Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Feature: A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston




"I have never been useless in my life…"

Rescued from a life of servitude by the boy she loves, Susanna Marsh escapes across two centuries, only to be plunged into a world she's ill-prepared to face. Unable to work or go to school, Susanna finds herself dependent on others to survive.

Immersed in the fun and demands of his senior year of high school, Mark Lewis longs to share his world with the girl who's captured his heart. But first he must tackle government bureaucracy to prove Susanna's identity.

Overwhelmed by her new home, Susanna seeks refuge in history and in news of the people she left behind. But when she learns that danger stalks her sister, Susanna must weigh whether to risk her own future in order to save Phoebe's happiness.


If you haven't read Whisper Falls yet, the first book in this series, you should. I loved it. Mark and Susanna are from different times, yet that doesn't stop them from falling for each other and their story is both touching and exciting to read. Elizabeth was nice enough to share a scene from A Whisper In Time, which releases April 8, 2014 through Spencer Hill Press. I'm really looking forward to it.


Excerpt:
Setting up the scene: A Whisper In Time begins five weeks after Whisper Falls ends.  Susanna has immigrated across two centuries and doesn't understand how modern America works. One weekday, left alone at Mark's house, she finds herself locked out.


It took very few moments to discover that every door at Mark's house was locked.

I tried the garage last. It had a keypad that could raise the garage door, if only I could remember the correct numbers.

Mark said that the numbers changed each month and reflected a special occasion. What was the holiday for September? Had it not occurred this Sunday?

9-1-1. Yes, that had to be it. I pressed the three buttons.

Nothing happened. 

I tried again. There was no difference. Perhaps I should abandon the keypad and seek an open window instead.

I walked to the driveway and then assessed the distance from the ground to the window of the studio apartment over the garage.

A vehicle rolled behind me on the lane and stopped. A car door shut slowly with a deep ker-thunk. I glanced over my shoulder. A man in a dark uniform approached. He must be a member of law enforcement. An unfortunate circumstance.

"Hello," I said, clasping my hands before me. "Are you a police officer?"

"I am," he said, his voice clipped. "Who are you?"

"Susanna. How may I help you?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing."

Were there not crimes to manage in this city? My problem seemed entirely too mundane to concern the police. "I cannot get into the house."

"Why not?"

"It ís locked, and the keypad doesn't work."

"Ah. Do you know the combination?"

"Apparently not, else I should be inside now."

His eyes narrowed. "Is this your house?"

"No, indeed. It belongs to the Lewis family, but I do sleep here."

"Where do you sleep?"

"In the space over the garage."

"Miss, Iíll need to see some ID."

"I do not have any."

"Is your ID in the space over the garage too?"

Had he not heard me? "I have no identification card. The government will not give me one." I shook my head. America was far too concerned with identification.

"Miss, why don't you come with me?" He caught my elbow and tried to tug me down the driveway.

"Pardon me, sir," I said, pulling my arm from his grasp. "It isn't proper for you to touch me so."

He reached for me again. "Okay, that ís enough."


Have you read Whisper Falls yet? What do you think of this excerpt?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition


If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.

Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.

Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.

Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.

I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Mishmash 4/14/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. YA Fest  I'll be at YA Fest this Saturday (April 19th) signing copies of Touch of Death, Stalked by Death, and Face of Death. I'll also have plenty of SWAG including bookmarks, zombie limb candy, and buttons. I'm excited.
  2. Revisions  I'm currently revising three of my novels all on deadlines ranging from tomorrow to May 15th. I love revising. It's when I really get attached to my characters.
  3. Client edits  I'm also editing for clients. I have several edits scheduled through this month and May, which always makes me happy.
  4. Spring pictures  I'm working at my daughter's school on Wednesday for spring pictures. It's always fun to see the kids dressed up.
  5. Happy Holidays!  I wish you all a very happy Easter and Passover. 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Feature: Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters


My name is Alyson Joanne Devlin, but everyone calls me AJ. I have two best friends, Julie and Jaime, a champion mare, and a great family. Then Celine Carroll came to town, and brought disaster with her. Celine took over my life. Celine took over Julie and Jaime, who aren’t my BFFs any more. Celine caused me to get hurt in cheerleading. 

