My First Box of Books

A really quick update. I just received my very first box of books that I wrote. Red Dragon’s Keep. I’ll never have this particular experience again. Wow.

I keep pinching myself and yup, I’m awake!


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Fantasy World Building

Want a great read for you, your children and grandchildren?
Take a peek at Red Dragon’s Keep.
It’s available today at,


Fantasy World Building

How did I build the world around Red Dragon’s Keep? I could tell you that I spent hours writing up a description of Ard An Tir. I could tell you that every detail was created before the writing started. The answer is frankly, it just grew. From everything I’ve read that’s not the way to create a world.

The first line of the book came to me as I woke up one morning. I’d been thinking about the story for a while and one day, there it was. I could see Thomas swinging the sword and walking towards his father in the forecourt of the castle. So I wrote it down, everything that I saw and heard in the forecourt. Then Thomas had to walk back to the salle and the armory.

So far, so good. A castle and an armory. What else is inside the walls of a castle? Stables, storage, barracks for soldiers, a training area, a garden, wells. I decided I needed a layout of the castle, so I drew one up with my seventeen-year-old Visio program. There it was, on paper – Red Dragon’s Keep.

The name of the castle was already set in my mind – Dragon’s Keep. Through the twists and turns of the story, it became Red Dragon’s Keep, and the central tower became Dragon Tower with a red dragon set in stone rising up its eastern side.

Maybe that Visio program actually brought the whole thing into this world. Hmmm.

Then came the first battle. As I started writing the scene, I realized that, oh boy, if I didn’t have a map I was going to get lost. Out came Visio. Suddenly I could see where everything was going. I could hear the horses walking along the track toward the convergence of the Caladen and the Banuisk rivers. Those names came to me as I wrote. The wagons creaked and swayed as they rolled along behind the horses.

I figured I’d better have a map of the whole continent containing the various countries I’d already written about, and the cities, and the castles. Thank goodness for Visio.

Someday, I’ll have a real map drawn of Ard An Tir – The Shining Lands. But for now, in the best traditions of science fiction and fantasy, there are maps at the beginning of Red Dragon’s Keep so that you can follow along as well.

I hope you like them.

Write On!

Natli VanDerWerken

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Red Dragon’s Keep Publicity Campaign

I just spent the day writing a press release for the launch of Red Dragon’s Keep. The book is available on Amazon for pre-order until July 14. The launch is on July 15.

The launch is timed to take advantage of the premiere of The Game of Thrones on HBO this Sunday.

I’ve sent the press release to every local news outlet. Here’s the content. Enjoy!


Demons Want to Kill Him – Dragons Mean to Save Him

Just in time for Christmas in July, “The Game of Thrones” without the gore.

July 13, 2017, Aurora, Colorado, USA

On July 15, mages, demons, and a talisman that controls dragons plague first born son and heir Thomas Arach. An intriguing debut novel, Red Dragon’s Keep is the first book in The Dragon’s Children Young Adult fantasy series by local Aurora, Colorado author Natli VanDerWerken.

Red Dragon’s Keep grew out of a fairytale I told my grandchildren one Christmas Eve,” Natli said. “They were tired and cranky getting ready to leave for home, so I told them a story. It was about five children in a castle with dragons, magic swords and a threat of invasion from a mysterious source. They loved it. Their parents did too, sitting down in coats and boots to listen.”

Natli fell in love with Science Fiction and Fantasy when she was 12. She has always loved the idea of dragons – the myths and the stories. She thought she might be a veterinarian, a chemical engineer, or an astronaut. She became a meteorologist in the Navy instead.

A mother and grandmother, Natli is a website designer, quilter, and raises Shetland Sheepdogs.

Red Dragon’s Keep is a coming of age action packed Young Adult novel. Fourteen year old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. After danger threatens, will his father finally let him learn how to fight? Sabotage and treason change Thomas’s life forever.

Red Dragon’s Keep pulls the reader into a world filled with secret passages, amulets and talismans, magic and Swords of Light. Will Thomas learn the lessons of war, master the magic hidden in his blood, find the Dragon Amulet, and manage the defense of his family’s home before the Demons arrive? Can he bring everything together to save Red Dragon’s Keep?


1505 S Norfolk St

Aurora, CO 80017

303 755-5404

Review copies available upon request.

Purchase Red Dragon’s Keep at on July 15. There WILL be Dragons.


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Pre-Order Red Dragon’ Keep on Today

It’s Done!
Just in time for a great summer read, Red Dragon’s Keep is available for pre-order on It’s currently set up as an ebook for $4.99 and goes on sale this Saturday, July 15. Here’s the link:

The print on demand (POD) is in review and will hopefully be available on the same date. If it isn’t, I’ll set up another launch party for the paperback!!

Here’s the final back cover content.

Red Dragon’s Keep
Book One – The Dragon’s Children Series

Demons want to kill him. Dragons need to save him.

