Author Archives: breeanaputtroff

Sentimental Saturday AND Thorns of Decision Cover Reveal

Ah, weekends. Time to spend time with my kiddo and catch up on the whole writing thing. And, of course, tackle the havoc that is my home after a long week. All I really want for my birthday (on the 23rd of this month, if you’re keeping track) is someone to just do one thorough clean-up of my house and fold my laundry for me. Is that too much to ask? :)

How do other single mommies with two-plus full-time jobs do it?

I did get a little bit of time to relax and celebrate last night, when I attended a special wedding. The beautiful, smiling and blushing bride was the little sister of one of my best friends from way back when.

My friend Beth and I were in eighth grade when her sister, Little Miss Jessi came into the world, and I remember clearly the night she was born. She was probably the closest thing I ever had to my own little sister, and I have these wonderful memories — when she first learned to talk, and would point to things that were interesting to her, calling out “Bo!” (we never knew what that meant.) The way she used to suck, not on her thumb, but on her first two fingers, until she drifted off to sleep and they fell out. The time we took her to the mall when she was a little over a year old, and all she wanted to do was crawl UP the slanty floor. Resorting to trickery, we called out “Bye, Jessi” and the little stink turned around, waved “bye” at us, and proceeded on her merry way.

Beth and I were co-leaders of her Girl Scout troop when she was a little older, and we had some fun times with those girls.

And now … last night she married the love of her life, and will soon be off to Germany with him, on his first deployment in the Air Force.

I know it shouldn’t be such a surprise to me. I’m all “growed up” now, and I have a little girl of my own, who grows much too quickly and will be five next month. The first two classes of fourth grade students I taught are adults now themselves, graduated and in college. Married, some of them. Even some babies. And I don’t know where it all went, but it reminds me of how precious the time is, how quickly it all goes.

And it’s wonderful at the same time — seeing Jessi so happy, hugging her in her wedding gown, seeing what a fine young woman she’s grown to be, and — even though I don’t know him well — seeing what a sweet, loving young man she’s picked out. Knowing that it’s true, that REAL teenagers and young men and women still exist in the world. That it’s not all as crazy and horrible as the media — and the rest of us, sometimes, would like to make it out to be. Sometimes, it’s magic.

 

And speaking of magic … thanks to my awesome cover designer, Mallory Rock at Novel Publicity, I can share the big reveal … the new cover for Thorns of Decision, which releases in just under seven weeks! June 1, 2012.

 

Dusk Gate Chronicles News

I know I’ve been a complete slacker about the blog lately. I’ve been knee-deep in other projects with the writing — editing Thorns, re-formatting Seeds and Roots for new hardcover versions, and lots of other little things. The blog is definitely what suffers. Something has to give. :) If you’re ever wondering what, please feel free to drop me an e-mail, or stop by on Twitter or Facebook.

But since I have been slacking, I’ll make up for it with a couple fun news items.

First, Seeds of Discovery is FREE on Amazon today. Stop by and pick up your copy if you never have. If you don’t have a Kindle, remember that you can always read it on a free Kindle app, AND that it’s DRM-free, so you can easily convert it to epub or PDF to read on any e-reader you’d like.

Second … speaking of other formats, Roots of Insight is now available at Smashwords, and in the next few days, you’ll be able to pick it up at Barnes and Noble and other retailers. And, as a bonus, use this coupon code at Smashwords checkout for a 25% discount:  XD57C  The code is good through April 15.

And the last bit of news, I will be interviewing Nathaniel for the blog on Friday. Please comment below with questions you’ve been dying to ask Nathaniel! :)

A Party

Here’s another little treat for you, as the date of release looms closer … :)

The dining room looked beautiful tonight; the tables were draped with purple and silver tablecloths, and enormous bouquets of purple and white flowers occupied the center of each one. Servants darted in and out near every guest, filling glasses with a thick, sweet juice that Quinn didn’t recognize. Soft music drifted through the room from a small group of musicians set up in the corner.

Everyone chatted amiably, nibbling on a mixture of roasted nuts and dried berries from silver bowls that sat between every two people. She noticed that nobody touched the glasses of juice, though, so she left hers alone.

