Dragons & Fun with Kids at Midwinter Festival

Today I had fun at the Writers Plot & Readers Read Midwinter Book Festival. Writers Plot is a cool bookstore in Upper Hutt that only stocks books by kiwi authors They invited me to read some of my dragon books and bring along my dragon costume.

Fun with dragon costumes
Hannah and I had fun after the festival! Her twin sister Isobel was fun too, but those photos didn’t end up on my camera.

Well, if I’m going to bring  a dragon costume, why not wear it?

And if I’m going to wear a costume, why not do my hair too?! (Luckily, one of my best buddies is into creating wacky multi-colored dragon hair, so we gave it a whirl! Yes, I flinched whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror for the first day!)

AND, if you’re going to wear one costume, why not stay up late the night before, making an extra costume for the kids, too? (I swear there was no cursing at the sewing machine, at all, when the foot dropped off and the fabric bunched because I’d forgotten that I needed a special microtex needle! And no mutterings of, “giving up in ten stupid minutes, if I can’t get this silly machine working!” But I did sigh in relief when after an hour’s struggle, the machine suddenly hummed. An hour or two later, the kid’s costume was born!)

Dragon costumes by Eileen Mueller, author of middle grade and YA dragon books
More fun for Mia and Renae, a.k.a. fighting dragons.

At the festival, we dived into the word of Dragons’ Realm —A You Say Which Way Adventure, where a dragonet sings off-tune, farts chocolate wrappers and pines for its mother! Of course that’s not the only story in Dragon’s Realm. In this book, You Say Which Way the story goes, so you can discover all sorts of adventures in one book —22 to be exact.

Of course, the kids got to choose at every decision point and my lovely assistant (dressed in the kid’s dragon costume) awarded them with blood stains or medals for their efforts. It was loads of fun, with kids joining in and even teenagers eye-rolling at all the manure jokes!  These kids chose a long and involved story with lots of action, adventure and opportunities to ride (you guessed it) dragons!

After the festival was over, we had the chance to snap a few photos and enjoy cos-playing dragon attacks! My books flew off the sales table! Everyone loves dragons — and adventure. With four dragon books to choose from, there was something to suit all types of reader — pulse-pounding adventure and plenty of laughs with Attack on Dragons’ Realm and Dragons’ Realm; fun and frolics with Dragon Tales; laughs with Fangtastic Dragon Jokes & Clawsome Limericks; and interactive fiction with Mystic Portal and Dragons’ Realm.

Ben Spies child author has a dragon fight with his brother
Ben Spies, a young author, has a dragon fight with his brother Daniel.

I was thrilled to meet Ben Spies, who wrote his first novel, Weirdo, at nine years old, and his next The Magic Pencil  at ten! Ben is now twelve and still writing up a storm. The kids in his workshop loved his book and enjoyed his insights. It’s inspiring for them to see someone so young and already published!

Ben spies, child author, with Eileen Mueller who writes for kids and YA

A big shout out to Writers Plot owners, Cat and Caro, for doing such a great job. It’s well worth a trip to Upper Hutt to see their great selection of kiwi books for kids, teens and adults. They also have an online store, so if you’d like one of my paperbacks, you can shop here, or contact me here.

Ben Spies, Eileen Mueller and a junior dragon.
Ben Spies, a young author, and his brother enjoyed being dragons for a change.

Big Book Bash – Carterton

At the Big Book Bash in Carterton, Eileen Mueller is teaching YSWW

The Big Book Bash is coming up!

The Big Book Bash is a book festival for kids and teens , featuring many Wellington and Wairarapa children’s and Young Adult (YA) authors. It’s all happening this weekend on December 2nd in Carterton.

There’s fabulous line-up of well-known NZ authors, music, workshops and a carnival atmosphere. Libraries, schools, newspapers & radio stations are talking about it, the local book community is excited, and it’s going to be fun.

In my workshop, You Say Which Way – Create a Sci-Fi or Fantasy Story, I’ll be taking youth on an adventure in the world of interactive fiction. We’ll journey through exciting worlds, making choices that shape the reader’s experience. They’ll start a science fiction or fantasy adventure of their own.

Come Along!

Register here via Carterton library (in the right side menu bar).

