My first series, The Crystal Odysseys Series, follows the adventures of Narissa Day. These journeys open her eyes to the world she lives in, so different from what she believed growing up in Duke Alec's Manor in Holmdale.
The Crimson Orb
Nissa Day yearns to sword fight and learn magic like the boys at Holm Manor. When Madoc, the young wizard and 'magic' teacher, fails to return after a journey to his ailing father, Nissa and her older brother Blane travel east to find him.
They encounter many travelers heading south to Meecham to seek the fabled Crimson Orb. In East Harbor they secure passage to Fairhaven, defeating pirates and a ruda, a spiny sea creature, using the energies surrounding them, as Madoc taught. Nissa also uses the cooking and sewing skills she resented learning.
At the Citadel in Fairhaven, they join forces with Madoc's brother Gareth and sister Carys. Gareth commands a cadre of guards and one of them learns Madoc was taken by four criminals. Nissa, Blane, Gareth, Carys and two of Gareth's men travel back across the sea to find Madoc and the men who abducted him.
After many adventures, they arrive in Meecham, a town teaming with Orb seekers, and rescue Madoc.
On their way north, treacherous vines entrap them in a swampland, but they are saved by the swamp dwellers, who have the Orb and use it to heal Carys' broken leg, The travelers promise their rescuers to keep the secret of the Orbs whereabouts. As they continue on, Nissa and Madoc declare their love for each other.
This first book in the series, published by Phantasm Books, a division of Assent Publications, is now available:
The book is also on the shelves in libraries, including the Millhopper library in Gainesville, FL and libraries in Albuquerque, NM
Here's an excerpt from the first chapter of the fantasy novel: A Bite of the Apple , a portal story.
I wiped the perspiration from my brow and pushed my hair out of my eyes. Long-sleeves protected my arms from the hot sun. I'd inherited my mother's fair skin and fine blond hair. My blouse stuck to my back. My knees ached and so did my fingers. So many weeds! Where had they all come from? Even with the excessive spring rains we'd had, I hadn't expected to have to pull so many. I'd already filled one burlap sack and was about to get another. Not that I was complaining, but I dreamed of being anywhere but the farm where I'd lived all my life with my parents and younger brother.
“Bet, bring me some carrots and munstels, would you please?” My mother's voice reached me all the way from the house.
I stopped weeding long enough to pull four long orange roots to pluck a dozen of the tan fungus from the ground. The weather that had produced the weeds had also given us a bumper crop of vegetables. Poppa took a wagon load of them into Romik that morning to sell at the marketplace.
I stretched my legs and fingers before walking the short distance to the back door. “Will these be enough?” I placed the vegetables on the table where my brother, Ian, was peeling potatoes for stew.
“Oh, yes. Thank you, dear.” She glanced at my flushed face. “Sit down and help yourself to some cold tea before you go back out.”
The kitchen felt as hot as the outside. Very little breeze drifted through the open windows. Mother had started a fire on the hearth to cook our dinner.
She stirred the pot of chicken, water and seasonings on the grate, and I smelled the basil, thyme and peppercorns.
I poured tea from the pitcher into one of the pink-tinged glasses, a gift from my aunt after one of her trips. “I thought Poppa would be home by now.”
She glanced out the curtain-framed kitchen window. “I hope he's delayed because he was able to sell most of the crops.”
If he sold enough we could all go on a holiday. Every time Aunt Gillian returned from one of her trips and regaled us with stories of far-off lands, I dreamed of traveling myself, but I had never gone far from home.
Once I finished my tea, I had no excuse to linger, and returned to my weeding. The sun hadn't progressed further across the sky when I heard the clip-clop of a horse. Poppa approached in the horse-drawn wagon. Aunt Gill rode beside him.
She wore one of her elegant riding costumes, a red fitted short coat over a long full skirt in a soft gray fabric. She'd arranged her golden hair in lovely coils on top of her head, making her appear even taller.
“Aunt Gill!” Ian shouted, rushing out to greet them both and assist our aunt to dismount.
At nineteen I was too old for such exuberance, but then again, my brother had always been more boisterous than I.
