Sunday, August 24, 2014

Author Interview: Christina Farley

I (Sarah) am a featured blogger for Coastal Magic Convention, so today I'm featuring one of the CMC authors for an interview spotlight! If you're interested in paranormal bookish con in Florida in February, make sure to read more about the Con at the bottom of this post!

Also, stay tuned to the end of this post for a super cool giveaway!

Christina Farley is the author of the Gilded series and was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. She taught at international schools in Asia for ten years, eight of which were in the mysterious and beautiful city of Seoul, Korea that became the setting of Gilded and Silvern. Currently she lives in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown. For more details, check out her website at Christina holds a master’s degree in education and has taught for eighteen years. She is represented by Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary.

Sarah: What is your favorite thing about going to events like Coastal Magic Convention?

CF: I love attending events like Coastal Magic because they're my chance to connect with my readers. I also have a blast meeting other authors and hearing out their books and worlds that they have created. Coastal Magic is a smaller convention so it has a great friendly atmosphere for attendees to learn and connect with the books that they love.

Sarah: Do you have any weird writing habits?

CF: Other than eating lots of chocolate and coffee? Not really. But last year I was working two jobs plus writing so I had to write whenever I had a free moment. I was always writing in the car either during my kids’ soccer practice or on our way to an event or vacation. I also have been known to write in my closet when I am in need a quiet place to write.

Sarah: Which one of your characters has the most of you in him/her?

CF: I would say I’m most like my main character Jae Hwa Lee. She’s got a lot of spunk and has a strong personality. But there are also aspects about her that I wish I had. Like to speak out about what I think as she does. To not be afraid to take risks, even if they are the wrong choice. And of course, I definitely wish I was as good in tae kwon do as she is.

Sarah: If you could only give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

CF: I believe that in some capacity we are all writers with a story to tell and characters to share with others. The crux of being a successful writer is to never lose sight of the love for the story.

For me, it’s so rewarding to put the story from my imagination onto paper and then sharing it with others. I recommend for those writers who wish to get published is to learn the craft, read as much as possible, and listen to advice you are given from those established in the field.

But the most important advice would be to write because you love it.

Sarah: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

CF: I have a couple of projects underway, but nothing set in stone. Book #3 of the Gilded Series is now with my agent as well as another proposal. And I’ve started writing another YA series that fans of the Gilded series would enjoy. So lots of exciting possibilities along with crossing fingers and toes!

About Gilded

A Korean god. An ancient curse. Can she escape becoming GILDED?

A girl with a black belt and a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows discovers an ancient Korean god has been kidnapping the first-born daughters of her family for generations. And she’s next.

Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indiebound | Book Depository

Check out the sequel, Silvern, due out September 23: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indiebound | Book Depository

About Coastal Magic Convention

Coastal Magic is a super casual, urban fantasy and paranormal romance focused convention in Daytona Beach, FL. With panels designed to start interesting discussion, and meet & greets with fun themes, we’ve got something for every fan. Join us for reader, blogger, and author shenanigans, and lots of “supernatural” inspired activities. Saturday’s charity book sale and signing is open to convention attendees, and FREE to the public. Come take a bite out of the beach with us!! Feb 5-8, 2015

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Editopia: Katie Teller with Curiosity Quills

Today we're pleased to welcome Curiosity Quills editor Katie Teller to Editopia. Here's a little more about her and read on to see how you can submit to her:

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing. After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog. She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Find Katie Online:

Website  | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Hi Katie and welcome. First off: how did you get your start in the industry? Did you always want to be in publishing?
It kind of just happened. I'd signed with Curiosity Quills as an author, when they asked if anyone knew of people interested in becoming an acquisitions editor. So, I said I'd be interested, and after some supervised reading and reviewing, I slipped into my position. I've been doing it for about a year now and just love it.