At the Big Book Bash in Carterton, Eileen Mueller is teaching YSWWI’m in good company with many famous NZ children and YA authors. The full programme is here, featuring:

  • Go behind the scenes of Annual 2 and enjoy Melting Moments with Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris
  • Traveling Zine Museum with Murtle Chickpea
  • Paper Bag Dogs with Fifi Colston and Anne Manchester
  • Ngāti Kahungunu stories with Rawiri Smith
  • Events with two young writers, Ben Spies (age 12) and Zed (age 15)
  • Writing workshop for teens & adults with Mandy Hager
  • Poems of Protest and the Environment with Tim Jones and Harvey Molloy
  • You Say Which way Sci-fi & Fantasy workshop with Eileen Mueller
  • Going to Antarctica with Philippa Werry
  • Ginomee hats and stories with Ali Foster
  • Rainbow storytelling with drag queens La Quisha St Redfern and Pamela Hancock
  • Drawing with Rhondda Greig
  • Readings and arts and crafts with Alan Bagnell, Paul Beavis, Gillian Candler, Mary McCallum, Michelle O’Connell and Christine Parker
  • A storytelling finale with Marama Fox.

The big Book bash is also on EventFinda and has it’s own Facebook page 

Hataitai School – NZ Book Week

During New Zealand Book Week, I had a great visit to Hataitai School, (with my rainbow-feathered top hat). 120 kids crammed themselves into a classroom, like teens getting cozy at a rock concert (minus the screaming). They were packed so tight, I urged them a little closer, until they were literally at my feet.

Teachers wanted them to know about life as an author. For 40 minutes they quizzed me about everything from, ‘What’s it like to be famous?’ to ‘Have you ever seen a dragon?’ (of course, I have 4 at home) and ‘Do you find The Hero’s Journey useful for plotting?’. These kids were really switched on about creative writing. Among the fun and laughter, I awarded them many medals and bright red felt bloodstains for creativity in questioning.

Writing is about lots of choices—genre, settings, magic systems, world rules, characters and plots. To give them practise, we decided they could make choices while I read them a You Say Which Way adventure.

Their first choice: Dragons’ Realm or Mystic Portal?

Mystic portal interactive fiction

From the flurry of hands for Mystic Portal, there was great support for a magic mountain bike adventure where every jump takes you to a new exciting world and adventure.

But what is it about dragons that appeals to many readers? Every hand in the room shot up for Dragons’ Realm.

Dragons Realm

Sir Julius Vogel Award Dragons RealmYou are the main character in You Say Which Way adventures. This book opens with bullies chasing you into  Dragon’s Realm—a world of dragons, adventures and magic. At one stage, a bully leaps out from a behind a tree and yells, “Gotcha!”

I’m a trained singer and got a bit enthusiastic so, in the heat of the moment, my “Gotcha!” suddenly came out as “GOTCHA!” The girl sitting at my feet leapt, arms flying. Startled movement rippled right to the back of the room. Talk about ‘jump scare’ city. I think I even frightened myself!

I had to laugh. All the students and teachers did too. We awarded the student who got the biggest fright a bloodstain as compensation. When the laughter died down, we continued reading.

While developing their You Say Which Way brand of interactive fiction, The Fairytale Factory have done a lot of research in classrooms. They found that kids generally like to make ‘the right’ choice. A choice that won’t hurt others or get them into trouble in the real world.

However, these kids at Hataitai were on a mission. Through their choices, they had the opportunity to pay a bully back, big time. And they took it.

The teachers’ eyes flew open as I read on, but then they smiled when  everyone found out that bad choices have consequences.

Of course, we had to play the ‘what would have happened if… ‘ game, so we went back and saw how heroically saving the bully paid off. And yes, in this story, it really pays off!

Doors for NZ Book Week

As part of NZ Book Week, Hataitai School disguised their classroom doors to look like their favourite books, and asked me to judge their fabulous creations.  This blog post shows off their work.

Book Doors for NZ Book Week

While visiting Hataitai School during Book Week recently,  I was asked to judge a competition. The whole school had disguised their classroom doors (for NZ Book Week) to look like their favourite books. What a tough decision. All the doors were fabulous. The students put in fantastic effort.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Doors for NZ Book Week – 1st place

NZ Book Week Hataitai SchoolNZ Book Week Hataitai School The Lorax won first place with it’s bright colourful landscape and three-dimensional fluffy truffula trees, which also grew down the hallway! There are photos of the kids all over the grass, each holding mini truffula trees. To be honest, the photos and giant truffula trees really sealed the deal, because 2nd, 3rd and 4th place-getters were so close! Brilliant job! Over the top!

Doors for NZ Book Week – 2nd place

Fox in Sox, another Dr Seuss book, was also one of my favourites, winning 2nd place. Students had made bright fluffy socks, decorated with wool and pompoms. Their funky socks were pegged on washing lines, with fluffy clouds floating over head, making it look like Fox’s washing day. Well done. I love it!

