Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Relocated - Excerpts

YA Sci-Fi

Back cover:
When fourteen-year-old Keth's dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn't know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation.
After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval. Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth's friend's father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.

When I went to choose these excerpts, I wanted to choose ones that did not give away details of the plot, as one of the key aspects of the story is the series of discoveries that Keth, my main character, makes. Yet I needed them to be interesting.

Excerpt 1: The beginning of the novel.

          “What do you mean I must undergo a psi exam? The Terran Federation legislates against any use of psi." The speaker, a human woman with wild gray hair, glared at the immigration official.
          I gazed at the official. Like most Aleyni, he stood over six feet, slender, with extra wide hands, and thumbs able to bend all the way back. His head appeared more oval than humans, too, and he showed almost no external ears. His skin appeared almost black, like Dad’s and mine, and hers appeared pale. His dark skin provided a welcome spot of color against the general gray of the space port interior. The temperature felt pleasant enough, though; nicely warm instead of the chill of the Terran Federation space station circling above Aleyne.
          He could have been reading a laundry list. “Madam, Aleyne is a sovereign planet, not part of the Terran Federation, and if you want to clear immigration you must undergo a psi exam.” He pushed a data cube toward her. “Either sign the consent form and undergo the exam, or go back up to the space station.” He added, “Take it or leave it,” in Aleyni. No one else noticed.
She threw the data cube on the floor, stomped, and it shattered into fragments. “I won’t do it. I don’t want any aliens screwing around in my head.”
          The official stared at her for a moment. “It’s against our ethics to screw around.”
          The woman crossed her arms. “I don’t believe you.”
          “You can return to the space station and take the next ship out.” The official’s face revealed nothing, and his gray eyes stared straight at her. His hands hung loose at his side. I considered him a model of polite behavior, considering. I would have punched her.
          The woman stared at him. Her head tilted up, because she barely made five feet. Her face, which wore a ferocious frown, turned bright red. Maybe she disliked dark skin, or maybe she simply hated Aleynis.
          “I’m going.” She spat the words, turned, glared at us, and marched down the corridor. I glanced back and noticed her arguing with a Space Force officer. The expression on his face would have curdled milk.
          Dad prodded me. “Keth, come on.” He grabbed two data cubes, scanned them, and signed both. The official passed both of them through his reader and put one through a slot. “How old is the boy?”
          “I’m fourteen Terran standard years. That makes me sixteen in Aleyni years. The Aleyni year is shorter than ours.”
          “You need to consent for yourself.” He passed me a new cube and I signed.
          The official threw it away and handed me another. “Read first and then sign.”
I sighed loudly and read the whole thing, both the top half, in Aleyni, and the bottom, in English Common Speech. I started to compare the two, noticing how much clearer informed consent appeared in the Aleyni version, when Dad prodded me. I signed the form and returned the cube to the official. “Okay, I read it.”
          The official smiled and pushed it through the slot after Dad’s.
I wasn’t scared, since Dad told me about the need to take a psi exam. The Aleyni checked for any kind of plant or animal, or whether we planned a terrorist attack. Dad said Federation anti-psi fanatics attacked a couple of times recently, so I understood why they checked carefully.
The examiner set me in a chair. He asked me again if I consented to the exam. When I said yes, the examiner put his hands on the sides of my face, looking into my eyes.
His hands burned hot against my skin. A thousand ants chewed through my brain and a voice whispered questions I couldn’t quite make out. I tried to take a breath, but my throat tightened, and I gasped aloud. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to stop shaking. I shook my head, trying to make the voices go away, and the examiner removed his hands and stared into my eyes for a moment. The buzzing voices stopped, leaving my head feeling as though it would burst open. The examiner smiled at me and passed me through the checkpoint. A couple of minutes went by before my stomach stopped heaving, but hammers still pounded inside my head

