Saturday, July 26, 2014

I don't think we're in Veralin anymore...

This week I'm so excited to introduce another character from The Dream Traveler.  Ryan is the only child of a single mom, and at 16 years old has shown remarkable maturity and strength in the face of a major catastrophe.  In today's interview, Ryan shares some of the challenges that have arisen in the aftermath of the spirit invasion of Cardonia.

KL: Thanks for being here today, Ryan.  So I understand that the people in your city had more time than others to escape once the spirits invaded Cardonia.

R: Yeah, Veralin is in the northern part of Cardonia, so we had a pretty good lead on the spirits, which were entering from the south.

KL:  From what I know of Cardonian geography, the mountain ranges at the core of the kingdom, which is where people are protected from the spirits, are split into four sections.

R: Each quadrant surrounds a basin or valley, yes.  So people in the northeastern part of the kingdom, like me, evacuated to the northeastern basin, which is surrounded by the Steeple Mountains.

KL: Coming from a city, I would imagine it would be especially difficult for you to adjust to living in what must be very primitive conditions.

R: I think it's been harder for my mom, since she's not comfortable in big crowds of people, but yeah, going from a sturdy house with nice, thick walls and a comfortable bed to sleeping on the ground near a fire with maybe a blanket hung over a branch for privacy is tough.

KL: I would imagine food is an issue as well.

R:  Definitely.  We packed as much as we could, but now we're really relying on each other, meaning not just me and my mom but everyone in the camp.

KL: And so everyone helps out with finding resources?

R: (nods) We have a few Plant Tenders; they're really helpful, and enough people who can hunt who are willing to share any game they catch.  You know, for the most part people pitch in where they can.

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis/

KL: In all of northeastern Cardonia it seems there'd be more than just a few Plant Tenders.

R: There are, but here's the thing: a lot of people from Veralin and other cities in that area don't really use their Gifts.  Plus, once we got news that the royal family had left Cardonia, a lot of people started fighting and the group broke apart into smaller factions.  Most of the active Plant Tenders took off.

KL: A smaller group means fewer mouths to feed.  Is it possible that the breaking up of the larger group was a good thing?

R: I think a smaller group is more manageable.  I just think it's sad that in this time of crisis, people started fighting instead of working together.  It just seemed like no one was really willing to step up and be a leader, even those who had previously been leaders in their own cities.

KL: Finding out about the royal family must have been really shocking for everyone.

R: It was, and like I mentioned earlier, no one stepped forward as a clear leader for northeastern Cardonia.  I think it was just too overwhelming, so people were doing what they felt they needed to in order to survive.  A lot of them figured this was it, this was our new life.

KL: And what exactly did they do?

R: People found each other.  There'd be a group of thinkers and academic type people over here, and then some Healers over there.  Or a bunch of people who thought we were better off without the queen, who were ready to establish a whole new country for themselves.  The basin covers a pretty large area, so groups just took off to who knows where.

KL: Is safety an issue?

R: So far the larger animals have kept their distance.  The bigger threat has been people acting out of anger or desperation.  The Shielders who stayed with the original camp keep getting messages about raids within the basin.

KL: Does that worry you?

Image courtesy of olovedog/

R: So far it's been mostly groups with a lot of nobles or rich merchants being raided, but the attacks seem to be getting more violent, so I am worried. (shakes his head) I just want things to go back to normal.

KL: You've shown a lot of courage so far and seem like a pretty level headed guy.  I'm sure if anyone can come through this unscathed, you can.

R: Thanks.  I'm trying to be strong for my mom.  It's not easy though.  One minute I was in school, the next I was leaving everything behind.

KL: That's not something many of us can even imagine.  Unfortunately we do have to say good-bye.  I'm hoping for the best for you and your mom.

Wow, talk about putting things into perspective.  I'll be taking more moments to be grateful for what I have and encourage my readers to do the same.  Thanks for joining me and be sure to check back in next week for another peek at the Cardonian Chronicles.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Shielder and the Dream Traveler

One of my many excuses for neglecting my blog these past few months was that I've been spending a lot of time on a new book, due to be published this fall.  

