Category Archives: Author Interviews

Review & Interview: Fault Line by Christa Desir


13482832Fault Line by Christa Desir

Published October 15, 2013 by Simon Pulse

Source: Hardcover from publisher in exchange of an honest review.

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buy from amazonBen could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

My Thoughts

My first thought was “Wow, this author is so brave to write a book about such a taboo subject!” Once I got into the guts of the book itself, my next thought was “holy crap! This author really gets into specifics!” My final thought after reading the book in it’s entirety was “I hope this author will be writing a sequel?”

Fault Line is not for the faint at heart! If you are not interested in hearing gory details regarding a rape victim, then maybe this is not the book for you. Ms. Desir did not hold back and I really loved that aspect of the book. I enjoyed feeling the different emotions, gasping in shock and tearing up right along with the characters.

Ben could basically have any girl he wants, but as soon as he meets Ani, his mind is made up. Ani is literally a free spirit. She has no filter and tells it exactly like it is. The beginning of the book is all about their relationship and how happy they seemed to have made each other. Disaster strikes one evening at a party and Ben tries his hardest to bring his old Ani back to him.

Let’s talk Ani…I personally loved her but had such a hard time picturing someone so strong in personality turning into the mess she was by the end of the book. By the end, I was astonished at some of the things that she was doing. I literally had my mouth hanging open and my eyes were bugging out!

On the topic of Ben…The whole book is from Ben’s POV. This was an extremely unique concept to write a book about how the boyfriend deals with what he is going through when his girlfriend is sexually assaulted. I loved Ben. He seemed to be written like perfect boyfriend material. He literally stuck with Ani through thick and thin.

The ending kind of through me for a loop! The story just sort of stopped and the writer has an extremly good explanation for why she had done this. The build up at the end was heart wrenching and just came to an abrupt hault! Even with an ending like that, I still really enjoyed the book. I had started this book immediately upon getting it in the mail and finished it in one sitting. There was no putting it down once I started. I would not have been able to sleep if I had to wonder what would happen with these characters.

The cover is interesting in itself and if you end up reading the book, you will find out why it fits perfectly.

If you can get past the content and really focus on the story and what can and does happen every day. I guarentee that you will love this book too!

5 stars

And now, It is with great pleasure that I welcome Ms. Christa Desir to the blog! Christa was nice enough to answer some questions for me and I really wanted to share them here with you!

NR- I love the character of Ben. I also love the idea of a story from the boyfriend’s POV. Was this your plan from the beginning when writing this book or did it just sort of come to fruition like that?

Christa- Yes, it was always from a boyfriend’s POV. I’ve had many good guys in my life, I’ve known many good teen guys, I wanted to write a book about sexual assault where they could identify with someone who wasn’t the perpetrator. That even the stupid things Ben did, they could think, “Yeah, he’s doing stupid things, but he really does have good intentions.” I think having a rape book in the YA cannon that boys can read and talk about and not feel vilified by is integral to starting real conversations between all teens.

 NR- I know that you had previously worked with rape victims, how did you get involved in that capacity?

Christa- When I got out of college, I volunteered on a D/V hotline. After about a year of doing that, I wanted to be more on the front lines of helping people so I started working as a rape victim advocate in hospital ERs. I did that for almost ten years. I saw lots of things, horrible things that make you question people’s humanity and beautiful that make you realize that there are angels in this world in the form of doctors and nurses and friends and partners who care deeply and want to do the right thing for survivors. Ben & Ani’s story is fiction, but I say all the time, it is sort of everyone’s story, everyone who has experienced rape themselves or in a person they love.

NR- Any advice for a family member/friend of someone that has been sexually assaulted?

Christa- My advice always starts with saying “I believe you and I’m sorry this happened.” We forget that rape victims aren’t required to tell us their stories. If they want to share, then listen and hold their hand if they want. But don’t insist they share. Do everything you can to re-empower them. To me, this is giving them as many choices as you possibly can. Also, I think anyone who is touched by this either as a friend/family person of someone assaulted or the victim her/himself should reach out to talk to someone on the RAINN hotline (1-800-656-HOPE). But again, never force a survivor to do this. Allow them the space to make decisions on their own, regain some of the power that was taken away from them.

NR- I know that you must have received a lot of emails/messages about the ending of the book. What was your reason to leave it so open ended?

Christa- I actually wrote a whole blog about this. (http://christaramblesandwrites.blogspot.com/2013/10/on-open-ending-in-fault-line.html). I stand by what I say in that blog. Rape isn’t tidy. It isn’t over after the half hour. Mine occurred over 30 years ago and I’m still living with it. This story was always about Ben figuring out what he could and could not do to help Ani. It was about Ben learning that you can’t force healing on a survivor, you can’t dictate the timeline. For me, the ending was Ben’s ending because he finally understood what we the reader knew all along.

NR- I also know that there are a lot of people that would love to see a follow up to this book. Me, Me!!! Would there be any chance of a sequel from Ani’s point of view while in recovery?

Christa- To be really honest, I don’t think I could ever write this story from Ani’s POV. With Ben, I was able to find a little personal distance. But being inside Ani’s head, having to battle shame and doubt and culpability, I think it would break me a little. My story is not Ani’s, but I live with my own shame and culpability every day. When I was younger, that was around me getting into a stranger’s car when I knew I shouldn’t have. As I’ve gotten older, my shame is around the fact that I didn’t tell anyone what happened to me for almost ten years and there’s a very good chance that the perpetrator did it again. I’ve had a long road of trying to reconcile this, but I think I’d always be too close to the rawness of Ani’s feelings to do her story justice.

 This or That:

Ice Cream or Cake? Cheese (sorry, I’m salty more than sweetJ)

 Hard Cover or E book? Hard Cover (I read manuscript submissions on my e-reader for my day job so I avoid e-books)

Dog or Cat? I have a dog, I wish I had a cat but my son is allergic. I love my dog, but I had a superhero cat that was the best animal ever.

