Armageddon was a blast! Three days of wing flapping, crazy cosplay, weird storm troopers stalking me with menacing glares (Chewbacca was away in Christchurch, sadly) and keen readers popping by to say hi. Three days of talking non-stop (which wouldn’t surprise my friends — I love meeting new people). Three days of telling people about Riders of Fire and Quest, book 1 in the Sylvalla Chronicles. Three days of tired feet — concrete floors. Three days of fun! And a new book out, just in time for Armageddon.
Dragon Rift Launch
Dragon Rift was born in a flurry of activity, and arrived just in time to appear at Armageddon. Rift launched on Amazon a couple of days beforehand and shot up the charts, doing very well and hitting number one in new releases and sitting high in its categories. Meanwhile, on the ground at Armageddon, we had visitors snapping up the first three books in the Riders of Fire series and enjoying Quest and Prophecy, A.J Ponder’s first two books in The Sylvalla Chronicles.
Here are some fun shots, taken last month at Armageddon. Yes, there’s been a delay in posting these. I hope you enjoy them. You may even find yourself in here. If you like cosplay, let me know how your all-time favourite costume in the comments!
Winner – Armageddon Fantasy Prize Pack
Andrew Hodgkin of Wellington won our fantasy prize pack! He now has these books safely in his grip!
We enjoyed Armageddon and we hope you did too. Look out for us at GeyserCon in Rotorua on Queen’s Birthday weekend. No stall or stand, but we’ll have dragon costumes and lots of fun!
I’d like to announce the winner of the Name a Spider contest that I ran on Facebook back in March! I had meant to announce the results along time ago, but was neck-deep in edits for Dragon Rift, my latest book. Then I launched Dragon Rift at Armageddon, and life went crazy with Easter and visitors and running my writing business and publishing the NZ Youth Laureate Award winners, and suddenly… its’ May!
I mean, May? How did that happen?
The Challenge was:
I need a cool fantasy name for a venomous spider as big as a dinner plate. Any ideas?
What I’m looking for is a fantasy species name, so a fantasy name that shows it’s a huge, dangerous spider. i.e.: a species name – bitten by a/an xxx spider. This is for Dragon Rift, the 3rd book in Riders of Fire, a dragon rider medieval fantasy series… go for it! I’ll name you and call out your genius in my acknowledgements!!
You all came up with such fantastic names! Now I’ll have to write another novel full of awesome spider characters. That’s the problem with being a writer: thousands of book ideas and not enough time to write them all!
There were over 80 entries, so I had a lot of clever names to choose from.
The Winner :
Susan Minot: Gargantula 😊
Sue’s name is in the acknowledgements of Dragon Rift. As a bonus, I’ll send her a copy of the paperback. And although gargantulas are only mentioned once in Dragon Rift, I’m sure they’ll skitter across the pages of Dragon Strike, Riders of Fire book 4, due out later this year.
I loved everyone’s ideas. I was torn in a few different directions, but ultimately I wanted the species to sound big and venomous. Here are some of my favourite suggestions. Some made me laugh, some gave me the creeps, some were fascinating. See what you think:
Ava Fairhall: Mix and match with these: Shield crawler, or
colossal harvestman, or
disc spinner, or
Virginia Taylor: Michael
Bronwyn Norman: Venomous maxima, but people call it ‘Carol’
Natasha Kenyon: TEmperor
Zelda Tufue Dahya: Aracknidus Giganticus (Hail came up with that! He has been a Spiderman fan since he was 2yrs old)
Eric Corrington: Peteroid Parkernid
Ryan Mcfadden: a Ceramihumngi. I took the word for large and the start of the word Ceramic seen as as large as a dinner plate…
Tania Torea: Ingensaranea Literally two Latin words meaning huge spider Or Ragnoenorme
Peter Friend: Troll Hands – named after their supposed resemblance to those of mythical (or are they?) eight-fingered trolls, or so parents tell their children…
Nicky Curran: Zorboct.
Silvia Brown: Plato, means plate in Spanish and is the first thing that came to mind so I am sticking with it. Plus wasnt that the name of an Ancient Greek philosopher as well? A philosophical ceramic spider!!!
Martin Riesen: What kind of a name are you looking for? A pet? (Fred), More funny? (Spidermax). Medieval? Arachnia Tantus
Simon Voysey: Skitters
Meg Jolly: Empress Widow?
Jean E. Lane: The “Freakindead” spider.
Matt Whitaker Jeff. Or Dave.