The Dream Traveler is a young adult fantasy featuring a sassy heroine who takes on the challenge of saving her fellow Cardonians from a devious, power hungry villain willing to sacrifice innocent lives on his way to usurping the throne. Meanwhile, an invasion of wrathful spirits has forced everyone to evacuate their homes to escape the gruesome effects that these spirits have on people once night falls.

I recently had the rare opportunity to sit down with The Dream Traveler's two main characters, Jonah and Raven, the Dream Traveler herself, to talk about the unique qualities that distinguish Cardonia from the Real World.

KL: Raven, when people here in the Real World mention having a gift, they might mean a talent or a special skill, but for you and other Cardonians it’s a Gift, capital ‘G’, meaning something very different.

R: Yeah, every Cardonian has a Gift, and it could be something boring like Plant Tending, meaning you can like practically speak to plants, or something really cool like my Gift, which is Dream Traveling.

Image courtesy of Tigger11th/

KL: So Cardonians are born with this special ability?

R: No, it usually shows up when you’re around 12, sometimes a little later.

KL: Which was your experience, I understand.  Was it hard waiting for your Gift to show up?

R: Patience isn’t really my thing, so yeah I was a little pissed that it took a few extra years to get my Gift. Especially with my sister reminding me every five minutes that she's an Empath.

KL: You mentioned your Gift is Dream Traveling.

R: Yes, so when I’m asleep, I can basically separate from my body and travel to different places in Cardonia.

KL: Sort of like astral projection.

R: (shrugs) Maybe, but I've never heard of that.

KL: So Jonah, you’re a Shielder.  Tell me a little bit about that.

J: Sure.  Shielding is actually a fairly recently discovered Gift.

KL: How so?

J: Those of us with this Gift didn’t realize its use until about a hundred years ago when soldiers guarding the Badlands started experiencing strange symptoms.

KL: Like what?

J: Hallucinations, fits of anger, some got really violent with each other.  The few who weren’t affected happened to be Shielders. They figured out that it was actually the spirits of the massacred Telepaths that were leaking from the Badlands and into Cardonia. 

KL: It sounds like Cardonia has a few skeletons in its closet.

R: No, they're spirits.  This royal advisor hundreds of years ago decided he didn't like Telepaths, and being the dirty Persuasive that he was, he convinced enough people it would be a good idea to exile everyone with the Gift of Telepathy to the Badlands.

KL: Jonah mentioned a massacre.

R: Well yeah, no one could survive in the Badlands, it's just endless desert.

KL: Back to Shielding - can you explain how it works?

Image courtesy of Gualberto 107/

J: Well the earth beneath Cardonia is actually infused with this shielding energy.  It's stronger in some spots than others, like the mountains at the center of the kingdom.  Anyway, Shielders have the ability to channel this energy.  Originally they were called Messengers, because they used this energy to cast messages to each other, but then learned that it can be used to create a Shield to protect against supernatural threat.

KL: What do you mean by casting messages?

J: Since we’re all connected through this energy, it’s like we’re all holding onto the same thread.  So we can use that connection to transmit messages.

KL: How is that different from Telepathy?

J: Telepaths were able send a message directly from one mind to another, and could even get a really close read on what non-Telepaths were thinking.  When a Shielder casts a message, it’s received by all the other Shielders in Cardonia.

KL: That sounds like a migraine waiting to happen.

J: (laughing) It can be overwhelming at first.

R: Are we through here? We really have to get back to defeating evil, you know.

KL: That's right.  Tell me more about this villain.

R: (grabbing Jonah's arm) Another time.

KL: You guys make a really cute couple by the way.

R: (gagging sound) He wishes.

KL: Yes, well thanks for chatting with me.  Good luck with that villain and hopefully we can do this again soon.

I was sad to see them go, but wish them all the best in their quest to save Cardonia.  Please join me again next week when I'll get to talk with another main player in this tale of deception, revenge, loss, and despite what Raven says, love. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books and Chocolate

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

My blog has been looking a bit... abandoned, but thanks to a kind invitation to join this Books and Chocolate Blog Tour, I'm back on track.  When Julie Gorges first extended the invite to me, I was not clear on what a blog tour was, but I'm game for pretty much anything involving chocolate.  So thanks, Julie, for reaching out!

