Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Promo for Adventures Of Little Yaga and Her Friends by L.B. O'Milla

Livingston, New Jersey- Author L.B. O’Milla draws from the timeless Russian tales and the current fascination kids have with their electronics to weave a magical tale of adventure that will have middle grade children – and adults – turning pages. “Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends” takes an exciting new direction into the fantasy genre.
Based on her own experiences and those of her children as refugees from Russia, O’Milla’s main character, Little Yaga, is the typical young teen who just wants to fit in. Little Yaga is a dweller of an enchanted forest, but her human-like flesh and looks don’t resemble the bony legs and skeletal features of her peers. Considered ‘ugly’ by forest standards, Little Yaga hopes one day to have a bony leg of her own.
“My whole life I was kind of forced to fit in,” says O’Milla, who fled from religious persecution in the Ukraine, then part of Russia. “I was stripped of my Jewish heritage and brought up completely Russian. Nevertheless, I was considered an outcast in my own country.”
O’Milla wanted a better life for her children, so they came to America. Here O’Milla, who has always been writing, learns English and creates a character in Little Yaga that combines the frustrations of her childhood with the love of the magic she learned from the Russian stories growing up.
Running late to school, Little Yaga has to dodge ornery trees that grab at her hair and try to trip her. O’Milla’s world building also includes Milkshake Rivers, Talking Stoves, and Oak Trees that shoot their acorns which Little Yaga has to maneuver past. Before she reaches the school, she encounters Ashley, a girl her age who has wandered into the forest from the human world and is lost.
Little Yaga shows her fake fangs and growls to make a strong first impression, her immediate thought being to take this intruder to the forest ruler, Scraggard the Immortal, (based on the Russian villain, Koschei) who lives off the life energy of human children. But Little Yaga is too kind, and she feels sorry for the human girl. She agrees to help her out of the forest, and the two become friends on the journey.
When Scraggard the Immortal learns that Little Yaga has helped a human, he threatens her and sets up a plot to send Little Yaga and her forest friends into the human world to Ashley’s birthday party. They are then ordered to abduct Ashley. Adventure ensues and Little Yaga finds herself trying to save her friends as she unwinds the truth about her own past.
A fun mix of worlds keeps us entranced. The book starts out with O’Milla’s detailed descriptions of forest life: a hut that talks and stands on a chicken leg, an obnoxious tattle-tale cuckoo bird, poison ivy juice as the drink of choice, and of course, the larger than life character Big Yaga –Little Yaga’s grandma and guardian who is loosely based on the Russian character Babba Yaga.
The forest children are astounded by Ashley’s human world and the “magic” objects they see there: screens that talk and give directions (cell phones), four wheeled running creatures (cars), speedy ovens (microwaves), and of course, “magic wands” (remote controls).
The tale brings together teens from different worlds with different looks, who must work together to survive. The “bully” has a vulnerable side, the “nice kids” have their cranky moments, showing a realistic view of human nature, and it’s a marvelous mix of friendship, acceptance and teamwork. While the tale has some scary elements, like Scraggard the Immortal, evil birds, and werewolf-like creatures, the overall tone is light and should prove entertaining, adventurous, and rather funny than frightening.

Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends (ISBN 154073028X), CreateSpace 2017, 433 pages. Available on Amazon, $17.85 paperback and $5.99 Kindle. Visit the author’s website at: www.omilla.net  

