Studies in Phrenology and Obscure Languages

Lita takes Gentle Reader to the Clockpunk Wizard world today, with an excerpt from Ephraim’s Curious Device.

Young Wizard Kadmeion, and his half-elf assistant Sir Bright, have received a coded map. They must read the bespelled map, follow the decoded clues to a magical thingummy made by Wizard Ephraim, and return the device to Lord Hissalumieon.

They Put the Fragile Parchment on the Table
They Put the Fragile Parchment on the Table

They put the fragile parchment on the table. Bright did not recognize the diagram’s writing, but Kadmeion did. The wizard requested a reference book. Bright fetched the volume from Kadmeion’s library and opened it to the indicated page.

“Good and bad news,” Kadmeion said.

“Do tell.”

“It is written in an obscure magical language, but I can translate the map.”

“That’s encouraging. What is the bad news?”

“The map will take time to translate properly.”

“That’s no problem. What do you need?”

“A paper and writing quill for you to write the translation.”

“Why can’t you write it?”

Wizard Ephraim Bespelled the Map
Wizard Ephraim Bespelled the Map

“Ephraim bespelled the map so it couldn’t be copied,” Kadmeion said. “Then he used a bewitched alphabet so the reader would forget the words. So I’ll translate the letters, and you write them. Then we’ll read the message from your paper.”

“So you’re going to read a map that cannot be copied, and I’ll write your translation for the alphabet that cannot be remembered.”

“That’s correct.”

“Do they teach wizards to be this sneaky at the University?”

Phrenology is the Art of Measuring the Skull’s Dimensions
Phrenology is the Art of Measuring the Skull’s Dimensions

“Absolutely. It’s an upperclassman course called ‘Studies in Phrenology and Obscure Languages.’”

“Phrenology is the art of measuring the skull’s dimensions?” Bright asked.

“I’m impressed you knew that.”

“What do head sizes have to do with writing unclearly?”

“Not much. That was the intent.”

“What was the classwork like?” Bright asked.

“We learned the seven traditional ways to make written words unclear.”

“Seven? That many? Which was the most effective?”

The Spell Seals the Lips of the One Casting It
The Spell Seals the Lips of the One Casting It

“Poor grammar skills.”

Bright blinked. “Profound. I’m surprised this wasn’t a graduate class.”

“Another of the techniques was to make contradictory spells.”

“For example?”

“A spell that must be sung aloud, but it seals the lips of the one casting it.”

“How would you weave that spell?”

“That’s why wizard assistants are so useful. I would think loudly so you could hear me, and have you cast the spell in my stead.”

(Ephraim’s Curious Device excerpt Copyright 2012 by Lita Burke. All rights reserved.)

Ephraim’s Curious Device on Amazon US

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Ephraim’s Curious Device on Goodreads

Bestiarum Vocabulum: Goon

The Bestiarum Vocabulum is the wizard’s encyclopedia of faerie beasties and mundane crossovers living in the lake and forest near Lita’s castle.


goon [gün] noun, c.1580; < L  gonia < Gr  goneia and gon(e) meaning “that which is borne”; from gony “simpleton” used by sailors for the albatross and similar large birds with clumsy movements; 1921 stupid person; 1938 hired thug; also demon oaf

  1. Denizen of the Clockpunk Wizard world.
  2. Summoning goon demons is the easiest of the Demon Sciences magical discipline. Goon automatons are loyal, and make practical bodyguards. The cost of hiring a wizard to build a goon body, and call its demon, is prohibitive for all but the wealthy or political elite. There are two types of goons:
    • The classic goon is a homunculus made from animal parts. An unintelligent, but biddable minor demon animates the creature’s body. Because animal heads do not have the physical parts to produce human speech, the summoning wizard must add a durable enchantment that allows the inhabiting demon to talk.
    • Wizards grow modern goon bodies in crockery vats. These large creatures have slow-moving human forms. Although the vat-grown body improves the modern goon’s appearance, the inhabiting demons are the same type as in the classic version.
  3. Personages: Lord Hissalumieon’s goons Martook, Cess, Hoytt, and Messen in Ephraim’s Curious Device.
  4. See “Dramatis Personæ: Kadmeion” for the biography of a university-trained wizard who holds a Doctorate of Wizardry in the Demon Sciences.

