Monday, April 29, 2013

Off to Australia!

Dear Friends,

So now I am a lady of leisure, a retired lady of leisure. So I guess you want more!? Yes, you’re right, I should be giving you more, but that’s not gonna happen over the next several weeks. Why? My friends and I,...

(Here are my friends, or at least, some of them.)

…will be traveling together to Australia. I’m certain you’ve met my friends before, but I’ll introduce them again. From left to right; Hector the Gang-gang cockatoo, Sebastian the Quoll, Ackley and Amber the Puggle babes, Pearce the Quokka, Gorgon the Dragon Lizard, Babble the Sugar Glider, and last but not least, Byrnie the Black-faced Kowari rides atop his steadfast companion Lazlo the Wombat. Not everyone is in this picture. We’re missing Erik & Emma the kowari twins, and of course, Devon. I've put their pictures below.  They are all in my head. They all go everywhere with me.

 I will be blogging on Mondays from now on. I hope you will be with me for the next two Mondays. I plan on posting about two of the characters, and speaking about the animals themselves, the real ones, not the ones in my story. You may recall that many of them are endangered, and, as we've said, they live in Australia. So please join me for the next two Mondays. I promise to make it interesting and enlightening.

Next Monday, May 6th, I will talk about Sebastian the Quoll. I’ll be sharing a bit about his part in the story and then, as I said above; I will be sharing some interesting facts about quolls. 

On the fifteenth of May, I will leave for Australia.  I promise that when I return I will return with stories, and pictures from OZ. I will be able to speak first hand about the land down under and the wonderful creatures that make the world's largest island their home. :-) 

Until next Monday, All the Best. 
J.E. Rogers 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Book is Released! You need to be at the Blog to view the Book Trailer!


April 24, 2013

Dear Friends,

Before I get to the BIG news, I have to tell you a story. Isn’t that just like a writer! Actually, it’s not a story it’s the truth.  I have been focused these last several weeks, my eye always on the day when my book will release and show up on Amazon. So it should come as no surprise to you all that my dreams have been cluttered with various strange, and interesting messages. Last night was the best of them all.

My son David was in the kitchen this morning and telling me about a dream that he had. And there it was! Last night’s dream popped into my mind and I looked at him and said, ‘Wait ‘til you hear this one.’

In my dream, I was having a cup of coffee, and talking across the table with my AGENT. (I bold the word agent because I don’t have one. It’s a dream – stay with me.)  She was lovely, brown wavy hair, sympathetic grey eyes, smiling, totally focused on me, everything you hope your agent will be.

In my dream we were chatting away about my book, and I was hoping she would decide to be mine; a match made in heaven (sigh). Having read the book, her main purpose for meeting me, and sharing a cup of jo, was to tell me whether or not she would represent me. The room was a buzz with activity. I looked to the table across the isle. They were eating mac & cheese – must be Panera, I thought. I turned back and she was saying, “I love what you’ve done here. The world you created is filled with action, adventure, and it’s so different from anything else out there. Who would have thought that one could create a story where the animals talk. Now, we’re not just seeing regular talking animals, no, not at all. These animals are endangered. I don’t even know what a kowari is, and let’s not get started on numbats.” She glared at me questioningly. “That’s right, numbat, correct, and it’s not a bat at all is it?”

“No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s a marsupial.”

“Ah, yes. There are a number of marsupials in your story. I love it, and the glossary in the back, my God, what a brilliant idea.”

Wow! In my head I was thinking, it’s gonna happen, I know, it’s gonna happen. Until…

“There’s just one thing I would like you to change for me.”

Brakes on! Full stop!

“What’s that?” I ask with a smile that belied my inner panic.

“Well,” she said. “I would like you to remove the talking mushrooms. They just aren’t doing it for me.” 

I looked down into my cup of coffee. “Talking mushrooms…now where did I put the talking mushrooms, and what was it they were talking about?” The coffee wasn’t giving out any info. “There are mushrooms in my story?” I asked the coffee. Composing myself, I looked up at her. “Well, I most certainly can remove them, but I’d rather just change them into another species.”

