Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

I’m sitting here pondering whether to have eggs for breakfast. It’s a huge decision for a Saturday morning. Huge. This is the one day of the week when anything goes. There are no rules on Saturday – you can sleep in as long as you want and there’ll be no: ‘Are you up yet?’ You can also stay in your pyjamas until lunch time if you want. I’m giving you my permission.

If you feel like running a movie marathon while your behind is parked on the couch…that’s fine too; equally a marathon run, bike ride or swim. Saturday offers the kind of freedom of motivation and action that is condensed into ouimagesr two day weekends. It’s all the more vital because we know the time is precious…to do exactly what we want.

Shame really. We should be living more deliberately every day of the week. There should be swims and bike rides, and movies and staying up late on all the days of the week, but that’s not how it works is it?

During the week we fall into that haze where the days blur into the next. We work too long and our thoughts focus on the immediacy of our surroundings, rarely straying beyond that funny, unreal cocoon we’ve lulled ourselves into. It’s safe to go to work each day and go through the same machinations. Drive, get in, coffee, check emails, knuckle down, look up and talk to colleagues, knuckle down some more. Perhaps at lunch you chug down a burger and a cap (great nutrition) while at your desk, and muse about what you’ll be doing on the weekend.

Then there’s hump day as it’s known. That’s Wednesday because you’re halfway there; halfway to the golden chalice…the weekend. Then Friday comes and there’s spring in the air, and in your step. More work, more coffee, more stress, but hey you can just about smell the weekend, can’t you?

Imagine how many weeks of your life have rolled by like this. Too many I guess.

I think there should be an inbuilt filter in everyone that triggers an alarm on weekdays when you’re working too hard and too long. It should be connected to a message on your iphone or tablet that says: “Do one thing today that you’ve been wanting to do for years”. That’ll be enough to poke you right out of that working weekday haze and reignite the rebel in you, ’cause when you’re rebelling against what you think you ought to be doing but are not, then you’re living.

Happy days folks and enjoy your weekend.

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Ok. So the 31 May is here and so is publication of my book Dawn of the Shadowcasters, out now through Lodestone Books. It’s a pretty good day, as far as days go, because it represents the culmination of creative energy, focus and sheer bloody discipline.

Any writer will know the process of getting a book published is a joy and a frustration. Multiple edits are in themselves mountains to climb, every time. For Dawn of the Shadowcasters, I had a Lodestone copy editor to work through, but this was on top of the multiple edits I gave the book before sending it off to the publisher. And then there was the production process and getting the book blurb right, and making sure everything worked seamlessly – that the book was the sum of its parts really.

Lodestone took six months to get Dawn of the Shadowcasters to market, and that day is today, 31 May 2014. Even before publication – months before in fact – the promotion, public relations and marketing began. It will continue well into the future because not many books are launched with a bang, rather a profile [and reputation] is built over time.

But for today, I’m happy that the second book in the Stevie Vegas trilogy is out and on the shelves and listed online. It’s time to look back and acknowledge the hard work, not only for Dawn of the Shadowcasters, but for the first book in the trilogy Shadowscape, for my women’s fiction book Belonging Places and the collection of short horror stories I’ve nearly finished. Lot’s of writing really in a few short years. As I nod to myself, one eye half closed, I’m saying, “good on you Maryann.”

Sooo, what’s all the fuss about Dawn of Shadowcasters and why is it worth buying. That’s not for me to really say, but I can give you information on the book, and sample chapters, so you can make up your own mind.

Synopsis

Only light can drive back the darkness. Only Stevie Vegas can stop the Shadowcasters. It’s been a year since the 13-year-old skateboarder found out he was an Illuminator with special powers – the ability to read minds and make things happen. Then, he was forced to use his new powers to fight the Shadowcasters. Now they’ve turned up in his hometown wanting revenge, and it will take all his skills as an Illuminator and the help of his friends to beat them again.

