In Lush Valley, it’s a crime to even talk about dragons…
When Ezaara meets Zaarusha the Dragon Queen, she’s swept up in a blaze of emotion and they imprint, forming a deep bond. But she must give up her home, her family and everything she knows to become the new Queen’s Rider. Ignorant and unprepared, how can she possibly succeed?
Luckily, she has a dragon master — although rumors say that with help like his, maybe she’d be better off with the enemy.
Plunged into a world of cutthroat politics and traitors in every shadow, who can Ezaara trust as Commander Zens and his army of bestial tharuks march closer, destroying villages and enslaving the people of Dragons’ Realm?
What personal price must Ezaara and her Dragon Master pay to save their people?
The special price of 99 cents is only valid until 18 October 2018. Afterwards, Ezaara will be listed at $US 3.99. Click this linkto start your dragon riding adventure!
Then scroll down to get my free short story, Silver Dragon.
Ezaara has been a long time coming.
Nine years ago, I decided to write a book. When I began, the only thing I could see was the edge of a dragon’s multicolored wingtip. So I had to start asking questions.
Who does the wingtip belong to?
A dragon, Zaarusha, the Queen of Dragons’ Realm.
Who is seeing the wingtip?
A teenage girl, Ezaara, who isn’t even sure if dragons exist.
Where is she?
In a clearing in a forest.
What happens next?
She imprints with the dragon, forming a deep and everlasting bond. Ezaara is ripped out of her life in the sleepy backwater of Lush Valley, where it’s a crime to even talk about dragons, and plunged into a world of danger, deception and adventure.
Why does the dragon choose her?
Her mother has a dark and terrible secret that she’s hidden from Ezaara and her twin brother, Tomaaz. A secret that defines who they are. A secret that rips their family apart, throwing them into the jaws of malevolent enemies.
This story is brought to you compliments of the Summer Blog Hop. Feel free to visit the links at the bottom of this page and enjoy stories from many other authors.
If you like Suds and Scales, there are more of my fun dragon stories for kids in Dragon Tales.
Suds and Scales
“Get in that bath,” Mom insisted. “You’re dirtier than a worm in a mud puddle and smellier than dad’s gym shoes.”
I stomped into the bathroom and slammed the door. What was wrong with a bit of dirt? It was all natural, no additives and definitely no refined sugar – another thing Mom was always going on about. I was only going to get dirty again tomorrow.
Peeling off my sweaty socks, I tucked them in the cabinet behind the shampoo, instead of in the hamper. Hopefully Mom wouldn’t sniff them out – I only had one pair of socks in my team’s color and I needed them for my football game tomorrow.
Mom rapped on the door. “I can’t hear the water running.”
Sighing, I turned on the faucet.
“Use soap,” she called. “No cheating.”
I tipped some liquid soap into the bath. Soap was evil, but if I had to use it, I might as well have bubbles. When the water was deep and sudsy, I dumped my clothes on the floor and got in. Wrinkling my nose at the floral stench, I looked down. There were so many bubbles, I looked like a corpse-less ghost, or an alien with froth for a body.
“It’s not fair,” I moaned. “Why should I have to wash every day?”
The toilet seat clunked.
I turned so fast, a mini tsunami sloshed onto the floor.
Nothing was there – except the clothes I’d dropped and the water I’d spilt. Nothing that could’ve made the toilet clunk. And now my underpants were swimming happily in the aftermath of my tidal wave.
I lifted my right knee above the water and scrubbed it with the washcloth.
I whirled back. Oops, another flood.
Before my eyes, a long claw slid between the toilet seat and lid.
My heart thudded, like I was running for goal.
Two more claws reached over the edge. A scaly limb slithered out and flung the lid open with a crash. Another taloned limb grasped the seat. With a grunt, a dripping head emerged from the toilet!
“Whoa!” I yelled, as a little dragon clambered out and perched on the seat. It was green with baby-blue eyes and had an odd crest sticking up on its head. Luckily I had lots of bubbles or that dragon would have seen too much.
“I heard you yell,” called Mom. “What’s going on in there?”
Mom would really flip out if she saw this little guy. “Ah… I dropped the soap. That’s all.”
The dragon shook itself like a dog, spraying droplets everywhere. Dribbles splattered the mirror, ran down the walls, and landed on the towels. Yuck! Germy toilet water was all over the place. I eyed my towel on the rail. I’d have to remember to get myself a fresh one.
“What are you doing?” the dragon’s voice was tiny.
