Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Author Interview: Sara Jo Easton

Don't you love finding new authors? Sara Jo Easton published her fantasy novel, The Zarder, in October and is here to tell us about it and about herself.

If you like what you see, you can also visit her. . .

Her book, The Zarder, is available on most ebook retaliers.

Fill in the blanks: [My book above] is like [book/movie/TV show] meets [a different book/movie/TV show].
"The Zarder" by Sara Jo Easton is like "Dragonflight" by Anne McCaffrey meets Smaug from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit".

What's the first sentence of this book?
At the beginning of time, the Great Lord of the Sky created the world.

You get to go to Disneyworld with one of your characters. Who do you choose and why?
I could see Lady Delsenni loving It's a Small World if she were shrunk down to human size. She's an empath, so she'd enjoy seeing all of the happy faces. The downside is that she would probably kick my butt at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

Okay, now you get to travel to the country of your choice for one week with any fictional character of your choice (not your own). Who do you choose, where do you go, and why?
I would spend time with Eowyn from "Lord of the Rings", because she's my favorite fictional character of all time (I once got into a huge debate with someone who called her weak and whiny. It wasn't pretty).  We'd probably wind up in some nice part of the English countryside with plenty of gardens and a few horses. It would be a nice week with no pressure or time tables.

Do you remember the first story you ever finished? If so, tell us about it.
The first story I ever finished was a story about a pumpkin named Halloween who found a girlfriend and a house. I was four or five, and the illustrations were hilarious. Imagine, if you will, a pumpkin with a bow on its stem and long eyelashes.

How has your writing changed since you first started writing?
What I've had to edit has changed. Before, there was too little dialogue. Now, I sometimes have to make my characters shut up!

What's your favorite part about the writing process?
It has to be that joyous moment when you've revised a section a hundred times and realize it's finally to your standards. I could do a dance of joy sometimes.

Tell us about your last trunked story.
The last story that I put aside and buried was a tragic tale of an orphaned bobcat and the wolf pack that worked with him to survive the evil human hunters that threatened their forest. I didn't know that wolves sometimes eat bobcats. Also, the forest threatened by evil human hunters story is so overdone. It was fun to write in middle school, though.

Which book of yours was the hardest to write? Why?
The novel I'm currently editing, "The Speed of Wind", was the hardest to write because the villainess had more speaking time in the story. I find it difficult to write from her point of view because she is a bitter and potentially insane individual with a violent streak.

It's Saturday night. Where are you most likely to be?
Watching whatever movie looks interesting at the moment, whether it is at a movie theater or on TV. Later, I'd be reading a new book.

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
I'd want my readers to feel that it's okay to talk about love without reducing it to merely Twilight-esque romance.

Thanks, Sara Jo! I enjoyed interviewing you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

And we're off! Blog tour!

Here we go, guys! First stops:

Author interview at Marie's Blog
Author of the Week at Full Moon Bites (interview and giveaway!)
Paperback Giveaway (two copies up for grabs) at Ritesh's Blog

Spread the word: any comments on the participating entries will be an entry to win a $20 gift card for Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner's choice!). There are also a lot of ebook and paperback giveaways going on.

Read more about the blog tour here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Protectors: I for Ink

I for Ink
After Sierra asks Grace to help her and Evan find the ancient texts, Grace says she'll send a letter if she decides to. 

Grace sat in the study, staring down at the desk. A piece of parchment lay next to an inkwell and a quill. She could write the letter easily, just dip the quill and write some drivel, then send it off to the palace. She looked at the books she found on legends of the magical families. Shape changers who could turn into air, people who could kill with the snap of a finger, others who could make people fall in love. She understood why the Protectors felt threatened. She understood their desire for order. 

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Protectors: H for Handwriting

H for Handwriting
After a long day, Sierra thinks about the letters she and Evan have been writing back and forth.

After pulling her curtains closed, she lay down and close her eyes. She couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when she could get out of this castle and spend time with normal people again. Especially Evan.

She suddenly remembered the letter he’d given her yesterday when they’d parted ways. She pulled it out of her trunk. The two of them had been writing letters ever since Seth and Sashe’s wedding. Even though most of his proclaimed his love for her, she enjoyed reading them and writing him back. It was one more way for them to celebrate each other and their friendship. Friendship. Nothing more.

~Fire and Light, the second prequel novella (again, this is pre-publication so anything can still change!)

Author Interview: Parrisha Martelly

I'm really enjoying these author interviews. I hope you're finding some awesome new books! This week, I'm interviewing Parrisha Martelly.

She's the author of:
Fox, a YA fantasy novel
Rider, a YA fantasy short story

I've been meaning to read Fox for quite some time. Beautiful cover and an intriguing beginning!

If you like what you see (who couldn't like that book cover?), you can visit her. . .

Let's here from Parrisha herself!

Fill in the blanks: [My book above] is like [book/movie/TV show] meets [a different book/movie/TV show].
"Fox" is like Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter.

What's the first sentence of this book?
Though satisfaction would usually sear through him at finally finding his target, Levictious felt none.

Which book of yours was the hardest to write? Why?
"Fox" was the hardest to write. I really wanted to get to know the characters and write something I hoped people would enjoy, and I didn't want to rush it. It took a lot of editing and a lot of patience and time for it to become the novel it is today.

Which book of yours did you have the most fun writing? Why?
"Ryder", a young adult fantasy short, was actually my favorite to write. It was short and sweet, and something that I just had fun with. I enjoyed Ryder himself, and coming up with the different elements within the Labyrinth he ventures through was exciting!

What's your favorite part about the writing process?
There are quite a few! :) I really enjoy writing scenes, especially emotionally charged scenes. I really enjoy writing the endings because I get to see how so much has changed. I also like having Beta-readers read my work. I love getting people's thoughts and opinions.

How has your writing changed since you first started writing?
It's definitely improved, and I think the techniques I use to write have also improved. I know which common words to avoid, I know what strategy works best so that I can complete my novel in a timely manner (ex: I like to make sure I've written 1,000 words a day before I go to sleep or watch TV), and I know how to make more well rounded characters.

You're stranded on a deserted island, and you can only bring one person with you. It can be someone dead or alive, but it has to be a real person (no fictional characters!). Who is it and why?
Probably my brother, Jerry. I have a feeling that he'd have some brilliant plan to get us off the island. Plus, he's funny.

Through very strange circumstances, a mad scientist is exiling you to the world of one of your books. Which world do you choose and why?
Either Fox's world, or the world of the current book I'm working on. But that world is a surprise! :D

You get to go to Disneyworld with one of your characters. Who do you choose and why?
Falcon. He needs to loosen up a bit!

What's your favorite book, whether self-published or traditionally published?
This is a really difficult question. I love many books, so it's very hard to choose! I really enjoyed: The Hunger Games, The Giver, The Lord of the Flies, JR Ward's BDB series, Kresley Cole's IAD series, and Karen Moning's Highlander series.

Recommend a self-published book to the readers. Not your own ;)
"Blood of Requiem" by Daniel Arenson!

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
I want them to have enjoyed themselves and I want them to feel as if they connected to the characters.

Thank you, Parrisha! I'm excited to see that new story of yours!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Protectors: G for Genesis

G for Genesis
Grace reads about the beginning of the magical families.