Excerpt 2: Keth's first day at school on the Federation Base
          By the time I woke the next morning the sun shone low in the sky and warm, spicy air blew through the open window. I decided not to fight over what to wear, since standing out wasn't on my to-do list. Dad and Ardaval sat in the courtyard sipping kaff. Ardaval nodded at me and turned to Dad. “You should let him wear Aleyni tunics, pants, and sandals. He’s going to be much too hot in those clothes.” He spoke Aleyni.
          Dad pushed his lips together and checked me over. “I’d rather he dressed in Terran standard trousers and shirts. I don't want him to look like an alien…” He answered in Common.
          Ardaval flushed at Dad's choice of language. “Gavin, those clothes are much too heavy for this climate. The boy will melt.”
          Too bad Dad wouldn't listen. Sweat already dripped down my back. I frowned, staring at him. “Why can’t I wear the Aleyni stuff?” Dad would never say yes, and a big piece of me was glad he'd saved me from making the choice. The Aleyni clothing appealed to me, but I wasn't ready to look weird, especially on my first day.
          Dad shook his head. “You might attract trouble, and I need to keep you safe.”             Ardaval sighed. Oh well, at least I asked.
          Dad pushed me toward the door. “Come on, we don’t want to be late.”
          “We don’t?” I mumbled. Dad shook his head and followed me out the door and down to the trans stop. I would have enjoyed the bright blue sky and warm sun more, but the heavy Terran clothing left me sweating. “Dad, are Aleyni human?”
          “They’re a separate species. Or so goes the official line. Nobody in the Federation has studied Aleyni genetics, and the Aleyni themselves aren't interested.”
          "Why not?"
          "It's considered an inappropriate area for study." He glanced at me, noting the frown on my face. "Kind of like a sacrilege."
          “How come they look like us?”
          He sighed. “Many origin theories exist, but the bottom line is nobody understands.”
          I scraped my shoe in the sand collected in the street, admiring the pale pinks and blues as they appeared and disappeared. “It still doesn’t explain anything.”
          He smiled. “No, it doesn’t, but I’m afraid since it’s politically incorrect to believe humans and Aleyni are closely related species, no one wants to hunt for answers.”
          By the time we reached the trans stop, sweat dripped down my face and my shirt clung to my back. The only other people waiting, a group of Aleynis, stared at us for a moment before moving away. I flushed and wanted to say something, but Dad’s face turned cold and he moved away, too. I wondered what would have happened if we'd been speaking Aleyni.
          Back on the base we walked over to Dad’s office. A long counter of the gray synglass wrapped around one wall and part of another. File cabinets covered the third wall and a shelf for books hung over part of the counter. A comp and a printer rested on the other part of the counter. A chair with a padded seat stood in front of the comp.
          Brad walked in, took a data cube from Dad, scanned it quickly and locked it in the file cabinet. “Gavin, we'll discuss these recommendations later. You stay here and read this, and I’ll walk the boy to class.”
          He handed Dad another data cube, opened the door, and ushered me out. We walked over to the port school, which met in yet another of the gray buildings.
          The room he led me to held six kids my age or a few years older. The beige walls and thin beige carpet appeared dingy and worn. The desks and chairs, made of the same gray synglass as everything else, formed a half circle.
          I walked into the room and stopped short, unsure of what to do next. The teacher, a man Dad’s age with fair, sun-burned skin and blue eyes, wrote on a large comp at the front of the room. It linked to those of the students, like the ones back home.
          Brad took my arm and propelled me toward the teacher as he turned away from the comp. “John, this is Gavin Frey’s son, Raketh. His father is here for an indefinite stay. Try to get him integrated as quickly as possible.” Brad gazed over the room before turning to leave.
          John held out his hand and I shook it. “Nice to meet you, Raketh.”
          “Keth, please call me Keth.”
          John nodded and turned to the other kids. “Class, this is Keth, the son of Major Reynolds’ new assistant, Gavin. He’ll join us from now on.”
          “Jork,” one of the boys with brown curly hair said, but he grinned at me.
          “Welcome to the class,” piped up one of the girls. She smiled at me. I blushed. I found her kind of pretty, actually. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and smirked at a boy with fair skin and straight blond hair who looked the same age. The kid glared at me instead of at her.
          John tapped the desk with the stylus he’d been using to write on the comp. “Enough. Keth, you can take a seat.” He pointed and I sat.
          John made them go around the room and introduce themselves. The kid next to me with the curly brown hair answered to Martin, and the girl with the red hair said her name was Henrietta. The blond boy was Tom.
          John said, “We’re going over some Aleyni vocabulary. I can help you later on. For now, try to follow along.”
          “I honor the request, and bend myself to your will,” I said in Aleyni. Clearly nobody bothered to tell him I already spoke the language.
          Martin poked me. “What did you say?”
           “I said yes.”
          “How come you speak Aleyni? You just got here.”
          I shrugged. Just another thing to make me a freaker. “My dad made me learn it.”
          Martin stared at me for a moment. “It’s weird.”
          "We used to have Aleyni exchange students hanging out at our apartment back on Earth. I guess he wanted to make them feel comfortable or something." Like I believed  that. I never told anyone back home about speaking Aleyni, not even Mark, my best friend.
          John clapped his hands “Since you already understand the language and don’t need to pay attention to the lesson, why don't you and Henrietta move to the corner there,” he pointed across the room, “and go over this vocabulary.” He stared at me for a moment and handed me a data cube. “Come get me if you get stuck.”
          Red crept up my neck. Maybe I should have resisted the urge to show off my Aleyni. After dragging my chair over to the corner, we both sat. “Go on, ask me to translate any of those words from Common into Aleyni. You can correct my pronunciation. John says it’s bad enough so no Aleyni would ever understand me.”
          I managed to pay attention even though I needed to pry my eyes away from Henrietta's chest. Every time my eyes strayed she'd grin and toss her hair. Luckily, Tom sat with his back to us.
Excerpt 3 : A trip to the local park with a girl. What could be bad about that?

