Musings of a YA author throwing herself into the fray. Join me on the journey ...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

YA Scavenger Hunt is FINALLY Here!

Hi Everyone!

I’m crazy excited to be part of the YA Scavenger Hunt again this Fall.  This time, I’m a member of the GOLD team (the best team, LOL ;) and am hosting the amazing and fabulous Eliza Tilton.  She’s a terrific writer and the exclusive content below has me chomping at the bit to get my hand’s on her  book!


Friday, March 1, 2013

New Snippet from Tempest Revealed!!!

Hi Guys,

Since it's Friday and I just finished a final run through of the Tempest Revealed page proofs, I thought I'd put a quick new snippet up for you.  Hope you enjoy :)  And if you're in the area, don't forget to come see me this weekend in San Antonio and Austin.  The times and places are below this post :)

As soon as Mark had disappeared into the crowd, Logan turned to me and, in the smarmiest voice possible, said, “Finally.Alone at last. I thought he’d never leave.”

I laughed. “If by alone you mean in the middle of three thousand people, then yes, we’re alone.”

“That’s exactly what I meant. And since we’re all by ourselves . . .” He nudged me with his shoulder until I got the message and scooted over into Mark’s spot. He followed me, moving until there was an obvious gap between the others and us. With the noise of the game all around us, we might as well
have been in our own little world.

“Since we’re alone?” I prompted, too amused to be wary. This was Logan and I knew he would never say or do anything to hurt me.

“Are you going to tell me where you’ve really been for the last year? Because if you’ve been surfing the North Shore then I’m the biggest Barney on the block. And darlin’, I’m nobody’s Barney.”

It’s true, he wasn’t. Logan knew me better than almost anyone. Lying to him this last year hadn’t been easy, despite all my absences, but I hadn’t had a choice. I still didn’t. I’d already violated Pacific law by telling Mark what I was. Adding Logan to the mix was out of the question.

I started to laugh his questions off, to tell him he was being ridiculous, but the look on his face said he was calling my bluff, even before I offered it. His deep blue eyes were steady on mine, his mouth set in a straight line completely unlike the smile he usually wore. And his body language, his serious, no bullshit demeanor, told me there was only one right answer to this question.

The truth.

Have a great Friday :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Booksignings this Weekend!!!

Hi Everyone :)

I'm thrilled to announce two booksignings I'm involved with this coming weekend.  First off, I'll be on a panel and doing a signing with the awesome Mary Lindsay, Jordan Dane and Emily McKay in San Antonio at the La Cantera Barnes and Noble.  That signing is set up for 12 o'clock on March 2nd.

Then I'll be signing in Austin, at the Lakeline Crossing Barnes and Noble, Sunday, March 3rd at 2 p.m.  with Mari Mancusi, Mary Lindsay and Emily McKay.

I'll be signing Soulbound, Doomed and the Tempest series,  at each bookstore, so stop by and see me.  I 'll have lots of fun swag and some cool stories to tell.  And chocolate.  It's not a booksigning without chocolate ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Books I'm Loving

Hi Everyone, sorry for the delay in announcing Friday's winner but I have been sick, sick, sick :(  So, with no further ado, the winner of the prize pack is Grace!!!  Email me at to claim your prize.

Today, I thought I'd do a quick post about books I'm absolutely loving right now, so here goes:

Homeland by Cory Doctorow: If you read nothing else this month, read this book.  Or, it's predecessor, Little Brother.  Cory is an amazing writer and he has the knack of creating conflicted characters who are truly, deep-down good even when they are terrified.  Seriously-- this is one of my favorite series.  EVER.

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando:  I fell in love with Tara's writing when I got an ARC of The Dreamland Social Club right around the time that Tempest Rising was hitting the shelves.  When I saw her second book on the shelves the other day, I picked it up with a huge squee of delight-- and ran home to read it as fast as I could.  The story of a kick-ass senior scavenger hunt, it's a lot of fun and yet very reflective as well.

The Farm by Emily McKay: Have to put this on here because it's SUCH A GOOD BOOK.  Yes, Emily is a dear friend of mine and yes I would pimp her book even if I didn't like it, but honestly, this book is amazing.  Interesting, well-written, with some great edge-of-your-seat thrills.  And Carter.  OMG, Carter.  Enough said.

Hope these books help get you over the whole middle of the week doldrums.  Happy Wednesday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Let's Have Some Fun Today!