Sample Chapters

Prologue

I met him today. Stevie Vegas. I was always meant to meet him. Part of the plan – that’s why I was saved – the daughter of a Shadowcaster, no less.

I am different now to what I was then when my own people turned against me, tried to kill me. Yes, I was born to a Shadowcaster, but I am NOT one of them. I fought against the darkness that engulfed me, tempted me and tried to seduce me.

There was a light, far off in my distant self. I clung to that. That and the birth right of my mother who was descended from the Illuminators. The light ran strong in her blood, until they killed her one random but predetermined night – a house invasion the police said…

He skates, Stevie Vegas. He is different from the other boys. The light is very strong in him. Thank you, oh thank you, Aunt Bessie, for saving me from the Shadowcasters. It wasn’t easy to stay out of their vision, but thanks to you I nearly managed it. Stevie Vegas is lucky to have you as an aunt; I have no one, but you’re near enough, Aunt, to me.

Aside from my horrid birth right, my struggle to escape the Shadowcasters and hiding desperately from their view, I try to be like any normal teenage girl. Sound stupid? Well, what’s normal I say?

I have pretty hair, I know that. It’s soft and shiny, the color of dawn. And my eyes are pretty too; the darkest of brown. Intense, yes – they sometimes make people uncomfortable but that’s just because theyjhp52dcea0a69edd know what I see. I see them.

And I ride as fast as the wind – not a skateboard like Stevie Vegas – no, I prefer the raw power of a motocross bike and the idea that it’s not supposed to be a ‘girl thing.’ But I’m no ordinary girl any more than Stevie Vegas is a normal boy. We are both

Shadowcaster and Illuminator alike. But these days, with the help of Aunt Bessie and those that follow the light, I am just as much Illuminator as them, and the plan is for me to help Stevie Vegas succeed. He will need my help; there is no surer thing.

They’re coming for him. I can hear them from behind the veil that separates the real world and its underbelly. Like weeds they’ll try and break to the surface, into the shadows. Some of them are here, like me, in Valley Dale. Ordinary people, doing ordinary things. To look at them, you would never guess, but they are here nevertheless. Their dark auras surround them like the black night envelops the quarter moon.

We Illuminators are here too. Opposite sides of the coin and before it’s over we’ll see what chance has in store for all of us. Stevie Vegas has no idea who I am, but when the time is right I will tell him that his Aunt Bessie saw good in me – saw the light within the darkness. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Nor ever that black and white? Shades of grey are everywhere, but what counts are the choices we make. I choose to be an Illuminator and I choose to fight with every breath in my body against what is coming.

Stevie Vegas will have many friends when they come for him. He will need them. I am one of them. I can hear the far off voices of the Shadowcasters, whispering on the wind. I am old before my time. I should not know what I do, hear what I do, and see what I do.

Why can’t I have the same uncomplicated life any 13-year-old teenager has. They like nothing better than to lip sync to their favorite singer’s songs, or spend hours straightening their hair, painting nails purple, shopping for clothes – parents catering to every whim.

Nah, that’s not me. My Yamaha 250 is my family. And Aunt Bessie too, and because of her, Stevie Vegas.

It’s time for a ride now, out beyond Valley Dale’s limits where the woods begin and, if you look hard enough, the hundreds of trails that lead down to the river, and onto the sea.

Life is not all threatening darkness, thank God. I can smell the not so far off ocean. I can feel the sun on my arms. I see the blueness of the sky and the mighty oak that lives outside my window. I know somewhere Stevie Vegas is practicing his skateboard stunts, just like I am about to ride to the ocean.

For the moment, we can be like other teenagers. The darkness will come, soon enough.

 Chapter One

Nightmares Revisited

Stevie Vegas stirred fitfully in his dreams. Dark shadows penetrated the safe fabric of the reality of his new life in Valley Dale, just as certainly as Jacob Barron sent his thoughts across the landscape from where he lay in a coma, at Smithson.

