Category Archives: Young Adult Books

YA Dystopian Spotlight and Author Interview: The Living and The Dead by Sara Furlong-Burr @Sarafurlong


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YA/Dystopian


the living and the dead

Dying is optional.
Living is forbidden.

The year is 2111, and scientists have discovered how to cheat death by extracting memories, thoughts, and personality traits from the dying, methodically implanting them into artificial bodies. At the time, it seemed too good to be true, never having to lose anyone to illness or time, and maybe it was.

Rejected as being nothing more than imposters of the living, the dead are shunned by society. Their families, friends, and neighbors, having grown to fear them, erected walls around their cities to keep them out. Over time, those cities were replaced with colonies overseen by governors to keep order.

At seventeen, Zaila Lockhart has only known isolation. Isolation from the world that extends both outside and inside her colony. As the daughter of the unpopular governor, she is the target of resentment, especially now that resources are becoming more scarce, since all trade between the colonies has been interrupted by a group marauders. Starvation seems imminent, and a war between the living and the dead over much-needed provisions looms on the horizon.

In search of food and other supplies, Zaila takes it upon herself to secretly venture outside her colony’s walls. Joined by Pax Muldoon, her only friend, the pair are ambushed by a group of scavengers. Identified as being the governor’s daughter, Zaila is brought back to the scavengers’ base in a city occupied by both the dead and their living sympathizers.

Zaila thought she knew everything there was to know about her captors, that the history being taught in the colonies was rooted in fact. But some lessons are better learned outside the classroom, where the living have grown to fear life, and the dead are the only ones truly living.

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Excerpt:

Down the hall, the sound of doors opening and closing sent chills down my spine. Pax wrapped his arm around my trembling body and held me close to him, partly to comfort me and partly for his own comfort. “Get your knife ready,” he whispered.

“One step ahead of you.” The knife rested in my unsteady hand, ready for the action I’d hoped it would never have to see.

We held our breath when the footsteps left the neighboring room and approached ours. Through a small gap between the closet door and the door frame, a small grey glow appeared in the room, followed by footsteps that were suddenly rendered mute by the carpeted floor. More frightened than I could ever remember, I closed my eyes, willing the being to go away. But instead of heeding my prayer, the sound of boots on carpet continued to pulsate in my eardrums, narrowly beating out the sound of my own heartbeat.

And then the steps came closer, the glow more evident until it stopped. Too terrified to move, we remained still, even when the closet door began to open.


About the Author:

sara furlong

Sara “Furlong” Burr was born and raised in Michigan and currently still lives there with her husband, two daughters, a high-strung Lab, and three judgmental cats. When she’s not writing, Sara enjoys reading, camping, spending time with her family, and attempting to paint while consuming more amaretto sours than she cares to admit.

You can learn more about Sara at http://sarafurlongburr.blogspot.com, follow her on Twitter via @Sarafurlong, and read more of her ramblings via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EnigmaBlackKindle.


Author Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? You’re very welcome. My journey started about eight years ago. I’d had this idea for a dystopian trilogy involving superheroes in my head for several years and finally decided to begin writing it down, just to get the story out of my mind. In 2012, I decided to publish it (Enigma Black) on Amazon and was ecstatic when it was selected as a Kindle Book Review 2013 semi-finalist in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. I subsequently published the other two novels in the trilogy (Vendetta Nation and Redemption) in 2013 and 2014, respectfully. In 2016, I published The Living and The Dead, another dystopian novel, which will most likely turn into a series of its own.

How many books do you currently have published? I have four others books aside from The Living and The Dead, including a sci-fi/dystopian trilogy (Engima Black, Vendetta Nation, and Redemption) and a short story (A Second Chance) in the paranormal genre.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why? I would say Enigma Black, solely because it was my first book.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? Yes, I’m parting ways with the dystopian genre for a bit and am in the middle of a contemporary romance entitled When Time Stands Still. I’m currently 50k words into it and hope to release it sometime late 2017 or early 2018.

What do you enjoy most about writing? I’m not great at expressing myself verbally and find that writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I also like the idea of being able to right wrongs and create worlds and situations in which readers can both relate and be entertained.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? All the time. I think my writer’s block is more the product of self-doubt and striving for perfection than lack of content. I begin to doubt my abilities and over think things, which inevitably leads to frustration. To counteract this, I remind myself that the first draft is never perfect and to just write. I find that this invariably steers the ship in the right direction.