Had I heard right? Had it really spoken? “W-what did you say?”
“What are you doing? Is it fun?”
“Well, I’m getting clean, and no, it’s not fun. I hate it.”
“What’s that foamy white stuff? Does it taste good?”
“Depends if you like roses.” I picked up a handful of bubbles and blew them over the floor.
“I don’t know if I like roses.” The dragon leapt off the toilet, pouncing on the foam, its talons slithering across the slippery tiles. Its feet got tangled in my clothes, sending it tumbling. My undies flew up in the air and, as the little critter sat up, landed on its head. What a sight: baby-blue eyes peeping through the leg-hole of my dripping undies, its wee dragon body covered in soap suds.
“That was fun,” the dragon said, and leapt into my bath, the undies floating away.
“Aagh!” I jumped out, skidding on the floor, and landed in the mess. “No way, little guy. You’re dirty! You’ve been swimming in the grubby toilet.” I snatched my towel to cover my private parts, then realized, too late, that my towel was damp – with toilet water!
Rummaging in the cupboard, I dropped the filthy towel and tugged a fresh one around me.
The dragon was diving in the bath and thrashing among the soap suds, flinging bubbles around the room with its tail. “Can we play together? Are you coming back in?”
“But you’ve been in the toilet.”
It cocked its head. “Did you want to swim in the toilet too? There’s no foam, you won’t fit very well and the water’s colder. I like this warm water much better.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. The toilet is germy, so you’re dirty. You really need to wash.”
“Dirty? What’s that?”
“It means… never mind. You have fun in there for a few minutes.” I had to get the smelly toilet germs off me. I couldn’t get sick and let my team down tomorrow. Turning on the shower, I got in. Luckily the glass was frosted, so the dragon didn’t have a million-dollar view of me. I grabbed the soap and lathered it all over my body, scrubbing hard with a washcloth to make sure those germs were gone.
A small voice piped up, in the air above me. “Why is it raining inside?” The flying dragon tilted its head to stare at the ceiling. “There are no clouds in here.”
Except the thunder cloud over my head. How dare that pesky dragon peep while I was showering? The lathered soap protected me from view, but I used the washcloth too, just in case.
The dragon spied the shampoo bottle and bit it, squirting shampoo all over the shower walls.
“Hey!” I squealed.
“Sorry,” it yelped, and flew out of the shower, diving into the bath . A huge plume of water shot up, splashing the floor. Not again. There was enough water out there for an Olympic swimming event. Even enough to wash a dirty football team.
I scraped dribbles of pearly shampoo off the glass, collecting them in my palm. What a waste! Might as well use it. Mom would go nuts if all the shampoo was gone and I still had dirty hair.
In the middle of working the shampoo into my hair, those baby-blue eyes peeped over the top of the glass again.
“Would you wash my crest too?”
“Sure, in a minute.” That little dragon needed a thorough scrub all over to get rid of those poo-ey germs.
Mom knocked at the door. “Are you going to be much longer?”
The dragon dive-bombed the bath, splashing the walls and soaking the other towels on the rail.
“Are you using the shower and the bath at the same time?” Mom sounded way too curious.
I had to think fast. “I was so dirty, I need to shower and bath today.”
“At the same time?”
“Um… yeah. I’m scrubbing myself in the bath then rinsing in the shower.”
“Okay.” She sounded doubtful. “Remember to wash your hair.”
“Already done,” I called.
“Fantastic!” She sounded surprised. “But not too much longer, I still need some hot water for my shower.”
I breathed a sigh of relief as Mom’s footsteps went back down the hall. Drying myself, I pulled on clean underwear, shorts and a T-shirt from a hook on the back of the bathroom door. Luckily they were still dry.
But not for long. The dragon’s next splash soaked me from head to foot – with its filthy bathwater.
The dragon sat on the edge of the bath, its tail trailing in the water. “Will you wash my crest now?”
“Only if you stay there and don’t move while I get everything ready.”
The baby dragon bared its fangs and tugged its lips up. It was smiling – the weirdest but cutest smile I’d ever seen.
I pulled the plug out of the bath. The water – now an odd shade of brown – went down the drain with a huge slurp.
The dragon twitched, its eyes round. “Will it swallow me?”
A long exaggerated sigh hissed from my lips as I eyed dripping walls, shampoo smears, soaking towels and the ocean I was standing in. “Stay right where you are and you’ll be fine.”
The dragon froze on the edge of the bath, looking more like an ornate dragon fountain than an animal. I could imagine water spouting from its mouth at any moment.