Hi guys,

Thought I'd shake things up a little bit today, with a few snippets from my books and a fun giveaway.  But before we get to that, I'm going to be at the Fresh Fiction Teen Event in Dallas this weekend with a ton of other YA authors.  Come see me if you get the chance :)

From Tempest Revealed:
“You wanted to walk,” I told him, making sure not to touch him as I stepped away from Mark.  “So let’s walk.”
Kona nodded, then led the way down to the water. As soon as my feet touched the surf, my power welled up inside of me.  I could feel it pushing up against the walls I used to cage it, pouring through cracks in my defenses until my entire body felt like it was burning up.
I glanced down, realized with a sinking heart that I was glowing, the phosphorescence that allowed mercreatures to see each other when deep in the ocean spinning out of my control.  Usually I could tamp it down when I was on land, lock it away deep inside myself, but tonight that seemed to be beyond my command.  Like so much of the rest of my life.
I looked behind me, saw that Mark was staring at the purple luminosity that surrounded me.  I told myself that it was a good thing, that visual reminders of how different I was could only help convince Mark that we weren’t right for each other.  But knowing all that didn’t keep my stomach twisting sickly.
“What’s wrong, Tempest?” Kona asked snidely.  “Mark not so down with your mermaid side?”
“Mark and I are just fine, thank you.” 
“Yeah, I can see that.”  He turned away, looked out at the ocean and I regretted the churlish words.  I had no business rubbing my relationship with Mark in his face.  Not when I knew how much it hurt him—and not when he had done nothing but try to make my whole transition to being mermaid easier for me.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I told him.  “I didn’t mean—”
He made a dismissive sound low in his throat.  “It doesn’t seem like there’s much you do mean.  Right, Tempest?”
“What are you trying to say?” 
He just stared at me, his enigmatic silver eyes swirling with a mixture of rage and power and some other emotion I couldn’t begin to identify. 
I sighed in response, frustrated with him and the entire situation.  “Fine, if you aren’t going to answer me, can we at least talk about whatever it is you want to discuss?  You came all this way to say it, so it must be important.”
He was quiet for so long that I started to think he wasn’t going to answer me.  Then he said the two words I’d been fearing since I first saw him towering above Mark and me on the beach. 
“Hailana’s dead.”
From Doomed:
“We’ve got to do something.  We can’t just sit here!” I whisper loudly.
The mother screams again and I’m out of the car before I can think twice about it.  But then, so is Theo.  Even as I do it, I know it’s a bad move, know we’re probably going to end up getting hurt, but I can’t just sit here and do nothing while those bastards hurt whoever they want.
“Stop it,” I yell, charging across the highway towards them.  Maybe if we’re lucky, more people will step up.  They can’t stand against all of us.  “Leave her alone.” 
The two men turn to glare at me, and I freeze under their stares.  I can’t help it.  I’ve never seen such dead eyes in my entire life.  There will be no reasoning with them, no talking them out of leaving her alone.  I don’t even have a weapon.
Their gazes rake me from top to bottom, and I feel the chill all the way down my spine.  Eli was right.  They’re not going to be content to just hurt me.  Still, I won’t back down, won’t show fear.  Like with any wild animal, it’s the kiss of death.
            I know Theo’s right next to me. I can feel the warmth radiating from his body.  Behind us, Eli is rummaging in the car for something—I don’t know what.
            “Don’t worry, darlin’,” one of them says in a mockery of a Southern drawl that makes my skin crawl.  “There’ll be plenty left for you when we’re done with her.”
            He comes closer and Theo grows even tenser, though I didn’t know that was possible.  He thrusts me behind him, stands up to his full height of six foot eight inches.  And just watches, his face as blank and intimidating as ever.  I know he’s scared, can feel the fine tremor shaking him, but he doesn’t back down an inch.
            “Isn’t robbing them enough?” Theo asks.  “Get what you need and move on.”
            The second man points a pistol at Theo, cocks it.  A scream wells up inside of me, an apology for putting us in this situation.  Already the other men have finished whatever they were doing up ahead, and are coming towards us.  We need to get back in the car before they reach us, but it’s already too late.  I know it is.
            There’s no way they’re going to let us just walk out of here. 
            “Why don’t you get back in the car, son?  You don’t want to tangle with us.”  This from the man with the gun.
            “I’m already tangling with you and you need to let that woman go.”
            “What I need is to let Mike here shoot your oversized ass.”
            An older man fumbles out of the car behind us.  “Leave those kids alone!” he shouts.
            “Really, Grandpa?  Are you going to stop us?”
            Two more men get out of their cars and join us.  “You’ve got what you wanted.  Now leave us alone,” the first one says.
            The two bikers exchange a look, like they know things are getting out of hand.  Eli’s behind me now, and he grabs my shoulder, tries to shove me back towards the truck.  “Get in, Pandora.”
            Believe me, I want to.  But standing here, watching these assholes figure out that things aren’t going to be as easy as they expect them to, makes me understand the power of numbers.  And the power of speaking up.  I’m not going to hide until they turn around and leave that woman, and these people, alone.
            “Look, I’m going to give you one more chance,” the biker with the gun growls.  “And then someone’s going to die.”  He waves the gun around, pointing it at all of us in turn before focusing it on me.  “My friends are almost here.  Get back in your cars and you won’t be hurt.”
            I know he’s right, can hear the other members of his gang running towards us, cursing.  I don’t look, though.  I can’t.  I’m spellbound as I stare down the barrel of the gun pointed right at my chest.
            “Leave us alone!” someone else yells.  And I can see it in the way the gun shifts, feel it in the hate emanating from the man pointing it at me.  I’m about to die.
            I start to drop to the ground at the same time Theo broadsides me, knocking me halfway to hell and back.  I hit the ground hard, Theo on top of me, just as four shots ring out.
Now for the giveaway: Leave a comment about your favorite book so far of 2013 and be entered to win a bunch of fun Victoria's Secret bath stuff (shower gel, bubble bath, lotion, make-up) and an autographed copy of Emily McKay's The Farm, Ivy Adam's The International Kissing Club and one of my books (your choice).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Another Soulbound Excerpt

