Thursday, July 28, 2011

Storyteller Book Trailer is up!

Follow the link below to youtube where you can watch the totally awesome book trailer for Storyteller.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

cousin pearl

The train rails gleamed in the sun, blades cutting the morning.  Leddy searched them, like she did every morning since Pearl died, for some sign of her cousin - a strand of her blue-black hair, a shred of her skirt.  Nothing, but empty cigarette cartons littered the tracks now.  The railroad men had come and wiped any trace of Pearlfrom the rails.  All that remained was her voice, her siren’s song seeping from the train whistle on the distant breeze, awful and beautiful at the same time. 

            Leddy only heard it when she was alone.  Usually, her brother Miguel walked to school with her, but he was in bed sick this morning.  She had begged him to get up.  Leddy quickened her pace and tried not to think aboutPearl.  Did she feel it when the train cut through her?  Leddy prayed the meth inPearl’s blood had blocked all sensation somehow.

            Cesar was across the tracks, slumped on the sidewalk outside the bar he spent the night in.  There was no way around him.  Leddy wanted to rip out his eyes and spit venom in the empty sockets.  She stared straight ahead, heart hammering.

            “Amiga!” Cesar called. “Leddy!” 

Leddy broke into a run past him, but somehow he caught her and spun her around.

            “I’m talking to you!” he screamed in her face.  Leddy just shook her head.

            “I didn’t kill her,” he pleaded, his rancid day-after booze smell oozing all over her.  “I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a lie!”

            Leddy looked into the dilated black pits of his eyes and wondered if this was whatPearl saw.  Cesar had been handsome once.  The cousins had giggled about it.  Now, all Leddy could see was the shine of spittle on his rotting dirt-colored teeth.  His soul was gone. 

Did he kiss her with those crusted, sore-laden lips before he gave her the hit?  Leddy shuddered realizing this man had killedPearlas surely as if he had laid her head on the tracks himself.  Cesar recognized the accusation in Leddy’s eyes.  The scream of a train pulling into town startled him.

            “Did you hear that?”  His bony fingers dug into the soft flesh of her arms as he twisted to look down the tracks.

 How could she not? Pearl’s voice cried a warning Leddy couldn’t ignore.  It screamed “Run!”

“It’s her,” said Cesar.  He blinked too many times, salty tears at the corners of his bloody eyes.  “She won’t stop.  Make it stop!” 

Cesar let go of Leddy to claw at his ears, tortured by an invisible beast.  Leddy ran all the way to school, but she could hear Cesar shouting above the clatter of the train for several blocks.

“Tell her to stop it, Leddy!  Make it stop!”

All day, Leddy tried to focus on school, but her mind kept drifting back to when they first came toIdaho, following the work.  If they had stayed inCalifornia, maybePearlwould still be here, maybe she never would have fallen under Cesar’s spell.  Her cousin, her idol, all Leddy ever wanted to be wasPearl.  How could she step in front of that train and leave Leddy alone here?

“It was Cesar,” the ghost whispered again and again.  “He’s to blame.”

Leddy started for home, knowing what was in store for her down by the tracks.  She turned down a different street, hoping to delay the inevitable.  Cesar was there, waiting for her.  This time when she ran, she made it across the tracks before he caught up to her.  His malt liquor lunch made him sluggish.

“You’ve got to help me,” Cesar begged, still standing on the tracks.  “I can’t get her voice out of my head.  She’s trying to drive me crazy.”

A train was coming.  They always came, crying out before they reached the crossing. Pearl’s calm, reassuring voice wafted to Leddy’s ears.  It said “wait”.  Leddy paused and turned to look at the shell of a human being behind her, teetering on the tracks.  The power of the coming engine pulsed through her body.  She feltPearl’s smoldering hate in her chest.

Don’t do it,Pearl, Leddy prayed.  Don’t.

The whistle came again, much louder now.  Shocked out of his stupor byPearl’s scream, Cesar stepped off the tracks toward Leddy.  She backed away, even as the ghost pleaded with her to wait just a moment more.  The engine bearing down on them drowned them in its diesel-throated roar.  Its constant scream now joined the agonizing shriek of metal against metal as the train tried to stop. 