Species of mushroom, what was I thinking? Another marsupial, perhaps that’s what I was thinking. I could see those mushrooms in my dreaming mind. They were cute little white-capped buttons, talking in the dream. They were there in the forest with my other characters, and they were talking. Mushrooms can’t talk! Hey, I’m a writer if I want to make mushrooms talk, I’ll damn well do it.

End of Dream!

So sorry, there are no talking mushrooms in the book. However, there are talking animals. You and your children may not have heard of some of these animals, but they do exist on the continent of Australia. Some of them are endangered. That’s the point, you see. It’s not only a very imaginative, epic adventure; it’s a learning tool. The glossary at the back of the book will provide a brief description of the flora and fauna roaming about the pages. There is also a status of the animal in the wild; endangered, least concern, vulnerable, etc. You get the idea.

The Sword of Demelza, is now available on Amazon, and also via CreateSpace. I’ve given you the links below. If you decide to purchase the book (which I hope, I hope, I hope you do), please hit the Facebook, or twitter button after your purchase. This will go a long way in announcing my book to your friends, family and followers. If you like it after you read it, please write a short review on the amazon page. Give it some stars, give it life, give it legs! 

I send a million thanks to all of those individuals who were essential in making my book a reality for me. I would have been lost without you.  Just to name a few;

Guy Atherfold – a wonderful sketch artist, and friend from afar!
Bill Hulbert - my nephew - your initial sketches inspired me!
Gavin Doyle – an editor with no comparison!
Beth Bruno – an editor whose final touches made all the difference.
My family – My husband, George, and my children, Erik, David and Katie
         – Love you Guys!

Now, for the next book!  Are ya with me? I know you are. Back to the laptop.
Thank you all so very much!

J.E. Rogers 

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Trip to Australia - Dream of a Lifetime

April 19, 2013

Dear Friends,

It's been quite the adventure over the past three and a half years that it took to write my book. I want to take a step back with you, and summarize where we are right now? Sooooo, let's enumerate!

1. I am retiring! Yes, indeed, the work-a-day world is coming to an end, and not a moment too soon. My patience with the corporate world has worn as thin as a single piece of tissue paper, and it's ready to rip. Now, let's be clear, I didn't contain myself completely, it's difficult for me to hide my emotions. However, I maintained a certain decorum that I felt was appropriate in the office. Upon arriving home in the evening, all bets were off. It's always good to express your feelings. Thank God my husband is a good listener. Wait! Did I detect ear plugs!?  "George! Are those ear plugs?"

2.  The book is published!  Hooray!! You noticed that I put retirement up there, at number one, and the book second. I have my priorities straight. I don't fool myself with thoughts of becoming the next J.K. Rowling. Instead, I look forward to the next 'chapter' in my life. It will be filled with things I enjoy doing; more books I intend writing, positive people that I want to spend time with, and places I want to see that I hadn't before.  And speaking of places that I have never been to before, brings us to enumerated point number THREE.

3. I am going to Australia people!! I have loved it from afar, read about it, researched its flora and fauna, admired it deserts, which is much of what the continent is, and wished with all my heart that someday I would visit. Well, that day has arrived. Poisonous varmints, here I come!!

And to honor all those unusual creatures down under, I offer the following. Do enjoy, and come back to visit again.
J.E. Rogers

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Prologue - The Sword of Demelza

Dear Readers,

As promised, below is the prologue to my middle grade fantasy. The book is in its final stages with CreateSpace, and I hope to be able to hold a proof in my hands in the next few weeks or so. We are working toward a February release. The book will include a glossary that will contain descriptions of the endangered Australian animals, and places that are found within the pages of this adventure.

I do hope you enjoy the prologue and that you will take a moment to send your comments. It is truly appreciated.  Thank you for taking the time.


