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.
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! 🙂
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?
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.
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 have decided to try something new here … a Tuesday series designed to introduce people to Twitter. I’ve come across a number of people in my online life lately who have no idea how to really use Twitter. Either they’ve never checked it out, or they’ve signed up, and now a huge stream of tweets is passing them by, and they have no idea how to interact with it. 🙂
There are, of course, lots of good Twitter resources on the web, and I will try to point you to some more of those, as well, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in, anyway. 🙂
First of all Twitter isn’t for everyone. If you only get on the internet occasionally to look up things, or to check in with your friends and family on Facebook, and you maybe click on a few links from there (like to this blog post, for example), Twitter is likely not for you, and you can skip the rest of this post. My dad has an e-mail address and a Facebook account. I remind him how to log into both on a regular basis. I will not be encouraging him to use Twitter.
If, however, you are a lover of online life, you like to meet new people, you’ve been on chat boards since they were dial-up BBSes, and you have some idea of your way around … Twitter is worth checking out.
If you are a writer, or an artist of any kind, or the owner of a business (large or micro), or anyone needing to build any kind of a platform, Twitter is pretty much a MUST.
Also, if you are a teacher, trying to learn how to increase your knowledge and use of technology in the digital age, and you don’t use Twitter, you’re missing out, trust me.
Facebook is fantastic for lots of things, but it does not allow you to meet and connect with people you don’t already know. (Well it CAN, but Facebook actually actively discourages this). If you want the opportunity to reach out beyond your third-grade buddies, or your neighbors, and actually interact with NEW people who have the same interests you do, and who like to share their resources … Twitter may not be the only place, but it is an AWESOME one.
Getting Started : The VERY, VERY Basics …
If what I’ve written above has intrigued you (or you’ve been meaning to try out Twitter anyway, and you just haven’t gotten around to it), keep reading.
Step One: Go to twitter.com
You will get a screen that says “New to Twitter? Join today!”
Enter your information. Remember to choose a secure password. 🙂
On page two, you will have a chance to change your information and to choose a username. Your username can be your real name, or any other name you choose. I recommend NOT choosing something terribly obscure, NOT going with a Twitter-generated one that has lots of extra numbers or letters, and KEEPING IT SHORT. If you are an author, go as close to whatever name you write under as you can. You can also choose a name that is related to your business.
Click the big, yellow “Create My Account” button! 🙂
Twitter will then automatically take you through a little tutorial.
Step Two: Following
This is the first place that Twitter is DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT than Facebook (and different than real life, too). On Facebook, friending people you don’t know is discouraged. In real life, “following” strangers is also bad news. On Twitter, though, following people is the whole point.
Here, you can choose to follow people you know, people you don’t know, corporations, rock stars, authors, WHOEVER. Following is good. Start following people. Just click the “follow” on the little list that Twitter has given you on this page.
At the top of their list of suggestions, there’s also a little box. You can type whatever you want into that box. If you type @bputtroff, you can follow me. If you type Lady Gaga, you can follow her. Besides people, you can type things you’re interested in. If you type “writing,” then a bunch of ideas in that category will pop up. Follow some of them. You can also click, “teaching,” or “football” or “crafts” or “dogs” or WHATEVER YOU WANT.
Once you have followed at least five people/things, you can click NEXT.
One word of caution. There are spammers on Twitter, lots of them. I have a general rule. I don’t follow people with lots of numbers in their names, and I don’t follow people who feature body parts other than their faces in their profile picture. Unless you’re following a business showing their logo, it’s a good idea to stick to following people who show real pictures in their profiles that feature faces. “No face, No follow.” You can adjust this rule as you get to know Twitter and how it works for you.
Once you’ve chosen your first five, Twitter will show you a list of categories, so you can pick even MORE people to follow, based on their categories. I suggest either scrolling down to the category Twitter, or typing it in the search box, and following a few accounts that tweet tips. I learned a lot from those when I was a newbie. Actually following @twitter, @safety, and @support are good ideas.
After THAT, Twitter will help you look through your contacts. You can choose to give Twitter access to your e-mail and Facebook accounts to follow people you know, or you can skip that part by typing something else in the search box.
Once you’ve followed 15 people, Twitter will let you loose on a page showing the tweets of the people/accounts you’ve already followed, and it will ask you to confirm your e-mail address.
Take the next week to just play around with it and check it out. Next Tuesday, I’ll be back with some tips on going further with Twitter. 🙂
Book Three update:
I have been hard at work writing Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, and this book even has a working title! Right now, it’s Thorns of Decision. The writing has been going very well this month, and the book is currently over 30k words long — about 120 pages.