Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.
Here are some of our memories from the city of Bagan, which is famous for the hundreds upon hundreds of temples scattered across the landscape just outside (and even inside) of town.

Floyd and I rented little electric scooters and spent most of two days driving around on a self-guided tour.
Locals make their living all through the area.

Some of the temples had ancient writing and artwork inside.
We met a friendly local artist named Koko, who showed us around and volunteered to take some pictures for us.
We bought this painting from Koko (the scene shows his conception of paradise). After he spent hours of his day showing us around for free, we kind of felt like we had to buy something from him as thanks. Unfortunately, it turned out to be REALLY expensive! ($75 U.S. was his starting price, and we did bargain it down a little, but not much. Unfortunately, by the time we heard the price, it was a little too late to back down.)
Some of the temples had external stairways that we could climb up. They were all extremely steep, and we had to take of four shoes and socks every time.
Even monks like to explore ancient monuments (and take pictures with their smart phones)! These two spoke good English and agreed very courteously to take Floyd’s and my picture, when we asked them to. One of them took a picture of us at the same time, so I didn’t feel bad asking to take one of them.
Whoops. We didn’t see this sign until AFTER we had climbed up to the temple (along with dozens of other tourists). Honest!
Lots of tourist hired these little horse carts for the day, along with a guide to show them around. 
A secret interior stairway up to the top of one of the temples! Koko, our volunteer guide who grew up in the area, showed it to us. It felt like something Indiana Jones would experience!
Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!
Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge

Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5
Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.
Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!
If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.
Purchase Kindle and Paperback
5 Stars! – “A marvelous book in a great series!” – Erik Weibel (Age 14) This Kid Reviews Books Blog
“Readers of this series have come to anticipate a host of challenges, intense battles, and on an epic scale. In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, you won’t be disappointed. For lovers of fantasy, I consider it a must read.” – Richard Weatherly, Author
“One of the admirable qualities I like about the entire series is seeing Andy’s growth from a self-absorbed kid to a more thoughtful teen as he learns how to deal with the various crises which face him, all the while knowing that the future may hold unpleasant consequences.  The watchword for Vision of the Griffin’s Heart is “courage.” – Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review



L. R. W. Lee credits her love of fantasy with her introduction to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The multiple dimensions of the worlds mixed with a layer of meaning, captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. More recently, L. R. W. Lee has found inspiration from J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series as well as Brandon Mull and his best selling Fablehaven, Beyonders and Five Kingdoms series.

L. R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their daughter is a Computer Engineer for Microsoft and their son serves in the Air Force.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Email
1.  How did you come up with your main character, Andy Smithson?  Did he just pop into your imagination or did you specifically develop him?
Andy is patterned after my son. After our first child who was what I would call compliant and seemed to need little to no correction, our son arrived on the scene. As with most 2nd children, he was polar opposite and provided much fodder for an engaging main character.
2.  How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?
It has been invaluable for I understand that writing is only 50% of the writer’s success equation. Unlike Field of Dreams, with so many good books available today, just launching it, even on a well trafficked platform like Amazon, does not get recognition. Because of my corporate background, from day one I began working to build a platform – Twitter and Facebook primarily and now also Book Nerd Paradise. As well, I understand the importance of the author community, for no author can succeed these days without the support of fellow authors. My background has also helped in understanding the need to optimize my books to rank well on the variety of sites they are listed on. There’s much more, but those are the biggest helps I would say.
3.  Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?
I have to say JK Rowling. The imagination she revealed, the strength of her characters, the world building, the depth of plot over multiple books…she definitely shaped how I think about writing.
4.  What do you love the most about writing for young people?
Young people are moldable. My passion for writing is to share with readers principles that from my experience can help them live more peaceful lives. A few of these principles include overcoming fear, frustration and impatience as well as understanding that true success in life is not from riches, fame or power, but rather responsibility, diligence and dignity. If they can finish any of my books closer to understanding these principles, I feel very fulfilled.
5.  Which part of the creative process is your favorite?  Least favorite?
Designing the story arc is my favorite part of the creative process for you can take a story anywhere your imagination can go. My least favorite part is editing/revising. Even though I know the narrative gets much stronger as a result, it’s still my least favorite part.
6.  How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?
Usually about 6 months.
7.  I know that most authors love all their characters but which of your many “children” is your favorite (besides Andy) and why?
I have to say Mermin, the kindly old wizard who speaks with a lisp. I love him most after Andy because he’s so warm, humble and approachable. He’s fallible and he knows it, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his mistakes, rather he is comfortable in his own skin.
8.  Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides middle grade/young adult fantasy?
Funny you should ask. Yes, I’m actually noodling with a story arc of a YA Sci Fi story.
9.  How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?
I can see how much I’ve changed and improved in showing rather than telling my readers what’s happening. I want them to engage and to show – providing sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste cues is a big part of that. I was particularly thrilled when my editor came back a full week sooner than expected with this current book because I had improved so much between book three and four. My pocketbook also appreciated that J
If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously: 1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 2) Andy in Oomaldee 3) the Afterlife 4) a meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth…
Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):
·       The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.
·       The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).
·       Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):
·       Andy means brave or courageous.
·       Alden means helper.
·       Hannah means favor or grace.
·       Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):
·       Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transform base metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.
·       In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.
·       The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.
The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.
·       Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.
·       In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.
·       Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.
·       In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.