J.E. Rogers

The sun was setting over Sunderland and Acadia Abbey. Devon had fallen asleep on the look out above the manicured grounds. His auburn fur rippled in the summer breeze, and the white star on his forehead gleamed in what remained of the late afternoon sunlight.
He was still young, but he was maturing quickly. Although he was rash at times, he was a strong and clever fox. He loved the monks of the abbey, especially Colum. The old bilby monk had taught him many things about the wild world and soon he would be old enough to leave the abbey and be a part of it. After the tragic death of his mother and father, Colum had taken him in. Devon looked after Colum now that the small mouse-like marsupial was beginning to age. The young fox was dedicated to him and the other monks of the abbey as well.  But he often thought of the father and mother he lost. How different life would have been if the tragedy had never happened, if he had never lost them. Still, he was happy here at Acadia. He had all he needed, and life was peaceful. Peaceful, that is, until today.
         In the soft rustling of sleep, Devon thought he heard the warning bell of the abbey ring. Startled, he sprung to his feet. The warning bell, he thought. Did I really hear it? Drowsy from his nap, he stumbled as he sprinted toward the tower door. The bell rang again. He stopped to glance over the wall. Cries could be heard rising from the grounds below. Flames shot out from the windows of the scriptorium. The monks of the abbey were running in every direction.
         A troop of dragon lizards approached on great hind claws, running up the slope from the billabong toward the abbey. Devon had heard of the lizards but had never seen one. Colum, his adoptive father, once told him about how they traveled alone in the western lands of Sunderland, but these lizards were not loners. They were organized, clad in thick leather armor and carrying flaming torches as they ran across the lawns from the forest. Stunned, he placed his front paws on top of the rampart wall. Leaning over it, he scanned the grounds below, trying to understand what was happening. He gasped as one lizard threw a lit torch through an open window. Across the lawn, near the gardens, two lizards laughed as they tossed a small monk between them. One monk was being dragged across the lawn and down to the banks of the billabong, where he was thrown into the water. Several lizards had broken through the main gate. They are in the abbey. The thought terrified him. Colum, he must reach Colum.
Devon pushed away from the wall and ran. Flames and acrid smoke met him as he opened the tower door. He buried his muzzle in the crook of his arm and took a step inside. Fire was consuming the wooden stairs.  He began descending the steps, leaping over the flames, but the steps and railing were burning. He could see that the framework of the staircase was breaking away from the stone wall. It began to shake beneath him, and the center pole holding it in place was burning. He would not be able to descend the steps any farther. He threw himself out toward the center post, grabbing it just as the stairs broke beneath him. Flaming pieces of wood fell to the floor below, and hot embers drifted up around him. He pushed away from the post and dropped the final distance to the floor.
Huge wooden pillars and a series of immense wooden beams supported the high-arched ceiling of the nave. He watched in horror as the blaze grew from the floor toward the roof. The entrance to the scriptorium was down a corridor at the far end of the nave. 

