If you’re looking for great fantasy adventures, go no further. Get your next adrenaline rush here! Meet characters you’ll love, cool mythical creatures, terrible villains and have the time of your life. Discover new authors, find great series and go into win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. There are DOZENS of (in fact, over 100) FREE fantasy books available in this Fantasy BookFest. Pick a cover, a genre or an author, and get reading. Click here to start.
While you’re on the Fantasy BookFest page, search for the elusive $100 Amazon Gift card, which keeps moving around! Once you hit the page, scroll down and look at everything. Happy hunting!
Recently I had a reader write to me, saying that while they understood that reviews make a writer feel good, why is it that we want reviews? Why do we need a pat on the back? Don’t we understand that our books are good?
That letter made me smile. I love my books. I have readers who love my books. I have strangers who write to me and celebrate my books, and then become online friends as I find out a more about who they are and their lives.
Occasionally, I have someone who doesn’t like my books. That’s okay. Not every book is for every reader.
So why do authors need reviews on their books? Perhaps this graphic explains it:
So, once a book has over 15 reviews, it’s likely to sell more copies. And guess what?
Reviews sell books: the more reviews, the better sales will be.
People want social proof that something is good before they purchase. We want to know what we’re buying represents good value. We want to know that the $ and hours we’ll invest in reading will be worth it.
Well, that proves that reviews are important! They help sell books. Which means I can pay the mortgage, eat, and afford to keep writing.
Which means YOU get more of the adventures you love.
Most authors have more stories inside them than they’re able to physically get out of their fingertips (or dictation machines).
I’ve written three entire series in my head. It’s probably going to take me a year or eighteen months to get the first series into my readers’ hands — Riders of Fire is 8 planned books and growing…
And my next series? 4 books. I’ve plotted and replotted the first three books many times in my head as I swim, with the sun’s refracted rays playing along the blue tiles and dancing in the water (I swim outdoors in summer). But every time I get out of the pool, there’s still only one book written. A book that teens squealed about when I read them the first chapter a couple of years ago!! And a lot of work waiting to get the next 3 done!
Many sleeps to go.
That’s a lot of meals to eat between now and then…
And bills to pay…
So yes, please! Reviews!
You see, writing is a long haul game. Building worlds, one word at a time. Shaping imaginations and emotions with a few delicate keystrokes. Taking readers on journeys far outside their everyday lives. Helping people feel, grow consider, understand and dream. Exploring the gambit of human (and otherworldly) experience. Delving into emotions. Helping people make sense of their lives.
It’s a privilege. I thank you for it, and would love to be able to continue helping you take adventures.
And even more than the nitty-gritty of paying the bills, I LOVE hearing what you think, how my stories affect you. Whether they give you hope, make you despair, inspire or frustrate you. Which characters you loved or related to, which characters made your blood boil, and how their inner and outer lives helped shape yours.
So in answer to my reader who posed the question, “Why reviews?”, I’d say, “because they’re essential to me continuing my work and bringing you exciting adventures to enjoy.”
If you’d like to review Riders of Fire, you can find the series here on Amazon (or here on Goodreads).
Ezaara is still a few votes away from qualifying for the next round of the EFFYs. I’d love to get Ezaara in front of the judges, so they can read it. If you haven’t already, it would be awesome if you popped over and gave Ezaara your nomination. Thank you!
Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received a plea from a young New Zealander to research psychics and dragons. She responded, returning the $5 the child had enclosed, and asked whether those fire-breathing mind-reading dragons actually wore suits!
Jacinda’ s cameo in Ezaara
Jacinda Ardern has a cameo in Ezaara, Riders of Fire, book 1. First, I have to explain that New Zealand is a tiny country. We all joke that we know each other, live in each other’s pockets and that there are only 3 degrees of separation here in our country.
When I lived in Switzerland, we played a game whenever I ran into a kiwi over there. We’d ask those around us to set their stopwatches and I’d ask rapid-fire questions about the new person until we found someone that we both knew. We usually managed to do that within a minute. Under 60 seconds most times. The longest it ever took was 90 seconds. The Swiss were astounded. Yeah, I can talk fast — and used to be able to think faster than I spoke! Anyway, the point is that I know Jacinda Ardern and met her and her sister Louise years ago. The last time I saw her was a few years ago for afternoon tea at parliament.
When she was appointed leader of the Labour Party, shortly before she was elected Prime Minister, I was working on Ezaara, so I named a character after her. Jacinda has a small role in Ezaara, but who knows…? Maybe in Dragon Strike it’ll be time for her to become a hero in her corner of the world, the way Jacinda Ardren is for many New Zealanders today… I’ll have to see where the plot takes me.
I’ve been meaning to send Jacinda the books, and Louise has given me a nudge, so it’s probably time to pack them up and ship them across the city to her office. I doubt she’ll have time to read them yet (so many parliamentary reports to get through), but why not?
The telepathic bond between dragons and humans is a fantasy trope that readers enjoy. Imagine having someone who understands your every thought and dream. Who can feel your emotions and desires instantly. Who can carry through the skies on their back, traversing lake-studded meadows, and soaring over snowy peaks and arid deserts.
Someone powerful enough to destroy enemies with fire. Or to toast your marshmallows on a wintry night, their scales glinting in the firelight. Someone fierce and loyal and brave and true.
Someone who loves you with devotion, but understands your weaknesses and your good intentions, even when you mess up. Someone stronger than monsters, wiser than humans, and older than the hills, yet with a strength and majesty that defies age.
Someone whose wingspan dwarfs houses. Someone who can shelter and protect you better than any house.
That’s the fascination of dragons. Perhaps, if Victoria finds a benefactor for her dragon research, Jacinda Ardern’s next international trip could be on dragonback.
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.
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.