I’m currently in the USA! Yes, this is a big deal. Although I’ve been around the world many times, and even lived in Switzerland for years, most of my international travel was before I had kids. And man, did I have kids … lots of them.
So coming to the 20books Vegas indie author conference was amazing. I’m still overseas so my internet connection isn’t always brilliant, so I’m posting a few photos here and will put more up when I get home.
Meet me this week – Salt Lake City
By the way, if you’re in Salt Lake City, I’m meeting readers and writers tomorrow night, Tuesday 19 November, at Hatch’s cafe at 7pm, 376 East, 8th Avenue.
If you’re a friend, email me and I’ll let you know where I’m seeing friends tonight, Monday 18 November. That goes for anyone I’ve met in New Zealand or Switzerland over the years.
Okay, onto 20books Vegas!
Mal Cooper who writes as M D Cooper and I had a great time as dragons. Although Mal does look particularly fierce here, she has a great sense of humor and is hilarious fun, as well as being a NY Times best-selling author with her sci-fi world Aeon 14. If you check out this book, you’ll see the ‘cat suit’ Mal is wearing on the front cover. We call them jump suits in NZ or latex paint-ons, but hey, I’m in the States right now, so cat suits they are!
Dragons don’t always have to be fierce…
I met a fellow rainbow-haired dragon too, a Brit living in Aussie! Tony Slater’s partner, Rue – or is it Roo after kangaroos? – and I had lots of fun while Tony captivated us with hilarious tales of his travels. Everything he writes is humorous, even his sci-fi and travel books, so hanging with them was fun.
I was surprised to find out that everything was about authors at 20books Vegas. Even the menu. But Jeff Kohanek and I tucked right in, in true dragon style, and ate Eric T Knight for dinner!
I have squagillions of photos yet to post, but I’m staying in Salt Lake City at a friend’s house, so I can’t work all day (like I have the last 3 days!). I’ll pop the photos up over the next couple pf weeks and keep you up with the antics of a thousands of authors in Vegas. And no, it was not about gambling – and all about books!
They’re reading Riders of Fire here! And here! And there!
I recently ran a contest for my Riders of Fire readers. Here are the results. Meet my readers from around the world.
Our Riders of Fire readers grand prize winners are Zach and Cherish
Cherish is from Madrid, Iowa USA, and loves Ezaara. She says, “The Riders of Fire books are original and they pull you in!” She sent some lovely photos of her having fun with dragons, a trainee dragon rider, swords and magic! Scroll down to see more of Cherish!
Cherish’s A2 poster of Dragons’ Realm is being flown by dragon post to her doorstep!
Zach has many aliases, including Zach the Shark, because he gobbles up so many books and is always prowling the waters of Amazon looking for more! (If you didn’t realize Amazon was a sea, it is now! I claim poetic license). He helps run a Discord Server for readers in his spare time, loves gaming and is a valiant Rider of Fire, leading the troops against Commander Zens!
When asked what he likes about Riders of Fire, Zachary tells us, “I love the dragons, fast paced feel. You do not fear having loss or darkness, and of course your overall creativity.”
Wow, that’s cool and totally unexpected. Thanks, Zach.
I’m hoping the dragons don’t freeze their wings off flying up to Canada to drop Zach’s Dragons’ Realm poster to him. (I’m also hoping the sharks don’t eat them, but don’t tell Zach that!)
The following readers have won lanyards which are in dragons’ saddlebags, winging their way to their doors.
Christine Steffens in Minnesota loves all things dragons and even has some pets that like to steal her e-reader and read about their fellow dragons. Look at this cutie!
Christine’s wee dragonet even matches the color scheme for Bronze Dragon, which is quite a feat! I wonder if the dragon is a chameleon, changing color depending on what book its holding.
When asked what she loves about Riders of Fire, Christine says, “Dragons, of course!”
Yeah, I get that!
Andrew loves dragons too (surprise!) and owns a super-sized copy of Dragon Hero which he’s proudly cradling above. He’s a Dragon Hero himself, out crusading against tharuks and battling evil.
Originally from Australia, he’s now at home in Ohio where it’s rumored that dragons are plentiful and there are many tharuks to fight. He loves audio books and e-books!
Andrew says, “I love the connection between dragons and their riders, and not just in your books, but others as well. Especially when the dragons are good and not evil. Can’t wait for the next in the series.”
The words of a true dragon hero! Go Andrew!
Cherish’s daughter is also a fan of dragons and got into the spirit of things. I don’t usually publish kids’ names on my blog. But here she is, armed with her sword, a trusty dragon at her side, and a great book to read!
Way to go!
Ina was in a playful colorful mood and tried out Zaarusha’s rainbow colors while riding dragons!
I love this attitude of experimentation and the bright upbeat colors that every dragon rider should wear as a warning that we will triumph over evil tharuks and the darkness of Commander Zens’ Death Valley!
Ina says Riders of Fire is “Intense and mystifying.”
Well, in this photo, I think Ina is too!
