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Archive for June, 2012

Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Gingerkrick from wikimedia commons

 

We ducked behind the twisted metal of what was left of an old station wagon. Ace grabbed my hand, jerking me toward the alley.

 “Come on Rina, you need to move, now.” He shoved me into the shadows right as flares erupted overhead, lighting the whole street.

 “There’s nowhere to hide. They’ll find us.” I swallowed hard. Today was Blood’s Day. A day we were forced to celebrate and give to those who’d allowed us to live.

 It’d been seven years since the world had been punished—nearly obliterated. Or so the Grand Mayor said. But I didn’t remember anything, other than the moment Ace found me six years ago. Everything before that was lost. I had no family. No home. Nothing. Hell, I didn’t even remember my own name. So Ace gave me one. Rina.

 Screams echoed off the crumbled buildings as people ran, trying to hide from the soldiers. No one ever came to this side of town, until they needed something. Or rather, someone. We all knew what they came for and none of us wanted to give it willingly.

 “Damn it, Rina, move your ass.” Ace ducked inside the remnants of the cinema. His grip on my arm tightened as we dove behind the rows of dilapidated cinema seats.

 Dust kicked up like we’d been sucked inside a vacuum, and the loud whir of helicopter blades sounded from above.

 Bright light exploded. I covered my face to shield my eyes. But it was too late. A man repelled down a rope, snagging hold of me.

 “Ace,” I screamed. The last thing I saw were his startled blue eyes as I was ripped into the air. “Let me go.” My foot connected with my captor’s shin, but he held tight like a coiled snake constricting its victim.

 “Stop thrashing or I’ll drop you right here.” The soldier warned.

 The chopper carried us a short distance, where a wooden platform stood erected near several white tents. Fear ensnared me like a giant bear trap. This was it. We landed several feet from the stage and two armed guards immediately met me.

 They ushered me under one of the canopies.

 “Let’s get you cleaned up, shall we?” a woman with white cotton ball like hair said. “Such an honor to be chosen.”

 My jaw clenched. “Chosen? I wasn’t chosen, I was stolen. I don’t want to do this.”

“Come now. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

 Then maybe you should go in my place you rich piece of crap. The words rolled around my thoughts like marbles.

 The guards raised their guns. I closed my eyes, sucked in a deep breath, and followed the woman. She showed me to a steaming wooden tub.

 “Get those grimy clothes off and I’ll have Greta come give you a good washing. We don’t have much time, it’s nearly midnight.”

 My fingers trembled as I unbuttoned the baggy shirt and tight pants, they fell to the floor in a heap. Hands shoved me from behind, until I stumbled into the scalding water. It burned my skin and I yelped.

 “Sit down,” another woman, Greta, I think, said. “Can’t having you look like vermin in front of the Gods.”

 I wanted to tell her to go to hell and to take her fake Gods with her. Every year the Grand Mayor ordered young women to be taken from the city and brought here. He made a celebration of death, while everyone cheered and partied and carried on as if this was a joke. And every year, the Gods ignored the gifts—we still suffered and the Grand Mayor still controlled everything. Well, everything but the Labyrinth.

 Strong hands forced me down, dunking me under the fiery hot liquid. I couldn’t breathe. She’s drowning me. My lungs burned. Bubbles rippled in my vision.

 At last she jerked me upward, scrubbing at my head, face, and back with a thick brush. Tears ran down my cheeks as the bristles dug into my skin. Any moment now, I expected to see my flesh come away or spatterings of blood in the tub.

 “Hurry Greta, they’re almost ready,” the other woman called.

 Arms the size of tree branches hefted me from the bath and rubbed me dry. “Here, put this on.”

 I was handed a long white robe. My stomach churned. I reached forward to steady myself on a nearby chair. The Blood’s Day girls always wore white. So the whole village could see us bleed.

 Trumpets sang in the distance and cheers from the plaza nearly deafened me.

 “Ah, so here is our little flower.” The Grand Mayor parted the flaps of the tent; his beady eyes rested on my legs, which were visible beneath the sheer fabric of the robe. “You should hold your head high this day.”

 He reached a meaty paw out to caress my face.

 “Burn. In. Hell.” I spat.

 His eyes narrowed. “Take her to the Labyrinth’s center.”

 Guards dragged me forward, the stones scraping my legs as I fought to free myself. When the spectators saw me, they cheered louder—whooping and hollering. My gaze drifted over the gathered crowd. Mothers held tight to their daughters, relief flooding their features, for their children were safe for another year.

 “Rina!”

 My head snapped up. Ace pushed his way through the throng of people. Shaggy dark hair fell across his forehead nearly hiding the piercing blue eyes I’d grown so accustomed to. Even with dirt smudged across his face, he was perfect. Strong. Beautiful. And I’d never get the chance to tell him.

 “Ace.” My fingers brushed his before the guards pinned him to the ground, keeping him from me. My throat thickened with emotion. Sorrow washed over me. I love you. And I’d die to keep you safe.

 Two other girls were rushed through the center of the chaos both adorned in white, like me. One cried, clutching tight to a gold chain at her neck. The other marched forward on her own, no resistance at all as if she was proud to give herself over to this madness.

 We were ushered to the middle of the Labyrinth like stones. The Grand Mayor tapped on a microphone, taking his place at the raised podium.

 “Good people of New Virginia Beach. Today is a special day for us. A day we celebrate and offer blood unto the gods. We ask only for their continued blessings. And for the opening of the powerful Labyrinth, which will grant us what it is we seek.”

