Tag Archives: children’s books

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

 

My weekend was certainly not writing related but a reptile bonanza. I accompanied my daughter to the Edmonton Reptile and Amphibian Society’s spring show. She took her own reptiles to show and educate visitors, something she has done for a good number of years.

ERAS-Spring-Show-2017-Flyer

There were many incredible and fascinating reptiles to discover and hold, which I enjoyed a lot. However, as a writer the ‘people watching’ gave me a wealth of inspiration. Reptile owners and hobbyists come from all walks of life and are passionate about their particular interest. I discovered a type of gecko I had not known existed – Rhacodactylus leachianus = large geckos! They are fabulous and you certainly know you are holding one as they are quite heavy. For comparison those are my hands! Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhacodactylus_leachianus

I did take my ‘animal’ related books with me just in case – Clickety Click’s front cover got a few looks and Ockleberries was browsed.

This week I have my writer’s group Board meeting which will include a review of our conference and the start of planning for our annual Words in the Park event which will be held on 30th September as part of Alberta Culture Days.

witp

My second Board meeting will be for the Arts & Culture Council on Wednesday, where we are reviewing the Heritage Day plans. This event will be held on 11th June and has a multitude of artisans and cultural associations attending.

heritage day

Obviously I am on countdown for the writing retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. I have decided on completing the revisions to The Twesome Loop and will have a final read through for Life in Slake Patch. Then I feel confident they can go to the publisher. I may have time to write more for my newest children’s book set on another planet.

The lodge is set in acres of woodland with a creek running through it so there is plenty of outdoor space to clear the head, refresh the body and be inspired. To be immersed completely in writing for days on end and have three delicious meals cooked for you is blissful. I never want to leave. (A lottery win would mean I wouldn’t have to of course!)

So what are you up to this week?

Care to share your writing goals, plans or events?

Other events:

book pub

May 11, 2017: U of A Press reception in honour of Linda Cameron

The U of A Press is holding a reception for it’s departing director, Linda Cameron, on May 11 in the Saskatchewan room of the Faculty Club (Saskatchewan Drive and 116 Street) from 3-6 with a program at 4:30. Ms Cameron has been with the U of A Press since 2001, and is retiring on August

abaThe Atlantic Books Festival runs May 11–May 18 with events in all four maritime provinces. http://atlanticbookawards.ca/

forest

The Ontario Library Association’s Festival of Trees takes place throughout May, with events in Toronto, London, and Sault Ste. Marie. http://forestfestivaloftrees.ca/

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

I just have to share a few photos of the Authors for Indies event I attended on Saturday at the Sherwood Park Bookworm. We had a great time sharing our books, sharing experiences of the writing life with a new writer and talking everything books. Fellow authors Eva Blaskovic, Beth Rowe and Marty Chan joined me for the day. I even got to read from Ockleberries to the Rescue, which was fun!

AFI 2017

 

 

 

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On Monday I have an evening hosted by our local library, Books, Bites & Bubbly.  Looking forward to it.

books bites bubbly

Tuesday will be my writers group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County’s monthly sharing meeting. We share our current work for constructive critique, discussions and writing exercises and fellowship.

Writers Foundation Strathcona County

What are you up to this week?

Other locations:

The 1000 Islands Writers Festival runs May 5–7 in Gananoque, ON, featuring Cathy-Marie Buchanan, Iain Reid, Lindy Mechefske, Marni Jackson, and others.

reading by the river

The next-best thing to a new lit fest is a new lit fest that’s coming back for its second year. After an incredible debut in 2016, The Festival of Literary Diversity returns to Brampton, ON, running May 4–7 with another stellar lineup.

fold

Vancouver Island’s Children’s Book Festival is scheduled for May 6 in Nanaimo, BC, featuring (as usual) some of Canada’s best children’s authors.

Bookfest-2017web

Mandy’s Year in Books – Goodreads.


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This is a cool graphic from Goodreads – detailing your year’s reading. If you are on Goodreads – take a look at your book reading chart.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2016/5477628?utm_source=fb

Why not share yours here? Recommend books here too.

My TV interview on Arts Talk…


Talking about my newest YA book, Clickety Click but also my other books too.

