Holiday? Not At Our House

Labor Day was not a holiday in our house when we were growing up. Dad was gone a lot, working on national defense, and the times he was home were precious. So, we worked.

We worked: putting in fences, mowing, trimming, weeding, cleaning the stalls and the chicken room in the barn, washing and painting the lawn furniture,  changing the brakes on the cars, mowing the field with the tractor, vacuuming, dusting, laundry. And always the looming threat of winter, especially in Colorado. It snowed on September 3, 1961. That was the year the first day of school was on September 3.

Poor Mother. She had cleaned and ironed our uniforms, polished our shoes, and made sure lunches were ready. We three girls had our hair in rag curlers and the boys’ hair was neatly trimmed. She had to dig out the winter coats, gloves, hats, and boots that night. It was snowing heavily, blowing sideways when the bus stopped in front of the house. Slipping and sliding, we made it to school.

Back to Labor Day. Starting as a protest by labor union members against intolerable working conditions in the late 1800s, it became a celebration of the working man and his accomplishments. We always celebrated by laboring.

After the new paint on the lawn furniture dried around 6 at night, Dad would barbeque hamburgers. We’d have potato salad and baked beans. We sat on the chairs, almost too exhausted to eat.

So I continue the tradition. Maybe not the physical labor repeating my childhood, but I labor. I’m spending the weekend writing about a young woman on a quest to find an amulet and, just maybe, herself and her path in life.

Happy Labor Day. May you not labor this day.

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Roller Coasters and Mother’s Day

Roller Coasters and Writing,

And Mother’s Day

 I’m sitting at the table looking out at Spring. The crabapple trees are in bloom (stupid trees, it’s going to snow again in 3 days). Dandelions are blooming as well as crocus and tulips. One little daffodil made it this year. Ooh…and the forsythia is blooming.

That hint of snow in three days got me thinking about roller coasters. This past year has been up, down, slam right, slam left, up, down, again and again and again. I seriously get sick on roller coasters. Plus, they are terrifying, especial down.

I don’t mind the whirling cups or the whirligig. Remember the spider at Elitches? And there was a Viking boat that swung back and forth ‘til, if you sat in the very back, you went weightless just before momentum started on the downswing. The kids loved it. Me…not so much. Funny, I have no problems up on a roof or jumping out of airplanes.

 

I've done a video reading of an excerpt from WindRunner for the Colorado Authors League YouTube page featuring winners and finalists in their Book Contest. WindRunner was a finalist in 2020 in the fantasy category. It should be posted sometime in the beginning of May. (Next week? Already?)

Back to roller coasters. When can we get off? I’m really sick of the constant changes to rules and regulations. The constant hammering in the news and ads by the government. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Get a vaccine, but still wear a mask. Small groups of vaccinated people are ok. No they are not. Wear a mask outside. Don’t wear a mask outside. What are the bureaucrats trying to do? Drive us crazy? What if you already had the virus? Still get a vaccine? Why? Why don’t they give numbers instead of percentages?

Roller coasting (is that a word?) is what has happened to DreamWalker this past year. The writing has gone up and down and sideways a lot. I’m pretty sure that waiting for the next shoe to drop in the real world has translated into my parallel world of Ard An Tir. It’s like slogging through mud – or sand – as Breanna, Marta, and Corcra make their way toward the Fasach capital through the desert.

Roller coasters. When can we get off?

 

 

Mother’s Day is two weeks away. Do you know anyone who likes to read? My books make great gifts! The pictures have links to Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Everyone deserves a chance to curl up with a good book!

 

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Of Death and Life

Of Death and Life

Twenty-one years ago my husband of twenty-five years was dying, paralyzed by metastasized brain cancer.

I stood at the open window of our bedroom on a glorious day in May, listening to the birds and looking at the nodding heads of daffodils and tulips. Waiting.

He was lying on the bed behind me, sleeping for the moment. My strong steadfast Marine was leaving, moment by moment. The ticking of the clock on the wall counted down his minutes. There was nothing more to be done.