When asked what he likes about Riders of Fire, Richard Goodrum sent me this photo, with the simple statement, “Dragons!”
I asked him if he had any further comments, and he said, “Dragons!”
I think that says it all! He’s obviously fiercely loyal to a species that has a special place in our hearts!
Deb lives in the USA and loves Riders of Fire. She’s an e-book, print book and Audible fan and has the books in all three mediums! That’s pretty awesome.
Rumor has it that she’s writing books of her own, but not about dragons. Hey, it doesn’t always have to be about dragons! Good luck, Deb.
More Riders of Fire readers
In January this year, I had a surprise when someone called me out of the blue and wanted to visit! Elena and Alisha devour all the books in their local library and often make recommendations to the librarians, who are happy to order titles they like.
It’s cool to know that Riders of Fire even has a home in Crockett!
If you live in Crockett, Texas, feel free to take my books out of the local library. Also feel free to recommend them to your own library!
And yes, we three do actually have eyes. It was just a bright sunny Wellington day!
More Riders of Fire readers’ comments
Some readers didn’t have photos, or experienced technical glitches when uploading, but wanted to let me know what they thought of the series. Here are their comments.
Sherryl Taylor of Eugene, USA, says, “I LOVE LOVE LOVE DRAGONS. Have loved them since I was a kid. Now I’m a 66 year old kid!”
I know young adult fiction appeals to readers of all ages. I’ve had a kid of 9 years old write to me about my books and also pensioners in their late eighties who enjoy a dragonback adventure as much as teens do!
Stuart McClements of Bellshill says, “I like all things fantasy and horror!”
Although I don’t write stirct horror, I do have a couple of dark short stories about dragons that haven’t been widely published (in magazines or out-of-print anthologies). They may hit the light of day as soon as I have a good cover. So hang in there, Stuart, and you may get fantasy dragons with a tinge of horror!
Gene Mallard of Lilburn, Georgia, loves the covers of Riders of Fire.
A special thank you to Christian Bentulan, my amazing cover designer! He really has helped this series come to life.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in sharing their love of Riders of Fire.
We’re lucky to have the fabulous Caitlin Davies onboard as narrator. Caitlin, an award-wining narrator and actress, has narrated many books in various genres. I discovered her when listening to Lindsay Buroker’s Dragon Blood series and Alisha Klapheke’s Fate of Dragons. She has a great voice and excellent narration. I hope you enjoy her rendition of the first three Riders of Fire books.
As you can imagine, Caitlin and I have had fun with my pronunciation guide. I created MP3 files, using my fantastic New Zealand accent to pronounce all the fantasy names in the series. It’s been great emailing each other and gaining insight into the narration process. Seeing Caitlin discover Dragons’ Realm and our courageous dragon riders and dragons was fun. It was quite an adventure, especially my rendition of growly, snarly tharuks, some of whom only speak broken English. Despite my weird kiwi accent, I know she’s done justice to the characters. I hope you enjoy listening to Riders of Fire. Now you can enjoy your favorite series out walking, doing housework or working, anywhere at any time.
Would you like to be famous? Or win cool Riders of Fire dragon swag?
Yes? Read on…
I’ve finished the draft of Dragon Strike, and guess what? At 180,000 words, it’s big enough to be two books! Yes, Dragon Strike and Dragon War (working title) will be coming out later this year.
To celebrate the release of Dragon Strike, Dragon War and my Riders of Fire audio books later this year (yay!!!!), I’m offering you a chance to star on my blog! Just send me a photo of you with one of my books – paperback, e-book or audio book!
If you don’t like photos, feel free to send your own art of dragons or riders from Riders of Fire! Or a just photo of my book somewhere interesting.
I’ll collect the photos now, and be publishing them in November before the books launch.
Prizes – cool dragon swag
What cool dragon swag am I giving away? You’ll go in the running to win one of:
2 x poster-sized color maps of Dragons’ Realm by Ava Fairhall (unframed – excuse the late night photo!)
5 x e-books
10 x bright Riders of Fire lanyards featuring your favorite dragons.
Note: Due to expensive international postage, I can only send posters and lanyards to Canada, USA and NZ. (I’ll be in USA in November). I can send e-books internationally. I’d love your photos from all around the world.
The final tally of EFFy nominations has been done!
Ezaara and Dragon Hero are now in the judging round.
Thank you so much for your support in nominating my books.
The Epic Fantasy Fanatics Readers’ Choice awards (EFFys) are running for the first time this year. Readers were able to nominate two books for the awards. However, there was a catch. Each book had to be nominated 100 times in order to be judged.
With Riders of Fire being such a new series, and books from many previous years also being eligible, I faced a TSUNAMI of doubt! (Yes, the tsunami is in capitals because it was huge!)
But you came through. We rode that Tsunami and beat it, with our surfboards still intact!
Here are the lovely EFFY nomination badges that you managed to get for my books. Once again, thank you!!! It’s great to have such loyal readers who are enjoying Riders of Fire.
