I think I’ve been pretty selfish with my author blog (insert embarrassed emoji here). All I put on it are my stories. And there are loads of awesome stories out there, so I want to share those with you too. I’ve invited my author friends to drop by with what we’re calling Story Spirals or outtakes from their books. Stories that could be happening alongside the main plot, stories happening to the main character but aren’t in the book, stories that are connected someway, somehow.
The very first story I have for you is from one of my favorite fantasy authors, H.L. Burke. I beta read her novel Cora and the Nurse Dragon and I absolutely loved it! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too! Here’s her story.
The Last Day of School
featuring characters from Cora and the Nurse Dragon by H. L. Burke
Cora sighed and twitched her pencil back and forth in time to the ticking clock.
Tick, tick, tick …
Last day of school. Almost done. No more writing stupid essays.
She stared down at her paper.
“This summer I plan to …”
That was all she’d managed to write in about twenty minutes. She glanced across the aisle to where her best friend, Abry, sat, reading a book. She’d already finished her essay … both sides of the paper in tiny letters, of course. Abry often helped Cora complete these sorts of assignments, but under the teacher’s watchful eye this wasn’t allowed.
What can I write that won’t get me into trouble? If I write about sneaking down to the track to watch dragon races, she could tell my dad. Can teachers get you in trouble once school’s out?
“This summer I plan to …”
Buy some dragon eggs from the Emporium and hatch them. They’ll most likely only be mayflies, but it’s something to do, and it won’t get me in trouble.
Cora scratched it out … then looked at the word Emporium. It didn’t look right. It was probably misspelled. She erased it and wrote “store.”
The “s” in store reminded her of the curving neck of a mayfly dragon. She sketched in some wings, claws, and fire shooting from its open mouth.
Cora’s teacher loomed over her, frowning and clutching a ruler. Cora flinched.
“This is composition, not art, Cora,” the teacher said. “Can’t you focus for five minutes?”
“Mrs. Zachary, what’s ‘voracious’ mean?” Abry called out. The teacher turned and focused on her star student.
Cora dared to exhale. She owed Abry one, especially considering that Abry was a walking dictionary who definitely knew what vor … vor-whatever meant.
“This summer I plan to buy dragon eggs at the store and hatch them into mayflies. I’d really like it if one of them hatched into something better, a cat-sized dragon, like a striker or a steamer. It would make me very happy …”
Abry had told her a trick about essays, that if you just said the same thing three or four different ways it filled up a lot of space and generally guaranteed at least a B-. Abry usually was right about what teachers wanted, so Cora rambled on for a bit about how wonderful a pet dragon would be. Mrs. Zachary paced back up to the front of the room and fanned herself with one of the other student’s essays.
Cora’s eye migrated back to the clock. Five minutes left. How could there still be five minutes left?
There’s that egg waiting for me at home. The one I rescued from awful Xavian. Will it hatch today? It’s been at least three days … no, almost four. I’ve never had an egg take so long to hatch. Oh will this day ever be over?
She closed her eyes and imagined herself flying on the back of a racing dragon, wind whipping her face, the crowd cheering as she pushed her mount towards the finish line. Its scales would be warm beneath her legs, its wings moving so fast they blurred.
“Mrs. Zachary!” Sara, the girl sitting to Cora’s left squealed. “I think Cora’s asleep.”
Cora sat up straight forcing her eyes as wide as possible. Mrs. Zachary’s frown deepened.
“I … I wasn’t … I was just …”
A ringing bell interrupted Cora’s stammering.
“School’s out!” Abry said. “Thanks for a great year, Mrs. Zachary. You’re an inspirational teacher.”
Mrs. Zachary flushed. “Why thank you, Abry …”
Cora slipped from the room while Abry kept Mrs. Zachary distracted with compliments. It was time to go home and see if her egg had hatched.
MY REVIEW: Powerful story about love, growing up, what’s wrong, what’s right, and Dragons.
I will not hide the fact that I am a huge H.L. Burke fan. Her stories have won a place in my heart and I am constantly recommending them to my friends. This story has also made its way to my favorite list. Can this author write anything I don’t love?
The themes in this story are so real despite it being about those wonderful, mystical, magical creatures, dragons. I’ve always been more of a unicorn girl (especially after The Last Unicorn) but now I totally understand the pull of dragons too. And this story not just explores different kinds of dragons, but the messy things that happen when humans decide they want to control them. And when Cora finds herself taking care of an incredibly rare one, things get really exciting.
This book has lots of heart, evokes some pretty strong emotions, and has characters that will stay with you for a long, long time.
About Cora and the Nurse Dragon
Cora’s a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys “egg packs” at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head.
The book releases on January 31st and is available for pre-order here.
About H.L. Burke
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.
She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Scholar and the Dragon”, featuring the books Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival, and Dragon’s Bride as well as the YA/Fantasy Beggar Magic. Her current projects are a young adult steampunk fantasy and an epic fantasy trilogy.
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Her blog can be found at www.hlburkeblog.com.
H.L. Burke is giving away a free book! Click here to join the contest: