Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nathan Bransford Rules

Status of my life: SHADOWS, Chapter 24, Iron Chef America on FoodNetwork, Survivor tonight! Go Ozzie!

Okay, I don't have anything to add today. Nathan Bransford says it all. I read all of the blogs he has on his today, so you should too.

My other favorite site to check out is Guide to Literary Agents Blog.

Reading: My mail. Will get to a book tomorrow...

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just Admit It!

Status of my life: Chapter 18 of my novel, SHADOWS, Law and Order, SVU on TNT, American Idol tonight. Girls, baby!

I'm a writer. That's the most important thing to admit. Yes, I say admit. I've been a closet writer for years, amidst my teaching career and regular life. But I decided to open the doors and write!

I am not a published author--yet. But I will be. I love to read young adult novels, fantasy, and science fiction. My husband teaches 6th grade and I read everything he gets before it goes in his classroom library. I recently found re-tellings of fairy tales and find that I love those.

I've been researching the road to publishing for the past six months. Check out the list of websites I visit everyday. That's right, every single day. The market changes, I gotta keep up.

I recently went to a writing conference and got some great advice. It seems basic, but take it for what it's worth.

1. Write everyday. Set a goal. My goal is 3000 words a day. That may seem like a lot to some people, but I type extremely fast. If I have an idea and the plot already in my mind, this only takes a couple of hours.

Even if it's bad, dedicate the time to writing.

2. Write what you like. I like fantasy, so that's what I'm working on right now. I read a lot in this genre too, so I'm familiar with the aspects of it.

This was a big tip: Read what you write. I try to read a new book every week. Sometimes I can get through three or four, depending on the length and how interested I am.

Reading: BEAUTY by Robin McKinley

Monday, February 4, 2008

My First Three Pages of RED HOLLOW

The funeral for Captain James Hook was a short and dry-eyed event. The remaining pirates threw his belongings overboard and laughed. But it was short-lived, for their own lives teetered on the brink of extinction as well.

Now that the old captain was gone, the council could do what they wanted. As William Depth looked around the table, he wondered why they didn't overthrow that overstuffed, snooty self-server a long time ago. He sucked on a lizard bone and leaned back into the shadows, as the second-in-command, Smelter Seas took control of the meeting.

"Brethren! Order!"

The chattering ceased instantly and many of the men removed their ornate hats to reveal greasy, long, braided, black, brown, blonde, even some red-haired heads. William himself desperately needed a bath, but usually only allowed water to touch his skin when he was thrown overboard against his will.

"We have convened this council to decide our next move," Smelter continued, his hat still in place. Several of the men started shouting at once. Smelter let them continue for a moment before banging his hand on the table, rattling the mugs, coins, and other odd collections of loot.

"Shut it!" he commanded, slipping from his formal demeanor. "One at a time. Let's raise hands, shall we?" He adjusted his collar as every hand except William's flew into the air.

"Mister Shark."

"Listen, mates. We got rid of that there old cap'n. It's time to do what we've always wanted."

"I agree Sharky!"

"Mister Reef! You did not raise your hand!"

The Reefer heaved a huge sigh and glanced at William, who had a small smile playing on his lips.

"Smelt, come on. The time is now. The boys has left, all that's here is us. We needs us some more boys!"

A chorus of agreement followed the Reefer's statement, followed by a loud clattering of mugs as the men clanked them against other mugs and then the table. William remained cloaked in a half-shadow, the lizard bone bouncing in his mouth.

Smelter held up his hands. "Okay, okay. But we have a problem, my friends."

The men wiped dirty hands across their foamy lips and looked back to the head of the table. They all knew what the problem was.

"We don't need 'em," the Shark said.

"Yes, we do!"



"What fer? We can convince a few lads to come without 'em!"

"Shut it!"

"You shut it!"

"Men! Men! Everyone SHUT IT!" Smelter finally banged his proper English cane on the floor, and the men did indeed, shut it.

Smelter stood breathing heavily and adjusting his shirtsleeves. Some of the other men had stood during the exchange and they flopped back into their chairs. None of them adjusted anything, but took another swig from their mugs instead.

"A little democracy seems to be in order. How about a vote?" Smelter looked around the table with his eyebrows raised. Several of the men shrugged and in the shadows, William suppressed a huge sigh.

"Good. All in favor of finding more boys?"

Every hand went up, including Mister Depth's.

"It is unanimous. Now the question comes from the method."

"Would you speak normal?"

"I am speaking 'normal' Mister Barracuda! It is you who speaks improperly!"

"What did ya say? Improper?" Mister Barracuda stood and unsheathed a dagger. The kind with two blades, that he polished everyday even though there were no boys to use it on. He took a step toward the head of the table.