·       In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother.
Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:
John Thornton
Title of book and/or series:
The Colony Ship Eschaton (Completed ten book series, beginning with Recovery of a Colony Ship)
The Colony Ship Vanguard (Completed eight book series beginning with Finding the Vanguard)
The Colony Ship Conestoga (in progress series with three books, beginning with Quest for the Conestoga)
Brief summary of the story:
Set about 170 years in the future, the Earth is a radioactive wasteland.  The last remnant of humanity lives in Dome 17, but the dome is failing.  Scientists have developed two new and unproven technologies: faster-than-light travel, and teleportation.  Both have significant limitations, but offer hope. 
Roughly one hundred years before, the people of Earth launched seven enormous generational colony ships each having immense biological habitats containing flora, fauna, and people.  These seven ships (Vanguard, Marathon, Warren, Conestoga, Eschaton, Trailblazer, and Zubalamo) were sent on separate journeys to distant solar systems with the hopes that in several generations, the colony ships would find a new home for humanity.  However, all seven ships were considered lost.
The desperate people in Dome 17 seek to locate one of those lost colony ships by sending two person adventurer teams in faster-than-light scout ships.  The FTL technology can only carry so much mass, so the scout ship and two pilots are the maximum amount that can be sent.  The mission is to find one of those colony ships and if it is still functional build a teleportation receiving pad on that ship.  Then the people of Dome 17 will use a sending pad to connect to the newly built receiving pad and teleport the survivors onto the colony ship thus escaping the dying Earth and failing dome.  It is a race against time, technological problems, and the unknown in an attempt to save humanity.
Each series follows the team of adventurers to a separate colony ship.  Therefore the three different series all start in the same place, Dome 17, but then each series tells what happens with the missions to those ships.   
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
There are three basic ‘worlds’ in my novels; Dome 17, the mechanical aspects of the colony ships, and the biomes on the colony ships. 
The first ‘world’ is the sterile and dry life of humans in Dome 17.  There are no animals, flowers, or any type of biology except for the food rations that are grown in rigidly controlled ways.  Water is precious.  Every part of life is tightly controlled and regulated, as the fifteen hundred people wrestle to keep the dome functional, and understand what is happening.  They are desperate to survive, and plan to use their new and unproven technology in the attempts to reach a colony ship.
The colony ships are gigantic and comprise the other two ‘worlds’ if I can use that term.  Basically they consist of a core needle ship which houses the propulsion systems, navigation, and mechanical aspects of the spacecraft.  So there are lots of technology places and engineering as you would expect in a huge spaceship.  The needle ship carries eight separate biological habitats.  The other part of the colony ship, the third ‘world’.  These enormous cylinders are placed in piggyback fashion on the needle ship and have different ecological climates inside, from tropical to savannah to coastal plains, to aquatic zones, ect…  The biological habitats were designed to mimic the natural environments of Earth.  These biomes also serve as the homes for the generations of humans who will live there until the colony ship reaches its destination world. 
However, all seven of the colony ships have suffered some kind of failures.  The novels describe how the ships have failed, and what the adventurers discover as they explore those derelict ships.  
If we were to visit the colony ships as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Each colony ship is in a different condition.  Some of the habitats look very beautiful, while other may not be functional at all.  To the people from Dome 17, who have never seen animals, or plants, or any natural setting, the biology is amazing.  So watch for the reactions of the adventurers to things they have only read or studied in history books.  Also observe for the interacts between the hundred-year old colony ship technology and the new and advanced technology the adventurers bring with them from Dome 17. 
What dangers should we avoid in the colony ships?
Be very careful.  Nature and technology may have changed drastically in the hundred years the colony ships have been in flight.  Watch out for the animals that are still roaming the habitats, but also be aware that some humans may still be living some kind of life on those ships.  How has their technology worked?  How has it failed?  And will the adventurers from Dome 17 find a safe place to go?    
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the colony ships?
The Dome 17 people are used to processed food ration bars and strict controls on water.  The people who live in the biological habitats have a totally different idea of food. 
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in colony ships?