Kevin Maclean: Tarantula morbidius…
Moya Bawden: Tantunab – Sanskrit
Gary Freedman: Puppy
Adam Roberts: Arachadonis. Spider with a six pack…
Adam Roberts: Arachadonis Rex. Front legs are too small to do anything useful…
Adam Roberts: Terran Chulla.
Eric Corrington: Aralob.
Deryn Pittar: Archnia gigantus
Wow, you made it to the end of that humongous list of scary spiders. Just for being brave, here’s a reward. Enjoy this fascinating video.
If the venomous spiders haven;t put you off Riders of Fire, feel free to pick up a copy here. Your next wild adventure is waiting.
It’s been a while since I received my Storylines Notable Book Awards for Ezaara and Dragon Hero — for excellence in young adult fiction. I was absolutely thrilled to be among such distinguished company with my roaring dragons! Although I posted on Facebook and told my readers about it in my Riders of Fire newsletter, I haven’t had the opportunity to update my blog for ages.
The awards ceremony took place in Auckland. As well as awarding Notable Book Awards to young adult authors, there were awards for picture books, junior fiction (middle-grade novels or chapter books), books in Te Reo Maori, and non-fiction.
On the way to the Notable Book Awards
I manged to snap a selfie while waiting for my minibus to the awards. In case you’re wondering, I don’t constantly change the colour of my hair. I do it twice a year (it takes hours) and it just fades to all sorts of shades in between.
I’m no good at selfies, but hey, everyone’s nose needs to look a little bigger, right? I heard that photo recognition software has been updated to take into account that selfies produce enormous noses!!
Young Adult Fiction
One of the highlights of being at the Storylines Margaret Mahy and National Awards Day was seeing many NZ authors I hadn’t caught up with for ages. Here’s a shot from the Storylines NZ website of the authors whose books won awards in the young adult category.
Mandy Hager (far right) won the Margaret Mahy Medal, and gave the keynote talk, which I loved. Mandy has so many New Zealand books awards that her pile must be taller than me. It was great to catch up with her and hear her views about writing for teens.
“This, to me, is the definition of a great book, words that implant themselves in the heart of the recipient and become a part of them. Stories with power — be that the power to move, to challenge, to console, to excite, to anger, to motivate, to laugh, to cry, or to really truly think.”
— Mandy Hager
Another highlight of the day was seeing the heart surgeon who operated on one of my tiny premature twins, saving my baby’s life back in 2001. Alan Kerr was there for the launch of his son-in-law’s book. We just happened to sit next to each other. I tell you, New Zealand is such a small place. Wherever you go, you end up knowing people.
To top off the evening, I went out to dinner with an old friend from my university days. It had been 20 years since I’d caught up with Grant Hand and we had fabulous time, laughing way too loud and sharing our sad and good memories with each other. It’s amazing how you can pick up with an old friend right where you left off, even after years.
My awards also featured in the last ever edition of The Wellingtonian. Thanks to journalist Jamie Adams for all his tireless work, covering community news for years, and for this final shout out, in his article Dragon Books Prove a Flaming Success.
My Readers are Orsum — Kiwi for Awesome!
Many of the authors on the Storylines Notable Books List have been published by large publishing houses — Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Walker Books, Allen & Unwin or Harper Collins — or by NZ medium-sized publishing houses such as Gecko Press, Upstart Press, Huia, Duck Creek Press or Potton & Burton, so I was thrilled that my books received awards and this level of national recognition.
Having said that, above any awards, I prize the emails I receive from my readers across the world who are touched by Riders of Fire and Ezaara’s adventures. Thank you for sharing your reading journey with me. Thanks for committing the time to enjoy my work. And thanks for letting me get to know you. It’s a privilege. You rock!
The Sir Julius Vogel awards shortlists came out while I was standing behind a stall at Armageddon flapping my dragon wings and chatting to readers about books. In the flurry of cosplay, book talk and oddly-garbed visitors popping by the stand, I nearly missed the announcement.
My friends were far too onto-it to let that happen.
They tagged me on social media, and after hours on my feet, as I got home, drooping and all talked out (yes, imagine that!), I saw the great news.
