Natli VanDerWerken

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Author Profile

Natli  VanDerWerken

Award-winning author Natli VanDerWerken loves dragons. She has a collection of 30 that she collected from around the world while she served in the Navy as a meteorologist. This novel grew out of a story that she told to her grandchildren one Christmas Eve. She is a website designer, quilter, Navy veteran, and shows Shetland Sheepdogs. Red Dragon’s Keep is the first novel of five in the Dragon's Children series. Find her at www.natlivanderwerken.com or facebook.com/natlivanderwerken-author

Books

WindRunner

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Demons want to kill them. Dragons need to save them. Owen Arach, second son of Lord Tom Arach, wants to be as courageous and daring as his older brother. He’s afraid that he’ll never measure up, even though he, his Sword of Light, and a Dragon, helped Thomas defeat Demons in the opening battle of the Demon Wars. Chosen by a magical WindRunner, Owen is sent to Aos Si on the Windward Range to look for a piece of the Cumhacht ar Draigoini Talisman. It holds life, and death, for the Dragons. On the way, Owen must pass through the Darkened Forest, daring to confront the Dark Fey. The Bell of Prophecy tolls, foretelling the breaking of the prison of the Forest. Where are Owen’s kidnapped parents? Where are the men who were sent to find them? In the race to retrieve a piece of the Talisman, will Owen find it before those who want to murder the Dragons? Will the Forest Lords come to his aid? Can he save Aos Si? The Gathering of Heroes begins.

Book Bubbles from WindRunner

The Long Slow Slide into Darkness

The bi-annual ritual of the Changing of the Clocks is here. Remember when we used to change them in the middle of October? The Candy Makers are winners! As the year slides toward the longest night, I think of how the Dark is triumphant and fails on the same day. As with any battle, winning turns on the smallest thing. Fire and light triumph. Here’s an excerpt from WindRunner. Enjoy.

One Man’s Magic is Another Man’s Technology

When does magic become technology? I just read an article about a private/public partnership that is mapping the human brain and wiring it to a supercomputer to manipulate reality. How does that differ from magic? A Sword-of-Light is used as an energy whip. Minds are used to create shields and close Rifts in reality. Technology is magic to those who don’t know how to use it. That’s why I write books and develop websites and graphic art for myself and others. I create worlds where magic exists. I’m also a computer programmer/website designer. I create magic on my computer. Technology is wonderful!

Acknowledging Achievements

Writing is a solitary pursuit. A writer usually doesn’t have company while in the throes of the creative process. Accomplishments largely go unnoticed as words flow, content is posted and books are sold. I celebrated when my very first box of Red Dragon’s Keep arrived. It was an endless moment as I took out that first copy and ran my fingers over the cover. It felt like the finest leather to my hesitant hand. I took more books out and arranged them on every table in the living room. I think I took 50 pictures and sent them to everyone I knew. I finally ordered a short run because I kept running out of books. I celebrated then, too. This July, I published my second book, WindRunner. The first box of this one was just as magical as Red Dragon’s Keep. Not so many pictures, but a quiet pleasure at the feel of the book in my hands. I stacked them around the living room in little vignettes with candles, teacups and vases of flowers. And a Dragon and sword, or two or three. It is the sudden recognition of what I’ve accomplished so far, and the view of the road ahead that fills my heart with joy. I think Thomas and Owen, and soon Breanna, share that joy.

Changes

I’ve often thought about Owen and his struggle to find his place within his family, within his home, within his country. He’s jealous and afraid. He wants to be as brave and strong as his brother and doesn’t know how. He lashes out at everyone, thinking he sees judgment of him in their eyes. What he really sees is his own insecurity reflected back to him. Magic changes all of that. Be careful what you wish for. It may come true.

Back to School

Back to school always felt like the beginning of a new year to me. When the temperature is crisp and cool in the morning, it makes me feel like that time of year. The first leaves are starting to fall from the trees. Boundless opportunities await! We wore uniforms at my school. I remember the smell of the wool plaid skirt and blue jacket as Mother steam-ironed them the night before the first day of classes. I’ve always loved learning new things, and school gave me that opportunity. Back to school always held such promise. I think Thomas and Owen are learning new things in their school of life.