Quinn had eaten the nut-and-berry mix before; it was a sort of appetizer that appeared before fancy dinners here in the castle. Although most foods here at least resembled things she was familiar with at home, there was one very unusual kind of berry in the mix, an odd green with an irregular shape. At the first couple of dinners she had attended in Eirentheos, she’d been afraid to try them. At Simon’s wedding though, Thomas had convinced her to taste one, and after that, she’d been hooked. Nothing in her own world compared to them.

Now, between polite conversations, she found herself surreptitiously digging through the bowl, looking for those green ones. She was just reaching for the bowl a third time, when William nudged her softly with his elbow. She looked up at him, abashed at being caught, but he only winked and dropped a small handful of them on her plate.

The heat flowed through her chest again.

After a few minutes, Stephen smiled at William, and then he and Charlotte stood. A hush fell over the room immediately.

William put his hand on Quinn’s knee then, and, heart beginning to flutter again, she looked up at him and smiled, placing her hand over his.

Thomas had a good response to his interview this week. Who do you think we should hear from next? 

An Interview with Prince Charming

Nine weeks from today – June 1, 2012 — is the official launch of Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, Thorns of Decision. In celebration, several of the characters have agreed to be interviewed here on the blog, and to answer some of the questions you may have about them.

Never one to shy away from attention, Thomas has graciously agreed to go first (or else, possibly, he pushed me into it). :)


I have some questions for him, and there have also been readers writing in, both here on the blog, and on the Facebook page with questions of their own. ;)

Me: Let’s start with the basic things. What is your full name?

Thomas: Really? That basic? (smiling) My full name is Thomas John Rose.

Me: Do you have any nicknames?

Thomas: (the twinkle in his eye is visible, dear readers) Most of the time I go by Thomas. But, aside from Crumple ChampionBest Brother in the Kindgom, Prince CharmingSwordsman Extraordinaire, The Older, and Better-Looking Twin, and Supreme Potentate of Emma’s Tea Parties, my siblings often call me T.  I refuse to acknowledge anyone who addresses me with any other shortened versions of Thomas.

Read the rest of this entry

Twitter Tuesdays: Lists

One of the questions I get most often about Twitter, especially from people who are trying to interact with Twitter for specific purposes, or who have gotten to the point where they’re following quite a large number of people, is how do you keep up with it all?

It’s a good question. Twitter is a very fast-paced environment, and once you’re deep enough in, it’s hard to catch up after being away for even an hour. (And you HAVE to step away from Twitter for much longer than that if you’re still going to have a normal, healthy life.)

Also, if you’re a writer, or any other person building a platform, chances are you’ve followed LOTS of other writers (or people in your business), and this means that a lot of the time your stream can get pretty full of … um … marketing. It’s hard to wade through this to find the stuff you really want to see.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed using an app like TweetDeck, and how to use hashtags to make columns of searches for relevant things. If you missed these, and you want to see them, click on the nifty little “Techie Tuesdays” button at the top for a list. (Thanks Morgan Dragonwillow for pushing me to do that — you really can find AWESOME people on Twitter).

Now, let’s say you’ve figured out the hashtag thing, you’ve started keeping up with some group discussions, and you’ve actually found some great people on Twitter you enjoy talking to, and you want to keep up with THEM, and not lose them in your stream.

If it’s just one person — your favorite celebrity, or your old or new BFF, you can create a column in TweetDeck just for that person. You’re going to go to the top, and click the little gray + to add a column. Then the ‘search’ box pops up. Enter your friend’s user name, and voila — all of their tweets will pop up.

Usually, though, you have  larger groups of awesome people. The group you like to write with in the evenings around six, the people you like to exchange raunchy jokes with at lunchtime, the people who always post interesting blogs about gardening, or technology in the classroom, or getting better at Twitter. Yes, for these people, there are LISTS! :)

In Twitter, you can create as many lists as you like. You can create them on the Twitter website, or right inside TweetDeck.

In TweetDeck, you can create a list by, again, clicking the gray +. When the search box opens, you will see some options on the side. One of these says “Groups/Lists.” If you click on that, you can go to the top and click new list. Here, you can name the list, and write a description of it. “Lunchtime Buddies” “Word Warriors” “Awesome People” whatever. You can also decide whether you’d like the list to be public or private.