Leddy saw Cesar’s mouth say “Help me!” but she never heard his voice.  His eyes followed Leddy’s to the train, knowing it was coming for him, both fearing and welcoming it.  He swayed almost peacefully to the deafening throb of the engine and suddenly stumbled back, as if pushed. 

Pearl, don’t!  Leddy lurched forward to grab Cesar’s hand,Pearl’s painful voice wailing in her ears.  She caught only the rushing wind in her fingers as Cesar was swept away by the screeching train.  Leddy wept when she realizedPearl’s voice was silent.  She was finally gone.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To celebrate my upcoming birthday~

Here's a coupon code to download the new ebook for free -  GY49P.  They have it in about every format you might possibly want.  The coupon is only good until August 1, just so you know.

I'd really love to get some reviews, so if you have an opinion, don't be shy.  Post it on Smashwords or here at the blog.  And feel free to pass along the coupon to any of your friends!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Full Moon publishing

Well, the plunge is officially taken.  Maybe the full moon tonight had something to do with it.  Storyteller is up on the web.  I'm not gonna lie to you; I take great comfort in the fact that it can be pulled at any time!  If I suddenly wake up tomorrow and realize I've made a terrible mistake, I can always take it back.  Right now, the ebook is only on Smashwords, but once they get through their quality control review (about a week, they say), it will be distributed to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.  Very exciting stuff!!

I want to take the opportunity to thank some special people who helped me tremendously with this.  Anika Henrikson read this thing more times than any human being probably should.  They don't call her the comma queen for nothing!  Her meticulous editing and critique helped improve the book and I will be forever grateful for her help.  Anika also took great care with this writer's fragile ego while still challenging me.  She's been an enthusiatic cheerleader all along.

Anika's mom, Suzann, has been a friend of mine for probably over 20 years now.  I don't know where the time went, but I'm sure thankful we got the share this journey.  She's always been there to share joys and frustrations, no matter how many miles apart we were.  She's working on a Storyteller book trailer for me, entirely out of the goodness of her heart.  It's going to be awesome when it's done because that's what everything Suzann touches is - perfect.  I'll be sure to post it here when it's done.

And lastly, I want to thank a new twitter friend, Chris Ash, for taking my cover idea and transforming it into something amazing.  For technical reasons beyond my control, I can't seem to insert it here, but I will figure it out.  You can always visit the link above to see it too.  Thank you, Chris, for taking pity on me and making a really nice cover for me.  I'm in your debt.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Here's a sample chapter ~enjoy!

Chapter 1  Lily Lightfoot, the Storyteller


Weird was quickly becoming a fact of life for Lily Lightfoot.   For the third time in a week, she got the feeling invisible icy fingers were slipping down the back of her neck, seeping into her spine.  It was if something was tugging at her very bones, pulling her toward her future.  She walked along a broken sidewalk littered with fall leaves toward her school; her friend Peter up ahead on his skateboard.  The crisp air was heavy with the moldy smell of decay as the skateboard clicked on the cracks in the sidewalk.

Spinning around, Lily saw nothing but leaves rustling as the wind swished them across the sidewalk.  Lily pulled her coat closer around herself and sighed.  Maybe she really was losing her mind.  Everyone else seemed to think so.  Peter was probably the only kid in school who didn’t cringe when she walked into a room.  Ever since she gave her entire second grade class the chicken pox, just by telling a story, everyone had avoided her.  That was before Peter moved to Maplewood.  Lily had a feeling he might see things differently if he had witnessed the infamous pox incident.  Peter stomped the end of his skateboard, stopping it, and looked back at her.

“Hurry up, Lily!” he said.  Why he walked to school with her every day was a mystery to Lily.  Peter had lots of friends - normal kids - he could hang out with.  Still, Lily was glad he didn’t seem to mind her little quirks.  OK, so maybe they were big quirks.

“I’m coming,” said Lily.  “Unfortunately,” she added under her breath.

“So, tell me a story,” said Peter.  He grabbed the end of his board and walked next to Lily.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, staring straight ahead.

“C’mon, witch girl,” Peter teased, pushing the dark brown hair out of his eyes.

“What kind of story?” asked Lily, annoyed that Peter would call her that.  Still, it was better than “freakazoid,” which was what most people called her.

