X-Isle Preview Chapter One

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

ONE

BRADEN

I can’t concentrate on whatever the hell the teacher is saying because of Kendal. Again.

Not that this is something new. Seriously, not something new at all! My mind has been completely preoccupied with Kendal at all times since…well, since we were six. Since we were paired. Every day she’s in my thoughts; I stare at her through classes, I torture myself at night thinking maybe I should grow a pair and just call her! But I never do. And I know that I never will. And I am beyond certain that she will never, ever call me. So if she were anyone else in the world, I might give up, but she’s not anyone else, she’s Kendal, so I think about her all the time, and the madness begins again.

This spiraling insanity is pretty common for me at this point. It’s as familiar of an emotion as any that I know, just more aggravating, like picking at wounds that don’t even get a chance to scar before they’re made fresh again.

It seems that Kendal is in a constantly circling mindset about me too, but while my thoughts continually revolve around every aspect of her, I’m pretty sure that in her mind, she kind of knows that I exist, then she purposely forgets me until she accidentally catches sight of me in the hall or scoffs at my voice in class, then she begins her own cycle as well.

I’ve easily missed half of the lesson today in History because of her. Usually I keep up pretty well in school, despite being obsessed with the way her hair lays, or the impossibly cute way she shifts her puckered lips to the left when she’s thinking. Regardless of my eyes always darting to her, I can keep my mind on task. But it has been getting harder lately, especially with Graduation coming soon. Still, not until today did she get my mind entirely off everything in class and leave me seriously fuming at her.

I’ve been mad at her before, and it’s always meant that I just struggle in my own private hell, but now she’s pushing limits I didn’t know I had. I mean, ignoring me was something I didn’t like but could accept. Dating other, more clearly alpha-male type guys than I am was maddening, but she’s allowed that right, even though it kills me. But this…good! GOD! This time she’s made me so pissed that I feel embers in my cheeks burning from anger and jealousy and maybe humiliation. I don’t know all the reasons, I just know I can’t calm down, so I’m sitting behind her, red in the face, and silently furious at what I see poking out from the corner of her messenger bag.

I tried telling myself that I could be wrong about what that little colored paper corner might be. Maybe it was a careers brochure she’d picked up from the Guidance Office, or information on advanced placement training for post-secondary people.

But I’ve seen those particular colors before, and I recognize the logo that’s partially exposed. Everyone would recognize it even from just a small sampling of its corner, and unfortunately, I know what it means. It means that Kendal, who’s supposedly the smartest girl in our year, is really the dumbest girl in the last five years! Because that stupid brochure means she’s considering him…well, not just him, but there too!

That little corner tells me all the stories about the future I’ve always dreamed of with her will never become reality. That corner means she’s considering turning against me, against the mandated pairing assignment, and against her entire civilization for a guy who’s a bigger pain in the ass than hemorrhoids.

God! I’ve been mad at her before, but for the first time in my life, I wonder if I might be starting to hate her now.

Almost instantly I feel myself ease up on my spite towards her when I think that maybe I’m starting to hate her. I know that’s not true. I don’t think I could ever really hate her, but it kind of feels like hate. It’s hot and intense and insane.

And it hurts.

And all because of that little brochure corner that’s peeking from her bag just enough to show the cobalt blue edge of the embossed letter “X”.

Kendal is seriously considering doing something that no one in the last five years has done, and for good reason. Whether it’s because of me, or him or some reason I can’t begin to understand, Kendal is thinking about choosing X Isle.

“Braden,” Mr. Kolmer’s voice snaps me from my thoughts, “are you alright?”

Mr. Kolmer doesn’t ask this as if he actually cares for my well-being. He asks it in an almost challenging tone because he dislikes boys. Everyone knows it. He dotes on the girls in class, and finds every reason possible to punish the guys. So I do what I’ve always done in these situations, which makes me look and feel sheepish.

“I’m, um, I’m sorry, Mr. Kolmer. I wasn’t listening.”