Review: The Bell Tower Suite

Friends Dared Him to Spend a Night in the Bell Tower Suite
Friends Dared Him to Spend a Night in the Bell Tower Suite

The Bell Tower Suite by James Field is a paranormal short story about a retired army officer who takes a dare and spends a ghost-filled night in a haunted house.

Retired Colonel Mortimer pays a visit to Sibyl. She is the housekeeper of a mansion that has a ghostly reputation. Two security guards, Alf and Bert, live in the nearby guardhouse.

His friends at the club dared the colonel to spend a night in the Bell Tower Suite. The colonel’s grandfather was a judge who stayed in the suite, and met his unfortunate end there by a revengeful convict. The no-nonsense Sibyl changes the bed linens, and instructs Alf and Bert to lock the colonel in the bell tower suite for the night.

Retired Colonel Mortimer Pays a Visit
Retired Colonel Mortimer Pays a Visit

During a nasty thunderstorm at midnight, the ghosts walk. The outcome is nothing like the four of them expected.

The Bell Tower Suite is a delightful little story that paints vivid characters in a short time. It tells a spooky story within a story, and wraps it together in a gothic-fused package.

James Field uses an expert touch and mixes in fun surprises concerning a cellar rat, and the security guards’ practical jokes. Gentle Readers who love gothic ghost stories would enjoy The Bell Tower Suite. This story is best read at night with a thunderstorm crashing outside. Be sure to lock the door, and watch out for the cellar rat.

The Bell Tower Suite on Amazon US

The Bell Tower Suite on Amazon UK

The Bell Tower Suite on Goodreads

James Field on Goodreads

James Field website

Praised by BookViral: Lita Burke’s Forever Boy

BookViral recently read Lita’s fantasy short story, Forever Boy, and spotlighted it with a lovely review.

A dog befriends a wizard
A dog befriends a wizard

In Forever Boy, a dog flees his cruel master, befriends a wizard, and discovers his shapeshifting magic.

It is the first story in Lita’s Clockpunk Wizard series, where wizards with ~twisty~ magic live on a plate-shaped ocean world. The wizards fly their fantastic airships between islands that float far above the sea.

An ode to the best in genre, this is one series you won’t want to miss and it is recommended without reservation. — BookViral

Book Viral discovers the next bestsellers, and they value discerning readers. BookViral spotlights authors who bring readers the most entertaining stories. Here is what the BookViral reviewer had to say about Forever Boy:

BookViral Spotlight on Forever Boy by Lita Burke

“A world beyond the familiar with curiosities and marvels that ensnare with intrigue from the very first page.

Yes, you will find the usual tropes, yet they feel surprisingly fresh and original. In part this is down to Burke’s acerbic prose, but the real treasure in this tale is…” read more of the BookViral review.

Forever Boy on Amazon US/UK, for Nook, and Kobo

Read Chapter 1 FREE

Check out the back cover blurb

View the book trailer

See the Forever Boy homepage

Read the BookViral review

Bestiarum Vocabulum: Will-o’-the-Wisp

The Bestiarum Vocabulum is the wizard’s encyclopedia of faerie beasties and mundane crossovers living in the lake and forest near Lita’s castle.


will-o’-the-wisp [wil ə ðə ˈwisp] noun, c.1660; means “Will of the wisp” from the masculine proper name William + wisp, a bundle of straw used as a torch; also will-o-wisp, foolish fire, chir batti, hinkypunk, pixy-light, corpse light.

  1. Denizen of the Clockpunk Wizard world.
  2. A malicious sentient magical creature that lives in fens and marshes. It consolidates the rotting magic from decaying plant and animal matter, and burns the fouled magic with a weak light. It craves living flesh, and a group of will-o’-the-wisps can strip a living animal to the bone within minutes. Wizards and sorceresses can counter a will-o’-the-wisp’s appetite by giving it a small metal object soaked with human magic.
  3. Personages: The hungry sisters in the Murphy (“Wrong”) Swamp on Hurt Isle in Ephraim’s Curious Device.
  4. See “Will o’ the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 1)” and “Will o’ the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 2)

Find Fantasy Here at the Bazaar

A Dark Busker Twirls Her Skirt
A Dark Busker Twirls Her Skirt

Lita takes Gentle Reader to the bazaar today. Come, let us find the booths with the fantasy books.