Devon sprinted it. As he turned into the scriptorium’s outer hallway, he found himself blocked by a pile of smoking timbers.
“Father!” he screamed as he began to climb over the debris. “Where are you?” There was no reply. A cracking sound came from above. Startled, Devon lost his footing and fell to the stone floor. Over the noise of the crumbling roof, Devon heard an evil, guttural growl. Turning toward the sound, he saw a creature creeping toward him through the smoke and flames. It was a thylacine. Its mouth, full of saber-like teeth, hung open and its wicked yellow eyes drilled into his.  From somewhere in his memory, Devon recognized the knifelike canines, heard echoes of its malevolent growl, and felt the same hatred he had felt years before emanating from the evil beast. The wolf-like body was thin and half-striped like that of a tiger, and its thick tail trailed behind it, scraping the stone floor. Frozen with fear, Devon’s heart beat as though it would burst from his chest. He shook his head in disbelief as he scrambled on all fours, backing away.
“The Demon,” Devon whispered under his breath. Shivers crept up his spine as memories came flooding back. Demon is what his biological father had called the thylacine back on that fateful day. 
         “Yes, you can call me that. But my name is Flitch!” The thylacine spat out his name like a curse. “I remember you!” he hissed with satisfying surprise. “You are my unfinished business.” Flitch took a step closer to Devon. “It’s so nice to see you,” he said with an evil grin. “You got away once, but it won’t happen again.”
         A loud crack from above warned that a rafter was weakening. Devon ducked into a small alcove as a beam crashed to the floor.  It broke into hundreds of sharp shards, sending burning projectiles in all directions. One struck the thylacine in his hind leg, and he let out a scream of pain that echoed throughout the abbey.  He limped toward Devon, who scrambled up the pile of smoldering wood to get away from him. The injured thylacine attempted to follow, but he could not climb the debris.
“Another day, Fox!” he snarled. Turning, he staggered away.
Devon climbed over the debris and continued on into the scriptorium. Desks were overturned, and smoking remains of illuminated texts covered the floor like snow.
         “Father! Answer me!” Devon frantically peered through the smoke and scanned the ruins of his father’s beloved library. He spied a small paw sticking out from under a large desk at the far end of the room. The wall behind the desk had partially fallen in and the stained glass window hung precariously in its frame. The setting sun shone through what remained of the image of the sword and created beams of light that covered the room in shades of blue and green. The center stone on the sword’s hilt cast an eerie glow on the top of the desk. Holding his breath Devon crossed the room and braced for the worst. With all his strength, he groaned as he lifted the heavy oak desk. It toppled over, sending ashes flying into the air, where they floated slowly, like phantoms, in the shafts of the setting sunlight. Colum’s small body was curled in a ball seeming somehow even smaller in death. Lifting his father, Devon’s tears flowed shamelessly. With his father’s body resting in his arms he left the abbey through a gap in the wall where the dragons had torn down the stones. Bilby monks ran frantically across the grounds and fields outside the walls, putting out fires, attending to the wounded and gathering the dead. He could see the dragon lizards heading away from the abbey in the distance, their cruel laughter reaching his ears as they disappeared into the forest. It was a vision that Devon would never forget. Once, long ago, Colum had carried Devon to the safety and warmth of Acadia Abbey. He would now carry his father away from the wreckage of the abbey and lay his body down on the banks of the billabong.
         As he knelt beside Colum’s body, he tried to recall the lessons he had been taught. “See not with just your eyes, Devon, but with your mind and heart as well. You are a part of this wild world, and cannot separate yourself from it.”
         His thoughts drifted back to their talk earlier in the day. 
He was leaning over Colum’s shoulder. He had stood there with his paws clasped tightly behind his back watching Colum’s quill move smoothly across the parchment. The illuminated texts produced by the mouse-like bilby monks of Acadia Abbey were beautifully drawn and painted with vibrant colors, etched in gold leaf. The texts were a treasure known throughout Sunderland. They not only contained the history of the abbey but hinted at its mysteries as well.
For Devon, the greatest mystery was the image of the sword in the large stained glass window. Devon glanced up; the window dominated the scriptorium and the grounds of the abbey. In the middle of the window an image of a magnificent sword pointed toward the earth. The glass was stained a deep green at the center of the sword’s hilt, where the legendary emerald stone of Demelza was depicted. No one at the abbey was certain where the sword was, but Devon knew that many stories of its powers had been told. Tinted rays of light poured down into the scriptorium from the colored glass panes. Colum had yet to tell Devon the significance of the sword, though he had asked about it many times. Why would a sword in a stained glass window dominate a peaceful abbey such as Acadia? What was its importance?
Had Colum become shorter over the years, or maybe I have become taller, Devon thought. He now towered over Colum.  He wore a golden muslin vest over dark blue pants. A belt was cinched tightly around his vest at the waist. A small dagger and leather pouch hung from the belt.
