Saturday, February 25, 2017

Caara Island Short Stories | Rin Youngbrook

It's hot today, too hot to go do anything productive. It's not like the guards are allowing me to leave the compound anyway. Michael has us on some sort of lockdown. I guess he's worried about Ashley and I. Sure, we both got hurt, but we're alive—somehow.

Sitting in my room, I day dream Shadow, the boy that stole my heart. He's as mysterious as his name. We've been seeing each other for a few months now, but neither of us has taken the leap to make it official. And then there's Fang, the Okamikiin that makes me laugh. He has the cutest ears I've seen on his people. He's determined to sway my affection toward him, but my heart belongs to Shadow, though. At least, I think it does.

I know, I shouldn't be messing around with the both of them, but they seem to make one complete guy. Fang is funny and ready for adventure while Shadow is more serious. Maybe I'm making excuses.

A small rock hits my window. My heart feels like it's about to jump out of my chest. I walk over to see who is trying to get my attention. It must be one of the guards playing tricks or something. No, it's Fang sitting on a tree branch about a foot away. He smiles at me and waves.

"Can I come in?" he asks with a large grin on his face.

I smile and open my window allowing Fang to enter. I don't know why he insists on climbing that tree.

"What are you doing here?" I ask.

"I wanted to see you. I was thinking we could sneak out of this place and go get something to eat."

"You know I can't do that. The guards have this place locked down."

Fang laughs pointing at the window.

"Then why was it so easy for me to get in? C'mon, what do you have to lose?"

What do I have to lose? My freedom. Well, sort of. Being locked up in this house only allowed to go out into the garden or the pool isn't exactly freedom. But if the guards see me sneaking off with an Okamikiin—I don't want to think about what will happen.

"Fang, I…"

My head hangs, I don't want to turn him down but I also don't want him here. Not now. He puts his hand underneath my chin and lifts my head up to face his. A smile comes across his face, but I turn away.

"Do you want me to go?" he asks finally.

"Yes, you should. If the guards catch you, then you'll get a worse punishment than a visit to the hospital."

Fang turns toward the window with his bottom lip poked out and his head hanging low. I touch his right shoulder, but he shrugs it off. I hurt him, that's clear, but I have to look out for myself. I can't fall for an Okamikiin.

"I want you to know something." He keeps his back to me. "Even though you may not feel the same, I like you…a lot. I don't risk my life for anyone, ya know. I wanted you to understand that."

He climbs out of the window across the tree branch. I stand in the middle of my room in shock. His words flow through my head, but they didn't make any sense. I mean, I know he likes me, anyone can see that, but did he say he loved me? That's what it translated to, right? My stomach starts to flutter. I keep repeating the words in my head: I can't fall for an Okamikiin.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Son Of A Pitch Query | Immunity YA Fantasy *Updated*

Title: Immunity
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 78,000

Query (minus the bio)

Seventeen-year-old Sasame Kai hates the mutated undead more than she hates doing petty missions for her agency. Those flesh-eating bastards took her parents and left her with no one. She trains every day at the fighting and magic academy envisioning ripping off the mutants' heads.

The agency sends her on a mission to hunt students at the academy whose blood is the key to the mutation virus antidote. Sasame's emotions have no place in her missions; her victims' blood is more valuable. The problem is, the more time she spends learning about her targets, the more she grows to actually enjoy their company. Even if some of them are annoying. Her handlers aren't happy. They have strict rules against relationships. Insubordination means death.

When questioned about her new friends, Sasame pretends they aren't important to her, but her regret over hunting students interferes with her missions. Sasame confronts the agency and they answer by threatening her life. If she goes against her orders, she will be forced to kill her new friends to prove her loyalty to her cruel employer or risk becoming the next target herself.

IMMUNITY is complete at 78,000 words and is told from the points of view of five characters. It is a standalone novel with series potential.


First 250 Words

It's only another mission, I keep telling myself as I try to sleep. I stare at the ceiling fan spinning on the lowest setting. There really isn't a need for the fan as the air is surprisingly cool tonight, but its sound comforts me. Tonight is different. In my mind, the blades of the fan turn to knives. Blood rains down on my face and the screams of my victims pierce through my ears. Tomorrow will just be another mission.

The sound of Yuki talking to her husband—my substitute parents—enters my ears from the next room.

"I pulled some strings and got the perfect mission for Sasame," Yuki says. "She's going to Summer Fest to meet teenagers her age for some much-needed interaction."

I'm seventeen, not twelve. I don't need to make friends. Yuki's been laughing and talking about how great the festival will be for the last hour. Her squeaky, high-pitched voice is like nails on a chalkboard. It sounds like she had the same cold for years. Ever since my parents disappeared, The Organization that I devote my loyalty to was kind enough to give me replacements. Not that I need them, I can take care of myself.

I roll over and close my eyes. The walls are so thin in this townhouse; I'm surprised they've never heard me scream into my pillow at night. I cover my face with my pillow to block out the sound. How blind can everyone in this city be?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Diversity Is Becoming More of a Trend

When I started creating the characters for my debut novel, I made them all diverse. This was back in 2008. I made it obvious of what race/culture each character was from. After many, many rewrites I removed their racial diversity. Not because I wanted to "whitewash" them but because I found myself digging into the character racial backgrounds more than the actual plot of the story.

My novel has an anime feel to it although I never say the characters are Japanese. They have weird colored hair and features (purple eyes, blue hair…) but they don't really have a race. Some of their names are a little giveaway, though. Such as Lin Ming, Tee Lin, Sasame, Rin…but I still never mention race or culture.

