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).
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.
“Quinn? Is that you?”
“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.”
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.
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!
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Today, kids all across the country will be celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss, who would have been 108 today! (Yeah, I’ll bet he’s glad he’s not!)
So how do we celebrate the birthday of one of the best-loved writers of children’s books in history? BY READING! Yes, my living room today is littered with books (okay … there’s a toddler here who’s obsessed with emptying baskets, it’s possible my living room is littered with books everyday, ’cause there are usually about ten baskets of children’s books spread throughout the room). But still, we’re enjoying it.
Ooblek is a fun (messy) substance that is perfect both for sensory fun (for preschoolers) and also makes a great science lesson (is it a solid or a liquid? It has properties of both!)
Here is a fun video about making Ooblek. (The powder is cornstarch, the liquid is plain water. We like to add food coloring to ours — we just don’t EAT much food coloring!)
And … in celebration of reading for those of us a little past the Ooblek stage …
So, the last time I did a Twitter Tuesdays post, I got several comments and messages from people, both on the blog and off, who, until then had NO IDEA you could do columns and searches with hashtags. And really, if you’re struggling to learn how to use Twitter, or you’re trying to build a platform and still feel like you’re fumbling in the dark, it is kind of life-changing news.
Keep the comments and questions coming, guys — I really would like to be as helpful as I can in my limited scope here.
Again, my posts now for the most part presume that you are using TweetDeck (if you’re not using TweetDeck or another app that you like, such as HootSuite, check out my post on why I recommend using something like TweetDeck.
Another question writers (and others who build platforms on Twitter) have is — “How in the heck do you keep up with your stream?”
I follow over 1100 people. I don’t keep up with everything in the stream every day. I do try to browse through the full stream a couple of times a day to look for interesting new things, but it’s definitely the part of Twitter I neglect the most. Once I find the interesting stuff, I use columns, hashtags, and lists to help me keep up with the rest.
I’ve already discussed these a little bit. A hashtag is a little way of categorizing things on Twitter so that others can find it. One really important thing to know about hashtags, is that if you include one in your tweet, ANYONE who searches that hashtag can see your tweet, even if they’re not (already!) following you. Using hashtags, therefore, can make your tweets that much more visible and powerful (if done correctly!)
For example. I’ve already told you that #wordmongering is one of my very favorite hashtags. I LOOOVE these people, and am thankful everyday for the two awesome people who created it, and got it going. So I have #wordmongering saved as a column in my TweetDeck. I created the column by clicking the little + sign in the upper-left corner. When the search bar popped up, I typed #wordmongering, and then, like magic, I had a whole column filled with #wordmongering tweets!
Now, whenever someone tweets anything with the #wordmongering hashtag, I see it, whether I follow them or not. (And usually, if they like #wordmongering, I follow them!)
This same technique works with any hashtag you see someone tweet. If you see someone in your stream type a hashtag you’re unfamiliar with, but it looks interesting, ASK! Include the hashtag when you ask, too, so you might form a quick connection with someone new. It might look like this:
You: So @personIfollow, what is #wordmongering?
Someone new: Oooh! #wordmongering is a great group of folks who write for 30 minutes at the top of each hour, then post word counts and cheer each other on!
Person you follow: Want to join?
And the next thing you know, you’ve made some new friends and become a bigger part of the Twitter community.
Did you KNOW people CHAT using hashtags?
It’s true. Because of the nature of being able to search using hashtags, oftentimes, people use particular hashtags to create chats. These can be REALLY awesome, because they’re like a huge world-wide conference call in which anyone who adds the hashtag to their tweets can participate! The chats can be a bit harder to find, because they usually run on a schedule, but again, if you’re lost ASK!
So again … take a week (or two, I know it was two weeks — I was writing, which is better than blogging! I logged over 10k new words on Thorns of Decision last week. Besides — have you SEEN the new covers?) and practice searching for new hashtags, making columns, and interacting with folks.
For Writers Especially:
Here are a few more hashtags you might like to try. And PLEASE, if you have others that you love, leave them in the comments.
- #writechat (On Sunday afternoons, particularly)
- #FNTWP (Only on Friday evenings, but check it out!)
A Final Plea …
Once you’ve learned how to harness the power of hashtags, it can be a little tempting to use them gratuitously as a way to get your message across. PLEASE be respectful of hashtag communities and what the “rules” are inside them. DON’T use hashtags to spam. It won’t work, and it will likely get you blocked by people (who might otherwise have liked you and eventually bought your book/product/whatever). For example — #wordmongering is for people who want to WRITE together. Don’t hit them up with BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK #wordmongering. They won’t.
Besides, if you look around long enough, you’ll find plenty of #hashtags that are fine places to
spam er, market …😉
It is probably mostly because I’m so often distracted, as so many of us are, between working and writing and marketing, and doing the single-mommy thing. There are so many little things that slip my mind sometimes, or the day just gets away from me.
But sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder that lots of these things are just part of being human.
And the laugh is nice, too.
Tonight, my sweet Little Goose was getting herself set up to play in the living room and watch some shows, so she came and got her little bowl of broccoli from me, and I saw her, with the remote to the Roku tucked under her arm. A few minutes later there’s the whine — the kind only a four-year-old can properly muster. “Mom! What did you do with the remote?”
“You had it! What did you do with it?” It was the kind of pout you can see from the other room.
“Little Goose — I just saw you with it.”
“No … you put it up somewhere earlier so the babies couldn’t get it!”
“And after that, sweetheart, you had it. You were just carrying it. I saw you.”
“Well then where did I put it?” Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Back to the kitchen.
I started giggling. Immediately.
“What? Oh. It was in my hand the whole time.”
Fortunately, she has a great sense of humor.
And her mom’s skills at multi-tasking.
So, I didn’t intend to announce this so fast, but I’m too excited not to now … Seeds of Discovery is getting a face lift! The last five months with the Dusk Gate Chronicles have been a really fun and fantastic ride, and now things are about to get even better!
After a lot of thought and work, I’ve decided that soon, probably before the release of Thorns of Decision, I am going to be pulling the paperback versions of both Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight. They will be collector’s items (if anybody collects these kinds of things.)
They will be replaced by brand-new hardcover versions! And both will have completely new covers as well.
Seeds of Discovery is getting a big re-design on the outside, and a smaller one on the inside. While the story itself is not changing at all, some scenes inside will have some new elements, going a little more in-depth with some of our favorite characters.
Anyway … time for the big cover reveal. Thanks so much to the talented Mallory Rock over at Novel Publicity!
What do you think?
Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you are all resting and preparing for a wonderful week ahead.
This past week has been a good one around here, with fun things happening on the Dusk Gate front. Sales have been slowly but steadily picking up for Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight. I’m hearing lots of great feedback, and it’s so much fun to hear from those of you who are enjoying the adventures of William, Quinn, and Thomas.
I have been busily working away on writing the next installment, which hit a very important milestone this past week. It is now more than 50 thousand words (~200 pages long). Within the next two weeks, it should be longer than Seeds of Discovery (and it will be longer!).
So, to celebrate, I have a special announcement to share with you.
(If you follow my Facebook fan page, you heard it first! Make sure you join by clicking the button at the bottom of this blog or by clicking here to like Dusk Gate on Facebook, so that you, too can hear breaking news!)
Thorns of Decision, Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, will be released on June 1, 2012!
And … today’s very special #SampleSunday has an excerpt from Thorns. 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 a nest. She looked at him in surprise, and he smiled.
He made a low chirruping sound, and a second later, a familiar 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.
Happy Sunday everyone! If you’re looking for new and entertaining reads, head on over to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #SampleSunday. You’ll find all kinds of interesting stuff every week.
Here’s my first February contribution. An excerpt from Seeds of Discovery, which is on sale for just 99 cents through Valentine’s Day at Amazon!
Don’t forget, during the month of love, to spread some love to your favorite authors by leaving them reviews on any review site you frequent, especially Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads. Authors appreciate every single review, even if it seems like they already have many.
When she reached Maggie’s house that afternoon, Zander’s familiar truck was sitting next to the curb. When she pulled up behind it to park, she could see the outline of Zander’s head through the rear window; he must have arrived just before her. She pulled her keys out of the ignition and then hesitated, suddenly nervous about seeing him. She took an unnecessary minute to check her cell phone for text messages she might have missed. Small words flashed in the corner of the screen, “NO SERVICE.” Quinn sighed. One bad thing about living in a small mountain town was the unreliable cell phone service.
Finally composed, she took a deep breath and reached for the door handle. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the door opened on its own. Zander was standing there, grinning.
“Hey, Quinn,” he said, reaching for her hand to help her climb out.
“Uh, hi, Zander. Thanks.”
“Sure,” Zander smiled cheerfully, but he didn’t start walking to the house. He stood there for a long moment, looking like he wasn’t sure what to say.
The nervousness that Quinn had started feeling in the car was growing.
Finally, Zander spoke.
“I wanted to ask you something.”
“Will you … I mean, would you like … would you like to go to the Valentine dance with me?” he said the last part in a rush, in a hurry to get the words out.
Quinn was stunned. Did she want to go to the Valentine dance? With Zander? Maybe she did. “Um, I can’t dance, you know,” she stalled, trying to regain her composure.
Zander chuckled, “Neither can I. It could still be fun, though.”
“Um, okay…” shoving her hands in her pockets so he wouldn’t see them shaking, she choked out her answer. “Sure.”
She watched Zander’s eyes widen, “You’ll go with me?”
“Yes, I’ll go with you.”
Zander’s face lit up with a smile that did strange things to her insides… She had to work to catch her breath as she walked with him up to the porch.