Speaking of cheerleading, my new partners are Lisa and Amberley, (thanks to Celine), who are the most disliked girls in school. And that’s not all. My parents are divorcing. My mare got hurt. There’s a new woman in my dad’s life. My whole world is upside down. I mean, you’d think Celine was some kind of evil omen, wouldn’t you? Although, Amberley becomes the one bright light in…well, I guess you’ll have to read my story to learn about Amberley, and what happens to her, to me, and to Celine.

Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters by Mikki Sadil
Genre Tween Contemporary Fiction
Pages  231

Excerpt:
Celine led us into the open kitchen/family room. A large gold-framed painting of Celine sitting astride a Thoroughbred and holding a silver trophy hung over the fireplace. Other framed paintings of horses, some with Celine, hung all over the walls. Most of them had blue ribbons next to them. I looked over at Julie, and she mouthed silently, “Wow!”
None of my friends’ family rooms looked like this. Ours always looked lived in, with dust on the coffee table, a few books lying around, and one of the twins’ games left forgotten on the floor. We had pictures of the twins and Andrew on their horses, and several of Sunni and me, but none of them were in gold frames. Ours was a real family room, not an art gallery like this. And it sure didn’t smell like fresh roses, either; more like…well, horses and whatever we had for dinner the night before.
Celine said, “Come on into the kitchen. You can sit at the bar, and I’ll get some snacks.”
A few minutes later, Julie, Jaime, and Celine were laughing and talking like they’d been friends forever, while I nibbled on chips and sipped my soda. I licked my lips, savoring the salty rim the chips left. The soda was cold and crisp going down my sore throat, but I almost choked on it when I heard some of the things Celine told the Js. The way they ate up all the stuff she told them about her very rich life in New York made them look as if they were hypnotized. I wasn’t buying it.
I felt neglected and angry. The Js and I were best friends. Now this Celine chick popped up out of nowhere, and they were acting like I wasn’t even in the same room.
I slipped off the stool and looked at the horse pictures. Across the hall was an open door leading to another large room. Since no one had even noticed I wasn’t at the bar, I walked over and peered inside. There were two big desks covered with computers, monitors, and more telephones than we had in our whole house.
Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed my shoulder. It hurt so bad I thought someone had put me in a vice.
A rough voice said, “Who are you and what are you doing snooping around? Answer me!”
I struggled to turn around and wished I hadn’t. The woman holding me looked positively evil. She was tall and skinny, with blunt cut black hair that barely touched her shoulders, and the meanest eyes I’d ever seen. Her face was broad and covered by acne pits. A long scar ran from the corner of her left eye, across her nose, down her right cheek and disappeared somewhere under her shoulder-length hair.
For the first time in my life, I knew exactly what that old cliché meant about something “making your skin crawl.”
She grabbed my other shoulder and shook me. Her hands were big, almost like a man’s, and they felt like steel.
I cleared my throat and tried not to sound as scared as I felt. “Uh, my friends and I…we…uh…we’re here with Celine. I was just looking at all the horse pictures and saw this room. I’m sorry if I did anything wrong.”
The woman looked me over from head to toe, then gave me a hard push. “Go back to your friends, and don’t ever let me catch you anywhere near this room again. You hear me?”
I felt like saying, “Or what?” but figured that might not be such a good idea. I nodded and backed away. Still scowling, she went into the room and slammed the door.
I walked back to where the Js and Celine were sitting. They were still laughing and talking. Obviously, they hadn’t even noticed I’d been gone.
“Hey,” I said abruptly, “it’s been fun, but I have homework and barn chores to do. Julie and Jaime, we still have more work to do on the history project. What time do you want to come over tonight so we can work on it?”
The Js looked at each other. “Um, AJ, since Celine is new and doesn’t have a science partner, she’s going to work with us. We’re coming back here tonight. That way we can show her what we are doing, so she can catch up.” Julie didn’t look at me.
It got real quiet all of a sudden. The Js had funny little half-smiles on their faces, but Celine definitely had a smirk on hers. Yeah, they were hypnotized all right.
“Fine, do what you want. I have to go.” I strolled out of the kitchen, deliberately brushing some chip crumbs from my shirt on the snowy white carpet. I slammed the front door, pulled on my shoes,, and ran down the driveway.