From the limited digital contact I've had with Julie, I've learned that she is a warm, friendly person with a great sense of humor and wise words to share.  Here is a little more about her:  

Julie Gorges grew up writing poetry and keeping journals. She turned that love for writing into a 20-year professional career. In addition to her blog, Baby Boomer Bliss, Julie has had two young adult novels and one non-fiction book published as well as hundreds of articles and short stories published in regional and national magazines. In addition, she won three journalism awards as a newspaper reporter. Julie lives in southern California with her husband of 36 years, Scott, and has two grown sons and three grandchildren.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs /

The books I chose to feature for my leg of the tour are from my childhood, a time when eating chocolate was about blissfully stuffing half a Snickers Bar into my mouth with no thought of calories or sugar content.  They each still hold a place of honor in my personal library.

Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy is a touching and heartfelt story twisted around a healthy dose of creepy.  Young Maggie, rejected by a string of boarding schools for her ornery, disobedient nature, is sent to live with her two great aunts, her closest living relatives.  They make their home in an old boarding school, and as Maggie learns more about the history of the couple who once ran the school, she begins to hear voices, snippets of conversation that become louder and more insistent, until they finally lead her to discover a hidden door to the attic.  There she finds two porcelain dolls.  Yes, this is where the creepiness really gets into full swing, and at the same time, so does the tugging on the heart strings.  Behind the Attic Wall pairs perfectly with rich dark chocolate accented with sea salt, which will blend in with the tears this bittersweet book will likely cause you to shed.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

You know that nice shivery feeling you get from a good ghost story?  Double Spell by Janet Lunn is another great ghost/ creepy doll story.  Twin sisters Jane and Elizabeth come across an old doll in an antique shop.  They are inexplicably drawn to the doll, and their fascination for it deepens as they start to uncover its tragic history, which threatens to pull one of the twins into its deadly grasp.  I recommend you enjoy Double Spell way past your bedtime, under the covers with a flashlight and a good old fashioned Twix bar.

On a lighter note, Time at the Top and All In Good Time by Edward Ormondroyd combine adventure, fantasy, and time travel in a real world setting.  No creepy dolls or ghosts, the biggest evils in these books are a busybody housekeeper, a swindling villain in pursuit of a widow's fortune, and a bossy, overbearing aunt.  In the first installment of this classic duo, Susan Shaw takes a trip in an elevator which transports her from her urban apartment building in the twentieth century to a grand Victorian in 1881.  She meets Robert and Victoria Walker, who convince her to help them reveal the underhanded intentions of the man who has been relentlessly courting their mother.  When Susan returns home, the only person who believes her story is Mr. Ormondroyd, a writer in her apartment building who narrates the whole account.

Image courtesy of usamedeniz /

All In Good Time continues where Time At The Top leaves off, with Susan taking her bemused father on a trip in the elevator.  Mr. Ormondroyd is again part of the story when he discovers an old leather journal chronicling Susan's efforts to convince her father to build a new life in the past.  Ormondroyd's writing is the kind of deft, witty, magical writing I though was extinct until I read Harry Potter.  Break open a box of Junior Mints and dive with full abandon into these books, which are both fun and refreshing, with just a touch of nostalgia for the good old days.

My final pick is The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien (he also wrote Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH).  This is a futuristic fantasy which opens on the morning of Ellen's 10th birthday.  She finds a silver crown on her pillow, takes a walk, and witnesses a mysterious explosion that destroys her house.  Panicked and devastated by the loss of her family, Ellen makes her way to an aunt's house, hoping to find answers.  Instead she is led deeper into a chilling and mind boggling reality.  This book will keep you turning the pages, unable to abandon Ellen no matter how courageous she appears to be.  A jumbo sized bag of peanut M&Ms is just the thing to keep you from biting your nails down to nubs as each layer of the story reveals yet another astonishing plot twist.

Thanks for making this stop on the Books and Chocolate Blog Tour!  Make sure to visit the other blogs on this tour by following the links below, and feel free to comment with your own favorite book and chocolate combos.

More Books and Chocolate
Go ahead, indulge in a blog binge!

Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic /