Thursday, December 12, 2013

Presenting Kate, from "Fairy Godmothers, Inc."

This is Kate, my Fairy Godmother extraordinaire, as conceived by the fabulous Lettie. I especially love the official uniform, which is somehow both fabulous and exactly the sort of thing that would drive Kate nuts. Feel free to share the image, if you'd like, though please don't get rid of the attribution at the bottom. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. epilogue:The Swing of Things

Epilogue: The Swing of Things
            Fairy Godmother or royal fiancée, there was no escaping a fancy dress ball.
            "Relax," Jon murmured in Kate ear. He tightened the arm that was hooked around hers, the closest they could get to a hug without breaking position. Rupert had just stepped through the curtain, and once the applause died down they would be next. "You used to attend these things for a living."
            "I was usually hiding out in the corridor," Kate whispered back, fighting the urge to reach and touch the complicated upsweep the hairdresser had erected on top of her head. There was no tiara, thankfully - there'd nearly been a fight over that - but there were enough jeweled pins in there to let her eat comfortably for a year. It was mildly terrifying. "If I can do that for *this* ball, I promise you I'll calm down in no time."
            "But then I'd miss you." Though her eyes were still fixed on the curtain in front of them, Kate could hear the smile in Jon's voice. "Unless I could hide out in the corridor, too. Then I'm all for it."
            "Don't be ridiculous," the queen said from behind her. Her own hairstyle was twice as tall, though thankfully she'd been talked out of the songbirds. "Our fairy princess looks far too fabulous to even consider running off."
            Before Kate could respond to that, the trumpeting started. Taking a deep breath, she let Jon guide her through the curtain and to the waiting crowd beyond.
            "His Highness Prince Jonathan Alistair Crispin Lorimer Charming, heir to the throne of Somewhere, and his bride-to-be Katharine Mary Elizabeth Francesca Harris!"
            As the applause started, Kate leaned close to Jon. "I don't have any middle name," she whispered fiercely. "How exactly did I end up with three of them!"
            Jon sent a narrow-eyed look in the announcer's direction. The announcer very deliberately refused to meet his gaze. "I keep meaning to fire him, don't I?"
            Kate sighed. "I'll start reminding you." As they started their slow, dignified walk down the stairs, the trumpeter started again in preparation for the king and queen's announcement. Immediately, the gathered guests forgot she existed and turned their attention back to the curtain.
            It was an enormous relief.
            "See?" Jon whispered once they'd been safely swallowed up by the crowd. "You survived it."
            "The first five minutes, yes." Even as the relief uncoiled inside her, Kate tightened her hold on Jon's arm. "I still have the rest of the night to get through."
            "Compliment their hair," Lawton offered, suddenly appearing next to them with a glass of ridiculously pink champagne in his hands. "If they have no hair, compliment their no doubt hideously expensive dinner jacket."
            Jon raised an eyebrow at him. "And after that?"
            Lawton smirked. "Why, she should stab them with her shoe and flee, of course."
            "No, she should dance." Rellie emerged from between two women with skirts clearly designed to smuggle dwarf armies, dragging Ned along behind her. Somewhere in the distance, music started playing. "People aren't moving away like they're supposed to, but I figure if I step on enough toes we should be fine."
            Ned, looking dazed but happy, let himself be carried along. "I love it when she does that."
            Rellie stopped, surveying the patch of dance floor. "This should work." She smiled at Ned, holding out her other hand, and they quickly moved into dance position.
            "That sounds like an excellent idea, milady." Jon turned to Kate, holding out his own hand. "Shall we?"
            She felt the corners of her mouth curve upward. "Shouldn't you be reminding everyone what a wonderful heir to the throne they have looking out for them?"
            His smile was soft. "I'd rather enjoy how lucky I am that you said yes."
            Kate melted. Jon had a rather alarming talent for doing that. "It's hard to say no to you."
            Jon's smile widened into a grin as they settled into position. "Not that you didn't try."
            She returned the grin as he whisked her into the dance. "Clearly, my heart wasn't in it."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday Deals at Fairy Godmothers, Inc.!!!


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Extras

Enchanted Thorns

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To complete your order or learn more about Fairy Godmothers, Inc., visit either one of our fine retail portals. For more information, send us an e-mail at fairygincorporated@gmail.com.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sneak Peek: Exclusive look at “Beast Charming”

My publisher said I could give you guys an excerpt of “Beast Charming”! So here it is – not as long as “Dreamless,” but it should give you a taste of our heroine, Beauty Tremain and the … unusual family circumstances she’s had to deal with.

000

Chapter 1
Of Frying Pans and Fires

Beauty held up the mangled gauntlet, ready to fight. She’d spent most of the afternoon yanking the thing out from between a dragon’s teeth, and said dragon would probably approve of her using it to beat her father’s head in. “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.”

“Not until you’ve returned to your senses and come back home.” Noble Tremain—whose birth certificate still identified him as Frank—folded his arms across his brocade-covered chest and tried to stare her down. Her father sincerely believed he was an important and powerful man, even though he’d spent most of Beauty’s formative years being kicked out of rich people’s houses. “This ridiculous job is an insult to the family name.”

Beauty shoved her shaggy brown hair out of her eyes with her free hand, glaring at the man who was technically responsible for her existence. She’d told herself only a few months ago that she needed to move again, just in case her father finally tracked her and Grace down, but she was sick of letting the man ruin her life. Besides, she couldn’t leave her sister to face this alone.