She collapsed in the chair, putting her hands to her forehead. She pulled the chair over to the window and searched through history books, trying to find the history of the Avialies. She pieced together legends and myths. The legend was that the six magical families were created by the divine thousands of years ago to keep order and peace in the world, but persecution had driven them into hiding. They influenced history and helped non-magical folk in extreme cases, but generally, they stayed quiet, living life by themselves. She read through fantastical stories, unable to tell which were only bedtime stories and which could have actually happened.

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Protectors: F for Fantasy

F for Fantasy
Grace finds herself eavesdropping on a conversation between the prince and Dar.

“Were you intimate with her?” William asked. 

“No,” Dar said, his voice quiet again. 

“You didn’t touch her at all?” 


Grace remembered their kisses in the greenhouse, the masquerade ball, the vineyard, her stables, how they set her skin on fire, how they both wanted more, but they struggled not to go there. She had never felt like that before, and after a few months, she’d wake up and realize she’d been dreaming about him, about that line they never crossed. 

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Protectors: E for Eulogy

E for Eulogy
Sierra, Evan, and their friends remember Ellena days after she dies.

The next day, Evan and the others came over for dinner. Afterwards, in the sitting room, they started talking about Ellena. Her infectious laugh, her high-pitched sneezes. They spoke about gifts they could send her family. Sierra would try to put something into the conversation, but every time she tried to speak, her throat tightened up and she had to blink away tears. She finally quietly excused herself and walked into the corridor. As soon as she closed the door, she let out a sob. She covered her mouth, and tears streamed down her cheeks.

Adrian’s wife had had such a painful, horrible death. What if Ellena had died that way? Sierra imagined her crying and moaning and bleeding. She leaned against the wall. 

The door opened, and she tried to wipe her face. Evan came into the corridor. After closing the door, he embraced her. She allowed herself to cry into his chest. Ellena would never see day again, never breathe again, never have children. She was gone, along with countless other lives. And it was only the beginning. The Avialies would die, and there would be no one to replace them. 

~Fire and Light, the second prequel novella

I thought of other eulogies, but this is the least spoiler-y.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Protectors: D for Debacle

D for Debacle
The prince doesn't think the Victory Day feast went well.

They stopped at an inn in Ridgefield that night, and the next morning, the carriages set off again. The prince and Grace talked about Victory Day and the dinner at the castle. 

Prince William shook his head. “I think it was quite a mess.”

“Really?” Grace tilted her head. 

“My father was drunk, my mother was exhausted, those knights were quite obnoxious, and everyone wanted the dinner to be over so they could see the fireworks.” He looked half-amused, half-annoyed.

“I had fun, for what it’s worth.”

“Of course you did, because you spent the night with me,” Prince William said, a smile spreading on his face.

Grace laughed. “Oh, I see. I should have known that’s what it was.” 

The prince shrugged, his smile turning into a grin. “I could tell the other girls were jealous.”

“Except for Lady Rebekah. She was a bit busy with Sir Leonard.”

Nodding, the prince raised his eyebrows. “Yes, well. . .”

“Don’t let that discourage you, though. Lady Rebekah just had the longest two weeks of her life.”

The prince’s smile faded. “You’ve been counting the days?” He met her eyes. 

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Protectors: C for Complexion

C for Complexion
Dar wants to know what the man who warned Grace about him looked like. 

Dar stepped away, running a hand through his dark hair. “What did he look like?”

“I told you I didn’t see him.”

“What about his skin color?”

Grace paused. “It was fair.”

“As fair as yours?”

“It was dark in the pub, I don’t know. What does it matter?” 

“What does it matter?” he repeated, looking at her sharply. “I need to know who he is. And why he’d lure you out there alone, just to. . .he could have killed you!” 

“There were plenty of people around,” she lied. “Now, tell me what he was talking about.”

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Protectors: B for Benefit

B for Benefit
When I read benefit, I thought of a benefit dinner. Or a charity dinner where Grace and Dar first confessed their attraction to each other.

The moment reminded her of when they’d first shown interest in each other. He was courting Rebekah, of course, but it seemed like half the time Grace snuck a glance at Dar, he was already looking at her. The other half, he would meet her eyes after a moment, and she’d look away hurriedly, blushing. 

He cornered her after the king’s charity dinner for the blizzard in Kleisade, and he asked her what about him was so interesting. She said she’d answer his question as soon as he told her why he stared at her just as often. He only paused for a moment before telling her it was because she was one of the most beautiful women in the room. Then she had to answer his, telling him he’d always intrigued her. She smiled as she thought back to it. 

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Protectors: A for Affluence

A: Affluence
Seth isn't used to seeing so much wealth when he first moves to Rahuda.

“Oh, damn,” Seth said quietly. Sashe glanced over at him. He tipped over his wine glass, and a lone drop fell onto the blanket. “All out.” 

Sashe chuckled. “Don’t worry. Before long, we’ll probably start smuggling in liquor.” 

“Smuggling,” Seth repeated. “Like you guys can’t do anything you want already.” 

“What makes you think that?” Sashe asked, narrowing her eyes. 

“This place is huge.” Seth motioned with his arms. “You even had servants for dinner!”

Sashe shrugged. She reached for her hair to play with it before remembering it was pulled back in a braid. “That’s what happens when you’re the governor and a lord.”

~Shifting Light, the first prequel novella (keep in mind this is pre-publication so anything could change!)

The Protectors Series: A-Z

Over the next 26 days, I will post a couple lines from the Protectors series corresponding to this list.

A: affluence

B: benefit

C: complexion

D: debacle

E: eulogy

F: fantasy

G: genesis

H: handwriting

I: ink

J: jeopardize

K: kindness

L: lullaby

M: miracle

N: never

O: outstanding

P: prolific

Q: question

S: solemn

T: taciturn

U: unique

V: viciousness

W: weightlessness

X : Xanadu

Y: youthful

Z: zealously

Taken from A-to-Z Prompts and adjusted.

Author Interview: Stuart Jaffe

This week, I'm interviewing Stuart Jaffe! He writes post-apocalyptic fantasy and scifi/fantasy short stories, and he's here to tell us a little about himself and his books.

His books:
The Malja Chronicles: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Book 1: The Way of the Black Beast 
Book 2: The Way of the Sword and Gun 

10 Bits of My Brain - SF/Fantasy short story collection

If you like what you see (that's a pretty awesome book cover, right?), you can visit his websiteBlog, Facebook, Twitter, or his podcast, The Eclectic Review.

A magician has cursed your next reader so they can read only one of your books. Which book do you choose for them and why?
The Way of the Black Beast -- it's the first of the Malja Chronicles, so it's the best place to start the series.

What's the first sentence of this book?
Malja had followed the killer for hours.

What's the last? 
Now, I'm the law.

Fill in the blanks: [My book above] is like [book/movie/TV show] meets [a different book/movie/TV show].
The Way of the Black Beast is like Xena meets Mad Max.

The world's scientists have just released the first time machine, and you've been chosen to get a free ride (with assurance that you'll be able to come back, of course ;). To when do you go and why?
Far into the future.  Thousands of years.  If we're still around, it'll give me hope.  If not, I still won't know how long we have, so I can continue on without becoming Cassandra.

