Saturday, March 5, 2011


I'd like to start today's post with JC'S blog contest entry. It's an excerpt from my m/g fantasy novel, Amber and the Whispering Willows. I hope you enjoy it.

A horrific screech reverberated around the solid stone cell, violently shaking the delicate glass urn. DO NOT SAY THAT NAME AGAIN!
Jasper backed up against his glass prison, quivering.
“You know what I desire. Help me acquire it, and I will set you free,” Sedah said silkily. “That delectable little hybrid elemental will give me just enough power to break through the fairies’ enchantment.” 
The shadow swirled, materializing into a small cloaked figure gliding towards the glass. Jasper watched in terror as Sedah appeared before him. 
“I know that particular child is protected by the fairies and her beautiful half-sylph mother.”
“You’ll never get her!” Jasper bellowed, regaining his anger.
 “So true. She, too, is protected. But I did snag you, didn’t I? One less barrier for me to break through ... not that you were difficult to capture.” Sedah’s laugh raised the hair on Jasper’s hackles. 
His defiant stare locked with Sedah’s cold fathomless eyes. They blinked several times, revealing horrors into the underworld. Jasper turned away and shook with terror in his eyes.
“There are so many ways to skin a rabbit, as you have just seen. So, for the last time you lagomorph, what is your answer?”
Jasper glared at Sedah.
“Ah, someone’s entered the Willows.” Sedah circled Jasper. “Perhaps I will not need you after all.”
Uncle Paul advanced with silent steps toward the pond, hoping there might be a message from Elena. With his senses heightened, the cooler temperature prickled his skin. A twig snapped ... his eyes darted, but saw nothing. 
Arriving at the pond, he knelt and looked into its murky depths, waiting. Elena did not appear. He took out an arrow and prepared for the raven’s attack. The dense quiet gripped him like a vise. He stood up and paced. 
Uncle Paul searched for the raven. An ice-cold breeze rose goosebumps on his arms. It grew darker, and heard the flapping of wings. 
The raven attacked before he could aim the bow. It clawed and tore at Uncle Paul, knocking him to the ground. 
“NO!” Justin screamed as he ran toward them, tripping on a jagged rock. He scooped it up, aimed, then let it rip. The stone whooshed through the air and hit the raven. It cawed and took flight.
Justin ran to his father and helped him up. Deep gashes bled from his arms and forehead.
“What are you doing here?” he roared.
“Dad! Look out! It’s coming back!” 
“Get behind me and don’t move!” Uncle Paul watched the raven as it made its way back for another attack, its bright yellow eyes aglow. 
“Dad, hurry! I see the dark shadow coming ... it’s Sedah!” 
With quivering fingers, he pulled the arrow back, lined up, and let it discharge. The arrow whizzed through the air. It screeched a loud, bloodcurdling “CAW.” Drops of blood rained upon them followed by a loud thud. 
“Move, now!” Uncle Paul exclaimed. 
The shadow crept toward them ... It enveloped the dead raven, as a hair-raising shriek reverberated through the Willows.
A frigid gale-force wind forced them ground. Uncle Paul got up, grabbed Justin, and raced down the path.
Another powerful wind blasted after them. Uncle Paul crouched down over Justin as it passed over the top of his head. 
The shadow advanced toward them. 
They stood and bolted. 
Another blast struck Uncle Paul hard, slamming him to the ground. 
“Dad, get up!” Justin tugged at him. “Dad, please. We’ve got to get out of here!” The ferocious winds blinded Justin and he couldn’t see the twin willows. 
The weight of his father bore down upon him. Justin shook him, but he remained lifeless. 
Justin managed a few more steps. Sweat poured from his face. “Dad, please wake up!” Justin dropped to the ground. He shook his father again, pleading. A tear fell from Justin onto his father’s face. A moment later, Uncle Paul stirred and opened his eyes.
“Justin, are you all right!” He hovered over his son, as the dark shadow closed in on them.
“Dad, It’s right behind us! What do we do?”  
“Calm down and listen.” He pointed. “See that bush? When I say run. Run to it. On the next big blast we’ll jump right into the wind. With luck, it’ll send us through the enchantment. Grab onto to my shoulders, and don’t let go.” 
Justin nodded. 
The constant wind rushed around them. Uncle Paul raised his arm and felt the blast. He faced Justin, “Get ready ... NOW!

Now for my final post from the Wizarding World series. The RIDES....

I must admit that the rides held very little interest for me, but I still had to experience them. My favorite by far was the Forbidden Journey, pictured above. After winding through the greenhouses in back of the castle, you climb your way into Hogwarts Castle. 
As you have seen from many of my former pics, the details are insanely real and beautiful. The pictures speak. Slytherin in particular is unhappy by the "muggle" invasion. Winding through the castle, you visit Dumbledore's office and have a meet with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As you approach the final corridor and the sorting hat greets you with ride-safety warnings in rhyme.

Next you slip into your comfy bench, the students bring down your safety device and you hold on for DEAR LIFE! Actually it is a very exciting ride and experience. You spin, twist, jerk, and maneuver your way through high action meetings with, spiders, dragons, the whomping willow. and quidditch with Draco Malfoy.  Harry leads you through all these dangerous obstacles. Definitely don't eat a thing before this ride, you are bumped around a lot.

