Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Writing

What Am I Doing? ~ Blog Update

Hi everyone,

So, it’s been pretty quiet here on the blog ~ sorry about that.

Besides finishing up the final edit on TRUE (Fire Born 3) which has been both awesome and kind of sad, I’ve been working my way through two other YA stories, plus I have some exciting news about a third. 🙂 Still can’t say what that news is … but I’ll be making an announcement soon, I hope.

In the meantime, here’s a small teaser for what’s in store:

“It’s four fifteen in the morning, and I’m afraid to even venture why I received a notice for you to appear in front of the Warden later today, and Danny has nothing to say, which could only mean one thing—” Plumb looked Cole up and down. “With the condition you’re in, I’m not sure I want to know where you’ve been.”

“You probably don’t.” Cole held his hand out for the summons.

Plumb handed the paper over, scowling. “Are you going to tell me where you’ve been?”

“Thought you didn’t want to know.” He walked toward the porch.

“Cole.”

“I’m tired as hell. I’ve been up all night.” He turned to face her. “I need to get some sleep.”

“What were you doing in the middle of the night that the Principals couldn’t handle?”

“A girl.”

“Excuse me?”

“No … I, no, I wasn’t doing … a girl. She just … never mind.”

********

 

🙂


#TeaserTenth ~ #YA #UF

teasertenthbadge

#TeaserTenth is a monthly meme for writers, both published and unpublished. It’s a great opportunity to meet other writers, as well as readers, by sharing a sampling (10 lines or less) of the stories we are working on, or have already published.

Feel free to join! (click the badge above for details.)

This week, I’ve decided to share lines from one of my works in progress. This is taken from a random spot in the book. (unedited.)

Enjoy!

“It’s four fifteen in the morning, and I’m afraid to even venture why I received a notice for you to appear in front of the Warden later today, and Danny has nothing to say, which could only mean one thing—” Plumb looked Cole up and down. “With the condition you’re in, I’m not sure I want to know where you’ve been.”

“You probably don’t.” Cole held his hand out for the summons.

Plumb handed the paper over, scowling. “Are you going to tell me where you’ve been?”

“Thought you didn’t want to know.” He walked toward the porch.

“Cole.”

“I’m tired as hell. I’ve been up all night.” He turned to face her. “I need to get some sleep.”

“What were you doing in the middle of the night that the Principals couldn’t handle?”

“A girl.”

“Excuse me?”

“No … I, no, I wasn’t doing … a girl. She just … never mind.”

********

Thanks for reading! 🙂

To join in here’s the link: http://www.jabelfield.com/teaser-tenth.html

And a big Thank You to J.A. Belfield for creating the meme.


Re-Release ~ INSTINCT by J.A. Belfield #Giveaway #HollowayPack

Today, I am sharing J.A. Belfield’s Re-Release of INSTINCT (plus a new cover!)

AND we have a Giveaway ,,, AND a sale.

 

perf5.250x8.000.indd

 FOR ONE WEEK ONLY: Jan 23 – Feb 1.

perf5.250x8.000.inddBlurb:

Werewolf Sean Holloway treats the village marketplace like a sexual buffet, though his charm does little to win over his latest entrée of choice. Whether because of Jem Stonehouse’s unique scent, her headstrong nonchalance, or the fact he is forbidden to see her by his pack’s rules, Sean wants her.

When Jem is nothing but flippant toward his advances, he pursues her with vigour, stealing moments alone with her without a libido-driven agenda.

The new and heady experience for him drives their relationship beyond romantic interest, and straight toward love.

That is, until Jem learns the truth about Sean’s heritage. Knowledge of the existence of werewolves leads to only one outcome: death.

In this prequel to Darkness & Light*, we are taken back in time, to the very beginning of Jem and Sean’s love-across-the-centuries relationship.

Did it end there? Or did Sean defy his own pack to save the woman he loves?

*Can be read as a standalone.

EXCERPT:

The marketplace had to be the best venue to pick up females. At the age of twenty, I would have been happy to visit every day, but James would not permit me. As Alpha, his commands were followed without question, so my visits were limited to once a week. I had to admit, it worked out better that way.

From fruit to art, to lace, to the blacksmith’s stall, I walked. Paintings of marketplaces often depicted them as cheery, colourful, and bustling with activity. The latter conception may have been correct; although, they leaned more toward grey and dreary than bright, and the air often filled with yells of anger and bitterness, as opposed to joyful greetings.

At least there were the scents: hams and boars’ heads, fruits, wines, the steam of cooking soups, and, my most favourite of all, the freshness of ripe women. Lorna Rushford, Helena Longbarrow, Matilda Thornberry named only a few, each of those alone bringing with her a memory.

The females noticed me as much as I did them, even though my past catches never approached, never asked why I had not called to visit, or if I would tend them again. Of course, my refusal to conform to the current trends in attire ensured I stood out from the other males who bothered to arrive. Whereas the women’s glances would be appraising, perhaps even hopeful, the men’s glares offered nothing but scorn for my dark trousers tucked into knee-high leather boots, and for the shirts I never bothered to secure with their woven laces. Men had been hung for far less than inconsiderate fashion sense, yet I did not care. I was not like them and never pretended to be.

