I am continuing to present to you MG/YA authors and today I am very happy to be presenting a very accomplished and amazing author, Rebecca Ryals Russell. Rebecca is the author of multiple published books and I am very happy to know her.
Welcome to my blog, Rebecca. It's so nice to host another MuseItUp Publishing author. Tell us a little about yourself, please.
Here is my bio:
Rebecca Ryals Russell writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy and Horror while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin. ( http://flablackbearcabin.com )
She is a fourth generation Floridian. She was born in Gainesville, grew up in Sunrise, lived in Orlando and Jacksonville before moving outside Lake City to care for ailing parents.
The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and secretary, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories. Her main interests are her four children ages 22, 19, 17, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, going to movies, reading, discussing philosophy with her 17-year-old son.
Over the course of the next few years she has several books being published.
Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website http://tweenwordquest.com for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works.
More about Rebecca:
Where did the concept for your current book come from?
The concept for the Seraphym Wars Series and Stardust Warriors Series has been brewing for about thirty years. I started it several times but finally sat down and let it pour into the computer about four years ago.
How long have you been working on your latest book (concept to editing)?
Book 1 Odessa took about four from start to finish of actual writing, rewriting, editing, submission. The next book didn’t take nearly as long. I guess I was pretty much learning my way through the process.
How many books do you have published?
Odessa was my debut novel. Odessa came out April 2011, Zarena, part of the MG series Stardust Warriors, came out July 2011, Prophecy, Seraphym Wars, comes out September 2011, Don’t Make Marty Mad comes out Oct 2011, but it’s a horror story and not intended for teens or children, and Jeremiah, Stardust Warriors in November. Then in 2012 I have Harpies, Seraphym Wars, in January; Mercy, Stardust Warriors in April, Magaelbash, Stardust Warriors, in June. So far.
What classic literature would you recommend teens to read and why?
Having raised three teens so far I had an opportunity to do just this. They read 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, A Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allen Poe, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee , Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. My son even read Dante’s The Divine Comedy as a sophomore in high school. There are probably more but these are what come to mind. Having them read these classics gave us something to discuss and broadened their horizons. Since reading them they have found references in movies, magazines, commercials and conversation.
What one book do you think everyone should read and why?
That would be a toss-up between 1984, The Giver and Lord of the Flies. Each of these explores the human condition.
What would you tell teenaged writers about the submission to publication process?
Don’t give up. No matter how many rejections you receive, rework the submission until it gets accepted. Take each rejection as a lesson that the manuscript needs more work.
Why do think teenagers are so fascinated by the paranormal and fantastic? (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, elves, demons)
Teenagers feel immortal. Their brains tell them they can’t die, so they search out fearful images to test themselves. That’s why slasher films are marketed at them. But this fallacy in thinking is why there are so many teenaged driving deaths/accidents, suicides and pregnancies.
You’ve been asked to choose 5-10 books for a space capsule. What would you choose and why?
1-1984 by George Orwell, it shows what can happen to society that is too tightly controlled; embodies the Dystopian novel
2-Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, it embodies futurism in literature
3-Harry Potter by JK Rowling, helps give kids hope they can make a difference; interesting use of magic overlapping with the ‘real’ world
4-Lord of the Flies by William Golding, shows what happens to society without controls
5-How To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, demonstrates man inhumanity to man
6-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mead, historical about the Civil War, hopeful about overcoming oppression
7-anything by Shakespeare, incredible use of language, structure, symbolism
8-Dante’s Inferno, amazing imagination and use of language
9-Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm, classic stories that change as you grow
Blurb: 105 words
14-year old Zarena spends time with a Holy Order of Clerics on their hidden world of Revrum Natura, while she receives training in Martial Arts, Herbology, Astronomy, Weaponry and Mind Control. Destined to become the leader of the Vigorios, child warriors, who will assist the Seraphym in the war against the demon-dragons of Dracwald, Zarena grows up in a hurry. Lonely and homesick, she meets a Mermaid who encourages her to talk about her training. Is this new friend too good to be true? Zarena learns a valuable lesson about trust and betrayal—a lesson that will serve her well as leader of the Vigorios.
Suddenly, Zarena noticed they were no longer alone in the huge hall. People were coming and going. Everyone dressed similarly in variously colored plain robes over loose-fitting pants and tunics or full-length tunic dresses. She wondered if the color designated a job or power level.
A statuesque woman, her green robe and yellow tunic dress flowing behind her like angel wings, approached them. Zarena glanced down at her stained T-shirt and bare feet. They all looked so elegant. She wished she hadn’t stepped out of the room so abruptly and quelled the urge to dash back inside. She didn’t want to be rude to these lovely people who obviously meant her no harm. Her cheeks flamed with embarrassment, but she managed a tight smile.