Flight of the Hippogriff is a charming family-friendly roller coaster. As you follow the queue around the grounds, you get see Hagrid's hut and pumpkin patches. The sounds of the munching bowtuckles and Fang barking adds to the charm. Eventually you board the wicker replica of Buckbeak and you're treated with a "bird's eye" view of the castle and surrounding grounds.

For those of you with nerves of steel you will enjoy the Dragon Challenge. Twin Dragon coasters race each other looping, spinning, and cork-screwing. I sat this one out, but I was told it to be one of the most thrilling rides in the park.

Well my fellow HP fanatics, I hope you enjoyed your tour of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a thrill a minute and I hope you all can make it there soon. Perhaps we can all meet sometime in the future year!



  1. This has all been a big help for our Spring trip planning! Thanks!

  2. Well done on your Race to 200 entry - sounds like a really gripping/action-packed story! :D

  3. Great entry, Michael. And I'm so happy you're having such a fantastic time - the weather looks fab, too!

  4. ...your prose keeps us reading, Michael. Well done!

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventure at "Hogwarts." I imagine you've enticed the majority of Blogland into visiting.


  5. OOooooooh I want to go. Fabulous! You are one lucky chap! :O)

  6. That blonde in the rollercoaster ride looks like she's having such fun!

    I certainly envy you these trips. I think I would want to do the rides just for the bird's eye view of the park it would give me.

    I bet that Uncle Paul saves the day. Great entry Roland

  7. Thanks for all the photos. I'll do rides, just not roller coasters.

  8. The main appeal of roller-coasters is the harmless thrill it provides. (assuming that the roller coaster is well-maintained!)Great photos!

    Liked the fantasy excerpt too. My entry for the Blogfest Race to 200 is a historical fiction.

  9. Wizarding world looks fun, both in Orlando and in your story.

  10. Ah! I just wish it was on the same continent as me! I have really enjoyed hearing about all the wonderful experiences at the Wizarding World.

    Loved the extract Michael.


  11. Dragon Challenge? That's not nearly as cool as the originial name, Dueling Dragons. Great coaster though - a B&M classic!

  12. Great blogfest entry! I enjoyed reading the excerpt.

    Thanks for the photos! The Flight of the Hippogriff sounds like fun--the view must be amazing.

  13. Thank you for the vicarious trip to HP land! The attention to detail is certainly amazing. I also very much enjoyed your excerpt and would like to read more.

  14. Those rides look so authentic. Great pics again. Thanks for sharing...


  15. Wonderful descriptions of the park. Thanks for the post. It sounded like it was interesting to visit.

  16. left me with a cliff-hanger! What happens next???

  17. I like the scene with Justin and his dad. There aren't enough MG tales (or YA for that matter) that include parents - REALLY include parents.

    Yeah, I'd have to sit the dragon coaster out, too but neat concept - two dragons racing each other!
    -Margo (from your crusader group)

  18. Exciting excerpt. I enjoyed the taste we get of this magical world you've created.

    Good to hear you're having a fun time w/ Harry. :)

  19. All this adventure makes me want to go too. :D
    I really appreciated how you were able to share it so vividly.

  20. I'm with Raquel! I want to know what happens next as well! I also wonder who the MC is, if Uncle Paul is Jasper's father. I'm guessing it's the child. Great work!

  21. Hi Michael, I enjoyed your blogfest entry, and having not been there yet it's great to get an insight into the theme park. Thanks for the photos and updates!

  22. I'm going to focus my comment on the blogfest entry cuz I'm so jealous I'm not at Wizarding World . .

    First let me say I LIKE IT. Damn, I'm hooked already. And I don't read YA!?

    But you know me, I always have a critique. Minor this time - very minor, and probably not worth mentioning. . .

    A transition issue. Here:
    “Ah, someone’s entered the Willows.” Sedah circled Jasper. “Perhaps I will not need you after all.”

    (My thoughts: need a *** or something to denote the the rest of this is still in the present, but separate from the above persepecive scene.)

    Uncle Paul advanced with silent steps toward the pond, hoping there might be a message from Elena. With his senses heightened, the cooler temperature prickled his skin. A twig snapped ... his eyes darted, but saw nothing.
    Arriving at the pond, he knelt and looked. . .

    Two completely separate 3rd person POVs. The shift is ok because the voice is distinctive, and premised by the villain's "Ah, someone's entered . ."

    Its a minor thing, but yeah, a distinctive break here would help the flow. A new chapter would be best (IMO) but something to separate the scenes besides the new POV shift. If not a chapter break, then some ***

    Otherwise: intense, shows progressive conflict and movement, viable POV transition.

    A very well polished scene Michael. And yes, I get the sense that timing is essential; and running out.

    Well done.


  23. Your posts about the park have me so jealous!

    You have me intrigued by the excerpt. I really need to read up on my fairy lore! I'm coming across a lot of it, and I only know sanitized fairy tales.

    I'll have to start googling away now! :)

  24. Cool entry into JC's blogfest, Michael. I got mine up late, but it's there now. Happy writing!