Check Out the Photos – NZ Launch – Riders of Fire

Riders of Fire Launch Photos

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!

Ezaara & Dragon Hero, with Dragon Rift & Dragon Strike in 2019.

Don’t miss out. Join my reader’s group here, for my free Riders of Fire stories, Silver Dragon & Bronze Dragon, coming soon.  Thanks again for being part of this wonderful, supportive community.

1 More Sleep to Go until Riders of Fire Launch!

1? Only 1 sleep? Wow! I’m so excited! Saturday is the launch of Ezaara & Dragon Hero here in NZ

Both books start in Lush Valley, where it’s a crime to even talk about dragons…

When Ezaara imprints with Zaarusha, Queen of the dragons, she’s whisked off to Dragon’s Hold. Read more about her adventures & Dragons’ Hold here.

About Dragon Hero

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!

Riders of Fire Book Launch

Ezaara and Dragon hero are available on Amazon for the next week for 99 cents only!

Ezaara – Riders of Fire, Book 1 is here

Ezaara, Riders of Fire, book 1 - YA dragon rider adventure

Ezaara

In Lush Valley, it’s a crime to even talk about dragons…

When Ezaara meets Zaarusha the Dragon Queen, she’s swept up in a blaze of emotion and they imprint, forming a deep bond. But she must give up her home, her family and everything she knows to become the new Queen’s Rider. Ignorant and unprepared, how can she possibly succeed?

Luckily, she has a dragon master — although rumors say that with help like his, maybe she’d be better off with the enemy.

Plunged into a world of cutthroat politics and traitors in every shadow, who can Ezaara trust as Commander Zens and his army of bestial tharuks march closer, destroying villages and enslaving the people of Dragons’ Realm?

What personal price must Ezaara and her Dragon Master pay to save their people?

Do you love  heart-pounding adventure, true love and dragons? Start your adventure today! Pre-order on Amazon, now, at a special price!

The special price of 99 cents is only valid until 18 October 2018. Afterwards, Ezaara will be listed at $US 3.99. Click this link to start your dragon riding adventure!

Then scroll down to get my free short story, Silver Dragon.

Ezaara - Riders of Fire

Ezaara has been a long time coming.

Nine years ago, I decided to write a book. When I began, the only thing I could see was the edge of a dragon’s multicolored wingtip. So I had to start asking questions.

Who does the wingtip belong to?

A dragon, Zaarusha, the Queen of Dragons’ Realm.

Who is seeing the wingtip?

A teenage girl, Ezaara, who isn’t even sure if dragons exist.

Where is she?

In a clearing in a forest.

What happens next?

She imprints with the dragon, forming a deep and everlasting bond. Ezaara is ripped out of her life in the sleepy backwater of Lush Valley, where it’s a crime to even talk about dragons, and plunged into a world of danger, deception and adventure.

Why does the dragon choose her?

Her mother has a dark and terrible secret that she’s hidden from Ezaara and her twin brother, Tomaaz. A secret that defines who they are. A secret that rips their family apart, throwing them into the jaws of malevolent enemies.

A secret that spawns the series, Riders of Fire.

  • Book 1: Ezaara
  • Book 2: Dragon Hero — 8 November 2018
  • Book 3: Dragon Rift — early 2019
  • Book 4: Dragon Strike — mid 2019

Riders of Fire Novellas, coming in 2019:

  • Book 5: Dragon Healer
  • Book 6: Dragon Mage
  • Book 7: Dragon Calls

Stay tuned, because I’ll be giving away a free short story, Silver Dragon. You can sign up to receive your copy here.

Fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern and Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle will love Riders of Fire.

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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Call of the Sea

At The Edge anthologyCall of the Sea – Living Through Loss

Thirteen years ago today, my son died. He was half of fraternal twins – the healthy half. His twin sister had been chronically ill for two years, and I had been housebound caring for her. Tough times for an extrovert.

After her recovery, we had a normal life for three months, out & about with the twins and their older brother. Having fun.

Then Tommy died, overnight of strep A.

Plunged into an abyss, I had to keep mothering, keep going for my kids. I’m so thankful I had them to wake up to. My husband and I clung to each other in an ocean of grief. Our family was our life raft. The community rallied around us, keeping us afloat. It was fourteen months before I laughed again. Two years before I felt anywhere near normal. Our family would never be the same again.

We now have four healthy kids and one somewhere ‘on the other side.’

My story, Call of the Sea, in the At the Edge anthology, explores how easily people lose their sense of identity when they lose a child. In order to survive, we need to be nurtured. Kendra, estranged from her cheating ex-husband, doesn’t get this support. As her life disintegrates, she journeys to the edge of insanity. Or is she sane? Maybe the rest of the world just can’t see what she does.

Tiny excerpts from Call of the Sea:

From the first scene…At the Edge_front cover

“Wind moans through the tunnel on the deserted playground. The ropes on the massive climbing frame jerk. Grey waves thrash the shore, flinging spray over the naked sand. The Pōhutukawa dance, the silver underskirts of their dark green leaves flashing, like shy debutantes ‒ as if to tempt an unsuspecting fool into loving them.
My hands itch for a brush and canvas.
Breathing deeply, I shove the swing harder than I need to.
“Higher, Mum,” Aihe calls, swinging her legs for momentum. But she doesn’t get far. The gale is against us.”

… and from the second scene…

“Is that Mr Lenton?” a woman’s gravelly voice asks. “Mr Terry Lenton?”
Mr? Definitely not work. “Speaking.”
“This is Inspector Turner of Wellington Central Police.”
Terry clears his throat. “Yes?”
“Sir, we have your children in custody.”
“What? My kids!” Terry’s pulse bounds, fork clanking onto his plate.
“Could you come down to the station right away, please?”
“What’s happened? Where’s Kendra?”
“We were hoping you could tell us.”


At the Edge
available from 1 June 2016 on Amazon

Step up, as close as you dare…

…to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights,
at the edge of town, where the cell phone coverage is decidedly dodgy,
at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks,
at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows,
at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring-side seat,
at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on…

From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 22 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes, tales told by the children of warriors and whalers, convicts and miners: people unafraid to strike out for new territories and find meaning in the expanses at the edge of the world.

Compiled by award-winning editing team Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, and including a story by Arthur C. Clarke finalist Phillip Mann and introduction by World Fantasy Award winner Angela Slatter, At the Edge is a dark and dystopic collection from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best speculative writers.

At the Edge will be launched next weekend at Au Contraire 2106, the National New Zealand Convention of Science Fiction and Fantasy.