Which book of yours was the hardest to write? Why?
A paranormal mystery I hope to see in print later this year. A major part of the mystery traces back to World War II. I ended up doing a lot of research on the war and the Holocaust. Every time you think you've seen the worst, there's always something more horrifying to learn. That aspect made the research gut-wrenching to go through.

Which book of yours did you have the most fun writing? Why?
My latest, The Way of the Sword and Gun, was a complete blast to write. It's the first book I've done since going indie, and as a result, I found a new kind of freedom in writing it. Plus, it's one of the most action-packed tales of done.

What's the last book you read? What did you think of it?
Clapton by Eric Clapton. I'm not one for autobiographies, but my wife put this on my Kindle.  I've played blues guitar for almost 20 years, so she knew I would enjoy this book, and she was right. Very personal and frank look at himself. I would've preferred more on his music thoughts, but that was clearly not the intent of the book.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing with your time instead?
Is this even possible?  To not be writing?

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
First, I always want the reader to have simply enjoyed the experience.  I do layer in ideas on morals, government, leadership, and other topics, but if the reader doesn't enjoy the story, the rest is lost. So, that's paramount.

Thanks, Stuart! I enjoyed interviewing you!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Paperback, Library copy. 

Guys, look, I did it! I read an adult fantasy novel! This is few and far between compared to the young adult novels I read. I'm quite proud of myself. I read Theft of Swords by Michael Sullivan last year, and it was great. This book reminds me of it, mainly because of the thieving and mischief involved.

This is one a lot of people have been talking about and reviewing and all that. What made me finally pick it up is a Barnes and Noble blog list about the best 10 fantasy titles of the year. I thought, 'I really need to read some adult fantasy if I'm going to try to publish one.' So, this was the blogger's most favorite book and one of the only ones I'd actually heard of on the list.

I admit it took me a few pages to get used to the writing, which is a tiny bit denser than your typical YA book. Once I got used to Rothfuss' style, though, I was hooked. I really like the idea of a frame story like this. I read this book nearly every night for a couple weeks, and I enjoyed almost all of it. It has a very Harry Potter like feel because of the Academy and precocious orphan youngster. But it's also different, too, because you know something will happen to Kvothe to bring him down. It takes on a darker feel because of the frame story. You just know that his story probably won't have a happy ending.

I liked most of these characters. Kvothe was close to too perfect but there were some times when he was so arrogant I was like, 'What. . .did he just say/think that??' So he had his flaws, too. His friends are good, supportive friends, and I really hope nothing bad happens to them. I like Denna. At first she seemed kind of one dimensional, but I like how the author treated her and their relationship. She surprised me a lot, which is a good thing. The characters in the frame story are intriguing, too. It's less, 'I like these characters!' and more 'I'm intrigued by these characters.' Especially Bast. Not sure whether to trust him or not.

The story was great. Had me wondering what was going to happen. Rooting for Kvothe of course, hoping for the best for him. Towards the end, I felt like it started to drag. And it just kind of ended. No real climax or anything. I know that the frame story probably makes it harder for the author to write the typical "Rising Action/Climax/Falling Action" thing, but I'm 100 pages into The Wise Man's Fear, and I'm kind of wondering what the point of all this is. Like how does this stuff at the Academy move the plot along? What really happened to Kvothe? Why is he called the Kingkiller? Who are the Chandrian?

BUT I'm writing about The Name of the Wind. Overall, it was a great story. I liked the storytelling, the conflicts, the characters. Kept me on the edge of my seat, for sure! I just don't want the story to drag on. The next book is almost 1000 pages! These fantasy authors are so long-winded. . .

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Paperback, 360 pages, library edition. 

The Awakening picks up right where The Summoning left off. So, SPOILERS!

Chloe escaped from Lyle House, only to be recaptured again. Stuck in a strange place, she's left to find Simon and Derek by herself. She also needs to find out what the Lyle House was all about and what these people want from her.

I liked this book! Part of me realizes that not that much happened. Another part of me doesn't care so much because I was never bored. Isn't it weird how that happens? Okay, the entire book is about finding the boys and then traveling to Andrew's house, which all takes place over about a week, and yet I read the entire second half just tonight! I like reading about these characters and seeing how their relationships deepen and change. They're finding out more about each other and themselves.

And this may sound preachy, but among books like Twilight and Hush, Hush, this book is just refreshing. I know I don't really have any room to say that since I haven't even read any of those books all the way through. I've just skimmed them and heard horror stories of these ridiculous female protagonists and stalkerish, controlling male protagonists.

I'll admit that Derek has his flaws. He is a pretty big jerk in certain parts of this book, treating Chloe like a child. But he really seems to realize that he should be treating her differently. By the end, I honestly think he was. I never saw Chloe trying to justify his actions -- understand them, maybe, but there is actually a line that reads, "That didn't excuse his outbursts, but maybe it helped me understand him and not take it to personally when he lashed out at me." She still gets upset with him when he treats her like a dog, and he actually recognizes he was wrong.

I also like that Derek is not your movie star male protagonist looks-wise but he's still likable because he cares about Chloe and Simon. I'm glad my sister was so into this series. I'm glad there are young adult authors out there who are writing about characters and relationships like this in the paranormal genre which is overrun with borderline abusive relationships.

At the same time, can she just get to the romance?? I know it's only been a couple weeks in the book's time, but come on.

I also like where the plot of the whole series is going. She keeps up the mystery about where Simon and Derek's dad is, what the genetic mutations mean, how it's going to affect them, Chloe's Aunt Lauren, and more. I keep wondering about the strange loose ends she's kept untied: the necklace, the ghost/demon thing that spoke to Chloe in the hospital, Derek's true parents.

I wasn't really expecting the ending. I just thought there'd be more to the climax, but maybe that's just me. I was like waiting for the other shoe to drop, but then I realized, 'Oh, they really did get away. . .okay. . .'

Off for the next one! I'm eager to see how she ends this series.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Author Interview: Judi Coltman

This week, I'm proud to be interviewing Judi Coltman!

Her books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and her personal website:

In The Name Of The Father (Suspense/Thriller)
Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts! (Humor)

You can visit her blog, website, or Twitter!

Without further ado. . .

Which book of yours was the hardest to write? Why?
In The Name Of The Father was far harder than my first book.  It is easier to answer this question by telling you why the first was so easy.  I have a blog, My Life In A Nutshell, which is based on my life and the way it stumbles through life.  It was easy to compile these short essays into book form and it's really me just telling stories about me - easy peasey.  It has spent the better part of the last year as an Amazon best seller in humor.

In The Name Of The Father required me to expose myself through something I really covet - fiction writing.  I can control the material about me, guide it so that I am my own punchline, in fiction, all best are off.  Characters become very palpable, the story not guided towards a laugh and if it's bad, I become the punchline NOT by my own design.

Do you remember the first story you ever finished? If so, tell us about it.
Ohhhhh *groans*  It was 4th grade.  I don't remember the title but it was a story about why the moon was made of green cheese.  Aliens landed and they looked like mice on steroids.  They take me and my cat back to the moon to show me that it is made of green cheese and that is what made them grow so big.  Then they let me take some and fly me back to earth.  My cat steals the cheese because she doens't mice to grow so big.

And there you have it.