I ran more warm water into the bath. When I turned around, the dragon was balanced on the toilet seat, drinking water from the bowl.
“No. Don’t! It’s dirty!”
“There’s that word again. What does dirty mean?”
“It means that water may make you sick.”
The dragon’s eyes widened in alarm. “I don’t want to get sick.”
“Here, I’ll help you.” I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste and cleaned the dragon’s fangs. “You have to take care of your health,” I said. “You can’t just drink any old water.” I rolled my eyes – I sounded just like Mom.
I turned off the bath faucet and, when I looked again, the dragon’s tail was curled around my toothbrush. It stamped on the toothpaste tube to squeeze out some more.
I laughed, until it flew towards me, toothbrush still in its tail.
Clamping my mouth shut, I turned my head away, so the dragon couldn’t brush my teeth with the grubby brush it had just used for its toilet-water-drinking teeth.
“I’m fine, thanks. You can keep that brush. It’s a gift, just for you.” I grabbed a new brush out of the cabinet, hurriedly smeared it with what was left of the toothpaste, and brushed my teeth.
The dragon brushed its fangs. Afterwards, I put my new brush safely in the cabinet, so it wouldn’t end up in the dragon’s clutches.
Then I popped the dragon in the bath and soaped it well. I even shampooed its crest. I scrubbed the creature’s hide with a soft nail brush. It purred happily, turning a lighter shade of green. The water turned dark gray, not clean enough for rinsing.
Pointing to the shower, I said, “Fly around in the rain for a while, while I clean up.”
I used the wet towels to mop up the floor and walls, and rinsed the shampoo off the shower walls. Then I gathered all the sopping gear and dropped it into the bath with a satisfying squelch.
The dragon flew out of the shower, rubbing its body against a freshly-hung towel, then flitted around the room. I tossed its towel into the bath, too. I was still damp, but the bathroom was cleaner than before.
A deep rumble issued from the toilet.
The dragon’s eyes shot wide open. “Ooh! That’s Mom calling me for dinner!” It perched on my shoulder and gave me a minty-toothpaste kiss! “I’ll be back tomorrow, so we can play again.” It grabbed my old toothbrush in its talons and dived into the toilet with a splash.
I dashed over and peered into the bowl. There was nothing there.
Mom knocked on the door. “Did you hear that thunder? I think there’s a storm brewing.”
“I’m done. You can come in.”
She opened the door and her jaw fell open. “Oh! You’re clean! And you’ve cleaned up after yourself. You’ve done such a good job, I’ll make you a hot chocolate.”
“Um, I’ve already brushed my teeth.”
Mom was speechless, except for a quiet, “Wow.” She swept the towels and dirty laundry out of the bathtub.
“Oh, Mom, I think you forgot these.” I reached into the cabinet and took out my smelly socks. “I’ll need them for my game tomorrow.”
“Thanks,” she said, her eyebrows raised, as if she couldn’t believe her luck. “I’ll do the laundry right away.” She marched out, leaving a trail of drips behind her.
Outside, thunder rumbled through the sky. Was that what I’d heard? Or had there really been a dragon growling in the toilet, a moment ago? Maybe I’d imagined it. Mom was always telling me I had an over-active imagination.
As I left the bathroom, I picked up a washcloth Mom must’ve dropped. Something wet glinted against the fabric. I looked closer.
If you open door number one, you’ll find a very special Christmas story from me. I’m happy to be part of this Christmas Advent Calendar, created by Katharina Gerlach, a German author who has written over sixty books!
Each year, for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, I get the stories in my inbox from all over the world. These are a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. Feel free to Share this calendar and spread the joy of Christmas across the world.
Call of the Sea has been nominated for the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel awards, however, to get on the shortlist, a story must be nominated multiple times. Call of the Sea, published in At the Edge (Paper Road Press 2016), is a dark story exploring grief, loss and hope.
If you have read Call of the Sea and enjoyed it, please feel free to nominate it before 8pm Friday 31 March, on the SJV Awards nomination form. (Nomination info & background to the story are at the bottom of this post).
This is the last year I am eligible for the Sir Julius Vogel New Talent award (for authors in their first 4 years after initial publication.) If you like my work, feel free to nominate me for New Talent too. Justfill out the formand tell them, in a few sentences, what you like aboutmy stories and books.
You can nominate any science fiction, fantasy or horror work published in New Zealand 2016, including films. Anyone can nominate worldwide. Voting for the shortlisted entries takes place at Lexicon, the National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Taupo in June, by members of SFFANZ or Lexicon. Guidelines are here.