I turned from the window to finish folding laundry on the trunk at the end of the bed. I heard kids outside laughing and shouting.

“Get it,” I heard. “Quick. Don’t let it go!”

I looked back out the window and saw three boys, between nine and eleven years old, two with sticks, hitting the evergreen groundcover growing by the sidewalk in the front yard. They were poking the sticks into the shrubs, intently focused on what they were doing.

I raced down the stairs and out the front door, down the sidewalk and over to the boys.

“What are you doing?” I wanted to shout, but asked it pleasantly.

The boys hesitated. “We found a baby duck and we were taking it back to the creek,” one answered.

Sure they were.

“Well, I’m glad you found it. I think I can take care of it now. Why don’t you go on home?”

“We were just going to take it back,” the youngest said, a pouting whine in his voice.

“Thanks, but I’ll take care of it.”

They slouched down the street, whacking the pavement with their sticks and muttering about the “mean old lady”. Half a block away, they began to skip and run. I watched until they were gone.

Movement among the evergreen branches caught my glance. Leaning down close to the ground, I watched a tiny duckling trying to hide under the branches. “It’s ok baby. It’s ok,” I murmured. I slowly reached out and wrapped my fingers around the quivering little body. I picked it up and held it close against my chest.

I’ve been around a lot of baby birds. When I was growing up, Dad bought us baby chicks to raise and we grew out pheasant chicks for the state fish and game department to release in the state parks. My dad found a young mallard hen sitting in the middle of the road along his route home late one evening. He stopped, picked her up, put her on the passenger side floor and brought her home.

 “Quackers” fit right in with Waddles, Doddles, and Toddles, our three Peking ducks. In the summer, we’d fill a wading pool with water that the ducks loved to bathe in. Quackers would take off and fly around the house, the blue bars on her wings flashed in the sun. She’d land in the wading pool with a huge spray of water. She never flew away.

I knew what to do. The baby needed warmth and food. I found a shoebox and put newspaper in the bottom and tore thin strips to make a nest and cover for the little one. A daughter was dispatched to the pet store to buy chicken feed. A shallow dish held water and another, the feed.

 I held the little creature close to my heart many times over the next days, murmuring and petting. I took her in for my husband to see. He could not talk any more, but his eyes, those wonderful dark brown eyes, softened and tears ran. I lifted his hand and trailed his fingers over downy feathers.

I wasn’t sure that the baby would live. As my husband declined, the duckling grew stronger.           

It took a week for my husband to leave. Stepping into the next life was hard work. Between one moment and the next he was gone: a breath away.

After the funeral and burial at our National Cemetery among the other heroes, and the gathering at home for friends and family, quiet descended on the house. The shelties needed care and the duckling, still alive, took time too.

My niece named her Peepers. I knew I couldn’t keep her. Her soft little churring sound when I fed her or held her pulled at my heart. I called Wild Birds Unlimited and asked them what I should do.

“There is a sanctuary for young ducks that the Wildlife Department runs. You can bring it here to the store and they will come and get it. We already have five.”

I wrestled with the decision for another week, but finally decided to let her live free. When I walked in with her, the lady was surprised. “Most babies that young don’t survive,” she said. “She’s bonded with you.” The baby was three weeks old.

So, I let her go. I kissed her and ran my fingers over her back one last time, put her in her box and handed her to the lady.

You would think that’s the end of the story.

 

Nine years later in June, I was on the phone, sitting on the front porch steps. I saw two mallards fly past the house and land across the street in the neighbor’s yard.

“Oh my gosh. I gotta go. The duck I saved has come back!”

I put the phone down and moved to a spot on the driveway behind the van. I sat down and started to talk to them. The female walked across the street and onto the driveway about two feet away. She looked at me and churred. I talked to her for about twenty minutes. The male, his green head glowing in the sun, slowly made his way to the driveway. He never got as close as she did, but he came. The bell at the school blared, signaling the end of the day. I slowly stood and told the mallards they needed to go. I walked toward them and they moved out to the street. “Go,” I said and raised my hand. “Thank you.” They took one last look, and flew away.