What's the last book you read? What did you think of it?
The Righteous by Michael Wallace.  I loved the book.  It is a murder mystery within a polygamist society.  The beauty is that even though the protagonist is a from such a society, it isn't represented from an overly negative or positive angle, it just is and allows the mystery to unfold within.  Fascinating.

A magician has cursed your next reader so they can read only one of your books. Which book do you choose for them and why?
In The Name Of The Father, absolutely!  This is a far more compelling book, a page-turner.  I labored with joy on this one and I am very proud of it.

What's the first sentence of this book?
It always occurred during the 10 o'clock service.

What's the last? (don't worry, it's non-spoilery!) 
Barbara wrapped a large slice of pizza in a piece of paper towel and placed it in her bag, Harry might want some later.

The world's scientists have just released the first time machine, and you've been chosen to get a free ride (with assurance that you'll be able to come back, of course ;). To when do you go and why?
Greece during the Age of Enlightenment.  I want to see how evolved they really were at that time.  It was a civil time, living large, seeking knowledge.

Through very strange circumstances, a mad scientist is exiling you to the world of one of your books. Which world do you choose and why?
I choose the location of In The Name Of The Father.  The setting is a beach in Virginia - Sandbridge Beach, one where I have spent the last 40 some years vacationing.  It is my muse.  Being exiled to the beach would be a dream come true.  Where do I find the mad scientist?

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
Read it out loud.  If it doesn't flow when verbalized, it needs rewriting.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing with your time instead?
Art.  I paint and upcycle old hardback books into artwork.

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
I want them to feel exhilarated.  In either case, humor or suspense, I want them to feel like they've been on a wild ride and want to share it with others.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Own Love Triangles: Part Two

Last week, I talked about a love triangle I had when I was fifteen. I promised another one, so here it is! Don't worry, it has a happy ending unlike the last one.

I moved just before my senior year of high school. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about it or not. On one hand, I was kind of tired of my school where I’d spent four years already. On the other, I didn’t want to go to a school where everyone had already made their friends.

I met Jacob at church. (No, it’s not his real name.) He was the funny guy. He was the first guy who was younger than me that I dated, but the age difference was only about six months. We started going out a few months after I moved. It was a pretty innocent relationship without too many strings attached. We mostly saw each other at church: youth group, Sunday services, nights we all went out. We would occasionally talk on the phone or over AIM or myspace. It wasn’t very deep, though. I was “in love” with him, but I’ve been in love with someone for the last ten years of my life. I’d gush about him to friends I left behind, squeal over notes or letters he sent me, etc.

After a while, I started to realize I couldn’t commit to Jacob for a long period of time. I enjoyed being with him, but I saw we were on different levels, going two different directions in our lives.

For some reason, I held on. We only saw each other two or three times a week, and we hardly even kissed, so I thought, ‘Why not?’

Well, then Chris came into the picture. He was invited by my dad to play drums at the church. At first, I didn’t notice him too much. He was a nice guy, and that was cool. He started coordinating youth group nights. He was only twenty-one, but most of the youth group was younger, anyway. He was four years older than me, so there was definitely a barrier between us since I wasn’t eighteen yet. I considered him purely a friend for a couple months.

We hung out more and more over the spring. We painted the gym stage in the church. We did car washes to raise money for my trip to Hawaii. We found out we had a lot of the same interests in music.

All along, me and Jacob held onto our relationship which hardly existed anymore. I would go through ups and downs: sometimes I’d have the time of my life with him, other times he would aggravate me to no end. Sometimes I’d really consider our relationship serious, other times I’d completely lose respect for him when he’d fight with my younger brother.

We did have a nice night at my senior prom. It was only a couple blocks from our church, and I remember complaining about my heels. Jacob picked me up and carried me the rest of the way. We were laughing so hard by the time we got to the church parking lot.

Summer came, and me and my friends and family hung out with Chris a lot. He took us on swimming trips. He played guitar for us. He seemed genuinely interested in learning about the Bible and our religion, like I was. My dad really liked him and would invite him over for dinner to our house.

I went to South Africa and Zambia for a few weeks the summer after I graduated, and I remember writing about Chris on the plane ride home. I didn’t know what was ahead of us, what the summer held. I was moving to Hawaii that fall for a year-long mission trip. I knew I’d have to break up with Jacob before that. I couldn’t try something long-distance with him when I didn’t even want to do a regular relationship.

I finally broke it off with Jacob towards the end of the summer. I said I didn’t want to go to Hawaii with the baggage of a romantic relationship, and it seemed like we were growing apart, anyway. He seemed to take it okay, but I got a call from Chris a little while later. He told me Jacob had just called him and confessed to cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend. She was a girl I kind of envied. I couldn’t believe it; I actually started crying.

My mom came into the room, and I told her what Chris had said. The first thing she said? “Oh, whatever!” She didn’t believe it for a second. She knew Jacob’s ex-girlfriend was completely finished with him. I snapped out of it and believed her. Neither Jacob nor his ex-girlfriend would do something like that.

Hardly a week before I was due to leave for Hawaii, Chris asked if I wanted to get something to eat. We went to Denny’s. We went for a walk in the park by my house and talked. I remember sitting in the swings, and he was kind of rambling, but I had fun. I remember coming home and thinking, ‘Wow. . .what just happened?’

Shortly after that, Jacob gave me a letter confessing his cheating. At that point, I didn’t believe it at all. I kind of brushed it off. I’d accepted that we were on different levels, and I was content with just being friends. I was disappointed that he had to drag it out and make it weird. He even changed the girl that he had cheated on me with. Sadly, we weren’t on extremely friendly terms when I went to Hawaii. Today, we are, but we’ve never talked about his strange confession.

Me and Chris, on the other hand, were friends when I left for Hawaii. I spent nearly every night of my last week in Oregon with him. When I went to Hawaii, we talked on the phone all the time. I fell for him, and I fell hard. After that, he never had any competition. Our four year wedding anniversary is in May.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sample Sunday: Promising Light Chapter One

Chapter One

Grace loved the vineyard. It stretched over miles and miles, and she and Dar could disappear for hours without anyone ever finding them. Today it was warm, the sun baking down on the grapes, causing the fragrance to surround them.

She lay on a blanket Dar had brought, staring up at the clouds. Dar was next to her, putting flowers in her blonde hair. His olive-colored skin was dark from the summer sun, and his black hair, in need of trimming, curled at his ears. The two of them were hidden in a remote corner of the vineyard where grape vines touched the ground next to them.

“If I move, will I ruin your masterpiece?” she asked.

“Yes, you definitely will,” Dar said. “So don’t move.”

“What are you doing to me?”

“You look like a nymph.” Dar pulled his hands back and gazed intently at her. His dark eyes traveled over her hair, her face, her breasts. “I wish I could freeze this moment in time and carry it around with me.”

Grace took his hand, raised it to her lips, and kissed it. “I really want to kiss you on the mouth, but I’m not moving.”

He smiled and bent down. He kissed her, entwining his fingers through hers. He moved to lay on top of her. Waves of warmth that had nothing to do with the weather went through Grace. She held on to his hands tightly as he brought them up over her head. She felt completely exposed to him, physically and emotionally.

He pulled away after a moment and kissed each of her cheeks.

“Dar,” she whispered, “I don’t want to keep sneaking around.”