 We trooped back into the house to the courtyard, where I found Noki and Orodi  laying out second meal on a rectangular table with benches on either side. Orodi smiled at me. I blushed and smiled back, and we sat down. I ended up opposite Orodi, which caused the others to grin and nod their heads.
          Shaffa nudged me, passing me a loaded plate and a glass with cold tea. The plate held a vegetable stew and wheat-like grain. I took a few bites and put down my spoon.
          I gazed across the table at Orodi. My heart thumped. I needed to say something. Orodi looked pretty and sweet. “Mazos says I can come tomorrow afternoon to start learning glass blowing. In the meantime, would you like to go for a walk this afternoon?”
          Orodi smiled, and her eyes crinkled at the corners. “There’s a park around the fountain in the center of the city.”
          Shaffa swallowed his bite of stew. “It’s lovely, lots of flowers and trees, and hidden grottoes simply perfect for two.” He slapped me on the back. “You’ll love it.”
          I frowned as Shaffa. “Isn't three or four more usual?” Embarrassment filled me, but I asked anyway.
          Shaffa grinned at me. “Two is a good start.”
          Shaffa loaned me his bicycle, a sort of mauvish pink like his sister’s. Orodi jumped on hers and started down the street, with me wobbling after her.
          Don’t believe what they tell you when they say you never forget how to ride a bicycle. I hadn’t been on a bike in years -- Washington, D.C, had too much traffic and no bicycle paths -- and it showed. Fortunately, the other cyclists gave me a wide berth, and I steadied by the time we reached the park
          “I’m sorry I’m such a poor rider,” I lamented as we pulled up to the park, ashamed of my poor biking skills, and wondering what Orodi thought of me now.
          “You’ll improve,” Orodi smiled at me, and I realized she didn’t mind.
          We parked our bikes in the rack in front of the park entrance. Orodi took my hand and pulled me along one of the paths into the park. “Come on, we have to visit the fountain first, and you need to take a drink. Afterward we can go explore a little.”
As Shaffa said, they made a park from the oasis, with a red ground cover, short and thick, and beds of flowers. Several paths led into the park, winding out of sight behind purple rocks. The umbrella trees provided welcome shade.              
          I stared at our clasped hands, enjoying her soft skin against mine. Orodi’s hand appeared broader than mine, but my fingers were longer. When I glanced up, she smiled at me.
          “You’re going to kiss me. I know the perfect spot.”
          My mouth dropped open and my face flushed. Orodi laughed, and I observed the mischievous glint in her eye. Excitement bubbled up my throat, but nothing came out of my mouth. We walked along in silence until we reached the fountain.
          The fountain had a large basin made of shiny purple stone. Water spouted from a hole in the center, reaching a height of eight feet before splashing back down. Scattered along the rim, men and women dipped their hands in the water and drank. I trembled as I gazed into Orodi’s eyes, wondering what would happen next.
          Orodi pushed me up to the edge. “You first.”
          I leaned over, scooped the water, and slurped out of my hand. The cool, sweet water trickled down my throat.
          Orodi leaned over, drank, smiled at me, and led me down one of the many paths winding away from the fountain. We ended up in a secluded grotto with a bench carved into the purple rock and we both sat down.
          “My water tasted sweet. Did yours?”
          I nodded. “The sweetest water I ever tasted.”
          “It’s supposed to tell you if the other person likes you or not.” She smiled. “Mine tasted sweet, too.”
          I wanted to kiss her badly, but I didn't know what to do. I’d never kissed a girl before, and I didn’t want to do anything wrong. Orodi leaned over and kissed me. I put my arms around her and kissed her back. Her lips felt soft and warm. I opened my mouth in surprise and her tongue darted in. Our tongues touched, and my whole body tingled. By the time we stopped I could barely breathe. When I looked around, the whole landscape sparkled, and the colors appeared brighter and clearer than ever before.
          Orodi tugged on my hand, pulling me to my feet. “Come on, let’s go somewhere more private.” I glanced around, afraid I would find everyone staring at us, but they were too busy kissing each other to mind us. Orodi led me around the fountain and down another path to a bench cut into large rocks. The rocks, purple and ten feet tall, formed a curved wall. The perfect private spot for two. I put my arms around Orodi and we kissed again. We sat and held hands. I don’t remember what we talked about.
          We walked back out of the park, retrieved our bikes, and started back to her house. I grinned the whole way back.
“It’s a good thing you kissed me, or we might still have been sitting there when the sun went down,” I said as we put the bikes away.
          I noticed the mischievous glint in her eye again. “I know.”