He tossed. Snippets of that day were making their way back to him through this night of dreams – the stranger’s hooded face who had moved in just that day, next door. Stevie had bumped into him by chance as the hooded man was directing the moving truck into his driveway.

While Stevie was spent from a hard session at the skatepark practicing his big air twists, he couldn’t help feel the odd sensation of immediate dislike of the stranger. He thought about the Shadowcasters, briefly, for the first time in a year. No, not in Valley Dale, he reasoned. Smithson and the Barrons were far away, like a long forgotten nightmare, and life had returned to normal since those dark days when he first learned he was an Illuminator and battled the Shadowcasters.

Throughout that following year after Smithson, Stevie had buried the past, concentrated on his schoolwork, reveled in his family life, and placed the Illuminator stone far away in the back of his sock drawer. He neither used his powers of Extra Sensory Perception, nor made things happen with the strength of his mind. He buried his Illuminator powers underneath layers of denial. There were times, and battles, he wanted to forget. Like all 13-year-old boys, he was preoccupied with growing up and despite the scars of Smithson, and the threat that one day the Shadowcasters would turn up, his thoughts easily turned to the simple pleasures of living. Dark thoughts were banished, his brother Jem had fully recovered from his accident at the hands of the Shadowcasters, and Stevie had slept peacefully at night. That was until now.

His nemesis Chris Barron’s face appeared in quick succession to the hooded man’s veiled, piercing eyes. He recalled Chris Barron’s parting warning to him as his family were leaving Smithson, “Sleep while you can, young Illuminator, there will be a reckoning for you. Not today, but someday, soon. That day will dawn when you least expect it, when you experience the world as better place, and you will learn that the Shadowcasters’ influence can never be put down. And while you will never know when and how, your day of reckoning will come.”

Stevie had spat on the ground in front of Chris Barron – something he never did, and especially to an adult – the ‘leading light’ of Smithson no less, and turned away, propelling his skateboard slowly down the road while pushing his thoughts out toward him. “I am not afraid. I do not cling to the cliff’s edge waiting for fear to make decisions for me. I stand strong against you and all the others like you. I am an Illuminator.”

When his family had left Smithson so quickly after Stevie and his Aunt Bessie’s desperate midnight dash to spirit the cursed stones away from the Barron estate and drown them in the depths of the Katounga River, they had settled into Valley Dale, and Stevie felt happy. But his happiness was always marked by a back of the mind worry no 13-year-old should feel.

He had reasoned it away with time. The cursed stones, the source of Chris Barron’s power, were gone but there had been one stone they could not recover, that of Chris Barron’s son, Jacob. But, again, he had reasoned away that Jacob Barron was laid up in a hospital bed of his own making. He had fallen during the skateboarding duel with Stevie, when evil incantations had backfired, like karma having the last laugh.

Jacob Barron had been rushed to Smithson Emergency and had slipped into a coma, which he had not, to this day, recovered from. Stevie had struggled with remorse and, even in Valley Dale, felt the cold weight of guilt, which was present more often than he cared to admit.

In his dreams that night he heard Jacob’s voice too against the wind outside on that dark night, rattling the panes, and disturbing the peace of the Vegas household. Like that day in the Valley Dale schoolyard when the wind was blowing the leaves in circles outside the classroom window whispering its hidden messages, Jacob Barron was talking with someone from behind a shroud-like veil. “It is going to plan, we are growing stronger again. They are gathering. With your help, we will triumph. No light will penetrate the blackness of our being…”

Stevie sat bolt upright in bed and reached frantically for his night lamp. Fumbling with the switch, breath sucked inwards, he finally found the light, which flooded his room, driving back the darkness. He was sweating, and dazed. He looked around and found the one thing of comfort – his skateboard. He shook his head in disbelief. Why, why was he dreaming about the hooded man and about Jacob Barron? He looked skyward with what seemed like a pathetic plea. Please God, not again. Not here and in Valley Dale.