So now I’ve actually watched myself on this TV interview (cringe but I don’t think I was too awful!!!) I can share it – go to 11.04 on the time line. I wanted to thank my gracious hosts for inviting me onto the show. It was a lot of fun.

 

Summer Author Reading – 9 Tips to Prepare and Read…


 

Last Saturday I attended a local author reading, it was at a new venue – a local coffeehouse, Social Grounds Coffeehouse. The cafe owner is welcoming all local artisan’s to display or perform giving the community a new place to enjoy the arts.

Although this is not my first public reading, there are always steps to take in preparation.

  1. Firstly, you must determine what you are going to read. If you have several books, will you read from a new one or something you feel will grip the audience.
  2. Will the audience be young or adult? Tailor your readings accordingly OR take two pieces to read just in case. (Which is what I did for this reading)
  3. If there is a time limit to the reading, practice the passages out loud. It doesn’t work well to just read it. Practice inflection and if you are good at them, dialectics.
  4. Make sure to mark the start and finish of the piece you are reading, this will ensure you stay within the time limit.
  5. Remember to take promotional items with you including business cards, bookmarks and of course books. A small amount of petty cash too so you have change.
  6. Props are a good idea for children’s books. I have a soft toy I made for my Rumble book. I did take a couple of ornaments with me just in case children were present and I did read from Ockleberries to the Rescue as well as from The Rython Kingdom.
  7. Depending on the venue, there maybe a microphone, if not it is an idea to either purchase one or borrow one. Some venues have a lot of background noise so you want your audience to be able to hear you.
  8. Remember to smile, look up while reading and engage your audience.
  9. Be ready with answers to questions about your book and your writing.

The event on Saturday was an all adult audience which resulted in quite a long Q&A session.

What tips can you share about author readings?

Not the most flattering photo of Karen Probert and I – just wondering what we we discussing when the camera caught us! There will be another photo to add – hopefully!

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Karen is a short story expert – her books and mine can be found at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca – Karen’s: Fragments of Lives & Colouring Our Lives. Mine: Rumble’s First Scare & Ockleberries to the Rescue and also The Rython Kingdom.

New photo from SGC staff – I had to share – loved the captive audience even though you can’t see them all.

SGC reading

Happy Authors Day…


National-Authors-Day-November-1-e1445892276456

Why not share your books and/or blog. Our community has grown and we can celebrate our achievements and our passion for the written word.

Please remember I still have spots left for writer or author interviews until 31st December 2015. Message me if you are interested.

Yesterday I read from my children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare to a wonderful crowd at my local bookstore. With author readings, colouring pages and candy, it was a great afternoon.

books are treats 2015 icon

Let’s connect and make Author’s Day fun.

Writing Projects and Inspiration…


new idea

Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, picture or even a globally known news worthy article. Some of you will have read my short story – The Keys. (Oct 17th) The photo inspired the story.

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely.

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. I thought I was doing well submitting my western romance, Willow Tree Tears to a publisher and a short story, The Toymaker for a contest. However, my suspense novel nagged me to plunge back in and begin a fresh round of editing. So now I am embroiled with a protagonist on the run, hiding in the forest for The Giving Thief. After some months away from the story, I am enjoying getting to know this character again and enhancing his story.

editing

How long do you leave your writing before beginning revisions and edits?

Although, my plan for 2015 was to re-visit two previous projects and re-write, edit and revise them. Now I have this other story demanding to be written and it is impossible to resist. Added to that an idea for a children’s book formulated from a dream a month or so ago, which will require some foundation work. I have drawn one character, named a couple and know their environment.

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

Obviously, I will have to reschedule my plans and go with the flow. My older projects will have to wait a little longer but I am determined to get back to them.

author at work

What are your writing plans for the rest of 2015?

Author Interview – Dana Popov and Marc Evans…


Dana PopovMarc Evans

What inspired you to write your first book? 

The first book of the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ was part of a project we started in 2007. We is my husband who is originally from Quebec/Canada and I am from Germany.

In 2002 we met in Playa del Carmen – Mexico where we lived for 8 years. The entire area is filled with Mayan history and culture. We wanted to engage the tourists into the culture and the local environment during their stay and believed that a story would be the most entertaining way for children to learn about it. Unfortunately the project back then never took off and we forgot about the story until this year. Our daughter loves books and so I suddenly remembered the story and started writing on it again. Weirdly enough it was really easy.