Mages, Demons, and a Dragon Talisman plague first born son and heir Thomas Arach in the intriguing debut novel of Natli VanDerWerken’s The Dragon’s Children Young Adult fantasy series.

Red Dragon’s Keep has been held by the Arachs for centuries. Fourteen year old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. Kept safe from danger all his life, he’s bitterly sure he’ll never be allowed to learn the arts of war. When danger threatens, will his parents finally let him learn how to fight?

Amidst sabotage and treason by those closest to his family, Thomas’s life is changed forever.

Tales of Dragons that fought beside men against Demons have faded into legend. Archives tell of an amulet, part of an ancient talisman, a talisman that will call the Dragons back.

Will Thomas learn the lessons of war, master the magic hidden in his blood, find the Dragon Amulet, and lead the defense of his family’s home before the Demons arrive?

Secret passages. Amulets and Talismans. Magic and Swords of Light. Can Thomas bring everything together to save Red Dragon’s Keep?

Check it out.

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Thanks To Everyone Who Contributed

Here’s a huge thank you to everyone who contributed at my indiegogo campaign for Red Dragon’s Keep. We raised enough to purchase the ISBN numbers for the book! The interior layout is done and the advanced reader copy of the cover is ready to upload. I’ve got a few more edits to do from my critique group and beta readers and I’ll have the ARC copies ready to go. This is fantastic. I’m really excited.

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Last Day to Contribute the the Red Dragon’s Keep Indiegogo Campaign

Today’s the last day to contribute to the Red Dragon’s Keep funding campaign at Go here to check it out: The book is “this close” to publishing. Launch date is set for July 14, 2017. Pre-orders should be available next week (cross your fingers).

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Indiegogo Funding Campaign and Another Excerpt

I’ve updated the title of my book to Red Dragon’s Keep. There’s a red dragon figure on the east wall of the Keep, so the new title makes sense. How do you like the new cover?

A Get Red Dragon’s Keep Published fundraising campaign is running at The short url is There are just a few more things that need to be done before the launch date on July 14. I have to purchase ISBN numbers, have the interior design layout done, and purchase marketing materials.

Here are a few of the fun perks that you get for various funding levels:

Pledge $25 or more – This donation comes with a sassy motivational postcard and a heartfelt THANK YOU for your support.

Pledge $35 or more -Receive an e-reader download of the book when it rolls out, along with a heartfelt THANK YOU and a Red Dragon’s Keep magnet to post on the fridge!

Pledge $45 or more – WANT ONE! Receive a first edition copy of the book when it rolls out, Red Dragon’s Keep magnet to post on your fridge, and heartfelt THANK YOU!

Pledge $75 or more – Receive TWO signed copies of the book with a personal message when it rolls out…one for you and one for a friend. Also enjoy an e-reader download for all you techie-types, a Red Dragon’s Keep magnet to post on the fridge…and of course a heartfelt THANK YOU!

See what I mean? There are lots more. Go to and check them out. We can make this happen!

Final edits are in proceeding as I write. I’m checking off each item on my marketing plan and I’m in the beginning phase of planning the Red Dragon’s Keep book launch party.

Here’s another excerpt from the book.

Deep purple shadows slowly lengthened across the cart path that Marta Halloran trudged along towards the steading. The path followed the river as best it could, sometimes close, sometimes avoiding dense copses of trees or marshy areas filled with mud and cattails along the riverbanks.

The back of her coarse brown skirt was drawn up between her legs and through her belt in the front, keeping it out of her way. The wooden yoke she carried across her shoulders was heavy. Baskets on either end of the yoke held the things she’d bought in the village. The treats, spices and notions that the steading couldn’t produce had taken longer to buy than she’d allowed for.

She wished she’d been able to ride one of the horses into the village but they were all in use clearing the fields of hay for the coming winter. She tried to move at an even pace so that the baskets didn’t swing too hard, yet she also hurried as quickly as she could. Everyone knew there were Deamhans roaming from sunset to sunrise.

The westering sun sank behind the mountain. It disappeared and the temperature dropped. A chill crept up Marta’s spine. She was a half a mile from home. She hoped that she could reach it quickly.

The grey river on her right swirled and gurgled against its bank. Dark woods on her left seemed to lean closer over the path, leafless branches trying to reach for her burden. Something rustled in the depths of the trees. Branches snapped as a heavy body pushed through them. She glanced fearfully into the deepening gloom.

She began to jog towards home. The path swung away from the river. The baskets swung wildly with each jarring step.

Panting and grunting, snapping and breaking of brush and small trees on both sides of the path sounded behind her. She must not look. She gasped for breath. Her heart thundered in her chest. Fear sweat streamed down her face. A grunting cough sounded right behind her. She dropped the yoke and took off running. Baskets shattered, releasing food and goods across the path.