 Summer or Winter? Summer

 Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

 One last question,

NR- What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Christa- Well, pretty soon ARCs will be available for my second book BLEED LIKE ME which comes out in Fall 2014. I have several other projects in the fire at varying degrees of completion. I’m NaNoing a book with no swears that is sort of sentimental and sweet (I like challengesJ). I’ve completed an even darker book than FAULT LINE about a sexual predator, but I’m sitting on it for a while because I don’t think I’m ready to put it out in the world. I have a collaboration with Jolene Perry that I completely love (news on this one soon!). I have a girl-girl love story that is half-written. I have a crazy YA American Psycho-type horror novel that needs to be revised. I’m a mess of projects, honestly.

Thank you Christa for taking the time to answer my questions! Also, thanks to Simon Pulse fo the hardcover review copy!! You rock:)

Signature

Review: Dance For Me by Helena Newberry with Guest Post &Giveaway!


dance for mePublished June 25, 2013 by Foster & Black New Adult

Source: E-copy from author in exchange of an honest review

Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries…or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.

Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.

As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses…but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

My Thoughts

I have been reading a lot of NA titles lately. I love the romance factor and seeing how the characters finally end up together! The swoony guys do help a lot:)

This book did not disappoint on the swoon factor! The alternating POV’s were fantastic and I enjoy getting inside both the main characters heads!!!

Both of these characters are broken. They both lost their parents to tragic accidents. Natasha put all her energy into dance while Darrell put all of his energy into his work. Darrell was in need of a muse to help him with his current project and once he got Natasha in his sites, he needed her to help. At first Natasha thought he was some crazy psycho but as they get to know each other, they both let their guard down.

Of course, the book would be boring if they didn’t have their ups and downs but, in the end, their relationship was beautiful and they both learn to let go of their past.

The book was an easy, short read. I recommend it to any NA lover. This being the first book in The Fenbrook Acedemy Series, I really look forward to the next one, In Harmony!

wpid-41.pngGuest Post

What is this New Adult Thing, Anyway?

Is it a sub-genre of romance? Well, yes, in terms of how Amazon has categorized it (Romance -> New Adult and College), but they’re not trying to define it. So far, NA has been leaning heavily towards romance, but I think that’s purely because the first big books out of the gate have been romance. YA Urban Fantasy, YA Horror and YA Sci-Fi work just fine, so there’s no reason NA InsertGenreOfYourChoice wouldn’t work as well. So New Adult Romance is big, but I don’t think all New Adult has to be romance.

Incidentally, I’ve found I have to write it as New Adult romance, or throw a comma in there. If I say “I’m writing a new adult romance” it can sound like I’m writing a brand new Fifty Shades of Grey ;)

So if it isn’t romance, what is it? Is it characters with big problems? Certainly a lot of NA romance characters do have troubled pasts. But my theory is that that’s just a surface aspect of something underneath.

I think that YA is about becoming an adult.

I think that NA is “OK, I’m an adult: now what?”

Maybe you’ve been prepared for a certain adult life and it isn’t what you expected – instead of going to Harvard you find yourself raising a child. Maybe you get exactly the life you wanted, only to find it’s not what you need. You marry the guy of your dreams and move to a big house…and then realize you’re in love with someone else. Maybe you find yourself in a new city, with new friends and new possibilities and discover that you aren’t the person you thought you were. And you’re trying to manage all of this not at school, with parents you can talk to and close friends you can confide in and a safe home you can come back to at night no matter what, but on your own, in a new city and a new job, and however bad things get, you have to keep the rent paid. You have responsibilities. You turn around and, for the first time ever, Mom and Dad aren’t there.

That’s NA, to me. It’s about being Newly Adult, and figuring out what sort of adult you’re going to be and what sort of mark you want to leave on the world.

About the Author

I’m a New Adult Romance author who loves writing about what happens when love and dreams collide with the real world. I wrote my first novel, Dance for Me, in daily chunks in a very busy, very noisy coffee shop, which meant I had to order a black Americano every hour, on the hour, to keep my seat and wound up wired on caffeine most days. Unlike my characters, I can’t dance.

Social Media Links

Blog: http://helenanewbury.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenaAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenaNewburyAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenanewburyauthor

Google+: http://gplus.to/HelenaNewbury

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/helenanewbury/

Mailing list sign-up: http://eepurl.com/zmvuH

Giveaway

Ms. Newbury is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

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H. Lee1

Review: Angel Of Mercy by Shannon Dermott with exclusive interview!


angel of mercyPublished July 3, 2013 by Wicked Truth

Source: E-copy from author in exchange of an honest review

Mercy struggles to put the broken pieces of her life back together, including her relationship. With loss that cuts deep, she’s on a mission to make right all the things that have gone wrong. But nothing is ever that easy. And she’s determined not to stay in the dark any longer.

With someone hell bent on coming between her and her heart, her perilous adventures run light speed ahead. She’s forced her to face her own limitations and need to be able to protect herself. But it’s not only her life in jeopardy. Who will ultimately determine her fate and that of her friends?

My Thoughts

This is the third book in the Cambion Series and if you had not heard of it yet, you really NEED to get right on that!!! *seriously! GO NOW!* The series is about a teenage succubus named Mercy and her group of crazy friends which includes an incubus, an angel and a demon. Sooo good!!!

This particular book in the series in my opinion, was the best yet!!! I may have said that about the last book which just proves that they keep getting better and better:-)

Mercy feels like everything in her life is beyond her control. She is trying to just keep some type of control over McKayla, her succubus, and to keep everyone she loves safe. Her relationship with Luke is a bit strained and it gets even more strained in this book! Sebastian is still trying to get her to choose him, which I hope never happens! I am not a big Sebastian fan. Her Mom is going a tad bit crazy and has a hard time keeping her temper under wraps and Flynn, oh, oh sweet Flynn is still trying to cover up his feelings:-(

This book was seriously addictive! It had so much action and rarely a dull or down moment. That ending was a WHOPPER!!! I definitely didn’t see that coming. I admit, I was crying!!! Hell, I was crying through the first chapter of the book!