His smile faded. He let go of one of her hands and ran his fingers along her jaw. “I know. I don’t either.”

“So?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Your father wouldn’t approve of me.”

She huffed. “Do you even know why he doesn’t like your family?” She didn’t understand her father’s hostility towards them, considering Dar’s father was a respected governor. Things like wealth and status mattered to her father, who was the king’s general. Grace had only met Dar’s parents a few times, and they seemed like good people who ruled Shyra well. His mother had always been friendly to her at social events.

Dar didn’t meet her eyes. “I have an idea.”

“You do?”

He kissed the line of her jaw softly, sending shivers down her spine. “I think so.”

She wouldn’t be distracted. “Well, what is it?”

“Shyra doesn’t have a very good reputation.”

In court, Shyra was mostly spoken of as a poor and mysterious state overrun with fake magicians and crime. She’d only been there once and it seemed like a typical farming state, not much worse than the seedy areas of Renaul. If someone as good as Dar came out of it, the place couldn’t be horrible. He kissed her neck, and she closed her eyes.

“I don’t know,” she said, her voice shaky. “It seems like more than that.”

“Maybe you should ask him.”

She laughed. “He probably doesn’t even realize we know each other.”

Dar raised his head, meeting her eyes. “You probably know me better than anyone.”

She furrowed her brow. “I don’t know. . .” She trailed off as she ran her fingers through his soft curls. “It seems like there’s a lot about you I don’t know.”

“You know the important things,” he said, his voice quiet.

She didn’t say anything for a moment. She wished that were the case, but she doubted it. It hurt because she knew the opposite was true: Dar knew her better than anyone. He had some competition with Jocelyn, her closest friend since childhood, but Grace felt like she’d always hidden something from her, as well as from her parents and her brother. Not one specific thing or an unseemly secret about herself, just something about her very nature, as though she may not be good enough.

She’d never had those fears with Dar. She’d given all of herself to him in the last six months, even if it hadn’t been wise. Their relationship had started off playful, but she’d fallen for him quickly. He knew everything about her, from the birthmark on her stomach to how she liked her tea to her secrets, fears, and dreams. Yet Dar still had his secrets and a past that he tried to keep hidden.

“What about what happened two years ago?” she asked.

Dar’s jaw tightened. He lay down next to her, resting his head on her shoulder. He’d talked about some kind of tragedy that happened two years ago in Shyra, but he’d never given her the details. She’d never pushed him, but now she wanted to know.

“My parents took in two girls when I was four. They were pretty much my sisters.”

Grace touched the back of his head, her eyes wide. She’d always thought Dar was an only child.

“Two years ago. . .my family got into some trouble, and a lot of people were killed. One of my sisters nearly died, and the other disappeared. I haven’t seen her since.”

He’d lost so much. She feared saying anything in case he withdrew again. She ran her fingers through his hair. His body moved softly against hers as he breathed in and out.

“I want to see her again. I want to apologize for everything.”

“What would you say?” she whispered.

“‘Sierra, I’m sorry. I never should have let. . .’” Dar trailed off. He sat up suddenly, his back to Grace.
She sat up and felt flowers fall from her hair. She touched his shoulders, and he tensed.

He got to his feet and kept his face averted from her. “I want that stuff to stay in the past, Grace. I don’t want it to come between us.”

She pursed her lips. Couldn’t he see that keeping things from her would come between them? After standing, she started to gather up the blanket. “Well, then, you shouldn’t say things like that.”

“Things like what?”

“‘You know me better than anyone.’” His gaze lingered on her as she folded the blanket. She looked at him, and he crossed the distance between them.

“I wish I could tell you everything.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “But I know it’s better for both of us if I don’t.”

She stepped away and picked up the blanket. “We should go. We’ve been here for two hours already.”

Dar took the blanket from her, and she picked up her bag. Maybe she was being unreasonable. She took his hand and leaned towards him. Why did he feel like he couldn’t tell her things about him? She’d told him everything about her.

They walked silently to the end of the vineyard where they came from, the opposite end of Sir Henry’s manor. The grapes twisted around wires and poles on either side of them. Dar took a few grapes and handed some to Grace. She played with them, running her fingers over the dusty surface.

“Do you talk to Lady Rebekah about your past?” she asked, her eyes on the ground.

Dar laughed. “No. Rebekah and I don’t talk about anything deep at all. When I talk with her, I think about you. When I kiss her, I think about you.”

He thought about Grace, and yet he was courting Rebekah. Not her. She hated to think of him kissing someone else, especially Rebekah. Flighty, shallow Rebekah.

They reached the spot where they usually parted ways. “I’ll see you later?” Dar said.

She nodded and glanced down at their hands. “Nothing in your past could change the way I feel about you. I care about you. Not what’s happened to you.”

He kissed her, holding her face in his hands. He pulled away and rested his forehead on hers. “I know.”

She stepped back. “Goodbye.” She turned and left. A few minutes later, she looked over her shoulder, but he was gone. He did that often: just disappeared. She worried he’d do that to her someday, just leave her behind without a thought.


Meet me at The Boar’s Bar at midnight. Come alone.

Grace stuffed the note into her pocket. She didn’t recognize the handwriting, and there was no name. Her attempts to guess who might have sent it were fruitless, but it had to have been someone who knew her curiosity often overruled her common sense. She hoped it was Dar, even if it wasn’t a very original way to get her alone. Since their small argument in the vineyard a couple days ago, she’d been waiting for a chance to see him.

A stout man stumbled to the barstool next to her. “Another pint!” he yelled at the bartender. He looked at Grace through his greasy blond hair. “Well, hello! Haven’t seen you around here before.”

Grace gave him a tight smile. Could he be the one who sent the note? He wasn’t the type she was expecting, to say the least. “I’ve never been here before.”

“Really? What do you think so far?” he asked.

She glanced around the tavern. Pockets of people were rowdy while others sat by themselves in the corners. A strong smell of garlic hung in the air. It wasn’t of the worst she’d seen in Renaul, but she knew her mother would faint if she knew Grace was here. She light was dim, but still, she didn’t see any nobles. She shrugged and noticed that his eyes were roving over her traveling cloak, no doubt looking for some bared skin. “It seems like a normal tavern to me.”

The man laughed as the bartender returned with another pint. “I’ll have you know that this is the best bar in the city.” He paused to take a gulp of his beer. “Can tell why you’ve never been here, though. Too rich for us folk, yeah? Had to travel all the way across the river?”

If he was the one to ask her here, why was he making conversation like this? Grace sipped her mead. “What makes you think that?”

He was about to respond when he looked over her shoulder and fell silent. Someone tapped her on the arm. Grace turned around; a man with a hood pulled over his head bowed and said, “Lady Grace.”

His voice was almost drowned out by the people around them, but she thought it might be Dar’s. She smiled. “You still insist on being anonymous?”

“Perhaps we could talk outside,” he said. She could only glimpse the lower half of his face, the outline of his jaw. In the dim light, she couldn’t make any conclusions about his identity.

Grace stepped off her barstool. She told the man at the bar, “Goodnight, sir.”

“Tha’s how I know—normal people don’t talk like that,” the man said as she followed the hooded figure outside.

The brisk night air hit Grace as soon as the man opened the door for her. She saw his hand on the door—pale, short fingers, a silver ring around his pinky. He wasn’t Dar. She pulled her cloak around her, her mind racing with questions.