Change is a Choice

I’ve had so many transitions in my life it’s hard to count them all. The first was joining the Navy. Serving overseas in Okinawa. Marriage to my Marine husband. Moving back to Colorado where I was born and grew up. Three children. Earning a Bachelor’s degree. The death of my husband of 25 years. Working for the State Treasurer for 10 years. Earning my Master’s degree. Becoming an author. Life is always a process of rebuilding. Life is change. If change doesn’t happen, death follows. We try so hard to keep change at bay when a better strategy is to recognize that change is inevitable. Look for the best road and embrace the change. In WindRunner, Owen must accept the transition from second son to a decision maker and team player. His journey was fascinating to watch unfold.

Inspiration

I was scrolling through Pinterest and saw a picture of a cavern filed with giant quartz crystals. My mouth literally fell open in astonishment. I’d written the scene where Owen goes into the limestone caves to find the Aos Si amulet and enters a cavern filled with giant crystals lit by sunlight falling through holes in the roof. I had no idea that caves like that existed. I just wrote what I saw as Owen’s journey took him to the caves. Inspiration comes in many forms. Wow!

Facing Fear

Everyone fears something. It might not be monsters under Red Dragon's Keep, but everyone is afraid of something at one time or another. Face the fear and it is often much smaller than imagined. Cameron and the King of the Dragon's are about to face a very big fear.

New Beginnings

Spring marks a time of quickening. Possibilities unlock the imagination. Movement is as inevitable as the new growth pushing up through the earth. Just so with Owen. Battles fought, both won and lost, push him to new growth and understanding. Facing fear almost breaks him. Persisting, one step at a time, changes everything.

Red Dragon's Keep

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Demons want to kill him. Dragons need to save him. Mages, demons, and a talisman that controls Dragons plague first born son and heir Thomas Arach. An intriguing debut YA fantasy novel, Red Dragon’s Keep is the first book of The Dragon’s Children Series by Natli VanDerWerken. Red Dragon’s Keep is a coming of age action packed Young Adult novel. Fourteen-year-old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. When danger threatens, will his father finally let him learn how to fight? Sabotage and treason change Thomas’s life forever. Red Dragon’s Keep pulls the reader into a world filled with secret passages, amulets and talismans, magic and Swords of Light. Will Thomas learn the lessons of war, master the magic hidden in his blood, find the Dragon Amulet, and organize the defense of his family’s home before the Demons arrive? Can he bring everything together to save Red Dragon’s Keep?

Book Bubbles from Red Dragon's Keep

Talismans and Technology

“I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” Oppenheimer spoke those words as the first atom bomb was tested. We threaten friends and enemies alike with total annihilation, yet amazingly we haven’t destroyed our world with this awesome technology. We separate and guard this technology to keep ourselves safe. The bombs will only be used in direst need. On the world of Ard An Tir, a talisman was created to control the mighty Dragon’s that flew the skies as friends to men. Knowing human nature and its lust for power, the mages who created it broke the talisman into five amulets and sent them to safe places throughout the world. They would be reunited into the Power of Dragon’s only at the direst need. Any technology is magic to those who don’t know how to use it

Acknowledging Achievements

Writing is a solitary pursuit. A writer usually doesn’t have company while in the throes of the creative process. Accomplishments largely go unnoticed as words flow, content is posted and books are sold. I celebrated when my very first box of Red Dragon’s Keep arrived. It was an endless moment as I took out that first copy and ran my fingers over the cover. It felt like the finest leather to my hesitant hand. I took more books out and arranged them on every table in the living room. I think I took 50 pictures and sent them to everyone I knew. I finally ordered a short run because I kept running out of books. I celebrated then, too. This July, I published my second book, WindRunner. The first box of this one was just as magical as Red Dragon’s Keep. Not so many pictures, but a quiet pleasure at the feel of the book in my hands. I stacked them around the living room in little vignettes with candles, teacups and vases of flowers. It is the sudden recognition of what I’ve accomplished so far, and the view of the road ahead that fills my heart with joy. I think Thomas and Owen, and soon Breanna, share that joy.

Seasons

The seasons change four times a year. We know that the change is coming and, if we are smart, we start to prepare for the changes before they arrive. Fall has arrived and soon the snow will fly. Shut down the air conditioning, caulk the windows and doors, get the gardens tucked in for winter. Each of us goes through the change of seasons in our lives. Hopefully we have the chance to recognize those seasons and perhaps have time to prepare for them. From fall to winter to spring, Thomas Arach’s life turns with those seasons. He can never go back to the way it was before Magic entered his life. Change is inevitable and he better be prepared. Will he weather the storms and emerge a stronger person? I think yes, he does.