Here is the full shortlist for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards :
2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards – Finalists
PROFESSIONAL AWARD NOMINEES
The Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter (IFWG Publishing)
Restoration Dayby Deborah Makarios (Oi Makarioi)
Into the Sounds by Lee Murray (Severed Press)
Teeth of the Wolf by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
The Voyage of the White Cloud by M. Darusha Wehm (In Portentia Press)
Best Youth Novel
When Gina Pressed Enter by Elise De Silva (EDS Publishing)
Ezaara, Riders of Fire, Book 1 by Eileen Mueller (Phantom Feather Press)
Lutapolii – White Dragon of the South by Deryn Pittar (Junction Publishing)
Quest by A.J. Ponder (Phantom Feather Press)
The Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands
Best Novella / Novelette
Where the Sun Does Not Shine by Paul Mannering (Adrenaline Press)
Skin Deep by Violet Penrose (Griffon Press)
The Glassblower’s Peace by James Rowland (Published in Aurealis #114, September 2018)
The Martian Job by M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)
Best Short Story
“On the Run” by Kevin Berry in Te Korero Ahi K? (SpecFicNZ)
“Girls Who do not Drown” by A.C. Buchanan (Apex Magazine, December 2018)
“We Feed the Bears of Fire and Ice” by Octavia Cade (Strange Horizons)
“A Devoted Husband” by Melanie Harding-Shaw (Breach Zine)
“Dead End Town” by Lee Murray in Cthulu: Land of the Long White Cloud (IFWG Publishing)
Best Collected Work
The Fairies of Down Under and other Pakeha Fairy Tales by Geoff Allen (Makaro Press)
Te Korero Ahi Ka Edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton (SpecFicNZ)
80,000 Totally Secure Passwords that no Hacker Would Ever Guess by Simon Petrie
Cthulu: Land of the Long White Cloud Edited by Steve Proposch, Christopher Sequiera and Bryce Stevens. (IFWG Publishing)
Best Professional Artwork
Cover for Te Korero Ahi K?, Created by Evelyn Doyle (SpecFicNZ)
Cover for Quest, Created by Craig Phillips (Phantom Feather Press)
Cover for Capricious 9, Created by Laya Rose (Capricious)
Cover for The Baker Thief, Created by Laya Rose (The Kraken Collective)
Best Professional Production/Publication
Breach Magazine, volumes 5-9 Edited by Peter Kirk
New Orbit Magazine Edited by Naomi Moore (New Orbit Productions)
Writing from a Dark Place by Lee Murray (Victoria University Press)
Overgrown by Laya Rose
Info Text subtitles for Earthshock, on Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 19 Blu-ray Box Set (BBC, 2018) by Paul Scoones (BBC)
Black Archive #15 by John Toon (Obverse Books)
Best Dramatic Presentation
Wellington Paranormal, Directed by Jermaine Clement and Jackie van Beek (New Zealand Documentary Board)
Mortal Engines, Directed by Christian Rivers (Universal Pictures)
FAN AWARD NOMINEES
Best Fan Artwork
The Thirteenth Doctor by Laya Rose
Best Fan Production/ Publication
The Future According to Mikey (Curdled Milk Productions)
Star Trek in the Park – The Trouble with Tribbles (Enterprise Entertainment)
Phoenixine Edited by John and Lynelle Howell (Phoenix Science Fiction Society)
Special Award Nominees
Best New Talent
The Kingfisher’s Debt is Kura Carpenter’s debut novel and very cleverly set in an Urban Fantasy world overlaying (or underlying, depending on your perspective) Dunedin, New Zealand. The writing is crisp, the plot excellently designed and executed. The work, I believe, clearly shows a writer who has taken the writing process seriously, from conception to drafting, to re-drafting, and producing a book that fits neatly into the Urban Fantasy genre while also having a strong Kiwi flavour.
With her unique and empathetic perspectives on disability, sexuality, and the human condition, Saf Davidson has quickly cemented herself as one of the foremost upcoming New Zealand SFF writers. Her work on serials “Tourist” and “Mountain Sound” has garnered broad praise, and as an award-winning comics writer and editor of games, it’s clear that she refuses to be put in a box—whether creatively or professionally.
As Concealment’s publisher, I nominate and highly recommend this fast paced, action packed and gripping Sci-Fi novel. The below precis speaks for itself.
Our genes: will they be our hope or our undoing?
Three centuries from now humanity has made its last stand – a city high in the Swiss Alps, a place of safety and security from a deadly past. This is the reality of Nathanial Paquette’s life and it has been this way for the whole of his sheltered twenty-three years. But with a knock at the family’s apartment door everything changes. Now he must face an uncertain future and unexpected truth – he is genetically altered, and what really matters is what lies hidden within his blood.
Together with eleven others, Nathanial discovers not only does he have to navigate the competing agendas of the city’s ruling council and a man of science but survive the rigorous training he and his fellow recruits are faced with.