Ian helped Poppa unhitch the wagon. I led the steeds to the corral and returned immediately.
“What did you bring us?” Ian asked, sounding even younger than his sixteen years.
“Ian! Your manners!” I scolded, but Aunt Gill laughed. She always brought us the most exotic gifts: silk scarves and handkerchiefs from Plum Island in the middle of the Inland Sea, chocolates from the mountains of Gorsland, painted clay pots from the sandy deserts of Panea, and seashell necklaces from beaches up and down the far off west coast. I wondered if I would ever see those places myself.
“Wait until you see what I have for you both!” she teased. We frowned, knowing we would have to be patient until after dinner.
As Ian walked to the house with Aunt Gill, I helped my father unload the produce still in the wagon. “How was it today?” I asked. He had brought back very little.
He took off his straw hat and wiped his wide brow with a plaid cloth. “The new tavern owner purchased most of the vegetables and I had a steady stream of people wanting our peaches and plums.” He pulled out a pouch of coins and jingled it. His grin reached his warm brown eyes. I loved Poppa's eyes and wished I'd gotten them instead of my washed out blues.
Once we'd put the wagon away, we took the remaining produce to the kitchen. By the time Poppa and Aunt Gill had washed off the road dust from their hands and faces, Momma had dinner on our sturdy wood table. Besides the chicken stew, there was a salad of greens and a hearty bread she baked that afternoon. Poppa dished out the food and we began to eat.
My parents' rule was that we held our conversation until we were at least half-way through our meal. As we ate, I noticed Aunt Gillian's eyes stray from her plate to me a few times. Each time, a smile crossed her lips. I wondered what she wanted to say to me.
Ian never ate so fast. He obviously had a lot he wanted to talk about. “Where did you go this time?” he asked our aunt as soon she ate half of her food.
Aunt Gill smiled as she swallowed. “Bonafilina. It's a beautiful jungle land, filled with colorful birds and flowers, trees that reach towards the sky, and a people with very brown skin who cover only some of it with clothing.”
Ian's brown eyes went wide. Aunt Gill's descriptions entranced me too. She was still telling us about the exotiv customs of the people and the foods they served her when Momma brought out the apple pie she'd baked that day.
“But nothing I ate in Bonafilina could compare to your food, Charlotte,” Aunt Gill told her.
“Oh, go on! You're just saying that.”
“It's true!” She ate every morsel of her slice of pie, every morsel, then put down her fork. “And to thank you for such a wonderful meal, I'll do the washing up. Bet, why don't you help me?”
“After that can we open our presents?” Ian voice held a plaintive note.
“Yes, of course.” Gill smiled at him.
While Ian went with Poppa to see to the animals for the evening, and Momma relaxed in her rocker with some needlepoint, I helped my aunt clear the table and then filled a basin with water from the pump. I warmed it for a while on the hearth. We used a cake of soap to scrub the plates, forks and other utensils.
“Have you ever wondered why I travel so much?” Aunt Gill asked me as we worked side-by-side.
“I thought it was because you found it so enlightening and enjoyable.” Glancing at her out of the corner of my eye, I rolled up my sleeves, but they were still wet with soap suds.
“Well, it is that, surely. But I don't travel only for pleasure. I'm sent by the Council.
This book won the New Mexico Press Women's fiction contest for 2016 in the YA category. It came in second in the National Press Women's Association contest.
Under Two Moons and Beyond the Sea are books two and three in the Crystal Odyssey series. In them, Nissa, Madoc and their siblings travel to continents to the north and east, still searching for the source of Madoc's strange books. Along the way, they make many new friends, and a few enemies.
My middle grade book So You Want to be a Dragon tells an adventure of Bekka, Cora, and Derry. When the harbor of Lorando is torched by three dragons, Bekka, her little sister Cora and their neighbor Derry devise a plan to keep the dragons away. They will parlay with the dragons, plead with them. But to get close enough to do that, they must transform themselves into dragons. They ask a shapeshifter for help, and he reluctantly tells them the steps needed to take on the form of a dragon. Can the three children achieve their plan to convince the dragons to leave Lorando alone? If they do, how will they shift back into their human forms?