To celebrate, many of the EFFY authors have teamed up to offer Sorcerers of Summer, a fantastic promotion with their nominated books at 99c for this week only. Sorcerers of Summer finishes on 22 July, so get in quick here or click the image below.
Here are the #2019EFFys Round Two Qualified Titles!!!
A Meddle of Wizards, by Alexandra Rushe
A Muddle of Magic, by Alexandra Rushe
Arcane, by Sever Bronny
Awakening, by Ross Kingston
Balam Spring, by Travis M. Riddle
Blade of Memories, by Tina Hunter
Daughter of the Dracken, by Kathrin Hutson
Dragon Hero, by Eileen Mueller
Eve of Snows, by L. James Rice
Ezaara, by Eileen Mueller
First Magyc, by Nicole DragonBeck
GLYNSHADOW, by Steve Hansen
Heart of Shadra, by Susan Faw
Heart of Tyr, by Susan Faw
If a Dragon Cries, by Gary J. Darby
Kingshold, by D.P. Woolliscroft
Mother of Rebellion, by B.K. Boes
Oathbreaker, by Aaron Hodges
Phate, The Cosmic Fairy Tale by Jason Alan
Recreance, by H.G. Chambers
The Sage, the Swordsman, and the Scholars, by Pierre Dimaculangan
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.
I’d like to announce the winner of the Name a Spider contest that I ran on Facebook back in March! I had meant to announce the results along time ago, but was neck-deep in edits for Dragon Rift, my latest book. Then I launched Dragon Rift at Armageddon, and life went crazy with Easter and visitors and running my writing business and publishing the NZ Youth Laureate Award winners, and suddenly… its’ May!
I mean, May? How did that happen?
The Challenge was:
I need a cool fantasy name for a venomous spider as big as a dinner plate. Any ideas?
What I’m looking for is a fantasy species name, so a fantasy name that shows it’s a huge, dangerous spider. i.e.: a species name – bitten by a/an xxx spider. This is for Dragon Rift, the 3rd book in Riders of Fire, a dragon rider medieval fantasy series… go for it! I’ll name you and call out your genius in my acknowledgements!!
You all came up with such fantastic names! Now I’ll have to write another novel full of awesome spider characters. That’s the problem with being a writer: thousands of book ideas and not enough time to write them all!
There were over 80 entries, so I had a lot of clever names to choose from.
The Winner :
Susan Minot: Gargantula ?
Sue’s name is in the acknowledgements of Dragon Rift. As a bonus, I’ll send her a copy of the paperback. And although gargantulas are only mentioned once in Dragon Rift, I’m sure they’ll skitter across the pages of Dragon Strike, Riders of Fire book 4, due out later this year.
I loved everyone’s ideas. I was torn in a few different directions, but ultimately I wanted the species to sound big and venomous. Here are some of my favourite suggestions. Some made me laugh, some gave me the creeps, some were fascinating. See what you think:
Ava Fairhall: Mix and match with these: Shield crawler, or
colossal harvestman, or
disc spinner, or
Virginia Taylor: Michael
Bronwyn Norman: Venomous maxima, but people call it ‘Carol’
Natasha Kenyon: TEmperor
Zelda Tufue Dahya: Aracknidus Giganticus (Hail came up with that! He has been a Spiderman fan since he was 2yrs old)
Eric Corrington: Peteroid Parkernid
Ryan Mcfadden: a Ceramihumngi. I took the word for large and the start of the word Ceramic seen as as large as a dinner plate…
Tania Torea: Ingensaranea Literally two Latin words meaning huge spider Or Ragnoenorme
Peter Friend: Troll Hands – named after their supposed resemblance to those of mythical (or are they?) eight-fingered trolls, or so parents tell their children…
Nicky Curran: Zorboct.
Silvia Brown: Plato, means plate in Spanish and is the first thing that came to mind so I am sticking with it. Plus wasnt that the name of an Ancient Greek philosopher as well? A philosophical ceramic spider!!!
Martin Riesen: What kind of a name are you looking for? A pet? (Fred), More funny? (Spidermax). Medieval? Arachnia Tantus
Simon Voysey: Skitters
Meg Jolly: Empress Widow?
Jean E. Lane: The “Freakindead” spider.
Matt Whitaker Jeff. Or Dave.
Kevin Maclean: Tarantula morbidius…
Moya Bawden: Tantunab – Sanskrit
Gary Freedman: Puppy
Adam Roberts: Arachadonis. Spider with a six pack…
Adam Roberts: Arachadonis Rex. Front legs are too small to do anything useful…
Adam Roberts: Terran Chulla.
Eric Corrington: Aralob.
Deryn Pittar: Archnia gigantus
Wow, you made it to the end of that humongous list of scary spiders. Just for being brave, here’s a reward. Enjoy this fascinating video.
If the venomous spiders haven;t put you off Riders of Fire, feel free to pick up a copy here. Your next wild adventure is waiting.
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!