Have you ever had one of your characters take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Of course, I think that happens more often than not for writers. In particular, there is a character from the Enigma Black trilogy who I grew more attached to than any of the other characters (excluding the main character). In fact, I grew so attached to him that I thought about completely changing the ending I’d always planned for the trilogy as the original ending broke my heart.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why? Zaila Lockhart from The Living and The Dead and Celaine Stevens from Enigma Black. Both are strong, independent women who stand up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the grain.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write? Probably the ending scenes in Redemption, as they signified the end of a long and rewarding road for me.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? I’ve learned that there’s always room for growth and improvement, and that I need to quit being so hard on myself. My tip to any future or new writers is to follow your dreams. Don’t get bogged down by the negative reviews (as they happen to everyone). Learn from your mistakes and keep pushing yourself.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why? It depends. Since my books are essentially all in the same genre, I would probably recommend that if the reader is looking more for a young adult book that they start with The Living and The Dead, and if they want a more mature read, they should go for Enigma Black.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books and television shows? Movies? I like to read the same genre I write, dystopian novels with a hint of romance. As far as movies and television, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Outlander, Orange is the New Black, and consider myself a bit of a Star Wars nerd.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say? Insightful, frustrating at times, but always rewarding in the end.


Young Adult Fantasy Book Feature: Sins of the Fallen by Karina Espinosa


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Young Adult, Fantasy


sins of the fallen

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When seventeen-year-old Maximillion Taylor and his best friend, Jones go to a house party, he doesn’t expect to get kidnapped—much less by a succubus—and she’s not the only one on the hunt. Thrown into a world of angels and demons, where nothing and no one is what they seem, Max ventures to find his true identity and learn to fight the demons who pursue him. When his origin is revealed, it’s a race against the clock for a battle that will determine whether he can protect the ones he loves or succumb to his true nature.
Through lies, betrayal, love and pain, Max must prepare to face the demons before it is too late…

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Excerpt:

What came next I didn’t see coming. Something was shining in Angela’s hand as she thrust it into the twin’s stomach.

A knife.

“They’re coming for him. They know. He’s not a secret anymore,” she gurgled out, and before I could react, she let out a loud shriek, sounding like a screeching bird but amplified. I covered my ears as they started to pop. When I looked up, there wasn’t blood oozing out of her, but a thick black liquid – and not just from the knife wound – it seeped out of her eyes, nose, mouth, even finger nails. The smell was even worse. The stench of decay filled the room and I tasted the bile rising up my throat. The shrieking stopped and Angela dropped whatever was left of her into the puddle of black liquid.

“What the-?” was all I could say before she crossed the room and pulled me up to my feet.

“Let’s go,” she said, but I couldn’t even move. My body felt heavy and I knew I was going to pass out. This feeling was getting too familiar, but I couldn’t dwell on it now. I was out.


About the Author:

Born in New York city, my family picked up and moved to South Florida when I was twelve. After high school I spent the next few years traveling and experiencing what life had to offer me. At twenty four years old, I’m back in South Florida in my third year of University-majoring in Communication studies. When not in the writing cave, I usually have my nose in a book or on Netflix, cut off from the world with a huge bowl of ice cream.

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Young Adult Fantasy Featured Book: In the Light of the Eclipse by Bryan Caron


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Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance


eclipse_book_cover.jpg

Where God so loved the world, Heather (or as few have dared to dub her “the goddess of condemnation”) holds a much crueler hand over her inhabitants. Every seventeen years, under her ever-watchful eye, an eclipse renders her land dark, taking the soul of everyone over the age of seventeen to the land of the unknown nothing. In its wake, Heather bestows the gift of a child upon the land. Some believe this child has special powers; others believe she inhabits the souls taken by the eclipse. But no matter the belief, one thing is certain—without the child, the land would crumble.

Most accept the eclipse and live every breath with a love unmatched by any other. This is especially true of Zoe, whose seventeenth year of breath nears ever so close. Born under the eclipse, Zoe understands her life is a gift and that she will return that gift in kind—whenever that day may be (that is until she falls in love and discovers the dark secrets hidden in the heart of Heather).