As part of the limited equipment the Dome 17 people are able to bring in the FTL scout ship, they each have a high tech pistol which is fusion powered.  However, Dome 17 was a stable and internally safe place, so they are not used to fighting or combat at all.  The wild animals of the biological habitats, and colony ship humans may be very different.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the colony ships?
The faster-than-light scout ship is very limited in cargo space.  So the two adventurers have only the basic gear needed to build the teleportation receiving pad.  Fusion packs, molecular torches, pistols, medical kits, and a set of data sticks and data stick readers.  Additionally, they do have an artificial intelligence system (an AI) built into the scout ship.  The AI has its own personality and the goal of assisting in making the mission a success.  Each AI is self-aware, sentient, and able to verbally interact with the adventurers via a personal com-link.  It is unknown to the adventurers what the affects of faster-than-light travel will have upon them and their equipment.  
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in the colony ships that we don’t see on Earth?
All the life in the colony ships originated on Earth, but has been in the colony ship’s biological habitats for one hundred years.  So there may be variations on different predators, prey, and plants.  Also, as isolated biomes, each colony ship might have had mutations, or new strains of disease.  The adventurers hope to find stable, safe, biological wildernesses on the colony ships.  The plot involves what they do find. 
Since the colony ships have been in space on their journeys for one-hundred years, there is the possibility that alien lifeforms may have discovered them. 
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in colony ships?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
One of the colony ships, the Eschaton, was built for a religious group.  They saw it as a form of Noah’s Ark to save them.  Spirituality, dreams, and visions still play a significant role in some of those people’s lives. 
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in the colony ships?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Permalloy is a new type of super-hard metal which was used to construct the colony ships.  It is spun as a liquid and then hardened into whatever shape is needed.  There are also technological methods of altering gravity to provide for Earth normal gravity in the biological habitats.  The colony ships have built in artificial intelligence systems, but they are one-hundred years inferior to the ones the adventurers have. 
Additionally, there are automacubes, robotic maintenance drones, which tend to the engineering needs of the colony ships.  None of the adventurers know the functionality of any of the systems on the colony ships.       
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in your books.
In Dome 17 the people play a game called ricochet ball.  This helps them to keep fit and provides an entertainment outlet.  
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in the colony ships as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The biological habitats were designed to mimic Earth, so there is a solar cycle.  This gives the biomes day and night rhythms. 
Is there a particular religion practiced in the colony ships?  Please describe what it involves.
Religious practices vary depending on which colony ship is investigated, and what its specific background was.  Also, the intervening years have allowed any humans to survive to adopt new and unique religious practices. 
What is the political or government structure in the colony ships?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
These are great questions, and the plot involves the adventurers trying to uncover just who or what is in control of the colony ships.  Originally each ship had a flight crew that oversaw the operations of the colony ship, as well as a separate government looking out for the people living in the biological habitats.  What remains of those original designs is revealed throughout the stories and varies from colony ship to colony ship, and even from biological habitat to habitat.  For example, the people in the tropical habitat may have a whole different way of operation from those in the coastal plains habitat. 
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit the colony ships?
There is a huge clash of cultures between the humans from Dome 17, and those humans who have survived on the colony ships.  Levels of technology, societal expectations, and the difference between living in Dome 17 and living in a biological habitat play a big part in the stories.  
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
Oh dear, well, yes.  Everything in my life has shaped and influenced my writing. 
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I strive to write realistic characters.  So the people in my books deal with all kinds of emotions.  From elation over the first sight of an animal, to fear of the unknown, to deep depression, to post-traumatic stress, I write about people who are not superheroes, but individuals caught up in circumstances greater than they have ever encountered before.  How will they relate to each other?  How will they deal with loss?  How will they cope with the deaths of friends? 
Author Autobiography:

