Well, here we are at the last day of June. I’ve had a lot of fun the past two months. In May several authors visited with retellings of their novels from the mom of the main character’s POV to celebrate Mother’s Day. All of June was spent sharing excerpts of scenes featuring fathers from books to celebrate Father’s Day. It was the busiest month so far on the blog, with 12 different authors visiting, and it was a challenge for me to get it all posted in a timely fashion. As a beginning blogger, I feel pretty happy about how it all turned out. I will be back to posts about writing and revision in July. I'm always open to authors who would like to share a revision story, so please email me if you'd like to submit something. firstname.lastname@example.org (books must be appropriate for teen readers).
For the final post to the Scenes with Father’s theme, I’m doing a scene from my own novel Cry of the Sea. This scene comes from chapter three, right after June discovers the mermaids at the beach with her environmentalist activist father.
I’ll give you a little tip. If you go to the Fire and Ice Young Adult Books website, you can read the first two chapters. Then this excerpt comes right on the heels of that. Just like that you’ll have read almost 3 chapters of my novel for free. And if after all that hopping around you think you want to keep going, there are a bunch of links below to get yourself an ebook or print copy.
They must be surfers, was all I could think as I ran toward the three squirming bodies. Who else would be in the water this early in the morning? But even for surfers, this was pretty early. They’d have to have been surfing in the dark. That didn’t make any sense. Were they crazy? I knew some surfers at school, and they were definitely nuts sometimes, but surfing before the sun rose seemed extreme even for them.
Well, crazy or not, they didn’t deserve to be caught in an oil slick. I crashed down to my knees beside the bodies and dropped my gear. I started to reach out my hand to tap them and see if they were all right without even stopping to get a good look at them. But before I touched any of them, my arm recoiled back to my side.
“Dad!” I screamed. “Oh my God! Dad!”
My dad rushed up behind me. “Are they alive?” he asked, trying to catch his breath.
Words didn’t come. I couldn’t formulate a thought. I was too startled. These three figures lying in the sand in front of me weren’t surfers at all.
They weren’t even people.
From their facial features and upper torsos, they looked kind of like women, but all three of them had silver-colored skin. They were bald, with strange ridges marking their skulls. None of them seemed to have ears, only holes in the sides of their heads. No nose was visible, not even a bone or nostrils filled that space between their eyes and mouths. Although their mouths seemed to be moving, they were actually breathing through what looked like gills in their necks.
And if that wasn’t weird enough, instead of legs, their upper torsos stretched out into long, scale-covered, silver fishtails. If I had to say what these things stranded in front of me, splattered with oil, appeared to be, I’d say mermaids. And no, they didn’t look like they’d start singing songs or granting me wishes. They looked a little bit scary—but fragile too. Most of all, they looked like they were going to die, and no handsome prince was there to kiss them and keep them from turning into sea foam.
“June,” my dad whispered. “Do you think they’re real?”
“Yes,” I whispered back. “Strange but very real.”
“You don’t think they’re costumes?” he suggested. “Maybe some costume party on a yacht last night—they fell off.”
Sometimes my dad’s brain worked even more off-kilter than mine. I shook my head. “Those are not costumes, Dad.”
Those beings lying there in the sand were not wearing anything that was cut or stitched together. What I saw wasn’t material. It wasn’t a lycra suit like on Catwoman, nor was it some kind of make-up like that chick from X-Men. Make-up would’ve been washed away.
What I saw was real skin. Or some kind of skin, if skin could be silver. And those were real scales, not some kind of pointy sequins. I’d been around enough fish to know the difference. Besides, if these were a couple drunk, rich women in costumes, they’d be dead already. I knew these creatures weren’t dead, because the one closest to me suddenly opened its eyes and focused them right at me.
They were huge and midnight blue, almost like eyes from a Japanese Anime character but more oval in shape. The color was so deep, lacking any light, probably like the world the creature knew. In those eyes I saw such intense pain and desperation. The creature implored me with those eyes to do something to help. The mermaid raised its webbed hands to its throat. The other mermaids started doing the same action.
“I don’t think they can breathe,” I said. “They’re suffocating.”
My dad and I had been kneeling there in the sand, mesmerized by the creatures for far too long. I forced myself to my feet and sprang into action. Reaching into my pack, I pulled out a box of alcohol wipes. I used them to wipe the oil away from the mermaids’ gills and faces. The mermaids cringed at the sting of the alcohol. While I attended to the mermaids, my dad got on the cell phone.
“Yeah,” he said to someone on the other end. “It’s Peter Sawfeather. We’ve got an emergency… Oil spill… How fast can you get the center ready? We’ve got a number of animals here, but we need to bring in three, um, fish, right away… We can’t wait… Dolphin size… Saltwater… Give us twenty minutes. Maybe less.” He closed his phone and came back to me.
By now the sun was fully above the horizon. The Coast Guard and Affron specialists should be arriving any moment to take over.
“We’ve got to get them out of here before Affron gets here,” Dad told me as if I didn’t know that already. “They won’t be safe.”
I chose not to take a moment to say, “Duh,” even though I was thinking it. Instead, I slipped my arms under the cold, slimy body of the first mermaid. He didn’t lean over and grab the tail. Instead, he was rummaging through his pack. “Dad,” I said impatiently, “help me carry them.”
“Wait,” my dad said. “One second.” He pulled out the video camera he’d stashed in there when he ran over to join me and aimed the lens at the three mermaids. “Hold that one up a little bit more, June,” he ordered. “Let me get a good shot of her.”