Still others yearn for a longer life and curse Heather’s name. One such person was branded the name Kayla on her day of breath eighteen years ago. Unable to comprehend the meaning of such viciousness, Kayla believes such a sacrifice is unnecessary, even for the worst of mankind. Little does she know that a mysterious traveler may hold the key to ending the eclipse forever.

Zoe and Kayla are best friends.

This is their story.

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Excerpt:  

From Chapter Two – A Secret Morning Swim

(Read Chapter 1 at http://publications.divinetrinityfilms.com)

On the morning that marked the beginning of Kayla’s eighteenth year of breath, Zoe got up an hour before the rooster’s crow and headed into Industry Quarters. She had never walked the streets at night before so it was a bit scary, but also quite amazing. The smell of baking bread was at its strongest and the bright glow of the full moon turned the artwork all around her into a fluorescent wonderland. It made it all the more brilliant to lie back in the shadows and watch a couple of kids turn paint into such beautiful pictures. She almost wanted to join them in taking brush in hand but she had something much more pressing to do, and time was of the essence.

Zoe inched her way through the slightly wilted bushes surrounding Kayla’s house and pressed her hands firmly on the glass of her bedroom window. Kayla never locked her window so it was quite easy to open and crawl in without rousing her, though she hoped the change in noise level from the roar of the machines didn’t do it for her. Thankfully, Kayla was still asleep when the room returned to silence. Zoe snuck up to Kayla’s bureau and shoveled her swimming suit, towel and a change of clothes into her pack, a task that took longer than expected (it couldn’t just be any old clothes; it had to at least look good together). When she was happy with what she had chosen, Zoe tiptoed back to Kayla’s bed and kissed her cheek.

“Wake up, sleepy,” she whispered into Kayla’s ear.

Kayla groaned and rolled over. “Go away.”

“Kayla, wake up,” Zoe said, shaking her shoulder.

When Kayla finally realized who it was, she sat up quickly and looked around as if her caretakers were hiding in the walls, waiting for just the right reason to take her to Quorum Circle for punishment. “Zoe,” she whispered. “What in Heather’s name are you doing here? What time is it?”

“It’s time to give you my gift.”

Each year, to mark the day of a person’s first breath, caretakers and friends would do something special for that person, from taking over that day’s chores to whisking them off to Serenity Lake for a grand snorkel, so long as it was something that was unique to the presenter of the gift. For this, the last gift Zoe would ever give Kayla, she wanted to do something more amazing than life. She pulled Kayla out of bed.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s a secret. Come on.”

Kayla felt a little blushed walking the streets of Industry Quarters in her sleeping gown, especially when they passed Henry (who had a not-so-secret crush on Kayla) sweeping flour out of his caretaker’s factory.

“Where are you two lovely ladies headed off to so early?” Henry said.

“No time to chat,” Zoe said, keeping from making eye contact. If she had, she would have felt obligated to stop, and Zoe was in far too much a hurry to do that. Henry did it for her.

“Just wait, I’ll come with.” Henry set the broom against the inside of the door and jogged after them. “Wait up.”

Now Zoe had to stop. “You can’t come, Henry.” Her hand was outstretched, keeping him from coming any closer. Kayla was pulled in behind her.

“Why? What’s the big deal?”

“I’m giving Kayla her gift. This is for her and I alone. So if you don’t mind…”

“Her gift? What could you possibly be giving her this early?”

“None of your business,” Kayla interjected. She stepped around Zoe, who felt a little honored and shocked (though she didn’t know why). “Now be a good little boy and get back to work. Go on.” She waved her hand. How Kayla could get away with that was beyond Zoe, even if Henry was a year younger than her (and no more than a couple of months older than Zoe, for that matter). Maybe she was using his infatuation against him.

Then again, maybe not.

“No. I want to see what this is.”

“We aren’t moving until you leave,” Kayla said.

“That’s fine. I have all day.”

“We don’t,” Zoe whispered to Kayla. She acknowledged her, but with only the slightest turn of her head so that Henry might not notice.

“I don’t want to have to get physical,” Kayla said. Her voice was strong, commanding. “But I will if I have to.”

“Do you promise?” Henry said, which disgusted Kayla to no end.

“Just leave us alone.”