A whisper drifted across, as I meandered through the crowd: “’Tis Mr Holloway, Eleanor.”

With a tilt of my head, I spotted the speaker leaning into her sister, who fluttered her lashes in a clear attempt to catch my attention.

Eleanor had turned out to be a worthy virgin. The scent of her blood had driven me wild as I had plunged into her.

I smiled to myself as I turned away.

Farther along, pausing to sample the crisp apples, I caught Mrs Lawson’s scent. The older ladies may not have been as pure, but they could not be denied their eagerness to please. For that reason alone, they made for an entertaining afternoon.

My nose lifted to track her, and I found the woman beyond a table stacked high with fresh loaves, hidden behind her fan, which she waved with vigour. I recalled that her petticoat had held many layers, and the removal of them turned out to be almost as much fun as the act itself. I wondered how she had explained the damage to her pompous husband.

At a new aroma begging for notice, my step faltered as my nostrils flared.

Strong, yet understated, alluring and seductive, the unsullied flavour carried the exceptional deliciousness of womanly musk. Possessed by a need to find the source, I tilted my head and allowed my nose to lead.

It should have been difficult, impossible even, to locate such subtlety amongst the overpowering wafts of food and body odours, yet the strong pull beckoned to me, drawing me on.

Whispers continued, as I passed one stall after another, but they no longer held my interest. My mind seemed only able to focus on the unfamiliar scent. Although it intensified with each step, I half wished for a stronger breeze to invade the clear morning, to bring me a more wholesome dose and appease my sudden and unbidden greed.

My eyes shifted, as I moved, searching. I skimmed over those who held no appeal, the ones whose flavour had already been tasted, until, at the end of the row ahead, I spotted two young women.

From the angle of their positions, I doubted they could see me. The purchasing of herbs distracted the darker haired of the two. Animated, she possessed a flamboyance which showed in her movements, and in her pleasant tones, as she bartered with the stall owner.

I imagined she would get her own way with the price.

To her side stood a fairer female, with a quiet calm that showed in the relaxed set of her shoulders. Taking a step closer, I studied her.

Appearing younger, almost lacking in confidence, she was also somewhat taller and certainly far more beautiful. I did not recognise her, yet could not mistake her scent. I had been tracking it for the past five minutes.

Leaning across the jewellery on the stall beside me, I caught the proprietor’s attention. “Who is the girl?” I asked, pointing toward the one who held me so rapt.

“Regular of mine.” He nodded and smiled. “The Stonehouse sisters often purchase my quartz and amethyst.”

As he spoke their name in a conspicuous overtone, the females turned.

Blue eyes, as dark as sapphires, appraised me from beneath wisps of blonde, and a smile widened the girl’s lips, as my own mouth curved at the corners.

Beside her, the darker girl leaned into the fair tresses of her sister. “Sean Holloway is a ladies’ man and not to be trusted,” she hissed, her words carrying to me with ease, before she walked off. When her sister remained, gaze locked with mine, the seemingly older girl called out, “Come along, Jem. Mother is waiting.”

My eyebrow twitched upward. Jem?

With her attention tugged back toward her departing sibling, she dipped her head and followed behind.

Still, the essence her body had left in its wake lured me, and, unable to do otherwise, I trailed after her.

Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

Goodreads

GIVEAWAY:

Prize: $10 Gift Card + an ecopy of Eternal, the sequel novella to Instinct.

eternal-cover-300px gc10

TO Enter go Here: RAFFLECOPTER

Good LUCK!!

 

Giveaway Rules can be found HERE!


Midwinter’s Eve Winner Announced

Thank you to everyone who entered the

Midwinter’s Eve Blog Hop Giveaway.

 

2013-Midwinters-Eve-Hop

Random.org has chosen:

Diane Elizabeth as the winner.

Congrats!

You’ve won a copy of CRUX by Julie Reece

and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Check your email for your prizes

and thanks for entering!


Read Chapter Two of TIED (FireBorn1) by @LaneyMcMann @JTaylorPub #YA

To celebrate the holiday season, I’ll be sharing the first few chapters of TIED, book 1 in the Fire Born Novels trilogy, over the next few days.

ENJOY!

 

perf5.250x8.000.indd

YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Here is chapter one if you missed it: TIED 

CHAPTER TWO

I tiptoed up the steps to my house, the wooden planks on the deck creaking under my feet. Easing the backdoor open, careful to keep the hinges from squeaking, I brushed the sand off, and ducked in time to miss the new wind chime hanging from the ceiling. My mom wouldn’t be understanding if she found me sneaking in again, and I’d never been able to explain what kept happening to me.