Here's another tidbit from Soulbound.  Remember to leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of Doomed and a gift card from BN or Amazon!

I turn, keep walking. A cab drives by, its For Hire sign lit up, and I tell myself to hail it. To climb in and let it speed me home. It’s the smart thing to do, the safe thing, as both the rain and the wind are picking up. And yet I can’t bring myself to do it. The same electricity that made it impossible for me to sit still in the theater makes it impossible now for me to do anything but keep walking.
Lightning splits the sky, lighting up the desolate street and scaring the crap out of me. I don’t know how a street can look worse when it’s illuminated by lightning than it does in the eerie glow of a very few streetlights, but somehow this one does. It doesn’t help that Cesar Chavez, while bustling during the day, is all but deserted at this time of night—the occasional car my only company.
I start to run, which is really more of an awkward jog in Lily’s high heels. Part of me is terrified that I’ll slide on the slippery street and plunge headfirst into the path of one of those few cars, but I’m even more terrified of the lightning that is exploding all around me while thunder rumbles nonstop in the background.
I know I need to get out of the rain, know this kind of lightning could be deadly. But somehow all the logical parts of my brain—the parts that should be in control of my decision making process—are shorting out at once. Instead, I can’t do anything but continue walking, following the inexorable pull down this street toward goddess only knows what.
I cross side street after side street, huddling against buildings and under awnings when I can get the shelter. More than once a cab slows as if to pick me up, but I wave it on. I don’t understand how I know this, but where I’m going no cab can take me.
Finally the compulsion drags me to the right. I cross the street and start up Pleasant Valley toward the lake. And just that suddenly I know where it is I’m heading. To Town Lake.

I just wish I knew why.
I see it, up ahead, and I know I’m right. Especially when my entire body starts to pulse with the need to hurry, the need to be there now.
Strangely, it’s the urgency that sets me off, that makes me remember. When I do, the true fear sets in, a living breathing nightmare inside of me that feeds on the knowledge and chokes the very air from my lungs.

And still I don’t stop.
I’m almost to the lake now and I stumble off the sidewalk, head for the grassy knoll that sits a few feet from the water. The ground is soaked from the storm and my heels immediately sink into the earth until every step is a challenge. I wince at the sucking sound that comes every time I pull my foot out of the earth, then cringe more every time I put it back down and the earth draws it under.
Like it isn’t bad enough I walked out of the Paramount with no explanation to Lily, no text, nothing. When she finds out I ruined her Jimmy Choos, she’s going to kill me. Slowly and with great relish.

But even that can’t make me turn back. Nothing can. The water is calling to me and there’s nowhere to go but forward.
I try to stay on the balls of my feet to protect the shoes as best I can, but the grass is too slick and the heels too high. Besides, they’re the only things that give me purchase as I stumble off the grass and onto the running path that goes around the lake.

I’m under the bridge now, trying to take what little shelter it provides. The rain is slashing in at an angle, slamming against me despite the coverage. Still, it’s better than being out in the full force of the storm—and at least I’m less likely to be struck by lightning.

