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
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.
Does anyone think that time is moving too fast? It was January a moment ago and now it's March! Where did February go? I probably should look up from writing occasionally and check the date.
I had a wonderful time with the Denver Academy Book Fair at Barnes and Noble on February 12. Of course, it was snowing, (took an hour driving home on icy streets for what is usually a 20-minute drive) but lots of parents and students attended and got homework forgiveness passes. The talent show was noisy and fun and the headmaster gave a reading to anyone who would listen.
Two talented students were working at the craft table right next to me. One of them is an amazing artist and drew a shapeshifter dragon for me. The other made, get this, TWO Origami Dragons and gave them to me. I'm officially impressed.
There were only three of my books left when the Book Fair ended. It was amazing!
I'm more than halfway done with DreamWalker. A sandcat just adopted Breanna on the way to Fasach. Is the Fasach Amulet real? I wonder where this adventure leads.
I am so grateful to everyone for your amazing response to The Dragon’s Children books. So many book signings and talking to so many people who have taken a chance on a new author. Readers of Red Dragon’s Keep have come back to buy WindRunner. I’m so glad you like them.
Looking ahead to 2020, the third book – DreamWalker – will be out this spring. Breanna is having her own adventure, sent to a faraway land as an emissary. She’s been tasked with finding out why the Fasach king sent a spy to Red Dragon’s Keep. I wonder if he’s in league with the Demon’s leader. Hmm.
Here’s hoping each one of you has a great New Year’s Eve celebration and a wonderful New Year!
Jeannette Seibly, award-winning internationally recognized business advisor, consultant, and coach invited me to do an interview with her about "Doing the Things that You Always Wanted to Do and Why You Don't". It's a podcast, so you can listen to it anywhere.
We discuss the events that came together propelling me into my writing career, something I've always wanted to do. I think you might like it!
So much has happened in the last half of this year!
I signed books and was a panelist at the Mile Hi Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in October.
Did the Authors Tea at the end of October and sold out!
I've done book signings at the Colorado Christmas Craft Show both in Denver and Colorado Springs with the Colorado Authors League in early November.
Did another at the Dry Creek Elementary Holiday Craft Fair. Thank you, Heather, for letting me know about it.
And another in Firestone at the Imagine Charter School Craft Fair. Thanks, Morgan, for the heads up! Sold out again.
December saw Red Dragon's Keep and WindRunner twice at the Colorado Blvd Barnes and Noble book store with The Colorado Authors Hall of Fame and the Colorado Authors League. A final signing with the Authors Hall of Fame at the Westminster Barnes and Noble.
Thank you to everyone who bought my books and had me sign them. If they were a gift, I hope the recipient loves them!
DreamWalker - Book 3 in the series - is on track to be out in Spring 2020. Breanna has to learn to control her dreams, and herself, in order to help save Red Dragon's Keep.
Red Dragon's Keep and WindRunner are front and center at the Colorado Blvd Barnes & Noble in Denver on December 15 and December 18. I'm expecting lots and lots of traffic as the countdown to Christmas rushes forward. If you can, I'd love to see you there!
If you read, or know someone who does, you should be here. Over 20 authors will gather tomorrow at the "Book Shepherd's" home and office for an Authors Tea. We'll be talking to attendees about our books and writing in general. Each of us will have 30 seconds to tell customers about our books. It is so much fun! And there is tea from around the world and wonderful finger foods.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Colorado Country Christmas Gift Show. The Colorado Authors League and chairwoman Jodi Bowersocks did a great job with our booth. I was amazed at the number of people who strolled and marched and hurried by, almost everyone carrying bags overflowing with gifts.
huge. There were around 450 booths, and thousands of people attended. The line
to get in before the opening each day stretched around the building.
I had a
great time talking to people about my books.
Keep is the story of a boy who must become a man, master the magic in his
blood, learn to wield his Sword of Light, and prepare his home for the coming
“WindRunner is the story of the second son, who has to deal with his jealousy, envy, and fear that he won’t measure up to his brother, all while he is trying to cope with an arrogant WindRunner who demands his obedience.”
will launch in Spring 2020.”
I sold lots
excerpt from “DreamWalker” ~
Dragon’s Children Book 3
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.
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.
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
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!
slid 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. She put another log on the fire. Leaving her Sword of Light in its
scabbard on the stand beside her bed, she made her way from the family corridor
to the small hearth in the kitchen keeping a cauldron of water hot through the
night. The Dragon Tower was quiet, the only sound the cadence of the guards
Pulling a mug from the shelf next to the
fireplace, she spooned chamomile leaves from one of several containers holding
various types of tea into its bottom. 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 Moirra, the Keep’s
wisewoman, 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 mouth
as she flipped it back over her shoulder. Stirring the leaves to hasten their
steeping, she yawned mightily, 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
“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
“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 poured 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 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. They’re just dreams 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 so I could see it, I
woke 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. “Ok. I’ll go with you. Maybe she can help me,
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 her empty cup on
a table by the door.
miasma of fear and rage reach out toward her as she opened the door to her
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 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.
bound me! SunWalker’s voice hissed in Breanna’s
mind. Someone very powerful.