Creeping down the dark hallway, I dodged the night-light’s glow and crawled into bed. Five A.M. pulsed on my alarm clock, turning the white ceiling a fluorescent shade of orange. I stared at the light until my eyes watered, the weight of exhaustion blanketing me in a continual haze. I didn’t sleep. Not much, anyway. Staying awake kept most of the visions at bay—the ones I didn’t invite in, visions that used to wake me in the middle of the night in a cold, terrified sweat.

I lay, staring blurry-eyed into nothing. The face I knew so well came into focus, and I smiled in spite of myself, knowing I should push the thoughts away—knowing I made myself crazy by thinking about him.

I missed Max more than I’d ever missed anyone in my life. For years, I’d tried to will him to return. He never did. Max didn’t exist. Somehow, I’d created an imaginary life, and my heart ached for it. For him.

I wiped the tears from my face, got out of bed and pinned down my mass of scraggly hair. The sound of my mother banging around in the kitchen reached my room, her percolating coffee permeating the air. The aroma, I loved; the drink, I didn’t.

Bare feet peeked under the refrigerator door as I rounded the corner into the kitchen from the stairs, our cat meowing hungrily at the hem of my mother’s pink bathrobe.

“Aw, Teine. Look at you.” She reached for my cheeks over the top of the door, but I dodged her hands. “Your eyes are so dark. I think you’re overdoing it.”

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“You’re continually trying to convince me of that, but …” She shook her head, eyes cast down toward my clothes.

I glanced at my worn-out pink ballet tights with only a few holes, and my black faded leotard, partially covered by a too large, and beat up, grey sweatshirt. “What?”

She shook her head again. “Teine . . .” She sighed. “Benny is outside. Can you feed Kaevnor before you leave, please? She’s been pestering me all morning.”

“Why is Benny here?” Kaevnor ran to my side as I poured her food. “I’m supposed to pick her up.”

“She didn’t say. I asked her to come in.” My mom shrugged and began unloading the dishwasher.

I pulled on my old, low-top Converse shoes and grabbed my dance bag from beside the front door. “Bye, Mom.”

“Take it easy today, Teine.”

I opened the front door, but before I could leave, my mom rushed up behind me, breathless. “You forgot your juice.” She held it out, tucking stray hairs behind my ears and smoothing out my bun before shaking her head.

My shoulders slumped. I hadn’t forgotten, but I’d hoped she had. “Mom . . .” I groaned. “I hate that stuff.”

“It’s good for you. Drink up.”

I held my nose and gulped it in one swallow before breathing again. “Ugh. It tastes like freshly mown grass.”

“Old family recipe. Keeps you strong and focused.”

“Yeah, right. More like weak and nauseous.”

Thick early morning air hung on my clothes as I walked outside and found Benny dancing in the driveway next to my car with her iPod blaring.

“I was supposed to pick you up,” I said.

She pulled her ear buds out. “What? Oh, yeah, I know.” She smiled and slid into the passenger seat of my nineteen seventy-seven AMC Gremlin—rated nineteenth out of fifty of the worst cars of all time.

I slung my dance bag into the back seat and climbed in after her. The car stalled twice before it started, the engine screaming like a cat caught in the fan belt. I gunned it out of the driveway, afraid it would cut off again, spinning my tires and throwing gravel everywhere.

“In a hurry?” Benny clipped her seatbelt, eyebrows raised.

“No.” I avoided her gaze and turned out onto the road.

“Why so grumpy?” She tilted her head.

“Why so cheerful?” I rubbed my eyes.

“What’s up with you, Layla? You’re like the walking dead these days. I don’t see one speck of green through all the red in your eyes. Your clothes are all random, too. Did you roll out of bed and get dressed in the dark?” Her eyes made an up and down movement as if scanning my entire body.

Next to me, Benny resembled a walking ad for Capezio with her perfect pink tights and her hair tucked into a flawless bun.

I leaned over and cranked the portable satellite radio—the only decent feature about my car—in an attempt to drown out any further conversation she might try to start.

Benny gave me the sideways glare as M83 blared through the speakers. I took the warning as, ‘You better be taking care of yourself, or I’ll take care of you’, as she turned the volume down.

“I’m fine. Drop it.” I turned the music back up. I didn’t need to hear how awful I looked. I knew.

“Your hair’s a mess. Did you sleep?” She shouted loud enough that I could actually hear her. I groaned, trying to block her out. “Who doesn’t brush their hair before they leave the house? Have you even washed it?”

“Benny. Stop.”

She eyed me again and scrolled through the songs on her iPod before shoving her ear buds back in and hitting play.

We drove down US-1, along the coast to school, crawling at thirty-five miles per hour due to tourist season. The blustery weather from the night before had all but vanished, leaving a calm gleam across the surface of the ocean. Devon flew past us, music blaring, and waved out his open window.

We only had a couple weeks until summer break. After that, our senior year would begin, and the sizzle in the air was like a live wire.

“Your boyfriend is going to get pulled over one of these days.” Benny mumbled under her breath, crossing her arms over her chest.