The smell of garlic lingered outside, too. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the man grab for her arm. She stepped away, avoiding his hand. “Why did you want me to come here?”

The man glanced around, his face turned toward a pair of men by their horses, laughing. One of them stumbled on something, falling to the ground, and they just laughed harder.

“We’re alone,” Grace said, “so get on with it.”

“I’m here about Dar from Shyra,” the man said. “He is not safe for you.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

“I know you desire each other, but he is dangerous. I’m here in your best interest, Lady Grace. He will be of no good to you.”

Who was this man? If he’d seen it, then who else had? She took a step toward him, but he moved away from her. She narrowed her eyes. “Who are you?”

“The note was anonymous, and that’s how I choose to stay. You must know that you and Dar come from two different worlds.” His voice filled with disgust. “It’s simply impossible to think a lady of your standing could be with something like him.”

“He’s a noble, as well.” She almost spoke about Dar’s courtship with Rebekah, but she caught herself, knowing she shouldn’t defend Dar or herself. “It makes no difference since we’re not involved.”

“Please, I’m not blind,” the man said, his voice rising.

Grace tried to laugh; it didn’t sound very convincing. “So, this is why you asked me to come? To warn me against a man I have nothing to do with?”

“You need to set your sights on another noble. Dar is not what you think he is.”

“I’m not interested in him,” Grace said, raising her voice. “But even if I were, who are you to tell me to whom I should direct my affection?” She made a grab for his hood, but he moved away quickly and her fingers caught the air. “Do you have any idea to whom you speak?”

His mouth twisted in a smile. “You’re Lady Grace Ellengreen, and your father is a General in the King’s army. I don’t think he would like to hear about your relationship with Dar.”

Grace stiffened. She wanted to scoff about how old-fashioned her father was, unable to see how the norms between men and women were changing, independent of parental desires, but she didn’t want to admit anything to this stranger. Whatever had caused it, the hostility between her father and Dar’s was enough to keep her quiet. Or enough to search out Dar in the first place. Probably both.

“Our nonexistent relationship?” she asked. “What are you going to tell him, that even though Sir Dar and Lady Rebekah have been courting for eight months—”

“I’ll tell him about your meeting in the greenhouse.”

Grace froze and she clenched her fists. How did he know about that? They’d been completely sure to cover up their trail.

“Or the time at the masquerade ball.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her voice came out stronger than she felt.

“I’ll tell him if it will get you away from Dar. He’ll only bring you danger and death.”

“Who are you, that you have such an interest in my well-being?” Perhaps this man was some kind of an admirer. Was he saying these things because they were true or because he wanted her? It may be conceited to think such things, but why else would he be warning her? He couldn’t be telling the truth about Dar. There was no way.

“I already told you, you won’t find out.” The man backed away. “Take heed, Lady Grace. Don’t let your foolishness run away with you.”

Grace glared at him as he moved toward the stable. She rushed after him, raising her skirts and nearly tripping over loose stones in the road. She intended to follow him, but when she reached the stable, his horse went galloping past her, sending up a cloud of dirt that made her cough. He faded into the darkness, and she knew she’d never catch up to him without more comfortable riding clothes on.

Her heart pounded as she untied and mounted her horse. Who was he? Why did he care what she did with Dar? Would he tell anyone about her relationship with Dar? And did any of the things he’d said have truth to them?

She and Dar had started seeing each other six months ago. It was just kisses at first, but then they began to meet at night, talking in earnest, sending private letters, meeting in Sir Henry’s vineyard. They kept their relationship secret since he made no indication of wanting to leave Lady Rebekah, and the thought of doing something without the knowledge of her parents or older brother excited her. She soon started to feel taken advantage of, even though they weren’t sleeping together, and whenever she tried to press the issue of him breaking it off with Rebekah, he would push the conversation elsewhere.

A familiar sense of indignation rose up in her on the way back to the manor. Why did he insist on remaining quiet about her? Maybe he was ashamed of her and he just used her father’s hostility towards his family as an excuse. But then that would mean he’d lied to her time and time again when he said she was unlike other nobles because she cared about people, because she listened to him, because there was something different about her. She didn’t think she could accept that he’d been lying the entire time. His feelings for her weren’t a lie. They couldn’t be, not when he gained nothing but her company from their relationship, not even sex.

She played the conversation with the hooded man over and over in her mind. Two different worlds. Not safe. No good. Danger and death. For weeks she’d tried to reconcile her situation with Dar. She’d give Dar one chance to explain what the man was talking about, and then. . .

She didn’t want it to end; but was the curiosity she’d had about Dar since they were children enough to keep her with him? She couldn’t deny he was one of her best friends now. The last six months had been some of the happiest of her life. She sometimes felt as though she was becoming a woman because of her time with him, as though the world was being opened up to her.

Was it those things or was it the mystery of him, the rebelliousness of being with the son of a man her father hated, the feel of knowing she could have something that belonged to Rebekah Mortren, whom she’d envied since she was young? She couldn’t tell where her real feelings for him began.

The Ellengreen estate was quite large, even for a noble family. The stone manor loomed high in the sky, blocking out the stars. Gardens and grassy lawns surrounded it. Almond trees lined along the back of the manor. Grace’s father allowed peasants to use the fruit for income, taking a profit of the money they earned.

Grace approached the stables slowly. Her mother went to bed around eight o’clock, and her father was training with troops, but she knew her brother had recently been taking late night rides. She and Dar had narrowly avoided him a few times over the last couple weeks. Tonight, however, his horse was in its stall.

Grace dismounted her horse and led her to its stall. When she turned around, someone stood in the door, and she jumped in shock. She recognized Dar’s face and put her hand over her heart. “Don’t do that!”

Dar chuckled. He glanced at the horse and Grace’s traveling cloak. “Where have you been?”

Grace came out of the stall, closing the door behind her. “What are you doing here?”

“I just thought I’d drop by. I whistled nearly twenty minutes ago.” He reached for her waist, but Grace stepped away.

“I was at the Boar’s Bar,” she said.

Dar’s brow furrowed. “At this hour? Why?”

She took the note from her pocket and held it out for him. He read it, then looked at her with wide eyes. “Did you go alone?”

She huffed. “Oh, I forgot you’re still with my father in the last century. I can take care of myself.” She opened her cloak and showed him where her dagger hung from her waist.

“As skillful as you are, without it, you’d be powerless. You’re not exactly someone of stature.” He half-smiled, holding his hand up to her head, which barely reached his shoulders.

She glared at him. “I’m not completely helpless.”

He waved a hand. “All right, whatever you say.” He held up the note. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know. He never took his hood off, but he knows about us.”

Dar’s eyes widened, and he straightened up. “How?”

“I don’t know. He knows about the greenhouse and the masquerade ball.”

“What did he want?”

Grace paused, meeting his eyes. “He said you were dangerous.”

Dar broke eye contact, and his shoulders sagged.

Her eyes widened. So there was some truth to it. “He said you would only bring me danger and death, that you were no good for me, we were from two different worlds.” Grace tried to catch his eyes again, but he was looking at her horse now. “Dar?”

He shook his head. “I should have known this couldn’t last.”