Once you’ve made the list, you can start adding people to it. In TweetDeck, adding people is easy. You hover over their profile picture, and you’ll see little buttons appear in place of the picture. Click on the little gear that says “other actions.” You’ll get a menu that will either let you do a number of things with the tweet, or with the person. One of the options under the “person” menu is “add to list.” Click it, and add them to a list.

Once you have a list set up, you can now make a column JUST FOR THAT LIST. It’s kind of like a hashtag column, only people don’t have to be using the hashtag to show up on it.

Your assignment this week? Create at least one list. Populate it with people you love to follow, and who don’t make you wade through sales pitches. Make a column in TweetDeck for your list, and sigh a happy sigh as you keep up with people you were starting to lose track of. :)

As always, if I was confusing or if there’s something else you’d like to know, comment below! :)

Special Request!

This Friday marks T-9 weeks until the release of Thorns of Decision! :) To celebrate, starting this week, each Friday I will host an “interview” here on the blog of one of the Dusk Gate characters. Always chomping at the bit to go first is Thomas. He will be answering your questions on Friday, in his own Thomas way. If you have a special question you’d like to ask him, please comment below, and then check back for the answer on Friday. :)

Lucky 7: Lines from the 7th Page

Tonya tagged me in this fun meme, and I’m happy to play along. :)

Here are the directions:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next seven lines (sentences??) as they are – no cheating
  4. Tag 7 other authors

My current manuscript is, of course, Thorns of Decision, which is due out June 1st. I have started initial writing on Book Four, but it’s definitely not ready for public viewing yet. :)

So here you are … this is from page 7 of the Word document — I don’t yet know what will be on page 7 of any other version. :)

“No, he doesn’t.”

“But I can’t tell him the truth!”

“Not all of it, anyway.”

She blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Okay, so obviously you can’t tell him everything. But maybe we should think of what parts you could tell him that are true.”

At that instant, the small black phone sitting next to her buzzed. The tiny sound seemed strangely ominous. Quinn jumped away from it as though it might somehow bite her.

So … guesses? This conversation is between Quinn and ? Who are they talking about? :)

Comment below if you don’t yet have a digital copy of either Seeds of Discovery or Roots of Insight. In keeping with the “7” theme — the first 7 people to ask can have a copy of the book of their choice, in the e-format of choice (Kindle, .epub, or .pdf — basically any e-reader or computer).

Oh, and, nope, you don’t have to have the right answer to win — just ask!  But play along for fun, anyway? ;)

Now for the tagging! I can’t wait to see seven lines from some of these folks. :)

  1. Kristy K. James
  2. Cara Michaels
  3. Morgan Dragonwillow
  4. Danni Menard 
  5. Jayrod Garrett
  6. Steven P. Watson
  7. Lillie McFerrin

Linnea

Okay, since I’ve been such a slacker about new posts lately, I’ll give everyone a special sample today. :)

Linnea is one of my favorite characters, and in Chapter Six of Thorns of Decision, we finally get to hear some of the things she’s been thinking in her own POV. :)

Enjoy … let me know what you think. :)

Linnea sighed as William and Quinn followed her father down the hallway, wondering what in the world was going on now. She’d been waiting as patiently as she could for them to return, and now there was something else going on that she wasn’t a part of.

She raised an eyebrow at how closely her brother walked behind Quinn, almost as if he were ready to catch her if she stumbled. She’d seen the subtle way that things had changed between the two of them when they’d first brought Thomas home from Philotheum, and she wondered how much more things had changed while they were in Quinn’s world.

After Philotheum, Will had no longer kept his distance from Quinn – no longer spouted off his ridiculous assertions about “letting” her get “too involved” in their world, that by being torn between the two worlds, she’d get hurt in the end. As if any of that was up to any of them, anyway. She’d met Quinn. That girl was going to do what she was going to do.

Not that he was fooling anyone in the first place. Linnea and Thomas had spent countless evenings gossiping about it while Will was in Bristlecone, and wondering when he was going to wake up and realize how he really felt about Quinn.