The Burning Seal Excerpts

     Hello and thank you for stopping by to read some excerpts from my Paranormal Romantic Suspense, The Burning Seal. My first excerpt gives you a glimpse of the conflict and chemistry between Chase and Danni, the main characters of the story. It also reveals some of Danni’s questions regarding the strong connection she feels toward Chase.

Paranormal Romantic Suspense
     He moved toward her. She couldn’t breathe for other reasons now. He placed his hand over her heart; his palm was wide enough he touched the skin exposed by the V of her shirt. Her heart jumped. Her stomach flipped and pulled. She resisted moving closer.
     “If you can’t handle the case then you need to back out before Sam pulls you off.”
     She stepped away. “Sam doesn’t have any reason to, unless you plan to give him one.” He folded his arms across his chest, stubborn and strong. She forced herself to speak calmer. “I know what I’m doing. I’m fine.”
     He snapped, “Stop saying that. You’re not fine. Your heart’s racing. Body shaking. Your face is pale and I keep thinking you’re going to pass out at any moment.”
     “It’s not easy to touch someone so evil and not be affected. Look at me, I’m not physically hurt.” 
     He shoved his hands in his pockets. His mouth pressed into a hard line.
     “I don’t know about you, but I’m done for the night,” she said.
     With a stiff nod, he followed her to collect personal effects from their desks before departing. He was quiet as they walked to the parking lot which suited her fine since she was busy fighting powerful feelings that had nothing to do with the case. Was she the only one who felt the connection? Was it her imagination or did being with Chase feel familiar?
     They stopped at her car.
     “See you tomorrow.” She got in and shut the door, relieved to escape him, only to tense back up when his knuckles banged the window. She slid the key into the ignition and lowered it.
     His forearms rested on the opening. His face inches from hers. “Call if you need anything.”
     Her eyes had a will of their own and kept dropping to his lips. She wondered how they would feel. Would the kiss sizzle or fall flat?
     “I mean it, Danni. No matter when, no matter what time.”
     Was it wicked hope or had his face drawn closer to hers? She parted her lips as much to breathe through her nervousness as to finally satisfy her curiosity.
     Closing the distance between them, she seized his face between her hands and kissed him. His lips opened from shock, or desire, she didn’t know. At this point she didn’t care. She took advantage and finally tasted him. Warm cinnamon. His kiss was a mirror of his personality, bold and confident. She recognized the rough feel of his skin under her palms, the pressure, and rhythm of his kiss. Why did she feel so attuned to this man?
     The thought and her attraction frightened her. She released him abruptly. The car and everything around her seemed to shift, and then jerk back in place. Wow.
     She rolled her lips together. His heat and taste remained on them. “Thanks. I’ll call if I need you.” She tapped the silver button so the window shot up a notch. He jerked back and stayed there until she reversed and fled the lot.  
     Oh man what was I thinking? Her cheeks flamed from her boldness, yet, it felt good to do something so out of character. She didn’t know where the compulsion to kiss him came from but it felt right to go with it. And to answer her earlier question—oh yeah, there was heat.

This next excerpt focuses on Danni after her safe, comfortable world is destroyed and how she struggles to make sense of what she’s learned and the danger she faces.