“You know, the kind where you make something up and then it happens,” he said.

“I don’t know, Peter.  That last one got me in trouble,” said Lily, remembering the math test two weeks ago.  Peter had bet Lily he would score higher than she would and she wanted to put him in his place.  Unfortunately, she flubbed the story trying to whisper it during the test so no one could hear.

“His answers are gone,” she said softly.  Not only did Peter’s answers disappear, so did every other guy’s in the class.

“Yeah, but you have to admit, it was pretty funny watching Mrs. Doorman trying to figure out what happened,” said Peter.  Lily grinned at the memory of her poor, frantic teacher.   She didn’t mean to upset Mrs. Doorman.  If only she could get the hang of storytelling.

“Just a little one?  It’s so cool,” begged Peter, smiling sweetly.

“Nothing big?” asked Lily.  She had promised her grandmother she wouldn’t tell any more stories, but it was hard to tell Peter no.

“No, nothing big,” said Peter, grinning. How could she disappoint her best friend in the world?

“Are you sure you’re prepared for the consequences?  You know I can’t always control what happens,” she asked.

“I’m not scared,” he said.

“Well, all right.  Just a little one.”  Lily stepped over the smashed remains of a jack-o’-lantern on the sidewalk, scrunching up her freckled nose.

“Tell a story that will help me pass pre-algebra,” said Peter close to her ear.

Lily smirked at him.  She thought to herself, and closed her eyes in concentration until she got that familiar tingle in her toes, like they’d gone to sleep.  She listened for the warbling of birds, like far away meadowlarks she always heard before storytelling.  Sometimes it took awhile to hear them, but today they sang instantly.  Lily opened her green eyes and began her tale.  Peter listened closely.

“The boy who smashed this pumpkin will come around the corner in two minutes and slip on the mess he made,” said Lily.

Peter interrupted impatiently.  “Lily!  I just wanted you to help me pass math.”

“I’m not cheating again.  I’ll help you study.  Here he comes now.  Better stand over there,” said Lily, pointing as she backed off the sidewalk.

Sure enough, a burly eighth grader named Dillon Thompson raced around the corner on his bike.  He hit the slimy pumpkin smear and launched into the neighbor’s bushes where he lay stunned for a moment.

Lily and Peter were stunned, too.  Dillon was built like a bulldog and no one with any sense ever messed with him.

“Run!” shouted Peter as they both tore down the street.  Finally rounding the corner by their school, Lily stopped to catch her breath, and giggled at Peter.

“You didn’t tell me it was gonna be Dillon,” said Peter, laughing with her.

“I warned you.  Run!” she teased him in mock terror.  A snide voice interrupted them.

“What’s so funny?”

Lily turned around to see Heather Whipple, a blonde with a permanent sneer staining her otherwise pretty face.  The sight of Heather always made Lily slightly ill, like when she ate too many of Gran’s homemade caramels and they threatened to come back up.  Heather sort of looked like she felt the same way about Lily.  She seemed to suck the happiness right out of the air around them.

“Oh, nothing,” said Peter, smirking.

“Did your little witch friend do another trick?” asked Heather, joining her own friends.

“She’s not a witch,” shouted Peter after her.  “Don’t pay any attention to her, Lily.”

“It’s all right.  I know everyone hates me.”

“No they don’t,” Peter tried to convince her.  “Only Heather hates you.  Everyone else just thinks you’re a little weird.”  Lily gave him a sour look.

“That helps a lot, Peter.  I think maybe I’ll skip school today.”

“Don’t be crazy.  Your grandma would find out,” warned Peter.

“Not if you don’t tell her.”

“You can’t skip today.  We have a history test.”

Lily groaned.

“Did you forget again?” asked Peter.

“Um…sort of,” admitted Lily.

After lunch, the seventh graders had twenty minutes to enjoy the beautiful fall sunshine outside.  Peter played basketball with some friends while Lily sat on a bench and tried to study for the history test she had forgotten about.  Nothing she read seemed to want to stick in her brain.  She tried to ignore Heather’s voice, which was just loud enough for Lily to hear.

“I don’t know why she bothers,” Heather was saying.  “She’s such a retard.”

