Saturday, July 7, 2012

Harpies, Book 2: Seraphym Wars YA Series (due out Feb 2012)

Harpies, Book 2: Seraphym Wars YA Series  (due out 2012)

Harpies, Book 2 in the Seraphym Wars Series, follows fifteen-year-old Griffen as he discovers why he has been transported from his home on the Outer Banks of South Carolina on Earth to a desolate beach somewhere on a foreign planet. Accompanied by a talking bird, Griffen begins a quest to fulfill his role in a prophecy and find his way home. Joined by twelve-year-old Seth, a strange fire-bug, and fourteen-year-old Mercy, a runaway with Empathic skills, Griffen learns to control his new ability to pull lightning from the sky at will—especially while battling demon-dragons and sea monsters who want them all dead. Following mere intuition, the three, accompanied by an oddball Burrowing Elf, transport downriver toward an island Griffen keeps seeing in visions. Narciss has other plans for the three intrepid Vigorios, however, and Griffen discovers a brave side he never suspected he had—unless he was playing video games. But this turns out to be no game.

Chapter One
The door to our cottage slammed shut resulting in a boom which echoed across the empty beach. The windows rattled in their frames and I yelled, “Good, maybe it’ll fall down around your ears. Serves you right if it does.”  My voice cracked, which pissed me off even more. It had just started doing this and the kids at school mocked me, although nearly every other boy’s voice sounded the same.
But every other boy at school had a dad or stepdad or at least a grandfather. I had none of the above. I had a revolving door full of Mom’s boyfriends.
            Stomping barefoot across the sandspur-strewn sand that mom called a yard, I ranted and yelled with each small prickly ball I removed from my heel or arch. I hated those things—the way the prickle got under my thumb nail when I plucked it from my skin drove me crazy.
           The tension in my shoulders eased as I strode down the night-cooled sand. The beach always did that for me. That’s why I spent so much time there. Whether by day or night I craved the solitude and swish of the waves licking the white sand--the warm wet breeze off the ocean rustling through the dried seed heads of the dune grass. I stopped and faced the ocean with eyes shut--listening.
A flash far out over the black sea fluttered behind thick clouds. Even through my closed lids I could see it. Slowly a rumble rolled across the sky until it roared overhead like a freight train. I loved night heat lightning. My favorite nights on the beach were spent watching God’s spectacular light shows.
I opened my eyes. Momentarily distracted from the argument I’d stormed away from, I sat for a few moments on the sand watching nature’s electrical display. Cold dampness slowly eased through my cut-offs. I dug my toes into the cold sand. Purple streaks of jagged light flickered within white and black clouds as they comingled. With each scatter of light that streaked across the clouds, I imagined Greek Titans clashing swords.
            Finally I stood and began walking again, thinking about the fight I’d just had with mom. Again. It was the same old thing. She insisted on bringing home strange men, hoping to make us ‘a complete family’, as she called it. I thought we were complete enough. I didn’t see the need for anyone else in the house. I didn’t get to see her enough as it was, what with her working double-shifts at the fish cannery then ‘dating’ all the time. I loved my mom. She was a wonderful mother and companion. It had been just the two of us all my life. But I was cool with that. It appeared, however, that Mom was not.          
The air crackled and popped with the glory of nature’s energy. Lines of electron brilliance zig-zagged through the black sky illuminating the wide white sandy beach for an instant then plunging it back into velvet blackness. An ethereal glow imprinted on my retinas for several seconds longer as though the sand was lit from beneath.
            I glanced down at my feet, awash in the cool Atlantic saltwater. Phosphorescent amoebas danced around my ankles, swimming in the gentle wake. I lifted my foot then lowered it again watching the bio-luminescent creatures swarm away then back again.
            The air crackled and the hairs on my arms stood on end. It felt odd—exhilarating and tickly. I glanced up. Over the surging black sea, another brilliant streak illuminated the sky. I counted—one, one-hundred, two, one-hundred, three, one-hundred then cringed as a sonic boom of thunder rumbled across the world, vibrating the sand beneath my feet. I shouldn’t be on the beach with a heat storm this close. I knew that, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t pull myself away. And besides, I was still pissed. I wasn’t ready to confront her and I was tired of arguing.
           The air sizzled, like bacon frying. The hairs all over my body stood to attention again. I looked down--the danger of the ocean water lapping gently around my ankles hit me at the same time as...How could I have been so stup…I lifted one foot to run when the bolt of energy I’d thought so beautiful miles away struck my head.
My body went rigid.
I couldn’t breathe. 
I couldn’t think. 
It seemed an eternity passed. Images flew through my mind like a slide show on speed. Everything I had done or said since birth bounced around my brain in no particular order. Mom and me at the zoo watching the chimps and laughing. Mom and me snuggled on the couch watching a scary Halloween movie. Mom and me singing ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ on my birthday with two chocolate cupcakes sitting on a dirty plate in the middle of our kitchen table.
Images of places and people I’d never seen flashed in there as well. A thin blonde girl with frightened, hollow eyes hid beneath a tarp in a dirty alley. Large green dumpsters angled together for a shield. Flaming red hair above a freckled face matched the flames a young teenaged boy stared at.
When the slide show finally stopped, I crumpled into the surging surf, face down on the wet sand—somehow managing to turn my face at the last minute so I didn’t suffocate. I had no feeling in my extremities and the entire world was bathed in an unearthly brilliance. A gentle blue-green glow suffused the edges of the sawgrass at the top of the dunes in the distance. Tiny white crabs that poked their heads up out of the sand to investigate the Gulliver on their turf, wore bright yellow auras edging their shells.
            I tried to rise or even move, but my body refused to cooperate and lay prone in the cold salty water. 
Am I dead?
Who will take care of Mom?
I can’t be dead. This doesn’t happen to kids. Kids don’t die.
Kids die all the time. Especially stupid ones.
I realized with shocked chagrin that my feet and lower legs were completely under water when I felt the creeping cold splashing on my thighs. I’m not dead if I can feel things.
My next thought chilled me to the core.
Oh, God, the tide is coming in.