Pulling herself onto the sofa she collapsed into the cushions. The cold air from the open door blew past her, while spray from the rain cleansed her face. She really should close it, but the police were coming and if she left it open they wouldn’t need to kick it open.
     Control of the situation, of her body, every bit of it vanished with the demon.
     She felt as if she’d blown apart and was loosely put back together. The pieces didn’t quite fit. Arms and legs twitched and shuddered. Her limbs refused to obey her mental command to stop. She was coming off the adrenaline rush. She knew that. Had experience with it, yet this time it terrified her.
      She scrutinized her arms, searching for burns or a lumpy mass under her skin. A warning the demon imprinted his wickedness inside her when he left.
     Apparently, the wound wasn’t visible.
     The police arrived, red and blue lights muted, their sirens silent. Guns drawn, they rushed inside searching for an intruder. Paramedics ran to her side. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t answer questions. They diagnosed it as shock, but she knew it was more than that. Her mind buckled from the destruction of her confidence, security, and long-held beliefs. She didn’t believe in the paranormal.
     Until tonight.
     She was a left-brain thinker. She worked off evidence.
     He had red eyes, a touch that burned and superhuman strength. He took her back in time to another battle, and a woman named Sara.
     She feared everything now. She feared the demon would return, would continue searching for the Elements; would hunt her until he owned her soul.
     Feared she was chosen to destroy him.
     She couldn’t grasp what any of this meant but only knew what she felt. The demon’s attack twisted her thinking. Logic handed over the reins to absurdity.

Thanks again for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed reading about Danni and Chase! Please visit my blog or follow the link for more information on The Burning Seal.

Excerpt: The Wrong Enemy

I'm honored to be closing out a month of excerpts here at MIU's blog. This is for The Wrong Enemy, to be released this coming September.

Back when I was 19, I started creating the book that would become my first published novel. I loved that book and its main characters, and I did my best by them, but let's face it -- when you're 19 or 20, you don't really have the same mastery of the craft you will at 40. Or life. So when I got back the rights to The Guardian from Thomas Nelson Press, I took a look at it and thought, Surely I can do better now.

I rewrote the whole book. I'm not sure three sentences are the same between the two versions, but we have the same characters who broke my heart the first time, the same plot, but written better. And 100% head-hopping free. So answer me this: different title, different author name, different cover, and all different text -- is it really the same book?

Like my previous book with MuseItUp, The Boys Upstairs, we've got a main character and a very close friend, allied against their will to protect children who need them. There the similarities end. 

Meet Tabris: a guardian angel who killed the boy he vowed to protect. And a whole lot of angels who cannot understand why he did it, or why God didn't throw Tabris into Hell.  Tabris has been reassigned as the second guardian over a child named Elizabeth, and her primary guardian (Rachmiel) is frightened because he doesn't trust Tabris not to kill her too.  Tabris doesn't trust himself, either. He's locked down his emotions, and even after weeks with this new family, he won't open up to them. He will barely open his feelings to himself.

I chose this section because it showcases the dynamic between Tabris and Rachmiel. After a fight, Rachmiel has stressed that he wants to work with Tabris as a team, and Tabris is still bewildered that Rachmiel trusts him. 


They sat on the roof afterward, Rachmiel watching the constellations while Tabris focused on the gutters and tried to prevent ice dams.

Rachmiel glanced at Tabris, wondering why the concept of trust had caused him fear, except that maybe Tabris didn't trust himself. It made sense, but then it didn't. If Tabris mistrusted himself, that might mean he wasn't fully responsible for what happened to Sebastian. But that first angel who fled to them, begging for prayers...Raguel and his early explanations...the angels from other households who had been told not to let the pressure build up... All those pointed to a deliberate action.

Maybe Rachmiel shouldn't have insisted on them being a team. Not now, anyway. If he ranked over Tabris, and Tabris had to carry out his orders, then he could have ordered Tabris to talk. You are under obedience to tell me the entire story of how Sebastian died.

No, no. He'd have gotten the information, maybe. But he'd have lost far more than he gained. Tabris having his heart at Rachmiel's mercy would forever preclude trust and would guarantee resentment.

But that left him with the same set of questions and no way of getting answers.

Tabris looked at him. "What?"

Rachmiel frowned.

"You want to ask something."

Rachmiel nodded. "But I don't want to make you angry."

Tabris said, "Try me."

"What happened with Sebastian?"

Tabris went back to work on the ice dams. "What would knowing that do for you?"