“Dad, we don’t have time for this,” I said. He didn’t listen. He gestured for me to hold the mermaid up even a little straighter. “This might be hurting her.” He put a ‘stop’ hand up. I guess I had her where he wanted. “Dad, am I in this shot?” I asked. “Please say no.”
With the mermaid dying in my arms, I knew it was awful to think about how ugly I was at the moment. I mean, my hair wasn’t brushed, and I didn’t have a stitch of make-up on. A part of me realized that I shouldn’t care about such things. I should only care about doing what was right—saving the mermaids and recording their plight for the world to discover. This was an unbelievable find that I could barely wrap my head around, and yet I knew it was more important than my stupid vanity. That was the thinking of the responsible person my parents raised, who understood the enormity of what was happening, what I was holding in my arms. The rest of me, however, was still a teenage girl with a few basic needs. One necessity was being given some kind of warning that I was going to be filmed, so I would not be completely hideous looking. Who knew where my dad might choose to send this footage? I didn’t even have a free hand at the moment to tuck my stray hairs back up under my cap.
Dad put up a ‘shush’ finger in front of his mouth and then started narrating into the microphone: “We’ve found an amazing discovery at Grayland Beach in Washington today. What you are seeing are three sea creatures that appear to have human features such as arms, a torso, and a head. Based on these features being matched with fish tails, one might stipulate that these are the mermaids of legend. They have found their way to this beach because of leaking oil from an Affron Oil vessel. The mermaids have mere moments to live unless we can get them to a tank of water and get the oil cleared away from their gills.” He leaned close to me to get a good shot of the gills on the mermaids’ necks.
“Dad,” I said urgently. “Stop taping. We don’t have time. They’re dying.”
As he focused tightly on the face and neck of the mermaid in my arms, guess who else got a close-up on camera?
“Dad!” I shouted for two reasons. Do-gooder and teenage girl unite in protest!
My dad snapped up. “You’re right,” he said, backing up and turning off the camera. “I got carried away.” He tucked the camera inside the bag on his shoulder and helped me lift the first mermaid.
Her skin had a spongy quality similar to the skin of a dolphin or seal, and yet it wasn’t as thick as a sea mammal and not nearly as heavy. Some of the scales bent backwards and cut at my hands. I guessed the scales protected her like armor. As we carried her to the truck, I saw the mermaid’s skin color darken. Her eyes fluttered, and her gills worked frantically. She had to get back into water—fast.
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Today marks the last guest author visit for my Father’s Day theme on the blog. I’m thrilled that author Shawn McGuire is sharing a scene from her latest book in the Wish Makers series Had a Great Fall featuring a dad. I just finished reading the first book, Sticks and Stones yesterday, and I absolutely LOVED it. I am looking forward to reading more. If this excerpt intrigues you (and come on, I know that cover art does), scroll on down to find the link to get yourself a copy. The first book in the series is still free on Amazon.
Everyone deserves happiness. Is Robin the exception?
A cross-country move to a new state offers Robin Westmore the chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. But on the first day at his new high school Robin finds himself in front of Zane, the school’s star pitcher and chief tormentor, at the exact wrong moment and right back into the role of victim. Hopeless, he wishes for it all to stop.
When Desiree, the new leader of the genies, grants Robin’s wish he’s sure things are finally going his way. But problems in the magical realm have made Desiree equally hopeless and too distracted to give Robin the attention he needs.
As Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with a real escape from his tortured life, will he take it?
A few minutes later, Dad came in the kitchen and set his gun and briefcase next to the door.
“Your hand still bothering you?” he asked.
I was opening it wide and closing it tight, trying to stretch out the pain.
“It’s cramping. Mom said she’d make an appointment for me.”
He plugged a pod into the machine and set his mug underneath.
“Good,” he said with a nod. “Your mom told me what happened yesterday.” He had this cautious way of talking to me since the attempt. Like if he spoke too loud or said anything remotely upsetting I’d go running back out to the garage again. “Everything okay?”
I thought of the pictures, gifs, and memes that had been posting throughout the night and couldn’t help smiling.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine.”
“Good.” He nodded as if verifying his feelings on it. “That’s good.”
“Mom wants us to have dinner together tonight,” I said. “She put it on your calendar.”
“Dinner,” he took out his phone and flipped to his calendar. “That looks good.”
Neither of us said anything more while plugged in the second pod. Once it was ready he screwed on the cover and grabbed his briefcase. “Would you do a favor for me? Put this back in the vault.”
He set his gun case on the counter next to me.
“No range today?” I asked.
“Nope. I’ve got dinner plans now.” He gave me a wink. “See you later.”
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Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that's episode IV) as a kid. She couldn't wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.
Her books deal with harder topics (dating violence, death of a sibling, divorce, substance abuse, runaways, bullying etc.) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.
Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she loves to read, cook and bake, craft, decorate her house, and spend time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.
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It’s been over a week since Father’s Day, but we’re not done celebrating the guys just yet. All month long authors have been visiting to share scenes featuring a dad (or dad-like figure) from their novels. Today author Pippa Jay joins us with an excerpt from her YA zombie novel Restless in Peaceville. As I put this post together, my daughter is watching Zombieland in the living room, so I’m immersed in the scary creatures. Ahhhh!!!! If you enjoy the clip from this book, which I think you will, you’ll find plenty of links below where you can pick up a copy. Thanks for stopping by.
Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising… from the grave…
Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…
But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one for being one of the undead?
And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunger who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.
It takes a few moments for them to acknowledge what they can see, that the impossible is happening. Then Mom shrieks and whatever held me frozen lets me go. I'm moving, too late, scrambling for the back of the house, and I know there's no way I can escape if even one of them comes after me. I can't let them get close. I can't let them see what I've become, what I've done to myself. Bad enough that they're hurting over my death without them learning the kind of thing I am now. I wish I was too dead to care.
Vampire laughs as he turns into smoke and shoots skyward, his mischief done. I hear the front door go and Dad shouting, and all I can think of is to run. But I can't run fast enough.
"You out there! Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing pulling a stunt like that?"
I'm at the back now, desperate for a place to hide and not seeing one. Hell, what do I do? I must look pretty funny staggering in circles, trying to figure out where I can hide myself that he won't look. Then I see the garbage bins.
I lurch toward them. If I believed in the power of prayer, I'd be on my knees right now, hoping for divine intervention. I have no idea if I can get myself in a bin without making such a racket he'll know straight off where I am.
"Do you have any idea what you've done?" He's still yelling, and his voice is getting closer. But he's moving slow. Maybe he's reluctant to find out exactly what he did see. It sounds like he thinks someone was playing some kind of twisted joke. I can only hope he'll go on thinking that.
I get the lid off the bin and climb inside. My legs and arms are kind of stiff, but I hunch myself down as best I can and tug the lid back over. At least I can keep quiet. The undead are good at that.
I can't hear footsteps, but he's still yelling, demanding that the comedian show his face and explain. Then it goes quiet. Has he given up? Gone back inside to call the cops? How long will I need to stay here to avoid being seen?
Shit. He says it right next to where I'm hiding.
"Luke, was that...was that you, son?"
Damn. His voice breaks as he says it. If I could feel anything, I'd feel a hell of a lot worse than I did before I killed myself.
"Luke? Please, if that's really you, come out boy..."
I squeeze my eyes shut and put my hands over my ears. Shut up, Stop saying my name. Go back in. Tell yourselves it was just a cruel joke or your imagination. I'm dead. Dead, just not gone yet...
"Luke? Oh, damn..."
This time I hear him walking, and after a while the door slams shut. I guess he's given up. But for a long while afterward I stay sitting in the garbage where I truly belong.
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After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Broad Universe, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she's one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology -- Tales from the SFR Brigade. She's also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).
You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.
All month long we’ve been celebrating the fathers in MG, YA, and NA books by having guest authors share father scenes from their novels. Today’s guest is Charles Suddeth, author of the YA thriller novel Experiment 38. This sounds like a fascinating story. If it appeals to you, buy links are below. And please feel free to scroll on back and read some of the other guest author posts from the month and leave a comment.
Eighteen-year-old Emily, small for her age, lives alone with her scientist-father and learns too late that he holds a terrible secret, one that might destroy her life.
As she and her boyfriend, Nate, try to unravel the mystery behind her father’s secret, they face danger and uncertainty.
Her dad. More memories flooded her mind. Emily had been maybe six or seven, and the odor of rubbing alcohol had stung her nose. Weasel and two men wearing lab coats and carrying metal boxes visited her at home. Her dad leaned against the wall, staring at them while she sat on a kitchen chair. Weasel stood between her and her dad, perhaps to keep her dad from interfering.
The first man asked her questions: Did she get dizzy or sick to her stomach? Could she sleep and eat okay? Did she have trouble with bleeding or pain? She told him she didn’t have any problems. He made a face and jotted in his notebook. Weasel read the notebook and scowled, but her dad grinned as if he’d won a contest.
The second man asked her if she knew her name.
She giggled and said, “Course, I do. Emily Watkins.”
He told her to count to ten. She counted, and then she recited her ABC’s. He scribbled in his notebook again and showed it to Weasel, but Weasel waved him off. Her dad looked Weasel in the eye, but he didn’t speak to Weasel.
The first man used a syringe to take a blood sample from her arm. The needle smarted until she could barely hold still. She whimpered, but he put a bandage over the spot of blood.
“Hold still,” said the first man. “Now I’m going to give you a shot to keep you from hurting.”
He gave her an injection in her chest, and then he bored into her collarbone with a metal hand tool. She squirmed and screamed at the top of her voice.
“I told you to hold still. I’m trying to take a bone marrow sample,” he barked.
She didn’t know what that meant, but she slid out of the chair and lay face down on the floor, panting as if out of breath.
He lifted her back into the chair. “Don’t give me any more trouble,” he hollered.
“I don’t like you,” she yelled.
The second man knelt close to her, his nose almost bumping her nose. “Nobody asked you.”
“Stop!” Her dad jumped toward her, but Weasel grabbed her dad’s arm. Her dad backed off and stood a few feet away. Her dad trembled, but he didn’t take his eyes off Weasel.
The man finished taking the bone marrow sample. She wailed and tried not to curl into a ball. As soon as the three men had left, her dad hugged and kissed her.
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Charles Suddeth was born in Indiana, grew up Michigan, and has spent his adult life in Kentucky. He lives in Louisville with his two cats. He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, International Thriller Writers, and Green River Writers. He likes to spend his days hiking and writing in nearby Tom Sawyer State Park.
Books: Halloween Kentucky Style, middle readers, 2010. Neanderthal Protocol, thriller, 2012. Experiment 38, New Adult thriller, 2015. Eighth Mask, mystery, 2015. Spearfinger, picture book, fall 2015.
