Sunday, January 31, 2016

Evernight Teen Birthday Bash and Giveaway

I'm so excited to be participating in this birthday BLOG HOP for Evernight Teen's 3rd BIRTHDAY. It's their birthday, but they're giving out the presents with a Grand Prize of a $100 Amazon gift certificate!

Evernight Teen books feature fresh teen fiction that is raw, gritty and real. Whether paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi or suspense, Evernight Teen's books are about real issues and pack a strong emotional punch. You'll find cutting edge fiction that today's young adults can relate to and will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

I feel so lucky to be an Evernight Teen author! Here's a teaser from my book, Emerald Bound.

Book Blurb:
A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairy tale.

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate. 

Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend.

A part of me died long ago. It was the part of me that feels and it was Calista's fault. 
What happened tonight was nothing new—innocent victims welcomed into our home, not knowing they would never leave. I learned long ago I could not help them, so I stopped trying.
But this time something was different. This time I was awake, burning with a gut-wrenching guilt, as the next victims slept downstairs. This time I knew the victims. And they didn’t deserve what was coming.
It had always been hard for me to make friends. I’d been called loner, loser, outcast, and freak. Even still, I remembered Maggie offering to show me around when I first transferred to their school. Through her, I met Kate and Piper. The three of them were always nice to me, while other kids kept their distance and spread rumors behind my back. I told myself I didn’t care—I wasn’t like them.
But being a loner was lonely.
So tonight when I saw Maggie and her friends here, something inside me snapped. Or, perhaps it was the dead piece of me coming back to life. Now I cared desperately about what was happening in the room below mine.
But there was still nothing I could do.
Calista usually lured in victims from out of town to avoid arousing suspicion. Pregnant ones were a particular favorite—easy prey, she called them. But Maggie and her friends came here all on their own. The opportunity was too good for Calista to pass up.
Everyone thought Calista was my mother, but she wasn’t.
Back in my day, almost four centuries ago, Calista had an alternate method of luring in victims. She and her husband, Theodore, advertised for hired help with their inn. The number of parents willing to sell their daughters into a life of servitude in exchange for a forgiven debt or a clean slate was staggering.
My father was one of them.
By the time my mother found out what he’d done, it was too late. There was no escape. I was bound.
My story was well known in this land, whispered as a bedtime tale to ease children into sleep. But, just like any other story passed down through time by rumors and idle gossip, the fragment that survived was woefully incomplete. It began something like this:
There is rumored to have been (once upon a time, of course) a princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses.
That much was true, though in actuality it was only one mattress, not twenty. The pea was also real, though most would call it a precious stone—an emerald, to be precise.
The gem that sealed my fate was now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Calista was furious when she found it missing. She thought I’d stolen it until she remembered my limits. The identity of the true thief remains unknown.
Even though the emerald is no longer in our possession, we are still bound to it, as it is bound to us. Admirers of the opulent necklace where it rests don’t understand it. Like me, the gem is a prisoner, struggling against its fate.
Even now, centuries later, I don’t understand all the details of what happened to me that night. But it began with a troubled slumber on a bed of enchanted emeralds.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Spanish Castle and the sequel to Emerald Bound

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited along on one of my husband’s business trips to Madrid, Spain. During our time there, we took a day trip to Segovia, a little town that has managed to retain its medieval charm. Cobblestone streets, a spectacular Gothic cathedral, an aqueduct, and an authentic castle were the city’s crowning jewels. 

We stayed overnight in an old Spanish monastery that had been converted into a luxury hotel. Every time we walked through the halls to our room, I had the desire to start singing Gregorian chants. The acoustics were amazing! 

But I’m getting side-tracked. 

My husband and I toured the Alcazar of Segovia, Spain’s most famous castle. We were told that the Disney castle was actually inspired by it. Here are a few pictures:

Stunning, right? Well, during our tour, I found my mind spinning from everything I was seeing. When I stepped into that castle, I was no longer a tourist. I was an author, literally stepping onto the scene of my next book. It was thrilling.

I’ve had the Emerald Bound sequel outlined for a while, and a large part of the book is going to take place in Scandinavia in the 1600’s. In a castle. 

So when I found myself in an actual castle from the same time period, plot lines began forming in my head. I saw action scenes playing out in front of me, and everyday scenes happening in the courtyard. We went to the armory and I got up-close looks at the weapons of the time. We walked through the throne room where the king and queen sat to welcome visitors and bestow judgements. We even climbed the 156 crooked and misshapen ancient steps up to the tower where I found further inspiration for a scene I’d been stuck on in my outline.

The sequel to Emerald Bound is definitely taking shape and I am so, so excited to move from the plotting phase to the writing phase. If any of you figures out how to bend time, I'd love a few extra hours in each day so I can get it done faster!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Exclusive--Emerald Bound Deleted Scene!

One of my favorite things about buying a newly released movie is watching the deleted scenes at the end. I was so mad when they started making special “Rental Only” discs that only include the movie and none of the extras. To that end, I thought I’d share a deleted scene from Emerald Bound with you.

I really liked this scene and didn’t want to cut it, but during my read-throughs, I felt like the pacing was dragging in this section. The point had already been made that nobody remembered Kate after she disappeared and this scene was just reiterating that point. In this scene, Maggie goes to visit Kate’s mom, certain that her mom will remember her, even though no one else does.

After I cut the scene, the pacing improved, but I was sad to lose this little glimpse into the home of the woman who’d become like Maggie’s mom after her own mother died. And cutting Kate’s little brothers, Milo and Benny, out of the book was sad too.

Enjoy the scene!

When we pulled up to Kate’s house, my heart flipped inside my chest. Piper stayed in the car, playing Candy Crush on her phone, while I went up to the front door.
I typically wouldn’t have bothered knocking, but the door was locked. When Kate’s mom answered, she looked at me without a single ounce of familiarity and said, “Hello, can I help you?”
At once I knew what she was going to say, and I almost couldn’t bear to hear the words ‘Who’s Kate?’ one more time. The impulse to flee nearly carried me off the front porch, but I pressed on, knowing I at least needed to ask. I wouldn’t believe Kate was gone until I heard confirmation from her own mother’s lips.
“Hi, Mrs. Sands,” I began.
She peered at me closer through the screen door. “Do I know you, young lady?”
“Umm, yes. I’m Maggie Rhodes. I live a few streets over. I’m friends with your daughter, Kate. Is she here, by any chance? I really need to talk to her.”
I held my breath, waiting for her response.
“I’m sorry, dear. You must have the wrong house. I don’t have a daughter. Only two crazy boys.” She opened the door further to reveal an unusually messy house. Two little boys chased each other around the living room with pretend swords. I cried out as I recognized Milo and Benny. Kate’s little brothers must have just gotten home from their morning preschool class.
Mrs. Sands’ eyebrows knit together as she studied me. “Are you okay?”
I struggled to compose myself. “Yeah, I’m okay.” Fixing her with an intense final look, I asked, “So you really don’t know a Kate Sands?”
“Well, Sands is our last name. But no one named Kate lives here.” She hesitated. Just then a loud crash sounded behind her and she glanced over her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I have to go. Good luck tracking down your friend.” The door banged shut and she was gone.
I trudged back to the car, fighting back my tears. My last ray of hope was gone. I couldn’t believe Kate’s own mother had no memory of her.