I ignored her, focusing instead on reaching my goal— Historia Performing Arts School. The only one of its kind within a hundred mile radius, it was the reason we lived in Historia. I’d been dancing as long as I could remember, and my mother made sure it was a part of my everyday curriculum. Not that I minded. Dancing had become my life, but more than that, it had become my escape.

Our high school appeared to be as old as the city itself, which was founded sometime in the late sixteenth century. The building resembled a crumbling stone castle—which I supposed it was in its original state. Although beautiful in its own way, the deep cracks snaking through the walls made it eerily decrepit. Beyond the football field were endless views of the ocean, but unfortunately, those views didn’t extend to many of the classrooms, most of which had oddly high windows and drafty undercurrents. I imagined them as dungeons hundreds of years ago.

Live oaks dotted the massive campus lawn, and every year, at least one tree would inflict some sort of damage on the school during hurricane season. A thousand pound limb might crush the side of a building or an entire tree might fall on an old artifact. It was always the same, but they never cut those trees; they were as important as the buildings themselves.

My mother even sat on the historic preservation board for the city, which had control over the school. I never understood why she got involved, considering she didn’t attend any of the meetings. She just insisted the school be maintained in its near original state, which meant it was in constant need of some kind of repair. Why the school heeded her rules, I had no idea. The student parking lot filled as the warning bell rang.

“Took you long enough.” Devon opened my car door, a mocking grin on his face.

“You okay?”

“She’s … tired.” Benny answered before I did. She’d been my best friend all my life, and she was fiercely protective of me. The same way my mom was. It was annoying.

Rolling my eyes at her, I grabbed my stuff from the back seat and started the walk towards the dance wing, sick of all the remarks, her questioning glances, and Devon’s constant worrying. They climbed the hill after me. Whispering. Surely discussing their newest concern.

“Lock the Grim, Layla.”

“For what?” I shouted and turned around to find Benny with her arms on her hips. “No one’s going to steal it. Look at it.” I pointed to where my car, the Grim as Benny liked to call it, sat parked. It was the color of mud and looked like a semi-truck had smashed into the tail end of it at about ninety miles an hour. It had bug-eye headlights and a thick faded orange stripe running up each side toward the hatch-back where it flared out in three smaller stripes. The makeshift convertible top the previous owner had attempted to rig himself was so loose it barely kept the rain out. No one in their right mind would steal it.

I turned my back on both of them and continued the climb across campus, sighing as they continued to whisper. I knew my behavior was upsetting them—my angry outbursts—my temper spikes, especially since I’d stopped trying to control them all the time.

No one, though, was aware of my visions, or whatever they were. The more I tried to understand them, the more confused I became. The angrier I became. I’d tried to block the thoughts, to push them away and ignore them all, but years had passed since my last cherished memory, or what I’d hoped with all my heart was a memory. For six years—since I was eleven—I’d seen strange, unexplainable things.

After bringing up Max’s name so many times that my mother threatened to send me to a psychologist, I’d stopped asking about him—stopped talking about him altogether.

Even worse, I could only remember pieces of my past. While other kids recalled skinned knees and sleepovers, I conjured up snippets of voices and muddled colors. Besides my mom, Benny was the only constant in my life, and even memories I knew I had to have had with her were sometimes impossible to call up. I didn’t understand it. Who doesn’t remember the majority of their life?

“Layla, wait.” Devon jogged up to me and reached for my arm. His golden eyes implored concern. “Did I say something wrong?”

My shoulders relaxed. “I’m tired. Benny was telling the truth.” It’s only a small lie.

He bowed his head, peering up at me. “Okay, well, as long as that’s all.”