Now, yet again, I am IMPATIENTLY waiting for the next book!!!

5.5

 

Interview with Shannon Dermott

Hi Shannon! *waves*

(Waves back) Hi Heather.

Thank you for being here with us today on NightlyReading. I must say Angel of Mercy was spectacular and my favorite book out of the series so far! So much seems to happen and Mercy does a lot of battling herself as well as others.

I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for having me.

How many books can we expect?

The series was originally outlined at six books. But I’ve always said 4-6 books because I wasn’t sure if I could fill the pages of six books. I may be able to wrap up the series in the next book. We will see. I don’t want to rush the finale either.

I know that the ending was very unexpected, at least to me. Are you expecting your readers to be very upset over what has happened?

Yes. I imagined that no matter who the reader was rooting for, I would have some unhappy readers based on events throughout the book and the ending. L However, I’ve been surprised by the support and faith by most of the fans of the series. They trust in me that everything happens for a reason and it will work out the way it was meant to.

Now, I know whom my favorite character is! Of course it’s a swoony boy! But, which character is your favorite to write?

As far as favorite character to write, each holds a special place. And I love writing the bonus POVs from each book getting inside the guy’s heads and telling their side of the story. I also think it gives the reader more insight to the series since it’s told in first person from Mercy’s point of view.

I have just recently purchased the paperback copy of Beg For Mercy on Amazon. Can we expect publication in paperback for the others in the series as well? I would love to have all of them to “pretty up” my shelves;)

Waiting for Mercy is available in paperback. Angel of Mercy will be in paperback soon. Also, Beg for Mercy will be available in audio in the coming months. It’s being produced now.

And lastly, what are you working on at the moment? Anything new?

I always have ideas. And many get shelved in favor of others. But currently, Through the Lens, my YA contemporary romance novel, is in the final stages of audio production and will be released in a few weeks. (Should be available sometime in August). I’m working on its sequel, Broken Lens. I’m also working on the sequel to my adult mini-series, Liabilities. I’m still editing Remember. And of course, I’ve written a few chapters for the next Mercy book. I tend to work on multiple projects at the same time going with what muse provides me with the most inspiration at that time.

Thank you for stopping by Shannon! I really look forward to the next book in The Cambion Series!! FLYNN *la swoon*

Thanks again Heather for having me.

H. Lee1

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear, 3 Character Interviews!


Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Publication: August 8th 2012 by Flux

Add it to Goodreads

Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock’s hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer’s eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

Interviews

Noli Braddock

 

  1. Your demographics? Name, age, where you live?

My Name is Magnolia Braddock, though most people call me Noli.  I’m sixteen, and I live in Los Angeles with my mother.  My father disappeared six years ago when his team of engineers when to San Francisco to help rebuild after the earthquake. They say he’s dead, but I don’t believe them.  My older brother flies cargo planes and I hardly ever see him anymore.

What do you believe is a person’s first impression of you?

My mother goes on and on about first impressions and how I need to come across as a proper lady so I can marry well and save our family.  A lady doesn’t fix cars, or fly hoverboards, or spend her time working in the garden.  I think someone should be judged by who they are as a person, not how pretty they are, or how much money they have, or what their last name is.

 Do you have a boyfriend? A crush?

Sure, like any guy worth knowing is going to notice me.  Besides, I’d much rather work on my flying car or go hoverboarding in the hills with my friends, than go to stilly balls and worry about meeting the right man and marrying well.  Don’t tell my mother, but I’d really like to go to the University and become a botanist.

Your best friend’s name and how long you have known each other.

My best friend is V Darrow, he lives next door to me and has done so for ages.  He’d rather be reading some silly old book anything else, but he’s always willing to help me fix up the house, or work on my car, or go on an adventure.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Steven “V” Darrow

Your demographics?

 I’m Steven Darrow, though my friend Noli always calls me “V.” I live in Los Angeles with my father and my younger brother and sister.

What do you believe is a person’s first impression of you?

Noli always calls me a “stuffy old bodger” but I should hope people think I’m a studious, responsible, and honorable gentleman.

Do you have a girlfriend? A crush?

I suppose my father may eventually take interests in me enough to arrange a marriage.  Not that I have much use for the girls who live here—especially those silly girls society calls ladies.  There is this girl…but my father would never allow us to be together.

 Your best friend’s name and how long you have known each other.

Noli Braddock’s my neighbor and best friend, even though my father thinks I’m far too old to be friends with a girl.  I’ve never met anyone like her.  Though she spends entirely too much time getting into mischief and I fear one day we may get into a scrape she can’t talk her way out of.

Kevighn Silver

Your demographics? Name, age, where you live?

 I have many names.  Most call me Kevighn Silver, though I am also known as Kevighn Silver-Tongue—for my kisses or my lies, your choice.  I’m huntsman for the High Queen of the Otherworld.  I spent most of my time at the palace or in the mortal realm.

What do you believe is a person’s first impression of you?

I should hope that men fear me and girls fawn upon me and beg for my attention.

Do you have a girlfriend? A crush?

I’d much rather have lady friends than girl friends.  They’re always happy to see you and never natter on and on about where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, or who you’ve been with.  Life is too short to choose just one girl!

 Your best friend’s name and how long you have known each other.

His name is Ciarán and we’ve known each other a very long time.  I’m afraid we’ve lost touch.  Maybe one day I should fix that.  Maybe.

Bio:

Suzanne Lazear is the author of “The Aether Chronicles,” a steampunk series for young adults.  Book one, Innocent Darkness, will be released from Flux in August of 2012.  She always plays with swords, is never described as normal, and has been known to run with bustles. Suzanne lives on the west coast with her daughter, the hubby, a hermit crab, and two chickens where she’s currently attempting to make a raygun to match her ballgown. To see what’s going on in her world visit her blog http://www.suzannewrites.wordpress.com or her website http://www.suzannelazear.com

*Pictures were obtained from Goodreads.com

 

*Thank  you Suzanne for the interviews!