Back to School for Thomas

Back to school always felt like the beginning of a new year to me. When the temperature is crisp and cool in the morning, it makes me feel like that time of year. The first leaves are starting to fall from the trees. Boundless opportunities await! We wore uniforms at my school. I remember the smell of the wool plaid skirt and blue jacket as Mother steam-ironed them the night before the first day of classes. I’ve always loved learning new things, and school gave me that opportunity. Back to school always held such promise. I think Thomas and Owen are learning new things in their school of life.

Follow Your Gut

Following your gut, your innermost truth, involves choice. A choice to listen and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Did Thomas learn the lesson?

Planning for War

How do you get ready for a battle you know is coming? Thomas found the plans for Red Dragon’s Keep and gathered the people he trusts most to assign them to their tasks. Two each of his siblings, cousins and friends would defend each floor of the Keep from attacking Demons. They’ve practiced as much as they can and it’s now up to fate to take a hand.

Unexpected Danger

We all want our lives to be safe and tranquil. One thing everyone will learn through life is that safety is an illusion.

Planning for War

How would you get ready for War? How do you plan? Who does what? Everything is at risk. Thomas has to plan all of this. The Demons are coming and nothing can stop them. Expect the worst, hope for the best. Nothing survives first contact with the enemy.

Getting Ready for War

How do you get ready for war? A war that you suspected was coming, but it's suddenly on your doorstep? Thomas is finally told what is happening and what he needs to do to help get Red Dragon's Keep ready.

Magic's Price

Everything has a price, even magic. To make magic as realistic as possible, it must have limits and it must behave according to the rules created while building the world. Knowing the restrictions, it was easy to write this scene. In this excerpt, Thomas learns a small portion of the price of magic.

HellReaver Awakens

This was so much fun to write! Very new to magic itself, Thomas only half-way believes in it until it's literally shoved into his mind. How would you react if a sword suddenly began to glow as you held it? I'm surprised that Thomas didn't drop it!

Sabotage - Again

Duke Tom Arach and Duchess Jenni of Red Dragon's Keep are on their way to Cathair Ri by order of the king. They are joined by Duke Jeremy Gobhlan and Duchess Anne of Falcon's Spire on the trek, also by order of the King. What could go wrong? I heard ominous music in the background as this scene was written. Something bad is going to happen. Who would sabotage the supplies of the Lord of Red Dragon's Keep? Why? Always trust your gut. And be prepared for anything.

Enemies Everywhere

It's amazing how enemies lurk among supposed friends. Thomas thought his life would be easier when Garan was sent home in disgrace. He's made friends with some of the other squires, but there are still young men who want to hurt or kill him. Have they been influenced by the High Mage? What will they do to try to take Thomas out. Will they succeed? What do you think?

Making Friends

Thomas needed friends. When Garan Tildon was sent home in disgrace, Thomas decided that he wanted to know more about the other squires. The best way to do that was to talk to Stefan and Maccon. He started after quarterstaff training. This chapter wrote itself. Once the bully was gone, there was a power vacuum and Thomas stepped in. Good for him!

A Villain is Born

Villains are fascinating to create. Jalyn showed up in the story unexpectedly. I knew there had to be traitors in the Keep, I just didn't know who they were. She flowed into the story as if she was created for the position. What's a really good way to sabotage the rulers of a kingdom? Food. And the head cook villain appeared. Jalyn was the chatelaine of Red Dragon's Keep after Thomas's grandmother died, before his mother and father married. She was reduced to her current position after their marriage and has hated all of them ever since. The High Sorcerer Mannan (who is not what he seems) senses her hatred and uses her to try to kill the Arachs. Revenge is a powerful motivator. Find out what she does to betray those she hates.

Young and Old Suffer the Most

It always seems that the very young and the old suffer the most when disaster strikes. I wrote this chapter two years after my father died. You never really think about them getting weaker and weaker. They've always seem so strong right up until they aren't. The dread and fear and work sap your strength. I remember the long slow slide that finally took him from us. I think all of that is reflected in this chapter.

Villains

Villains need to be bad. They need to make us want to turn away and not look. Writing about villains is hard. Power, greed, and hate all play a part in a villain's creation. The things that they do are uncomfortable for readers, but they are also a reflection of the real world. How a character responds to a villain sets the benchmark for the character’s growth. Mannan is such a villain. He's very smooth and sophisticated, with true evil motivating his search for power. He is also not who we think he is. Thomas is on a collision course with a man that he can't hope to beat. Or can he? Red Dragon's Keep is available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Refugees

What happens when you are driven from your home? Where do you go? How do you survive? You and your family and friends head for the nearest safety. That's what Marta and her family are forced to do. They head for Red Dragon's Keep.