I pause, take a second to brush my drenched hair back from my forehead and rub a palm down my face to squeegee the rain from my eyes. I expect to feel a wave of relief, but the chest-clenching drive to get to the water doesn’t let up. This isn’t where I’m meant to stop. Hiding here under the bridge isn’t enough. I take a step closer to the lake. And then another.
As I do, the wind caterwauls through the place, stirring up the sickly cloying smell of guano. Though the bats haven’t migrated back from Mexico yet, years and years of the stuff layers the area, creating a stench that not even the storm can chase away. Usually the scent makes me ill, but tonight it doesn’t repel me the way that it should. Though I’m having trouble breathing through my nose, I have no urge to flee. Instead, I want to go closer.

I need to go closer.
Grabbing on to a tree branch, I use it to steady myself as I creep down the slope to the water’s edge. The fear is bigger now, nearly all-consuming. Not for myself, not about what will happen to me, but for what’s drawing me in. For what I might find down here under this bridge. I don’t know what I’m doing down here, don’t know what spell I’m under that has brought me here. But something has and somehow I don’t think it’s for the midwinter view.

Unable to bear the suspense any longer, I drop to my knees by the edge of the water. Muck squishes under my jeans, causing me to slide a little as I bend forward to peer into the lake. I don’t see anything, despite the lights stationed every few yards on the running path, and I fumble for the flashlight on my key chain.
I shine the small beam at the water, then jump when I see my reflection on the surface. For a second, I’m surprised that it’s bright enough to see anything shining off the rippling water, even if the reflection is little more than a pale oval and tangled fan of short, black hair. Except the longer I look at it, the more I realize the mirror image is all wrong. It’s upside down and her eyes are closed. No, not a mirror image I realize as the water smooths out. Not a reflection at all. The face I see in the lake belongs to someone else entirely.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Birthday for Soulbound!!!!!

Yay!  My baby is finally on the shelf-- I can't tell you how excited I am that Xandra's story is finally out!  And also, today is my real baby's birthday.  My oldest turns sixteen today, which is really, really hard for me to imagine (yes, I was a child bride ;)  He's celebrating with the keys to a car and I'm celebrating by freaking out, LOL.

But back to Soulbound.  Here's today's excerpt.  And don't forget to comment, tweet and/or FB about it to get extra points for the gift card and book giveaway!!!!

Have a great Tuesday :)

Excerpt #2:

 “Is something wrong?” he finally asks, letting his hand fall back to his side. There’s no impatience in the question, no condescension. Just an honest concern that has me forgetting the whispers about him. Or at least putting them aside for a while. Despite my best intentions, I lower my guard.

“You mean besides the fact that I just humiliated myself in front of my entire coven?” I answer, settling down beside him as he takes off his socks and shoes.
“And what looks like a fair amount of outsiders as well, don’t forget.”

“Gee, thanks. I was totally in danger of forgetting that, so I appreciate the reminder.”

“I do what I can.”
“And not a thing more, I bet.” I narrow my eyes at him. “You need lessons on how to pretend to give a damn.”

“Oh, I give a damn, Xandra. I just didn’t think you’d want me to lie to you. I can try, but I warn you, I’m not very good at it.”
“Someone like you doesn’t have to be.” I, on the other hand, have spent my whole life living a lie. Trying to be who my parents want me to be no matter how hopeless I am at it.

“Someone like me?” There’s a dangerous note in his voice now, but I don’t care. I’m feeling reckless.
“I’m not stupid. I know who you are. Someone like you doesn’t have to answer to anyone.”

This time it’s his eyes that narrow. “You’d be surprised.”
To the side of us a peach tree bursts into flame. For a moment, Declan looks stunned, like he can’t imagine how it happened. I wonder what that would be like, to have so much power that it could just leak out like that without me even noticing. I don’t think I’d like it—I’m too much of a control freak.

A second later, the fire goes out as suddenly as it started. He doesn’t say anything else and neither do I. Instead, we just sit here, the tension between us ratcheting up with each minute that passes.

“So, why did you come?” I finally ask. “You don’t know my family, don’t know me. You aren’t even part of our coven. So why did you travel halfway around the world—”
“Halfway across the country, not the world. I was in New York before this.”

“Whatever.” I couldn’t care less about semantics when there are questions I want answers to. “So why, out of all the places you could be right now, did you choose to be here?”
“Because you’re here.”

My gaze jumps to his. I’ve been careful not to look him in the eye since those first moments, scared of what I might find. Now, I know that fear is justified. Power—overwhelming, unimaginable power—swirls in the obsidian depths and I can’t look away. I’m pinned, as trapped here as I was back there on that stage. More so, really, because here it feels like there’s no escape route. No back door to scuttle out of.  Nowhere to run.
I desperately want to look away. But the pull is intense, like he’s reached out and grabbed me and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m playing prey to his predator.
Even worse, there’s a strange lethargy pulsing through me. Pulling me into him. Pulling me under. I start to fall . . .