It’s a world where friendships are forged, enemies are made, and death awaits – ever wanting to become everyone’s new best friend.
This is the first book of a six-book saga, I promise you, you will be on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the end. The author quickly draws you into the characters’ lives and their world and moves the story along at pace. Using compelling language, this new author reels you into the narrative and leaves you wanting for more.
Deborah Makarios has produced a beautifully presented novel that is warm, laugh-out-loud funny, full of twists, and well-drawn characters. The fantasy has not only believable characters, but the land itself is a key character, possessing a magic of its own. She sticks to her genre, but the surprises are many along the way, and the ending is satisfyingly positive. Effortlessly woven into the fast-moving story, there are many current themes – the environment, justice, corporate greed and racism – even though the setting is old. I can’t wait to see what Makarios produces next.
The back-cover description of the novel is as follows:
“Princess Lily was born to be queen, but she leads a pawn’s existence in the shadow of her guardians’ control. She dreams of the day when she will take her rightful place in the world.
At last her chance arrives, with a quest for the three Requisites of Restoration Day, the royal rite which renews the life of the land. But she’s been hidden away too long, and Arcelia has changed.
Stripped of everything but the identity which has become a life-threatening liability, Lily will need to do more than cross the board if she is to emerge triumphant as the queen she knows she must be. The land she thought was hers becomes the field for a gripping game–and this time she’s playing for her life.”
Since writing and publishing her first novel (The Lady in the Coat) in 2017, Anna’s confidence of writing horror stories has been continually improving. She is a real enigma in the world of horror writing.
What astounds more than anything, is that Anna understands how the brain works; how we, as human beings cope/deal with fear, terror and paranoia.
After reading Deceptive Cadence, Anna’s collection of short stories, you will question the noises you hear as you drift off to sleep at night. Could there really be someone lurking outside you window, waiting?
And let’s not forget the monsters living in The Room at the End of the Hall. They cannot be real, can they?
You will seriously second guess yourself after you have read Deceptive Cadence. You will jump at every noise you hear.
Anna Ryan is an up and coming writer with imagination and writing skill to be a hugely successful horror writer
I am thrilled to announce that Ezaara and Dragon Hero, books 1 & 2 in my Riders of Fire series, have both been awarded a 2019 Storylines Notable Book Award in the young adult fiction category.
Needless to say, I’m over the moon. Ezaara and her dragons are roaring!
I’d like to thank everyone who has made this possible, including my wonderful teen beta readers, editors, critique partners, proofreaders, cover designer and the team at Phantom Feather Press. A big thank you to my readers, who have been sending me lovely emails, telling me how much they loved Ezaara and Dragon Hero. You are so encouraging and supportive. (And to answer your question: yes, I’m working on Dragon Rift!! Watch this space.)
Other titles listed in the Young Adult category include Take Flight by JL Pawley (Eunoia), Legacy by Whiti Hereaka (Huia), Flight of the Fantail by Steph Matuku (Huia), Ash Arising by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House), The Anger of Angels by Sheryl Jordan (Walker Book Australia), Catch Me When You Fall by Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House) and The Rift by Rachael Craw (Walker Books Australia).
The 2019 Storylines Children’s Literature Notable Book List comprises the highest quality New Zealand children’s’ books across four genres (published during 2018). The Notable Books List is compiled from more than 100 entries by expert panels of authors, teachers, librarians, academics and parents.
Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction (13 – 18 years)
Storylines Notable Non-fiction (age range from 3 years to 18 years)
Storylines Notable Te Reo Māori (original texts in Te Reo, any genre)
The Storylines annual list began in 1999 and provides a useful reading and purchasing guide to families, schools and libraries, and to young readers.
Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust promotes awareness of the importance of reading and books for all children and young adults; ensures children and young adults in New Zealand have access to high quality literature; and supports the writers and illustrators of literature for children and young adults in New Zealand.
I haven’t been active on my blog for a month because I’m writing Dragon Rift (book 3, Riders of Fire). Time and words here on my blog are words that aren’t happening in my new novel!
However, I do have some cool news to share.
Monday Morning Indie
I was recently interviewed on Monday Morning Indie, Connie Huddleston’s blog. Connie also reviewed Ezaara, which was very kind of her.
“Ezaara from Eileen Mueller’s Riders of Fire series is an excellent beginning for a fantasy [series] revolving around dragons. I found the characters to be well developed, diverse, and interesting. “
In this interview, among other things, I reveal one of Kierion’s secrets. Kierion helped Roberto out in Ezaara, but has a much larger role to play in Dragon Rift. Find out a little more about him here.