Practice Makes Perfect

Thomas needed to learn how to fight with a sword. This chapter was so much fun to write. I watched (and practiced with one of the grandson's plastic swords) YouTube videos on sword training. Turning that into words was a challenge. Thomas is also making friends with the other squires, now that the bully is gone. What a difference a month can make in someone's life.

Choosing

Have you ever paused before making a choice that might change your life? The world hesitates, waiting. You make the choice and you can feel, and sometimes hear, the world shift into a new pattern. So it is for Thomas.

Power Corrupts

Everyone knows someone who will do anything for power. Jalyn can't stand her position as cook. She'll do anything, and has, to return to her former position as chatelaine of Red Dragon's Keep. What would you do?

Thomas Learns Magic

Every fantasy world has it's own internal logic. In Ard An Tir, magic is distrusted, yet everyone has at least a little. Thomas needs to learn how to use his in order to survive.

WindRunner

Working Title: WindRunner

This Book Is In Development

WindRunner

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Demons want to kill them. Dragons need to save them. Owen Arach, second son of Lord Tom Arach, wants to be as courageous and daring as his older brother. He’s afraid that he’ll never measure up, even though he, his Sword of Light, and a Dragon, helped Thomas defeat Demons in the opening battle of the Demon Wars. Chosen by a magical WindRunner, Owen is sent to Aos Si on the Windward Range to look for a piece of the Cumhacht ar Draigoini Talisman. It holds life, and death, for the Dragons. On the way, Owen must pass through the Darkened Forest, daring to confront the Dark Fey. The Bell of Prophecy tolls, foretelling the breaking of the prison of the Forest. Where are Owen’s kidnapped parents? Where are the men who were sent to find them? In the race to retrieve a piece of the Talisman, will Owen find it before those who want to murder the Dragons? Will the Forest Lords come to his aid? Can he save Aos Si? The Gathering of Heroes begins.

Rough-Cut Book Bubbles from WindRunner

LIterary March Madness

Influence comes from many sources. My top picks for Literary March Madness are the authors who first grabbed my heart when I started reading science fiction and fantasy. I still have that first book from my father’s closet, plucked from among the westerns that he loved so much. I was hooked at age thirteen. Robert Heinlein Andre Norton Isaac Asimov Larry Niven How can anyone pick just four? Here are more ~ Mercedes Lackey Lindsay Buroker David Weber John Ringo Catherine Asaro David Drake Craig Martell Scott Moon George R. R. Martin This is just some of fantasy and SF that I’ve read. The list is pretty much endless. Another day, another book! So many books, so little time!

The Characters Take Over

I had no idea that the Arach Ri - the King of the Dragon's - was going to appear in this story. When Thomas turned into the door, I couldn't believe what he saw. I know he didn't either! It was a shock, but wow, did it need to happen. WindRunner - available April 16, 2019.

Creating Monsters

Think about fantasy, and even science fiction. There is almost always some kind of monster involved. Giant spiders, scorpions, sharks. The story demanded some kind of monster that was just doing what it did. After a great deal of research on creatures that paralyzed their pray, I couldn't find one that hadn't already been used. Middle of summer and the flies were taking over the back yard. I've used predator wasps to keep the larval population under control for many years. They come in a pouch in the mail, wait until the wasps emerge from their egg cases and sprinkle them outside. The wasps are about the size of a pinhead and lay their eggs in the fly larvae. Whoa. Predator wasps. I can use that! And there's my monster.

The Bell of Prophecy Tolls

The gathering of heroes has begun, they just don't know it yet. Owen's journey through the Darkened Forest gets stranger by the page. I had no idea that this huge Elven citadel stood at the center. The bell of prophecy tolled as I wrote the words.Why is it important to the story? A foreshadowing of actions to come. Owen and his companions are on a quest the will forge them into a unit greater than any one of them. Just as the hammer and anvil shapes the sword, the forging has begun.

Character Growth

Thanksgiving happens every day for me. I’m thankful for the wonderful awards that Red Dragon’s Keep is earning. I’m thankful that WindRunner is so close to its launch. I’m pretty sure that Owen is thankful for Dragons, Agni, and Elves. This book is constantly surprising me with new characters and the way Owen is growing and changing. Amazing!