"Whoa there, Bucky. No swords at the council," Reef said, blocking Bucky's path.

"This ain't a sword, Coral!"

"Don't call me Coral!" And Reef flashed out his own impressive knife.

"Men! Men!"

"Get 'im Buck!"

"You can take him Reefy!"

Smelter backed up to the far wall, shaking his head. He knew he couldn't continue the meeting until the duel was done. Once swords were drawn, the challenge was on and nothing stood in the way. Most of the other men got up and made room for Reefer and Bucky as they carefully held their weapons out, circling.

William flipped the lizard bone into the trash can and reached for another. He watched the fight without any interest, but the other men had started chanting.

"Reefy! Reefy! Reefy!"

While others tried to out-do them with "Buc-keeee! Buc-keeee! Buc-keeee!"

Reefy and Bucky both smiled at the same time, one long and slow, the other quick and blinding. Reefy struck first, a quick attack that Bucky barely had time to deflect.

"Ah, ha! Nearly gotcha there!"

Bucky growled, his brilliant smile vanishing. He regained his position in the circle dance and twirled the hilt of his dagger in his hand.

Then he lunged, and the two men engaged in full swordplay. They parried, thrust, and spun. The clang of metal on metal rang throughout the cabin, even above the shouts of the other men. In great flashes of movement, roars and laughter, stomping and swearing, the duel only lasted for half a minute.

Then the action stopped with the tip of Reef's knife poking into the flesh under Bucky's chin.

"Gotcha," Reef said in an extremely superior voice, his slow smile spreading again.

Bucky twisted and raised his weapon. "Get off me!"

"Alright! Men! Order!"

Having completed the challenge, Reef pulled his chair back to the table while pocketing his knife. Bucky mumbled some unintelligible words under his breath and regained his seat too.

"Pirates," Smelter muttered under his breath and the whole table erupted into a cheer, with more clanging of cups and battering of fists.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


ELITE is a young adult paranormal novel. Think X-Men meets Heroes, all while trying to fit in at your new prep school in another country. That's life for fifteen-year-old Hunter Poulsen, who thinks his ability to see numbers is a curse.

Hunter doesn't understand how unique, how valuable, how wicked awesome his ability is, until he's forced to move to Toronto and he winds up at Fenway's Academy for the Arts. Confused about why he's enrolled at a school for fine arts when he can't draw a straight line, Hunter discovers he's the only student in classes like Ancient Numbering Systems and Decimals, Percents, and Fractions.

Someone at Fenway's knows his secret.

Mingling among the next piano virtuosos, Hunter discovers the academy is a front for the real students with talents. He becomes the eighth and final member of the secret Elite team, a group of students with "talents" like aura detection, twisting time, and shifting into teapots. Hunter's ability to literally see the numerical information that underpins the modern world—on walls, sidewalks, even plastered on people's chests—is rare. Now someone at Fenway's wants to exploit it.

When the team breaks into a bank to retrieve a mysterious yellow envelope, Hunter realizes that the Elitists are pulling more than just pranks, they're training to be criminals. He'll have to work with his friends—and his enemies—to find the source of deception before the cops show up demanding answers.

I am a graduate of Southern Utah University, with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a minor in Mathematics. I have been teaching elementary school for nine years and live in Utah with my husband and two young children.

At 85,000 words, ELITE stands alone, but I have begun the second in the Fenway's Academy series, THE BIG SHOW.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


In a world where Thinkers control the population and The Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Vivian Schoenfeld does a spectacular job of shattering them to pieces.

Refusing to listen to The Tapes and walking in the park after dark with a boy land Vi in prison. The Good are usually separated from the Bad, but Vi finds herself sharing a cell with beautiful Bad boy, Jag Barque.

Because Jag and Vi are Free-Thinkers, they're banished to the Badlands, a place Vi has always feared, but secretly wants to go. Until she gets there. Secrets about her missing father and dead sister, combined with who—or what—she really is, lead her down a difficult road. Falling for Jag further complicates Vi's life as she faces her new role, one she's always despised—being In Control.

A dystopian science fiction novel for young adults, MIND POWER is complete at 89,000 words.

Friday, February 1, 2008


This is a new novel I've just begun. I'm only 20,000 words in, but it's been quite the ride already.

I backstroked through the kitchen, watching the knife block. Dispatched ten minutes ago, I hoped the dreaded event would just happen already. I didn't really want to witness said event, but it was inevitable, so I practiced my swimming maneuvers as the yelling became louder.

A moment later, a clatter forced me to look down. A tall brown-haired man towered over his wife, who had fallen to the floor. The knife block lay on its side, the knives spilling across the tile. As the blonde woman struggled to find her balance, her fingers closed around the handle of a six-inch blade.