I woke up to a text at 6:25am this morning from my diligent publisher! It was worth hopping out of bed for! Mystic Portal is #5 andDragons’ Realm is #8 on the Amazon bestseller list in UK kids interactive fiction.
And Mystic Portal is #1 in hot new releases.
Exciting stuff. But then again, so are these You Say Which Way adventures, where you get to choose how the story goes. Kids love saying which way to go. They choose their story. They find out how clever they are when things go their way. Or they test dangerous decisions that lead to tricky outcomes – all from the safety of their own homes.
Fun. Adventure. Great mountain bike rides. Weird creatures. And good laughs.
Mystic Portal is no ordinary bike trail. Weird things happen there. They say each new jump leads to another world. You and your friends can’t wait to try it!
The choices you make will determine your adventure. Will you ride a camel? Fight bandits? Meet Bog the ogre? Or end up in an underwater city? What ever you choose, watch out for mad genies, suspicious merchants and one-eyed creatures with orange fur.
Cool adventures are waiting , so jump on your bike and ride the Mystic Portal.
The Fairytale Factory bring you Mystic Portal on Amazon, part of their You Say Which Way Series of interactive fiction for children aged 8-13 years.
Dragons Realm, a You Say Which Way adventure by Eileen Mueller, won the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Youth Novel. In You Say Which Way adventures, your choices shape the outcome of your story.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that my entry for Flash Frontier Micromadness accepted for publication. Well, it was published online today 13 June, New Zealand time.
22 Finalists will have their entries published between 1 June 2016 and 22 June 2016, National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. The winner of the competition will be announced on 22 June.
I wrote my entry Midnight a week before the 13th anniversary of my son’s death. He is the theme of my short story. His death was so unexpected, so sudden and changed me deeply. A small warning: This story is not for the faint-hearted or those who have suffered recent bereavement. It’s only as years have passed that I can allow myself to express some of these emotions via my writing. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, sometimes it’s best to be kind to your self and not ‘go there.’
My entry is here. If you’re viewing this after 13 June, you’ll need to scroll down to 13 June entry, next to the gorgeous oil painting Owlmoon by Sandra Whyte.
Radio host Sherri Rabinowitz interviewed me on Blog Talk Radio about winning a Sir Julius Vogel Award, my books, dragons, and my real passion in life.
We also had fun discussing interactive fiction, strategies for dealing with bullying, kids’ literacy and literary festivals. It was blast. Please download the podcast here. I hope you enjoy listening to the show!
I’m thrilled to announce that a week ago I was selected as a finalist in the New Zealand Flash Frontier Micromadness literary contest. All entries had to be under 100 words! My flash fiction story of 76 words was selected by judges and will be featured on their Micromadness blog here at Flash Frontier, one of New Zealand leading venues for literary flash fiction.
From June 1 – June 22 the top 22 selected entries will be published. On 22 June, New Zealand Flash Fiction Day, we will read our flash fiction and Micromadness at venues across the country. I’ll be reading at the Thistle Inn Mulgrave St, near the Wellington Railway Station, on National Flash Fiction day, Wednesday, 22 June, along with other authors from 6pm to 8pm.
Enjoy reading Micromadness in Flash Frontier. I’ll send you a link when my story is up.
Yes, my babies have flown home to roost, but not for long. I’m taking my wee fosterlings to Au Contraire to find them new homes. If you fancy a wee dragon for your little one, or a majestic beast for your growing kids, I have just the pets for you! They’d love new owners! I’ll be at the New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (Au Contraire 2016) in Wellington this weekend. Hopefully my wee babies won’t follow me home…
… after all I’d love to have more dragonets come to visit soon and there won’t be space if this lot don’t find happy readers to love them.
It’s going to be a busy weekend. I’m in a team, teaching a young writers all day on Friday, then we’ll be at the floating market fostering my babies (sniff sniff), workshop-ing with Anna MacKenzie on Saturday, listening to Juliet Marillier on Saturday, discussing forensics with police, community with fans and writers, and interviewing panelists about independent publishing until 10pm at night.
It’s going to be fun. Come along if you’re keen and you just may get to take a dragon home! If you can’t get there, but would love a dragon anyway, contact me and I can send you one. (I’ll answer when I get back!)
Au Contraire is a not-for-profit event which supports New Zealand Sci-fi and Fantasy. All proceeds go to charity. The timetable is here.