Father’s Day is here! We’ve been celebrating fathers all month long on the blog by featuring scenes with dads (or dadish characters) from MG, YA, and NA books. (And if you haven't guessed, the man in heading picture is my husband, with my two beautiful step-daughters.)
Today fellow Fire and Ice Young Adult Books author, Alice J. Black, visits to share a scene from her mystery novel The Doors. This book is high up on my TBR list, and I’m really looking forward to it. If you enjoy this snippet, you’ll find links to where you can get a copy below.
Oh, and we’re not done yet! We still have four more authors to feature this month, so please keep coming back.
When she is moved halfway down the country during the summer holidays, Amanda finds she's stuck in a place that she not only hates but where it never seems to stop raining. Godfrey Hall, their new home, is a dark, cold place that she can't seem to adjust to. The worst room is the dining room where a set of mosaic doors seems to draw her in despite the fact that she despises it. The first day her parents are both out, Amanda finds out the true secret of the mosaic doors and nothing will stop her opening the shrine made for a man hundreds of years before her.
As she searched through the rest of the first floor, Amanda tried to find something, anything, that she could say she liked. None of it, apart from the beauty of the staircase and the idea of the tree swing, struck her. She was lost in the mansion of a house, swallowed by its immensity and its cold, stark walls.
Regrouping in the kitchen after exploring, Amanda looked at her parents. “So,” she started, resting against the bench in the kitchen. “Which room in this monstrosity is mine?”
“You get the haunted one.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Laughing, he winked at her. “Go take a look,” her dad offered. “You can pick your own room.”
Amanda straightened. “Seriously?”
“Great, I’m going to check them out.” She hurried from the kitchen, but as she reached the bottom of the stairs and gazed up into the darkness she shouted back, “Where’s the light switch?”
Her dad came through with a smile on his face. “Is my girl still afraid of the dark?”
Amanda pouted. “No, but this place is creepy.”
He chuckled, flicked a switch, and the upper landing filled with dim, yellow light. She wandered up the stairs, fingers trailing on the solid oak bannister as she went, admiring the beauty of the craftsmanship. There were four rooms to choose from, besides the one her parents had already claimed. As she peeked into their room she noticed their ornate bed, still unassembled, sat under a wide window and beside that, countless boxes labelled with her mum’s name. She checked each of the rooms, scrutinizing them, looking for any nooks and crannies–scary places–before finally making her decision.
Strolling into the empty space, she crossed the bare floor, eyes drawn towards the three windows adorning the wall on the opposite side. As she was pulled towards the glass, feet moving mechanically, the tremendous view reared up before her. The sea surged in the distance, dark blue and unrelenting in its force. Waves crashed upon a rocky outcrop just beyond the house, sending up huge, foamy droplets that cascaded onto the grass behind them. Breath-taking. The room itself was modest in size, but her belongings would fit with no problem and the best thing about it was the light that permeated the room. It was so unlike the rest of the house and just perfect for her.
“So, you like this one?” her dad asked, head popping into the room.
Amanda spun, shocked. “I didn’t hear you come up.”
“Did I scare you?”
She shook her head.
“It’s not really haunted, you know.” He winked again. Amanda shot her tongue out. “This room suits you.”
“That’s what I thought. Just can’t wait to get sorted.” Glancing at the empty room, she sighed.
“Come on, I’ll give you a hand.”
“Now? Are you sure?”
“Anything for you.”
Her dad helped her move the furniture into her room despite the lateness of the hour. Amanda felt a trickle of guilt for being difficult as she watched him heave and lug her bed and her wardrobe around until it was just right. Her desk fit snugly to the right of the windows, just beside the wardrobe and her bed took centre stage in the room where she could admire the view. Finally, sweat dripping through his t-shirt, her dad left her to it.
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Alice J. Black lives and works in the North East of England where she lives with her partner and slightly ferocious cats! She writes all manner of fiction with a tendency to lean towards the dark side, but she also likes to challenge herself and write out of her genre too. Dreams and sleep-talking are currently a big source of inspiration and her debut novel, The Doors, is a young adult novel which originally sprouted from a dream several years ago and grew from there.
We are now halfway through the month of celebrating fathers by featuring scenes from books with dads in them. Today, author John Steiner visits to share a scene from his science fiction novel Fire Alive! published by Melange Books. This isn’t a YA/NA book, but if a reader is okay with some strong language and violence, it would be a good fit for teen scifi buffs. What I’ve read here sure sounds exciting.
If you like what you read, there are links to get yourself a copy below. Please feel free to scroll back and read some of the other book excerpts and leave a comment
Fire. The light by which we tell our stories and mythic tales. It kept the night at bay for hundreds of thousands of years. It guided humanity's migrations across the globe, and became mankind's first weapon of mass destruction.
What if fire developed a mind of its own?
Firefighting is already a tough job, even in 2026. Captain Duane "Longhand" Longhurst and probationary firefight Malcolm O'Connell of Salt Lake City's Station 8 discover it's going to get much harder. A phenomenon of particle physics called Self-Propagating Organized Thermotroph or S.P.O.T. emerges to burn whatever they can to ingest the heat that fuels their semi-living existence. Breaking in a new enigmatic probie, and struggling with memories of past fire calls, Captain Longhurst has to now take on the blazing entities.
In this excerpt the main character, Captain Duane Longhurst has been married to his wife for thirteen years, but married to the fire department for even longer. He is a father of two, and he also thinks of all in his fire company as family. His son dreams of one day being a firefighter just like him.