Doors for NZ Book Week – 3rd place

Third place went to The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, a book that’s special to me because I lived in Switzerland when it was published in 1992. This class went to the extra effort of decorating the windows and door. These photos really don’t do their work justice! They were much more colourful in real life. Great work. (I first heard it read aloud from a special Swiss-German edition, and it has since been published all over the world and made into a TV series).

Doors for NZ Book Week – honourable mention for creativity & attention to detail

Narnia by Cs Lewis, NZ Book Week Hataitai SchoolNZ Book Week Hataitai School

It looks like a normal wardrobe, but when you open it, a world of adventure awaits you and there’s a familiar solitary lamppost shining in the darkness. Yes, it’s Narnia by C.S. Lewis. This door was brilliant, and battled for a placing. Creative, sophisticated art.

NZ Book Week Hataitai SchoolThe Secret Garden is blooming beautifully in this classroom! What a vibrant range of colour and shapes as flowers of all species spout in this window. A lovely job.

NZ Book Week Hataitai School

Poor Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne) has got himself into a sticky mess—yet again! I loved the sign, which reads, DO NOT DISTURB — HONEY TIME! Great work team!

NZ Book Week Hataitai SchoolThe Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was a great team effort by a junior class. The caterpillar’s body segments have each been hand painted, and kids have made all of his favourite foods. He’s a very lucky caterpillar indeed. (The sunny day meant that this little caterpillar had crawled into the shade, so I couldn’t photograph him properly). Good job!

More Doors for NZ Book Week

NZ Book Week Hataitai School
The Philosophers Stone, Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling
NZ Book Week Hataitai School
The Philosophers Stone, Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling
NZ Book Week Hataitai School
Scarface Claw by Lynley Dodd
NZ Book Week Hataitai School
Jack and the Beanstalk
NZ Book Week Hataitai School
Hill and Hole by Kyle Mewburn
NZ Book Week Hataitai School
The Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg

A Door for Every Book!

NZ Book Week Hataitai School
A library of favourites is on this door.

This last door includes a whole library of art (left to right, top to bottom): The Day the Crayons Quit, The Three Little Pigs, Fantastic Mr Fox, Lord of The Rings & The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and The Witches Field Day.

Reading Dragons’ Realm Live – Bloodstains and Roaring!

My visit to Hataitai School as part of NZ Book Week also involved quadrillions of questions from keen literary minds, lots of bloodstains (but none on the floor),  and some load roaring!  Along the way, the students had the say! Click here to find out more!

2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award – Best New Talent

Sir Julius Vogel Best New Talent 2017I was absolutely thrilled – and more than a little speechless – to receive a 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent at Lexicon, the New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy National convention. The full 2017 SJV awards list is here.

SJV Taupo Lexicon (1)With the deep blue backdrop of Lake Taupo, and snow-tipped ranges across the water, the setting for Lexicon was magical. Ninety teenage writers attended workshops on Friday and boggled us with their talent. A weekend full of interesting panels, discussions, impromptu meetups with writers and fun social activities kept me on my toes. Not to mention the last-minute accommodation booking I made without realizing my bed was situated above a nightclub. It was actually above a nightclub AND three bars, the only nightlife in Taupo!! Yes, I was dancing all night – even in my asleep.Sir Julus Vogel Award Eileen Mueller Grace Bridges

Even though I was on the shortlist, it was still a nerve-wracking process waiting through the ballot and having that envelope opened on stage in front of my eyes. Then there was that long moment: sitting, stunned, while people nudged me to get to my feet!

Sir Julius Vogel Award Lee Murray Eileen MuellerThank you to my wonderful readers for nominating me. And thank you to everyone who has supported my writing – by beta reading, believing in me, critiquing my work and brainstorming plot fixes. Thanks to my publishers, The Fairytale Factory and Phantom Feather Press, they’re great! I’d also like to thank the New Zealand speculative fiction community, Romance Writers New Zealand and Holly Lisle’s online writing community.

My critique groups deserve a proper mention. I’m lucky, I have two. Monkey Lab: Alicia Ponder, Charlotte Kieft, Michelle Child and Peter Friend; & Clarke’s Critters: Lee Murray, Simon Fogarty and Alicia Ponder. Everyone needs a tribe, so thanks for being mine. You’re all more than critique partners, you’re wonderful friends.

