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How is November already halfway over? LOL. Things on the writing front have been WAY slow. I’m ¼ of the way through writing the sequel to The Winter People. It’s still coming along pretty well. Hoping to make some real word count progress during Thanksgiving weekend and during my vacation in December. I’m avoiding all the shiny new ideas that keep trying to distract me—in other words, I’m jotting down a few notes and setting them aside.

This brings me to what I really wanted to discuss today: My LOVELY, FABULOUS, AWESOME, and sometimes CRAZY crit partners. Seriously. I don’t know what I’d do without these ladies. First of all, they see all my first draft stuff (and boy is some of it a hot mess—LOL) and always help me find ways to make it shine. They’re brilliant and honest and really want my stories to be the best they can. These ladies challenge me—make me dig deeper.

They’ve been there through SO much with me. They hung out with me during the querying/rejection stage—they were cheering  me on when I landed my first agent then offered me virtual hugs and support when things didn’t work out. They championed my stories, characters, and writing when I started to lose hope and think I’d never get another agent. My fellow YAFF members (both old/new) shared my excitement when I landed another agent and sold some books. They’ve been such a HUGE support system for me.

As writers we share not only our love of the written word, but we share a piece of ourselves—through writing, through personal communications. When one of us has something personal going on, we know we can vent, or complain, or ask for prayers, or cheer one another up because we’re friends.

My crit group is spread all over the country, continent, and even one separated by oceans and yet it seems like we’re so close. I can’t even tell writers enough how important it is to have a great writing support system like I do. People who “get” you. So to my crit partners THANK YOU LADIES!!!!

One of these days we really will meet up for a writer’s retreat!

((HUGS))…

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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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HEATHER!!! You’ve won a copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. I’m giving you this prize on behalf of my crit group and the RAOK Blitz!!

Hope you enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. ((HUGS)) My crit group (YAFF) is made up of a bunch of fabulous ladies who I can’t say enough great things about and I’m so glad that I was able to honor them.

 

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It has been a quite the week (geesh). Between snow storms and craziness at the day job (ahh), I’m so ready for the weekend. There’s another round of snow coming in this afternoon/tonight so it’ll be another lovely commute home.

Tomorrow (weather pending) we’ll have my daughter’s basketball game. So hoping it’s a good one. Last week was a little rough as 2 girls got injured, 1 girl was sick and didn’t show, and another dropped off the team. So yeah, they were a little short. Erin had all but one of the baskets for the team (woohoo). She was amazing on defense (lots of steals), but yeah, they lost by 6 points.

And ZOMG, Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle were flipping AWESOME last night. Seriously LOVING these shows. Thursday is like my favorite TV night (well, I also like Wednesday (Ghost Hunters) and Sunday (Once Upon a Time) too-hehe). Hmmm…on the VD front methinks Stefan might be starting to show signs of caring for Elena again (much to my dismay—LOL). I so LOVE Damon and want him and Elena to be together. And I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with Alaric and the Dr. There’s something up with her. So don’t trust her. Definitely some interesting turn of events (Bonnie’s mom). HOLY CRAP, I didn’t see the Elijah thing coming, great plot twist.  So much going on. Can’t wait until next week.

Oh, and on the Secret Circle, I love me some Jake. He and Cassie have a GREAT connection. I’m anxious to see how it’s played out. And I can’t wait to see more on Cassie’s dad. And of course, I know there will be some major craziness coming especially if Faye gets hooked on this drug. I really liked seeing a little bit of the past and seeing that softer side to Jake last night. Still like Adam, but want to see Cassie and Jake have a moment or two. I’m wondering how long Diana will stick with “just being friends” with Adam. I have a feeling they’ll hook back up for a little bit. Still hoping they have Adam go look for the Master Tools. But we’ll see.

My TBR pile is still humongous. I’m almost finished reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris. I’m really liking it so far. After that, I’ll read Passion by Lauren Kate (which I bought last October for my birthday). Yeah, as you can tell my TBR pile hasn’t been touched much lately (LOL). And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I hope my hubby gets me a gift card for books (or a bouquet of books would be kind of flipping awesome).

Have some crazy stuff going on regarding the writing front. Still waiting to hear back on some stuff (eek). I’m leaning toward writing two books at once. I want to get book 2 for My Dad’s a Paranormal Investigator written. I’ve got some research I need to do on it, but I’m hoping to get that underway soon. I also want to work on another book that I have some great ideas for (YA Fantasy). But that’s going to be more of rewrite/overhaul than anything.