“Tell me where you’re off to and maybe I will.”

“No.”

Henry shrugged. Zoe grew ever more irritated. The sun would be up soon; once it was, her gift would be ruined. If she weren’t such a lady (or had been taught to be such by her caretakers), she probably would have popped him one (or urged Kayla to, in the very least) just to make her point. Luckily, she didn’t have to.


About the Author:

Bryan Caron is a multi-talented, award-winning artist with works in several mediums, including print, film and design. After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and an associate’s degree in computer graphic design, Bryan studied filmmaking and film editing while working at a performing arts studio in San Diego, California. He took this knowledge to write, direct and edit films under his banner, Divine Trinity Films. Soon after, he would team up with the Fallbrook Film Factory, a non-profit film consortium, to continue his growth in the areas of writing, directing and editing, all the while fleshing out his talents in fiction writing (publishing Year of the Songbird and Jaxxa Rakala: The Search in 2013), working as a graphic designer, and beginning his first blog: Chaos breeds Chaos.

His works as writer and director include the short films My Necklace, Myself (Best Screenplay, Short Film, 2009 Treasure Coast International Film Festival) and 12, the feature film Secrets of the Desert Nymph, and the commercial Charlie’s Ticket, which ran on dozens of television stations and in movie theaters in San Diego County to advertise the Fallbrook International Film Festival. Works as editor include the short film Puzzle Box and No Books, the first of several episodes he has edited for the online sketch-series, Treelore Theatre.

Bryan currently resides in Riverside County.

www.divinetrinityfilms.com

chaosbreedschaos.com

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8+ Recommended Books For Fans Of Young Adult Gothic Fiction


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young adult gothic fiction recommend reading

Readers, if you’re a fan of young adult characters AND Gothic fiction, you are going to love the list of books below!


Since her father’s mysterious death, Lauren Cowley has been stuck in a pitiful rut until she begins having ominous encounters, haunting her every move. While attempting to break free from her wretched life she meets Donovan. He is tall, dark, good-looking, strangely familiar – and yet terrifying. His unexplained ability to stare deep into her soul with emotionless eyes frightens her, yet she has no desire to break free from the gravitating pull he has on her. He unlocks her passion…and suppressed memories forcing her to fight for everything she loves. Lauren now has to face the reality of demons and the tragic consequences they have had on her life.

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silent song

His love was her secret

Alice always saw his talent, his passion. She saw his soul every time he played, and she was obsessed with it. Maybe even enamored. That’s why she kept sneaking into his practices, risking her reputation every night just to listen to him. But was that tenuous, furtive connection enough of a reason to take the final step? Could she stand by his side, when that meant standing alone?

Her love was his strength

But no secret can stay hidden forever. When Keith is drawn into composing the soundtrack for the high school play Alice is starring, their worlds crash together and she must make her choice: is Keith worth risking it all? Can they have something strong enough to withstand not only their differences, but also the malicious darkness that seems to be entwined with their performance of Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan?

A curse two hundred years in the making. One soul to break it…

Ghosly Rhapsody Duology: a Young Adult Gothic Romance

Silent Song
Shattered Silence

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Four saucy tales from the legendary vampire girls of Victorian London, bound up in one alluring volume.

These stories quicken the pulse, thrill the mind, and excite parts of the body that other, lesser books fail to reach.

Novellas and short stories featured in this sweet confection of blood, sex and gothic melodrama include Holmes of the Baskervilles, Miss Katie Bell – Victorian Vampire, Joan Dark is Lost, and The Vampire Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Welcome to the Gothic London of the 1800s, where vampires walk the streets and some of your favorite characters from Victorian literature are twisted until they snap.

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Portraits have been removed from the walls, and areas of the house are off limits. Some rooms even seem to have been walled off completely. No one will talk to her.

It’s been a difficult year for Abilene Collins. Since her father’s death, her whirlwind life of adventure and travel has come to an end.

Now, she’s living with her mysterious uncle. He’s a man with secrets, living almost alone in a ridiculously large mansion that he doesn’t own. He doesn’t like questions, and when Lena starts asking about his job, it isn’t hard to tell that he’s keeping some family secrets from her.