Chapter Two
             I woke stiff, sore and damp.
The last thing I remembered was the ocean lapping up my legs as the tide came in. But I no longer lay in the water or even near the water. Coarse dune grass poked through my shirt itching my stomach. Dry sand scratched my legs, arms and cheek. I blinked several times to clear the sleep-webs from my eyes. Nothing felt broken or even bruised as I curled one leg up then the other and examined my arms.
I sat up. Had I been struck by lightning last night? Did I fall asleep on the beach and dream the storm? Why hadn’t Mom come looking for me? She’d never let me sleep on the beach all night--she’d be too worried.
The leaden sky promised rain. Normally turquoise, the sea had turned a deep shade of gray—reflecting the dark sky. I looked down at the grass. I’d never seen this kind of grass before. It was coarse and grayish, like the sky and ocean. I plucked a blade and examined it closely. Definitely not like the grass on my dunes at home. 
            The dunes at home. That thought startled me. Where was I if not home? Where was I sitting and how did I get there?
            “Dracwald, Griffen Oisin Gilmore. More particularly, the Province of Toterra along the Planora Coast. Welcome,” a small shrill voice chirped into my ear.
            I leapt to my feet and spun around. I was alone as far as I could see. Not another soul nor house existed. Where were the cottages that lined the Outer Banks in South Carolina where I lived?
Into my other ear that same shrill voice said, “You’re not looking in the right place.”
            My head jerked up, eyes scouring the sky. 
            “I’m here,” the voice chirped into my right ear then instantly I heard, “No, here,” in my other ear. My head flew back and forth until my eyes twirled in their sockets making me dizzy. I plopped onto the grass waiting to regain my equilibrium. A slight pressure settled on my shoulder. I jumped, my head whipping around.
            A tiny gray bird about the size of a wren with plain, solid gray feathers sat preening. “Camouflage,” I muttered, glancing back at the oppressive sky, “for a mirage. How droll.”
            “Indeed,” he said.
            I startled and the bird fluttered up then landed on my other shoulder. I spun my head, struggling to see him.
            “Say something again,” I said, eyes wide.
            “Better get a move-on or trouble will find you,” the bird obliged.
            “Yeah, okay. I’m sure Mom wonders where I’ve been.” I shook my head, rising and heading back up the beach toward home. “Talking birds. I guess getting struck by lightning makes you nuts.”
            “Wrong way, Griffen,” the bird said.
            I jumped again. “You’re still here? I thought I imagined you.” I took another few steps then froze, “You know my name. How is that possible? I haven’t told you my name…Oh, yeah, you’re in my head so of course you’d know my name.” I smacked my forehead with a palm.
            The bird fluttered up again then landed on the opposite shoulder. “I do wish you’d stop leaping about. It startles me each time you do that.” The bird sounded petulant, which was ridiculous since birds didn’t have feelings and couldn’t get them hurt—especially birds that weren’t real.
            “Sorry. Wouldn’t want to upset a daydream,” I muttered. “You got a name?”
            “I said you’re going the wrong direction. Turn around or you will be sorry.” The tiny gray apparition fluttered before my face then sat on my shoulder. “The name’s Flap.”
            “Nice to meet you, Flap.” I shook my head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think I know the way home. I am fifteen, not five.”
            “You knew the way home. But you can’t get there from here. You will be sorry if you…”
            In the near distance a thundering roar stopped me in my tracks, gaze scanning the horizon. I’d never heard that sound before in my life. It wasn’t thunder and there were no predatory animals on the Outer Banks. Again the roar echoed across the dunes. I scurried up one of the small sand hills and flattened myself against its side.  The strange grass poked through my shirt, irritating my skin. I scratched at the grasses and wriggled until a clear patch of sand appeared. Raising only my head I peered in the direction of the sound.
            A giant man with the height and girth of the Empire State Building lumbered into view. He strode into the waves watching the sea. Every so often he bent and scooped his hands together in the water then rose with a wriggling shiny fish clasped between them. He roared with obvious pleasure and dropped it into a bag at his waist. The bag bulged and dripped. He’d had a good day fishing.
            My stomach rumbled.
            The creature felt his bag then turned and strode through the waves back the way he’d come. Once he was around the bend and could no longer see me I sat up.
            “What the heck was that?” I glanced up the dunes at the forest of trees sitting atop the cliffs. “Where’s my house?”
            “It is not here. You are not there.” The bird fluttered around my head then settled on a shoulder again. “Are you stupid? I keep telling you. You are not on your planet any longer.”
            I glanced up and down the beach; up the dunes at the cliffs and forest; seaward at the dark waves and gray sky.
            This was not my world.
            “Where the Hell am I?” My voice trembled as panic rose in my gut.
            “Dracwald is the world. Toterra is the province.”