No! I don’t know what game he’s playing, but I won’t be anyone’s pawn. Not anymore. When I jumped off that stage tonight and ran away, I started a new path for myself. A new life. Instinctively, I know that this isn’t it.
I finally find the strength to wrench my gaze from his and as I do, I feel this pop, like I’ve ruptured something deep inside. I gasp, wrap my arms around myself in an instinctive bid for comfort. Declan doesn’t react at all, doesn’t move a muscle, but I think he felt it too.

When silver sparks of energy whip through the air around us, I’m sure of it.
Reaching a hand out, I capture one of the sparks. I can’t stop myself. I want to know, for just a second, what that kind of power feels like. It sizzles against my skin, crackling and spitting, burning me, until I open my fingers and let what’s left of the spark fall back out into the air.

My palm throbs where it touched me, white hot and painful. It takes all my energy not to flinch, but I manage it. It’s my turn not to react. Except, Declan knows—just as I did with him. He reaches out, gently cups my hand in his own. Strokes the fingers of his other hand lightly over the burn.
It should have been smooth, easy, but the second his skin brushes against my palm, the entire world ignites. Fragments of memories I shouldn’t have rush at me—terrifying, fascinating, compelling. I close my eyes, try to block them out, but they’re still there behind my eyelids. Still there, deep in my mind as every nerve ending I have lights up like it’s Christmas at Rockefeller Center.

I order myself to pull away, to break the connection this one last time, but I can’t do it. The pleasure, woven as it is amidst the pain, staggers me and I can’t do anything but sit there and soak it all in.
The pain dissipates as suddenly as it came, but in its place . . . in its place is a silver Seba, identical in all but color to the one on Declan’s neck.

“What did you do?” I gasp, looking at the new mark on my palm. It shimmers in the moonlight, is the most beautiful—and frightening—thing I’ve ever seen.
“That wasn’t me, Xandra.” But he looks shaken as his fingers close around mine in a grip so possessive it makes my breath catch in my throat. I start to pull back—this is too weird, even for the daughter of witch royalty—but then I realize his hand is shaking even worse than mine. It’s enough, that hint of vulnerability, to keep me here when every instinct I have screams at me to flee.

“What—” My voice breaks and I clear my throat, try again. “What’s happening?” The sparks aren’t stopping. In fact, they’re spinning all around us like a freak, midsummer snow flurry—growing hotter, more plentiful, the longer we’re touching.
Declan doesn’t answer, just shakes his head. I get the impression, right or wrong, that for all his power and experience he doesn’t know what’s going on any more than I do. I take a step back and electricity arcs between us, flowing from him into me and back again.

Every cell in my body is vibrating with it, every nerve ending screaming with the agony of it. Just when I think it’s over, that the electricity is going to rip us apart, he does something even more unexpected. He leans forward, and slowly lowers his mouth to mine.
Rockefeller Center turns into Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one.  Too bad I never thought to wonder what happens after the ball drops.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Soulbound Hits the Shelves Tomorrow!!!!

Hi Everyone :)  Thanks so much to everyone who has been out to see me at booksignings in the last few weeks.  It's been awesome to meet all of you.

Today, I'm excited because the day has finally arrived for my new Urban Fantasy series to hit the shelves. Soulbound, the first book in the Xandra Morgan series, will be out tomorrow and I couldn't be more thrilled.  It's a dark, suspensey, witch story that takes place in my current hometown of Austin, Texas and it was a blast to write.  I know the name is different-- Tessa Adams vs. Tracy Deebs-- but it's still me, just a psuedonym I write under :)

Here's the blurb:

As the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter—and a member of Ipswitch’s Royal family—Xandra Morgan should be a witch of incredible power. But things don’t always turn out like you expect…

While she hasn’t lived up to her family’s expectations, Xandra has come to terms with her latent magic and made a life for herself in Austin, Texas, running a coffee shop where she makes potions of a non-magical nature. While things aren’t perfect, Xandra is happy—until she runs into powerful warlock Declan Chumomisto.

Xandra hasn’t seen Declan in years, and though she’s still overwhelmed by his power, she doesn’t trust him. And when her own powers awaken one night and lead her to the body of a woman in the woods bearing the symbol of Isis—the same one that has marked Xandra since the day she met Declan—she’s filled with a terrible suspicion, soon confirmed: the woman is connected to him.