His thoughts turned to anger. He did not want to fight battles any more. It had nearly cost his brother’s life, turned his family upside down, and inside out, as they had spent the better part of a year back in Valley Dale building up their veterinary practice again. Jem had not been the same since his accident that fateful day when the Shadowcasters drove him toward an impossible climb, always honing in on the weakest link. Well his brother was not the weakest link in the Vegas family. Stevie gritted his teeth.

He didn’t know why, but his resolve rallied against the thought that he might meet with the Barrons again – he was not afraid. He hadn’t used his Extra Sensory Perception in a long while, but in the middle of the night, sitting upright in his childhood bed, he thought of his Aunt Bessie who was the other Illuminator in the Vegas family. “Aunt Bessie,” he whispered into the night.

“It’s starting again.”

He got up and quickly went to his chest of drawers. Opening the top one where his socks and baseball caps were, he reached into the furthest of corners. He felt the warmth pulsating from the back of the drawer even before his fingers reached his Illuminator stone. He picked up the necklace and relief flooded through him. Somehow, in that split instance, everything was all right again. He hadn’t worn that necklace in a year, but now he slipped it over his head. The blackness of his nightmares receded, just like the dark ocean of his fear. Yes, he was full of anxiety about what he knew was coming – but not afraid. Never afraid.

Stevie let sleep take him then, one hand on his Illuminator stone and the other resting on his skateboard which he had stood beside his bed.

Morning dawned just like any other and he heard his mother’s urgent tones from downstairs. “Stevie, Stevie Vegas, will you get up and start getting ready. You will be late otherwise and I have a little dog that’s just been brought in with a broken leg. I need to go into surgery in twenty minutes and I won’t be able to drop you at school.”

Stevie jumped out of bed at his mother’s voice. She very rarely raised it, and he knew that there was a veterinarian emergency on her hands. He would have to take Jem to school, but at least he could skate the mile or so to Valley Dale Elementary, while Jem rode his BMX. Ah, yes, there was that guardrail on the stairs leading down into Fontenoy Street. It was one of his favorite places to Grind. Perhaps he could practice that kickflip off the rail, though it was pretty high and his landing may not be smooth…

As he ran past Jem’s door he noticed him on the computer. “Hey, bro, ace it up, what are you playing, you know that Mum and Dad say no gaming before school.”

Jem dragged his gaze away from the computer. “Shut up, Stevie, you’re not the only one who’s good at stuff. I’ve just reached a new level on this new game, and it takes strategy to do that. It’s not just about shooting ‘em up, you know.”

“Whatever, bro, but you better put your skates on, ‘cause Mum is cracking the whip something bad.”

His brother grimaced at him. “I’m not the champion skater in this family. You are, remember? Leave me alone and stop always trying to run my life. I’m not you.”

Stevie shot a puzzled look at his brother. “Sorry, Jem,” he muttered on his way to the bathroom, under his breath. “I only do things ‘cause I care. Sorreee!”

Both he and Jem were soon downstairs, enjoying the bacon and egg breakfast their mother had cooked earlier that morning.

“Stevie, how many times do I have to tell you? Do not bring your skateboard to the table,” his mum pleaded. “It doesn’t have to lean on the table next to your chair. It will be all right in the lounge. Now, go and put it there and don’t bring it to the table again.”

He did as he was told, but not before he winked at his dad.

“Oh, come on, Syl, it won’t hurt, you know.” His dad was always ready to come to the defense of his son’s hobbies. He was less tough on his two boys than Sylvia Vegas, though goodness knows teenage boys needed a few boundaries. Mrs. Vegas supplied them but Stevie knew, like Jem and his dad, that he would not bring his skateboard to the table again…well, at least for one week.

It was a quick breakfast for the Vegas family that morning. His mum worked in the annex at the side of the house, which doubled as their vet surgery given they had to let the rented practice go as a result of the upheaval in moving to Smithson, and then back to Valley Dale. Money was a little tight when they had returned, so the double garage had been converted into vet rooms to save money. His dad, on the other hand, was doing house calls to the ritzy part of town – not something he overly enjoyed as he specialized in larger animals, but it did bring the extra money in when doting, rich pet owners wanted their dog’s nails clipped.