I nodded, giving him a half-smile. “Meet you at lunch.” He kissed me on the cheek and ran off as the second bell sounded. As sweet as Devon was, he would never understand me, and sometimes, knowing that, made everything worse.

~~~

All the other dancers sat in huddled groups on the scuffed wood floor of the studio as I walked in. The morning light reflected off the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, casting tiny rainbow prisms along the walls, as the stench of sweat hung in the still, thick air.

“Shh! She’s right there.” Dena, my understudy for the spring show of Sleeping Beauty, sat across the room. She dropped her stare when my gaze met hers. We’d been through the same dancing drill together for years. Same classes. Same performances. Her disdain for me was known. She twisted her hair into a knot at the back of her head, obviously pretending I hadn’t busted her running her mouth again.Between dancing as my understudy, and me dating Devon—the only boy she ever ‘truly’ liked—her hate was ingrained. Not that I cared.

“Places along the barre. Quiet down. First position please.” Ms. Trudy clapped her hands together. “And one, and two, and three. Chins up, heads high, shoulders down,” she said in time with the classical music.The steady repetitive rhythm, the music I’d known all my life, the same low droning chant of Ms. Trudy’s voice, all of it fell over me.

Ms. Trudy made her rounds, checking everyone’s form, making corrections. Sunlight shone through the high windows in cascading sheets, its warmth touching my face. I closed my eyes, raising my head to meet its heat, my grand plies repeating in perfect unison, and let the slow music take over. “Nice, Layla. Very nice.” Ms. Trudy’s voice rang out right before it faded.

@

The sun blazes through the tree line, and Max paces in the underbrush, halfway hidden by thickets and shadows.

“Where have you been?” He rushes forward.

“Benny was on alert all morning. She’s been setting traps to catch me,” I say.

“What?” His eyes widen. I shrug, picking beggars’ lice off my shirt. “She doesn’t like you.”

“Maybe you should go back.” He drags a hand through his hair.

“Go back?” My arm drops, leaving my shirt covered in little green specs.

“What are you talking about?”

“I . . . I don’t want you to get in trouble.” He averts his gaze.

“Since when are you worried about me getting in trouble?” I ask.

“Never mind, it’s nothing.” His smile is fake. I’m not buying the mock reassurance.

“Max, what’s going on?”

“Nothing.” He bites his bottom lip, his gaze skirting the trees. “I’m trying to look out for you.”

“Uh-huh. What’s up?”

“I told you. Nothing.” He shoves his hands in his pockets.

“Max …”

Lifting an eyebrow, he grins. “Race you to the falls.” He crouches forward like a cat ready to pounce, hands resting on his knees.

“Distractions won’t work.”

“No?” He takes off running.

I catch his hand as he turns and catapult myself past him.

“Hey, no cheating!”

I laugh, as he runs up behind me, his breathing steady. Our pounding feet sink in the thick wet grass of the open field. Max is taller than me, with longer legs, but I’m faster, and he hates it. The rush of crashing water leads us to the ledge, each of us pushing harder to stay in the lead.

“Don’t jump, Layla!” He reaches out.

I catch it in mine and pull us both off the ledge in a blind leap.

We plummet into the depths of the waterfall, Max‘s hand gripping mine. As our heads break free of the churning froth, he lets go, splashing me in the face.

“Hey.” I push water back at him. “What was that for?”

“For getting here first.” As he shakes his sandy brown hair out of his face, droplets of water run down his golden skin, and the corner of his mouth lifts in a grin.

I splash him again and swim to the edge of the pool, climbing onto the bank in dripping wet clothes.

He follows, and sits next to me, wiping the water from his grey eyes. “Lay, we’ve been friends for a long time.”

“Yeah.” I lean back against a gardenia bush covered in pure white blooms, their rich sweetness intoxicating the air.

“You’re my best friend.”

“I know that. You’re acting so weird today.” I nudge his shoulder, and say, “Beat you to the ledge again,” and spring to my feet, leaving him sitting on the bank.

“Layla!” He races after me. ”Wait!” Grabbing me around the waist, he sends us both over the ledge in a tangle.

“What are you doing?” I shove him as our heads rise above the surface.

“Be quiet.” Putting his finger to his lips, he drags me behind the falls onto the rock shelf. “Someone’s coming.”

Distant footsteps approach, crunching through the crisp leaves on the forest floor. Voices reach us.

“Stay still. It’s Lorelei.”

My mother walks through the forest, her sister at her side.

“They are here. You must find them.” She paces through the trees. “This is not safe.”

“Sister, please. There is no need for your concern. They are in no danger here.”

“No danger? My daughter is to be nowhere near the boy. I warned him to stay away.”

I try to shift my position, but Max pushes me back. “Stop moving.”

“Warned him?” my aunt asks.

“Yes.” My mother’s gaze sweeps past our hiding place. “The bond grows stronger by the day. Their connection, their energy. Teine must be kept hidden. Away from this world, away from the boy. They must be separated.”

“That isn’t necessary. No one knows they exist.”

“We know! Others might know as well.”

My aunt gathers her cloak around her shoulders. “It wasn’t I who placed the curse. That untimely deed falls on your shoulders, sister.”

“Once the truth of the children’s existence is revealed, my simple curse will no longer matter. I will be hard pressed to keep our enemies at bay.” My mother wrings her hands.

“Your attempt to sway the children must end. As long as the light shines, we will remain safe.”

“You presume too much, and do not speak to me in that tone. I am still the eldest.”

“Tone? I speak with understanding, but my patience wears thin. You renounced your position here. You are a fool to think you can keep the children apart. Let them be, or I am afraid you will regret it.”

Max turns to me. “You have to go.”

“No.”

“Your mother is trying to separate us. You have to go.”

“We’re not doing anything wrong.” I start to rise, but he grabs me by the shoulder, eyes staring into mine. “You heard your mother. She believes you’re not safe here. She thinks it’s dangerous for us to be together.”

I stare back into his face, confusion welling up. “Then I’ll explain it to her.”

“Layla, please. For me. Go back now. Stay safe.” He pulls me into a hug before standing.

“But . . . wait.” I reach for his hand.

He wrenches it free, his gaze roving over my face. “I’m sorry.”

“Max!”

I sit alone with only the sound of water splashing against the cliff.

“Max!”

~~~

“Layla.” Benny’s terrified voice rang out above me. Her fear-filled eyes came into focus as glaring fluorescent lights radiated down from the ceiling. “Can you see me?”