Xandra doesn’t want to believe that Declan is capable of murder, but as the body count mounts, and Xandra’s own powers spiral out of control, she’s not sure she can trust her own instincts…
And here's an excerpt:
I shouldn’t have drunk the damn tea.
I’d known it even as I took the first sip, but when I’d asked my mother what was in it, she’d sworn it was completely innocuous. Chamomile. Mint. A touch of lavender for luck.
Yeah, right.
But when I’d scented all three herbs in the cup she’d handed me, I’d decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. And while there’d been something else in there—something a little sweet that I couldn’t quite identify at the time—I’d just put it down to the agave syrup my mom’s been crazy about for months now.
I’m not a fan of the stuff but my mother looked so anxious, and so happy to see me after my six month absence from Ipswitch, that I hadn’t been able to disappoint her. I’d drunk the entire stupid cup in one long gulp to make up for the unpleasant taste.
I’m paying for it now, big time, which makes me an even bigger fool today than I was eight years ago. Back then, I’d still been trying desperately to live up to her expectations of me, to be the witch she wanted me to be. In the last few years, though, I’ve given up on trying to be something I’m not and have instead built a life for myself that I’m proud of—away from my hometown.
Away from the magic that is so much a part of this place.
Which, I suppose, makes my momentary gullibility more understandable. It’s been a while since I’ve been around the insanity and I’ve obviously forgotten how bad it can get. It was a mistake to think that I would be safe here, even for a couple of days.
After all, from the moment I walked away from Ipswitch and the magical legacy I had no hopes of living up to, my mother has been desperate to get me back. She’ll stop at nothing to find a way to unlock the powers I’m perfectly content without, will do anything to turn me into the Magic Barbie she’s always wanted me to be. Maybe if I’d remembered that, instead of thinking about how much I’d missed her, I’d be in better shape now.
Live and learn, I suppose. And just to be clear, I’d really like the chance to live through this. I send the thought out into the universe even as I wonder if the number for Poison Control is the same as it was when I was a little kid.
I reach for the phone, but it falls to the ground before I can wrap my hand around it—whether by accident or design, I’m not sure. The fact that it’s perfectly believable that my mother would have charmed the phone to prevent me from calling for help is one more glaring piece of evidence against both of us.
Idiot, idiot, idiot . . . The word thrums through my brain, a triple syllable repeating chorus that echoes the three step cramping in my stomach.
Squeeze, tighten, release.
Squeeze, tighten, release.
I didn’t know anything could hurt this much. Had my mother inadvertently given me too much of whatever this was, or had I simply poisoned myself by drinking the tea too quickly? I call out for help, then curl myself into a ball and pray for death. Maybe living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all—at least not if it comes with this.
“Hey, Xandra, what’s wrong?” my sister Rachael asks from her spot near the door. Though she normally doesn’t have much use for me, her most prominent power is healing. My illness must have called to her, overcoming her usual lack of interest.
“Tea,” is all I manage to say, but it’s enough. She rushes into the room and lays a cool hand on my forehead.
“Mom’s crazy,” she tells me. “I swear, your latency has pushed her completely around the bend.”
“What did she give me?”
She looks at my pupils, shakes her head. “Best guess?” she asks grimly. “Belladonna.”
I shudder at the confirmation of my worst fear. Guaranteed to bring out even the most latent magic—or so the herbal practitioners promise—belladonna has been a staple in witch gardens for centuries. I know my mom grows it, but I thought she burned it to get to its essence. Never in a million years did it occur to me that she would actually go so far as to feed me the toxic plant. Especially since, so far, the only thing it’s brought out in me is my breakfast—an experience I really could have done without.
“What do I do?” I ask between cramps, forcing the words out from between my clenched jaws.
“I’m not sure. I need to look it up, and talk to her, find out how much she gave you. Probably no more than a berry or two, which isn’t enough to kill you when brewed in a tea—it’ll just make you really uncomfortable.”
Another pain hits and I pull my legs even tighter against my stomach. “I think . . . uncomfortable . . . is an understatement,” I gasp.
“I know, sweetie.” She heads into my bathroom and comes out a few seconds later with a damp washcloth, which she lays across my forehead. “I’ll be back in a little while, hopefully with an antidote to make this all go away.”
“Pilocarpine,” I tell her, because while I’m no good with actually wielding magic, I’m still up on all the plants and other ingredients that witches deal with—a leftover from when I was trying to be super-witch.
“I know. I’m just not sure if I can get my hands on any. I wouldn’t put it past Mom to have gotten rid of all of it before you got here. You might have to suffer through this without it.”
Terrific. I grit my teeth against another influx of pain and swear to myself that I am never coming back here again. I don’t care about command performances anymore, don’t care how much my mother pleads with me to return for special occasions. She’s crossed so far over the line this time that there is no way I’ll be able to overlook it. Winter Solstice or not, I am out of here the second I feel better.
If I ever do feel better, which seems doubtful right now. The pain is increasing as the belladonna works its way through my system, and I try not to think about what’s coming next. Blurred vision, dizziness, hallucinations, convulsions. Already, I can see the edges of the walls bending, curving in on me. I tell myself it isn’t real, that it’s just another side effect of the belladonna, but the truth is I don’t know what’s real anymore and what’s illusion.
There will be more excerpts posted all week, so stop by and see what Soulbound is all about :)  And leave a comment for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Amazon or BN and a signed copy of Doomed.  Tweet and Facebook about Soulbound for extra chances to win and then let me know about it here.  Thanks so much :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Come See Me at YAK Fest this Saturday!!!