Purchase Innocent Darkness at the following:

Amazon

Auracle by Gina Rosati, Author Interview


Auracle by Gina Rosati

Published August 7th 2012 by Roaring Brook Press

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16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she’s only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there’s a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna’s body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn’t take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.

Interview

Which author inspires you the most and why?

 A.S. King inspires me the most. She stabs her pen right in there and gets to the heart of the matter. She tackles issues that make me squirm and shouts words that make me blush. She says what she means and doesn’t beat around the bush. Her writing style challenges us to stick it in a genre box, but it can’t be done. But the most amazing thing about A.S. King is that she has her priorities straight … every blog, every FB post, every Tweet and acknowledgement page she’s written shows me that she is grateful to have the opportunity to write, to publish, but at the end of the day, people are what matter to her most.

When you are not writing, what are some of your other interests?

-          My husband, teenage son and daughter and two guinea pigs!

-          I’ve volunteered in the schools since my son started kindergarten, and now my main volunteer position is in the middle school library. I love the middle school library!! Kids are just discovering the wonderful world of YA fiction, and I love to share my favorite books with them.

-          I am a crafting junkie! I learned how to crochet when I was six, and I must have made a hundred afghans since. I also needlepoint, cross-stitch, bead (pretty shiny beads are an addiction to me!) and my next endeavor is to learn to spin luscious yarn like fellow author Jodi Meadows (INCARNATE) http://jmeadows.livejournal.com/895225.html

-          I decorate cakes as a hobby, so that’s another place I’d astral project to … Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ to see Buddy (The Cake Boss.)

 If your book was turned into a movie, whom would you cast as the leading role if it was your choice?

Rei – Ryan Higa – If you don’t already subscribe to Ryan’s Youtube channels (he has two) you’re missing out. I first heard about Ryan after the tsunami in Japan when he did a “Honk for Japan” fundraiser on his NigaHiga channel, and he seems like an all-around nice guy with a ton of talent. And he has a really cute puppy!

Anna – Chloë Moretz, although her hair needs to be much darker. She seems to have a ton of energy and that’s what Anna’s all about.

Taylor – Dianna Agron – she has the bitchy thing down to a science. She’s probably one of the sweetest people in real life.

Seth – Keegan Allen – I admit I’ve never seen this guy act, but he has that moody look about him. I also admit that I don’t watch a lot of tv, so if anyone has suggestions, I’m listening.

 

 Thanks Gina for the interview!

Auracle can be purchased at:

B&N|Amazon

 

Breaking Beautiful Character Interview & QMT


Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Published April 24th 2012 by Walker Childrens

Add it to Goodreads

Purchase a copy on Amazon

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Character Interview

1. Your demographics? Name, age, where you live?

My name is Allie Davis. I’m seventeen years old, and I live in Pacific Cliffs, Washington.

2. What do you believe is a person’s first impression of you?

Before the accident people would probably say I was pretty, but because of the way I looked then people thought I was stuck up or full of myself. I’m guess I’m kind of quiet. We moved around a lot so it was hard for me to make friends. Now when people look at me, they probably just wonder how I ended up so freaky looking, and where I got the scars on my face.

3. Do you have a boyfriend? A crush?

I had a boyfriend, Trip, but he was killed in a car accident.

4. Your best friend’s name and how long you have known each other.

Blake is my best, actually, my only friend. We’ve known each other since we were little kids, like maybe three or four. We didn’t live close to each other until a couple of years ago, but I saw him every summer when we came to visit grandma in Pacific Cliffs. Well, except for the two summers we lived in Germany, and the summer when his mom dragged him off to live with her in Reno. Blake probably knows me better than anyone, except for my twin brother Andrew.

*Thank you to Ms. Wolf for introducing us to Allie.

QMT

“But is it worth it?” I looked into his green eyes, so close to mine. “What if the Community is right? Wouldn’t it be better to never feel hurt or pain? Aren’t we better off without it?”

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

__________________________________________________________________________

“Okay,” I agreed. “But we go slow. If you get tired, tell me and we’ll sit. I was serious when I said I couldn’t carry you, so no passing out on me, got it?”

Whisper by Heather Hildenbrand

J. Anderson Coats Guest Blog Post & QMT


I am very excited to have J. Anderson Coats here with us today. Ms. Coats is the author of the book The Wicked and The Just.

What advice would you give to a young teen who dreams of becoming an author?

Read.  Read widely. Read new books, old books, articles.  Read the back of the cereal box.  Immerse yourself in language.  Listen for how different writers sound in your head.  Read in the genre you want to write in.  Read outside of it.  Read things that are praised and things that are panned.  Read.  Everything.  It all has something to teach you.

Write.  Write every day, even if it’s a scribble on a grocery store receipt you pull out of the bottom of your backpack.  Develop the habit of producing words on a story, poem, novel, song each and every day.  So much of writing is discipline.  It’s butt-in-chair.  You can have the best ideas in the world, but when they’re in your head and not on the page, the only person who can enjoy them is you.

Listen.  Listen to feedback especially.  Find someone you trust who’ll read what you write and give honest, useful – and most of all – constructive feedback.  Maybe it’s your sister.  Maybe it’s a teacher.  Maybe it’s someone in your writers’ group who lives in Iowa City.  Listen to what he or she has to say.  Nothing any of us write is ever perfect the first time, and the only way to figure out how to make it better to be open to feedback and revise until sings off the page.

Give yourself permission to write crap.  Everyone’s first drafts suck.  Your favorite writer?  Her first drafts suck.  Your other favorite writer?  His first drafts suck.  It’s more important to just write.  Get it on the page and repeat after me: “It’s a first draft.  It’s supposed to suck.”  You can fix things in a crappily-written first draft, but it’s impossible to fix what doesn’t exist.

Don’t let yourself get stuck.  If a story isn’t working, don’t be afraid to leave it for awhile and start something new.  (Equally important: try to finish everything.  Just don’t feel like you have to finish it all at once.)  Read books on craft if you need to, but don’t get hung up on rules.  There are no rules.  There are only tools.  There are things that work and things that don’t.  Write something every day.  Learn from what you read.  Learn from who you talk to.  But the only way to be a writer is to write.