It had been obvious from the first night the girl had arrived at the castle. Careful, observant, meticulous Will not noticing that a girl was following him closely enough to find the gate? Right. Really, it had been clear that something was up with this girl from the first time he’d ever mentioned her.

He’d talked about girls in Bristlecone before, come home and told everyone stories about the ones who tried to get his phone number, or who asked what he was doing over the weekend. That question was always good for a laugh around the fire in the evening, because wouldn’t the unfortunate girl be surprised if he told her the answer? “Wanna come over to dinner with my family in a different world? I’ll bet you’ve never been inside a castle before. Don’t worry – I’ll take you back home after we keep you for a couple of weeks.”

But when Will had first brought up Quinn Robbins, said he’d noticed her around a lot lately, and he’d been wondering if she was watching him, it had been different. When Thomas had teased him about his “new secret girlfriend,” Will hadn’t laughed. He’d been defensive of the girl – insisting that she was only curious, not like the others – that she didn’t have a crush on him.

And once they’d all met Quinn, and seen William around her, it had become quite clear that he truly wasn’t worried that she had a crush on him. Although he’d never admit it even to himself, his real worry was that she didn’t.

In the next week or two, I’m going to be looking for beta readers for “Draft Two” of Thorns of Decision. If you think you might be interested, send me an e-mail. So far, I’ve had some awesome beta readers who have really helped shape the big questions in the story into something stronger, I think. If you’ve already beta read, and you want to do some more, you’re in. Otherwise, please know that I do give preference to beta readers who have reviewed the books on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

In the Woods

 

Yes, I’ve run this sample of Thorns of Decision before, but it’s been awhile, so I thought I would share it again. Enjoy. :)

When the path reached a thick part of the woods, William suddenly led her several yards off of it, into a hidden stand of trees. She had no idea how he knew where he was.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked.

He didn’t answer; he just kept walking. About a hundred yards later, he put his finger to his lips and pointed.

At first, Quinn couldn’t tell what he was pointing at, but as her eyes adjusted to the dimmer light in the thick trees, the shapes became sharper, and a few feet ahead of them, nestled in a tree branch just above William’s head, she could see an enormous nest. She looked at him in surprise, and he smiled.

He made a low chirruping sound, and a second later, a familiar gray-feathered head popped out of the nest, shiny black eyes blinking at the two of them in interest. It was Aelwyn, William’s Seeker bird. He made a different low noise, and she rose from her spot, hopped neatly over the edge of the nest, and glided down toward him, landing only about a foot away.

Now it was Aelwyn’s turn to talk, and she made a strange noise, halfway between a squawk and a whistle. William laughed, and reached into his pocket, retrieving a package of beef jerky, which he opened and tore off a piece, holding it out to the bird.

Quinn had to smile at the intricate dance between William and the bird, as Aelwyn first turned her head away from the offering, and then reached to snatch it once he knelt down low to her. As soon as she’d swallowed it, she walked right up to him, butting her head against his pocket where the rest of the treat was hidden.

At that moment, there was a loud call from overhead, and then Thomas’ bird, Sirian swooped down and landed gracefully near his mate. William withdrew the meat from his pocket, and tore it unevenly. Aelwyn eyed him warily until he tossed the larger piece in her direction. Sirian waited until she had hers, and then accepted the smaller piece.

After a few minutes, the birds had warmed up, and were strutting comfortably around the tiny clearing, and both of them even allowed Quinn to stroke their smooth heads. Up close, she was always startled by how gentle they were around people, though they were quite large hunting birds.

Once he was certain that they’d both let their guards down, William stood again and motioned for Quinn to follow as he walked toward the tree that held the nest. They’d almost reached it when Aelwyn and Sirian suddenly simultaneously flew up into the nest. Quinn shrank back, startled, but William shook his head.

“It’s okay,” he said.

Inside the nest, the two birds chattered in voices that seemed somehow amiable, and then a moment later, four smaller heads peeked over the edge, their black eyes shining curiously as they turned to examine the newcomers.

Quinn sucked in a breath. “They’re beautiful,” she said softly.

A Little Treat…

In celebration of finishing the first draft of Thorns of Decision, I’ve decided to share a little snippet with you all! :)

Here is a short sample of the very first scene in the third book of The Dusk Gate Chronicles (releasing June 1, 2012).