Hi Everyone :)

I'll be speaking on a panel and signing books in Keller, TX (near Dallas) this Saturday with a bunch of other really cool YA authors!  Check out the schedule below for more info and if you're in the area, come see me!!!!!

WHEN: Saturday, January 19, 9am – 5pm
OPEN DOOR: Come when you can and stay for as long as you like.
WHERE: Keller High School, 601 N. Pate Orr Rd. Keller, TX 76248
SOCIAL MEDIA: twitter / facebook / blog (hashtag #Yakfest13)


Panel Breakdown:

Keeping It Real – Jessica Anderson, Charles Benoit, Chris Crutcher (afternoon only), Simone Elkeles, Guadalupe Garica McCall, Jessica Warman, Lori Aurelia Williams and Shannon Greenland

This is Not Normal – Rosemary Clement Moore, Cory Oakes, Victoria Scott, Mary Lindsey and Jeff Hirsch

This is Not Normal Either – Krissi Dallas, Tracy Deebs, Greg Leitich Smith and Andrea White

Vampire Smack Down - Cynthia Leitich Smith, Rachel Caine and Jason Henderson

Poetry Workshop – Colin Gilbert

A Walk on the Weird Side – Kelley Milner Halls

Choctaw Tales – Tim Tingle

Schedule (tentative)

Time Event Location
9:00 - 10:00 Doors open; book sales Commons
10:00 - 10:45 Keynote- Simone Elkeles, followed by introduction of authors Fine Arts Center
10:55 - 11:40 select a panel or session Lecture Hall, Band Hall, classrooms
11:40 - 12:40 Lunch - food for purchase; Book sales Commons
12:40 - 1:20 select a panel or session Lecture Hall, Band Hall, classrooms
1:30 - 2:10 select a panel or session Lecture Hall, Band Hall, classrooms
2:20 - 3:00 select a panel or session Lecture Hall, Band Hall, classrooms
3:10 - 3:40 Poetry reading Commons
3:40 - 5:00 book sales; author signing Commons
There will be books available for purchase from The Book Carriage, and they will be selling books all day. The Book Carriage will accept cash and credit cards. You may bring some books from home for authors to sign. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at lunch.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Doomed Release Day!!!!!

Hi, Everyone!  I'm so excited to host the last day of the Doomed Scavenger Hunt (and am especially excited because today is release day!!!!)  So, before I head out to my local bookstore to sign copies of Doomed, I'm posting one more excerpt from the book.  Hope you like it!  And remember to comment for the chance to win a $75 Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple Store gift card :)

Happy Tuesday!

Eli bursts through the door.  “A bunch of unmarked, black vehicles just pulled up to the front door.  We need to move.  Now!”

            Before I even process Eli’s words, Theo’s up, grabbing the backpacks and my hand  Then  we’re running.  Down the hall and three flights of stairs.  Out the back door. 

            I start to flee into the parking lot, but Theo holds tight to my hand as he drags me against the building.  We race along the perimeter, Theo in front, me in the middle and Eli in back, until we get to the corner, where Theo stops dead.  Flattening himself to the building, he peers around the edge.  “Damn! There are four of them at the truck—including that jerk from your house, Pandora.”

            The information has me reeling, as there’s only one “jerk” Theo saw at my house—Mackaray.  “That means they’re Homeland Security,” I tell them.  “What are we going to do now?”

            “The only thing we can do,” Eli says, heading back the way we came.

            Theo and I exchange frantic looks, but we follow him.  If he’s got a plan to get us out of this, I’m more than willing to go along.  It looks like Theo is as well.