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats

Published April 17th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Purchase a copy at Amazon

Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point.

Thank you to Ms. Coats for being here today and best of luck with your new book!

QMT

“She nods along with me, raising an eyebrow, like she wants to pretend to understand what I am talking about.”

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith

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“….love can’t be the answer to everything. If it was, us loving mom should have kept her from falling apart. Her loving us should have made her want to change.”

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

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“Look, if I don’t shut up about my sad sack life , I’ll wind up hurling myself off my balcony. Tell me about Jake’s family. Are they a nest of vampire vipers from hell, just like I guessed?”

Slow Twitch (Brenna Blixen 3) by Liz Reinhardt

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont Review & Interview


A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

Published March 27th 2012 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

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Source: Publisher

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

Review

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I had never read the story of Jane Eyre and had no idea of what it was all about.

Emma is a young writer. She loves writing poetry and making up her own stories. The book starts off at Emma’s sixteenth birthday party. She does not really even want to be there and worst of all, her parent’s had invited Gray. Gray and Emma grew up together. Their mother’s were best friends. They sort of have a love-hate relationship.

As Emma struggles through her year, she is jostled back and forth between being Jane and Emma. She finds out a lot of secrets and a lot about herself along the way.

Emma was a great heroine. She was strong and at times could be feisty, but my favorite is definitely Gray. He is your typical masked adolescent that does a good job at looking fine on the outside, but tormented on the inside. Those last few chapters with him were excruciatingly painful. It was hard to see a character so full of life at the beginning hit a downward spiral so quickly.

I enjoyed Ms. Mont’s writing style. She had a great way of explaining without going over the top with details.

The ending was superb, I got the butterflies just reading the last chapter. I expect the next book in the series, A Touch of Scarlet, to be just as wonderful.

Character Interview

1. Your demographics? Name, age, where you live?

I’m Gray Newman, eighteen years old, a senior at Braeburn Academy, this hippie school my parents sent me to. We have harmonic huddles every week where we have to sit around and bare our feelings over drum beats. It’s torture. I try to act mysterious and disturbed so I don’t have to talk. Personally, I prefer swimming—head under water, no talking, no thinking. My parents live in Waltham, MA about twenty minutes from Boston in a big stone house with lots of windows. It’s beautiful, but it makes me feel exposed. I spend a lot of time in my room, which is built into the round turret of the house. It’s got a balcony and everything.

2. What do you believe is a person’s first impression of you?

I like to think that people see me as a nice, friendly guy, but I probably come off as stand-offish. Someone once told me I stand like a Marine. I didn’t know how to take that. Was it a compliment? Or an insult, like he was saying I had a stick up my ass? Very few people understand me so I’ve kind of stopped caring what people think. Well, except one person.

3. Do you have a girlfriend? A crush?

Um, yeah, I do. A crush, that is. This girl can see right through me, but she can’t see herself, how amazing she is. She doesn’t get why I like her so she can’t believe that I do.

4. Your best friend’s name and how long you have known each other.

My best friend was Dan Brockman, but something happened between us, and I had to transfer schools, and now we don’t talk. I don’t know what would happen if we ran into each other. I hope it never happens.

Thanks to Ms. Mont for taking the time to introduce us to Gray and thanks to Kensington Publishing for the ARC for this review!

Follow Eve Marie Mont at one of the following links:

Website: http://evemariemont.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/evemariemont

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/evemariemont

Blog: http://evemariemont.blogspot.com/

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3517421.Eve_Marie_Mont

Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn Reviews/Interview/Giveaway & QMT


Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Published November 1, 2011

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When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Lacey’s Review

First Thoughts:

This definitely was a great start to the series, the complexity of the world and how it was created was fun and interesting. To me this story seemed to offer so much, though it didn’t feel long in the sense that I wish it was over it did feel long in the sense that so much happened…so much was revealed about this world. Though this isn’t a world I’d want to live in by any means, it is a world that was created with thought and care. The overall feel of the story is satisfaction and the knowledge that there’s more to come.

Plot:

This book held all of the necessary elements to make a good plot, it was also paced in just the right way as to allow the story to flow smoothly and quickly. This plot was fast-paced, filled with plenty of action and had just enough slower moments to allow the reader to take a breather and absorb all that’s going on. The sub-plots in this story were kept to a minimum thus allowing the main plot to take focus and allow us to explore the most important issue in the story. But there were a few sub-plots that intertwined with the story and made the main plot that more outstanding; it gave the main plot a certain boost per say, we were allowed to better understand the world and what was going on.

Characters:

The characters were very interesting in this book, they were all necessary to help the story feel more realistic and true to its world. Most of the characters were three dimensional and added another layer to the story but there were a few characters I wish were “painted” a little better, I felt that those characters that lacked a certain element were a little secluded to the overall conflict of the story. The main characters were all fortunately “painted” colorfully and they each had distinct characteristics that helped the reader identify them.

Transformation of the Character:

I felt that most of the characters transformed little in this story, like perhaps they need more pushing to allow them to transform into a different them. But the main character did do a little transforming, though I wouldn’t consider it in any way an enormous transformation I would say it was a big transformation to the character itself. She used to be so fragile and a dull gray color but something in the story sparked her transformation and allowed her mind to open up to even more possibilities and emotions she wasn’t even prepared for. So overall I think the transformations in this book fit perfectly for this particular story and I can’t wait to see these characters grow even more.

Description:

The description was really good in this story; I felt the author did a great job painting the world where I was able to capture each scene and character and better understand the environment these characters were in. It was the perfect amount for the story, there wasn’t too much to overwhelm the reader and too little to leave the reader grasping for a picture, it was the perfect amount to leave the reader satisfied. As for the type of description I wouldn’t consider it lyrical but it had its own style of its own. It was effective and smooth at the same time, I would have liked a more poetic feel to the scenery description, I felt that a lot of the places these scenes took place were so full of energy and back-stories, though the author described the scenery I felt it could have perhaps been described in a better way. But overall the description was enjoyable.