            My knees buckled. I collapsed onto the grasses. “How do I get home? Where’s my mother? How did I get here? Why am I here? Who’ll take care of my mother?”
            “You can’t and she’s fine.”
            “What do you mean I can’t get home?” Anger replaced the fear. I stood again spinning, trying to see this little harbinger of bad news. “Come where I can see you.”
            The tiny gray bird fluttered its wings about a foot in front of my face. “You cannot go home…yet. There is something you must do first.”
            “Tell me what it is so I can do it and go home.” My voice was hard as granite.
            “It’s not that easy.” Flap hesitated while he flew around me. “First, turn and walk while I explain. You have a long trek ahead and daylight is short.”
            “This had better get me home.”
            The bird chuckled. “Eventually. Tell me, do all beings on your world have white hair? It is rather startling. No one on this planet has white hair. Well, no one except someone I hope you never have to meet. He is very evil and you probably wouldn’t live through a meeting with him anyway.”
            I froze, glaring at the ocean since I couldn’t see the bird. “What do you mean by eventually?”
            “You have a mission to finish before going home. Fate to fulfill.” The bird said in his matter-of-fact tone. “So tell me about humans. Isn’t that what you’re called on Earth?”
            “Tell you what? What do you want to know?”
            “Do they all look like you?” Flap asked, flitting around my head.
            “Somewhat. I mean we all have two legs and two arms, a body and a head. What else?”
            “Are there males and females?”
            “Of course. Kind of necessary for survival of the species, don’t you think? Where is all this going? How am I going to get home if my house is not where I left it?”
            “Your house is right where you left it. It’s you who are not where you left yourself.” Flap settled back on my shoulder. “Does everyone have hair the color of cotton?”
            “No. I mean, I guess the really old people do or some who have chemically altered their hair color. Why?”
            “What color was your hair when last you saw?”
            “So what turned it white?”
            “White! What are talking about?” I glanced at my finger and toes, realizing for the first time they were blackened. My arm hairs, once dark brown, curled white against dark tan skin. I stopped and stared at my legs hairs which were white as well. I reached up and touched my hair as though I could see with my fingertips. “It’s white?”
            “It is.”
            A flash of light echoed before my eyes and I recalled the lightning strike while standing in the water. Instead of dying, apparently I was transported to this world and my hair turned white. I laughed for the first time that day, “I’ll bet I look like Gandalf.”
            “The wizard in Lord of the Ring..Never mind. Where to now? I want this over with. I need to get home today before Mom goes nuts looking for me.”
            “You can stop worrying about her. She won’t miss you.”
            “The heck you say. It’s just the two of us. I think she’ll notice I’m missing.”
            “It’s taken care of. Follow the straight white sand,” Flap sang flitting ahead.
            “That sounds vaguely familiar,” I said, “Hope I get home easier than Dorothy did.”
            Shortly after leaving the beach I came to the bank of a huge river.
 “I’m so hungry.” My stomach’s whine had become a full-fledged growl and every so often a hunger burp worked its way up and out.
            “Follow me.” Flap flitted toward a gigantic tree a few feet from the river. At the base of the tree, snuggled under huge roots that rose from the land like they were trying to escape but had been pulled back down again, lay a brown canvas backpack. It bulged. I yanked it up and shoved it open revealing treasure. One by one I lay the items on the gnarled tree roots while sitting on the largest root. There was a collapsible fishing rod with extra hooks, line and bobbers. A large canvas bag of water with screw-on metal lid--very vintage and cool--hung off the side of the pack. Chocolate candy bars, cans of tinned fish, fruits, dried jerky. The treasure kept on coming. I was giddy.
            Deciding not to eat the food now, in case I couldn’t find food later in my journey, I shoved a chocolate bar into my mouth. This part of the river looked promising as a fishing spot and I opened the collapsible fishing rod. After baiting the hook with a brilliantly colored beetle found at the base of the tree, I cast it into the slow current of the tea-colored water, watched and waited.  The river mumbled toward the sea like a drowsy sleeper. Mesmerized by the whispering waters I lulled into a slight doze. The red and white bobber on my line hypnotically moved up and down with the current.
 A tug on the tip of the rod startled me out of a reverie in time to jerk backwards on the rod and set the hook. I reeled in the line until a three-foot-long silver, thrashing fish appeared. A quick tug tossed it onto the grassy bank. I laid the gutted fish on top of the fire I’d built beneath the shade of the tree. Moments later I flipped the fish and moments after that peeled the white cooked flesh loose from the skin. Perfection.
I held up a piece of fish. “Flap, would you like some?”
He fluttered from the branch on which he’d been sitting and grabbed the meat then flew back up. “Thank you,” he said after a moment.

Prophecy of Solsyl
(Dracwald to the Dragons)

An eon, nay, ten million years
Evil reigns, Solsyl suffers.
Toxins poison and close to death
Creatures taking their last breath.
Waters once sparkled by sunny gleam
Now blackened, noxious lake or stream.
Transmuted creatures dwell within
 Mountains, forests, deserts, glens.
Majikal beings once proliferate
Diminished in number-hide deliberate,
From evil flying through the night
Flaming maws that snap and bite.
The planet shakes, quakes, muttering
Majikals escape the Great Shuddering.
Children seven will arise
Betrayed once by two-colored eyes.
Travel through forest, glen and sea
‘til safely together they shall be.
Of age no matter, size or skill
Majikals teach them all to kill.
Prolific with sword, arrow and spear
All evil dies when they come near.
Seven children, two from Earth
Black-haired beauty learns her worth;
Leads Vigorios to fight pure evil
With new-found courage, strength of will.
One will shine above all others,
Powers strong as does her mother.
Another’s loss at age so tender,
A mighty warrior evil rendered.
One sees fears or heart’s desires;
Understands internal fires
that drive the evil and the good.
She prays things turn out as they should.
Hair turned white when lightning struck,
his easy nature is mistook
A mighty warrior, strong and fierce
With lightning’s power evil pierce.
Solsyl’s power, volcano, groundquake,
 master of fire another makes;
His soul in question, which side wins?
On battle’s outcome it depends.
‘fore battle starts one will die,
by hand of one she once was shy;
But came to love and learned to trust,
Betrayal turns his soul to dust.
Another warrior must be found,
the leader then must look around;
Another betrayal; how many more
will they endure throughout this war?
But in the end will love win?
On each one’s heart that does depend.