The young and ambitious groundskeeper has become her only friend, and one day he tells her that she was stolen from her mother years before. Lena’s family are all telepathic, and that isn’t all…they’re a religious pillar of the Silenti society. Her grandfather has used his standing to gain political power, decimating his rivals along with anyone who gets in his way.

Suddenly thrust into a life of political plots and religious fanatics, Lena finds herself struggling to navigate her own life. Some people aren’t fond of the Darays, and the family has nearly died out through assassination.

It appears Lena is the latest target.

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The #1 New York Times Best Seller is now a major motion picture from visionary director Tim Burton, starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Judi Dench.

Bonus features
• Q&A with author Ransom Riggs
• Eight pages of color stills from the film
• Sneak preview of Hollow City, the next novel in the series

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

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“Almost everyone is convinced I’m mad. But I’m not sure I believe them.”

Seventeen-year-old Seluna doesn’t know why she was admitted to an all-female insane asylum called Silver Hill. She doesn’t know exactly how she makes inanimate objects come to life. And she can’t figure out the reason for the sadistic and brutal experiments on girls here—many of whom are never heard from again.

When Seluna sneaks out to the moonlit, forbidden garden behind Silver Hill, she meets a mysterious boy swimming in a pond. She senses there’s a connection between him and what’s happening at the asylum, but he’s not telling what. Then there are the screams from down long halls and the constant absence of light. No doubt they’re all part of the scheme concocted by the merciless head of the facility, Dr. Catron. He’s growing more and more frantic and violent in an attempt to find the person—or thing—he’s looking for.

Yes, there’s a lot Seluna doesn’t know about Silver Hill. About why moonlight, madness, and murder are following her. But she needs to find out fast . . . before she becomes the next victim.

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When Anne’s mother agrees to marry a wealthy, mysterious man, she expects a nice mansion in the hills. But their new home, Belrose Abbey, is more like a castle—imposing, cold, and full of shadows. The more Anne explores the corridors and vacant rooms and dusty crannies, the more she discovers about the abbey’s master—her soon-to-be stepfather—Ivan Helsburg. As her mother’s wedding draws closer, Anne begins to harbor a creeping suspicion that all is not well at Belrose Abbey.

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Of all the folks in the mountain shacks, the Casteels were the lowest — the scum of the hills.

Heaven Leigh Casteel was the prettiest, smartest girl in the backwoods, despite her ragged clothes and dirty face…despite a father meaner than ten vipers…despite her weary stepmother, who worked her like a mule. For her brother Tom and the little ones, Heaven clung to her pride and her hopes. Someday they’d get away and show the world that they were decent, fine and talented — worthy of love and respect.

Then Heaven’s stepmother ran off, and her wicked, greedy father had a scheme — a vicious scheme that threatened to destroy the precious dream of Heaven and the children forever!

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An innocent bayou girl lost to New Orleans. One of the most popular storytellers of all time, V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina) layers psychological suspense with sheer terror in this provocative first book of the classic Landry Family series.

Even in the heart of the bayou, innocence can’t last forever….

The only family Ruby Landry has ever known are her loving guardian Grandmere Catherine, a Cajun spiritual healer, and her drunken Grandpere Jack. Although thinking about her dead mother and mysterious father sometimes makes her feel as sad and solemn as the wind sighing through the Spanish moss, Ruby is grateful for what she has. Her life is filled with hope and promise, especially when her attraction to handsome Paul Tate blossoms into a wonderful love affair. But Paul’s wealthy parents forbid him to associate with a poor Landry, and Grandmere urges Ruby to focus on her dream of becoming a great painter.

An uncertain future looms….

A shocking scheme of blackmail and deception comes to light when Ruby sees her father for the first time in a faded photograph. Stunned and devastated when Grandmere dies soon after, she is left to seek out an explanation on her own. Finding her father in his massive New Orleans mansion, Ruby is quickly subjected to his world of lies, torment…and madness. Still, she clings to her memories of Paul—for only true love might be able to save her now.

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Christian Fiction Feature and Author Interview: Forget Me by Chelsea Vanderbeek @Chel_Vander


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Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction


Cover - Forget Me, Chelsea Vanderbeek jpg

Sabine is a budding poet who was practically born with a pencil in her hand. Though her intelligence and maturity far surpasses that of those around her, she lacks the confidence and social graces to come out of her shell.