I braced myself for the impact.

She plunged the knife into her husband's stomach. I gasped in pain, feeling the hot slice in my own belly. The man's face turned white, his shout cut off mid-sentence. He fumbled at the woman's hands, his mouth opening to a round "o". I knew my face mirrored his.

She pulled the knife out and the blazing heat receded in my gut. Until she jabbed the blade in again, a little higher this time. It scraped my ribs, piercing a lung. I couldn't breathe. I sucked at the air, desperate for my body to work properly, thoughts that weren't mine clouding my mind.

Below me, the man fell to the ground, the knife still in his chest. Blinding pain shot through the left side of my body—no wonder the mortal was lying incapacitated on the ground. I hovered as still as possible, waiting for the crossover.

The woman dropped her shaking hands covered with her husband's blood. A strangled cry echoed through the otherwise clean kitchen and she turned away from the body on the floor. After retching into the sink—which didn't help the smell wafting up from the bloody body—she reached for the phone.

Three numbers later she cried, "Help! I just stabbed my husband!"

The pain subsided as a thousand pin pricks lightly kissed my skin. I closed my eyes in bliss; a smile crept across my face. I loved crossing over. It made all the pain worthwhile. Floating on a bed of feather pillows, the golden light passed over my body as I took the husband's place inside his own body.

As I settled in the foreign flesh, I wondered how long this placeholding would last. Those knife wounds looked pretty bad.


Owen's phone vibrated in the bowl of marbles, waking him before the ring could sound. He sat up and flipped the lamp on in one swift motion. He didn't even need to check the caller ID. He knew who it was.

"Baby?" he asked, pulling a shirt over his head. There was no talking on the other end of the line. A weak whimper came through. "Be there in a minute. Hang on."

He snapped the phone shut and strode from the room, wishing he had a pocket in his basketball shorts. The keys hung on a hook in the kitchen, but he didn't bother to be quiet as he descended the stairs. His older brother had moved out two years ago to attend college in another state. His mom, long since single, slept like the dead. He grabbed the keys and saw the time. Damn. He'd be tired tomorrow. And he had a game.

The ten minutes to his girlfriend's house were the hardest. Owen had to imagine all the horrible things her dad had done this time. They were usually worse than what he found, but the anguish he felt still simmered in him. Then the anger.

He'd called the police before. Her father hadn't been legally drunk. Autumn wouldn't say that he'd done anything, even though her eye had been puffy and red. Nothing had happened. The police left cards and looked apologetic. Owen hadn't called again. Now, whenever Autumn called, he just went and got her. She ended up sleeping in his basement, and everyone seemed satisfied with this arrangement.

He pulled in the driveway of the house with all the lights on. He didn't bother to turn off his car. As he sprinted up the steps, he could hear the shouting. Autumn would be in her room by now. She only called in private.

He barged through the front door without knocking. The two people in the room didn't even notice that he'd come in. If not for the wind, Owen could have made it to Autumn's room undetected. As it was, a large gust of air caught the screen door and slammed it against the siding. Owen was already half way down the hall and didn't stop when the cussing started, this time in his direction.

Autumn's door was locked. He knocked three times and leaned into the door jamb. "Baby? It's Owen. Let's go."

A few seconds later, the door opened and Owen was hit with a blast of icy air. Autumn moved into the light. He flinched, though he tried very hard not to. He reached for her hand and towed her down the hall. "Drinking again?"


When it comes to saving someone, you'd think wielding magic would be enough. You'd be wrong.

Sixteen-year-old Annie Jenkins learns this the hard way when she discovers she's inherited magical abilities from her mother and has the rare ability to Reflect immortal beings back into the human world. Sure, that power is great, if the magic were balanced enough to use it. It's not, and it's Annie's job to bring equilibrium to the Shadows—magically transformed humans existing between life and death. When she finds out she also doesn't have the capability to cure her terminally ill mother, Annie realizes magic isn't as great as everyone thinks.

Determined not to become an orphan, Annie throws herself into her training, learning protections, how to make potions, and transporting to new locations to bring the magic back into balance. She's distracted by Jonathan Clarke, a mysterious and dangerous Shadow, who's been searching for someone with Annie's Mirror power for one hundred years. He desperately needs Annie to become human again, and she desperately needs his healing abilities to save her mom.

With the magic out of balance, an old rebellion escalates, putting Annie at the top of the hit list and Jon's transformation on hold. Depleted because of her tenacious training, Annie wavers in her decision to Reflect Jon, he's recruited by the opposition, and their friends may be their biggest enemies. If Jon and Annie can't find a way to overcome the dissenters, transformations and potions won't do any good. There is no spell to revive the dead.

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