Stay tuned via my newsletter to find out how Kierion’s story unfolds in Dragon Rift.
My short story, One for the Money, has been published in Midnight Echo, issue 13, The Australian Horror Writers Magazine.
Although not pure horror, One for the Money is a lot darker than my usual fiction. Midnight Echo also contains horror content, so if you like your fiction dark, you may enjoy this, otherwise, run screaming!
One for the Money
Although the charismatic Simon Jones makes macabre dares, he pays big money, so, desperate, Tessa agrees to stay overnight in The Grotesquerie, his collection of creepy animal statues.
Simon suspects he’s found another hapless victim for The Grotesquerie, but unbeknown to him, Tessa has hidden talents…
Featuring fiction, non-fiction and poetry by:
Natalie J Potts
Issue 13 is guest edited by Paul Mannering, with co-editors Helen Stubbs and Isobel Blackthorn, through the AHWA Mentorship Program.
The issue also includes the winning stories from the AHWA Short and Flash Fiction competition 2017 by Chrisi Reardon and Xanthe Knox.
You’ll love these free dragon books. There are dragons galore! Dragon-shifters, dragon riders, sea dragons, a bronze dragon and even dragon sagas! Sword and sorcery, epic high fantasy and much more.
All books are free, or free on Kindle Unlimited, or only 99 cents. But be quick, this offer ends on 15 January! If you love dragons, you’ll be in reading paradise! I hope you enjoy these stories. I have them all loaded on my e-reader for summer reading! But whatever the weather, you’ll be set to go – on dragonback, of course!
Eddie Baird must capture the legendary Tatzelwurm for his grandfather’s cryptid sanctuary.
But two things could stop him.
Gabi, the remarkable Swiss girl who has befriended the acid-spitting creature.
And an evil presence in the alps…
Read FREE online. Part 1 and Part 2Warning: This story gets quite gets dark in places. Not for kids or the faint-hearted.
If you enjoy The Taztzelwurm, please ‘like’ to shoot the story up the lists in the Tapas community. Thank you.
The Tatzelwurm is dedicated to Gabi Bachofen.
A big shout out to Danny Richards and his cryptid series, Monstrous – Cryptozoological Tales, part of Adrenaline Shots comics. I’m proud to join the line up of great authors being published in this venue.
I was recently commissioned to write short story about a legendary creature for the Monstrous online anthology. Having lived in Switzerland, guess what I chose?
Yes, there is a legendary alpine dragon, the Tatzelwurm.
The Tatzelwurm is a legendary creature with a cat-like head, two clawed front limbs and a serpentine body.
It was first reported in the Swiss Alps in 1779 by Hans Fuchs, who saw two of them and died of a heat attack shortly after describing the beasts. Many more Swiss have seen it since. However, there have been no confirmed modern sightings, leading to conjecture that the animal is extinct or never existed. See an interesting Tatzelwurm video here.
Note: I took a few liberties, so my Tatzelwurm may have wings!
Although Tatzelwurm sightings were reported in various places in Switzerland and Austria, I decided to set my story on the Speer, an alp in St Gallen.
When I first travelled to Switzerland, my friends Gabi, Marco and Polo took me up the Speer. We drove up from Ebnat-Kappel, and then walked part of the way up to have goat’s cheese and fine bread with Ferdi, the Alper (the man who took care of the cows on the alp for summer).
On another ocassion, Gabi, her sister, Sandra, and I climbed from the other side of the alp, up a treacherous slope.
Nowadays people wear helmets and take climbing gear. Back then, we scaled the cliff in shorts and T-shirts, with only a steel cable in hand, and didn’t dare look down the dizzying drop until we got to the top!
The final scene of the story is set on the steep slope of the sunlit left end.
Thanks again to Danny Richards for giving me an opportunity to relive a fantastic phase of my life and venture into the Swiss Alps again, via this story. I hope you enjoy The Tatzelwurm. Please like the post on Tapas (log in via Facebook to like).
Content – Dark Themes
Please be aware that although the overall tone of this story is quite upbeat, there is a dark scene near the end. Be warned that I do like happy endings, though.
If you’d like to read all the episodes on Monstrous – Cryptozoological Tales, a couple of my favourites are Lee Murray’s Baird’s Legacy and A J Ponder’s The Forgotten World. The others are great too, but some are written by horror writers, so read at your own risk! (If you love horror, you’ll be in your element). You can access them all from the left sidebar, near my story. Use the slider to select a story. Happy reading.