The bazaar is a mysterious place, stuffed with wonders for the senses. Over there, a dark busker twirls her skirt until it turns into black butterflies that smell like sage. Listen to the muddled music. Some songs are lilting whistles, and they flit about like wrens. Other earthy tunes thrum with drums–feel them throb in your gut? Food vendors perfume the air with aromas of cinnamon bread, creamy vanilla candies, and grilled meat spiced with peppers. Let us sample some of the rich fare.

Authors' Cave Favorite Fantasy Books
Authors’ Cave Favorite Fantasy Books

Hear the bazaar’s vendors call to us using sing-song voices? Book fanciers say that the magical tomes are in the back, over there. Shall we step into this shaded booth? Mind the low awning. Here, Lita will hold it aside while you duck your head and go in. Look. Fantasy books–Lita’s favorite–are stacked everywhere. The Authors’ Cave proprietor says:

“Just finished the latest book from your favorite author? We know how it feels! We’re readers, too! And the sad part is, it might be a year, or even two, before the next release…you wander aimlessly, trying to figure out what to read next.”

Authors’ Cave shares some fantastic books that have become all-time favorites to its members. Read more from Authors’ Cave…

It won’t hurt a thing to take a peek. Lift the covers of these enchanting fantasy books at the Authors’ Cave booth, breathe deep their magical glue-and-paper aroma, and glimpse the wonders inside:

Division of the Marked by March McCarron
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


The Forest Bull by Terry Maggert
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Hero for Hire by C. B. Pratt
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Forever Boy by Lita Burke
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Scepter by Scott Collins
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


A Demon’s Quest by Charles Carfagno Jr.
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Children of Fire by Mary Fonvielle
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Trials of Hallion, Two of Swords by Maria Greene
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Souls of the Never by Colin Rutherford
At Amazon US/UK and on Goodreads


Review: Chaysing Memories

Chaysing Memories by Jalpa Williby is a YA romance about Tess, a twenty-something young woman who struggles to overcome amnesia about a mysterious man.

Tess is Training for an Elite Military Group
Tess is Training for an Elite Military Group

Tess has moved on after suffering from an incident that caused a 3-week blank spot in her memories. She has always been gifted with exceptional intelligence, athletic ability, and attractiveness. Although her parents recently died, she has the support of two life-long friends, a loving dog who is not what she appears, and a beloved aunt.

Tess’s exceptional abilities have started her on dual careers: becoming a physician like her parents, and training for an elite military group. Despite this exciting future, she has distressing dreams about a gray-eyed man. Then during an encounter that is no fluke, she sees this man during her military training. His name is Chayse. Dangerous men hunt him, and they will stop at nothing to recruit Chayse for their shadowy team. Tess is convinced that gray-eyed Chayse is the key to her amnesia, and perhaps the lost key to her heart.

Watch Out for Chayse’s Alluring Gray Eyes
Watch Out for Chayse’s Alluring Gray Eyes

Chaysing Memories is the second book in the series about Tess, her hazardous life, and her romantic swirl around Chayse. This second story gives us a matured Tess who still has her headstrong ways.

Author Jalpa Williby uses a deft hand to flesh out Tess’s friends, and makes them an excellent catalyst for Tess to look outside herself. Chayse is just as alluring and delicious as in the first book of the series.

The plot for Chaysing Memories twists and turns into a satisfying climax, and delivers a shocker of an ending. Gentle Readers who enjoy YA romance mixed with spicy allure would enjoy Chaysing Memories. Just watch out for Chayse’s alluring gray eyes–they will haunt your dreams.

Chaysing Memories on Amazon US

Chaysing Memories on Amazon UK

Chaysing Memories on Goodreads

Jalpa Williby on Goodreads


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