Sir Julius Vogel 2017 Winners
2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award Winners

Amazon Bestseller

Amazon Bestseller Mystic Portal Dragons Realm

Amazon Bestseller #5 & #8

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 and Dragons’ 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 and Dragons Realm are on Amazon.

Amazon Bestseller Mystic Portal Dragons Realm
Mystic Portal & Dragons Realm on UK Amazon Bestseller List

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Mystic Portal

Dare to ride the Mystic Portal!

Mystic Portal You Say Which Way
No ordinary bike trail…

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.

Available in e-book and paperback.

Pick a Path style kids story

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Clawsome Dragon Limericks Winners

Clawsome Dragon Limerick Contest

Clawsome Dragon Limericks Winners

We received a hoard of dragon limericks from all around the world. The verses made us roar and laugh, and on occasion, breathe fire. It was a tough decision because so many of the limericks were clawsome! Thank you to all contestants for your fangtastic effort!

Although we had to select winners, we want everyone to know that you’re all winners for entering, because you all created new limericks! Unfortunately the volume of entries hasn’t made it possible to provide feedback to everyone, as we’d hoped, however we will provide feedback to all children who entered, in due course.

Is your name in the e-book?

Our winners ( 1st, 2nd & 3rd places) will soon receive a voucher for the e-book Clawsome Dragon Limericks. All winners, honorable mentions and finalists have their limericks in the e-book and their names in the table of contents.

Clawsome Dragon Limericks ContestWinners: Clawsome Dragon Limericks Contest – Children’s Category

  • First Place: Mia, 8yrs, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Second Place: Katie, 12 yrs, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Third Place: Jervayz, 12 yrs, Hamilton, New Zealand

Winners: Clawsome Dragon Limericks Contest – Adult & Teens Category

  • First Place: Chris Makowski, Texas, USA
  • Second Place: Sarah Garriott, USA
  • Third Equal: A.C. Lindsay, New Zealand & Kerrie Spicer, New Zealand

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jane Percival, New Zealand, Best Illustrated Limerick
  • Lyn McConchie, New Zealand, Clever Use of Historical Language
  • Jack Newhouse, New Zealand, Best Limerick with a Scottish Accent
  • John Irvine, New Zealand, Brilliantly Yuck!
  • Gloria Hanlon, USA, Inspiring Limericks

Finalists:

  • Christopher Drown, Australia
  • Gareth Barsby, United Kingdom
  • Katharina Gerlach, Germany
  • Chris Makowski, Texas, USA
  • Charles Hoge, New York, USA
  • Mahoney Adair, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Sarah Garriott, USA
  • Dr Bob Turvey, UK
  • John Irvine, New Zealand
  • Andrew Mackrory, Ohio, USA
  • Vincent Van Gouache, New Zealand

Feel free to share this link to Clawsome Dragon Limericks with your family and friends, any grumpy old knights, dragons with a  sense of humor, and princesses who may enjoy dragon limericks or a roarsome laugh!  Have fun reading these limericks! We’d love a review on Amazon!

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Interactive Fiction in the News

Interactive Fiction Wins Award

A Wellington newspaper, Cook Strait News, has done a wonderful article about Dragons Realm‘s new shiny 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel.

Dragons Realm is part of the You Say Which Way series of interactive fiction published by The Fairytale Factory. Interactive fiction is  a great way for kids to learn about choices, leadership, relationships and the ripple effect of their decisions – while having adventures. I enjoy writing interactive fiction because there are so many storylines to explore, a range of outcomes and lots of fun plots to choose from.

Plotting 22 different stories  was an interesting challenge which could have become a logistical nightmare. A trusty excel spreadsheet kept me sane. Me and that excel sheet became besties (best friends) as we worked together to keep all the stories in order!

Nikki Papatsoumas was the journalist who took this great picture and did a nice write up. Please pop over and read it. And yes, Wellington’s mid-winter weather is ALWAYS this beautiful – sun shining, gentle breeze creating interesting hairstyles and of course, it never rains here!

Anyone keen on writing interactive fiction or learning about how to write it, contact me. The Fairytale Factory are publishing a “how to” book soon, and I’ll let you know when it’s out.

Dragons Realm Interactive Fiction

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Eileen on Blog Talk Radio

audio-15604_1920Radio 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!

Sherri is an actress, radio host for Blog Talk Radio and author. Her Amazon page is here.

Podcast is here.

Download Instructions: Go to the dark bar at the top of the screen and click the download button (a cloud with and arrow in it. Sherri says it resembles a tree! She’s right.)