Breanna plopped onto the bed with a gasp of
dismay. If she wasn’t safe in her own room with a Sword of Light, nowhere was
How were you bound? Can you feel anything? Anything that will tell us who did
The Sword was silent for a short time. No. I feel the remnants of a spell. It is
not from someone in the Keep. That much I can recognize. It triggered when you began
She slid the scabbard over SunWalker’s blade
with slow precision and replaced the Sword on the stand. Breanna flinched as a log burning in the
fireplace across the room popped, sending a shower of sparks up the chimney.
can we do to keep this from happening again? Is there a counter-spell that we
can use? Breanna was shaken to her core. She’d thought
that the Sword was invincible.
HellReaver, and the Dragon return today from the battle for Aos Si. We must ask
them when they arrive, SunWalker
Breanna’s mood brightened.
good! I’m glad he’s coming back, she
told SunWalker with a smile. I can’t wait
to hear what happened at Aos Si. That
dream was scary enough, thank you very much. If I never walk through a Dark
Fey’s dreams again, it will be too soon. I knew Thomas needed to be there for
us to win.
She lay back on the bed and pulled the quilts
up over her body. The room was still cold despite the fire.
shall remain on guard until they are here, SunWalker
Breanna closed her eyes. She remembered the dream of a
horde of Demons attacking the home of her aunt and uncle. She’s seen an army of
Forest Lords marching toward the walls of Aos Si as she walked through the
dreams of a deadly Dark Fey, a being from another world trapped in hers, bent
on killing every human it could find. She’d
seen her brother Owen leading a sweeping herd of WindRunners, as black as the
ink spilled across a new page, coming to the aid of all. She drifted into
The light of the dawn sun made its way
through the shutters covering Breanna’s windows and laid itself across her
cheek. She stretched and yawned, pulling air deep into her lungs.
She sat up and swung herself out of bed. The clothes
she’d worn yesterday were good enough. She pulled the much-patched tunic over
her head and slid her legs into the trousers. She unbraided her hair and swept it
into a tail at the back of her head, tying it with a strip of leather. Excitement
spiked as she remembered that Thomas and Aeden were coming home. She shoved her
feet into her boots, grabbed SunWalker and charged out of her room, slamming
the door behind her.
She hurried through breakfast of oatmeal and
a mug of cider. A cry from the watchtower was taken up by the guards on the
Breanna jogged through the great hall and out
the double doors of the entry. She raised her hand to shield her eyes from
blinding light of the rising sun, now shining over the ramparts of Red Dragon’s
Keep, as she stood on the apron of the stairs that descended to the forecourt.
She pumped a fist over her head in happy
celebration as the Red Dragon spiraled into the space between the wall and the
Dragon Tower. Villagers and visitors coming through the gates scurried to the
walls as wind from the Dragon’s wings pushed dust and small rocks across the
Thomas sat between two of the spines that
rose from the Dragon’s back. Her hind feet touched down first, then her front feet
settling gently to the earth. Thomas unclipped the straps that attached to a
piece of leather around the massive creature’s neck. He swung his right leg
over the Dragon’s neck and slid down her left side to the ground along her leg.
He pushed himself away from her and jogged toward Breanna.
The Dragon stretched out her long neck and roared.
A whirlwind descended from the clear sky and spun faster and faster around her
form. Aeden, daughter of the Dragon King, red hair lifted in a cloud around her
head, walked toward them as it lifted away.
Breanna launched herself toward Thomas from
the second stair. He caught her and swung her around, his mouth stretched in a
broad grin. He set her back on her feet.
so glad you’re home. I want to hear all about the battle. Are Owen and Navar
all right? What about Aunt Debra and Uncle Scott? Did the Forest Lords help?
When will everyone arrive?” she demanded, almost in one breath. She slid to the
“Whoa,” exclaimed Thomas. “Slow down. First,
Mother, Father, and the Gobhlans are alive.”
“By the Three Gods!” Breanna shrieked,
jumping up and down, a huge grin splitting her face.
Thomas laughed out loud. “They escaped from
North Meall and found us with the Forest Lord Army. All of them have Swords of
Light! Let’s go inside and I’ll tell you all about it.” He turned to Aeden.
“Lady, would you join us?”
“Yes, I will,” she told him and gave each of
them a grave nod. Then she grinned. “There is much to tell.” The three walked
up the stairs and into the great hall.
Thomas tapped the shoulder of a skully wiping
down a table. “Please find Gregory and Evan Gobhlan and have them meet us in
the Library.” The man dropped his rag on the table and scuttled from the hall.
Thomas turned to Breanna. “Has Cameron come back to the Keep?”
“No,” she told him. “We haven’t heard a
thing. I’m going to find Marta. She should hear this too.”
“Tell her that her father made it and is on
his way back,” Thomas shouted at her retreating back.
Breanna hurried out of the tower through the
kitchen and made her way toward the fields. She knew Marta was already out in
the training pen with the yearlings.