It was a remarkable moment. I’d often wondered if she’d survived. I was given the answer.

With profound gratitude, thanks to all who have gone before, who have served, and who are serving now.

On this Memorial Day, remember that with death, there is always life.

Semper Fi.

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National Craft Month

March is National Craft Month...and National Womens Month and ...

By Natli VanDerWerken © 2021Writing is an Art. It’s also a craft.

Gather your tools. A laptop, cup of tea or coffee. A glass with some pencils and pens. A pretty vase of spring flowers. Take your place in front of the keyboard or the paper. Write the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph. Craft a story. Three acts. Inciting incident. Ending. Plotting. All the filling in between.

Pull the parts and pieces together. Don’t be dismayed if they don’t all fit the first time. Re-write. Polish. Create a work of Art.

Release the Book. (Kind of like RELEASE THE KRAKEN).

Start on the next one.

You’re an Author.

© 2015-2021 natlivanderwerken.com Natli VanDerWerken

 

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Where is Winter?

From snowless Denver: Where is Winter?

I pretty much missed the past two months. Thanksgiving and Christmas were a blur and January the same. I did get a little bit of writing done, even if it was only one word or sentence a day.

I've been creating new ads for Red Dragon's Keep and WindRunner. What do you think?

I've also been doing some quilting and office organizing. You know. Beginning of the year stuff.

I've finally figured out what Breanna Arach has to lose to move DreamWalker forward. I wrote for about an hour last night. Just the motivation I needed. It's almost 2/3 done. I'm pushing to finish the book by the end of February.

Remember:

~Imagination is the Key~

(I'll try to remember, too :))

© 2015-2021 natlivanderwerken.com Natli VanDerWerken

 

 

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The Veil Thins – Happy Halloween!

WindRunner

WindRunner - Book II
The Dragon's Children


The veil between the worlds thins at Samhain, our Hallow E'en – Hallowed Evening.  The ending of the year in ancient times brings a close to all of the hard work that has gone before. Those who have continued on their journey in the afterlife are remembered. The uncanny can walk the earth. The full moon rides the sky.

I wish that I could step from this world into the world that exists on the pages of my books. That’s what I do when I read: step into the worlds that have been created and become part of the story.

Step into my world. 

WindRunner

Chapter 3 excerpt

Finished with his meal, Thomas checked to see if Aeden and Gregory were done. “Gregory, you mentioned we needed to talk. Let’s do it now if you’re ready,” Thomas said. “Lady Aeden, could you also come with us? I’ve got some questions I need answered.”

“Of course, my lord,” Gregory responded. Lady Aeden nodded in agreement.

“I’ll see the rest of you in the morning,” he told his siblings and cousins.

Following Aeden and Gregory from the great hall, Thomas looked furtively at the others who remained. Several of the men-at-arms were staring steadily at Aeden as she and Gregory left the room. He frowned.

HellReaver, can you keep watch on those men? They feel off, Thomas asked the Sword.
Of course, the Sword responded. Lady Aeden frightens them. They are afraid she will see into their hearts or read their minds. Fear holds them prisoner, but they plan nothing right now, HellReaver told him.

I didn’t think to ask you about Owen, Thomas said. I don’t understand what is going on with him. Why is he so … prickly?

There was silence as Thomas walked toward Gregory’s office. I’m not sure, HellReaver responded. He is very confused and angry about something. He is very good at keeping it hidden. He needs a task.

Thomas’s eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed in thought as he walked. “Hmm.”
He turned into the door to Gregory’s office and stopped abruptly. Gregory and Aeden stood at the window looking out on the Lady Tower garden, staring at what sat at its heart.