            We get to the other edge of the building and after checking to make sure it’s safe, Eli slips around it.  “What are you doing?” Theo hisses.  “You’re getting us closer to them—“


            Eli creeps all the way to the front edge of the building and I follow him, even though I’m also beginning to doubt his sanity.  We wait, plastered against the building, as eight agents stand around staring at the window we broke earlier.  Guns come out and then most of them are slipping through the same hole we used to get in. 

            I want to run now, while they’re inside, but Theo holds me steady against the building, his hand around my wrist.  “What are we waiting for?” I hiss, and Eli grins at me.  It’s a wicked, wild thing, filled with a strange elation I don’t understand. 

            “Grand Theft Auto, anyone? For the second time?”  He grabs my free hand and we’re running again, straight toward the Homeland Security vehicles instead of away from them. 

            “Get in!” he yells, yanking open the driver’s door of the first one.

            I don’t let myself think as Theo and I pile into the back.  Eli’s pulling out before we even get the door closed, flooring it as he drives right past the agents going over our truck.

            It’s not the brightest move, but it’s the only one we’ve got.

            Sure enough, our escape doesn’t go unnoticed.  “Get down,” Eli yells, and Theo shoves me face first onto the seat, covering me with his body.  Shots ring out and the back windshield, right where I’d been sitting, shatters.

            “Shit!”  Eli swerves back and forth.

            “Hit the gas!” Theo yells.

            “I’ve got the thing floored,” Eli shouts back.  “Just shut up so I can concentrate.”

            The next few minutes pass in a blaze of absolute terror.  I can’t see anything—Theo has me completely covered—but I can hear plenty and that makes everything worse.

            Sirens sound as the remaining Homeland Security guys come after us, shots ringing out as they pursue us through the empty business park.

            “Where’s the road, where’s the road?” Eli mumbles to himself as he sends us careening around a corner so fast the SUV takes it on two wheels.

            “Up ahead, half a mile,” Theo tells him.

            “We’re not going to make it that far.  It’s only a matter of time before they hit a tire.”  He yanks the car to the left around another corner and Theo loses his balance, pancakes me.

            I can’t breathe with him crushing my rib cage and my face pressed completely into the seat and I struggle against him.

            “Sorry, Pandora,” he says a minute later as he pushes himself up.

            “No problem,” I answer before I realize how absurd we sound.  Nothing like manners in the middle of a life or death crisis.

            We hit the main road just as more shots ring out.  They hit the side of the car, slamming into the metal.

            “How are we going to get out of this?” I whisper to Theo, afraid of distracting Eli.

            “I don’t know.”  His hands are clenched and I know it’s hard for him to sit back here with me, leaving our fate in Eli’s hands.  But Eli’s doing a good job, taking turns at breakneck speed, dodging back and forth among the few cars that are on the road. 

            Homeland Security is still behind us—I can hear their sirens—but they don’t seem as close. Eli whips around another corner and hits the brakes, hard, as he strings together every curse word I’ve ever heard in the most imaginative way possible.  We've driven straight into a mob of angry people.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Doomed Scavenger Hunt is On!

Hi Everyone!  I can't believe that Doomed comes out in less than a week!  I'm excited and thrilled and terrified all at the same time and can't wait to hear what you guys have to say about it.

To celebrate Doomed's release on January 8, I've put together a fun little blog scavenger hunt.  Keep reading for all the details.

Welcome to the Doomed Scavenger Hunt! Over the next eight days, Tracy Deebs and Mundie Moms are sending you on a scavenger hunt through eight different blogs. In Doomed, the three main characters embark on a scavenger hunt that winds itself through a video game and the real world in order to stop a countdown to nuclear annihilation. Our scavenger hunt is nowhere near as complicated-- or as scary-- as what Pandora and her friends have to go on. Instead, all you have to do is visit the eight sites, read the excerpts and find the hidden number in each of the entries. At the end of the eight days, add up all eight of the numbers and include them in the rafflecopter entry spot for the Scavenger Hunt to earn 10 extra entry points for $75 gift card to your choice of Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple. There are also prizes to be won at every stop, so make sure to get your entries in and be sure to comment on each of the blogs to be entered to win. Happy hunting!!!!!

Here's the schedule:

1/2- Mundie Moms, excerpt #1
1/3- Reading Teen, excerpt #2
1/4- Fangirlish, excerpt #3
1/5- Girls In the Stacks, excerpt #4
1/7- I Read Banned Books, excerpt #6
1/8- Page Turners Blog, excerpt #7
1/8- Tracy Deebs, giveaway, end of the scavenger hunt

And here's the basic info about Doomed:

Pandora's just your average teen-glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends-until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father-her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.