Enjoy!

The loud knock on her bedroom door set the fierce anger rolling in Quinn Robbins’ chest again. “What?” she yelled; knowing, but not caring, that her voice was too harsh.

Her mother opened the door and came in, barely seeming to notice the way Quinn sat, rolled up in a ball near her pillows, still in her pajamas, even though it was nearly noon.

“I’ve decided you’re not grounded from your phone,” she said, setting the small, black object on the nightstand. The little notification light blinked furiously. “You need to use it to call Zander yourself, get things figured out with him.”

She raised her eyebrows at her mother. “What did you tell him?” Last night, in the car, as they drove home from the river, her mom had told her that she had ‘explained things’ to Quinn’s boyfriend, but Quinn had no idea what that meant, and her mother wouldn’t elaborate further.

Megan Robbins’ gaze was just as steely as it had been since last night, and she looked Quinn in the eyes when she spoke. “I told him that Dr. Rose had had a family emergency, and that since you were becoming good friends with William, you went along for support.”

Quinn’s eyes popped open wide. “That doesn’t even make any sense!” Of course, it was eerily close to the truth … but that was the problem. The truth didn’t make any sense.

“Well, if you have a better explanation, you’re welcome to share it with him. I’m headed down to Denver to pick up Owen and Annie from Richard and Denise’s.” Megan turned and left the room, closing the door behind her with an audible clunk.

Quinn only barely resisted the urge to pick up the phone and hurl it at the door. Instead, she flipped it open and began scanning through the messages – all forty-six of them. Almost every message was from her best friend, Abigail, or from Zander, although there were three from her mother, left on Thursday evening, just after Quinn had disappeared.

She opened the first one.

Where are you sweetie? Zander just called and said he saw you leaving work.

Oh. So Zander had seen her running away from the library with William? She closed her eyes, trying to remember that evening, which seemed so long ago. Of course, nearly three weeks actually had passed for Quinn, even if it had only been just over two days for her mom.

Still, even if Zander had seen her, it didn’t explain how her mom had known where to find her, how she had been at the bridge to meet her last night when she’d come back from Eirentheos. Quinn had disappeared for two whole days without a word, and she’d come back to find her mother, not panicking as she’d expected, no police officers searching the river, or even dropping by her house for a chat. No, instead, her mother had been sitting, perfectly calm on a boulder near the gate, just waiting, as if she knew exactly where Quinn had been.

Okay, so calm wasn’t the right word. Her mother had been furious, livid, as she still was today. But she hadn’t been worried, even in the slightest. And this was the source of Quinn’s anger now.

Not that she had wanted to worry her mother – actually she’d spent long hours during her time in Eirentheos fretting over what she thought she was putting her mother through. She hadn’t meant to disappear for so long without saying a word, it had just happened. When William had told her that Thomas was missing, she had just gone, without thinking about the consequences.

But coming through the gate to find her mother there, patiently expecting her return from an alternate world had rocked Quinn completely to her core. What was going on here? How? How did her mom know about the gate? What did she know?

Last night in the car, Megan had refused to answer any of Quinn’s questions, and even more disturbingly, she hadn’t asked any. She’d sat there in the driver’s seat, stone-faced for the whole drive. When they pulled into the garage, Megan had turned to Quinn.

“I explained things to Zander and to Mrs. Williams for you, so you still have a job. I picked up your stuff from the library. The perfect attendance at school you were so worried about is blown on that unexcused absence, though. You’re grounded from your phone, from everything.”

“What do you mean? What did you explain?” Quinn had asked. But Megan had just climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind herself, and gone into the house. When Quinn had gone inside, she discovered that her mother was locked in her bedroom. After several failed attempts at knocking and yelling through the door, Quinn had gone into her own room. She had wondered where her little brother and sister were when she’d seen their empty rooms.

The phone in her hand buzzed loudly, and then began to play a tune that sent an electric jolt through her. It was Zander, again. She stared at the screen, at the picture that had popped up of the two of them, Zander’s arms around her shoulders, his cheek close to hers, both of them smiling widely. She almost answered it, but it stopped ringing before she managed to make her finger move over to the answer button. She waited for several minutes, but there was no notification of a voicemail message.