“So sedating princesses and sneaking your daughters into secret ballrooms is what, creative parenting?” She gritted her teeth to keep from shouting, furious he’d insisted on doing this where she worked. The only good thing about all this was that he’d caught her before she’d made it inside. “Or how about that time you knocked us unconscious and left us in an ogre’s cave, hoping a questing hero would just happen to rescue us?”

Her father’s brow lowered at the reminder of that last incident. “You could have tried to be a little more in peril with that ogre,” he snapped, his round face tensing up with annoyance.

000

Excerpted from BEAST CHARMING by JENNIFFER WARDELL. Copyright © 2013 by JENNIFFER WARDELL. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cinderella style: “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.” alternate ending

This is the original ending for “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.” I don’t like it quite as well as the one that made it into book – I wasn’t quite as good at juggling multiple people in the same scene when I wrote this, so certain characters were kind of shuffled off to the side – but it’s an interesting look at the different ways you can take a scene. The beginning and ending of the chapter will be very familiar to those who have read the book, but the middle plays out quite differently.

Chapter 26: Heroes and Fairy Godmothers
            Even though she’d known it was coming, Kate couldn’t help but tense at the word “arrest.” The hand that wasn’t holding John’s reached into her pocket, fingers curling around the vial that she’d slid in there at the last minute. She trusted John absolutely, but he of all people would approve of having an emergency backup plan.
The queen, however, was having none of it. She’d shot up out of her throne, face blazing with royal fury. “How dare you speak that way of a princess-to-be?” John had teased her about hiding under the stairs when his mother had come by earlier, but Kate had known that it would be a lot easier for the queen to defend her son’s sweetheart if she hadn’t actually met her yet. “You’re the one who should be arrested!”
            Bubbles swung her gaze back to the queen, suddenly dipping into a low bow as her instincts for dealing with upper management finally started to take over. “You don’t want this woman as a daughter-in-law, Your Majesty. She’s an employee of Fairy Godmothers, Inc. who has stolen valuable company property.” Her gaze slid back over to Kate for a second, rage flickering in the depths of her eyes. “Let me take care of the problem for you.”
            The queen’s brow lowered as she looked at her son. “I’m not particularly concerned with this ridiculous stealing business, Jonathan, but I warned you about marrying a Fairy Godmother.” She looked over at Kate, looking oddly regretful. “I’m sorry, my dear, but a princess can’t very well be employed by the people she’ll outrank.”
            Hesitantly, Kate raised her hand. “Actually, I quit, which means that I’m technically not a Fairy Godmother anymore.” She pushed the cloak off her shoulders, stretching her wings out briefly in sheer relief. “I’m just a fairy.”
            John grinned over at her. “And after she marries me, she’ll be a fairy princess.”
            The queen’s face cleared instantly. “Oh how fabulous. I’ve never had the chance to accessorize wings before.” Before Kate had a chance to get nervous over that last thought, the queen was glaring at Bubbles again. “I’m still upset with you, peasant.”
            Bubbles glared right back. “She broke the law, Your Majesty,” she said through clenched teeth. “You don’t want that kind of embarrassment.”
            “What’s to be embarrassed about?” John’s voice was easy, but pitched just right to catch the entire crowd’s attention. When they turned to him, he stepped forward and gently tugged Kate with him. “Her true love was being tormented by the effects of a wicked spell, and she stole the item needed to set me free. It’s a nearly textbook definition of a quest, and as such everything Kate did in the last 48 hours is covered by questing law.” He smiled, and Kate tried to look as relaxed and confident as he was. “The fact that the shoe fit merely confirms that she is, indeed, my true love.”
            Both the king and queen were now staring at John with lowered brows. “Why didn’t you tell me you were under a wicked spell?” the queen asked, warning in her voice. She turned to her husband. “Did he tell *you* he was under a wicked spell?”
            “There. Was. No. Wicked. Spell,” Bubbles insisted, glaring at John’s parents as if she could make them agree with her by sheer force of will. “It was merely a misunder—“
            The queen’s gaze snapped away from her husband, the righteous indignation rising again in her expression as she glared right back at Bubbles. “I should think my son can be trusted to know whether or not he was under a wicked spell!”
            Bubbles grit her teeth, a muscle visibly working in her jaw by the time she turned back to John. “So you’re going to continue with this ridiculous claim? That a simple business tool was some sort of terrible villainy you had to be freed from?”
            “Your ‘business tool’ held my mind hostage.” The room fell silent at the quiet intensity in John’s voice. “It kept trying to steal my free will and turn me into your little puppet.” Kate could hear the tension building with each word, and she squeezed his hand in an attempt to offer comfort. He glanced over at her, expression softening briefly as he gave her a return squeeze. “It tried to make me betray the people I care about most.”
            Bubbles’ glare only deepened, and Kate suddenly knew for certain that management had known exactly what happened to the people who didn’t accept the True Love.
            John smiled slowly at Bubbles, the expression remarkably similar to what Kate imagined a dragon would look like just before it decided to swallow the knight. “Which means that you, and by extension Fairy Godmothers, Inc., have a decision to make. You can walk out of here right now, cancel any and all contracts you might have on anyone in this room, and do your best to forget that Kate or any of the rest of us even exist. Or you can explain to all of those royal families whose sons and daughters married people they didn’t really approve of that you drugged them into thinking they’d fallen in love.”
            Bubbles eyes went wide. “You wouldn’t—” Her mouth instantly snapped closed, as if she’d realized how ridiculous the words were.