Lily rolled her eyes.

“I can hear you, Heather!” Lily shouted.

“I don’t care, Lily!” Heather sassed back.

Lily slammed her book shut and retreated to the bathroom.  It’s a good thing for her I promised Gran no stories, thought Lily.  She doesn’t know how lucky she is.  Still, it didn’t stop Lily from imagining ten different ways to humiliate Heather.  Lily had experimented with storytelling from time to time, just to test her limits.  She knew she could affect things that already existed, but she couldn’t make a million dollars appear out of thin air or make it rain cupcakes, although she had really tried.  A lot.

Instead, Lily half-heartedly tried to study history in the bathroom, sitting in the last stall nearest the window.  It was the closest thing to a hiding spot she was able to find in her school. 

“Three things that start with ‘p’,” Lily told herself.  It was her way of focusing, or maybe just a way of forgetting what was bothering her.  Whatever it was, it usually worked.

“Pickles, pecan pie, pumpernickel.”

Ten minutes later, when the bathroom door opened and someone walked in, Lily pulled up her feet and sat quietly, hoping no one would discover her.

 “Do you think he will ask you to the dance?” said a girl’s voice.

“I don’t know.  He can’t seem to get away from Lily long enough to talk to me,” answered another girl.  Lily’s ears perked up when she heard her own name.  She knew without looking, it was Heather Whipple.  Her stomach knotted.  They were talking about Peter.

“Why does he do that?  Does her grandma pay him or something?” asked the first girl.

“No, I think he’s just kind of dumb,” said Heather, laughing as if she was funny.  The knot in Lily’s stomach exploded and she burst out of the stall, banging the next stall hard with the door.  Heather and her friend, Abigail, jumped.  Lily stared at Heather, her history book still hanging in one hand.

“Lily,” said Heather, surprised.

“I don’t ever expect you to forgive me.  I gave up trying to be your friend a long time ago,” said Lily, walking over to look Heather in the eyes.  “Say anything you want about me, but don’t you dare talk about Peter like that.”

The bell rang before Heather could answer.  Lily grabbed her backpack and left without another word.

Lily’s next class was art, which she loved almost as much as English.  The best part about it was Heather wasn’t in it.  Lily spent most of the hour just swirling colors around with her paintbrush.  No matter how much she tried to enjoy the blue seeping into the white to make the perfect sky color, her mind wouldn’t let her.  Instead, it kept replaying that horrible scene, the day she ruined her friendship with Heather last year.  If Heather had any sense of humor at all, it might have been forgotten long ago, but she refused to let it go. 

In history, Lily pored over her test.  There were at least two questions she didn’t have the slightest idea how to answer and probably four more she wasn’t sure about, but she was pleased to discover she actually remembered some of what she had read.  Maybe Coach McAllister’s tests were just a little easier during football season. 

Next to her, Heather was scribbling away on her test with her usual know-it-all look.  Lily saw her sneak a peek at Peter before her gaze flickered back to Lily with a look in her eyes Lily couldn’t read.  Caught, Heather shot Lily a dirty look and covered her paper.  Lily’s own anger flared up again, surprising her.  It wasn’t as if she needed to defend Peter, or that he even cared what Heather thought of him. 

Lily tried to concentrate on question number fifteen, but her brain turned to Jell-o.  She rubbed her eyes, trying to fight off the strange, sleepy feeling creeping into her head.  It was no use.  She lay her head on the desk, unable to keep her eyes open any longer.

In a dream, Lily walked through a dark forest of gnarled trees.  The branches grew so thick, light could barely penetrate.  Deep in the forest, Lily caught sight of a woman with dark hair and dazzling green eyes.  Lily called to her, but the woman didn’t seem to hear her.  She ran after the woman, but lost her in the maze of thick, black tree trunks. 

“Lily,” a voice called.  The sound was warm and inviting.  Lily wanted to run toward it, but she couldn’t tell where it came from.

“Where are you?” Lily called back.

“Here,” said the voice behind her.  Lily spun around to see the dark haired woman.

“Mom?” said Lily, hoping it was her.

“Lily, I need you,” the woman said.  “I can’t do this alone.”

“Do what?” asked Lily.  “Who are you?”