How did you come up with the title? 

We wanted to change the title from the original project “Key to Paradise” to something new because the project itself was past. The first idea my husband had was ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ and I loved it.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

Yes, first published book. I always liked to write though. I have a blog in German about food for babies.

Weirdly enough ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ I write in English and then translate it into German. Don’t know why.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Absolutely. Besides being educational on culture and environment it is about empowerment for kids. Believe in yourself!!!

Ti & Magic Key

How much of the book is realistic? 

The story line itself is fiction however all of the environmental information are researched and so are a the places, temples, Mayan gods etc. A lot of little details in the book are true to the believes of the Mayas and educate without the feeling of being educated.

I wanted to ‘un-dust’ the Mayan culture with this book. A lot of existing books or movies are either bloody or feel out of date and do this amazing culture no justice.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

The Mayan gods are based on Mayan believes however some of their relations are fiction. The boy and his parents are fiction.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

It is two of the characters. The gods Kukulkan and Itzama because one is the evil one and the other one the good god. It is the ying and the yang.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

Probably the format. The second book is a lot longer and more intense than the first book. So it will have a different format than the first book.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? ‘

Dream, Believe and protect our planet.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

That I hopefully inspire children to do more research on culture and environment.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

My first poem was around the age of 8. It was four lines long and rhymed well.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

Seeing the story come alive in the images and the first time I read a new chapter to my husband and he goes: “Wow”

What is your favorite theme/genre to write? 

Writing for children and take them on an imaginary journey.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Any type of abuse

What book are you reading now?

It is a German book. It is a humorous perspective of a mother on her life. I can relate to it. My daughter is four.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

I purposely read in German because I do not want to lose my mother tongue. A lot of the authors are German. Probably nobody you would know.

Do you see writing as a career? 

I never did. But I really want the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ to reach children all over the world because I love the message and education in it. This is why we translate the story from English into German, French and Spanish.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Unfortunately chocolate 🙂 I wish it would be an apple.

Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?

I am rolling my eyes a lot when someone tells me a story. My daughter picked that up and we had a meeting at her kindergarden where we got told that rolling eyes is not a nice habit.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

On a balcony overlooking the ocean writing a book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

A lot of research goes into ‘Ti and the Magical Key’. Because a lot of evidence has been destroyed when the Spaniards conquered the Americas you find different opinions on the internet. At some point I have to decide which one to follow without really knowing.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

More chocolate 🙂

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

Not that I remember. But then again my brain capacity diminished during pregnancy and never fully recovered. So I can’t answer that with certainty.

What book do you wish you had written?

Harry Potter

What is your best marketing tip?

I am still figuring the marketing out myself. Currently we have a Facebook Fan page, twitter- and Pinterest account as well as a website. We are trying to get the kids involved and are writing personally to our fans to invite them into the ‘VIP Readers Club’ where we share secrets about the next book and adventures.

As well we started a blog on our website ‘Ti travels the world’ where parents from all over the world are sending us pictures of their kids with the book. I really love the blog. The pictures are amazing and are the best reward.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

I am working on finishing the second book of the series.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The gods are playing a much bigger role in the second book and we are introducing a girl. In regards to the environment we cover the mangroves and cenotes/sinkholes.

mangroves

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

http://www.amazon.com/Ti-Magical-Key-How-began/dp/1512097934/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441507796&sr=1-4

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/blog-ti-travels-the-world

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/buy-book.html

http://www..facebook.com/Tiandthemagicalkey

https://twitter.com/themagicalkey

You can email us at team@tiandthemagicalkey.com

Ockleberries review – Jessica & Bianca


I received an awesome review from a young lady after she read Ockleberries to the Rescue.

Her mother left the review on Goodreads :

My daughter is reading this book. She says “I love the stories of how Tansy and Crispin help all the forest animals.” My daughter is nine and I recommend the book for the ages 8-12. Two thumbs up
Ockle newest reader 1Ockle newest reader 2
As you can see she was extremely happy to have a signed copy!
Thank you – reviews are always wonderful to receive.