“Again?” He asks me as he folds his arms across his piggish belly. “And what’s the reason this time?” He still doesn’t care, he just wants me to give him something to use as a weapon against me.

“No reason, sir.”

Almost mockingly he asks, “Am I…boring you?” There’s the challenge. I open my eyes in surprise, as if this was the furthest thing from my mind, when in truth, yes, the fat sack does bore me.

“What?! No! Not at all! I just, well-“ I don’t even finish, just shake my head and look down pathetically as if admitting that I’m too dim to pay attention to him. There’s a long silence, and when I look up at him, his eyes are on Kendal, then dart back to me almost maliciously. He grins a knowing, devious smile before speaking again.

“Pretty sure I know what you’re thinking about. No matter,” he says airily, waving his hand to show he’s dismissed the whole situation from his mind, “but, since you’re back with us, let’s move on.” And he does, seamlessly going right back into whatever he was lecturing on.

And my eyes go right back to where they were, focusing on Kendal’s bag and the brochure she’s carrying around with all the reasons she should walk away from her promised life with me and into a life that I wouldn’t wish on even her total crap boyfriend, Kyle.

And again, here come the feelings of fury.

 

 

KENDAL

 

I could feel Braden’s eyes on me through our entire History class. If he’d been wearing laser goggles, there would be giant holes in the back of my shirt and my bag.

Braden thinks I don’t notice any of it – the way his gaze follows me around the room anytime we’re in the same space, the way he seems to almost anticipate my every movement, but I do notice, of course I do.

I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t acutely aware of Braden, of where he is in a room, what he’s doing, the way he’s watching me. He’s like true north on the compass of my senses; every instinct I have always points straight back to him.

Mady says that’s just the way things are supposed to be with your Partner; that’s how you know the pairing is a good one. She says she feels the same way about Kyle.

I don’t think it is how she feels about Kyle, though, because the way she acts around him is totally different than the way I act around Braden. She’s not just aware of him, she actively seeks him out, as if he were a research project. If I asked her right now, she’d probably be able to tell me what he ate for dinner last night.

 

 

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Dark Side of the Sun: A One-Day Awesome Fantasy Event

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Are you looking to discover some new fantasy authors and pick up some cheap reads? Stop by the one day Dark Side of the Sun Event happening on Facebook this Friday, June 27!

All of the authors will be dropping by to chat and to offer some fun giveaways, and all of the books (including Canes of Divergence) will be on sale for just 99 cents!

We’re offering a fun giveaway starting now, too! Be sure to enter below.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Parenting Lesson #46792

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Blog | 4 comments

There’s a reason mythical holiday mascots are limited to particular days.

Okay, I made that number up, but not the takeaway.

This year, I decided to try to be a little more fun for St. Patrick’s Day. My daughter is five, and she’s really into this stuff. So, on the night before St. Patrick’s Day, I found these adorable Leprechaun Traps online  and we had all of the supplies, so we made them with some fun friends of ours. We were going to bait them with Lucky Charms, and then the next morning she’d wake up and find a note from the leprechaun saying she’d almost caught him, along with some gold chocolate coins for trying.

I had everything — except the gold coins. (Okay, and the little wooden hearts to make the shamrock on top, because we didn’t already have those in our buckets of craft supplies. But she doesn’t know it was supposed to have the shamrock, so…)

And here’s the thing. I’m a single mom. I can’t just go buy gold coins. Amazon and other online retailers save my life on a regular basis for other holidays, but I did not plan that well for St. Patrick’s Day and the gold coins.

So what do I do? I tell my daughter that we never know when the leprechauns might visit. Maybe it will be tonight, maybe it will be another night.

Oops.

It doesn’t matter that she woke up the day after St. Patrick’s Day and found an adorable note written in green pen and some quarters — (I gave up on the idea of gold coins — she was just as happy).

Yup. Three days later and she’s still waking up every morning excited to go check her baited traps to see if she’ll actually catch one that doesn’t manage to escape.