A stockpile of phosphorous ignited. Longhand and O’Connell barely had time to realize the thermal imagining changes inside the wall they worked on. He didn’t immediately pick up on an upper floor collapse, but did register crumbling from the roof. The wall gave way, just as Duane was about to shout to O’Connell to climb down.
“Awh shit!” Longhand heard Malcolm yell, before roaring bellows of flame washed over the two of them and ladder falling through.
The world became an angry, hungry, yellow an instant before the ladder crashed onto hard blackened cement. Longhand’s arms and legs took a jolt, as he attempted to brace for the fall. Tumbling off to one side, and letting his limbs go to jelly, prevented any bones from breaking. However, his helmeted head cracked hard against the floor, as debris rained down around him.
For a moment he didn’t hear anything, and rather passively saw the ladder appear to sweat. Stickers and decals blistered, before Duane really got a sense of himself. Ears ringing, he fumbled around a bit until he could get a trembling hand under him and rise off the floor. Seeking out the hose became his first instinct. While searching, something screamed itself from his mouth, “O’Connell! Probie where are’ya?”
“‘Got the hose, boss,” Malcolm shouted back from somewhere out of sight.
A couple seconds of clearing his head became necessary, before Longhand could think to pull up O’Connell’s GPS location. Without warning, smoke from deeper into the warehouse billowed northward into their compartment. The sudden breach had changed the internal draft. Brilliant flames vanished in a choking sooty underworld of ever-night.
Sounds dampened due to the dense particulate cloud of fuel. Roaring fiery wrath drowned out a skittering spitting hose. In his head, Longhand pictured which way the hose line hydraulically spoke from. Staying on hands and knees, he crawled along the floor, and frequently threw out quick light slaps at the cement ahead to sense for fire. He tracked his position, until his visor shut off with a crackle.
That’s when he realized how hot it grew.
In contrast to what people would’ve expected, smoke carried more intense heat. It hugged at his whole body through turnout clothes, helmet and SCBA mask. The combustible aerosol also sucked considerably more heat energy from other compartments within the warehouse. Only through a fleeting gap in the black hellish cloud, could Longhand pick out O’Connell spraying away on a kneeling position.
The probationary firefighter shot water everywhere, except the most critical place, that being the way out behind him. Longhand tried his radio to say as much. “Connect, O’Connell! Probie, attack to your rear! Do you hear me! To the rear! That’s the breach! Connect, O’Connell! We need to clear an exit!”
Longhand made a note to handwrite his eternal gratitude to Motorola for making a radio to withstand possibly a thousand degrees and still work. The only reason O’Connell didn’t answer at first had been background noise overwhelming what came through his headgear. The kid grinned, when finally answering, “I think I got a handle on this, boss!”
“No,” Duane shouted irritably. “Secure the breach first!”
“Oh, right!” Malcolm realized aloud and turned to defend trailing hose line.
Then more of the structure surrendered under a relentless assault of heat. Struggling to rise into a full bore run, Longhand couldn’t reach O’Connell before debris came down right on top of him. Duane dug at smoldering crumbs of failed architecture, heedless of the contact heat biting through his gloves, all the while screaming, “Probie!”
Still working to uncover his brother, Longhand called out to anyone. “Connect, battalion! We’re just inside the north wall breach! We need an attack line and rescue team!”
Prepared to scratch off that letter to the electronics company, Duane heard someone else other than Station 8 sound off. “We hear’ya Captain! On the way now!”
Past smoking amber filled ash, Longhand felt his fingers strike something smooth. Wiping hastily at the source of the sensation, he discovered O’Connell’s visor and an unconscious O’Connell. Clearing more ruins off him revealed that Malcolm seemed unburnt. Before he could extricate the probie fully, Duane hefted a beam with more grunting strength than he thought he could muster otherwise.
“Get off my boy,” Longhand yelled at the steel structural support he threw aside.
His arms transformed instantly to mechanisms of speed and dexterity, as Longhand whipped out his webbing to work into a Hasty Carry. Ready to run out dragging a limp Malcolm behind, Duane himself felt attacked. He first took it to be burning debris. Yet, what fell upon him with an incendiary hunger turned out to be a Spot.
Madly clutching anchor points worked at his turnout coat with a flaring roar, fluctuating with a disturbing verbal sound. Without conscious thought, Longhand dropped down to rub out the fiery attack and swat at where he felt the creature’s devouring heat. Though the rolling was not effective, the thermotroph did turn its attention toward O’Connell lying in a heap of ash. Again, something kicked on in Longhand’s brain.
Before he knew it, Duane’s hand struck out to find the hose line. Reeling up the stiffly charged line, he pulled in the nozzle and anxiously grappled for a hold. Turning it on, he shot at the Spot, as it started on Malcolm. Longhand’s voice became its own furnace of fury. “Fuck you! You’re not getting him!”
A larger stream shot down from overhead, frothing with white foam. Snapping a quick check behind, let Longhand know Williams had the water cannon blasting at the pyr’organism to destabilize it and increase the viscosity of both lines’ water.
Flinching from the attacks, the fiery creature dared strike once more at O’Connell before retreating deeper into the warehouse. Wanting to drop the hose, Longhand realized that this Spot, unlike other thermotrophs, left a fire in wake of its contact.