Clickety Click Excerpt #7…


monster claw

Alice walked in Totoran’s shadow feeling nervous and picking at a loose scale on her claw. She wished she had been left with the other Griffians, the deference they’d shown when Totoran mentioned his father increased her unease. How fearful is the King? Will he crush me underfoot? Dismiss me as a nothing? Her increasing panic slowed her pace until Totoran glanced backwards to find her lagging several feet behind him.

“Alice, please keep up. My father despises tardiness.”

Oh no another thing he doesn’t like. Can I do this right? Alice scuttled to walk close to Totoran’s back taking advantage of his bulk and it’s shadow to hide her. The undulating corridor floor became smooth and torches ahead illuminated a large rock face. Alice frowned as the dead-end of the corridor but then remembered their previous entrance. Totoran will push the rock to open it in a moment. What will the inner sanctuary look like, I wonder?

            “Alice, stand beside me and as soon as we are through the entrance lower your head. Do not look up unless you are asked to. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Totoran.”

The grating sound of rock against rock echoed along the corridor, as the Prince pushed the solid rock face open. A gust of fresh air flowed past them and bright flickering light bathed the companions. Alice moved forward and slightly to the right of Totoran keeping her head bowed to the floor but curious to look around she glanced quickly left and right. The cavern’s walls were smooth and glistening with crystals. Fabric hung from steel rods showing emblems of rich burgundy and emerald green. She was trying to make out the shapes on the wall hangings when Totoran’s whisper made her jump.

“Keep your head down, Alice. I will show you around the sanctuary once my father has gone. Remember to bow your head and only speak if spoken to.”

Alice nodded her head and concentrated on her clawed feet.

“My son, come to me. It is a great relief to see you unharmed.”

The voice was deep and gruff but the words were kind. Alice was exposed as Totoran left her side to greet his father. Unable to move for fear of doing something wrong she stood perfectly still resisting the urge to look up and see the King.

“Father, we have managed to block the upper corridors and the great cavern but the humans are blasting explosives. It may be some time before we can regain our home.”

“You have done well, Totoran in keeping our subjects safe. Your escape plan worked flawlessly. We own you a debt for that.”

“Thank you, Father but without the assistance of a great number of brave Griffian’s it would not have been so successful. If we work together we are stronger.”

“Exactly why I know you will be an exceptional leader when your time comes, my son. Now shall we feast?”

“Before we do, may I present someone to you, Father?”

Alice’s heart leapt in her chest. Oh no don’t make this any more uncomfortable for me, please Totoran. Let me disappear into the shadows.

“You have found your one, Totoran?”

“I truly believe so, Father but as tradition states you have the final say in her suitability.”

Alice felt the blood drain from her upper body. What are you saying Totoran? Her vision began to shimmer she could feel her body sway and adjusted her position to prevent herself falling.

“Alice please come forward and meet my father.”

Placing her clawed feet slowly one after the other she approached father and son, trepidation coursed through her body. If I mess this up what will he do to me? Can Totoran save me?

Once she was level with Totoran, Alice lower her head even further and remained quiet.

“Father, this is Alice. She has shown me she is brave and loyal in the time I have known her. Her guardians were taken and she has no one to protect her. I have found she is fearless in her flying and is willing to fight for her new family.”

“Well that is quite the recommendation, young Griffian. Alice you may look upon me.”

Alice raised her head slowly. Her eyes flowed upward revealing the towering bulk of the largest Griffian she had ever seen. Totoran was large but beside this Griffian he seemed small in comparison. The King leaned forward slightly to greet her face to face. His green eyes shone and his nostrils flared. Determined not to show fear, Alice matched his gaze even though inside her stomach rolled over and over.

“You are a strong character, Alice. Many young Griffians have fled from my sight in fear. Welcome to my sanctuary.”

“Thank you, Majesty. It is an honor to meet you.”

“Well, I can see why my son has chosen you. Shall we feast and get to know each other?”

Alice nodded and bowed her head again. The King turned and walked toward a corridor to the left of the cavern. Totoran clasped a claw around her arm to steady her as Alice stood up.

“You faced him, Alice, that was awe inspiring. Many have indeed run once my Father peers down upon them. I will let you into a secret he is not as fierce as he makes out.”