“Who else would I see? You’re in my face.” I shielded my eyes from the light’s glare, the vision reverberating through my mind. The same vision I’d seen a hundred times before. The one I thought had to be a memory but knew couldn’t be. The vision that made my heart ache as if it were being ripped out. A crowd of dancers hovered around me, all gazes fixed on me as I hastily wiped my damp eyes. What did I do?

“I told you she was crazy,” Dena said.

“Shut your mouth, Dena, or I will.” Benny’s threat came out calm and controlled.

“Let me up,” I said.

“Back away. Back away now.” Ms. Trudy pushed her way through everyone and knelt down. “Layla, are you all right?”

My head throbbed, mind spinning as she rose to her feet, pulling me slowly to mine. As my knees buckled, Benny swooped in and draped my arm over her shoulder. “Let’s get you some water.” Ms. Trudy steered me into the hallway. “I believe you’re overheated. It’s very warm today.”

The chill from the air conditioner, and Ms. Trudy’s jasmine perfume, sent shivers up my spine and made me want to gag.

“Benny, you may go back to rehearsal. I believe I have the situation under control.”

“No, ma’am, I’ll stay.” Benny’s tone was unthreatening but firm and Ms. Trudy didn’t argue.

“I’m okay, Ben, really.” My voice, on the other hand, must have given her the impression I wasn’t because she tightened her grip.

“Sit down for a few minutes until you compose yourself. I’ll get you some water.” Ms. Trudy headed down the hall, wringing her hands.

“What happened?” Benny hissed under her breath after Ms. Trudy rounded the corner.

“I don’t know.” I slid down the wall, to the floor, shaking. “I closed my eyes for a second and then I woke up with you crouching over me.”

Scrutinizing, unbelieving eyes narrowed. “You just passed out?”

“I guess.”

Ms. Trudy rushed back, carrying a glass of water. “Drink this.” She thrust the warm, right-out-of-the-tap water into my hands. Gross. I handed it back. “Perhaps you should see the nurse.”

“No. No nurses. I’m fine, really.”

“Well, if you say so, but no rehearsal for you today. Benny, please help Layla into the dressing room so she can get changed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Benny tugged on me as though I was five years old.

“I can walk on my own.” I pulled my arm out of her grasp.

“What the hell was that, Layla?” She shifted in front of me, blocking my way. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“Nothing’s going on.” I pushed past her. “I … blacked out.”

“Blacked out?” She ran up beside me. “Blacked out? You think that’s normal? That’s not normal.”

“I didn’t say it was normal.”

“No, you didn’t. You don’t say anything lately.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” What does she mean by that?

She stomped passed me. “You’re going to give me a heart attack, I swear.” She ranted along under her breath and disappeared inside the dressing room.

I tried my best to control my trembling limbs. If Benny thought I was in a panicked state, I’d end up at the E.R. with her hovering over me. Hallucinations at school weren’t something that had happened before, and I’d never passed out. Ever. Not that I should have been too surprised. What should I have expected after having become a semi-insomniac?

I pushed the vision into the depths of my brain, shook off the eerie chills that accompanied it, and made Benny promise not to tell Devon what happened.

~~~

Devon tracked me down in the outside courtyard during study hall.

“I went to the nurse’s office.” He hugged his chest. “To the dance studio and the girls’ bathroom.” He gripped his side, leaning over the picnic table, trying to catch his breath. “Are you all right?”

Benny, unable to keep her mouth shut, had spilled the truth.

“I’m fine. Benny’s overreacting.” I glowered at her where she sat with me at a table.

“Scoot over.” He nudged my shoulder and slumped down. “Don’t scare me like that again.” He huffed, his breath still ragged.

“I told Benny not to tell you.” He stopped breathing altogether and glared at me.

I didn’t say anything else.

~~~

During lunch, Devon asked the cafeteria lady to create an ice pack out of zip-locks and paper towels, after I’d refused again to go to the nurse. He held it on my head himself. Between him and Benny, I was lucky not to have been admitted to the hospital.

I poked around at my pizza—usually my favorite, but my appetite seemed to be lying on the floor in the dance studio. The cafeteria, my least favorite place in school, made my stomach turn. Not to mention the inescapable deafening high school drama prattle. I’d never been that girl who attended every football game, and cried on the last day of school because summer break meant three whole months away from the cheerleading squad. I wanted out of high school.

I squinted through the cafeteria window, bringing the ocean into view in the far distance, and pretended to listen to the sound of crashing water, to block out all the lunchroom noise.

“You should eat something.” Devon dismantled my lunch tray, one item at a time. His mouth overflowed with my pizza, as I glanced over and down at my emptied plate. “Oh . . . sorry.”

“I’m not hungry, anyway.” I shrugged, looking up at him. Dark brown hair framed his golden eyes, a sheepish grin playing at his lips.

“Listen, don’t worry about helping at the shop later.” He raised the ice pack to my head again, and I swatted it away, while Dena, across the cafeteria, sat glaring in our direction. The little clan of cliquey chatterboxes at her side followed her lead and turned toward us.