She’s been forced on numerous occasions in the past to slip inside the glass double doors of Hilltop Baptist Church. The youth group was her mom’s idea, really. A shot-in-the-dark way for Sabine to try and make some wholesome friends in a wholesome place. Not that it ever worked out… At least she was usually able to make it out with minimal negative attention as her plain-old invisible self.

This time was different. She always hoped it would be different, but not like this.

When Sabine decides she’s had enough of this life, she ends it and becomes more visible than she’s ever been before. Is it possible she wasn’t as forgettable as she once thought? The only way to find out is to watch the aftermath unfold, and no matter the outcome, she can’t do a thing about it. No one can…

…or can they?

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Excerpt:

Bridget’s trembling fingers remained mere inches from the gun. It was as if she was afraid to move, like I’d paralyzed her in fear. I didn’t feel like waiting for her anymore, though. I gave her a chance to leave. I put the muzzle back to my forehead and squeezed my eyes shut. The last thing I saw was her fighting back a sob, tears dribbling down her rosy cheeks, her saddened eyes staring into my soul. The image was burned into my brain, perhaps forever. I was about to slip my finger in front of the trigger again when I felt a clammy hand wrap around my wrist and pull me down. She was surprisingly strong, so strong that if I kept my eyes closed, I could easily imagine it being a man’s grip. I tried to push her away with all the strength I could muster, accidentally sending her head back against the wall. She clutched her head with both hands, no longer able to hold back her whimpering. She was mean, sure, but I never wanted to hurt anybody. A hard pang of guilt struck at my core.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry.” I sobbed even as I spoke. I scampered as far as I could to the other side of the stall, bringing the gun back to my temple. The crinkled fabric of my dress slacks pressed into the skin of my knees. I saw my reflection in the stainless steel panel of the side of the stall. I didn’t want to be her anymore. I didn’t want to be anything.
I heard Bridget shifting on the floor behind me, right up until she was on her knees behind me. I felt her icy fingertips on my shoulder. “Please… Please, listen to me. Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”
No, get away. Get back,” I breathed, pushing her hand away. My heart was thumping at an overwhelming pace and I couldn’t wait for it to stop. I slipped my finger in front of the trigger for a final time. I spoke without turning back what would be my last words. “How could He love a piece of shit like me?”
Sabine, you’re not—”
I let my last breath go, pulling the trigger and losing all the feeling in my limbs. It all disappeared in a haze of black.


About the Author:

Chelsea Vanderbeek, Author

Chelsea Vanderbeek has been writing fiction and poetry for over eight years. She has previously been featured in Ars Poetica, the small-press publication of Warren County Community College. She currently lives with her family in New Jersey. She would encourage you to visit her website, www.chelseavanderbeek.com, where you can find updates on her upcoming releases.

Website l Facebook l Twitter l Pinterest l Goodreads


Author Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Well, thanks for having me! I’ve been writing for over eight years now, and I have to tell you that the passion has only grown. You start out writing crap. That’s just a given. The first novel I ever remember writing was about a girl who got intense migraines (and it turned out she had brain cancer–I KNOW IT SUCKS), and she also had weird experiences. For example, she crashed her car into her garage and destroyed it, and five seconds later it was back to normal–and THAT was because she had a guardian angel. Now, this is probably the stupidest story idea you’ve ever heard in your life, but hey. We all have to start somewhere. I started in Craptown, and I’m now (thankfully) miles and miles away. Unfortunately you can’t drive those miles… Metaphor. Yeah. I guess what I’m saying is there wasn’t a shortcut. It took a lot of backspacing crappy words and banging my head against the desk, but ta-da! I’ve published a book and here we are, chatting it up like a couple bros.

How many books do you currently have published? Oh, you caught me on my debut.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? I’m frying up more books as we speak. I’ve got two in the editing phase (one about two girls on the same co-ed football team that often butt heads, and another about high schooler struggling with her sexuality). Not to mention I have lots of ideas I’m nurturing, some of which I could be starting first drafts on as early as November. So you’ll definitely be hearing more from my side of town in the future (but definitely not Craptown).