“I certainly hope not. At one point I thought I was going to pass out! We best hurry if he detests tardiness.”

Totoran led Alice down the same corridor his father had taken. Torches lit their way to a smaller but luxurious cavern, festooned with more fabric hangings and ebony furniture elaborately carved with Griffian images. Alice could now make out the images on the wall decorations. They were life size representations of magnificent Griffians, all holding specters of various designs.

“You are admiring my family heritage, Alice. These are my forefathers.”

Alice turned to face the King and immediately bowed her head.

“Majesty, every one of them is splendid. Do you have one?”

“Not as yet, I’m glad to say. The seamstresses make them during the ‘death month’ to honor the passing of their King. It is laid over the body for the last ritual and then hung on the wall.”

Alice covered her mouth in shock and hoped the King would not find her disrespectful.

“Apologies, Majesty, I did not know. Forgive me.”

“Of course, Alice. You have much to learn and I am sure Totoran will teach you well. Come and sit beside me, we shall talk.”

Alice glanced at Totoran who smiled and led her to the long ebony table in the center of the room. Once she was seated he sat on her left and squeezed her claw gently. His whispered comment eased her mind.

“My father is obviously taken with you. It is a privilege to be seated beside him.”

Alice watched as multiple plates of food were laid on the table in front of them. This is far too much for three of us. She was startled when both the King and Totoran suddenly stood up and bowed. She followed suit as fast as she could wondering what had happened. There had been no noise or shouting prior to their sudden action. As Alice raised her head she saw a beautiful slender woman walk into the cavern. She curtsied and approached the King. He held out his claw and kissed her hand, which looked tiny within his large claw.

“Do you wish us to transform, my love?”

The woman smiled at the King and Totoran and gave Alice a slight nod.

“Only if it pleases you, my dear, I would prefer it remain in this form but will of course change if you wish. I thought it would be more comfortable for the young one.”

“You are right as usual, Serina. Let us transform and eat in a more civilized manner for our guest.”

I’m a guest? Totoran never said. I hope I can change as quickly as them. I would hate them to see me struggle. Alice took a deep breath and tensed her muscles as her body began to contort she could see the King and Totoran do the same. The woman sat patiently on the seat beside the King until they were in human form.

“I believe we should be introduced now, Totoran.”

Totoran stood and guided Alice to her feet.

“Mother, this is Alice. She was the ward of guardians, who unfortunately were captured. A rescue mission is under way. As we speak. I brought her to safety.”

Alice could not stop her surprised comment.

“You are rescuing my aunt and uncle?”

“Yes, Alice but it is something we can discuss later. Please acknowledge my mother.”

Alice felt her cheeks grow red. Trying to remain calm, she bowed her head and smiled at the lady beside the King. The queen, she is so beautiful.

“Your Majesty, my sincere apologies, I was unaware of the mission, Totoran is speaking of. I was shocked. Please forgive me. It is an honour to meet you.”

“Well, I am sure I would have reacted the same way, Alice. I hear you fly exceptionally well for a young Griffian. Totoran has spoken of you fondly.”

Alice’s cheeks flared red again at the compliment and the implication’s of it. Could Totoran be interested in me as more than a friend? She glanced at the young man beside her and saw his smile.

“Let us eat, Serina, let the poor girl adjust to all this new information. I am famished and wish to discuss the concealment and rescue plans with Totoran once we have finished.”

The King placed a hand on his queen’s hand and then began selecting items of food from the copious spread before them. Once Alice saw the queen pick up several items, she chose some pieces for herself. Alice was relieved there was ‘human’ as well as ‘griffian’ food on the table. Her palate was getting used to the new tastes but hunger made her chose recognizable items. For several moments the table guests were quiet as they ate. It was Totoran who broke the silence.

“I must apologize, Alice for not mentioning our rescue mission to you before. Believe me, when I say I did mean to let you know but the invasion attempts took my focus elsewhere. We have several Griffians infiltrated into the police force near your old home. They will bring your aunt and uncle here as soon as they are able.”

“I completely understand, Totoran. The safety of the majority comes first but I’m glad there is a rescue plan. Uncle Gregor and Aunt Catterine are special to me and my only family as far as I know.”

