Thursday, July 25, 2013

0 Unicorns of the Mist by R.R. Russell

My book, Wonder Light: Unicorns of the Mist takes place on a mist-shrouded island off the coast of Washington State. My family loves to explore the Northwest coast, and our trips to Deception Pass State Park inspired me to write Wonder Light. Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite parks in the Pacific Northwest. I hope they spark your interest in our beautiful wildlife and unique history, and maybe ignite your imagination too!

·         Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island, WA

With rocky shores shrouded in mist and crashing waves that threaten my main character, Twig not to come any nearer, the fictional Lonehorn Island hides powerful secrets—secrets that, if discovered, will change the island and everyone on it forever. There, jagged rocks and cliffs rise from the beaches. Red-barked Manzanita trees and juniper cling to the rocks along the edge of the island, but the foliage quickly transitions to thick evergreen woods. All this was inspired by the landscape at Deception Pass.

My family enjoys camping under the canopy of those evergreens, and venturing out to play at Cranberry Lake, separated from the ocean by a sand bar. We hike over the rocks, moving from the sandy beach to tide pools and pebbly beaches where we watch the treacherous whirlpools churning in the pass. Or we take a breathtaking—and heart-pounding—hike above those waters and across the bridge connecting Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island. We look at the many small islands beyond Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, often encircled by mist, and wonder. What sorts of things could be hidden there? Mysterious creatures? Even unicorns?

·         Beverly Beach State Park, Newport, OR

Beverly Beach is truly a magical place for our family. One moment we’re in the deep woods, and the next we’re on a dune-bordered beach. In just a short walk, the wooded campground opens up to sand and ocean views. A creek bubbles through the campground, and my kids love to follow it to the beach, where it creates warm, shallow pools before meeting the ocean.

The woods at Beverly beach are populated by towering trees that seem to float above the earth, their roots reaching down over our heads like fingers grasping at the ground. The area was once a logging camp, and seedlings grew on top of massive tree stumps. By the time the dead stumps decomposed and disappeared, those seedlings were huge, mature trees. The stumps are gone, and the roots of the new trees form caves, topped with floating “octopus” trees. You have to see it to believe it!

·         Cape Disappointment (Formerly Fort Canby State Park), Long Beach Peninsula, WA

Don’t groan, guys. Cape disappointment is so NOT disappointing, I promise. It might not have been what explorer John Meares, who named it in 1792, was looking for, but how can you beat witnessing an otter—just an arms-length away—dipping in and out of the grasses and popping up to peek at you like a marshland super-spy as you walk down the road to your yurt? Be sure to visit the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast, built to guard “The Graveyard of the Pacific,” and hike up the same hill the Lewis and Clark Expedition climbed to look over the mouth of the Columbia River.

·         Fort Stevens, Hammond, OR

A shipwreck, still on the beach! Guided tours through secret underground military facilities! Fort Stevens was built during the Civil War to guard the mouth of the Columbia from Confederates and the British navy. Did you know there were mines in the Columbia River and that huge guns were mounted above it? The Japanese probably didn’t know that when one of their submarines fired on Fort Stevens during World War Two. Find out what happened, or just explore lakes, beaches, woodlands, and wetlands.

All these parks are open to campers or day-trippers. If you have the chance to visit one of them, I’d love to hear about your adventure!

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About the book: Deep in the heart of a mist-shrouded island, an impossible secret is about to be discovered.

Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for "troubled" girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible — someone who needs her.
Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.

A baby unicorn.

Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island's mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig's to care for. That she needs Twig's love and protection. Because there's something out there in the deep, dense shadows that's hunting for them...

Wonder Light: Unicorns of the Mist  e-book will be on sale for $1.99, while the hardcover is discounted to $11.54 from i’s original list price of $15.99. 

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