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.
My kids got me a cute dragon for Christmas. (Those of you who’ve been around my site since 2013, will recognize my old web banner in the background. Yep, I need to update my screen saver!) They deliberately chose a multi-coloured cute dragon so it would look like Zaarusha! Although I do think she’s a bit more fierce.
The end of 2018 was especially frantic, with mad a race to meet deadlines for several stories. It’s been a great year. The Riders of Fire series has been racing off the shelves in our local bookstores and also off the Amazon shelves worldwide. The page reads on Kindle Unlimited have been soaring.
Thank you for your support. It’s fabulous to hear feedback from readers around the world who have read Ezaara and Dragon Hero and are keen to read book 3, Dragon Rift !
Happy New Year
Swiss-Germans have an expression called ‘sliding into the New Year’, which refers to whatever you did on New Year’s Eve. During the first week of January, they often ask, “How was your slide?” and, “Did you have a good slide?”
Well, I had a great slide, with a few good friends, singing karaoke until 3am! As well as writing, I’m passionate about singing and about my friendships. I’m lucky to have strong network of friends who have helped me get through many crises and difficult times. I’m a bit of a workaholic (many writers are), but this year, I hope to spend some time with my friends and family, having fun — when I’m not locked in my office, writing my heart out.
And yes, this was a hazardous evening. Just getting this photo taken, I was nearly impaled in the nostril by a unicorn horn several times!
What will 2019 bring?
I’ve committed to writing many Riders of Fire books this year.
Dragon Rift and Dragon Strike will both be full-length epic novels. Then I’ll be writing some shorter works about characters my readers love:
Dragon Healer (Marlies & Hans)
Dragon Mage (Master Mage Giddi)
Sea Dragon (Ithsar, of the Robandi Desert)
I’ve also had many other ideas — if only I could type as fast as I can think.If you haven’t read Riders of Fire yet, you can start with my free books: Bronze Dragon and Silver Dragon. Bronze Dragon is available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords. Silver Dragon is only available on my website, here and will be ready in a few days! So sign up to get this exclusive prequel novelette.
I hope you have a great 2019 with lots of adventures and happiness.
We had a great Riders of Fire launch today, with archery, sword fighting, dragon crafts, a treasure hunt and medieval costumes. It was wonderful to see everyone having fun and really cool to share Dragons’ Realm with them.
Giant John led us in archery.The target?
Well, here he is. I don’t know what he did to deserve that role…But he performed admirably! Even though archers big…
… and archers small, took shots at him.
Luckily his body armour didn’t get pierced!
And the winner of the archery contest?
Well, here’s why Isaac did so well. Arrow nocked, sighted… and fired…… with great trajectory and even better facial expression!Our local journalist came long to interview the teens who’d read the book!
There were dragonets……and a definite cosplay winner!
Company of the Dragons sent Tara and ‘Fluffy’ to fight the people…
Giant John just couldn’t resist the challenge.
The sword fighting was intense …So was the book signing!
The treasure hunt was made possible courtesy of Ava Fairhall……who created an oversized map of Dragons’ Realm in brilliant colour……which even teens wanted for their bedroom walls! (I’ll post about the map-making journey soon!) Ava hid 5 tiny, -well-disguised treasure chests on the map… which kept everyone busy. The winner had a keen eye and a fast pen, skills needed by every dragon rider!More winners…Kids made their own dragon wings and flappable dragons……even big kids! I mean, who doesn’t want to be a dragon, right?
We had a blast. The whole community pulled together to make this happen—from my fantastic cover artist, Christian, in the Philippines, to my family, the archers and human target, our sword fighters, map maker, editors, critique partners and caterer! A big THANK YOU to everyone who made this launch possible. A special thank you to my business partner, A.J. Ponder, my teen beta readers Ash, Lisa and Denika, and all of my readers and reviewers! Without you, none of this would be possible.
To all of my readers: enjoy your adventures with Riders of Fire!
The Wellington launch for Riders of Fire, is this Saturday 17 November. The New Zealand paperback editions of Ezaara and Dragon Hero will be winging their way home with happy readers!
But that’s not all. The Riders of Fire launch is going to be great fun.
Kicking off with archery with John Turner, the afternoon includes prizes for best archer and swordsperson, sword fighting demonstrations from Company of the Dragons, a costume parade, and readings from Ezaara and Dragon Hero, the first two books in the Riders of Fire series.
It’s cosplay time! So, come as a dragon, a fighter, or anything you like! You’ll also get a chance to duel with the pros! (Foam swords provided). There might even be real swords (blunted) on display.
There will also be crafts for those who’d like to create their own dragon. A variety of costumes will be available for use on the day, as well books for children and young adults. You can even take selfies in front of a castle with a dragon!
In the lead up to the launch over the next 5 days, I’ll be showcasing Dragons’ Realm, the world of the Riders of Fire Series. So, I’m sharing snippets of the map created by talented Ava Fairhall, who will also be there on the day, should you have any questions about creating your own fantasy world.
Here are some of the snippets I’ve posted on Facebook already. When Ezaara imprints with Zaarusha, the Dragon Queen of Dragon’s Realm, she’s swept up in a blaze of emotion, and must abandon her home, family and everything she knows.
Zaarusha sweeps her off to Dragons’ Hold, the home of tough dragon masters and riders, where she’s tested as the new Queens’ Rider. Luckily, she’s assigned a dragon master to help her. Although rumors say she’d be better off with the enemy than Master Roberto.
Roberto grew up in the deep South in Naobia, where his father, Amato was captain of the green guards, the dragons who protect the southern borders of Dragons’ Realm. But Amato hid the darkest of secrets.
Broken by his father, Roberto flees to Dragons’ Hold with his sister Adelina. He works hard and becomes a dragon master, using the strange talents gained through his father’s treachery, but his legacy haunts him every day.
One night, Ezaara, an untried, untrained and ignorant girl from Lush Valley, of all places, turns up, claiming to be the new Queen’s Rider. Not if Roberto can help it. He’s determined to find her weaknesses and cast her out to die in The Wastelands. But to do so, he has to use the very talents he hates.
See you on Saturday! If you’d like an ebook as well, both ebooks, Ezaara and Dragon Hero, are still 99 cents until after the launch.
It like being a time-traveller, speaking on radio today and knowing that people in America will be hearing us yesterday! Yeah, we kiwis always laugh at the confusion that our timezone creates in the rest of the world! Luckily, when you visit Sherri’s site, your local time shows so you’ll know when to tune in. Pop over and try it!
Sherri and I haven’t caught up for while, so we’ll be discussing all things dragons, including Ezaara and Dragon Hero, the new books in my young adult Riders of Fire Series, and why people like dragons.
You may even discover the crazy hobby I had that inspired me to write about dragons, a hobby that took me to Switzerland, where I met Kurt.
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.