Rachmiel struggled momentarily because I'll know how to protect Elizabeth from you didn't sound very trusting on the heels of having said he wanted Tabris coequal to him. He opted for the more tangential, "I thought if I knew, I could help you." Also true. It benefited both of them if Tabris didn't harm her.

Tabris said, "I don't want you to be self-conscious on account of me. This was your job first. You deserve to be comfortable."

"I'm comfortable with you. Most of the time." When Tabris turned, eyebrows raised, Rachmiel said, "Some of the time."

"You keep second-guessing yourself." Tabris shook his head. "You're fine."

Tabris focused again on the ice in the gutter, and Rachmiel looked into the sky, sorting the stars until he found the one he searched for. "Oh, there it is!" He waved while projecting long-distance. "A friend of mine guards it, and it makes her happy when I remember her."

Tabris laughed, and Rachmiel's head lifted. He wondered if he'd heard Tabris laugh before.

The fingers of the wind lifted stray flakes of snow and blew them through the angelic pair. Tabris flexed his wings into the chill, inhaling sharply, then laughed again, a much richer sound than before.

Rachmiel realized right then that Tabris hadn't answered his question about Sebastian. Which in and of itself was a kind of answer.

Tabris said, "Have I told you how much I love the cold?"

Rachmiel projected that he'd guessed. "Where were you before?"

"A suburb of Los Angeles. Disgusting weather, always sixty-eight and sunny. Smog that could make an angel retch, although the people breathed it just fine. I wanted to comb out Sebastian's lungs every night." He shook his head. "Ten million people lived there, and I never understood how they could stand it. No space. No snow. No seasons to speak of."

Rachmiel said, "Some people would say that's the weather in Paradise."

Tabris said, "To me, it said ten million people must believe in Paradise because if they didn't, why spend their lives there? Why wouldn't they be climbing mountains?"

Rachmiel said, "Were you in LA the whole time?"

"Thirteen years." Tabris sighed. "One New Year's Day the radio announcer said they'd exceeded federal smog regulations only one hundred seventy-one days the previous year. And it was an improvement."

Rachmiel flinched.

Tabris spread his wings and lay back in the snow, surrounded by the froth without marking its substance.

Rachmiel gathered himself, and although he radiated nervousness, he said, "So, about Sebastian. How did—"

"Snapped his neck."

Rachmiel withdrew into verbal and emotional silence. Tabris had closed his eyes, and beneath the snow, his hands were fists.

Rachmiel had more questions, so many more. But he'd never get a why now, and even the how was so sparing in information. But to push—Tabris might answer, but at the cost of any rapport.

Tabris finally said, "Rock, do me a favor. If they tell you I didn't love the kid, please—remember that I did. It wasn't what they think. You don't have to defend me to them. In fact, don't say anything at all. Just you remember it."

Tabris arched his neck and looked behind him at the moon. Tension rolled off him, and Rachmiel knew he'd been right to hold back. They had time. They had plenty of time.

Extending a wing toward Tabris, Rachmiel touched him and projected nothing more than his presence. "I never doubted it."

They stayed quiet for a long time. The moon changed position. Rachmiel's friend waved back to him. Headlights passed on the state route. And after a long time, Tabris turned toward Rachmiel with an asymmetric smile. "Thank you."

The Wrong Enemy is available for preorder here.
Jane Lebak's first novel The Wrong Enemy (previously The Guardian) will be re-released this September by MuseItUp Publishing! She is also the author of Seven Archangels: Annihilation (Double-Edged Publishing, 2008) and The Boys Upstairs (MuseItUp, 2010). At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four children.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A glance at The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos

What if you were to die before your time?

The Realm of the Lost tells the story of thirteen-year-old Kathleen "Kat" Gallagher. After a tragic accident, Kat finds herself stuck in the place where people go when they have died before their time. Upon her arrival, Kat meets two young inhabitants of The Realm of the Lost. Will she learn to embrace her new surroundings? Little does Kat know, the relationships she builds in death will teach her to appreciate the ones she had in life. 