Style:

I liked this authors sense of style, the way she intertwined all of the elements into this story to make the overall product. I liked that she kept to one point of view, we were able to really digest what she was feeling and get the knowledge of her instead of the overall story, it helped let us narrow down to certain issues rather than trying to grasp all the concepts of this complex world.

Quote of the book:

I wonder if I try to kiss you if you’ll knock me out again. It depends. How good a kisser are you? My heart thudded erratically.”

Last Thoughts:

I would recommend this to any paranormal reader and to anyone who just enjoys a good fun read. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t like the concept of reading minds or anything particularly paranormal reading. I did overall enjoy this book and can’t wait to continue to read their story. I found that I enjoyed that though the things they did and their issues are not possible in our world they in a way correspond with similar issues we are facing in society today. So if you think about it this author is very clever to add a lot of symbolism in this story. This first story in the series is a great start and will leave you learning for more by the end of the last page.

Diana’s Review

How can you not love a book that’s set in the northern suburbs of the greatest city in the world?  Ok, so I might be a little biased on the backdrop given that I too call those northern suburbs home, but in all seriousness, the book was something else.

Kira is going through life as a zero.  In a world where everyone is expected to be able to read everyone else’s mind, she’s one of the rare people that can’t, and that makes her society’s outcast.  The story was wonderfully original.  And the world building was great.  With a futuristic topic so complex, I thought the author did a great job of painting the world with just enough detail that I wasn’t left with residual questions, but not so many that I was distracted from the story in general.

I think the book caught me by surprise.  It started out with Kira trying to deal with her handicap, her friend’s feelings, and the bullies at the school.  I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the start of the book, it had my attention from the very beginning, but I had expected a typical YA book.  I didn’t expect the story to spin out into cults, demens FBI agents (read the book for more futuristic lingo), and a whole slew of other hardcore twists.  Color me impressed.  That’s right, I’m impressed by a book with a love triangle, and we all know how much I love those (I don’t).  Its a love triangle that both a love triangle lover or hater wouldn’t mind.

But what would a book be without lovable characters you can easily connect with?  Though this book had many lovable characters, lets focus on our 3 stars:

Kira- I love a strong heroine.  This girl goes from thinking she has no chance for a future, no chance to go to college, or ever have a boyfriend, because she’s a zero, to thinking she’s dangerous, and then to thinking she can help people, and then going out and trying to do just that.  I want to give this girl a round of applause.  Her bravery and morals make her a great teen role model.

Simon- I loved his confidence and that he was the one who helped Kira when she didn’t know what was going on.  I have to admit, I didn’t trust him, but I don’t know if I’m the best judge of character.

Raf- I loved Raf from the start.  I have soft spot for the boy next door.  And I loved that even though Kira was an outcast, he was still her friend.  He never pretended he didn’t know her nor ignored her when others where around, like some other people. <cough, cough>  I was a team Raf girl.

Overall, I thought this was a highly imaginative book, and I absolutely loved the twists and turns the storyline took.  I appreciate an author that isn’t afraid to take chances with their story and characters in order to better the story overall.  I will be eagerly awaiting the next book.

Lisa’s Review

This was an awesome story. That about sums it up! I loved the whole premise of this book. I thought it was very unique to have a world where reading minds would eventually be considered “normal” and anyone who could not was labeled a “zero”.  In this case our zero is Kira. An all around typical high school teenager except for one thing…..she could not read minds. But…..is there something more to her? You will have to get the book and read to find out! I thought Kira’s character was a very strong young woman and will go on to do good things.

Kira has a best friend and his name is Raf. I instantly fell in love with him! There are underlying feelings going on in this relationship and I have to say that I was on Team Raf from the very beginning.  He is a reader but it does not matter to him that Kira is a zero. Then we are introduced to Simon. He had to grow on me throughout the story because I wasn’t to sure about him to begin with. I had trust issues with his character. He approaches Kira and begins to “help” her with issues that have begun to trouble her and that is all that I will say about that!  All and all I did end up liking Simon’s character.  I always enjoy a good love triangle!

I would highly recommend this story to everyone.  Character development is solid. I feel that the author gives you a chance to get to know these people.  The story flowed nicely. It did not jump around and get you all confused. I look forward to the second installment! I give this one,

Author Interview

How did you come up with the title of the book?

 Titles either come to me in a flash or I agonize endlessly over them. This one was easy, and was present right from the start, in that very first paragraph I wrote for an online contest. I like double meanings and Open Minds spoke to the mindreading as well as the intolerance of Kira’s world, where everyone reads minds but her.

 What were the challenges to getting the book published?

Initially I queried agents with the novel (and had lots of requests), but ended up self-publishing for a number of reasons: 1) self-publishing offered a faster time to market and better pricing than even my previous small publisher, and it would take years to get to print through a big publisher, 2) the market was hot for my genre, right now, 3) I like shiny new gadgets, and self-publishing is definitely one of those, 4) I’ve always had a large need for creative control and an entreprenuerial bent, so self-publishing was a good fit, personality wise. The biggest challenge in self-publishing, I think, is time management – making sure you keep writing, even with all the publishing hats that you wear.

 What book are you reading right now?

 I just finished reading Goliath, the third book in the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld—which gives me a chance to fangirl about him some more. Le sigh. The man is a genius! Seriously. Gorgeous writing, fantastically vivid characters. I want to be him when I grow up.

 When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Well, if you don’t count the endlessly-serialized hideously-illustrated stories I passed in high school, my first novel was written three years ago. I was 43 (yes, I’m a late bloomer). Looking back, that entire novel was one giant character study! And an amazing learning experience.

 Do you have any advice for other writers?

 Write as much as you possibly can, and constantly strive to improve your craft. I’ve learned a tremendous amount through critique partners and studying bestsellers that I love, but the most important thing you can do is write, write, write. Strive for that million words you supposedly need to reach before you start writing the “good” ones.