“Hello, Zarena,” the stately thin woman greeted with a wide toothy smile. “I’m glad to see you out and about so early.” The white-haired woman’s friendly gray eyes wandered across Zarena’s T-shirt, and she leaned close to whisper, “I believe I have a robe and gown that will fit you just fine. You’re about my height.”
She gently took Zarena’s hand in hers and led her back into the room. It dawned on Zarena this was the woman’s bed chamber.
“I’m so sorry to have taken your bed last night,” Zarena stammered, and looked down at the floor. Why did she feet obliged to these people? They had kidnapped her from her bed in the middle of the night, for Laud’s sake! But she did feel grateful. Why?
“Think nothing of it, my dear. You had to finish the night somewhere. My name’s Divinor. I’m the one who brought you here, so it was only natural you stay in my room.” As she spoke, Divinor opened the door to a tiny armoire located in the corner of the very small room.
Zarena took the occasion to further study the room. Poorly furnished, a narrow bed was centered lengthwise on one wall with a small nightstand at head and foot. Centered on the wall directly opposite stood a narrow desk and chair. The small armoire sat to the right of the desk, barely large enough to hold five or six outfits and a coat. It was beside a small door leading into another room, which Zarena guessed to be a bathroom.
She opened her mouth to ask, when Divinor motioned toward the door and said, “Of course, dear, right through that door. I’ll have a robe and gown on the bed for you when you come out. I do hope the sandals will fit.” Divinor stooped to the bottom of the armoire and lifted out a pair of simple, brown leather sandals.
Before she pulled the bathroom door closed, Zarena noticed the only comfortable piece of furniture in the small bedroom. Squatting on the other side of the desk, in the corner behind the door to enter the room, an overstuffed white armchair, with a tall floor lamp beside it and a green blanket throw draped over one of the arms, looked inviting—as if it were meant for someone to curl up in and read, listen to music, or just think.
The bathroom was just as simple as the bedroom. The furnishings provided just enough to live comfortably without luxury. They must be religious people, maybe monks or something like that. Are there women monks? She wasn’t sure.
Blurb 151 words
For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy of Narciss’s future doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.
But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.
Excerpt from Prophecy:
Shadow launched into the sky like a blow-dart.
“This is not a good idea,” Lucy whispered.
“We’ve come this far—she did save us from the storm and dragon.” I glanced out at the still raging storm. In the close distance, a flare of fire proved the dragon’s search continued. Continued searching for me.
I followed the girl inside the tree. Once inside, the door shut. A loud click as though a lock had been sprung echoed throughout the space. I wondered if Lucy might be right. Had I gotten us deeper into trouble? But another part of my mind questioned whether a tree could even have a locking door, so I disregarded it and followed her further into the tree. As we progressed down a black corridor, gas lights flared long enough for us to pass then blacked out again, leaving the path before and aft in complete darkness. Although a bit unnerving, I had trusted her thus far. I saw no reason to back out now. Even if I could.
Passing beneath another arched doorway, we entered a round room with gas lights evenly spaced on the walls and a high, domed ceiling. I surmised we had passed through a small tree and were now inside an even larger one than where we entered.
“Are all of the trees connected somehow into a—I don’t know—community of some sort?” I turned slowly to survey the round smooth inner bark walls. The room featured a roaring fireplace built of stone. Furniture, constructed of woven grasses and smoothed wooden discs or bent branch framework, lined the walls.
“This is Glithmeera,” she said softly, pointing to a table and chair. “It is our home. Please sit. I shall bring food and drink.”
The chair of woven rushes wrapped me like a second skin floating, somehow, above the pine needle floor. A polished disc of wood with a narrow-diameter wooden pedestal sat beside the chair. Rich golden lamplight glinted off the incredibly beautiful graining and glossy surface of the table.
“My name is Jeremiah Holyfield.”
She placed a clay cup filled with thick amber liquid on the table. Beside this, she set a polished wooden disc covered with slices of various fruits and bread with a hunk of white cheese.
“I know. I am called Remira.”
As the sweet liquid eased past my lips, they curved into a smile. “I love mead.” The fermented honey slid down my throat, thrilling my senses. So much tastier than burned fish or dried out bearlish meat. I spread a bit of cheese on a chunk of bread and with eyes shut, savored the mellow creamy flavor.
“She said she knew your name. How is that possible? Jeremiah, this is beyond frightening.” Lucy’s concern bounced around in my mind. Seduced by the comfort and food, I ignored her warning.
“What do you make cheese from around here?” I asked through mouthfuls of sweet red and blue berries I couldn’t identify.