It was warm when I came to, and I felt no pain. Standing with ease, I bent over and inspected my pant-legs, searching for some remnant of dirt or ice. Nothing. Could this be a dream?
Then I noticed a bright orange ray reflecting off my necklace. The glare almost blinded me. I surveyed my surroundings.
Positioned atop solid dirt ground, I gasped in awe. Pine trees stood skyscraper high, haloed by dusty golden light. The sound of chirping birds echoed all around, and I spotted, to my left, what looked like a duck, but with a sharper and more pronounced beak. Bending down to inspect the creature as it waddled past, I heard a small voice from behind me.
"If you're a poacher, you belong in the under realm."
"What?" I asked, turning to face a boy who couldn't be more than eight. He wore navy blue shorts that folded at the tips of his scrawny knees. His white-collared shirt, grey vest and checkered cap reminded me of something out of an old movie. I couldn't help smiling as he stood, arms crossed, with an air of authority.
"If you're a poacher, you are in the wrong realm," the boy said.
"I'm not a poacher. I've been in an accident andwrong realm?"
The boy sighed, twiddling his thumbs in a way that made me think of my brother.
"Okay," he continued, after an awkward pause. "Well, first, do you know where you are?"
"Like I said, I was in an accident. I guess I passed out. I don'tI'm not sure if my mother knows"
"Oh. No. She wouldn't know a thing like this."
"A thing like what?" I demanded, stomping my foot.
"That you've come to the Realm of the Lost."

Chapter two
First Journey

I opened my mouth to respond, to tell the odd boy I wasn't in the mood for fantasy and games but I was cut off by a more grown-up sounding female voice. "Mikey! Mikey, how many times has Miss A told you? You're not to explain anything to the newcomers!"
"She asked," Mikey protested, fidgeting with his hands. "I can't help if people ask me. And you can't blame me this time because I was the first one here."
"Shush!" the voice snapped, its owner walking out from behind one of the tall trees. She was in her mid-teens and had beautiful olive skin. Her thick black hair fell past her waist, and I immediately felt captivated by her deep-set brown eyes. "You can be such a pest." She glared at Mikey. "And she didn't ask. I know that be—"
"Excuse me," I interrupted. "My mother is home with my brother. I should be with my sister Ellie. We were supposed to walk to school together, but we had a fight and Ellie—"
Mikey’s eyes bulged. "Your own sister killed you?"

The Realm of the Lost comes out from MuseItUp publishing on September 14th. 

Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. For more information, please visit Ramos' website. 

A Sneak Peek at ANIMAL ANDY by Kathy Sattem Rygg

ANIMAL ANDY, a middle grade novella by Kathy Sattem Rygg, releases August 24th and can be pre-ordered now for a 20% discount!

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy's dad is hopeful it will boost attendance. Andy's doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn't see what's so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he will unlock the magic that will help save the zoo.

The following excerpt is from the scene where Andy takes his first magical ride on the menagerie carousel.


Andy glanced at the frozen zebra in front of him. He turned to ask Zeb another question, but he was gone, as if vanished into thin air. Goosebumps prickled Andy’s arms. He rubbed them away and turned back toward the carousel.
He stepped up onto its worn, wooden platform and walked around the edge. As he passed each animal, he ran his hand over its glossy back. Their saddles were smooth and firm, like the old-fashioned rocking horse at his grandparent's house.
Pausing in front of the zebra, he placed one hand on the brass pole that ran up through the black mane on its neck. He admired the painted bright blue and green saddle. Making sure no one was around, he placed one foot in the stirrup and threw his leg over the other side. The curved seat was a perfect fit. Maybe Benny was right. The carousel didn’t seem so bad.
Andy relaxed in the saddle when, all of the sudden, every light bulb in the ceiling blinked to life. Blaring carnival music spilled from hidden speakers. The platform began to turn, and his body rose upward.  He tried placing his foot in the stirrup to get down, but it was like his arms and legs were glued in place.
Confused, he glanced around. Had Zeb turned it on? He didn’t see anyone. The carousel picked up speed. Fear rose inside him as the zebra rotated up and down on the center pole.
Everything blurred as he continued to spin, so he focused on the zebra’s black stripes. When that didn’t help, he closed his eyes. The tighter he squeezed them, the less his stomach churned.
The carousel slowed down and came to a complete stop. The carnival music shut off, leaving an abrupt silence. Andy exhaled and opened his eyes. The whirling in his head faded. Then he heard a fast, high-pitched braying sound, like a donkey.  Had it come from the nearby petting corral? The zoo didn’t have a donkey. The sound came again.
He was horrified to realize this time it sounded like it came from his own mouth! 

To find out more about Kathy Sattem Rygg and to view the book trailer for ANIMAL ANDY visit her blog site A SENSE OF FICTION.