What do you enjoy most about writing? I honestly love creating and getting to know my characters. I always say that character development is 50% of my writing process. I actually think that one of the most important things for a story to have is believable and authentic characters (because when you know your characters well enough, the story actually starts to tell itself… or they tell it to you…). I find an image (using Pinterest or Google Images) of what I envision my character looks like, because visual aids go a long way with me. I fill out a bio (with stuff like birthdate, age, good/bad traits, likes/dislikes, family, the whole shebang) for each of my characters, even minor ones. I interview the hell out of my characters (mostly mains, but minor characters do find their way into the mix as well) to get an idea of their “voice.” All of this happens before I type word number one in my first draft. It really is one of my favorite parts of the process.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I actually wrote a college paper on writer’s block, believe it or not. The thing about writer’s block is that it can be more of a psychological problem than you’d think. A fear of rejection, thinking that your writing is gonna suck before you even put a single letter on the page, can clog the drain pretty quick. It could also be that you’re bored with your own story and you need to change things up. Knowing the cause has actually been a substantial help; I can think of at least one story I wouldn’t have written without this knowledge (and it was over 40K words). I give myself permission to suck in the first draft. No, really. I type it in the literal document. “This story has my complete permission to absolutely unmercifully suck and, in the interest of getting words down, I shall let it.” A first draft is like a toddler: he makes a mess and you clean it up, in that order.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Mmmkay, *SPOILER ALERT* In my debut Forget Me, I have this character named Bridget. Now, this girl took twists all over the place. In earlier drafts, she wasn’t nasty at all and stayed alive the whole story. But then, as I developed her? She out of nowhere decided to A. Call Sabine a retard, and B. Commit suicide herself. I mean, sure she did all this wild stuff I wasn’t expecting at all, but actually? I was pretty proud of myself. To have a secondary character (who was actually pretty damn minor in the first few drafts or so) come to life like that and demand and push her way into the story like that? Pretty cool.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? There’s so much I could say, but I’ll try to give you some good ones. Hmm… write for yourself. Don’t write what you think other people want to read, because there’s a good chance they don’t even know you exist and won’t for a while even after you’re published. If you do it for you, then you get the enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment out of it and money and recognition become less important. Also, if you write something that makes you laugh/cry/squeal with delight/make you physically upset, you’ve probably got a winner. If your writing makes you feel something, there’s a good chance it’ll make your reader feel something too. But it’s all about being honest with yourself. And that’s another thing: if you want to be a writer, you can’t be afraid to take punches. You can’t be afraid to admit that the one plot twist you once thought would make Stephen King jealous is just damn stupid, or that you need to get rid of that one character and his intrusive afro because he and it serve no purpose, or that you need to toss the word “mite” in that sentence because it sounds dumb. If you can learn to take constructive, honest criticism you’ll be set. Showing your work to other people isn’t easy (and I’m sure a lot of you newbies out there wouldn’t DREAM of showing another living entity your work), but I really think that’s where I turned a corner. It takes guts, but it’s so worth it. Above all? Don’t rush this stuff. Some of the most beautiful things in this world take time to grow.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character? Okay, since you said “extras,” well, I created a playlist to go along with my story. I’ve assigned a song to every chapter, and you can get a look at it here: https://chelseavanderbeek.com/playlists/. I’ve been told by some that it’s diverse, and others that it’s really cool. Oh, and one more thing? If you heeded my spoiler alert before, just look out for Bridget. She does some pretty unexpected stuff.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of William Sleator, but he was one of my favorite authors in my childhood (and he still is). My favorites of his were Singularity and The Duplicate. The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson is pretty cool too.

What about television shows? Movies? Yeah, I’m a sitcom junkie. Seinfeld, King of Queens, Reba… I dunno, relaxing stuff to laugh at and get my mind off life. I could watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a thousand times and still get a kick out of it. Jim Carrey’s great too. Liar Liar was cool.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words or under, what would you say? Err… “Notebook in hand at all times.” Yeah, I think that kinda sums it up. I never stop writing. I could tell you all the places I’ve written (even in my swimming pool, for example) but I think that’s another story for another day… I know I’m nuts.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers? I’m giving out cherry-flavored lollipops for anyone who may want to leave a review on my Amazon or Goodreads page! But they’re imaginary. And they’re not cherry, they’re internet-flavored. But no really, thanks for taking the time to check out my story and this nice little interview here! Hit me up on social media if you like. Let’s be pals!