         “Father, you said you would tell me about the abbey’s beginnings.” With his eyes still lingering on the sword’s image, he rested his chin on his father’s shoulder, continuing his quick chatter. “How did the bilbies become monks and build the abbey?”
The small scratching of Colum’s quill hesitated briefly, and Devon’s eyes were drawn to the parchment. Encouraged by the pause, Devon pressed on. “You promised to tell me about Aldon, the Great Numbat that saved them—how they built the abbey to honor him. And the sword, Father, it was his sword, wasn’t it? Aldon’s sword would be a better weapon than that old wooden staff you found with me all those years ago.”  
         “Yes, yes, my son!” He laughed. “I did promise to tell you of the sword, didn’t I?” Colum placed his quill in the inkwell and shifted the worn brown fabric of his monk’s habit. Dropping to the floor from his stool, he stood before Devon. The top of his head came to Devon’s waist. “When did you grow so tall?” He laughed, tugging playfully on the tip of Devon’s vest. “You are certainly not the small kit I carried from the forest so long ago; along with that old staff, as you call it. You may yet find that ancient staff to be useful, my son. I have a feeling that it may have more meaning, and more power than we know.”
         Devon bent down and hugged his father, lifting him off the floor.  Releasing him from his arms, he set him back down. “Power in a wooden staff?” Devon chuckled. “All I know for sure is that it was a lucky day for me and a terrible one…” A shiver passed through him as he thought of the terrible creature that had killed his father and mother. He recalled the horrifying image of the beast attacking them. He could see its sharp teeth. Its frightening voice shook him to his very core. The memory haunted his dreams. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t happened along.”
         “It was the will of Aldon that I found you that day,” Colum said quietly. He shook his head as he looked up at Devon. “I am as lucky as you, my dear boy.  I am lucky to have had you by my side all these years.” He took Devon’s paw in his. “Alright, my son, if you want to know more about the abbey, I’ll tell you.” Touching a claw to his forehead in contemplation, he said, “What have we discussed thus far? My memory is not as good as it once was.”
         Devon barked a laugh. “You bilbies may as well have taken a vow of silence for all that you told me thus far.  All I know is what I see; it’s a building of stone and wood and it overlooks the waters of Kakadu Billabong.”  He thought about the lovely red lilies covering the surface of the lake, about how the monks of the abbey spent many hours lost in meditation along its banks. The bilbies, small animals with pointy inquisitive noses and long ears that stood up stiffly on their heads, were quick and lively, and took great pride in their abbey. Not only had they been his family all these years, they were also known by many of the forest inhabitants for their charity and caring nature.
“I love it here. But, still, I have so many questions, questions that you promised to answer for me.”
         “You’re right, my son. But right now I would like to finish my work while the sun still shines on my parchment. Tonight we’ll have dinner on the banks of the billabong and we’ll talk.” Colum hopped back up onto his stool. “I have a few more hours before the sunlight leaves the scriptorium. Then I’ll tell you everything.”  He grinned at Devon, his bright eyes sparkling in the light that shone down through the stained glass window. 
 “Ok.” Devon grinned. Placing one arm gently across Colum’s back, he said softly, “One day soon I’ll leave the abbey. I’ll go out on my own. You know this.” Colum looked up at Devon and Devon saw sorrow in Colum’s eyes. “I’ll visit the Wingcarrabee Swamp. And perhaps I’ll make it as far as the Pinnacles Desert. I’ll visit all the places you’ve told me about, and I’ll tell everyone I meet about the wonderful monks of Acadia Abbey.”
         “Yes, yes, you are certainly old enough to set out on your own.” Colum looked down at his paws and rubbed them nervously. “I was hoping you might stay one more season.” 
“We don’t have to talk about that now, Father.”
Colum hesitated for a moment then waved at Devon, shooing him off.
“Run along now, you young rascal!”
         Devon turned and walked toward the doors of the scriptorium.  “I’m going up the tower to the parapet walk,” he said over his shoulder. “I’ll be back for dinner.” He listened to Colum laugh as he walked out the immense double doors.   
Heading through the nave of the abbey toward the tower, he noticed two monks coming toward him. The parapet walk was high enough above the abbey to serve as a lookout, and the monks took turns watching over the grounds.
”Brother Alfred, Brother Edgar,” Devon nodded, acknowledging them, and they nodded in return, smiling up at Devon.
“Taking watch on the parapet this afternoon, Devon?” Alfred asked. “Or will you just be napping up there?” The two monks chuckled to themselves, holding their paws in front of their snouts, trying hard not to laugh out loud.
“You know me too well,” Devon replied with a smile and a wave of his paw.
At the top of the tower he opened the door and stepped out onto the walk. He strolled toward the crenellated wall. Leaning over the wall, Devon looked out across the grounds of the abbey. A wide expanse of grass gradually ended at the edge of the waters of the billabong and the hills of Sunderland rose up on the far side of the lake. From his vantage point he could see several monks working in the gardens, while others were engaged in quiet conversation or reading beside the sparkling water. It was peaceful. He moved to the other side of the walkway and settled down. Leaning his back against the stone wall, he closed his eyes to rest for a bit.