Duane sprayed over Malcolm, and adjusted to a fog conic so as to not knock him around with the stream’s force. He didn’t know what injuries the probie sustained and didn’t want to worsen any. Only with the fire greatly diminished, did Longhand shut off and let go of the line. He lifted O’Connell easily onto one shoulder and ran out of the building. The rest of the wall fell away behind his screaming and bounding form.
Thirty feet away from the once standing inferno, Duane laid O’Connell down. Removing Malcolm’s SCBA and helmet, Longhand then opened the turnout coat and Malcolm’s shirt all slick with foamy water. He looked, listened and felt for vitals and then started CPR. Marcus and Williams raced over with the EMT kit. Longhand kept up on compressions until they dropped down next to him. All the while, Duane commanded of his charge. “C’mon Probie! Come on, snap out of it kid! You’re not fuckin’ done yet!”
For a moment, Longhand thought he saw chainmail glistening over Malcolm’s exposed chest. Taking his own mask off, he wiped away at grime on his forehead. T.C. took over with the defibrillator. The mirage vanished into a mental desert.
Melange Books (publisher website)
John Steiner earned his Associate of Biology at Salt Lake Community College, where he is currently working as a tutor in math and chemistry. He exercises an avid interest in history, science, philosophy, mythology, martial arts as well as military tactics and technology.
As I mentioned in my first post this month about fathers in YA and MG novels, sometimes the father is not a part of the story, but there is a fatherly replacement. Author Laura Kennedy treats us today with a scene from her YA novel Double Take, where the fatherly role belongs to a very faithful butler to a rather eccentric older lady. I recently finished this novel, and if you’re a fan of classic movies, I recommend it. It’s like the film Sunset Boulevard updated and starring a teenage girl.
Below the excerpt, you’ll find links to where you can get yourself a copy. Also, feel free to scroll further down and read the excerpts from the other visiting authors and leave a comment.
When sixteen-year-old Brooke Bentley's green convertible and cell phone conk out during a tropical rainstorm, she believes it's just bad luck. But when she darts through the dark to a dilapidated Victorian she thinks is the home of a friend and is invited in by a butler wearing a faded black tux, Brooke knows it must be karma. Because how often do you meet a reclusive 1950's movie star who thinks she's actress Terry Moore? And how often does someone as charming as eighty-year-old Laura de France insist on turning you into a movie star, too?
In this conversation James, who is Miss de France’s loyal African-American butler, has a father-like talk with sixteen-year-old Brooke Bentley explaining the elderly actress’ fragile condition. Brooke already feels tremendously guilty since she is indirectly responsible for Miss de France’s heart attack.
James was waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase. I sat down beside him.
“It’s her heart, isn’t it?” I said, looking into his worried face.
He nodded. His voice was nice again. “I’m afraid her condition has worsened.”
I can’t take this. I have enough guilt in my life. “Worsened? Please don’t tell me they sent her home to die!”
“No, nothing like that. It just means she has to be more careful. She has something called an arrhythmia. Usually it’s not that serious, but I’m afraid the stress from last night…” His voice trailed.
“Pushed her into atrial fibrillation, which just means the electrical impulses in the heart are irregular, so it beats faster.”
“But she’s going to be okay, right?” I said, coaxing him along.
“She should be. She just needs to stay calm and happy.” James looked into my eyes.
“But what will make her happy?” I said, fearing the answer.
“Brooke, remember last night when you asked me if Madame had any family, and I told you she’d had a niece who died?”
“Her name was Stephanie, a beautiful girl with long blonde hair. Miss de France adored her. She gave her everything. On the morning of Steffie’s sixteenth birthday she surprised her with a pink Thunderbird convertible with white leather upholstery and a white top.”
I thought of my Grandma Donnie and how she’d given me the Green Lady on my birthday. “Miss de France must have loved her a lot.”
“Very much so.”
“Steffie was in an auto accident. Some of her friends on the beach arranged a birthday party for her, and on the way there she skidded off the causeway in the rain. She died instantly.”
“You mean she died the same day Miss de France gave her the car?”
“The very same day.”
I blinked back a tear. “I just can’t imagine.”
“Either could Madame. Steffie was her world and when she died, part of Miss de France died too.”
That’s why Miss de France looks so sad and lonely. Her heart is broken.
“You remind Madame of Steffie,” James went on. “And when you appeared on our doorstep that night, dripping wet . . . Well, your resemblance was uncanny.”
I tried to imagine the Green Lady skidding into the bay and dying. I looked down at the black and white entry tiles, not wanting to meet James’ eyes.
“She needs you,” he said. “I can count on you to be there for her, can’t I?” It didn’t sound like a question.
I raised my head. “Yes, you can.”
His face softened. “I knew you would. You’re a good girl.” Pulling himself up on the banister, he got to his feet.
“I have to go,” I said. “I haven’t even told my parents what happened.”
He shadowed me to the front door. “So, what time will you be here tomorrow?”
What time will you be here? Panic washed over me. Miss de France expected me tomorrow and probably for every tomorrow the rest of her life. For all I knew she’d live to be a hundred. I imagined myself twenty years from now, a middle-aged wreck of thirty-six. My life would never be the same. I was Miss de France’s slave.
Barnes and Noble
LAURA KENNEDY lives in Tarpon Springs, a Greek sponge fishing town on the West Coast of Florida. She grew up in Minneapolis where her mother was a romance writer who helped her father support the family. By the time she was twenty-two, she lived in Southern California, was married, had a baby, and was broke, the perfect Petri dish for the beginning of a writing career. Encouraged by her mother's writing success, Laura borrowed her mother's portable typewriter on which she concocted her first story that sold for the staggering sum of $225.