 Three of the guards stepped toward us each armed with a ceremonial dagger.

 “Which of our Blood Girls offers first blood?” The Grand Mayor’s toothy grin reminded me of a hungry monster.

 “Me,” the proud girl said.

 “Very well.” He gestured for the soldier to proceed.

 I turned my head, but as the crowd quieted I heard the first slice of flesh then felt the spray of blood on my own skin. My stomach rolled, but the onlookers hollered their approval.

 “Thank you for your sacrifice Milicent Wendell,” the Grand Mayor said. “But she is not the one. Next girl please.”

 The girl with the necklace shrieked even before the knife made contact. I have to get out of here. I can’t die, not like this. Help me. Please.

 More agonizing yelps sounded, drowning out all other noises. My heart pounded and I kicked out my legs, knocking one of the guards to the ground. It was fight or die. My mouth clamped down on my captor’s arm. He released me and I leapt over the bodies of the fallen girls, blood already pooling around the Labyrinth like tiny rivers.

 Crimson fluid splashed against my legs as I tried to run.

 “Rina, now is the time to remember,” Ace shouted. He shoved aside the armed soldier who’d held him at bay only moments ago. With a sickening crack, he broke the guys neck.

 Remember what?

 “Remember us.” Voices sprung up from the stones beneath my feet. “Come home my daughter.”

 The ground rumbled causing people to fall to their knees. The moon turned red, casting scarlet shadows on the surrounding buildings and faces At last, Ace reached my side, clutching me tight. The Labyrinth sprung up around us. Air whooshed and thunder boomed. Painful howls and shrieks spiraled from outside our protective wall.

 “What’s happening?” I clung to Ace, burying my face against him.

 “You’re going home, Goddess. You’re job here is done.” Ace’s dirty rags fell away to reveal bronze armor beneath. He clutched a sword in his hand. “The people have been punished. And after the Grand Mayor’s death today, no one shall be sacrificed again.”

 “Goddess?” I whispered. Then I remembered all.

 The light. My arrival to Earth. The battles. The deaths. And now, it was over. I could go home. Ace held tight to my hand and we stepped into the light.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Vanessa Barger

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So excited to be a part of Cindi Madsen’s book cover reveal for her awesome YA Book:

All the Broken Pieces: a Gothic mystery, this is the story of Olivia, who wakes up with mysterious voices and urges she’s not used to. Turns out there’s another voice in her head—but where exactly did she come from? Imprint: Entangled Teen; Audience: Young Adult; Novel length: 304 pages; Format: Trade paperback and eBook; Publication Date: December, 2012.

Blurb:

What if your life wasn’t your own?

 Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

EXCERPT:

            Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?

            “Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”

            Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”

            Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”

            Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”

            The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.

            “I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”

            “…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”

           Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.

            Sick.

            You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.

             Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.

            Brains are more important than looks.

            That’s what ugly people say.

            Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”

Make sure to stop by and visit Cindi Madsen on her website or find her on: Facebook , Twitter , and Goodreads.

You can preorder Cindi’s FAB book here:

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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Phew! What a weekend. My daughter Erin had soccer tournament all weekend. She was 1 of 2 girls on the all boy team and she kicked some major butt! She scored two goals and had several assists. And her team took 3rd Place!!! They played their butts off. Couldn’t be more proud. Here are a few photos from this weekend!

First up this is a pic of my daughter Erin and one of her BFF’s and the only other girl on the team Jos.

Then, here’s the start of their game on Saturday. Erin is playing right forward (woot-woot). She also had the 1st goal of this game.

And here we have my daughter taking a break to pose for the camera (eventhough the game is still going on–ahh, a little over confident–LOL).

Yes, my daughter’s friend Justin also wanted to pose even though the other team was about ready to do a throw-in (LOL).

Erin is in the midst of doing a header (sweet move).

The coach promised the kids if they won their game, he’d paint his hair purple to match theirs.

And speaking of purple hair, here is the whole team sporting team spirit with purple hair!

After 3 days of 85-93 degree weather, Erin’s team wins 3rd place in the tournament.

Of course, if you win, you have to dump something on the coach!

Back home: Erin showing off her lovely trophy (and sunburned face).

 

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Why hello there June! The last couple of weeks have been manic/frantic in the Purdy household. We had end of year concerts for band, choir, and orchestra (for my kidlets of course). We had award ceremonies galore this week: as in I sat through 7 hours of them (hehehe). But I LOVED watching my kids get recognized for their academic, fitness, music etc.

Today was also their last day of school for the summer. My youngest is done with elementary and will be moving up to middle school with his sister. Then my other son had his last day of middle school and will be in high school next year (OMG, I FEEL SO OLD).

We are at the tail end of the soccer season. This weekend my daughter’s team will be playing in the tournament. Their first game is Friday night, then they’ll have two more on Saturday. If they win those, they’ll play again Sunday. Phew. LOTS of running. And of course it’s going to be SO hot/humid. Already planning a list of “must have” items. Cooler, ice, water, Gatorade, food, sunscreen, hats, umbrella, chairs…

I’ve been hard at work on BK 2 for The Winter People. I’m only a couple of chapters in so far, but have been jotting down notes. Really excited to be back in this world again. The first book doesn’t come out until 2013 (late), so I’ve got a little bit of time yet before I need to have this ready, but I SO need to get cracking on getting the word count down.

Definitely glad to be writing though, the month long break did me some good.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the day. Tomorrow is FRIDAY (woot-woot). So can’t wait. Only working ½ the day.

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