Alice missed the knowing glance between the king and queen as she picked out several pieces of fruit to eat.

“So, Alice had your aunt and uncle looked after you for a long time?”

“Yes, your Majesty, since my parents died in a car accident when I was three years old. I was unaware of my other form until several months ago.”

The queen smiled and nodded before saying.

“Was it the clickety click that heralded the change?”

Alice was surprised but delighted the queen knew of the clickety click noise she had experienced.

“Why yes it was that sound…how did you know?”

“It is the known sign of every Griffian’s transition time. We all experienced the click sound prior to changing, my dear. Be assured we shall do our utmost to bring your guardians to safety as quickly as possible.”

“Thank you, Majesty. I am more than happy to take part in the search.”

“That will not be necessary, Alice we have many experienced soldiers within the search party. Come we shall walk a while together.”

The queen stood and gestured for Alice to follow her down a corridor. Alice smiled at Totoran, who nodded as she left the large cavern. Alice could not mimic the queen’s elegant stride so walked as upright as she could, pushing her shoulders back and her chin upward. The corridor was lined with flaming torches and revealed large gouge marks on the rock face.

“I think you will enjoy my surprise, Alice. It is my favorite place in the mountain range.”

As they turned a corner, Alice’s mouth gaped as she was confronted with a vast cavern full of sunlight, trees, flowers and birdsong. As she looked upward she made out a fissure in the rocks above, where sunlight poured in bathing the cavern with light.

“How is it possible, your Majesty?”

“It is not of our making, Alice. A natural break in the mountain’s formation allows the light to come in. However, the garden you see before you began with my great-great grandmother’s wish to have a flower garden. Over the decades it has grown…”

“It is magnificent. My apologies I should not interrupt.”

“I find it delightful that you obviously love my garden as much as I do, Alice. Shall we walk through?”

“Oh, yes please.”

As they walked down the winding paths, Alice asked for the names of flowers and shrubs and expressed how much she loved the scent of the many blooms. It was not until the light dimmed that they realized how much time had passed.

“We must get back to the throne cavern, Alice. There will be reports of the rescue and invasion, I am sure. It is so easy to forget when surround by such beauty.”

“Of course, Majesty, but am I allowed back? I would enjoy working in your garden. I’m a quick learner and follow instructions well.”

“I would enjoy that too, Alice.”

With a last look at the magnificent garden, Alice and the queen returned into the dimness and hard surfaces of the corridors. When they returned to the luxurious cavern, Tortoran and the King were huddled with a dozen large Griffians. Queen Serina took Alice’s hand and guided her to the far side of the cavern and sat beside her on a long stone bench.

“We will wait until their business is finished. Do you require any refreshments?”

“If I may have some water, please. Thank you.”

The queen raised her hand and a servant was at her side instantaneously and bowed deeply.

“Sweet spring water for us both please, Mari.”

Mari disappeared into an alcove then returned with a tray holding two large goblets. Alice sipped the water; which was crystal clear, cold and sweet. So unlike the tap water she was used to.

“This is the best water I have ever drunk.”

“It comes from a mountain spring higher up the range, Alice.”

With their goblets almost empty, they saw the sturdy Griffian soldiers rise from the table, bow before the King and leave the cavern. Totoran stood and walked toward his mother.

“Good news, Mother. The invasive army has retreated and did not expose any entrances with their explosives. The guards will remain vigilent for another few days to ensure there are no hidden exposives or spying devices before we can assure normal life again.”

“This is good news, Totoran.”

“I also have news for you, Alice. Your uncle and aunt’s location has been found and their escape is imminent. With a good trip they should be with us in a day.”

“Thank you, Totoran. It is such a relief to know they are going to be safe soon.”

“Where did you both go while we talked, Mother?”

“I showed Alice my garden and she is keen to help maintain it.”

“The garden is wonderful, Totoran, I could live there all the time.”

“That’s exactly what my mother says.”

Their combined laughter caught the attention of the King, who was pondering over large maps on the table. He strode over to join them.

“What is so funny?”

“Alice wants to live in the garden just like mother.”

“Well that’s another similarity we have discovered…”

Alice frowned at the look her companions shared. Is there something they are not telling me? What could it be?