John’s smile merely widened. “I wonder what percentage of Fairy Godmother-created marriages would suddenly explode in messy, scandalous divorces. And the lawsuits …. The company’s reputation would be destroyed in a matter of what, days?”
            Bubbles stared at him, unable to speak for a moment, but the situation had collapsed too fast and she was beyond horror. Kate understood exactly what that felt like, which was why she wasn’t at all surprised when her former boss simply redirected her glare towards Kate. “It’s utterly beyond me how these people could be interested in anyone as irrelevant as you are, but for the good of the company it seems as though you’ll temporarily escape the consequences of your actions. Undoubtedly the royal family will come to regret making such a powerful enemy in the long run—”
            “No.” It took Kate a second to realize that she’d actually said the word out loud, but her voice was sure and steady as she slid her hand out of John’s hold and headed down the stairs towards Bubbles. “No more last-minute bluster. I may have started this mess, but I refuse to let anyone I care about have to keep worrying about you.”
            Kate stopped only a few inches away from her former boss, close enough that the older woman was forced to look up slightly to glare at her properly. “What do you think you’re going to do?” Bubbles sneered. “The only part in this entire escapade you haven’t managed to fail at completely is theft.”
            “True Love, however, never fails.” Kate pulled out her company issued bottle, undoing the spray top and holding it up directly in front of Bubbles’ eyes. “Maybe we should see what your romantic destiny is.”
            Bubbles actually paled. “You wouldn’t dare.”
            “Oh, but I’m pretty sure I would.” Kate smiled, feeling more than a little like a dragon herself. “You did it to John, after all. And I want to make sure that you’re really persuasive when you explain everything he just told you to management.”
            Bubbles’ eyes narrowed. “I won’t pursue the contract, but I am not going to tell—”
            Kate shook the bottle slightly. “I wouldn’t want to bespell any of the poor men behind you.” The four security guards that had followed Bubbles in immediately backed away in unison. “But I’m sure one of the palace guards would be happy to lose a boot to the greater good. Or maybe we should keep things simple and have you fall in love with the company uniform you’re wearing. I’m sure the two of you would be very happy together.”
            Bubbles teeth clenched. “How dare you think you get to be the hero in all this!” she hissed.
            “Actually, he’s the hero,” Kate said softly, tilting her head back towards John. She put the spray cap back on the True Love, dropping it into her pocket as she took a step back. “I’m just the Fairy Godmother.”
            There was a heartbeat of total silence, then the room broke into wild applause. At a gesture from John the guards dragged Bubbles and the men she’d arrived with out of the building, and everyone immediately swarmed together with cheers and congratulations.
Kate just watched it all for a minute, still reeling from the realization that everything had actually worked out like they’d hoped it would, until Rellie appeared and threw her arms around her. “That was so cool!” she laughed, squeezing tight until Kate had the good sense to hug her back. “You and John totally have to start that company so I can be a Fairy Godmother just like you are!”
Then Ned was there, and Rellie immediately launched herself into his arms. Over her shoulder, Ned grinned at Kate. “You did good, Boss.”
Kate grinned back. “So did you.” The shock had given way to sheer relief, and when Lawton’s hand touched her shoulder she impulsively hugged him as well. “Sorry you didn’t get any of the good lines, Lawton.”
He chuckled as they pulled away. “As long as my sacrifice is duly noted.”
A moment later she felt a hand, warm and gentle, on the small of her back. “Doesn’t the hero get a hug?” Without a word she turned and threw herself into John’s arms, pressing her face against his neck and holding onto her happy ending for all she was worth.
She didn’t let go even when she saw John’s mother approach, still looking royal despite the chaos that surrounded her. The queen gave both of them a long, carefully evaluating look, then sighed. “As much as I appreciate the way you and Jonathan verbally decimated that peasant, I do ask that you remember to use the term fairy princess instead of Fairy Godmother. When can we start your fitting for the wedding gown?”
“Actually, we’re planning on an extended engagement,” John said quickly, and Kate decided that it was close enough to the truth not to argue. “You’ll still be seeing her around the palace, but I’ll be giving her some kind of managerial title until she’s officially a princess.” Ned would be hired on as her assistant, they’d decided, and Kate would do what she could to distract Rellie (and John, probably) from the idea of a brand-new Fairy Godmother company.
The queen looked appalled. “You can’t hire your future bride! It’s just not done!”
“Okay.” John shrugged, then grinned at Kate. “You have to help me run the kingdom and keep my sanity out of the goodness of your heart, but you get free run of the treasury.”
Kate nearly had a heart attack at the words “free run of the treasury,” but it was very hard not to be okay when John had his arms around her. “Sounds fair.”
The queen opened her mouth again, clearly not feeling similarly settled about the matter, when a little girl suddenly appeared from between two people and dove beneath the edge of her skirt. The queen jumped, frantically trying to lift the layers of fabric hiding the child from view. “Jonathan, I’m certain I didn’t approve my gown being used as play equipment!”
Kate and John grinned at each other, then she pulled out of his arms to crouch down in front of the queen. “If I may, Your Majesty?” She lifted several layers of skirt just far enough to reveal the curly-haired child, who giggled at being discovered.
John leaned forward. “Hide and seek, I presume?”
Just as the girl nodded, a much taller figure burst through the crowd. “Lucy, I told you you’re not supposed to go ….” The voice trailed off, and the little girl dashed off again as everyone else looked up at the suddenly frozen Rupert.
He stared at his mother. “Um … hi?”
The queen’s eyes widened with delight. “You’re back from questing! Oh darling, this is wonderful! I have so much to talk to you about ….”
Panicked, Rupert glanced over at John, then sketched a quick bow to his mother before turning and disappearing back into the crowd.
The queen’s eyes narrowed again as she whirled on her youngest son. “Jonathan, explain.”