“Well, Vegas boys,” his father said brightly getting up from the table. “I’m off to Green Valley to tend to a spoilt pooch.”

“And I’m off to do some real work,” his mother said, giving her husband a kiss on the cheek. “You boys finish your breakfast quickly, and out that door please within two minutes. I’m just next door you know, and I can hear the front door slam.”

Stevie smiled at Jem. “Coming, Jemmy?” He waited for his brother’s sarcasm, but, surprisingly it didn’t come.

Jem spooned the last of his eggs into his mouth and gave Stevie a tired look that said, ‘It’s OK’ and the harsh words of that morning were forgotten.

They were just about out the door, when his mother called to him. “Oh, Stevie, Aunt Bessie rang this morning. She wants you to call her back tonight. She’s travelling at the moment, but said she wanted to catch up with you. Everything all right?” Mrs. Vegas asked, a slight worry underscoring the faint lines on her forehead.

Stevie too was puzzled, but then remembered his nightmare. “Yeah, Mum…err everything is OK, I just wanted to say hello to Aunt Bessie and make sure she’s not overdoing things, you know travelling around the country…”

“Umm, OK, then,” his mother called. “Now off to school and easy on the skating tricks on your way.”

And with that, the Vegas family began their seemingly normal day. Only Stevie was preoccupied, remembering his dark, night time dreams.

Buying Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1tZdIRO

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1f2OkRA

Amazon Aust: http://bit.ly/1oFuqpj

Lodestone Books: http://www.lodestonebooks.com/books/dawn-shadowcasters

Reviews

If anyone would like to host my new book on their blogsite, let me know. I’ll do a swap and do the same for your book. And, if any blogger would like to review Dawn of the Shadowcasters, leave me a message either in the Contact Me section of my blogsite, or in the comments section below.

As always, happy writing [for writers] and happy reading [for readers].

 

My wonderful 13 year old hero Stevie Vegas is back in Dawn of the Shadowcasters, soon to be released by Lodestone Books in the UK – and for Stevie it is dark days indeed.

Dawn of the Shadowcasters is set the year after Stevie Vegas battles the Shadowcasters (demons), and finds out he’s an Illuminator (lightbringer). Stevie and his family have returned to their hometown, Valley Dale, to try and start a new life. Stevie is really battling with himself because he doesn’t want to accept his powers. He just wants to be like any other 13 year old.

But fate has a different destiny for Stevie because the Shadowcasters turn up in Valley Dale and things go from bad to worse. Not only does Stevie have to accept his abilities like mind reading and being able to ‘make’ things happen, he finds he is almost out flanked and outwitted as the Shadowcasters turn up on mass and begin to hunt him, and his family, djhp52dcea0a69eddown.

It is quite literally ‘always darkest before the dawn’ for Stevie. But to tell you more about the plot, would be to give it away, so you’ll have to wait until 31 May to get your copy.

One of the themes I enjoyed exploring in the book is the notion that there is much power to be harnessed in nature, if we know how. Through his mentor, Aunt Bessie, Stevie is taught how to ‘call’ to the wind, master it, and use its power against the Shadowcasters. The Illuminator or power stones are also a mighty source of power that will help Stevie and his family as the Shadowcasters draw perilously closer.

Skateboarding – movement and action – are also incorporated in Dawn of the Shadowcasters with Stevie making firm friends with a young marshal arts expert and a girl, Mary Lou Nova, who’s the fastest girl on two wheels – well she rides a motocross bike as well as any teenage boy. In fact, she gives Stevie, who is a champion skateboarder, a run for his money.

There are plenty of surprises in Dawn of the Shadowcasters. Stevie finds out things he didn’t know about his family, and his growing friendship with Mary Lou is more of a welcome surprise – so, set amidst the backdrop of demonic danger, Stevie takes his first tentative steps towards romance.