Find Mikki on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writer Wednesday: My Writing Process Blog Tour


I've been tagged by the lovely Fiona Phillips to talk about my writing process. So, here I go!

I primarily write young adult speculative fiction, but I also write middle grade and picture books because I love children's books in general. I'm the author of the Touch of Death series through Spencer Hill Press, which can be found here.

What am I working on?
Lots of stuff, as always. I'm revising three sequels right now, all set to come out in 2015. I'm also writing a new book that is so top secret I can't talk about it yet. ;) And I'm getting ready for the release of The Monster Within in June.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love to find ways to twist plots so they aren't just more of what's already been done. So far I've written about descendants of Medusa, psychic vampires, and Phoenixes. I love anything out of the ordinary and that helps as far as making sure my work is unique.

Why do I write what I do?
I've always felt that paranormal and fantasy are like the real world only better. I find writing this genre is a great way to escape from life for a little while and step into something a little more interesting.

How does my writing process work?
I spend a lot of time plotting books before I start drafting, but then I typically let my characters take over and throw out my original planning because my characters are much smarter than I am. I also like to fast draft, writing as much as 18K in one day. I find the story flows better when I write that quickly.

Here's who's up next week for the My Writing Process Blog Hop:

Beth Fred: Beth Fred is the author of Fate of a Marlowe Girl, The Other Marlowe Girl, and A Missing Peace.

Kym BrunnerKym Brunner dreams entire books in her head, but then needs about a year to write the whole thing down. She wishes there was an app for this. When she's not writing, she's teaching 7th grade or watching movies, reality TV, or scoping out the social media scene. Friend her at Author Kym Brunner or find her on Goodreads.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Mishmash 4/7/14


  1. Revising  I'm working on revisions for Perfect For You and Out of the Ashes this week. The first is off of editorial notes, and the second is a sequel under contract that I have to submit to my editor by the 15th.
  2. Editing  I'm also editing for clients, which always makes me happy.
  3. Family Expo  I had a blast at the Family Expo yesterday. It's always fun to talk to people about what I do for a living.
  4. Home Improvements  We are prepping for an addition and buying lighting and other fun stuff. I'm dreading the construction but really excited to have it finished.
  5. Prepping a Giveaway for The Monster Within  We're almost two months away from the release of The Monster Within. I'm planning a giveaway with a gift card and lots of goodies. :) Stay tuned!
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Feature: Finding Me by Dawn Brazil



Sixteen-year-old Chloe Carmichael’s perfect world is in chaos.

It’s not because she has a vision of her boyfriend murdered. And then he’s found dead exactly as she saw. It’s not because she suddenly has the ability to move objects when she’s upset. It’s kinda cool to close a door without touching it. It’s not her overbearing mother who only cares about appearances. Chloe’s grown accustomed to her family’s distance. 

So what has Chloe cringing in fear?
It’s a love that defies reason.  It’s a love that speaks to the heart. It demands attention. But Chloe struggles with a love that exposes the soul. What will her family think? What will her friends think? And is she worthy of his love.

