Friday, July 31, 2015
You can’t write an epic fantasy series without having a sense of history. The histories and other backgrounds are not always explored in the main books. Thank goodness for companion stories.
The Dragonlands is a World In-between Series companion story that tells the story of how the Dragonlands came to be filled with Dragons.
The short story provides a background for events in Book 1 (The World In-between) of the series and converges with Book 4 (Whispers), which will be released later this year.
The Dragonlands includes a bonus sneak peek of Whispers (The World In-between Book 4) and an overview of the series as a whole with glimpses of Books 5 and 6 of the series.
Friday, July 17, 2015
An excerpt from Secrets of the Sages Book 3 of the World In-between Series for #FridayNightReads
A little set-up and background: The World In-between Series is a portal fantasy. Portals connect the modern, mundane world to a magical one. Most have no idea the portals exist. Modern-day man, Berty Chase, lives a secret life in the magical world. Only his six-year-old niece, Hope, knows. However, his worlds are about to collide and not in the way Berty would have liked.
Hope spent the summer with her uncle Berty in the Land of Sages and it is time for her to go home to her life in the modern world.
At dinner, Hope ate quietly. Her melancholic mood troubled Berty. When she caught him staring, she asked, “Do I have to go back to school?”
“Yes, you do.”
She pushed food around with her fork. “I hate school,” she muttered.
“I’m sure your mom and dad will let you come back some weekends,” he said trying to lift her spirits.
“I know,” she said. “I just didn’t wanna have to…”
“I have a feeling this year is going to be different,” he told her with a little smile.
She sighed, then returned Berty smile. When she finished eating, she climbed the staircase with Freesia.
He did not know what to do. All the magic in the world would not make her like school or make the children within it not tease her. His heart broke. She wanted to stay as much as she wanted to see her parents. When he finally tore his eyes from the stairs, he noticed Obie’s eyes were still glued to them.
Silvia was a wonderful woman. She understood or at least empathized. He liked her suggestion of sparring in the training room.
After changing his clothes, he took his stance. He held his sword while focusing on the dummy on the floor. “Begin,” he said. The dummy did not move. “Begin,” he commanded. Nothing stirred. “Begin!” he shouted. The dummy remained a lifeless lump.
He screamed in frustration. Disappointed that he did not get a sort of live sparring partner, he turned the crank on the wall. A dummy hanging from the ceiling swung into the center of the room.
Unsatisfactorily, Berty released his frustrations on the defenseless form. After removing his padding, he walked through the tree. As he crossed the bridge, he saw Obie leaving Hope’s chambers. “Goodnight, my Lord,” the boy said as he passed.
When Berty entered, Hope was coming down the steps. Melancholy had been washed away. “I finished my painting for Mommy and Daddy,” she announced. “It has to dry overnight.”
He peeked at the colorful two-dimensional Empire Tree diorama. “They are going to love it,” he told her.
She smiled. As she pushed an errant brown curl out of her face, Berty noticed something on her thumb.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“A ring.” Hope held it out for her uncle to see. “Obie made it.” The light wood had reddish and dark wood petal-esque inlays that made it look like a flower. “Declan helped him.” Gazing at it, she smiled.
Berty made a mental note to speak with Declan later. “That’s nice,” he said. “Do you have everything you’re bringing with you ready to go?”
“Almost,” said Hope. “Can I bring my Fairy Dust?”
Staring at his niece, he did not know how to answer. “I wouldn’t show your parents. They won’t understand Fairy Dust.” He thought that Teresa would make her leave her bow at his house. “Ask Delyth at breakfast if it will even work on the other side of the portal.”
“Oh. I didn’t think of that. Okay, Uncle Berty, I will.” Hugging him, she said goodnight.
Silvia’s smile was the sunshine in the morning rain. Warm raindrops pelted his hood while they walked breakfast.
“Obie gave Hope a wooden ring he made,” he mentioned to Silvia. “Should I be concerned?”
Laughing, Silvia replied, “They’re kids. And they have become good friends. If it were ten years from now, I’d be concerned that he did not ask you first. It’s a lovely token of friendship.”
Hope and Obie had been through plenty together. She was not the only one experiencing changes in life. Silvia always gave the proper perspective.
At the breakfast table, Hope laughed. He was going to miss the jovial environment that she brought to the Empire Tree. Fun Uncle Berty who came and went was not going to cut it after her summer with him.
He waited while Hope hugged everyone, saying goodbye. “This was the best summer ever, Uncle Berty,” she said as they climbed the stairs.
“I’m glad you could spend it with me,” he said, smiling. She latched onto his waist when they entered her leafy green bundle. Silvia and Freesia followed them into her chambers.