I have a widely diverse background. I worked as an ICU RN for 10 years in various, cardiac, surgical, and medical units. I was at the bedside when a myriad of people died.  I also saw some wonderful stories of triumph over adversity.
I also have an advanced case of arthritis which has resulted in my having seven total joint replacements, and stopped me from continuing to work as a nurse.  I have worked part time visiting the elderly, shut-ins, and others for the last 18 years.  
I am married, have four grown and married daughters, and three pets.  Two silly dogs and an ancient cat (18 1/2 years old) share our home with us.  
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?  
My books are available on Kindle for only $.99 each, and in paperback.  The easiest place to get them is on Amazon. 
Where can readers connect with you online? 
I have a Facebook page, which is the best place to contact me.  
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the colony ships.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the Star Realm, in Realm Explorers Part LXXXIV!
-Annie Douglass Lima
Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.

As a part of our boat tour of Inle Lake, we stopped at this weaving center, where they make cloth from lotus fiber, as well as silk and cotton.

In this video, our guide demonstrates how the fiber is extracted from lotus plants.

It was very interesting to see a whole room full of looms and to watch the weavers at work.
Looms are more complex devices than I would have thought.
Weaving in action. We were amazed how fast the women were!
The view across the water from the front walkway of the weaving center.
I love this ingenious homemade spinning wheel! (At the end of the video, the lady is saying “hello” in Burmese.)
Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!
Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge
Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.

Here are some of our memories from a day of boating around on Myanmar’s fascinating Inle Lake.

Lots of people (men, women, and children) in Myanmar paint their faces with the white powdery substance the man on the right is wearing. Apparently it’s a cosmetic that functions as natural sunblock.
Fishermen at dawn. We were amazed at how they were able to use their feet to both row their boats and manipulate their nets.

This brief video shows foot-rowing fishermen in action.

My favorite part of the boat ride (and one of my favorite parts of the entire vacation) was seeing villages where the buildings were built right on the water. It was just amazing!
Join us for a video tour of one of the villages on the water!

This house was under construction. When we went by again in the other direction a couple of hours later, most of the roof had been put on already.

Most of the buildings on the water had electricity. This is how it gets to them.

Another interesting thing we saw was these famous “floating gardens”. Crops such as tomatoes are grown right on the surface of the lake!
Our guide let us off the boat for a while in this little town. As you can see, every other boatful of tourists stopped there, too!
It was an interesting little area.

We walked through an open-air market.

I wished I could try some of the local produce!

These looked delicious! I especially wanted one of those samosas.

No idea what these are.

The lady gave us each a free sample of these. Delicious! (But we had no idea what they were.)

We were told that these women were all from a particular tribe, as evidenced by their traditional head gear.

More local delicacies.

Heading home with goods from the market.

A blacksmith at work in the market area by the lake. It was really interesting to watch the whole process.

We hiked up a long walkway for a close view of these old temples.

There were a lot of them up at the top.

After spending the entire day on and around Inle lake, we finally headed back as dusk fell. It was a wonderful day!

Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!
Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge
Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.
Here are some of our memories from the town of Ngaung Shwe, where we stayed for three nights, in the beautiful Inle Lake region of Myanmar.
This is the guest house where we stayed. Cute, clean, and affordable, plus conveniently located right there in town, walking distance from everything. We recommend it!
Horse carts were a common sight on the streets there – both as a taxi for tourists and transportation for locals.
Inle Lake isn’t especially famous for its pagodas the way some parts of the country are, but still, they’re everywhere in Myanmar.
The entrance to the local open-air market. I enjoyed browsing in there.
The market had every kind of fresh produce you can imagine, as well as clothes, toys, souvenirs, and various other items.
Prices in the market are all negotiable.
This pottery was being displayed for sale at the side of the main road.
There are lots of great restaurants (with English menus, most featuring Western and other international cuisine) in Ngaung Shwe. When I ordered a chocolate cashew pancake for breakfast in one of them, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. However, it was delicious!
We saw this sign by the main road and decided to see what traditional Myanmar puppetry was like. It didn’t cost much, and it was a very interesting cultural experience. 
One puppeteer handled all the marionettes, one dancing in each separate song. Afterward he came out and talked to the audience (a small group, there were only about ten of us) about the traditional craft of making and performing with the marionettes. He makes all his own and has some for sale in his little theater. Apparently it is a dying art in Myanmar, as the younger generation is no longer very interested in such things.
Floyd and I rented bikes from our guest house and enjoyed a scenic ride around the area. Ngaung Shwe is a farming community, and once we got outside the little town, everything was quaint and rural. I was fascinated at the glimpses of these traditional homes. As you can see, they stood on poles with walls woven from palm fronds or something similar.
We ended up riding the bikes up a hill to a nearby winery, from which there was a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.
We spent the next day on a boat on Lake Inle. Stay tuned for my next blog post – those are still probably my favorite memories from the whole trip! 

Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!
Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge
Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:

H. L. Burke
Title of book:
Cora and the Nurse Dragon
Brief summary of the story:
Cora’s a young girl who dreams of being a dragon jockey but whose father disapproves of dragons being kept in captivity. She struggles to balance her father’s beliefs with her own passions. When she gets a hold of a dragon egg that hatches into the nurse dragon, Cricket, though, she learns a lot about dragons, her father, and sacrifice.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The world is an alternate version of ours, and Farrington would be a typical American town, except with a technology level of about 1920 … and dragons. The kids use 20’s slang. The people wear 20’s fashion. They have automobiles and the wealthier families have electric lights and telephones … but instead of horses or greyhounds, people race dragons, kids keep small dragons instead of goldfish and slightly larger ones instead of cats. 
If we were to visit Farrington as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
I’d definitely take in a dragon race. They’re exciting, and the popcorn at the stadium is decent. A dozen snake-like dragons with wings moving faster than the eye can see, racing around the track, snapping at each other’s tails, leapfrogging over each others heads … nothing like a dragon race. 
What dangers should we avoid in Farrington?
While the races are exciting, the gambling feeds a criminal element. Seedier neighborhoods host gangsters, off-track betting, and even dragon smuggling. 
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Farrington that we don’t see on Earth?
Obviously, dragons. The dragons come in multiple sizes and colors. The most common are the mayflies, short-lived dragons that kids hatch from eggs and raise in glass tanks until they die of old age, usually within two months. Luckier kids get cat-sized dragons, the most common of which are steamers (blue dragons who breathe water vapor), strikers (red dragons who breathe fire), and sparkers (yellow/gold dragons who breathe electric sparks). Then of course you have the racers, about the same size as horses, long, elegant, and fast. 
Is there a particular religion practiced in Farrington?  Please describe what it involves.
Since it is an alternate Earth with basically the same history, my characters do practice Christianity. Cora’s best friend is a preacher’s daughter and that has some influence on her as she makes decisions about whether or not to follow laws she believes to be unjust. 
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
When I was a kid, pizza parlors had vending machines where you’d get plastic eggs with prizes inside for a quarter. The displays on these machines promised all sorts of shiny goodies, but I’d never get what I wanted, always something disposable instead. I used that as an influence, in the idea of kids buying dragon eggs in hope of getting a pet, but instead only getting short-lived dragons that would die just as they were becoming fond of them. 
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
To some extent, Cora’s dad has a controversial parenting style. Cora is basically allowed to do what she wants, and while he sets some boundaries—not allowing her to drop out of school—he refuses to force his moral compass on his daughter. She makes choices he doesn’t approve of, in choosing to raise dragon eggs and in idolizing the dragon jockeys, but he lets her make them and only provides guidance. It’s not a parenting style that would work for all families or situations, but Mr. Harrison is a character I very much respect. One beta reader compared the relationship between him and Cora to Atticus and Scout, and while I don’t think it is quite at that level, I love that I got compared to a story as timeless as To Kill a Mockingbird, at least in a small way.
Also, there are some thoughts about disobeying unjust laws and defying societal expectations to do what’s right, though they are approached in terms of fantasy situations.