And it’s having to become another person for a new group of people. Chloe knows she’s not perfect but apparently she was when she was Amanda in another life. Her new friends won’t let her forget. It’s the stench of death that hoovers over her every move. It’s the threat of finality as she tries to acclimate to a life of super human proportions. It’s an enemy she can’t see, doesn’t remember, and can be anyone she’s ever known. But her enemy knows her well. She’s the lone person with the knowledge to destroy him. But she doesn’t remember.


And it’s never discovering who she really is before finality meets reality.

Excerpt:

I forced my eyes upward. My mind cascaded over all the things I could say. I knew I shouldn’t allow him to bully me. My thoughts scattered, the right words slipped away. “I…no…you are not–”

My head jerked back suddenly, casting a dozen sparkling stars across my eyes, and a bolt of electricity shot up my spine. The zap was so intense, I stumbled, face-first to the floor. The fall should have thrown me to the smooth, dry surface of the wood floor of the school hallway.

It didn’t.

My hands met moisture. My eyes bulged as I took in what lay beneath them: grass.

I lifted my head to scan the area, stunned to silence. A sea of green enveloped me. The urge to scream overpowered everything, but I fought it. I clasped my hands to my mouth to muffle the sound that escaped anyway.  
         
The football field stretched before me.                
                                            
How can I be here? This isn’t possible. I scrambled to my feet, spun around, and gazed at the school I’d been in moments ago. I shut my eyes tight. “Please let me be back in the school, about to have the biggest fight with Zack,” I said aloud.  

My heart thrummed at my chest, but my eyes remained shut, afraid of what I might find once I dared a peek. But standing with them closed wasn’t an option. A crow cawed overhead to urge me on. My eyes sprang open. 

Confusion twisted away at my insides. Why was I still on the field? I swallowed back the lump in my throat and ran a shaky hand through my thick hair that continually blew into my face, obstructing my vision.    
                       
Straining against the glare of the midday sun, I tripped, my feet two cinderblocks in my boots. For late August, the Manhattan wind that kicked up seemed to scream winter and not fall. I tucked the unruly strands of hair, tossed about by the rebel wind, behind my ear and took another reluctant step forward. That was when I saw it. The crimson red thrust against the emerald green of the field. The colors blended, reminding me of Freddy Krueger’s sweater in A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was a lot of blood in that movie. And I was pretty certain blood was the red part I saw on the field.

I gasped. My breath caught in my throat and the stench of copper invaded my nostrils. I fought against the urge to vomit, yet couldn’t contain the desire to move closer.

I’d never seen a dead body before.

After a few steps, my feet refused their forward motion. Fear raced slick and hot up my spine. The familiar face taunted me. It should; I knew it well. It belonged to Zack.  
                      
I fell to the ground near his body. Confused, emotions swirled. My heart raced and my stomach flipped. I leaned forward to grasp the rigid turf as a wave of nausea rocked my body. But I refused to look away.

I searched his open eyes, as dark and bleak as night, unable to comprehend what I saw. His gaze was blank. Two holes that lead to nothing but emptiness. I extended my hand to close them. Tears fell over my outstretched arm as I inched my hand toward him. Fear pierced my resolve. I tried to choke back the fear. It lingered.                                                                                   


*Finding Me is free for five days, starting on the official release date, April 2!!!*
 
About the Author:
Dawn Brazil writes books for Young Adults. Her debut novel, Finding Me, is an Urban fantasy and is releasing officially on April 2, 2014. She also writes science fiction and romance but will read anything with great characters. She is currently writing a novella titled, Finding Her, from her character Chris's point of view from Finding Me. She lives in South Texas with her husband, three kids, and her great big imagination. For more useless information about Dawn check out her Blog @ http://dawnbrazil.blogspot.com or Facebook page - www.facebook.com/authordawnbrazil- where she is the most annoyingly random person in America. Or find her on Twitter @dawnbrazil, where her randomness can be quite annoying but thankfully is restrained to 140 characters.

Find Dawn online: