey print edition on! That’s wholesale pricing for this great addition to your library.
Thanks for your shares, likes, tweets & comments, and I hope you have a fantastic February!
Stories make us greater,
Kim Headlee, Author