Author Autobiography:
An avid reader and self-proclaimed “geek princess,” H. L. Burke has been obsessed with the fantastic all her life. Now a mom of two girls and the wife of a handsome US Marine, she seeks out wonder wherever she can find it. 

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?
The book is available through Amazon.com and kindle unlimited as an ebook (pre-order until January 31st) and available soon as a paperback through all major book sellers mybook.to/nursedragon
Where can readers connect with you online?  

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Farrington.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part LXXXIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.

Here are some of our memories from the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, which is definitely the number one thing to put on your list if you’re picking sites to see in Yangon.

The front entrance. There’s a lot more to the temple complex than you can see from here.
This man was our guide, which was really helpful since the pagoda complex is so big. He explained a lot about the history and purpose of the different buildings, as well as quite a bit about Buddhism in general.
Dress code is serious business in Myanmar! All the temples we saw around the country had signs about how to dress appropriately.
Since Floyd was in shorts (not considered “civilized dress”), he was required to buy and wear a “longyi” (wraparound skirt commonly worn by both men and women in Myanmar) before he could enter the temple complex. Everyone had to take off their shoes before going in.
Artwork by the eaves of one of the buildings.
There are lots of separate temples buildings in the Shwe Dagon Pagoda complex. There’s no angle from which one picture could capture them all.
Everything that looks like gold in these pictures really is! Most of the temples were plated with gold leaf.
As you can imagine, idols were everywhere, both in and out of the temples. Many of the people we saw were actively worshipping them.
The sky that day was perfect for photography!
I was impressed by all the elaborate details in the decorations on the temples’ roofs.
This temple is the actual, famous Shwe Dagon Pagoda itself.
There were lots of other tourists and locals there.

Every pagoda was topped with these dangling decorative “umbrellas” (yes, that’s actually what they’re called).

The floor in the whole complex was smooth, cool, and clean (marble, I think?), so it was no problem to go barefoot on it.

Beautiful Shwe Dagon!

Gold was in evidence everywhere, but other building materials added nice color contrasts on some of the roofs.
Some people were there to worship, others just to hang out.

After our experience at Shwe Dagon, on the evening of our first full day in Myanmar, we got on a bus (the “JJ Express”) for the overnight trip to our next destination: the highland region of Inle Lake. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw what the bus was like!

Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!
Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge

Floyd and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Myanmar and Vietnam over Christmas break! Scroll to the bottom for links to blog posts about other parts of the trip.
Here are some of our memories from the first few days in Myanmar, which we spent in the capital city of Yangon. 

These Christmas decorations greeted us in the airport when we arrived.
We stayed in the Royal Star Guest House: nothing special to look at from the outside (kind of a hole in the wall, actually), but it was clean and comfortable, and the staff went above and beyond the call of duty to be helpful. Above left and center: the upstairs lounge area. Upper right: the entrance from the street. Lower right: the breakfast they served us (we discovered that fried rice with a fried egg on top is quite a common dish in Myanmar). Lower left: the view from our bedroom window.
It was too late in the evening to do much sight-seeing when we arrived, but the folks at our guest house recommended the Sule Pagoda just down the street. It was closed for the night, but it looked pretty impressive from the outside. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well lit. Actually, nothing we saw there after dark really was. It was strange to me to see stores open and active night life going on in a place with hardly any street lights.
The next morning we enjoyed walking around town and seeing our first real glimpse of Myanmar.

This will give YOU a glimpse of what it’s like walking down the sidewalk in Yangon!

This is the famous Scott Market (more commonly called Bogyoke Aung San). We spent a couple hours in there and didn’t even make it through the whole thing. I bought some traditional clothes, and Floyd and I purchased three oil paintings. They sell almost any kind of souvenir you can imagine, and all the prices are negotiable. Definitely the best place for tourists to shop in Yangon!
Star Wars was showing in the theater near our guest house, and we were sorely tempted! (We hadn’t had a chance to watch it yet before we left Taiwan.) But we decided to use our limited time in Yangon for things we COULDN’T do back home. 
We asked the staff at our guest house to recommend a nearby restaurant where we could try Myanmar cuisine. They directed us to the Super Wonder Bowl Restaurant just down the street, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch! We especially recommend the stuffed eggplant (bottom right). Like many restaurants in Myanmar, it had several options for different flavored smoothies and lassis (Indian yogurt drinks) on the menu. (I ordered the papaya lassi.) Yum!
A quick look at what it’s like to drive through Yangon.
The other activity we did in Yangon was visiting the incredible Shwe Dagon Pagoda complex. Stay tuned for my next blog post!