“We collect milk from Andergryphs. They live on an island in the Bluquor Sea but come here for milking once a week.” She sat down opposite, watching me eat with iridescent purple slanted eyes. Her features looked odd. With large, slanted eyes inside a small, heart-shaped face, pointed ears that stuck out through brilliant red hair hanging to her waist, I wondered if she was a Majikal. She had to be. I’d never seen a normal person with ears like hers. Or purple eyes at such an upward slant.
“What are Andergryphs? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one.” I spread more cheese. Although full, it had been so long since I’d eaten this well, stopping now wasn’t an option. Apparently my appetite had returned, as well.
“They are hard to describe as they possess attributes from several species of creatures,” she said, popping a red berry into her small pink mouth. “They are large with a furred wide body, short strong rear legs, very large feathered wings, beaked head, and front legs of a large predatory bird.”
“I’ve never seen one of those for sure. Are they friendly?”
“If your heart is good. But if they don’t like your aura they will ignore you. They can also be vicious in a battle.”
“When are they due to return? I would love to see one of these creatures.” The last drop of mead slid down my throat followed by a loud burp. The room titled momentarily before straightening again.
Remira grinned, showing small even teeth with sharp tips. I realized it was the first time she’d smiled showing teeth. The contrast of her petite features against such malicious teeth was jarring. My smile slid away like butter off hot toast.
“Everything taste good?”
I nodded, looking around the room. I didn’t like thinking about the purpose of pointed teeth in such an innocent face. And now that I thought about it, her tone was sickeningly sweet. Like there was something she didn’t want me to notice or think about.
“Thank you. I was hungrier than I thought.” My eyes roved the walls, searching for the arched opening we’d come through. I couldn’t see it. Shadows danced along the walls between each lamp, which threw out barely any light at all. Fog seemed to settle across my thoughts—haze across my vision. Lucy had been right. We should have chanced the dragon. Like trudging through thick mud, my eyes dragged from the shadows to focus momentarily on the elf’s face again.
“The Andergryphs are due back in a couple of days. Perhaps you could rest, see one in person,” she smiled and again I stared at the jagged teeth.
“I knew something was wrong.” Lucy sighed.
“I suppose a day’s rest might help.” My speech slurred, even to my own ears. “Must have had too much mead.” As I stood to leave, the ground rose and smacked my face.
Blurb 190 words
17-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from an attack when she was 15, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets sweet and sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest, but harbors a secret past that ironically would destroy all the faith she has placed in him. A handsomely roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams and makes sudden appearances in unlikely places, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.
Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
“Did anything…uh…traumatic or horrifying happen to you lately?”
I shuddered, nodding.
I sat cross-legged on one end of the sofa, facing Michael at the other end.
“Yeah. You could say it was horrifying.”
I was so glad today was Saturday. It was the one day of the week I didn’t have school or work. I sat cross-legged on the sofa, watching my favorite classic movie, The African Queen, and munching on a bowl of popcorn resting in my lap. Suddenly my body went rigid. I sat bolt upright. My vision spun in circles. The room became kaleidoscopic. A rushing roar echoed in my ears. Then I saw my brother Quinn running around in circles, screaming. Wide-eyed, I stared, transfixed and mute. A boy with blond dreads, wearing a black leather jacket and ripped jeans, chased him across a field. Once close enough, he threw some kind of liquid from a small red can on Quinn. A smaller boy with spiky red hair tossed something small that glowed in the dusk. It landed on Quinn’s chest.
Flames shot high into the darkness as he screamed and continued running around the grassy enclosure. Insane laughter echoed in the still darkness. The crackling and popping of the flames snapped like firecrackers. Quinn’s arms flailed wildly, like he was trapped in a giant spider web. My hands balled into fists, wadding my skirt in my hands. I smelled the acrid, sour stench of burning flesh and hair but couldn’t scream. I was frozen—watching. Three teenaged boys, all wearing black leather jackets, surrounded him, laughing hysterically and pointing. An oddly metallic odor of sweat mingled with the bitter odor of searing flesh. Trees closed in like spectators, hovering in the blackness of night. Mute. Unemotional. Uncaring.
Quinn rolled on the grass, screaming a banshee wail while trying to put out the flames. Then he lay still. Silenced. The red-haired boy poured more of the flammable liquid onto Quinn’s back. The black-haired teen threw a match and Quinn flashed into flames again. This time there was no movement. There was no screaming. The laughter and pointing stopped. The three boys sneered at the flaming, blackened corpse at their feet.
“Too fast,” the smallest boy said, his hair the color of fire.