Don't get me wrong, I love diversity but it seems like people are trying to force it. Agents or publishers only taking submissions from #OwnVoices or LGBT characters that are anything but white and screaming it throughout Twitter. I'm not white; I'm a black woman living in Arkansas that's engaged to a white man. I prefer rock and metal over rap and hip-hop. I'd rather go camping than to a club. I'm in love with anime, zombies, and dead things. I don't wear long nails and I'm not that fond of watermelon.

But I don't want to turn myself into a character in a book just for the sake of saying "Look at me! I'm diverse and shit!" I like my characters the way they are and I have a very specific look for them in my head. My readers can decide if they are black, Asian, Hispanic, or whatever.

Diversity isn't a trend, although now it seems to be that way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

GUARDIAN OF SECRETS Release

Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake | Release Day Launch | JenHalliganPR.com

We're celebrating the release of Brenda Drake's GUARDIAN OF SECRETS (Library Jumpers #2), today! Check out the teaser excerpt, and be sure to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below!
GUARDIAN OF SECRETSGuardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake | JenHalliganPR.com
(Library Jumpers #2)
by Brenda Drake
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: February 7, 2017


Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1):


Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2):


Excerpt from GUARDIAN OF SECRETS

She did a U-turn and drove off. I sprinted to the area where I spotted the lightning. A shadowed figure sat on a white bench near the water. Another flash of light kissed the sky and illuminated Nick.

Since discovering he was a wizard, Nick struggled with his new magic. And he was careless. Anyone could spot him out here. How would he explain it to someone who was human and not from the Mystik realm? I couldn’t imagine how it felt to have that much power. Unlike him, I was a Sentinel. I had little magic and relied on my battle training to best wizards and other-world creatures. He only needed to shock or electrocute his adversaries.

“What exactly are you doing?” I asked, approaching.

He almost fell off the bench. “Shit, Gia. Don’t sneak up on a person like that.”

“Seriously, Nick? What are you doing? Someone might see you, and then we’d be discovered.”

“Just leave me alone.”

“I’m not going to just leave you alone.” I sat down on the bench beside him. A light breeze swept loose strands of my hair across my face. The briny smell of the ocean filled my nose. “Talk to me. You’re my best friend, Nick. I’m here for you.”

He formed an electric charge on his palm. I created my pink globe and tossed it on his hand, snuffing out the charge.

He made another electric ball and I cast another globe at it.

“Quit doing that.”

“You stop it.”

“I get it. Your globe is badass. It can counter magic and shield people, but it makes you weak. I can do this all night and wear you out.”

“You’re not nice.”

He buried his face in his hands. The knuckles on his right one were torn, with blood coagulating around the wounds. “I don’t know what’s happening to me. I can’t stop myself. I know I’m being mean to Deidre, to my parents…to everyone.”

“You haven’t been that mean to me, yet. That has to say something. I’m the most annoying one of the bunch.”

He snorted. “Did you just snort?”

“No.” He looked startled. “It was a sneeze.”

“I think you snorted.”

His face brightened. “I know what you’re trying to do. And it’s working.”

“I’m not trying to do anything. That was a full-on snort.” I wrapped my arm over his back and watched the water lap against the retaining wall in front of us. “I know you can’t see a therapist for this, ’cause what would you say? That you just found out you’re the son of the most evil wizard of the Mystik world and the curers recently released your magic?”

He gave me a half smile. “Yeah, that might not go over too well.”

“Or maybe you could. They’d think you were delusional, and you’d score some drugs.”

“Drugs make me nauseous.”

He stared at his hands, and I stared at the water, searching for the right words to say. “This has to be tough for you. I get it. I’ve been there. It’ll take time to adjust. How about I be your counselor? Anytime you feel anxious or angry, you call me and we’ll punch some bags or whatever. It always helps me to relax. Plus, my services are cheap.”

“Violence would make you relax.” He was pleased with his retort and laughed, which was followed by another snort.
Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake | JenHalliganPR.com

Brenda Drake

About Brenda Drake

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Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2). She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). Look for her upcoming novels, Thunderstruck, Seeking Fate (Fated Series #3), and Assassin of Truths (Library Jumpers #3) coming soon from Entangled Teen.

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Looking At Old Work...

I decided to dig up some of the bios I created for my characters when I started writing Immunity. Looking back on some of this brings up a lot of memories...and a lot of questions. I can't help but think "Why did I write that?"

According to my old work, I created a fully living world with in-depth information about the magic used, the population of the city, and the age and stats of the main and secondary characters. This is a lot of stuff that I forgot.

The writing is pretty bad, though. I believe I've come pretty far with my writing to where I can't believe I wrote like that a few years ago. Now if only I could remember where all these made up names for the magic came from.

I'm thinking I should clean some of this up and post about it on this blog. Some of you might be interested in it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Querying Is The Devil

A post of me whining.

Writing a full-length novel is hard. Telling people what it's about is harder. If the first line sucks, you're thrown into the rejection pile. If they somehow make it past the first line and you say one wrong word: REJECTED.

Honestly, I'm losing more sleep over trying to polish a pretty query than I ever did polishing my manuscript. But I get it. Agents see thousands of queries a month and they don't have time to read everything. So if the hook sucks, you suck. Better luck next time, sweetcheeks.

Luckily, I have someone interested in my manuscript without a polished query. Hopefully things will work out for the better.