John sighed, and Kate smothered a laugh as she put a consoling arm around his shoulders. “It’s a long story.”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sneak Peek: Exclusive look at "Dreamless."

Technically, this isn't my newest book that's going to be published - that's "Beast Charming," which is due out next fall. This is my third book, my take on the "Sleeping Beauty" myth that's currently being called "Dreamless." I'm in the long, slow process of editing it as we speak, but I thought I'd let you guys get a peek at this first page.

Chapter 1: Mindfulness
“So, how are we feeling today?”
            Elena was fairly certain that Dr. Flyte knew exactly how annoying the question was, and kept asking it in the hopes that one day when she would snap and hurl something at him instead of answering. He’d nearly admitted as much one day – they both knew she was intelligent enough to know what the word “catharsis” meant – despite the fact that it wasn’t the most sensible therapeutic technique for a centuries-old magic mirror to use. 
            It was for the sake of Dr. Flyte’s continued health, then, that she would continue to disappoint him.  “Actually, I’m a little tired. A spellbook I’d been waiting for finally arrived yesterday, and I’m afraid I stayed up later reading it than I should have.” Her smile was an old defensive reflex, well-used and entirely meaningless. “I assure you, Alan gave me a suitably firm talking-to.”
            Had her personal bodyguard been close enough to hear them, rather than standing at attention on the other side of the door, he would have given her that look that made it clear he could see right through her. Dr. Flyte, however, carefully had no expression at all. “Shall I talk to Commander Merrick? Given the damage he did to his leg during that incident with Prince Nigel, it would comfortably fall within the range of post-trauma employee evaluations.”
            Elena would have sworn she kept her expression blank, but one of the doctor’s eyebrows still twitched upward. It was, she knew from experience, his version of a smirk. “Of course, questions about his job duties would naturally come up, particularly about the mental state of the princess he spends his days guarding.”
            That was the problem with verbally fencing with a true magic mirror, the sentient entities that were so much more than the mass-produced communication devices they’d inspired. Though some continued their traditional work with particularly lucky sorcerers or sorceresses, many of the original mirrors had gone on to have second careers in a variety of fields where information and perceptiveness were more important than arms and legs.
            Elena lifted her chin slightly, abandoning evasion for simple stubbornness. “What makes you think Alan could tell you any more about how I feel than these sessions we’ve been having for so long? After poking and prodding me all these years, surely you’ve figured me out by now.”
            Dr. Flyte sighed, his ghostly face sagging gently into something she refused to acknowledge as sadness. “Elena.” The disappointment in his voice was worse than chiding would have been. “I’m only trying to help.”
            She pressed the palms of her hands flat against her legs, refusing to let them betray her emotions. “Curses are supposed to help you attract a royal spouse, or temporarily punish a business rival when a lawsuit doesn’t quite get the message across. The worst ones are supposed to simply kill people.” Elena couldn’t keep the edge out of the words. “And then there’s me.”
            Dr. Flyte had known her family long enough that she didn’t have to go into detail. Her mother, a sorceress who had decided to take the “evil” track after grad school simply because her beloved older sister had. She decided to leave the family business when she fell in love, a common enough story. This time, though, that older sister hadn’t taken it well.
            “Elena, you know perfectly well how unusual your situation is. The ‘evil’ part of an evil sorceress’s title is often nothing more than a marketing tool, and there are a vast and ferociously defended set of rules in place to keep what your aunt did from happening. Though there are any number of scholarly papers out there debating the merits of this, curses are generally seen as instructional at their worst and helpful at their best. Not….” The word hovered alone for a moment, the doctor’s normal verbal acuity apparently having failed him for a moment.
            “Cruel?” Elena finished, feeling the old anger stir and forcing it back down. It never helped anything, and Dr. Flyte didn’t deserve to get caught in the backlash. “Appallingly vindictive to both her supposedly beloved younger sister and her only niece?”
            The doctor opened his mouth, then closed it again. “Yes.”
            Elena took a deep breath, smoothing the non-existent wrinkles out of her dress as she ordered her emotions to steady. “I’m exactly like I was yesterday, Dr. Flyte.”

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My portrait of Kate

I'm not a terribly good artist, but sometimes I'll draw my characters so I can get a clearer look at them. I did that for Kate soon after I finished "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." (headshot only, sorry - when I'm feeling braver I'll try a color version of those wonderfully horrible outfits). It's a photo of a rather messy pencil-and-paper portrait, but I thought you might be interested to see it.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. short story: Paperwork

Paperwork    
by Jenniffer Wardell
           
Kate had thought the one creative writing class she’d taken in college would prove completely useless. Then she’d started writing Fairy Godmothers, Inc. assignment reports.
           
She hesitated over the mirror’s keypad, weighing her words.
           
The client, Yvette Longhorn, had not been told of the Fairy Godmothers, Inc. package her parents had purchased. When I informed her, she appeared excited by the prospect of working with the company.
           
Technically, it wasn’t even a lie. One of the definitions of “excite” was to “increase the activity of something.” Throwing a chair was definitely an increase in activity.
           
Apparently, Yvette already had a boyfriend, a fine, upstanding dwarf who worked as a jeweler a nearby town. Her parents, who apparently had strong views about inter-species dating, did not approve.
           
We had a lively discussion about her personal preferences for the assignment.
           
Translation: there was a lot of shouting, and even more of Yvette flatly refusing to listen to any of the very sympathetic and rational things Kate had to say. She had valiantly restrained herself from either hitting Yvette with her wand or turning her into a fashionable hat.
           