She sighed, and then picked up the phone again. Unable to force herself to call Zander back, she dialed the number for Nathaniel Rose instead.

“Hello?” The voice that answered was immediately comforting and familiar. Her fingers stopped trembling so much.

“William?”

“Quinn? Is that you?”

“Yeah.”

“Hey, what’s going on with you? Are you okay?”

“I … I think so.”

“What was all that at the bridge last night? Why was your mother there?”

“I don’t know. She just drove me home and never told me anything. I’ve never seen her that angry before, but I don’t think she could possibly be as mad as I am. Now, she’s gone. I guess she took my little brother and sister down to Denver sometime this weekend to stay with their grandparents, and she went to go get them.”

William was silent on the other end of the line; she could almost see the look he would have on his face — confused, thoughtful.

“Did Nathaniel say anything to you? My mom didn’t seem too surprised to see him coming out of the gate, either.”

“No. I asked him if he knew what that was about, but he said it was between you and your mother.”

“What is that supposed to mean? Is he there?”

“No. He went into work really early this morning, and he was going to try to spend the day getting things set up for Thomas to go somewhere for the surgery. He was gone before I even woke up.”

“Well, crap.”

William chuckled, and then his voice grew serious again. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“No. I’m not sure about anything right now. Everything is such a mess.”

“Do you want to come over, and we could talk here? I’m not so good at this phone thing. This is probably the longest conversation I’ve ever had on one, actually.”

That made Quinn smile. “Sure. Give me half an hour?”

“I’ll be here. I’m doing homework – you might want to consider bringing yours along, too.”

“You would be thinking about homework at a time like this.”

He laughed. “I’ll see you in a little while.”

As soon as she snapped her phone shut, she made a mad dash for the shower. The days of traveling in the rural areas of William’s world had made her very efficient at getting ready quickly. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to leave the house, or if being grounded from “everything” besides, apparently, her phone, meant she was allowed to use her stepfather’s car to go somewhere today, but after a few seconds of consideration, she decided that she didn’t care.

Somehow, her mother knew about the gate that led to William’s world. Even more astonishing was the fact that she had known that’s where Quinn would be. How? What did her mother know that Quinn didn’t? And worse, why was she keeping it from her?

Within ten minutes of hanging up with William, Quinn was in the small mudroom that connected the garage and kitchen, looking for her keys. As she reached for the small ring that hung underneath a bulletin board in the room, one of the papers tacked to the board caught her attention.

She recognized it immediately, and it sent a cold chill down her spine. Her mother had gone through her backpack? It was her most recent World History test, the first paper she’d ever gotten a grade lower than a B – and usually she was disappointed with those. The big, red ‘D’ on the top glared at her mockingly. Even worse, was the thick, black circle drawn around the letter, and the words, written in her mother’s perfect penmanship: ‘What is THIS?’

The fury welled within her chest again, rising into her throat and nearly choking her. The shaft of the thumbtack ripped a straight line up the center of the page as she yanked it from the display. She shoved it into her backpack, which was hanging nearby on a peg, the zipper wide open. Throwing it over her shoulder, she grabbed her keys and left.

#wordmongering for the win! :) And Seeds of Discovery is free!

I know I’m supposed to be putting up a Twitter Tuesday blog. It hasn’t been the week for blogging for me, though.  I have been busy writing — the rough draft of Thorns of Decision is complete, and I am in the process of finding beta readers to help me begin the hard work of shaping it into something actually readable. :)

In the meantime, for today and tomorrow (March 13 & 14), Seeds of Discovery is free on Amazon! Grab a copy for your Kindle, or Kindle App on your computer or smartphone.

If you happen to have a different kind of e-reader, please know that Seeds of Discovery is DRM-free, and can be quickly adapted to a different format for free, using a program like Calibre (which is also free). Once you convert it, you can download it onto your Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, or whatever you have. :)

If you need help figuring it out, please let me know.

Roots of Insight will be available for sale in all formats sometime in mid-April, and Thorns of Decision will also be on all formats from the first day it’s released, on June 1, 2012.

If you are interested in being a beta reader/early reviewer for Thorns of Decision, please leave a comment or e-mail me! :)

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