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.
It’s been a while since I received my Storylines Notable Book Awards for Ezaara and Dragon Hero — for excellence in young adult fiction. I was absolutely thrilled to be among such distinguished company with my roaring dragons! Although I posted on Facebook and told my readers about it in my Riders of Fire newsletter, I haven’t had the opportunity to update my blog for ages.
The awards ceremony took place in Auckland. As well as awarding Notable Book Awards to young adult authors, there were awards for picture books, junior fiction (middle-grade novels or chapter books), books in Te Reo Maori, and non-fiction.
On the way to the Notable Book Awards
I manged to snap a selfie while waiting for my minibus to the awards. In case you’re wondering, I don’t constantly change the colour of my hair. I do it twice a year (it takes hours) and it just fades to all sorts of shades in between.
I’m no good at selfies, but hey, everyone’s nose needs to look a little bigger, right? I heard that photo recognition software has been updated to take into account that selfies produce enormous noses!!
Young Adult Fiction
One of the highlights of being at the Storylines Margaret Mahy and National Awards Day was seeing many NZ authors I hadn’t caught up with for ages. Here’s a shot from the Storylines NZ website of the authors whose books won awards in the young adult category.
Mandy Hager (far right) won the Margaret Mahy Medal, and gave the keynote talk, which I loved. Mandy has so many New Zealand books awards that her pile must be taller than me. It was great to catch up with her and hear her views about writing for teens.
“This, to me, is the definition of a great book, words that implant themselves in the heart of the recipient and become a part of them. Stories with power — be that the power to move, to challenge, to console, to excite, to anger, to motivate, to laugh, to cry, or to really truly think.”
— Mandy Hager
Another highlight of the day was seeing the heart surgeon who operated on one of my tiny premature twins, saving my baby’s life back in 2001. Alan Kerr was there for the launch of his son-in-law’s book. We just happened to sit next to each other. I tell you, New Zealand is such a small place. Wherever you go, you end up knowing people.
To top off the evening, I went out to dinner with an old friend from my university days. It had been 20 years since I’d caught up with Grant Hand and we had fabulous time, laughing way too loud and sharing our sad and good memories with each other. It’s amazing how you can pick up with an old friend right where you left off, even after years.
My awards also featured in the last ever edition of The Wellingtonian. Thanks to journalist Jamie Adams for all his tireless work, covering community news for years, and for this final shout out, in his article Dragon Books Prove a Flaming Success.
My Readers are Orsum — Kiwi for Awesome!
Many of the authors on the Storylines Notable Books List have been published by large publishing houses — Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Walker Books, Allen & Unwin or Harper Collins — or by NZ medium-sized publishing houses such as Gecko Press, Upstart Press, Huia, Duck Creek Press or Potton & Burton, so I was thrilled that my books received awards and this level of national recognition.
Having said that, above any awards, I prize the emails I receive from my readers across the world who are touched by Riders of Fire and Ezaara’s adventures. Thank you for sharing your reading journey with me. Thanks for committing the time to enjoy my work. And thanks for letting me get to know you. It’s a privilege. You rock!
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 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.
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.