This month, to celebrate Father’s Day, I’ve invited authors to visit and share scenes from their books featuring a father. Today’s guest is Rita Monette, and she is sharing a scene from her Middle Grade novel Ghost Dog Island. It sounds like a fun, spooky read, perfect for elementary school kids. I would’ve loved a book like this when I was in fourth grade. I think I’d love it now. This novel will be published by Mirror World Publishing on September 1st.
Please feel free to leave a comment and/or read the other father scenes posted so far this month.
"Behind Every Legend Lies the Truth."
Moving is nothing new for ten-year-old Nikki Landry. Her father relocates their raggedy old houseboat several times a year in search of better crabbing spots. However, their latest move has brought her to a mysterious bayou where she feels something is watching her from a nearby island.
Nikki learns of a local legend about something sinister inhabiting those swamps, stealing the souls of dogs...which would explain the strange howling sounds. Papa reassures her there’s nothing on the island but gators and snakes. He should know. He’s spent his whole life trapping and fishing those bayous and swamps…But maybe there’s something Papa doesn’t know.
Nikki and her new friends begin to uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend…and town folks aren’t talking.
Then her beloved beagle goes missing.
Join Nikki as she seeks to discover the real truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island…before it’s too late.
Mama closed the door behind her. She knew once Papa got going on one of his tales, there was no stopping him.
The last traces of daylight seemed to disappear in a hurry, as if Papa had ordered it away. The glass globe of the kerosene lamp clinked. He touched a match to the wick and adjusted the flame until it filled the room with pale light and gray shadows. He motioned me to sit next to him on the worn sofa.
I hurried to his side, not knowing what spooky legend he was going to tell this time. But as scared as I’d get, I always enjoyed hearing ’em.
“Mais, there’s a legend told around these parts.” He leaned down so the light from the lamp made eerie shadows across his face. That was how they always started out.
I rolled my eyes, determined not to get spooked this time.
“Folks say there’s something living out yonder,” he went on. “Legend has it the monster lures dogs to the island using evil spells. Then at the peak of the full moon, they’re turned into hollow spirits with glowing eyes.” Papa put on his eeriest sneer. “That there’s Ghost Dog Island.”
“Ghost dogs?” I pulled my knees up against my chest and wrapped my arms around ’em tight. My mind conjured up images of a huge monster with drippy fangs and dogs with bright yellow eyes. I thought about the feeling I had of something watching us. Was there really a creature out there? Did it have its eye on my best buddy? I shuddered.
IEEEOWWWOOOO-oooooooo! The howling sound echoed again across the bayou.
Did it capture someone’s pet? Or was it signaling its claim on a new victim? My Snoop.
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.
Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father--who made his living in those bayous--of reasons to stay out of the swamp.
She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.
Follow Rita to keep up with when Ghost Dog Island will be released.
I’ve got something super fun for all of you today as part of our “Scenes with Fathers” theme for the month. Author Jennifer Fischetto shares a scene from her YA novel I Spy Dead People. From what I’ve read, it sound hilarious, and I know it’ll be on my TBR list. I’m always looking for books with some humor! I hope you enjoy her excerpt. If you do, scroll on down to find where you can get your own copy and maybe leave a comment for her (or me). You’re also more than welcome to check out some of the other excerpts that have come in so far this month.
I SPY DEAD PEOPLE by Jennifer Fischetto
Horror movie and junk-food junkie, fifteen-year-old Piper Grimaldi wishes for three things:
1. to help her true crime novelist father solve a mystery,
2. to settle down and make one town their home, and
3. to have a social life, which includes a BFF and a boyfriend (even if she’s not allowed to date for another year).
It looks like her dreams will come true when on the first day in Hollow Ridge, MA, she befriends her next-door neighbor, mauls a cute boy, and spies on teen soap star, Linzy Quinn. But then the boy rejects her kiss, and Piper finds Linzy’s dead body. To make matters worse (as if that’s possible), Linzy’s ghost appears, in full color, and won’t leave Piper alone.
Piper desperately wants to help Linzy move into that darn light, but Linzy’s more interested in seeking revenge on all the people she believes did her wrong … including the person who killed her. If Piper can’t find Linzy’s killer, she just may be the next true-crime victim of Hollow Ridge.
Fifteen-year-old Piper Grimaldi and her father just moved to Hollow Ridge, MA. Dad is a true crime novelist, and they travel around the country so he can research his books. One book per year. A new town and state every school year. It's the summer before Piper's sophomore year. They've just moved into their new rental house, and they are at the grocery store. They last lived in Atlanta, GA. Piper is on Rollerblades, and she's not very experienced.
The lay of the land, as Dad put it, looks like every other suburban land we've encountered in the last eight years. We've been moving around since I was four, when Dad decided it would be easier to research his books up close and personal rather than cross-country via Internet and phone calls. I often wonder if part of the reason was because my older brother, Vincent Jr., had died, and Dad just wanted out of our house and hometown. At first Dad went after murders from anywhere, but he didn't like city life, and the country was too quiet, so he devoted his last eight books to the 'burbs. Just as well, too. Those became bestsellers.
"Which was the hardest case you solved?" I ask Dad, as he steps and I roll out of Big Y to his car. Who names a grocery store Big Y? Then again, what's up with Piggly Wiggly?