The sight of Devon doting over me had to be too much for her.

I smiled to myself.

She tossed her long dark hair behind her shoulder, her black painted nails glimmering under the fluorescent lights. It seemed like only yesterday that she ran barefoot and played baseball better than anyone. Then again, I remembered so little, maybe she’d always been that way, and my deluded brain had it all backwards.

“I said I would help. I’m helping.” I spoke to Devon, not breaking my eye contact with the one who had nothing better to do than stare at me.

Dena’s lips moved, and they all turned their heads away. “Layla, seriously,” Devon said. “I. Am. Helping.”

“Layla!” Benny rushed across the cafeteria, waving a fluorescent yellow piece of paper, her dance bag swinging wildly on her shoulder. “Oh, good, you ate.” Her breath came out in a huff. “Here.” She thrust the paper at me. “I got the nurse to sign you out early. You can go home.”

I shook my head, sure she had run from the nurses office. “I don’t need to leave early.”

“You passed out.” She kept her voice low, head turning as if searching for something.

“So?” Truthfully, I would rather have gone home, but giving Benny a reason, any reason, to believe something was actually wrong was a bad idea. I’d rather suffer than have her pamper me. Devon was already taking care of that.

“So? So . . . you will be the death of me, Layla LaBelle, I swear.” She stomped off, throwing the note in the trash as she went.

The rest of the school day, I spent in a dazed stupor. The custodian had to cut the lock off my locker because I couldn’t remember the combination, and I laughed out loud when Mr.Jones, the Algebra teacher, asked me to solve a quadratic equation on the white board for the class. Algebra. What a waste. Who, ever, uses algebra after high school? If my school didn’t have a Performing Arts program, I probably would have ditched every class.

My head pounded by the time I pulled into the parking lot of the shop where Devon worked. A giant sign above the door read: ‘TOURISTS WELCOME’ in bright blue letters, reminding me of Bike Week in Daytona, Florida, where all the businesses felt compelled to remind everyone that ‘Bikers are welcome’, as if, for some reason, they wouldn’t know without the signs. Tourist season was the money maker in Historia. With the colleges, beaches, and historical sights, the city had a natural pull.

The owner of the shop stood in the doorway, smiling and waving at random passersby, unable, or unwilling, to hide his smile. “Good afternoon, Layla. Thanks for giving us a hand today.”

I stifled a yawn. “You’re welcome. It’s no problem at all.” I wasn’t the best person to help at a retail store, due to my lack of interest in customer service, but I said I would, so I did.

“Yes, good afternoon, Layla. How are you today?” Devon strolled up one of the aisles with a sarcastic grin. “Tired, I see.”

“Tired.” I nodded. “But here.”

He leaned down and kissed my cheek. “I think you should go home.” He glanced at the owner, his voice low. “I can handle it.”

I put my car keys behind the counter. “It’s almost the summer season. You need my help.” “Don’t start with that. You hate how busy it is this time of year. Seriously, listen, I’m starting to worry about you.”

“Starting?” I walked away before he could continue.

He shook his head and wandered off toward the display cases.

I squatted down behind the counter, digging around for a magazine to read, and rested my throbbing head in my hands. The entrance bell chimed on the front door, and I popped back up, wobbling slightly.

Afternoon sun flooded through the shop’s front windows in sheets, creating a back lit silhouette in the doorway. Dust particles floated past my scope of vision like miniature ghosts, and the clear grey eyes glancing at me made my breath end in my throat.

The room spun and slowed to a time-warped crawl, and the spicy sweetness of gardenias wafted through the air. Visions rushed up to the surface, flooding my brain, blowing the circuits. My magazine dropped to the floor, and I swayed, grabbing the counter for support, forcing myself to blink.

“Layla?” Thudding feet echoed in the distance.

Blood sped through my veins as I gripped the edge of the counter, gazing into the face I knew so well. A shadow of confusion crossed his expression as he stared back at me before the corner of his mouth drew up in a slight grin, and my face flushed with a burning heat. Goosebumps shivered down my arms, the air seeming to quiver with a faint breeze.

“Layla, are you okay?” Someone shook me by the shoulder. “Layla?” Devon’s voice rang from far away.

I tried to speak, but words wouldn’t form. I remembered his face, the waterfall, the forest. The warmth of his hand in mine. Droplets of water cascading down his golden skin. His eyes reflecting the sunlight like crystals. The rush of wind as he ran beside me. His laughter. The sound of his voice when he called my name.

“Max …” I strangled an inaudible whisper, unable to breathe, consumed by the light in his eyes.

“Lay.” He stared back at me, seeming unable to move.

He couldn’t be real. I swayed, my eyes rolling upward, and dropped to the floor.

(end of chapter 2)

Stay tuned for chapter three and Thank You for reading! 😉

tied-slideshow-


TIED (FireBorn1) #TeaserTenth

teasertenthbadge

#TeaserTenth is a monthly meme for writers, both published and unpublished. It’s a great opportunity to meet other writers, as well as readers, by sharing a sampling (10 lines or less) of the stories we are working on, or have already published.