A huge black Dragon, twice as large as Lady Aeden in her Dragon form, sat precisely in the middle of the garden. Tail curled neatly around its feet, enormous head dipped to bring shining black eyes level with the window, it stared calmly into the room.

“Oh ... my … Gods,” Thomas whispered in shock
.
Aeden strode forward and unlatched the window, pushing it open into the frosty evening twilight. She gave a slight bow to the massive figure.

Straightening, she shook her head in bemusement. “My lord, what brings you to Red Dragon’s Keep?”

With a toss of its head, a whirlwind obscured the glittering black eyes and glistening black scales, scarcely stirring the branches of the fruit trees growing in the garden. When the whirlwind died into stillness, a man stood in the Dragon’s place.  He was clothed in supple black leather, black knee-high riding boots, and a midnight cape seemingly sprinkled with starlight and trimmed with the white fur of mountain dire cats.

I sensed the wards breaking when the Claiomh Solas’ woke. I have come to test the binding.
Thomas and Gregory jerked in surprise at the thunderous voice in their minds. Thomas’s hand drifted to HellReaver’s hilt and grasped it firmly. He started to pull the Sword of Light from its scabbard.

Thomas, you stand before the Arach Ri, the Dragon King. He it was who set the warding to keep your family safe. There is no danger here. HellReaver spoke quietly in his mind. Be calm and listen.

The man in the garden shifted to face Thomas. His black eyes, set above a large prominent nose on a long saturnine face, gleamed as he caught Thomas’s eyes with his. Thomas felt as if his mind was under attack. Without thought, he slammed his shields into place. He took a step back, away from such power.

A slow smile stretched thin lips on the creature’s face. Well done, Thomas Arach. You are worthy of HellReaver.

Anger flared at the intrusion into his mind as Thomas glared at this fabulous being out of legend, a Dragon in human form created by the first mages. Thomas turned his head toward Lady Aeden, his eyes still captured by the Dragon.

“Lady, I assume this is your father,” he said with rigid politeness. “Would you be so kind as to introduce us? Although, perhaps we don’t need introductions after he’s been rummaging in my mind!”

The Dragon King broke eye contact with Thomas, threw his head back and gave a shout of laughter.

“An admirable bearer of the Arach name, daughter. You have taught him well!”

© 2020 Natli VanDerWerken

Reviews are critical for the success of any book. If you've read my books and liked them, I'd love a review on Amazon or Good Reads of Barnes and Noble. Let the world know what you liked, or maybe didn't like, about the books. Thanks in advance!

 

© 2015-2021 natlivanderwerken.com Natli VanDerWerken

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September’s Song

DreamWalkerThe full Harvest Moon or Corn Moon has risen. It’s a time to start winding down summer and beginning the rituals of Fall. School used to start after Labor Day. This COVID year especially, we all need to escape into somewhere else, someplace magical, even if for just a few hours. Why kids have to go back to school when they should be reading on the porch is beyond me. Of course this year there's already snow on the highest peaks of the Rockies. There’s a nip in the air. What do all of you do to get ready for fall?

I like these days at the end of summer because I can get out in the coolth (is that a word? I think it’s a word) of the (fairly) early morning and work in the gardens in one of my sun hats and garden gloves, pulling weeds or pruning and deadheading. Once it starts to heat up, I’ll take my own advice and sit at one of the patio tables with their pretty blue umbrellas, a glass of iced tea to the side, and some snacks to tide me over, working on DreamWalker and the myriad tasks that go along with publishing it. I enjoy putting the ads together that I’ll post later on social media.

With that thought in mind, here’s an excerpt from DreamWalker. It’s coming along nicely. I think October or November it will be ready (maybe). (Cross your fingers).

DreamWalker

Book 3

TheDragon’s Children

 

Something wasn’t right.

Breanna Arach struggled to wake up.

A dirt path bordered by looming trees stretched before her. Darkness pressed in from either side of the narrow pathway. She could hear the skittering of creatures in the underbrush. An awful smell choked her, triggering her gag reflex.