Now, Colum rested on the banks of the billabong. Raising his eyes toward the ruined monastery, Devon saw a small group of monks gathering on the lawn.  They spoke quietly with one another, a mixture of fear, worry, and sadness etched on their faces.
He continued to gaze at the abbey and the remains of the stained-glass window. The sword’s colors were dark now that evening approached. What was the purpose of the sword? The image of a terrible weapon meant only to bring harm and pain had always seemed a strange object for the peace-loving monk’s abbey. The sword seemed to shimmer with a life of its own in the evening light. For a moment, he thought he saw the thylacine standing beneath the tip of the sword, but it was just his imagination. He drew in a deep breath, and then dropped his head to look at Colum. He vowed to find out why this happened and who had brought this destruction down upon the abbey. He would have to look deeper, as his father had taught him.  The mystery of the sword would remain for now. There were other questions that needed answers. He may never understand why a sword was emblazoned in the stained glass window, but that didn’t matter anymore. Colum was gone. The time for stories and mysteries was over. He furrowed his brow and narrowed his eyes as anger took hold. There was only time for revenge. He would take up his own weapon, the ancient wooden staff that Colum had found with him so many years ago.  Devon knew nothing of its powers, but he would wield it against those who had brought pain and terror to his home. He would hunt down the dragon lizards. He would kill the thylacine. He would make them pay for what they had done this day, for what they had done to his father.
         The screech of an owl echoed through the woods beyond the billabong, and a feeling of dread came over Devon. The time had come for him to leave the place he had come to know as home.


Reminiscent of Watership Down, and the Redwall Series, my soon to be released middle grade fantasy will be an adventure that you will not soon forget. 

Enter the realm of Sunderland where you will meet sword wielding creatures, wizened thorny devils, and magical sorcerers, both good and evil. 

In this realm, a tormented King wields a powerful sword, commanding dragon lizards and an evil thylacine to attack! Villages throughout the countryside are set ablaze and innocent creatures are threatened and killed. 

Erik, Emma and Devon, are usually natural enemies, but these are most unusual times in Sunderland, and lives are at stake. When their paths cross, a rare friendship is forged. They realize that their personal goals must be put aside. They join a rebel army whose main purpose is to end the reign of the King. 

In the shadow of Fortress Demelza, a final battle will take place that will decide the fate of Sunderland and all its inhabitants.

Soon, you will be able to enter the realm of Sunderland, and join our heroes on their fast paced adventure. I would like to take this opportunity to thank two very special editors who helped to bring me along, show me the errors of my ways, but more than that they  had faith in me as a writer. Thank you, Gavin Doyle, and Beth Bruno - I could not have asked for better!  

Please stay tuned. The book is on its way! 
Thanks to all my friends for their love and support. 

J.E. Rogers