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!
Tomaaz doesn’t believe in dragons, until the dragon queen abducts his twin sister, Ezaara. When she goes missing, his parents reveal dangerous family secrets. That night, his father is wrongly imprisoned while his mother heads deep into Death Valley to atone for a dreadful crime.
To make things worse, an army of bestial tharuks attacks his village. No one is prepared. Tomaaz doesn’t know who to save. Should he rescue Pa from prison, help the villagers, or follow Ma into enemy territory? Or should he save Lovina, the abused daughter of a traveling merchant?
Tomaaz has to act fast, because Commander Zens and his clone armies are marching through Dragon’s Realm.
And what about Last Stop? Why is it called Last Stop? And who lives there?
Come and find out, at the launch of Riders of Fire tomorrow in Wellington! Archery, sword fighting, cosplay, dragon crafts, the treasure hunt and more!
Imagine my surprise when I got home from work and found nine boxes and a poster roll sitting in my porch among the muddy gardening gumboots!
So I opened a box and Dragon Hero leapt out, roaring! Well, okay Maazini wasn’t roaring, but maybe I was! By the way, this blog post is brought you courtesy of the exclamation mark! Oops, there goes another one!
Not one to let her twin brother have all the fun, Ezaara thought she’d get in the action, too!
Yes! they’re home at last! So, why all the raving and exclamation marks?
It’s been nine and a half years since I started this series. Years of plotting planning and scheming to bring these babies into the world. Don’t panic, you won’t have to wait years for Dragon Rift, book 3 in the Riders of Fire series. It should be out in the first quarter of 2019.
Ezaara and Dragon Hero will be the guests of honour at the Riders of Fire book launch in Wellington, New Zealand (yes, that’s Middle Earth) this Saturday. We’ve hired a bowling green to host you (yes, you’re really the guests of honour, not the books) so everyone can have a turn at archery and sword fighting. Hopefully, no foam swords will be harmed in the launching of these books!
Here’s the bowling green, just waiting for us! Come and brighten up the green with your favourite costumes, archery and sword fighting skills. We will have a few extra costumes for people to try.
With only 4 more sleeps to go, I thought I’d share an article from the Brooklyn Tattler, our local magazine. (It’s actually 3 sleeps here in NZ, but 4 in the USA—I missed posting this yesterday).
For those keen on seeing the map snippets, I’ll be posting one later today in the ‘3 sleeps to go’ post.
Have fun and see you on Saturday, if not in person, then afterwards, online!
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.
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.
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?
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.
You 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.
Talking dragons is one of my favourite past-times. Okay, and reading, writing and flying on dragons too… Whatever, dragons are cool. My middle-grade dragon fiction caught the attention of Lee Murray who has won five Sir Julius Vogel Awards and an Australasian Shadows Award for writing and editing.