She heard and felt the pounding of approaching hoofbeats. Dread squeezed her, shortened her breath, her heartbeat frantic. Shadows stretched ahead of whatever was coming down the path. She saw…

Breanna tore herself free of the dream, jerking upright with a shriek of fear.

Her heart hammered. She was panting. Sweat covered her face and body. She trembled with terror.

Eyes wide, she stared into nothing. The guttering glow of the embers in the fireplace at the end of her bed softened the darkness of her room. Her heart slowly returned to normal.

A dream. Just a dream.

Breanna swung her legs from under the quilt covering her bed to sit on its side. Her feet dangled above the floor. She put her elbows on her knees and dropped her head in her hands. She breathed slow and deep.

What am I going to do? she thought in anguish. This is the third dream this week! I have to find a way to control them!

She pushed herself off the mattress to the floor with a sigh. The cold curled her toes. She slipped her feet into soft leather slippers and pulled her robe over her nightshift. Tossing another log on the fire and leaving her Sword of Light in its scabbard on its stand beside her bed, she made her way from the family corridor to the small hearth in the kitchen. A cauldron of water sat on the coals, kept hot through the night. The Dragon Tower was quiet; the only sound the cadence of the patrolling guards.

Pulling a mug from the shelf next to the fireplace, the Duke’s youngest child spooned chamomile leaves into its bottom from one of several containers holding various types of tea. She ladled the water into the mug and shuffled to the table in front of the window looking out over the kitchen garden.

Breanna remembered helping the Keep's wise-woman, Moirra, harvest the chamomile at the end of summer. She leaned over the cup and drew the scent of the tea deep into her lungs. The braid of her red-gold hair dangled down her chest, almost into the tea. Impatience tightened her lips as she flipped it back over her shoulder. Stirring the leaves to hasten their steeping, she yawned wide, her jaw cracking as she pulled in another huge breath.

“That’s attractive,” a voice commented from the arch into the kitchen.

Breanna jerked in surprise and swung to face the doorway.

“What are you doing up?” she demanded of Marta, her friend, and weapons teacher.

“I heard your shriek,” the young woman told her. Long black hair framed her pale face, lying loose down to her waist. Tired half-opened blue eyes blinked slowly.

“Sorry I woke you,” Breanna told her, chagrin in her voice. She pulled the spoon from the tea to let the leaves settle to the bottom.

“That’s all right. I wasn’t sleeping well myself,” Marta said as she walked to the hearth and took a cup for herself. She scooped in black tea and ladled hot water into the cup.

“Really? Why not?” Breanna asked. “What were you dreaming about?”

Marta joined her at the table in front of the window facing the kitchen garden. This deep into the night it only reflected the dim light in the kitchen.

“Just normal stuff. You know, Demons coming out of portals. Claws reaching out of rifts to grab me. Dragon fire burning me to a crisp. Stuff like that,” Marta told her, a crooked smile crossing her face highlighting the dark circles under her eyes.

Breanna frowned. “You look awful. Have you talked to your mother? Maybe she can help.”

Marta brushed the suggestion aside with a flick of her fingers. “I’m fine. It’s just a dream about everything that’s happened.” She looked into her cup, avoiding Breanna’s gaze.

“Uh-huh,” Breanna said. She took a sip from the cup. “I still think you need to tell your mother about them.”

“Why did you shriek?” Marta asked. Breanna knew she was deliberately changing the subject.

“Something was coming down the path I was on. I knew it was horrible. Just before it turned the corner I woke myself up.” Breanna swirled the liquid in her mug, a brooding glower on her face, the corners of her mouth turned down. “Well, I don’t care if you’re not going to talk to your mother. I’m going to find her in the morning and ask her if she can help me control my dreams. I wish Mother was here, or even Aeden. Something is going on. I can just feel it!”

Marta looked at her for many moments, a frown lowering her brows, lips thin. “Fine,” she grunted. “I’ll go with you. Maybe she can help me too.”

