I have always wanted to write.
Or, maybe, I always wanted to tell stories and writing seemed like a good way to reach a lot of people with the same story.
It all began when I was eight years old and my family moved from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver to a small, rural community several hours away- new school, new friends, new everything. Back then my mom made a lot of our clothes and I didn’t own a single pair of jeans. I appreciated that fitting in was going to require more than just denim.
I received my first diary around that time and found joy in recording my daily happenings. At first it was mostly who I sat with at school, how I did in math and what my family ate for supper. It definitely evolved over the years and I still avidly write in my journals now, forty years later. Sometimes the entries still include what we are eating but there is a whole lot more insight and depth involved.
I was fortunate to have a third-grade teacher, Mr. Tournemille, who encouraged all of us to pursue our passions. Even as an eight-year-old! I started my Dana, Paula and May series of illustrated books about three super sleuth best friends who solved mysteries in fancy dresses and high heels. Mr. Tournemille happily let me include my books in the class library section. He also let our class practice and perform a play I wrote about life in some fantasy kingdom where I was the Queen. The Royal Court even broke it down during a madcap dance party to The Hustle (it was the seventies.)
After that all of the teachers at our little elementary school allowed a small group of us into the gym where the stage was before and after school. We learned how to work all of the cool lights and we just started creating. I remember a version of the Muppet Show with a mash-up of modern songs that several of us sang during that production.
I was probably throwing myself into fantasy and make believe because there was a large part of me that wasn’t happy, we moved from Vancouver. I was a talented young ballet dancer in the big city and I simply loved to dance. I worked hard and I was determined to achieve ballerina stardom but the dance instructor in my tiny new community didn’t know much beyond what I did when we moved there. She also didn’t like being told by the new eight-year-old that she was incorrect.
So, I ended up in figure skating, which I had already started in Vancouver (its almost a given that all Canadian kids take up skating when they are young and we were no different.) I became just as determined to achieve figure skating stardom and, to a small extent, over several years and countless miles on winter highways, mission accomplished.
In high school I was encouraged by teachers and mentors like Miss Cooke, our librarian. She gave me specific books to read that weren’t part of any assignment. They challenged me and we would talk about the books together afterwards. By then I was also living half of my year back in Vancouver with other families so I could pursue figure skating at a ‘sports school’ that provided students with core subjects in the mornings and with afternoons off for elite training sessions with acclaimed coaches.
Hanging out one-on-one with the school librarian and then leaving for half of the year didn’t allow for super tight-knit bonds with a large group of kids but I have a few who have hung in there with me. They are some of the ones who sang, Come on, Eilean with me on stage back in elementary school and some of them I only met later in high school.
I realize now, as an adult, that music has been a tremendous part of much of my writing, including in the four Missing Lake books I have published. Music is essential in ballet and figure skating and it is always a part of the background in my own life. It was only natural that the English teacher in my books would discuss songs and their meanings with her students, just like Mr. Robinson and Ms. Russell did with us in high school.
I also realize that I spent a lot of time inside my own head growing up. In the old days, when we did figures, we spent hours following our tracings and turns like Rockers and Counters by ourselves. As determined as I was to achieve something similar to figure-eight perfection I know I also drifted off again to fantasy lands and make-believe stories.
I believe that all of us have hidden talents and that we need people to encourage us and teach us or model for us how it is we can work to harness the skills and become what we dream of being. I had those teachers. I had parents who may not have had the same visions for my future but who still told me I could do anything.
Which is how I became a published and now, award-winning author.
I always wanted to write and tell stories. So, I wrote. And I played music and I skated and I did The Hustle and I hung out with my high school librarian and I wrote in my journal and sometimes I fell down hard and sometimes I nailed it. Skating does teach you about getting back up after the hard falls, no question there.
If I have to make up a fantastic version of life just to get through a tough spot then I am up to the task.
The Runaways of Missing Lake is the story of Luke Houser. He is a fairly typical high school junior living in a small town in nowhere Montana (Better known as Missing Lake). He has a close group of friends. He helps his stepmom in her veterinary practice and he helps out his dad in the raising and training of Alasken Huskies sled dogs. He has all the normal teen angst, worries, and issues. He also is secret best friends with a dragon.