"I'm not a detective. I don't solve cases. I just research and write about them."
But I notice the twinkle in his eye when he says "solve." "Come on, Dad. If you hadn't worked those clues in Georgia, the husband would've totally gotten away with her murder." Dad made the police look like Deputy Dewey, and my life suddenly became Scream 5. Okay, maybe not exactly. It's not like I had a crazy boyfriend with mommy issues slicing and dicing my friends, thank goodness. But the end of the school year was something we both anticipated, and we didn't wait until August, like usual, to move.
"So which was the hardest?"
Dad opens the hatch of his Subaru Forrester. "Georgia."
I knew it. I hand him the bag of eggs and bread. "What about the craziest?"
"Is this a new game?"
"Yes. There's only so many times you can say, 'I spy with my little eye…?'"
He chuckles and pushes the bag of cereal, chips, and frozen waffles beside the eggs. "The weirdest…"
"Not weird. Crazy, as in evil or sadistic."
He gives me a long stare. He hates when I talk about the crazies. Like if I mention it enough I'll become one. I just can't help it. The criminal mind fascinates me, and just because I'm not a legal adult doesn't mean I can't handle it. Nothing scares me. Not the dark, or spiders, or even clowns. Well, maybe knife wielding maniacs in hockey masks, but since I've only met one, and it was on my TV screen, I don't count it as a true fear.
"Only one percent of murders are committed by serial killers. It's rare."
On second thought, it is a bit scary how well Dad knows me.
"It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again." I use my special Buffalo Bill voice.
An older woman passes us and visibly scowls at me. At least she knows her films.
Dad shakes his head. "What have I told you about reciting horror movies in public?"
I lift the last bag out of the cart and push it into the back of the car. "Not to do it?"
He shuts the hatch. "Well, it's nice to know you're at least listening. Do you know where this goes?"
I grab the cart and direct it toward the place where carts gather, beneath the sign that states: Return Carts Here. It's not rocket science, Dad.
Deciding this is an awesome spot for a gold medal spin, I lean on my back wheels and take off. Feet in and out, around and around until the store and parking lot are a blur. I want to shout out, "wee," but that would alert Dad to my less than stellar public display, and I'd have to stop. So I stuff my "This Little Piggy" finale down and concentrate on controlling the spin.
Something dark approaches, something in the form of someone. Darn, it's probably an old lady in need of a cart, and I'm blocking them all.
"Sorry, one sec," I shout.
But as I attempt to slow down, and attempt means to do it very slow so I don't wipeout and land on my face, I realize it isn't an old person with the patience of…well, an old person. It looks like a young guy.
"Take your time." And his voice sounds cute.
Surprised and totally mortified that I look like a dweeb, I stop too abruptly and end up jerking forward. I reach my hands out to prevent permanent damage to my face and go down on my knee pads, right at his feet.
I look up and hope something witty will surface from my brain so I can kinda redeem myself.
He's totally my age, maybe a bit older, sportin' a wild afro that looks super soft, and a single dimple in his left cheek, beside a shy smile. Dark brown eyes to go with dark brown skin, and I'm suddenly counting down the days until I'm sixteen and I can date.
And that's when I realize my hands have landed, not on the ground, but on him.
On his faded, soft-from-too-many-washings jeans.
On both sides of his privates.
Jennifer Fischetto hears voices.
They tell her to wait in the dark for her next unsuspecting victim.
They tell her to kill.
She writes down every whisper, every threat promise to frighten.
“Write what you know” is easy when you’ve spent your life plotting murder and revenge on annoying classmates and nosy neighbors.
When not burying evidence in her yard, cooking another batch of poisonous brownies, or dealing with ghosts and other supernatural baddies, she sits in the corner of her creaky, damp basement, writing fun, humorous mysteries for teens and adults–to cover her tracks, so no one notifies the FBI or calls for a straitjacket.
Seen as a nice girl, her friends and family assume her books are filled with multiracial romance and journeys of strong, smart, sassy women and girls of all shapes and sizes.
Not dead bodies.
Today I'm hosting a blog tour. This book of romance novellas sounds very sweet and charming.
Every Summer Has a Love Story...Six Summer Tales of Sweet Romance that bring you the very best in Historical, Contemporary and Fantasy Romance. Sarah Daley, Carol Malone, Kathy Bosman, Debby Lee, Robyn Echols, and Lisa Watson weave stories of long days, sultry nights, sun-kissed beaches and sweet romance.
Amazon buy link
It’s day 8 of the tour, which is author Sarah Daley’s day to get recognition. She is the author of “Drowning Sandy”, one of the stories in the collection. And, well, it’s about mermaids, so you know I’m interested.
The water is calling...
and Sandy can no longer resist the urge to unleash her mermaid form. But a simple swim in Lake Ontario ends when she discovers the truth of her own banishment. When long time crush, Alardo, seems to shift in a direction she never dreamed possible, Sandy must make a choice — mermaid or human? Once she chooses, she can never go back.
Sarah lives in Arizona with her best friend and husband, Chris, their adorable monster child, and neurotic dog.
At the age of six, she became a reading machine. Devouring everything she could possibly get her hands on. In high school she almost failed English three times because of her detest for writing book reports. Today, Sarah writes whatever stories haunt her dreams, and struggles to focus on one idea at a time. When she isn’t enjoying time with her family, or writing, you will find her nose stuck in a book, or out walking and enjoying the sunshine.
Drowning Sandy is her debut novella!
Links to find out what is coming next:
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.