She burst out of the trees into the meadow that fronted her family’s Steading. Fear gripped her muscles as she tried to run faster. Standing at the gate through the wooden walls of the Steading, her father and two brothers held lit torches against the gathering darkness. They gripped old swords and spears kept from the last war, other weapons standing sentinel behind them, thrust into the ground within easy reach.

Marta heard grunting and heavy panting behind her. The thud of many feet shook the ground.

“Run, Marta! Run!” screamed her father.

She shrieked voicelessly in fear as she hurtled towards the gate.

Her brother drew back his arm and launched the spear that he held towards her. It flew over her right shoulder. A howl sounded almost in her ear. She ducked away and found a little extra speed.

I’ll be taking pre-orders at the beginning of June.

Write On!

Natli VanDerWerken


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Title for Publication

Red Dragon’s Keep has been chosen as the title for the first novel in The Dragon’s Children series. Appropriate, don’t you think? Here’s the description from the book.

Thomas turned and looked up the walls of the central Keep. They rose three stories higher, tall and strong. The image of a red winged dragon laid in stone stretched its length up the eastern side of the Keep wall.

I’m still on track for the July 14 launch date. A new funding campaign begins today! Check it out at

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Release Date Pushed to July

Well, I’ve had to push back the release date of Dragon’s Keep for a few more months. It’s ready to go as an ebook but some other issues were brought to my attention.

I attended a monthly meeting of authors and publishers. During the discussions, someone said that a hard copy (paperback) should come before or at the same time as the ebook. It makes the ‘book’ itself more professional, more ‘findable’. Everyone there agreed. Hmmm.

After the meeting, I did some research. Although I’ve seen examples where authors have published eBooks first, the consensus seems to be that publishing the paperback first, or at the same time, is the way to proceed.

So, with much regret, I cancelled the March 17 release date. My son-in-law said it best, “Do you want to publish on March 17th because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, or do you want to do it right?” Put it in perspective, didn’t it?

I laid out a timeline for paperback publishing and realized that I need to run another Indiegogo Campaign to raise $1000 to $1500. That’s going to cover the following:

  1. Interior Design – $500 – $700
  2. ISBN numbers purchased – $295 (one is $125, 10 are $250. Go figure.)
  3. Library of Congress number – free
  4. Copyright filing – $35
  5. Advertising Campaign – $50 – $100 (This covers an author One Sheet, printing of bookmarks and tabletop posters of the books’ cover and I don’t know what else, maybe a name badge.)
  6. First paperback printing – $400 (I think I need to print 100 books to sell to local book stores, libraries and maybe school libraries. Maybe do some book readings at the local retirement centers and sell some there. Oh yeah, copies for friends, too.)

The total here is $1435.00. There are always unexpected costs. Check out the Indiegogo campaign and help me get this book into your hands. It’s going to be a blast!

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about book publishing, here is what I’ve already done:

  1. Designed the book covers for all of the Dragon’s Children books (saved $1500).
  2. Purchased a domain name: ($10).
  3. Gone live with a website at (saved $500 to $1000 doing it myself.)
  4. Finished making the editing changes to the manuscript.
  5. Created an author page on Amazon.
  6. Contacted an Interior Book Designer for costs.
  7. Joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization. I’m already a Gold member at Author U.
  8. Raised $105 with my first Indiegogo campaign. I learned a lot about marketing. That paid for the domain name and the web hosting. About to do another.

I’m setting a new release date of July 14, 2017, two days before the premier of the final season of The Game of Thrones. There are going to be BIG dragons in this one. Perfect timing, don’t you think? Almost like Universe wanted me to publish right about then.

Here is the back cover material for Dragon’s Keep.

 An Age of Darkness Comes Again

The Dark stalks Ard Ri. It is moving north, destroying everything in its path. Deamhans haunt the land.

First born son and heir to Dragon’s Keep, thirteen year old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. Kept safe from danger, he’s bitterly sure he’ll never be allowed to learn how to fight. Will his parents finally let him learn the arts of war?

Amidst sabotage and treason Thomas is forced to take on the defense of Dragon’s Keep after his parents are ambushed and disappear.

Swords of Light slumber in the Keep, waiting to be chosen. An unexpected ally from times long past waits for ultimate danger to take up the mantle of greatness once again.

An ancient fragment of the legendary Dragon Talisman lies hidden in the Keep. Thomas must find it to have any hope of saving his home and possibly his world.

Can Thomas discover the courage within himself to stand against the dark? Can he find the path to saving Dragon’s Keep?

Do you think this will pull readers in? Do you have any suggestions? Leave a comment below. I read and answer every one of them.

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12 Days to Dragon’s Keep Launch

Just twelve days before it’s official. Making sure that everything is set. I know my characters are anxious to meet new people and make new friends. I’m pretty excited to have you meet them myself.

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