Also, have to give props to my girls over at YAFF (Traci, Min, Pen, Vanessa, Jenn, Barb, Rachel, and Kelbian) and also my Non-YAFF writing friends (Angie and Lee) this week for your lovely emails/PM’s etc. You’ve totally been dolls.

I hope everyone has a FABULOUS weekend. Try and stay warm!!!!

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I totally dropped the ball today (ahhh). I was supposed to have my YAFF MUSE short story up, and well, I got busy and forgot to write it (gulp). Yeah, I know (LOL). So instead I decided to share a little snippet of my current MS I’m working on, which is a YA Fantasy/Horror.  I’m almost ½ way through writing it and am TOTALLY GEEKED.

 

This is a first draft, so keep that in mind when you’re reading it.  Even my crit group hasn’t seen this small section yet (hehehe). 

 

This wasn’t happening.  I needed to save him. 

Claws swiped the air in front of me, raking across his chest.  Blood spurted from the wound, his agonizing shrieks for help echoing in my mind.  Something warm sprayed my face.

Shaking, I raised a hand to touch it.  Panic coursed through me as I stared at the crimson fluid painting my fingers.

“Leave him alone!  He’s done nothing.”

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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: IMGo796xe by Ardelfin

 

I shivered against the crisp October air, as Ian tugged me toward the park. There in big, bold letters was a sign that read CLOSED. I came to a halt. Not that I was a chicken-shit or anything, but some rules weren’t meant to be broken.

“Come on, Love. We’re only going to the park,” Ian said. His ever adorable British accent would never get old.

He released my hand, staring down at me with stormy gray eyes. His shaggy auburn hair fell across his eyes and he did a quick flip of his head to get it back in place. Ian traced my cheek; his fingers cool against my skin.

“But the sign says they’re closed.” But it wasn’t the only thing that unnerved me. Gram had one strict rule in our house. No going into the park. Ever.

“Lena.” His lips met mine in a small, enticing kiss. “I promise all I want to do is go to the fountain and toss in some coins.” He smiled.

My pulse quickened. I swallowed the lump in my throat, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. He didn’t know my parents were murdered in the park. Ten years ago, today. I’d been six years old, which seemed almost a lifetime ago. But it was time to face my fears. To go back.

“Fine. But we have to make it quick.” I fingered the pentagram necklace at my throat. It felt like fire against my hand. I stiffened.

Ian’s fingers entwined with mine and he led me toward some loose rungs in the gate. We squeezed through. Dead leaves littered the cement walkway, skittering at our feet as the wind picked up. The scent of autumn heavy in the air.

Chills snaked up my back and across my skin. I shouldn’t be here. But before I could change my mind, Ian looped his arm through mine and ushered me toward the fountain. Three stone figures stood in the middle of the fountain. Cold rock cloaks covered the gothic trio as water whispered around their feet.

Ian reached into his pocket, coins jingling in his hand. “Here, you make a wish first.” He clasped my hand.

Something sharp scraped against my palm. “Ow.”

He closed his hand over my fist and the coins. “Throw them in.”

I hesitated as I watched the strange gleam in his eye.

No. Don’t do it

. A voice called in my mind.

My eyes widened. I knew that voice. It belonged to my mom. I took a step away from the fountain, but Ian clutched me tight forcing me to drop the coins into the water.

Wisps of fog swirled around the statues; the water bubbled and boiled as if it was a cauldron hanging over a hearth.

“What have you done?” I shrieked.

But Ian only stared at the sculptures. The stone cloaks fell away from the statues heads. Then I saw her. My mother. And next to her was my dad.

“Lena, you have to stop this.” Mom’s eyes darted to the third and final statue. “Before the spell is completely broken.”

“Oh, Goddess.” Blood red hair burst with flames, eyes the color of hot coals sizzled with power. A fire demon.

Ian bowed before the demon. “Master, I’ve come to free you.”

“The hell you have.” I tore the dagger from my belt. “I Lena, light witch of the Goddess invoke the spirit of earth to bind the demon.” In one swift motion, I sliced my palm and dripped blood into the fountain’s water.

I turned to Ian, who glared at me. “You can’t stop this. The demon will be free.”

“No. She’ll destroy everything. Even you.” I knew I had to make the sacrifice, even as I stared at the tears in my mother’s eyes. She didn’t want this for me. But she’d already done her duty. Now it was my turn.