But it had been close.
           
Before a second meeting could be arranged, however, the parents requested an alteration of the original contract. Per Fairy Godmothers, Inc. regulations, they paid an additional 50 percent of the package cost as a change fee. Neither of the Longhorns stated a reason for the alteration.
           
Once Yvette had shouted herself hoarse, Kate had dragged her to her boyfriend’s shop and explained the concept of bribery to both of them. Luckily, the boyfriend was far more sensible than Yvette, and had a grandfather who had done very well for himself in mining before the family moved down to the city.
           
The Longhorn’s compunctions, it seemed, weren’t quite as strong as their desire to have enough jewelry to blind all of their neighbors.
           
The Longhorns and Yvette all report 100 percent satisfaction with the resolution of the assignment. Their client statements are attached below. Yvette also stated that she would recommend the company to all of her friends.
           
Particularly, she would point out that certain Fairy Godmothers were good at handling difficult parents. Kate thought it best not to mention that part.
           

She had, however, been invited to the wedding. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Fairy Godmothers, Inc." extended scene: The Statue Incident

Welcome to the “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.” special edition! Under this tag I’m going to roll out some extended/alternate scenes that didn’t make it into the book. When we get to the longer scenes, I’ll even give you guys the option to experience the scene with or without author commentary.

For this one, however, I can get the commentary out of the way before the scene starts. This is an extension of the scene that starts out chapter 5, specifically between pages 56 and 57. I snipped this bit due to protest that Kate is more emotional here than she usually is, and I will admit that it’s probably not necessary for the scene. But I think it gives a glimpse of Kate that I’m not sure we see anywhere else, and I still mourn it a little.

OOO

“Possibly, though that depends on how much emphasis you’re placing on the ‘you.’” John hesitated. “I might have some vague chance in getting the Queen to ask for one, but with this little lead time I’m not even sure she’d be enough to persuade Madame Stewart to marshal her forces and get everything pulled together. For something like this you’d have to go straight to the Madame herself, the Queen’s personal entertainment organizer, and she won’t even give me the time of day after that unfortunate incident with the ice archer.”
           
Rellie stared at John for a second, then giggled. “You’re really weird.”
           
“He is not weird,” Kate snapped instantly, whipping around to glare at Rellie. “Those ice sculptures are absolute menaces anyway, and you don’t even have any idea what happened in the first place.”
           
You could have heard a wand drop in the resulting silence. Horrified, Kate barely resisted the urge to clap a hand over her mouth as she saw Rellie’s eyes widen in surprise. Slowly, she slid her gaze over to John, who was staring straight ahead and looked like he was fighting the urge not to … what, she didn’t know. But knowing the way her life usually went, it probably wasn’t going to be something she wanted to hear.
           
Kate took a deep breath, making herself ignore the lead weight that had suddenly dropped into the pit of her stomach. “So,” she began, not quite meeting John’s eyes. “You were telling us about the possibility of a fancy dress ball?”
           
“Yes.” John very deliberately cleared his throat, still not quite willing to look at Kate. “What I was trying to say is that I doubt I’ll be able to convince the woman of anything on my own. But she loves Rupert, both because he’s pretty enough that he matches the statuary and he actually enjoys eating those disgusting canapés she makes. If I can convince him to persuade her we need a last-minute ball, we should be fine.”

000

And later, on page 59….

000

She felt a tug on her skirt from Rellie. “I’m not sure about this whole dancing thing, but if I trip I might tear the skirt of the really neat dress you made me.” The girl made her eyes go big and plaintive as she batted her lashes up at Kate. “Do you really want to have to go through all the yelling it took to make it all over again?”
           
“Besides,” John said quietly. “It’s not every day I find someone willing to defend my honor.”
           

Kate stared hard at John for a long moment, feeling something inside her chest catch. “Thursday night, then? Ten o’clock?” she asked finally, still waiting for him to say no. It was absolutely ludicrous to expect someone to have their schedule open with only two nights advance notice. “Just across the street?”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Poetry confessional

So… I was really into poetry in college, as I’m sure many of you were/are (I’ll have to tell you about the depressing poetry contests, sometimes) but I hadn’t written in years. As Mark Twain said, “Contentment does not lend itself well to verse.”

Then… I kind of went through a super stressful time lately, and my first poems in years suddenly fall out of my fingers. And, since you’re a captive audience, I’m subjecting you to them.

000

sweetclipart.com
Nero fiddled while Rome burned
But no one thought to ask
If it was he who struck the match
If the slide of bow across strings
Was a mock of the city he’d felled
Without an army at his back
A celebratory dance
For the destruction he’d conjured

Or if he saw the flames
Only when others did
Tasted death as it was carried on the wind
And reached for the fiddle
So he could spend his final moments
In song

000

Somewhere, the world is ending

There may be warning signs
Arguments in the night
Whispers of disappearing money
The slow fading of the light in their eyes

But that final morning
Always keeps its silences
Never admitting
That this will be the last moment
Before your own private apocalypse
There will be no time to mourn
No companion with you in the bunker
Only blue skies
That seem a thousand miles away
And the memories of a world

That lies shattered at your feet.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

High School “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.,” volume 2

Unfortunately for me, there is a good deal more of my original, “high school” version of “Fairy Godmothers, Inc’ than what I had previously posted. Because you are kind and I abandoned shame a long time ago (there was no longer any room for it in my apartment), here’s another excerpt.