Feel free to join! (click the badge above for details.)

*************

Today I’m sharing lines from TIED, the first installment in the Fire Born trilogy, published September 2013.

My gaze fell on a figure standing beyond the dunes edge, a shadow hidden within the darkness. My pulse quickened, but I didn’t move. Another trick—an illusion. Weary of the games my mind continued to play, I bit back tears and the catch in my throat.

I should have been immune to them—the hallucinations—the way they haunted me and followed me. I wasn’t.

Forcing myself to blink, I turned my head away.

The visions had grown worse as I’d become older. I’d tried to convince myself they were nightmares—or weird dreams. Hoped for years they were, but only people who sleep dream.

To read more, you can find the book here: TIED

@@@@@@

To follow all the other blogs participating in TeaserTenth go here: TeaserTenth

And thank you to J.A Belfield for creating the meme!


Writers, Don’t Quit ~

“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.”

~ Andre Dubus


WordPress Targeting Authors

Hi you guys,

So recently, a lot of writer, author, blogger, and book reviewers have had problems with WordPress shutting their blogs down. Per our terms of agreement, apparently we aren’t allowed to post third-party links (even though WP gives us that option).

This means, as an author, if I link to my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Goodreads, etc … I may be seen as breeching this agreement.

It also means that if I promote a fellow author, which I do often, and include links to their books, it might be seen as a violation.

If I post music videos (something else I do A LOT), I might be breaking contract.

Other book review blogs were shut down over the weekend for linking to external sites like Goodreads.

Several of them.

As with some of my fellow authors, I’m letting you all know this is happening. If you click on my blog at some point, and it’s gone, it wasn’t me.

If you are subscribed through WordPress to get new post notifications (A LOT of you are) that service will obviously end. If you are subscribed through email, you’ll be fine, since I can forward the new blog I’ll create on a different site if mine gets shut down.

If you are subscribed to my newsletter. You will get updates there to all Fire Born related posts still.

IF this happens, I will post updates to my new site’s whereabouts on my Facebook Page (in my footer), on Twitter (@laneymcmann), and on my website at laneymcmann.weebly.com. Hopefully it won’t come to this.

Writers/authors/reviewers are a community that depend on one another to get the word out about upcoming books, reviews, blog tours, writing tips … the list goes on. We work really hard at what we do (it isn’t only writing books) and we depend on sites like WordPress to support those endeavors.

I’ve been with WordPress for over four years, and I have a ton of posts, both writerly, authorly (be quiet, it’s a word), and musically, so getting shut down would be a big hit, but I’ll deal if it comes to that.

Thanks to all the subscribers, you guys rock.

*** To any author/writer/reviewer who would like to read more in detail, go to JennyKellerFord.wordpress.com. She has two posts dedicated to this topic, one of which tells how to back up all of your content. I’d give you the links, but you know ….

Thank you, Jenny for all the alerts.

 

***** Also, I have a author spotlight post promoting Terry Rochenski’s sequel to Eye of the Soul, which is scheduled to go live tomorrow. If it doesn’t for some reason, please check out her new book!


BOOK BLITZ Release Day ~ Secret of the Souls by Terri Rochenski

Secret of the Souls, the second and final installment of the Pool of Souls series by Terri Rochenski is now available!


Pool of Souls #2
By: Terri Rochenski
Release Date: October 6, 2014
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing
Target Reader: Adult
Keywords: Fantasy
Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.



Purchase Links:

Amazon-BuyNow
BN-BuyNow
Kobo-buyNow



~~~oOo~~~


In celebration, Eye of the Soul, Pool of Souls #1, is on sale for only .99 cents from now until October 17th!




Escape. 

That should be Hyla’s first thought as her people are chained and imprisoned for no imaginable reason. 

Instead, Hyla finds herself traveling through a land void of Natives, with human soldiers pillaging in desperate pursuit of her, and in search of the mystical Pool of Souls—home to the one man who can save her people.

Or so she believes.

Led by her faith in the deity Fadir, Hyla is met along her journey by Jadon—a human male and fierce King’s warrior, and his childhood best friend Conlin—one of the few Natives aware of his Fadir-given Talents.

Protected by Jadon, guided by Conlin, and with an unfailing belief in the purpose of her pilgrimage, Hyla carries on. 

Like her, though, another searches for the Pool, and should he gain access first, everyone she loves, and everything she knows, could be lost.

Forever.
~~~oOo~~~


Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.




Tour Schedule

GIVEAWAY!!

Grand Prize:  Grand Prize – Signed copies of EotS & SotS, EotS notebook & pen, and SotS mug

Second Prize:  2 nd Prize – Ecopie of EotS & SotS


Enter Rafflecopter:



No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Terri Rochenski.


Thursday’s Off The Beaten Track

One of my favorites on Off The Beaten Track,

Eluvium ~ Envenom Mettle