There are plenty of twists and turns in Dawn of the Shadowcasters and readers can expect the unexpected. But just as danger, mayhem and evil incarnate follow Stevie Vegas in equal measure, so too do the bonds of friendship, familial love and loyalty, and the pure light of magic.

How would I describe Dawn of the Shadowcasters? It perhaps sits in the genre of Fantasy/paranormal but also in action and adventure. There are certain spiritual aspects to this book too, as light battles dark: demons against lightbringers. And despite dark days for Stevie Vegas, there is always hope. Just as there is always hope when we battle adversity in real life.

The message is, hold onto hope no matter how dark the days and, above all, believe in yourself.

You can preorder Dawn of the Shadowcasters at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Shadowcasters-Stevie-Vegas-Chronicles/dp/1782794565

Or find out more about it via Lodestone Books: http://www.lodestonebooks.com/books/dawn-shadowcasters

Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is the first book in my paranormal/adventure trilogy series for young adult readers. It follows the adventures of 12 year old Stevie Vegas who’s just your average school kid living in suburban Valley Dale, with a passion for skateboarding.

He thinks his life is pretty normal…that’s until he discovers he’s an Illuminator with extra-ordinary mind powers. Then the Shadowcasters arrive and he’s forced into a battle as ancient as time itself, one that pits Illuminator against Shadowcaster: lightbringers against demons.

Weston1 (4) small Sounds exciting. I think so ’cause I sure had fun writing Shadowscape.I wrote it in 2011-2012 for my son who was 12 years old at the time, and a passionate skateboarder. The main character of Stevie is modelled on him. Every night he would read what I’d written and say: “mum you can’t say that” or “yeah, that’s ok” or “yeah, pretty good”. He was my biggest critic and fan, depending on if I got it ‘right’. Thank you Callum.

The most fun I had when I wrote the book was in creating the skateboarding feuds between Stevie and his arch nemesis Jacob Barron. I did my research and under the tutelage of my then 12 year old, I had the characters perform anything from triple kickflips to attempted 900’s. I feel I should say that a triple kickflip is where the rider ollies and kicks his/her foot out and flips the board 360 degrees along its long axis with his/her toes, allows the board to spin all of the way around, and then catches it and lands.

And a 900 requires lots of skill and is very rarely pulled off, but it’s when the skateboard and skateboarder spin in the air with a 2½-revolution. While airborne, the skateboarder makes two-and-a-half turns, facing the other way when coming down than before. It is considered one of skateboarding’s most technically demanding tricks. Let me show you:

 

So with a champion skaterboarder with mind power in Stevie Vegas, I was able to explore the phenomena that had captured my then 12 year old son, and a couple of his friends. Skateboarders are not like football or baseball players. They are the cool players in the sports arena, I believe. Very much individuals, rule breakers even. They have to be to try some of their airborne stunts.

Before I began writing Shadowscape I had campaigned hard for a skatepark in my local town. I wanted to offer the young people something besides the traditional sports. And the skaters needed a place to skate. So, as the then editor of the local paper, I launched a campaign and we got our skatepark. I’m very proud of that particular campaign.

Once I had finished Shadowscape, I began to write the second book in the Shadowscape trilogy, Dawn of the Shadowcasters which is currently in production with Lodestone Books and due out on 30 May 2014. It can be preordered and is available in ebook and print.

Dawn of the Shadowcasters picks up Stevie Vegas’ story a year later and, yes, there are some nice skateboard stunts in Book 2.

There’s also a bit of a love interest for Stevie in Mary Lou who just happens to be a champion motocross rider. I suppose it’s fair to say I have a thing for Xtreme sports. I also have a thing for anything that is out of the box or the norm. Street art, skateboarding, motorcycle riding…it all comes from the same place as skill, creativity and courage. And that’s a good basis for a hero in a book don’t you think?

Shadowscape is available in ebook on Amazon. And Dawn of the Shadowcasters is out via Lodestone Books in May.