000

Now that we had dealt with the dress, on to step two. I had to find out if she could dance. Since it was more important in this society for girls to be taught how to dance than how to read, I thought that I would have no problem. I had no idea how I could have still thought that, given the rest of the night. I was probably in denial.

So I asked the question, and got the answer I should have expected. She broke down sobbing (an act that she would continue on and off for the rest of the night). Then I proceeded to ask the very stupid question, “Didn’t your father teach you?” That only made her bawl harder.

When she finally calmed down, she managed to get out, “He died in a terrible cliché.”

“Don’t you mean accident?” I responded, unwilling to believe that bad writing could kill someone (though there have been cases of William Shatler’s books making people ill.)

*** Note from the author: Clearly, I meant William Shatner – yes, he also writes – and I like to tell myself it was simply a typo. If it was a genuine attempt to alter his name in some sort of parodic sense, I am embarrassed for myself.***

“No, cliché,” she barely managed to respond. “He died in a carriage accident while rushing home from his office, in the pouring rain, trying to make it home for my eighth birthday party,” she responded, which started a fresh round of tears. How does someone respond to that?

***It wasn’t until college, at least, that I realized how inelegant it was to use the same word so close together. Three times in one paragraph, though, is a little much even for high school me.***

***Though I have to admit, I do love the cliché line. I may have to figure out a way to use it later.***



Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Chat: Lehua Parker, author of "One Shark, No Swim."

Lehua Parker
Today we welcome Lehua Parker, author of the exciting Niuhi Shark Saga. The latest book in the series, “One Shark, No Swim,” continues the adventures of a young man named Zader and his mysterious connection to the water. Lehua sits down with me to talk about her new book, which is out now.
How is Zader different than the last time we saw him in One Boy, No Water, the first book in the Niuhi Shark Saga?
After his experience standing in seawater during the fight and after what he sees when Leia dives into the ocean at the end of One Boy, No Water, Zader begins to question things he always took for granted. He begins to test Uncle Kahana, and when Uncle Kahana isn’t forthcoming, Zader starts to hide things he’s feeling and doing. In One Shark, No Swim Zader is restless, more aggressive, and hungry like a shark.
Have you found it’s easier or more challenging to get deeper into the series? Why?
In my head, the whole series is one long story. Book 1 introduced all the characters and explained how things began. Now that the readers are on board, we’re paddling out into the deep water of how things change. It’s a lot more fun to write.
Do you feel any differently about Zader’s world now that you’ve had more experience with it? Have you discovered more about it?
 Zader’s world is part of a larger writing universe I think of as Lauele Town. There are other stories about characters we’ve met in the Niuhi Shark Saga that I’d like to write one day. Most of them are not for MG/YA readers. When I write a novel, I have the major beats in my head, but nothing remotely like a detailed outline. At the computer I think, “Okay. In this next scene Zader needs to meet his art teacher. What’s he doing?” And like magic I see the scene unfold with Zader walking up to the beach pavilion where Char Siu and some girls are mimicking the newest dance craze. And then Zader says he hates K-Pop. Those kinds of discoveries keep me writing.
What are the challenges of writing for a MG/YA audience?
Through the series I’ve realized that for my audience a lot of the tension and conflict that I felt was in the story wasn’t on the page yet. Middle grade readers are just beginning to understand symbolism, metaphor, and allegory. They don’t make connections between things that older, more experienced readers do. I’ve learned to write in neon and hold up big signs saying, “Pay attention to this. You may be quizzed on it later.”
The new book, One Shark, No Swim, has less Hawaiian Pidgin English in it than the first edition of One Boy, No Water, which is also being released in a second edition with less Pidgin. How did that decision come about? 
There were a couple of assumptions in my marketing plan that didn’t work out the way I planned.
I had the idea that the series would gain readers in Hawaii first, then move across the Pacific to California, Nevada, Washington, Utah—places where a lot of ex-pat islanders live. If I lived in Hawaii or had gone with an islander publisher, this probably would’ve been the way it worked. But living in Utah with a publisher based in Utah as well, it was tough to get books on Hawaiian bookstore shelves. With middle grade readers and their parents it’s all about being able to pick up a book before buying it. I learned eBook services aren’t the best distribution system for an audience without smart phones, iPads, or Kindles yet.
When I first conceived of the series, I wanted to write books that I would’ve loved as a kid growing up in Hawaii. In literature, there are almost no characters that looked, talked, and acted like the people I knew. I also wanted to write something that would appeal to island boys who didn’t like reading. I chose to write a lot of the dialogue in a kind of Pidgin-lite thinking non-native speakers could still follow the action and that islanders would automatically switch Anglicized words to their proper Pidgin ones.
Adult readers have no problem getting into the Pidgin groove. New or reluctant readers—the very audience I was aiming for—struggle with what looks like broken English to them. Mainland schools throw their hands up. They like it, but don’t know what to do with it. So I basically had a series written using unconventional language for an audience that didn’t read books and a distribution system that couldn’t get it in their hands—even if they decided to look.
Something had to change.
That’s when I realized the series needed a Pidgin-ectomy and wrote One Shark, No Swim with far less Pidgin and Hawaiian words. It needed to appeal to readers who liked to read first and island kids second. When I was writing One Shark, No Swim I approached  Jolly Fish Press with the idea of doing a second edition of One Boy, No Water. When JFP inked a new distribution deal with IPG, they came back and said the time was right. Since all of their titles would have to be re-formatted, it made sense to do the second edition now.
What’s next for Zader and his ‘ohana?
In book 3, tentatively titled One Fight, No Fist, Zader’s human world begins to collapse. He meets his sister and biological mother and begins to understand what’s at risk and why he was hidden with his adopted family. Readers will get to know the Niuhi side of the story.
If you could say one thing to everyone who picks up one of the books in the Niuhi Shark Saga, what would it be?