“You already know,” she said.  “Hurry!”

A light hand on her shoulder startled Lily awake.

“Lily!” Peter whispered.  “Wake up!”

Lily woke with a start.  The class was handing in their papers.  She looked down at her unfinished test, not really caring about her grade anymore.  Peter looked worried.

“I saw her!” Lily whispered back to him.

“Who?” asked Peter.

“My mother.  She said she needs me,” said Lily.

Heather’s cold voice cut in.

“Don’t be stupid.  Everyone knows your mother’s dead.”

Lily glared at Heather and her perpetual sneer, as if something always smelled bad to her.

“What do you know about my mother?” said Lily through clenched teeth.  She could hear the sound of her birds again.  Instead of singing, they were clamoring like restless shore birds.

“Whatever,” Heather said, turning to Peter.  “Lily is going crazy if you ask me.  She’ll probably end up in the loony bin pretty soon.  I wouldn’t hang around with her if I were you.”

Peter just shook his head, but Lily couldn’t stand it anymore. 

“I hope you flunk!” she cried, the chatter of birds only she could hear filling her ears. 

Lily grabbed Heather’s blond curls and pulled hard, yanking a good fistful of hair out of Heather’s awful head before Peter could stop her.  Heather screamed.

“Mr. McAllister!” Heather shrieked.  “Lily attacked me!”

“What’s going on?” asked Coach McAllister, his bulging eyes locked on Lily.  “I have just about had it with you two.”

He stalked up the aisle toward Peter and Lily.

“I didn’t do anything!” Peter protested.

“Is that true?” asked Coach McAllister, eyeing Lily.

“Peter was just trying to help me,” offered Lily, silently hiding the fistful of golden hair inside her desk.

“Cheating?  You were cheating?” shouted Coach McAllister.  “Give me your papers, now!”

“No!  He was just telling Heather to leave me alone,” said Lily.

The teacher grabbed all of their papers.  He scanned the tests quickly, disbelief spreading across his face.

“Heather, all your answers are wrong,” said the coach.

“What?” cried Heather, still holding her head where Lily had yanked her hair.  Lily gave Peter a little smile, knowing her storytelling had changed Heather’s answers.  Peter wasn’t smiling back.  He looked kind of angry, in fact.  By the looks of his scowl, Coach McAllister wasn’t amused either.

“Lily, go to the principal’s office,” he said.

“But…” Lily tried to explain.

“Go!” shouted the teacher.

As Lily slunk out of the room, she could feel Heather’s voice stab her in the back.

“Freak!” Heather said in disgust.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tell me what you think of this ebook cover

We all judge books by their covers, admit it.  Let me know how you like this one.  Thanks!


If Storyteller had a book jacket, here’s what it might say:

Your best friend is really your guardian.

Your grandmother is really a fairy.

Your birthday present holds a magical power.

And you think your nemesis is just a 13 year old girl.

That was before you encountered The Morrow, a creature from another world sent to stop you from fulfilling your destiny.

 Thirteen year old Lily knows she can make weird things happen, just by telling a story.  It’s a gift she can’t always control, making her the queen of seventh grade outcasts.  She can’t make a million dollars appear out of thin air or make it rain cupcakes, but it’s not for lack of trying.  More than anything, she wants to see her mom, who’s left her in the care of her unconventional grandmother, Gwendolyn, and her only friend, Peter.

When Lily finds a strange fairytale book, she’s drawn into a fantasy world where her mother waits for her.  When her grandmother admits to Lily they are fairies, hiding in this world from dark forces in another place, Lily is convinced the book she’s been reading is real.  According to the book, those dark forces now threaten to destroy her mother.  What Lily doesn’t know is they are already hunting her as well.

Despite the dire warnings of Gwendolyn and Peter, Lily embarks on a mission to find a way into the fantasy world to save her mom.  The events she sets into motion with the telling of a story will change all of their lives forever. 

 An early beta reader review:

 “I read Storyteller and I really liked it. I’m not much for fantasy-type stories, but this was really good! I think you developed the characters well, you balanced descriptive prose with dialogue nicely, the plot was definitive and the story moved along well. It was difficult to put down-which in my mind is what every author wants!”