 What are you currently working on?

 I’m torturing the third draft of Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds, as well as crafting a detailed outline for BookTheThird (the unamed third book in the Mindjack Trilogy). And daydreaming about a series to come after Mindjack. :)

 Speed Round:

 Favorite Book? Hunger Games (dying, DYING for the movie).

Favorite Author? Epic throw-down contest between Suzanne Collins and Scott Westerfeld, presided over by JK Rowling. Because she’s the Queen.

Favorite place to read? Curled up on the couch. With tea.

Favorite Genre? Both middle grade and young adult, but if I have to pick one, it’s YA. I like the kissing too much to give that up.

 Last fun one:

 If you could choose to be a character from any book, who would it be and why?

Hermoine Granger. She’s wicked smart, hangs out with the Chosen One, and she does MAGIC. Also, I’m in serious need of a time-turner.

Giveaway

1. Winner will receive an ecopy of the book Open Minds

2. International!!!

3. Earn an extra point by  subscribing to my author newsletter

4. Winner will be chosen via Random.org on March 27.

5. MUST be a follower!

QMT

“Nonsense?” Alex said. “Do you believe your eyes?  Is the blood in our hair a figment of your imagination?  Vampires are rare, perhaps, but they’re real enough.  The world is full of the unknown, swimming like fish under the surface of normalcy.”

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

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“Tears burn and prick at my eyes, which makes me furious. I loath this weakness—that I would crumble over a child’s prank. I lean against the short stone wall edging the meeting hall, taking a moment to reclaim my composure. I will not cry.”

Vanish by Sophie Jordan

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“A shadow glided over the frozen hills, moving too quick to likely be cast by something of this Earth. “

Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

_________________________________________________________________________

His eyes seemed to get even more tired however, and shaking his head, he quietly said, “I haven’t forgotten anything, Kiera.”

Thoughtless by SC Stephens

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Some Other Random Things……


Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Published February 14th, 2012 by Walker Childrens

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Order it Now from Amazon or BN

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Review

I am a sucker for a good historical retelling, and a strong heroine to be honest, and this book had everything I was looking for.

Scarlet is a member of Robin Hood’s band of thieves. Few outside the group know that she’s a girl, as she disguises herself as Will Scarlet. In the legends and movies of past Robin Hoods, Will was often considered Robin’s best friend, and was always played by the cutest, dorkiest boys. In case you need a reminder:

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

Oh, and while there was no Will character in the Disney version of Robin Hood, I think it was by far my favorite, and I still encourage you to go see it.

Anyway, in this version Scarlet is a girl with a past. She’s been hiding out with Robin’s men for the past two years, but now the Sheriff has hired the thief-taker Gisbourne to bring Robin in once and for all. With Gisbourne’s arrival, the past that Scarlet has fought to keep hidden for all these years is threatening to reveal itself.

This story is written beautifully. Its written in Scarlet’s words, with her commoner accent, the way she would have talked back in those days. The plot stars off action filled and never gets dull. The character development was wonderful, as well as the richness in the way the different character relationships were laid out.

Speaking of the characters, they by far they were what made this such a wonderful story. Each had their flaws.

Scarlet is running from her past. She’s crude, secretive, and generally keeps to herself.

Robin has a bit of a temper. Instead of the perfect hero, he’s a little rough around the edges. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and sometimes that much pressure gets to be a bit much. He might be the most realistic Robin Hood I’ve read/seen.

Little John is a big, charismatic brute. He was definitely more attractive here than in other stories.

Much is the youngest and sweetest member of the group.  Scarlet cares for him like a brother.

Even the secondary characters, the townspeople, where wonderful. They had weak moments, but they were just human. All coping with the crummy situations they were in.

And yes, there was even a little romance. But it was the kind I really like. The romance was secondary in the story. It was something in the background, just teasing you without ever overriding the main plot. I don’t want to say too much, but I love a good romance tease.

The only problem I had with the book was that its a stand alone book. The ending, while wrapping up the plot, still leaves loose ends with so much room for a sequel. Its a great place to stop to make you want more. And I do. I’m hoping for a sequel, because without one, that ending is just going to kill me.

Guest Post with A.C. Gaughen

What advice would you give to a young teen who dreams of becoming an author?

Give yourself permission to succeed.  This is true for pretty much all writers, but teens in particular.  You are in a super exciting place right now; it’s confusing and it’s crazy and it’s incredibly hard and insanely joyful.  The things you’ll go through right now are the things that will come to define your life later on, for better or for worse.  You have to acknowledge that you’re at the beginning of a journey.

Writing is a journey too.  There’s some theory out there about needing to do something every day for ten years before you can call yourself a master of it, and writing is no different.  You may be an incredible writer on day one, but you need to give yourself that ten years to enjoy your craft outside of judgement, outside of criticism, outside of any reaction whatsoever.

I’m thrilled to be in the position that I’m currently in–my first novel is coming out, and I hope it’s just the first of many.  I hope I get to do this for the rest of my life.  But surprisingly, the thing I’m most grateful for is that the first novel I sent off–just about ten years ago, at the age of 14–never got published.  I have stacks and stacks of notebooks that are filled with crappy novels and heartbreaking scenes and cheesy, comforting, deep or thrilling words.

I got ten years to play, and I got ten years to figure out what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.  I gave myself permission to take the time–and in turn, I found my voice.  So, Anonymous Teen Writer, give yourself permission to succeed.  Give yourself time to play.  But never, for a second, give up on your dreams.

Thanks to A.C. for the guest post!

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

by Lani Woodland (Goodreads Author), Melonie Piper (Goodreads Author),Rita Webb (Goodreads Author), Wendy Swore
(Goodreads Author), 
Melanie Marks
 (Goodreads Author), Heather McCubbin (Goodreads Author), Evan Joseph (Goodreads Author)
 
Add to Goodreads
Purchase a copy at Amazon|B&N

Discover the secrets of a siren, fly with a hawk girl over the mountains of Montana,

and flee supernatural party-crashers as the décor comes to life in this magical journey through paranormal stories.