Thank you! Mahalo for picking it up. Between the covers you’ll find adventure, a loving and supportive family, danger, excitement, and all the trials and tribulations of growing up different. You’ll meet Zader, a boy who’s allergic to water, see how islanders live, and maybe take a little piece of Hawaii home with you.

Lehua Parker’s Biography

Lehua Parker is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. In addition to writing award-winning short fiction, poetry, and plays, she is the author of the Pacific literature MG/YA series the Niuhi Shark Saga published by Jolly Fish Press. One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim are available now. Book 3, One Fight, No Fist will be published in 2014.
So far Lehua has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, an instructional designer, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, a playwright, a web designer, a book editor, a mother, and a wife. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, three cats, two dogs, six horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy Utah winters she dreams about the beach.

Connect with Lehua Parker
Blog & Free Short Stories: http://www.lehuaparker.com/
All things Niuhi Shark Saga: http://www.niuhisharksaga.com/
Twitter: @LehuaParker

One Boy, No Water

11 year old Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader for short—is allergic to water. One drop on his skin sears like white-hot lava. Too bad a lifetime of carrying an umbrella and staying away from the beach isn’t the answer, especially when his popular almost twin brother Jay looks destined to become the next Hawaiian surfing sensation.
But avoiding water is just the tip of Zader’s troubles. Eating raw seafood and rare meat gives him strange dreams about a young girl in a red cape and nightmares about a man with too many teeth. There’s also the school bullies who want to make Zader their personal punching bag, the pressure of getting into Ridgemont Academy, and the mysterious yearly presents from his birth family that nobody talks about.
It’s enough to drive Zader crazy, especially when he suspects old Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima know a secret that explains his unusual biological quirks. After all, they were the ones who found him newborn and abandoned on a reef and brought him to the Westins to adopt. Uncle Kahana swears Zader is ‘ohana—family—by blood as well as adoption.  Too bad he’s not saying more.
When Jay quits surfing after a shark scare, Zader decides it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and start searching for answers.
Growing up adopted in Hawai‘i just got a little weirder.

One Boy, No Water               
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

One Shark, No Swim

There’s something bugging adopted Zader Westin, something more troubling than his water allergies where one drop on his skin burns like hot lava. It’s bigger than his new obsession with knives, designing the new murals for the pavilion with Mr. Halpert, or dealing with Char Siu’s Lauele Girlz scotch tape makeover. Zader can’t stop thinking about a dream, the dream that might not have been a dream where Lē‘ia called him brother then jumped into the ocean and turned into a shark.
Zader’s got a lot of questions, not the least being why he’s hungry all the time, restless at night, and why he feels a constant itch on the back of his neck. It’s making him feel like teri chicken on a pūpū platter, but Zader doesn’t want to think about chicken, not with his growing compulsion to slip it down his throat—raw.
With Jay busy at surf camp and Uncle Kahana pretending nothing’s happening, Zader’s left alone to figure things out, including why someone—something—is stalking him before it’s too late.
Summer in Lauele Town, Hawaii just got a little more interesting.
One Shark, No Swim:           
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest blog: Dancing with the Darkness

Today we’re taking a walk on the dark side with Johnny Worthen, author of the delightfully shivery head-trip “BEATRYSEL.” Here, Johnny talks about how easy it can be to slip into the shadows.

000

“No light without darkness,” says Phenex. “Love and jealousy; loyalty and betrayal; affection and anger.” BEATRYSEL

This is the heart of BEATRYSEL. Remembering always the flip side of emotion, I strove to imagine what perfect pain a perfect love could bring, what perfect betrayal from a perfect mate. As I imagined love given form, I only had to turn the euphoria a few degrees to see the depths of despair waiting in balance. The rest wrote itself.

BEATRYSEL began as a love story, and still is, but it in I explore the dark sides of love, its axioms and inversions. Though I prefer “occult thriller,” some have called it “horror” and that might be as good a description as any because what can be more horrible than love, that omnipotent euphoric nucleus of being turned around?

What I expose is how vulnerable one can be when they give themselves over completely to another. It’s a good thing, to love that much, but there is a danger. In the natural flow of things, given time, this emotional exposure is often mitigated by wisdom and maturity. But not always and never completely. Because if you cannot be hurt by your lover, how can you say you love them?

Every love we have has the potential to hurt us. The deeper we are in love, be it for a child, a sister or a spouse, the greater is the potential for dissatisfaction and heartache. But luckily, blessedly, usually that doesn’t happen and unless we have first hand experience, we’re always blind to the danger going in.

It’s cold comfort to know that when it does go bad, we can measure our worth and emotional giving by the duration of our sobs and the volume of our tears. And the tension in our fists.

It doesn’t always end this way. But it could and sometimes does.

Johnny Worthen
For those who have this experience, I present to you, your sister, BEATRYSEL. To those of you with the imagination to conceive of it, I present to you your friend BEATRYSEL. To those of you who are immune to this kind of pain, I present to you your nemesis, BEATRYSEL.

For, BEATRYSEL is a creature of love.