Excerpts from
Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends
Looking down at her fully revealed legs, Little Yaga sighed. Why was her left leg so humanlike? Oh, how she wanted to look like her classmates and most other inhabitants of the Forest! Their left legs had no flesh or skin, only bare bones.
Little Yaga opened the door. Big Yaga stood waiting outside the bathroom, leaning on her wooden stick that was all bent and twisted. She looked her usual self—a little wild, with her gray hair sticking out in every possible direction. Her crooked nose was set between her beady eyes, and there was an ugly wart covered in thick fuzz on her right cheekbone. Casting an angry glance at her granddaughter’s legs, she groaned, “Why am I cursed with a deformed child? What have I done to deserve this?”
This time, the Hut made a sound that resembled an exasperated sigh. The chicken leg
stretched and shook as it tried to loosen its foot from the ground. A few long minutes later, it finally succeeded and very slowly began turning around. After another half an hour, the front door was finally positioned directly in front of Little Yaga and her grandmother. They climbed up the creaking steps and were about to knock on the door when it swung open. The strong odor of poison ivy filled Little Yaga’s nose.
Big Yaga forbade Little Yaga to use her powers for her household chores, but now, because she was running so late, she had no choice. She glided her hands over the table, and instantly, all the dishes were sparkling clean. With a snap of her fingers, she placed them in their proper drawers and shelves.  “You know you’re not supposed to do that,” said the Cuckoo Bird, sticking her head out of her door again.
Little Yaga walked around her. The girl had two legs made of flesh and skin just like hers. She had white teeth with no fangs. Her mouth and nose were small, but her eyes were big. Also, her hair grew only on her head, unlike most of Little Yaga’s classmates, who had tufts of hair on their faces, hands, and stomachs. Little Yaga didn’t have any on her face or hands, and there were only a few tiny patches on her stomach. Her grandmother said she would grow more when she got older.
Little Yaga knew that Scraggard lived on the energy he drew from other living creatures, mostly animal cubs. Their energy, however, was dull and short-lived. Human energy, on the other hand, lasted for decades, and it was sparkling and vibrant—especially that of human children. Scraggard was prepared to give a huge reward to anyone who would get him a human or, better yet, a human child.
A few minutes later, they were standing on the bank of the rapidly flowing Milkshake River, which smelled like Ashley’s favorite mixture of strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. A note posted on the trunk of the weeping willow growing on the riverbank said, “If you want to cross it, drink it.” Instead of leaves, there were small green cups dangling from its branches. Ashley’s eyes lit up, and she reached for a cup, but Little Yaga grabbed her hand and forced it down.
Suddenly, a blow to her right shoulder almost knocked her off her feet. Right behind her, she heard Ashley groan. Little Yaga turned around; Ashley was holding her left shoulder and biting her lip, trying not to cry. Little Yaga was about to say something when, suddenly, Ashley’s eyes widened in horror. She pushed Little Yaga down onto the ground and fell next to her. Before Little Yaga could get angry, she saw a barrage of acorns zipping over their heads, in the very spot where they’d just been standing. If Ashley hadn’t reacted so quickly, they would’ve been badly hurt. Once the whistling of acorn fire ceased, Little Yaga cautiously raised her head and saw the huge Oak Tree in the distance, growing in the middle of the road.
“Hi, Little Yaga,” said a familiar voice from behind, and when she turned to see whose it was, her heart practically leaped out of her chest. She could hardly believe her eyes!
“Hello, Damon,” she whispered.
“I heard you were at Scraggard’s palace yesterday.”
“Yes,” Little Yaga replied, knowing that all the girls in her class were watching her and
wishing they could be in her place. She’d been dreaming of this moment herself for years but had never imagined it would ever come.
“How do we know when it’s done?”
“The microwave knows. It’s not as advanced as the oven in your forest—it doesn’t talk,
but it’ll shut off when the popcorn’s ready.”
“Really?” Little Yaga and Kikimra looked at each other, astonished. “By itself?”
“Yes, really!”
Just as Big Yaga extended her arm to carry out Cuckoo Bird’s sentence, the Hut let out a raucous sneeze and shook violently from her roof down to the foot of her chicken leg. Big Yaga dropped her stick and grabbed the edge of the table so as not to fall.
“What was that?” she asked, steadying herself.
“Sorry,” the Hut replied innocently. “I sneezed.”
Scraggard snapped the screen back on, and Stanley thought the image it displayed looked just like one from Google Earth.
“Mr. Scraggard, you’ve got Internet?” he asked, surprised.
“Your Scraggardness,” Scraggard corrected the boy without taking his eyes off the screen.
“Your Scraggardness, have you got the Internet?” Stanley repeated his question.
“What kind of net?”
“The Internet. Isn’t that Google Earth up there?”
“Who’s Google? Never heard of him.” Scraggard looked at Stanley in annoyance. “This
is not Google’s Earth; this is Scraggard’s Forest.”
“What are these beasts?” Kikimra shrank back, keeping her distance from the growling creatures.
“These ‘beasts’ are called Segways,” Eric said. “Don’t be afraid—they don’t bite. They’re not your hungry jackals; trust me. We’ll use them to get to Scraggard’s palace.”
“How?” Little Yaga asked nervously. “Do they fly?”
“No, you ride them,” Sean explained as he hopped up on the horizontal platform of one of the Segways and circled around for a few minutes. “It’s fun!” he exclaimed with a grin, hopping off.
About L. B. O’Milla,
author of Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends
L. B. O’Milla was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and loved to read and write from an early age. Her dream was to one day author a children’s book, but due to her Jewish heritage and the religious persecution she faced, she was unable to pursue that dream in Russia. When she was 26 years old, she with her husband and daughter fled the country to escape religious persecution. They wound up in Rome, Italy, and then came to America as refugees.
In the US, she worked as a physical therapist while raising her family, but she never gave up her love of writing. Having grown up in a family that exposed her to the arts, literature, and music, O’Milla enjoyed Russian folklore and its characters.
She worked very hard to learn English, so that her first book could be written in English, the language of her new country. Her novel, Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends, mixes Russian folklore with the American tech that her own children love.
Her writing has also appeared on the Hebrew International Aid Society website, telling her personal story.
One of O’Milla’s greatest surprises was running into a former high school teacher here, in America, who had also emigrated from Russia. The teacher pulled out some notebooks of O’Milla’s old writings that she had saved and brought with her. Encouraged, O’Milla kept writing.
In her spare time, O’Milla enjoys reading, attending Metropolitan Opera performances and off Broadway shows, spending time with friends and family, and participating in outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking and kayaking; she travels as much as she can. She lives in New Jersey. Now widowed, her biggest supporters are her children and her sister Inna. O’Milla is at work on a sequel containing more adventures of Little Yaga.

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