“Are you ready?” Berty asked. Hope’s curls bounced as she nodded. “Freesia, you could meet her parents. Do you have something that will disguise your folded Fairy wings? Besides your cloak.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Both Freesia and Hope hurried upstairs. Giving Silvia a smile, he climbed the steps with her.
Freesia emerged from her room wearing a soft pink vest over her blouse. Entering Hope’s, she said, “I’ll carry your bag.”
With a bow and quiver attached to her body, Hope walked into the hall with the box Delyth gave her. In her other hand, she carried the painting for her parents. Behind her, Freesia held a small bag.
“After you,” Berty said. Hope and her Fairy Godmother stepped into the tapestry. With Silvia’s hand in his, they crossed through the portal.
Silvia escaped to the third floor to change while Berty knocked on Hope’s open bedroom door. Lightning flashed through the windows. Thunder rumbled shortly after.
“I can’t show them in a thunderstorm,” said Hope. She sounded disappointed.
“As soon as the rain clears,” said Berty. “I’m going to change, then I’ll help you bring all your stuff to the foyer.”
Freesia kept all of Hope’s things organized. Clothes stayed in one area while school supplies were confined to another. When the last of Hope’s belongings rested in the foyer, the four of them headed to the kitchen for lunch.
Silvia was instructing the kitchen when the doorbell rang. “Mommy and Daddy!” Hope jumped off the kitchen chair.
Following his niece, he reminded her not to answer the door. Reaching the stained glass front door, he turned its brass handle. Berty came face-to-face with a man who was not his brother.
He quickly studied the man’s crisp pinstripe suit and neat, black, tight, curly hair. “Can I help you?” Hope stood behind Berty, holding onto his shirt.
“Mister Hubert Chase?” the man said.
“I am Lawrence Trane from Silverman and Trane.” He handed Berty his card.
Berty glanced at the business card. “You’re a lawyer.”
“We represent Chase Technologies as well as Jonathan and Teresa Chase,” said Lawrence.
His stomach dropped. Opening his mouth, he could not get it to form words.
“Is there somewhere private we can talk?” Lawrence asked.
“Yes. I’m sorry. Come in.” Berty stepped aside so the man could enter. “Hope, go back in the kitchen and stay there.”
Berty led Lawrence into the sitting room. “Please, have a seat.” He closed the pocket door, then sat across from the stranger in his home.
“Mister Chase, there is no good way to tell you this,” Lawrence began. “Your brother and sister-in-law did not make their flight today. It seems as though that they are lost in Africa.”
“They never returned from their safari,” answered Lawrence.
“Mister Silverman is with your parents, George and Kate Chase, and Teresa’s parents, Robert and Lillian Regnik. They are meeting with an official from the State Department,” Lawrence explained. “They are following all the proper procedures to find Jon and Teresa.”
“Which leads me to why I am here. Teresa set up a contingency plan.” Lawrence opened his briefcase. “In the event they did not return in time, you get legal temporary custody of their daughter, Hope.” He placed a stack of papers on the coffee table. “So she can go to school, the doctor, things like that.”
Staring at the papers, he rubbed his eyebrow. “School,” he swallowed, “of course.”
“You also have temporary control of Chase Technologies with your father, George.”
“I know nothing about the business,” he admitted.
Lawrence continued, “Temporary means six months. After that time, if they are not found, you get full guardianship of your niece. All of their assets would be put in trust for Hope of which you would manage until she turns twenty-one.” Berty looked blankly into his dark eyes. “Mister Chase, I need you to sign these papers.” He placed the pen on the table.
Picking up the pen, Berty asked, “Can they be found?”
Lawrence’s steely exterior softened. “I don’t know. Your brother is a good man. I’ve known him for years. Be assured that we are exploring all avenues open to us.”
Nodding, Berty asked, “Where do I sign?” He scribbled his name everywhere Lawrence indicated.
After Berty received his copies, he walked the man to the door. “I hope we don’t meet like this again,” said Lawrence. “You will know when we know.”
Berty shook his hand. Opening the door, he could barely see the tree lined street through the deluge. Thunder cracked as he closed the door.
When he walked into the kitchen, Hope asked, “Will Mommy and Daddy be here soon?” Lightning flashed in the windows.
How could he tell her in the best possible way? “Hope,” he sat down, “Mommy and Daddy won’t be back for a while.”
“They are missing, but people are looking for them,” he answered. “Until they come home, you’ll stay here. And you will go to a new school.”
Tears wanted to burst from her eyes at any moment. “How long until they find them?”
“I don’t know.”
She ran to him. As he comforted her, he did not want to think about the horrors of what might have happened to them. The responsibility he now had weighed heavily on him.