“What do you mean?” When he said nothing, she put her hands on his shoulders and turned him to face her. “What was he talking about?”

Dar stepped away, running a hand through his dark hair. “What did he look like?”

“I told you I didn’t see him.”

“What about his skin color?”

She paused. “It was fair.”

“As fair as yours?”

“It was dark in the pub, I don’t know. What does it matter?”

“What does it matter?” he repeated, looking at her sharply. “I need to know who he is. And why he’d lure you out there alone, just to. . .he could have killed you!”

“There were plenty of people around,” she lied. “Now, tell me what he was talking about.”

He didn’t respond. He was pacing around in the straw, mumbling under his breath.

“What did he mean, two different worlds? Shyra?” Grace asked, raising her voice. Dar’s home state wasn’t so different from Renaul. “It’s not so—”

“He’s right.” Dar stopped pacing and looked at Grace. “I was stupid to think this could work.”

She frowned, and her hidden feelings of incompetence since they’d started meeting in secret came again. She clenched her hands into fists. “Right. I should have known, too. I was just a few thrills on the side while you and Rebekah—”

“Rebekah?” Dar scoffed. “Oh, please, Grace, she’s nothing. Our courtship is an act, a cover-up.”

“A cover-up for what?”

“No. This is. . .bigger than just us. I shouldn’t have brought you into this.”

“Into what?” Grace asked, but she knew she was losing him. He was already drifting away, his stubbornness taking over the one-sided conversation. She swore and struck the stall door next to her. “I should have ended this a long time ago, before you made me feel like a complete fool.”

Dar nodded. “I should go back to Shyra.”

Her mouth fell open, and she stared at him. “What?” That was the last thing she’d been expecting. Why wasn’t he defending himself?

Dar stared past her, and she stepped forward, trying to put herself in his line of vision.

“Don’t I deserve to know what’s going on?”

“Grace, don’t—”

“We’ve been together for six months!” Her voice was unsteady. “I think I have a right to know what that man was talking about!”

“No, you don’t.” He started pacing again. “I can’t do this any longer. I keep trying to have it both ways, have you and be normal, but it can’t be that way. I have two choices now: giving you everything or leaving you behind.” He stopped, looking at Grace. He closed the distance between them. He leaned forward to set his forehead against hers. Her breath caught in her throat, and she closed her eyes. “You don’t know how much I want that first choice. . .but I can’t do that. We’re both lucky he decided to warn you instead of. . .”

Grace opened her eyes and took hold of his shirt. She knew if she asked the questions burning inside her—instead of what? Are you dangerous? Why?—he’d withdraw from her.

“You don’t have to leave,” she said. The distance was so far, nearly two days. She’d resolved to let go of their late night meetings, but couldn’t imagine not even seeing him at social events. “You don’t have to go back to Shyra.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You’re not going to tell me the truth, are you?” she whispered.

Dar shook his head. “I want to keep you safe.”

Grace took a step back, fighting off tears. “For all I know, you could have sent someone to tell me those things, just so you could have a way out.” Her voice came out shaky, and she hated it.

His eyes widened. “Grace.”

“You knew I’d go, even though it was stupid.”

Dar raised his voice. “I didn’t send that note.”

“Then who did?” Grace demanded. She couldn’t believe this was happening, that he was treating her like this, like the last six months meant nothing to him.

“I can’t tell you.”

“You won’t tell me. But I could find out.”

“Really? How are you going to do that?”

She glared at him. Dar touched the side of her face and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Don’t make this harder for either of us. That man was right; I’m not safe for you.”

She tried to meet his eyes, but he was looking at her blonde hair as he twirled some of it around his finger, like he used to when they were hidden in the vineyard. “Is this about Sierra? And the people who died?”

“Stop it,” he whispered. He stepped closer, tracing his finger along her jawline. “I could live without you, but not if it was because something happened to you on my account.”

“Nothing is going to happen. . .” Grace trailed off. There was something, probably many things, she didn’t know about him. Something he was hiding.

Dar leaned down, taking her face in his hands, and kissed her. She closed her eyes, putting her hands on his waist. What if this was their last kiss? She held onto him as though he may fall through her fingers like water. His fingers wove into her hair, sending chills down her spine.

He pulled away first and set his forehead on hers again.

“Dar,” she whispered.

He stepped away, and his shirt slipped from her fingers. He turned and walked to his horse. She leaned against the nearby stable door, holding back tears. After he mounted, he said in her direction, “Goodbye, my lady.”

Grace let her tears fall once he was out of sight. She tried to tell herself this was best, even though she wanted to run after him. She dropped onto the ground, finally let her tears fall.


Promising Light should be released this Wednesday! Keep your eye out for this novel, the first in an epic fantasy series.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: My 13 Favorite Books

My favorite books! They're nearly all fiction. I don't know what that says about me. I included my favorite character, too :P

1. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. If I have to choose just one, Prisoner of Azkaban.
Favorite character: Ron Weasley

2. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.
Favorite character: Peeta Mellark

3. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.
Favorite character: Mitchell Sanders or Kiowa

4. 1984 by George Orwell.
Favorite character: Honestly, this is more a book where I remember themes stronger than characters. I remember Winston and Julia but I don't remember particularly liking either of them.

5. Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller.
Favorite character: Well, I feel weird answering this because it's nonfiction, and these people aren't characters; they're real people. I guess Don because it's his story.

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
Favorite character: John

7. The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden.
Favorite character: Ellie, closely followed by Homer

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.
Favorite character: Lucy

9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
Favorite character: Lord Henry

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Favorite character: Liesel

11. Jesus for President by Shaine Claiborne.
Favorite character: Jesus

12. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.
Favorite character: Don, I guess. Again, I FEEL WEIRD.

13. The Bible by Various Authors/God.
Favorite character: Jesus/Yeshua

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Own Love Triangles: Part One

It seems like a lot of stories these days have love triangles. Some are well done, some aren’t. Some readers are sick of them, some can’t get enough. This is a post for those who can’t get enough.

Promising Light has a bit of a love triangle, at least at first. Grace is secretly seeing Dar until an anonymous man warns her that he’s dangerous. When Dar hears of this, he leaves the country. The prince shows his interest in Grace soon after Dar’s departure, even asking her to accompany him on a royal trip. Grace thinks the prince is charming, but she can’t seem to leave Dar behind.

I had my own love triangle when I was a teenager. I was fifteen and going out with a boy named Nick. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent. . .and the not-so-innocent.) We went to school together. We had a lot of fun together, but we were also kind of moody and would have random, unprovoked arguments. Nick was funny and very nice to me. We thought the other was awesome.

I left for the summer to work at a Christian summer camp. I was a waitress, and it was my first real job. I’d gone to this camp for years and I was ecstatic to finally work there! While there, I met a boy named Alex. He was quiet and played hard-to-get, but over the first few weeks, we started to like each other.

For those of you who have never worked at a summer camp, I’m not sure if you understand how much of a different world it is. Especially when you’re fifteen. No parents. Rules are barely enforced. Just do your work and have fun on your off-hours. I got caught up in this other world where I stayed up until two playing video games, stargazing at the campfire pit, watching scary movies, walking home in the dark. My mind revolved around camp and the people there, not the boyfriend I’d left behind.