Want to see more memories from our trip? Click on the links below!

Bagan-Mandalay River Cruise
Mandalay City
Ubein Bridge

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Tevanon and Kensic: TurlotTevanon and Kensic: Turlot
by Tyson Clarke
MG/YA Fantasy

Paperback & ebook, 304 pages
October 19th 2015

Upon the shores of the Laughley Sea, in the shadows of the jagged Northland Mountains and not so far south as the blistering Aronee Desert, there exists a land of lush forests and golden plains. This land is known as Lynsid, a once great nation that has suffered through more than a decade of demoralizing wars. The brothers Tevanon and Kensic were born to Lynsid like their parents and grandparents before them. They know no other life and have never been outside the borders of their homeland. Lynsid, however, is on the verge of collapse and rumors of a Vlagen invasion spur a mass migration. At first, the brothers have no intention of leaving their birthplace, but soon enough they have no choice and find themselves on the trail to a land called Turlot where their Great Uncle Welksley resides.

At just thirteen-years-old, Tevanon is already highly skilled in swordsmanship, and his nine-year-old brother Kensic is mentally gifted. These attributes are useful, but the journey to Turlot will test not only their brawn and brains, but also their faith and tactfulness. The brothers learn quickly the world is filled with endless adversity. Treachery is in plain sight, evil sorcery is silently stirring, and an immortal army is lying in wait! If the brothers wish to survive, they must be vigilant, they must be brave, and they must believe in themselves.


Avor, Wix and Hedik surveyed the dead brigands in hopes of finding one of them alive so as they could question him. As they meandered through the scattered bodies, they found men from every nation, men of light skin and dark, short of stature and tall, and the weapons they carried were equally assorted. The question, of course, was what brought together this reckless collection of thugs and criminals? What was their purpose?
“Water,” a voice grumbled. “Water.”
Avor followed the voice to a man lying on his stomach with a trench-like gash spanning the width of his back. This man appeared to be of Irbanian descent, having the light brown skin and dark black hair of that race of people. His beige colored shirt was soaked in blood, his face smeared with sweat and dust, and his hand still wrapped around the grip of his curved short sword. “Water,” he said again no louder than before.
“What is your name?” asked Avor as he knelt beside the man and reached for his leather flask.
“Latu, my name is Latu.”
“Open your mouth, Latu.”
Latu opened his mouth and Avor attempted to pour in some water. As the wounded man lapped at the liquid he was so yearning, he mumbled, “Thank you.”
“Who do you report to?”
“A man come through… Dezvil, lookin’ fer men… who wasn’t afraid to die. He paid up front in silver and said if we join him, there would… be gold, and no end to it… water, please…”
Avor poured more water into Latu’s mouth.
“Who was this man?” asked Avor.
“He called himself Akarid.”
“The sorcerer?”
“I don’t… know… he wore a black… robe… with yellow…” Latu’s voice was fading with his life.
“Yes, the sorcerer, but Akarid has been dead for five hundred years.”
Latu was dead as well.

Tyson Clarke attended San Jose State University where he studied creative writing and film production. Post graduation, he found success as a technical writer then pursued other interests before rediscovering his passion for writing stories with encouragement from his wife and biggest fan.

Website – Goodreads – Facebook

Tour Schedule

January 11th: Launch
January 12th: Christy’s Cozy Corners
January 15th: Rockin’ Book Reviews
January 17th: Colorimetry
January 18th: Singing Librarian Books
January 19th: Life as Leels
January 20th: deal sharing aunt
January 22nd: Teatime and Books
January 24th: Grand Finale
Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
Print copy of Tevanon and Kensic: Turlot (US only)
ebook of Tevanon and Kensic: Turlot (open internationally)
Ends January 30th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!