I have to say this is a very interesting story. Not only is it an interesting take on the whole dragon trope, but it is an interesting spin on the concept of climate change and extinction. The author invites the readers to see the destruction of natural habitats through the eyes of the dragons who, no longer live as long as they used to while they try to stay hidden and healthy in an increasingly human world. On the human side, Luke has spent his summer preparing for and eventually being evacuated from his home due a large wildfire that burned for weeks, something that he had only seen before in passing on his tv news. Though the fire has been safely extinguished and new adventures set upon, its memory will endure with the locals and Luke for a long time to come. Both sides come together when when Luke and his fellow dragoneers must work with the dragons to get past the loss of their oldest member and start to look forward to their next generation taking the lead. This is done in a way that will have kids thoroughly engaged until the last page.
While this book is written for and about teenagers, I also recommend it for older middle grade readers.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Runaways Of Missing Lake by Tanya Fyfe Publisher: Kindle Direct Press (September 1,, 2020) Category: Young Adult, Teen, Fantasy, Dragons Tour dates: Oct-Nov, 2020 ISBN: 9798681416005 Available in Print and ebook, 394 pages
Description Runaways Of Missing Lake by Tanya FyfeLuke Houser and his friends enter their junior year at Missing Lake High School under extremely unusual circumstances after a tremendous forest fire kept the community on edge for months. The memory of the fire permeates all aspects of everyone’s lives, including those of the incredible secret dragon family who live up north. Luke makes a new canine friend through his step-mom’s veterinary clinic and Chase plays an important role despite not being one of the family’s beloved sled dogs. The silver dragon, Zagros has some serious news for his young Dragoneer that will impact the entire dragon realm, particularly the young dragons, Helios and Cassiel. Luke has to process this information all while a crisis unfolds during English class. Luke has to make some serious choices that challenge the sometimes awkward sixteen-year-old but he cannot share them with anyone without risking the discovery of the magnificent dragons. This is the fourth book in the Missing Lake series that follows a reluctantly intrepid young man’s journey into adulthood with his family, friends, dogs, cats and dragons by his side.
Praise Secrets Abound Missing Lake by Tanya Fyfe“Winner of the Distinguished Favorite for Teens”- NYC Big Book Awards and the Independent Book Awards in 2018 “I so enjoy this series. With his anxieties about school, his love for his family’s sled dogs, and his adventures helping his stepmother in her veterinary clinic, Luke Houser is a very believable teenager in the mountainous wilds of Montana. Most of his problems are perfectly normal for a boy in his circumstances. So his involvement with the local dragons feels totally natural. The antics of the baby dragons once they hatch, especially the golden boy dragon, Helios (who is all boy too) are just as realistic feeling as those of Luke’s school friends. You get the feeling that dragons could be just as real as broken marriages and sick dogs. And you wonder how the dragons and dragoneers ever got by without good veterinary support for all these hundreds of years. No wonder they’re nearly extinct!”-Lora of Ettria “While the third book in the series, I didn’t have a problem reading it without having read the previous two. I enjoyed Luke’s interactions with the dragons and all they go through. I was invested in these characters and what happened. I found Luke and his family to be realistic as were all the problems (outside of the dragons) that he was having. It is a clean book, which I love, and is just good. I would let my young teens on up read this, I think they would enjoy it!”-Ashley’s Bookshelf “The descriptions of North Dakota, Montana, and Vancouver are well written and help the reader sink into the story. The characters and dialogue keep the pace going and makes for a book that is hard to put down. The ‘Secrets Abound Missing Lake’ is a memorable book that I plan to share with my grandchildren when they are a little older. I also plan to read the first two books in the series and can hardly wait for book 4. This book is a must read for those who like coming of age stories and dragons. Actually animal lovers would love it as well.”-Sal, Bound 4 Escape
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Giveaway Runaways Of Missing Lake by Tanya FyfeThis giveaway is for 1 copy each for 3 winners and is open to Canada and the U.S. only. The winners will have the choice between print and ebook. This giveaway ends November 26, 2020,midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted by Rafflecopter only. a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
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