BEATRYSEL was freed September 12th from Omnium Gatherum


My links:





Twitter: @JohnnyWorthen




Thursday, September 12, 2013

Friday Chat: Elsie Park, author of "Shadows of Valor"

Today I’m lucky enough to have fantastic author and all around fabulous person Elsie Park stop by and talk to us about her new book, “Shadows of Valor” (seriously, people, go read it – it’s exciting, classic romance at its finest). First, though, sit back and listen to the story of how she made the magic happen.

1. What first gave you the idea for “Shadows of Valor”?
A bunch of medieval ideas that I thought might make a good movie or story came to me over a period of days and weeks, but at this point, I’d never written a novel in my life. I’d done essays and short stories in school and for personal enjoyment, but nothing serious. But this time, on a whim, I decided to jot them down. As a stay-at-home mother of a 10-month old, I was looking for something to do other than chores, dishes, laundry, groceries shopping and changing diapers. Not that those things didn’t take enough of my time, but I needed something a little more exciting – LOL.

2. What was the research process like for the book?
I spent days, weeks and months researching books and online about the specific medieval time period in which I chose to write (1300 A.D. England), and I had pages of notes and bookmarks marking piles of books up the wazoo. And then, when once I felt like I could proceed with my story, I’d run into countless other things later on that I had to look up and clarify before I could again continue writing the details. Sheesh. Even with all the research I did, I still don’t feel like any kind of an expert. There’s just so much to learn. I only researched what applied to my story and time period.

3. What was your favorite thing about writing “Shadows of Valor”?
My favorite thing was writing a cool mystery/drama/romance/plot that weaved together create an intriguing story. Creating characters that I liked and that held a tiny piece of myself and my loved ones and friends was really fun. That’s the fun of writing. An author can write whatever they want and use whatever inspiration they receive and from whomever. Reminds me of a humorous statement I saw about authors. I’m paraphrasing, but it was to the effect of: “Beware, I’m an author – Anything you say or do may end up in one of my books!” *laugh* So true.

4. What would you say was the hardest thing about writing “Shadows of Valor”?
It was difficult to write my dialogues in the old English (which I didn’t end up using in my final version anyway because it read somewhat like Shakespeare and readers tripped over it). All that work for nothin’ *shrug*.

5. If you could go around to everyone who buys the book and tell them one thing, what would it be?
I hope you love and appreciate the tale of Sir Calan and Elsbeth. I hope you can find similarities within yourselves that bring you closer to the characters’ struggles, triumphs and feelings of love.

6. Fictionally speaking, what are your plans for the future?
I’m writing another medieval story set in 1300’s England/Scotland involving a minor character from SHADOWS OF VALOR and giving him his own story. There will be mystery, intrigue, trials, triumphs, villains, action and, of course, a love story (always PG-rated, like your cute novels *smile*)

7. Does it bother you how much I apparently love the word “what”?
*LAUGH* To be honest, Jen, I hadn’t noticed at all so I can honestly say it hasn’t bothered me. But now that you’ve brought it to my attention . . . *smile*
Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog, Jenniffer! I await your next tale, BEAST CHARMING with anticipation!


SHADOWS OF VALOR overview: Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but she has a story of her own, accompanied by physical and emotional scars. Calan feel he needs Elsbeth in his life, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. But Calan must ask the question: What’s worth fighting for more? His long-standing desire to avenge a childhood friend or the woman who may be his salvation? What entails is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.

SHADOWS OF VALOR was released September 7, 2013 through Jolly Fish Press. It can be ordered from any bookstore including Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and will be available in hard cover, paperback and on e-readers (including Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, as well as any tablet, smartphone, or computer).

About the author:
Growing up in a small mountain town outside of Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A., Elsie Park enjoyed playing soccer, playing piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family and friends. Years ago she spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities only added to her fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college she studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. She’s worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but she is currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with her children and husband. She loves thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them.

E-mail: elsie_rees@hotmail.com
Blog: http://www.elsiepark.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @elsiepark1
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelsiepark
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-of-valor-elsie-park/1114940696?ean=9781939967077
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18216270-shadows-of-valor
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Valor-Elsie-Park/dp/1939967074

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Words

I love words. Each line and curve, each sound shaped by a human mouth, contains infinities. 
            
At some point I began to see words lining the world like bricks, every line and curve of reality bracketed on all sides by the description of it that unspools in my head. Every person that I know is a symphony of words, the memory of a thousand conversations mixing with a hundred silent realizations and that thing (or two) I keep meaning to tell them but never do. Words run through the marrow of my bones, skim over the surface of me like a second skin. My face is an accident of genetics, familiar but not particularly evocative of my identity. But read my words, and you’ll truly get a taste of who I am.
            
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see the world this way – memories are mostly words, the only thing left when the hazy pictures have faded away. My childhood was filled with stories: smiling out at me from brightly colored books, scribbled across construction paper by my own hands, or spinning in the air as my family passed old memories back and forth like a ball tossed in the summer sunshine. Every story contains its own little world, each word holding a crash of lightning or the sound of someone’s laughter, and I had a thousand to choose from at any one moment. 
             
When I was younger I built them up like little castles, putting together simple stacks of word-bricks like other kids did with their super-sized Legos. The word-castles grew as I grew, developing turrets that spun upward into the heavens and moats that stretched fathoms deep. I learned how to build everything I wanted to see, shaping the words so they would radiate with the sound of someone’s laughter and follow the curve I could see so clearly in my mind. I pulled the words out of my heart, out of the hearts of those I loved, and used them to fashion blood and breath and bones.

When I die, all that will be left of me is words. The stories I’ve left behind will sit on shelves or in some forgotten corner of the Internet, and memories of me will be passed from mouth to ear among those who knew and loved me. I will live on as the thing I love the most.