Along the way, watch for ghosts in a

haunted house, or ride through the

moonlight with a stranger. Save a comatose boy who has lost his soul, and don’t forget to bring your garlic and wolfsbane—you

never know when the shadows will snag you.

Transcendent includes eight stories of

magic, love, death, and choice by some of

the newest names in young adult fiction.


Excerpt

Strike

Wendy Swore

& Rita J Webb

I shook my brown tangle of hair away from my face, tucking an errant curl behind my ear, and watched the distant coaster loop and dive. Playing in eddies and whirls, the wind carried delighted screams across the beach from carnival rides to the art exhibition. Hoards of classmates spent each weekend cavorting at the carnival—and that was fine for them—but I had no time or patience for such frivolity. As anyone serious about chasing their dreams could tell you, every moment mattered, and there was little time for foolish play.

The flier advertizing this exhibition highlighted Paloma’s work with Fulgurites and other sculpting methods involving electricity—just the sort of thing I needed to know to stand a chance at an art scholarship. If I played my cards right, I’d be the first Vera ever to finish college. Someday people would know my name.

Oh, is this one of Lani Vera’s pieces?

Why, yes. Yes, it is.

With enough hard work, all that would happen in time. I glanced at my watch; noon, exactly. Sighing, I folded my arms and waited for the presentation to begin.

A sandy-haired surfer leapt onto the podium and glanced around, smiling and waving at people. He danced a little shuffle to whatever tune he played on his MP3 and made a show of peeking at the crowd over his shades. His frayed cut-offs and sleeveless T-shirt revealed muscles rippling beneath tanned skin. He pulled the ear buds out and tucked the chords into his pocket before folding away the sunglasses and tossing them on the podium.

Who did this guy think he was? Where’s Paloma? I scanned the exhibit, spotting her in the first row, smiling and nodding, just a few seats down from me. Confused, I looked back at the boy at the podium. He had an easy laugh that made me want to smile back. I pressed my lips together and focused on the pad of paper I had in front of me, my pen poised to take notes. Goofing around wouldn’t get me anywhere.

“Can I have your attention? If you are here for flight lessons…you’re out of luck.” The crowd chuckled and his Cheshire grin widened. “However, if you would like to see how we use lightning and other electrical means to make unique sculptures, then today’s your lucky day. My name is Dex, and I’ll be your guide throughout the exhibit.”

My eyebrows shot up; this gorgeous guy is the presenter? How unexpected: a boy with looks and a brain at the same time.

Using a rod, he pointed to various pieces around the stage, explaining that by manipulating the electric currents to run through different mediums, intricate and per-manent scorch marks created unique works of art. A perfect blend of technical information and quick humor, his presentation captured my interest completely.

“This is her latest metal piece. It’s called A Leap of Faith.” He pointed to a sheet of copper that had two raised marks like wings and a black river below. “She says this is for those who see the danger of falling, but choose to leap anyway for the chance to fly.”

Beautiful but unrealistic.

I wondered if the winged being really understood what they’d lose if they fell. With so much at stake, flying wasn’t an option when you wanted to succeed.

He held up a root-like sculpture that shimmered in the sunlight. “The crème de la crème of the presentation. This, my friends, is a Fulgurite—a melted sand/glass formation formed by super-heated lightning hitting the sand. As you can see…” His eyes locked with mine.

Had I ever seen such stormy gray eyes?

He swallowed and paused.

What was he waiting for?

Something tickled my lip, and then I knew all too well what he had been staring at: I’d been chewing on my hair. What was I? Three? Mortification ripped through me, and I tucked the stupid curl back behind my ear. My ears burned. While his presentation hiccupped back to life, I struggled in vain to pretend nothing had happened.

Who would be the idiot chewing on her hair? Oh yeah, that would be me.

Setting the first sculpture aside, he held up the rod again. “Artists around the world encourage lightning to strike using rods like these so we can dig up the resulting formations. Water disperses the heat faster, so we drive our stakes in higher ground. If you would all please follow me up the beach.”

I fell in line behind him, trying not to watch the way his calves flexed with each step through the sand. Wrenching my gaze upward, I vowed to keep my mind on the work where it belonged.

I did such a good job of not-looking at him that when he stopped, I plowed into him.

He caught my shoulders and held me at arm’s length, those piercing gray eyes searching mine. “Sorry, are you okay?”

Choking on my humiliation, I nodded dumbly and stepped back several steps pretending my already flaming face hadn’t just turned into a furnace. And I had judged him to be a brainless teen? What about me? He must think I’m an idiot.

“Focus your attention on the rods here. In preparation for today’s early-morning lightning storm, my mom and I pounded these rods into the sand…” His voice finally broke through my reverie. My irritation racketed up a notch at the realization that I’d missed everything he’d said. This was why boys were a bad idea. They served only to distract and stood in the way of studies—and my future.

I breathed out in annoyance. I should pay more attention to the words coming out of his mouth and less at the way the breeze teased his hair, standing it on end.

His eyes darted to me again, and he stuttered, “Lightning actually…uh…a…actually moves from the ground up. The charge builds here in the soil and then—” He pointed to the rod and jerked back as blue light arced from the metal to his outstretched hand. Before he could step back, his whole body began to glow.

White light exploded, crackling through the air; burning as it filled my head with pressure. A blow like a sledgehammer hit my chest throwing me back as I screamed, the thunderous roar blasting my eardrums before I could think to clap my hands over them. I landed in a tangle of arms and legs.

Lightning. Dex had been struck by lightning!

50% of the February proceeds from the net sales of Transcendent will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

QMT

“You have to stay safe, Scar.  Maybe it’s your bits in a dress and maybe it’s just you, but I’m awful fond of something in there.  So don’t get killed.”

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

“Edda’s dark brown eyes lit up with her recognition, the skin around them scrunching into tiny wrinkle lines.”

Howl #1 by Jody & Jayme Morse

“Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”

The Statistical Probability of Love at First sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Happy Valentine’s Day!