“Too easy,” the black-haired boy declared with a kick at Quinn’s head. “Whatcha gotta say fer yerself? Shoulda paid me back, slacker.” His voice slithered slowly like the snake his boots were made of.
“Not enough fun,” said the third. He stared at his feet, his long blond dreads falling across his face until he turned his head to look at the smallest boy. A port wine birthmark covered his cheek and part of his neck.
“Yeah. What video game did ya buy anyway? Sumthin’ with demons, I hope!” the small boy squeaked, his high-pitched voice grating on my nerves. All three of them roared with laughter.
“Loser,” the black-haired boy said. A wad of spittle flew onto Quinn’s back and sizzled.
Finally I screamed. As though released from bonds, I leaped up from the sofa. The stainless steel bowl of popcorn flew through the air, scattering kernels across the beige carpet and clattering upside down on the coffee table. Tears streamed down my face. My parents ran into the TV room. “Oh, my God! NO! This can’t be happening again…” I wailed, holding my head.
“What’s the matter?” my mother, Ashley, said, as she pushed my long hair back from my sweaty face.
Gasping with hiccups, I took a deep breath and, between bouts of crying, told them everything I’d seen. In unison they turned their heads and looked at the television. A Katharine Hepburn film danced on the screen.
“Are you positive?” Dad asked.
I stared my dad in the eyes and nodded. “Absolutely. You know my visions are always right. Mom.” I looked at Mom’s white face. “We have to try and find him. Maybe it didn’t happen yet. Usually it’s a warning. Remember Jarrod? And Marcy when she was three?”
Dad’s face went ashen and Mom’s hand, still resting on my back, began to tremble as it flew to her mouth.
“Oh, my God,” Mom said, “we would have lost both of them had you not seen.”
“I’ll try to call him on his phone,” Dad said, leaving the room in a hurry.
Moments later he returned. “No answer. Should I call the police?”
“We don’t even know where he might be,” Mom cried, holding her face in her hands and rocking back and forth on the sofa beside me.
Dad knelt down and made eye contact with me. At first I didn’t see him. I saw Quinn again, running across the grass in flames.
“Where was he? Could you tell?” he asked.
His eyes, too, were already red-rimmed, as if they knew the truth.
“All I saw was grass. Like a park, maybe. But it seemed small. They took their time.”
I hiccupped, crying again as images of Quinn, much younger, flashed through my mind. Trying to pedal his red bicycle as I held it steady for him. Crawling into my bed in the middle of the night because he’d watched a scary movie. Rolling around on the grass in flames, screaming.
“I can’t just wait until we hear something. Cops won’t do anything based on a vision. I’ll drive around and see if I get lucky.” Dad looked at me, his face long and eyes sad. “I hope this time you’re wrong, hon.”
“Me too, dad. Me too.” I shook my head, rubbing weeping eyes.
Still hiccupping, I sat on the sofa and shut my eyes. Maybe there was a detail that would direct Dad. My head throbbed and my nose was stuffed up from crying. I hoped another migraine wasn’t starting. The scraping sounds of Mom scooting around on the floor picking up the popcorn irritated my brain. I’d noticed before that my hearing was super acute during and after a vision. But I knew she had to be doing something, so I pretended not to notice
When Dad returned without news, we all sat in a huddle on the sofa, crying and praying. Jarrod, eleven, and Marcy, fourteen, came home and learned of my vision. Since I’d seen him die, they knew there was no hope. My visions were always true.
BOOK RELEASE INFO:
April 2011-Odessa, Seraphym Wars YA Series-available at Amazon
July 2011-Zarena, Stardust Warriors MG Series
September 2011-Prophecy, Seraphym Wars
October 2011-Don’t Make Marty Mad (adult Horror story)
November 2011-Jeremiah, Stardust Warriors
January 2012-Harpies, Seraphym Wars
February 2012-Laman, Stardust Warriors
April 2012-Mercy, Stardust Warriors
June 2012-Magaelbash, Stardust Warriors
Rebecca it has been a pleasure hosting you today. Lots of luck with the new addition to your series. Anyone who enjoys reading fantasy will love your books!
Until the next time, I will be on the radio today doing my show, RRWL Tales from the Pages at 3PM Central, 4PM EST. My guests will be Sameena Bachmeier, C.K.Volnek, a guest on this blog a little while ago, and maybe Karen Cote. Tune in to join in the fun! We are all celebrating our publication!! Sorry for the late post. This month has really been hectic!! Thank you to Rebecca for being so prompt! My next guest will be Meradeth Snow on September 25th. Who knew September was such a long month?
Thank you to all the people who have commented and I will be deciding on the best high school experience comment soon.:) Thank you to my followers too!!