Jealousy and Concern

What do you do when your brother is a hero? How do you prove that you are just as good? Owen Arach, second son of Duke Thomas Arach, doesn't know what's wrong with him. He's always angry and can't get along with anyone. He volunteered for the firewood cutting work group to get out of Red Dragon's Keep and away from people. His Sword of Light tries to help him, and he even blows up at it. How will he handle everything that's about to happen? Can he grow up in time?

The Demon War News Spreads

Rumors seem to spread on the wind. Solid news needs to be sent by messenger. The Lord of Red Dragon's Keep sends news to his aunt and uncle, relating the story of the first battle in the Demon War. The messenger doesn't want to tell them that the Lord's father, mother, aunt and uncle have been abducted and perhaps killed on their way to help the King of Ard Ri. How do you write about losing sisters and brother's-in-laws? How does a person take in that news? This was a difficult chapter to write. All the elements where there. How would Debra react? That was the hard part. The WindRunner story begins.

Red Dragon's Keep ebook

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Demons want to kill him. Dragons need to save him. Mages, demons, and a talisman that controls dragons plague first born son and heir Thomas Arach. An intriguing debut YA fantasy novel, Red Dragon’s Keep is the first book of The Dragon’s Children Series by Natli VanDerWerken. Red Dragon’s Keep is a coming of age action packed Young Adult novel. Fourteen-year-old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. When danger threatens, will his father finally let him learn how to fight? Sabotage and treason change Thomas’s life forever. Red Dragon’s Keep pulls the reader into a world filled with secret passages, amulets and talismans, magic and Swords of Light. Will Thomas learn the lessons of war, master the magic hidden in his blood, find the Dragon Amulet, and manage the defense of his family’s home before the Demons arrive? Can he bring everything together to save Red Dragon’s Keep?

Book Bubbles from Red Dragon's Keep ebook

Thomas Makes Friends

Thomas needed some friends. He found them among the squires who had been influenced by a bully. The bully was expelled from Red Dragon's Keep in a rather dramatic fashion. Maccon and Stefan realized that Thomas wasn't so bad after all. A tentative friendship turns into something better.

Red Dragon's Keep

Working Title: Red Dragon's Keep

This Book Is In Development

Red Dragon's Keep

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Demons want to kill him. Dragons need to save him. Mages, demons, and a dragon talisman plague first born son and heir Thomas Arach in the debut of Natli VanDerWerken’s The Dragon’s Children Young Adult fantasy series. Red Dragon’s Keep has been held by the Arachs, time-honored defenders of Ard Ri, for centuries. Fourteen year old Thomas Arach wants desperately to earn his father’s respect. When evil threatens, will his parents finally let him learn how to fight? Amidst sabotage and treason by those closest to his family, Thomas’s life is changed forever. Legends tell of an amulet, part of an ancient talisman, a talisman that can call back the dragons that helped men in the past. Can Thomas master the art of war, control the magic hidden in his blood, find the dragon amulet, and direct the defense of his family’s home before the demons attack? A coming of age story with dragons, demons and magic swords.

Rough-Cut Book Bubbles from Red Dragon's Keep

Another Character Appears

Marta showed up in the story unexpectedly. I was writing along and suddenly there was a girl walking along a cart track with a yoke across her shoulders. I thought she was carrying milk in pails, but then it turned out she was bringing supplies from the village to the Steading - the large land holdings are called Steadings in this story. There was always a feeling of dread about this chapter. I could feel it creeping through the shadows. I wonder what Marta will do on the way to Red Dragon's Keep?

Foreshadowing

Why would a dragon be bound to human form? Who would bind one? How long ago was the dragon bound? How long before history becomes legend? Who are the other dragons that were bound? These are the intriguing questions presented in the opening dialog of Red Dragon’s Keep. They are answered in the chapters that follow. Red Dragon's Keep launches on July 14 in print and ebook. Stay tuned. THERE WILL BE DRAGONS.

Beginnings

I told a story to my children and grandchildren about parents called out of town by their jobs. A dragon was put in charge of watching the children. Finding magic swords and magic inside themselves played a very big part in the story. The listeners were enthralled. Always listen to your heart and your gut. Each of us has magic within.We just need to learn how to access it and use it. This might be one of the ways. Thomas must learn to accept the the magic in his blood. Learning to use it will be difficult. Lady Aeden is the teacher he needs.

Free Will

Everyone has free will. Accepting responsibility for exercising free will, for making a choice, is hard to do. Especially if we don't correctly anticipate the end result. Aeden chooses to stay. Can we ever really predict the consequences of our actions?

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