April 2011-Odessa, Seraphym Wars YA Series

September 2011-Prophecy, Seraphym Wars YA Series

February 2012-Harpies, Seraphym Wars YA Series

July 2011-Zarena, Stardust Warriors MG Series

November 2011-Jeremiah Holyfield, Stardust Warriors MG Series

March 2012-Laman, Stardust Warriors MG Series

         April 2012-Aurora, Stardust Warriors
         June 2012-Stregona, Stardust Warriors

BIO: Rebecca Ryals Russell

An avid reader of anything Fantasy from the time she could read, Rebecca Ryals Russell now writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy and Horror plus some Picture Books, while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. Her favorite series being Lord of the Rings, she kept Tolkien’s writing in mind while writing her series The Seraphym Wars. She also kept Rawling’s series, Harry Potter, in mind as far as character development and use of evil elements. But her all-time favorite writer is Ray Bradbury because of his twist-endings and multiple plot points you don’t see coming. Her second favorite writer is Stephen King because of his prolific writing and varied style.
When not writing, and sometimes while she is, she also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on her property: Florida Black Bear Cabin from which she wrote the first two books in the Seraphym Wars Series before it took off as a weekend rental business. The warmly decorated log house proved a perfect setting for designing the monster and dragon-filled world of Dracwald.
She is a fourth generation Floridian, born in Gainesville while her father attended U of F, where her second daughter is now studying Psychology. She grew up in Sunrise, just a few miles from where Johnny Depp lived at the same time. She next lived in Orlando for a few years before moving to Jacksonville where she and her husband raised their family. When her mother died suddenly of a brain aneurism, the family moved to Wellborn, outside Lake City to care for her dad, who then died three and half years later. The family now wishes to return to Jacksonville, which is why the house is for sale. It can be seen at
The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and secretary, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades fifth through seventh all subjects, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories.
Her main interests are her four young adult/teenaged children and Irish hubby of 36 years. She enjoys spending her time writing (and lately doing a lot of promo and marketing), drawing, going to movies with her oldest daughter every Tuesday night and sharing a popcorn, reading YA Fantasy and getting jealous of all the excellent new authors on the bookshelves, discussing philosophy, world culture, religion and Classic Literature with her 16-year-old son over Pizza, or sitting on the porch wicker swings while eating peanuts and drinking a beer with her husband and whichever kid is around.
Over the course of the next few years she has several books being published.

Click to Mix and Solve

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WINNER for Easter Treasure Hunt

Congratulations to Kristin Adams for winning the signed copy of Odessa and a bucketload of swag during the Easter Treasure Hunt.