Breanna drank the last of her tea and stood up from the table.  “I’m going back to bed and see if I can sleep. See you in the morning.” She left Marta staring into her cup.

A miasma of fear and rage reach out toward her as she opened the door to her room.

Breanna took an involuntary step back into the hall. Eyes narrowing with dangerous intent, jaw clenched, her anger surged.  Sending a mental shout to SunWalker, Breanna rushed to the sword stand. Nothing answered her.

Shaken by that lack of contact, she hesitated for a moment, then grabbed up the Sword, stripping the scabbard from its blade.

Light flared as SunWalker awoke.

The pall of rage and fear vanished as if it had never been.

Someone bound me! SunWalker’s voice hissed in Breanna’s mind.  Someone very powerful.

© 2015-2021 Natli VanDerWerken natlivanderwerken.com

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Colorado Authors League Teams Up with Little Libraries

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Winners and finalists from The Colorado Authors League 79th Writing Contest are encouraged to donate their books to the Little Libraries located around Colorado. I donated WindRunner and Red Dragon’s Keep to the Aurora Little Library at the Expo Rec … Continue reading

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Local Author’s WindRunner is Finalist In the Colorado Authors League 79th Writing Contest

WindRunner

WindRunner - Book II
The Dragon's Children

Local Aurora author Natli VanDerWerken has written another award-winning book. Her second book in the five-book series The Dragon’s Children is one of three finalists in the Colorado Authors League 79th Writing Contest.

WindRunner continues the story of the Arach family as demons, evil fey, and dark magic assault their world. A magical WindRunner, inspired by Friesian horses, chooses Owen Arach, second son of the Duke of Red Dragon’s Keep, to find a piece of the powerful talisman that controls Dragons.

Natli started the series with multi-award-winning Red Dragon’s Keep. Inspired by a fairytale she told her grandchildren one Christmas Eve, the main character in each of the five books centers around one of them.

WindRunner” let me explore the complicated relationships between brothers,” Natli explained. “Owen wants to be as brave and confident as his older brother. He feels useless and jealous and does not know how to deal with those feelings. All of that changes when he must confront the fey of the Darkened Forest, sway the Forest Lords to his cause, and battle demons to get the Aos Si Amulet. The WindRunner, his Sword of Light, and a Dragon help him grow and change.”

While WindRunner didn’t place first in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category, Natli is grateful that the judges thought highly enough of WindRunner to choose it as one of three finalists in the CAL contest. “I’ve entered it in other contests, so we’ll see what happens,” she said.

DreamWalker, the next book in the series, will be available in Summer 2020.

Author Natli VanDerWerken

Author Natli VanDerWerken

Natli served in the Navy as a meteorologist and anti-submarine warfare specialist. She used her military background to create authentic battle scenes. She was a 4H leader for twenty years, has served as an officer, historian and webmaster for numerous non-profit organizations, and is a professional Parliamentarian. Natli is a quilter, avid gardener, and raises and shows Shetland Sheepdogs. She lives in Aurora, Colorado with her shelties.

WindRunner is available on Amazon amzn.to/2JImLYz and Barnes and Noble B&N//2K56UTo as an ebook ($4.99) or paperback ($15.00). ISBN 978-0-9991750-3-3.

© 2015 - 2021 Natli VanDerWerken

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2020 Colorado Authors League Writing Awards

“WindRunner” is a finalist in the Science Fiction category along with Todd Fahnestock for “The Undying Man” and M.H. Boroson for “The Girl with No Face. I’m in quite prestigious company!

The winner is M.H. Boroson for “The Girl with No Face.

While “WindRunner” didn’t win, I’m so thankful that the judges thought highly enough of the story to choose it as a finalist.

Thanks to CAL, the board, and the judges for your hard work on the contest.

WindRunner
Book 2 in the Epic Fantasy Series “The Dragon’s Children”

© 2015 – 2021 Natli VanDerWerken

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