I’m almost out of Lucky Charms. And quarters.

I am a little fond of the memories, though.

 

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Twitter Tuesdays #5 More About Hashtags and Columns

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 8 comments

So, the last time I did a Twitter Tuesdays post, I got several comments and messages from people, both on the blog and off, who, until then had NO IDEA you could do columns and searches with hashtags. And really, if you’re struggling to learn how to use Twitter, or you’re trying to build a platform and still feel like you’re fumbling in the dark, it is kind of life-changing news.

Keep the comments and questions coming, guys — I really would like to be as helpful as I can in my limited scope here. :)

Again, my posts now for the most part presume that you are using TweetDeck (if you’re not using TweetDeck or another app that you like, such as HootSuite, check out my post on why I recommend using something like TweetDeck.

Another question writers (and others who build platforms on Twitter) have is — “How in the heck do you keep up with your stream?”

I follow over 1100 people. I don’t keep up with everything in the stream every day. I do try to browse through the full stream a couple of times a day to look for interesting new things, but it’s definitely the part of Twitter I neglect the most. Once I find the interesting stuff, I use columns, hashtags, and lists to help me keep up with the rest.

Hashtags

I’ve already discussed these a little bit.  A hashtag is a little way of categorizing things on Twitter so that others can find it. One really important thing to know about hashtags, is that if you include one in your tweet, ANYONE who searches that hashtag can see your tweet, even if they’re not (already!) following you. Using hashtags, therefore, can make your tweets that much more visible and powerful (if done correctly!)

For example. I’ve already told you that #wordmongering is one of my very favorite hashtags. I LOOOVE these people, and am thankful everyday for the two awesome people who created it, and got it going. So I have #wordmongering saved as a column in my TweetDeck. I created the column by clicking the little + sign in the upper-left corner. When the search bar popped up, I typed #wordmongering, and then, like magic, I had a whole column filled with #wordmongering tweets!

Now, whenever someone tweets anything with the #wordmongering hashtag, I see it, whether I follow them or not. (And usually, if they like #wordmongering, I follow them!)

This same technique works with any hashtag you see someone tweet. If you see someone in your stream type a hashtag you’re unfamiliar with, but it looks interesting, ASK! Include the hashtag when you ask, too, so you might form a quick connection with someone new. It might look like this:

You: So @personIfollow, what is #wordmongering?

Someone new: Oooh! #wordmongering is a great group of folks who write for 30 minutes at the top of each hour, then post word counts and cheer each other on!

Person you follow: Want to join?

And the next thing you know, you’ve made some new friends and become a bigger part of the Twitter community.

Did you KNOW people CHAT using hashtags?

It’s true. Because of the nature of being able to search using hashtags, oftentimes, people use particular hashtags to create chats. These can be REALLY awesome, because they’re like a huge world-wide conference call in which anyone who adds the hashtag to their tweets can participate! The chats can be a bit harder to find, because they usually run on a schedule, but again, if you’re lost ASK!

So again … take a week (or two, I know it was two weeks — I was writing, which is better than blogging! I logged over 10k new words on Thorns of Decision last week.  Besides — have you SEEN the new covers?) and practice searching for new hashtags, making columns, and interacting with folks. :)

For Writers Especially:

Here are a few more hashtags you might like to try. And PLEASE, if you have others that you love, leave them in the comments.

  • #amwriting
  • #writingsprint
  • #myWANA
  • #writechat (On Sunday afternoons, particularly)
  • #FNTWP (Only on Friday evenings, but check it out!)
  • #row80
  • #wip500

A Final Plea …

Once you’ve learned how to harness the power of hashtags, it can be a little tempting to use them gratuitously as a way to get your message across. PLEASE be respectful of hashtag communities and what the “rules” are inside them. DON’T use hashtags to spam. It won’t work, and it will likely get you blocked by people (who might otherwise have liked you and eventually bought your book/product/whatever).  For example — #wordmongering is for people who want to WRITE together. Don’t hit them up with BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK #wordmongering. They won’t.

Besides, if you look around long enough, you’ll find plenty of #hashtags that are fine places to spam er, market … 😉

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Number one Contemporary Fantasy and Children’s Fantasy

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Blog | 3 comments

Wow! This has been a whirlwind day … a whirlwind month, really.

I just realized that I haven’t blogged since right before Thanksgiving, and I know that’s bad, LOL. In reality, a lot of it is because this is a challenging month for me personally, and it wasn’t long after Thanksgiving that another family member of mine passed away, and my thoughts have been in a jumble.

So, rather than post about my random introspection, I’ve been focusing my efforts on Dusk Gate. :) Book Two is written! There will be some heavy editing over the next few weeks, and then it will release on January 9th! Some of you who have been helping me with my Amazon promotion of Book One will be receiving free advance copies!

In case you were wondering … the official title for Book Two (since, unfortunately, I can’t call it Book Two forever) is … *drumroll* Dusk Gate: Roots of Insight.

And now for the really big news…

Yesterday, I put Seeds of Discovery up for free on Amazon, intending it to be a one-day promotion. But when the day was close to over, the book had hit the top ten in both the Contemporary and Children’s Fantasy categories. So, I thought, what the heck. I’ll leave it free for another day, and see what happens.

Number. One. No, seriously. As of this exact moment — 10:07 P.M., the book is the number one bestselling free book in both of those categories. And, if I can actually type this without falling out of my chair … it’s #103 in free books overall on Amazon.

I am amazed and grateful and shocked, and a million other things right now. Oh, and my house is a TRAINWRECK because every single time the kids were happily absorbed today, you can guess what I was probably doing. LOL.

And, um … the book will be free tomorrow, too. :) Tell your friends. (please!)

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My First Blog Review

Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 in Blog | 5 comments

This journey to sharing a story with the world is filled with new adventures and experiences. The biggest, and definitely best, part of this journey has been the people. I’ve met so many completely wonderful people throughout this process of learning to write (and share! sharing is the bigger learning curve) this story, that it really is giving me renewed hope that there is a good future for us crazy humans.  Even better has been the re-discovery, and in some cases re-connection with the people who have been there all along.

To all of you – thank you. From the bottom of my heart, whether you are new in my life at this point, have always been, or are yet to come, you will never know how much I truly appreciate you.

And, a really special tribute to those of you who have read my story and enjoyed it, and have lived for just a few short moments with me in Eirentheos … wow.  I know everyone has different tastes, and I still love you even if you think my story is terrible, or boring, or whatever, really. :)  But finding those people who really do like it, who have connected with me in that deepest of places inside my mind … that is a feeling that cannot be matched by anything else. It’s amazing, and you are my kindred spirits, and the story is as much yours as it is mine. Thank you.

And now … check out this FANTASTIC blog review, by the amazing and talented Tonya Christensen on her blog, What All the Kids Are Reading.

 

 

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Yay, Internet Again!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Blog | 3 comments

I know, I know, it’s been WAY too long since I last posted. Thanks to those of you who have stuck around. :)  The last couple of weeks have been pretty insane around the Puttroff house. :) After the whole lovely HOA thing, we are finally (almost) all the way moved. There are still a few trips of random stuff left at the other house … my computer chair and water cooler are among the pile, and I am missing those. I am WAY behind in everything, which is nothing new of course, but the piles are a bit more overwhelming at the moment – most especially after moving in on Saturday and starting with a couple of temporary new kiddos on Monday morning. So, in addition to being buried underneath piles of my own accumulated JUNK (trash bags, here we come!), I have also been trying to keep up with two babies under a year, plus a slew of 2-5 year olds who circulate in and out. It may be, *ahem* a few days before I’m back to normal writing/blogging/communicating status.

So, for tonight, to save us all from my rambling, I will direct you to the amazing piece of awesomeness that happened today – my first video review! And, it’s from someone I’ve never even met!

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