Without a second thought, I lunged at Ian with the blade, catching him in the arm. But it was enough. We both tumbled into the fountain.

“No.” Ian tried to stand, but I clung to him.

“Great towers, I invoke thee. Bind us and use us as instruments of your will. Earth, I invoke thee. Water, I invoke thee. Air, I invoke thee. Fire, I invoke thee.”

Power surged through my blood. A great light burst from the sky. The ground trembled beneath our feet. The shriek of the demon was the last thing I heard as me, Ian, and the demon were turned into stone.

It was my turn to guard the demon and her subject. Like my mother and father before me.

 

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

Kit Forbes

Jenn Fischetto

Joey Nichols

Miranda Buchanan

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

 

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I’d like to welcome YA author and fellow critique group member Kit Forbes to my blog. Kit graciously let me interview her about her new release: Falling Through Glass.  In honor of her first YA I’m giving away an ebook copy of My Dad’s a Paranormal Investigator to one commenter. So make sure you stop in and say hi. And please leave an email so I can contact you if you win.  I’ll draw the winner on Monday (Memorial Day).

Tell us a little something about your book and what genre it is?

A: It’s a time travel romance I feel will appeal to the high school crowd and up.

Japanese-American Emiko Maeda set aside her studies following the sudden death of her father. At odds with her mother and burdened with the guilt over her role in the tragic accident, she moves in with her uncle Jake and comes into possession of an antique mirror. While accompanying Jake to Japan on a film shoot, Emmi is caught in a freak storm and plunged through time–into Feudal Japan and the world of samurai.

Kyoto, Japan
1864

The city of Kyoto is ablaze with violence and on the brink of civil war. Nakagawa Kaemon is a young samurai with a secret. He gathers information on those who claim to “Revere the emperor” but harbor their own agenda to control the country. Kae is honor bound to execute anyone who poses a threat to the throne even if it is Emmi, the unusual young woman he has come to love.

Shameless Plug: It’s available for Kindle: http://amzn.to/muYdy5

Nook: http://bit.ly/jVLl93    

All Romance ebooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-fallingthroughglass-549999-141.html

and directly through the publisher Noble Young Adult: https://www.nobleyoungadult.com/Books/288        

What character(s) do you like the most and why? If someone made a movie of your book, which actors/actresses would play your characters?

A: I think my favorites have to be the Shinsengumi guys. Seeing their anime versions in the old Rurouni Kenshin show is what got me interested in the history of the period.

While these actors were closer to the right ages back when I first had the idea they probably couldn’t pull off Em & Kae now, since they aren’t household name to most readers I scrounged up a couple pictures via a wiki and a scene from a film that made me fangirlish glee and go “That’s My Hero!”

Kazue Fukiishi as Emmi: http://es.drama.wikia.com/wiki/Fukiishi_Kazue

Yosuke Kubozuka as Kae (scene from the film Makai Tensho (Samurai Resurrection) : http://www.kitforbes.com/images/KubozukaYosuke_Kae.jpg

 

What are your favorite books? And is there any book in particular that made you want to become a writer?

A: Wow. I have a bunch. I used to love the old gothic romances of Barbara Michaels and all things horror and sweeping historical sagas. On the YA front I really like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher,
Saundra Mitchell’s Shadowed Summer (still dying to read her newest), The Mediator series by Meg Cabot and her Avalon High.

I think it’s a culmination of the gazillion different types of books I read. It sort of all came together when I fell in love with Anne Rice’s Louis and Lestat and had ot continue their story in my head. and had to write it down.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without while writing?

A: That’s a tough one. I’d say coffee or real sugar Pepsi or Coke depending on the time of day. ^_^

Reality or Fantasy?

A: I have to say combinations thereof. I do love me my paranormal elements.

Your favorite snack?

A: Ooh another toughie. Popcorn and/or Froot Loops

Who’s your literary crush?

A: For the past year it’s been the members of my critique group. ^_^ They’re all talented and productive. *poke poke*

Lastly, what’s your favorite season?

A: We don’t seem to have seasons around here anymore. It tends to slide from too cold to too hot with only a wee bit of “Ah that’s the stuff”.

Thanks so much Kit for dropping by. I’ve enjoyed having you. Be sure to keep up with Kit Forbes. I hear she’s working on some fabulous new stuff!

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