Unfortunately, flighty fifteen-year-old I was, I cheated on Nick with Alex. I tried not to, honestly, but I was all about instant gratification. I saw Alex nearly everyday. I talked to Nick every couple days. I saw him on the weekends when me and my friends would decide to stay at my parents’ house instead of at camp, but generally, Alex was a much more pressing matter in my mind. I could talk to him and touch him and flirt with him. I didn’t have to wait until I got home.

During that time, I was probably like one of those characters in young adult novels that you just want to hit with a log truck. All she cares about is her current romantic interest. Not her friends or family or job. Alex, Alex, Alex. When it was happening, I was having the time of my life. I looked forward to every minute with Alex. He was intoxicating. Occasionally, we’d have slip-ups. Why isn’t he talking to me today? Why can’t my best friend just let us hang out for a little while? And the main question, what’s going to happen to us after the summer?

I finally broke up with Nick. Coward that I was, I lied about Alex. I didn’t want to hurt him, so I kept the truth from him. Well, Nick wasn’t stupid.

I planned to stay a couple weeks after the main summer camps ended to work in the kitchen. Alex planned on it, too, as well as some of our other friends. Suddenly, though, Alex’s mom died, and he went home early. I remember trying to comfort him after I found out, trying to imagine what that would feel like. He left before we talked about our future. To be honest, that was pretty much the end.

We talked a few times on the phone after that, but it wasn’t like it used to be. I thought maybe we’d talk everyday and make drives to see each other every now and then. I thought we’d talk on AIM or e-mail or something. He was busy with life, though, and I went back to school, where Nick was.

Nick didn’t believe my lies about Alex and he told most of his friends that he thought I cheated on him. I still denied it, and my friends tried to stick up for me. Nick and I liked being around each other again. We had fun together. We played a few games of truth or dare. Then we ended up going out again. I don’t know why Nick trusted me, but I told him it would never happen again.

Fortunately, it didn’t. But we grew apart. I remember at the end, we hadn’t talked for days. I don’t even remember why. He came to my locker and I said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He said, “Neither do I.” That was the end. It was a mostly amicable breakup, and we stayed friends for the rest of the year. Occasionally, he’d tease me about Alex.
It took me months to get over Alex. I’d cry and cry, wondering he’d ever truly loved me or if he’d lied just to make-out with me. Who knows? We were fifteen and in love. I fell in love easily. I’ve probably spent the last ten years of my life in love! But, to me, being in love is just a feeling, an emotion that can pass quickly. I found that out with most of my boyfriends. I’d fall in love and then be bored with them a couple months later.

That changed, though, when I met Chris. . .but you'll see more of that in part two, coming next week. Yes, another love triangle!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Books Read in 2011

I aimed for 50, and I only got 37! :(

1. Great House by Nicole Krauss
2. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
6. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
7. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
8. The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers
9. Hush Money by Susan Bischoff
10. The Night is for Hunting by John Marsden
11. The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden
12. The Alchemaster's Apprentice by Walter Moers
13. Bossypants by Tina Fey
14. Gone by Michael Grant
15. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
16. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
17. Fire by Kristin Cashore
18. Uncommon Magic by Michelle Scott
19. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
20. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
21. 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
22. Room by Emma Donoghue
23. Solstice by P.J. Hoover
24. Eden by Keary Taylor
25. Theft of Swords by Michael Sullivan
26. Heroes 'Til Curfew by Susan Bischoff
27. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
28. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
29. Obernwetyn by Isobelle Carmody
30. Becoming by Raine Thomas
31. Divergent by Veronica Roth
32. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
33. Tempest by Julie Cross
34. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
35. Smokeless Fire by Samantha Young
36. Moon Spell by Samantha Young
37. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Sample Sunday: Number Six in Beyond Home

From the second short story in Beyond Home, Number Six. Here are the first 700 words (even!)


She was running down the sidewalk, and the train of her dress dragged along the ground, collecting all the dirt of New York City. After looking around frantically, she burst into the coffee shop in which Sean was sitting.

He couldn’t help but stare, along with everyone else. Is that Abigail?

Her curls were coming undone, and her makeup was smeared by her tears. With perfect composure, she moved to the bar and sat next to Sean. Her wedding dress poofed up around her, covering half of Sean’s leg.

“Can I get a coffee?” she asked the waitress.

He cleared his throat. “Abigail?”

She looked at him with wide eyes. “How—oh. Sean.” She grabbed a napkin from the silver dispenser between them and loudly blew her nose.

“Are you okay?” he asked, fiddling with his newspaper.

Abigail wiped her eyes with another napkin. “Oh, I’ve been better.”

“I didn’t know you were engaged.” He wanted to take the words back as soon as he said them. All he knew about Abigail was the contents of her computer, which he’d saved a month ago from a nasty virus.

She laughed loudly and covered her mouth to hide more giggles. The waitress came over with her cup of coffee, and Abigail nodded to her with a beaming smile. She put three scoops of sugar into the coffee and smiled at Sean. “I think that’s the first time I’ve laughed all day.”

He shrugged. “I guess my awkwardness has its uses.”

“I guess so.” She sipped her coffee and took a deep breath. “What a day.”

Sean folded his newspaper and smoothed it flat. Since meeting Abigail two weeks ago, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. She was funny, flirty, smart, gorgeous. . .and now she was sitting next to him in a wedding dress. Not exactly the setting he’d been expecting when he saw her again. “How’s your computer been?”

“Oh, great.” She nodded. “Works like new.”

How had he missed that huge engagement ring before? He wondered how much it had cost. When she’d brought her computer in, she told him she’d pay anything to fix it. Apparently money wasn’t an issue for her fiancĂ©, either.

Abigail held up her hand, looking at her ring. “I never wore this when I came around your shop.”

“Yeah, I was wondering how I could miss something like that.”

She shrugged and sipped her coffee again.

He wanted to ask if she decided not to wear it because of him or for some other reason. Instead, he asked, “Can I pay for your coffee?”

She looked at him, embarrassed. “Sure. I haven’t got any money on me.” She paused. “I was going to give her my ring.” She let out a laugh, but it was empty.

“No,” he said, “you should keep that.”

She avoided his eyes. “Right. I’m sure he’ll be wanting it back.”

Sean glanced out the window. “Where did you come from?”

“The Marriott Hotel on 85th and Albany. I think I lost them, though. . .well, it was just my mom after four blocks.” She sighed, putting her head in her hands.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said. “I was going to get married once.”

Abigail looked at him. “You were?”

“Yeah, but she didn’t like it when I talked to strangers in coffee shops,” Sean said. The bride smiled. “Seriously, we were engaged, and she had everything planned out. A month before the wedding, I came home and she had all of her stuff packed up. She moved to Hawaii and married one of those entertainers in the cheesy tourist hotels.”

Abigail narrowed her eyes. “Are you making this up?”

Sean laughed. “I wish. Trust me.”

She took another drink of her coffee, then started playing with the ring on her finger. Sean remembered the ring he’d bought Teresa. It was much smaller, but she had cried when he brought it out, and then spent the next few days staring at it.

“It’s so weird that you’re here,” Sean said. “I was just thinking about you this morning.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “I just ran away from my wedding, and you’re hitting on me?”


Beyond Home is only 99 cents on Amazon and Smashwords. Coming to B&N soon!

Happy New Year, by the way!