That's great! Most authors are surprised to find out that editors’ days aren’t spent kicking back at their desks with mugs of tea and piles of manuscripts and that, in fact, most work reading happens outside of work. Describe what your “typical” day actually is.
I don't have a typical day. Each is different. But there's preschool, house work, the gym, author things like promotion and writing, and my biggest time consumer is my kid. I don't keep a tight schedule, but I do try to keep things within certain time frames. I do my reading during the kid's "quiet time" and once she's in bed.

I would guess a lot of our readers are familiar with that particular balancing act. What does your to-read pile look like? How many manuscripts are in your inbox at any one time?
I have a full and two partials in my inbox, and a decent size slush pile I'm determined to help shrink! I also have books by other writer friends I like to squeeze in wherever possible too. So my to-read pile is never ending.

What trends are you seeing in kidlit these days? Are there any subjects or genres you don’t want to see in your inbox? Any you want to see more of?
I see a lot of zombies, transferring to other dimensions, or straight contemporary girl meets boy, boy helps with *insert issue here*. I'm not a fan of zombies, vampires, or angels, and especially things that slam god. That's one way for me to slam you book shut. What I really want to see though, is a story for the sake of telling a story. No agendas, no soap boxes, just a raw story where I can get lost within the pages. Old school story telling. I feel like all the stories I've contracted have a firm grasp on that. Give me Narnia, Jane Austin, anything that will take me away from the real world and immerse me in the joy of escapism.

You address this above but I'll ask anyway. What are some things that would make a manuscript stand out to you?
Clean, crisp writing, a character who is smart and has a real heart. Someone I can look at and say, yeah, if I met you in real life, I'd enjoy hanging out with you. Again, a story that's a story I can get lost in and forget about day-to-day life.

Can you describe what the acquisition process is like at your house? What happens next once you’ve found a book you love?
So yes. There's the slush pile, which gets divided between our team, then we do our thing. Once I find one I love, I write out a proposal to our "higher ups" saying why the manuscript would fit well in our catalogue. Then, they give me a yes or no, because they can see all the manuscripts coming up and can see the grand scheme of things. Anyway, once I get the approval, I send through a contract to the author. The author then goes through the contract, and can say yes or no. If they say yes, they send through the signed copy, I arrange counter signature, then send it through to production to get it in the pipeline. Although I've handed them over, I love keeping tabs and helping out the authors wherever I can.

Without implicating anyone, can you tell us one of or some of the weirder submissions you’ve received?
Ahh… let me think. Usually I forget subs right away if they don't take my fancy. I've had some stuff that I read and think, Why would anyone write that, ever? But usually, I see people who aren't quite ready for publication yet.  Telling, information dumps, poor dialogue, all things that come in time with study and practice. That's what rejections are for, to help us get better. At least they should be. I usually try to give a reason why I've rejected.

As an author, that feedback from editors is sooo appreciated, even when it's not "hey I need your book on my list ASAP"! Okay, were reaching the end, where you get the chance to plug a few books on your list you’re excited about…

Well… Destruction by Sharon Bayliss is the first of a great series you won't want to miss, then The Undead by Elsie Elmore is coming out soon which is a fun and slightly gory read. I have two more in the pipeline as well, but they're a long way off so I'll leave them for now. But they will be GREAT!

Curiosity Quills will soon be closing to unsolicited submissions, but if you act fast, you can still submit to Katie following these guidelines:

Fill out the online submission form here: 
Include Attn: Katie/YAtopia interview.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Power of 140 Words

The Power of 140 Words

I was once again going to make the argument that Game of Thrones could be considered a Young Adult series, but something more incredible happened. It reminded me why I am an author and write in the first place and just how powerful you the reader and fans are.

Thanks to Jaym Gates I ended up participating in GISHWHES and only for the last few days of it. Not as a person participating in the scavenging hunt, but as an author willing to write a short story for those participating in it. I know Misha Collins, yes that Misha Collins who plays Castiel, was/is the/a sponsor of this crazy event. I am not really sure how this all works, (

A handful of authors came out against it, because one of the items on the list was to get a published sci-fi author to right a 140 word short story about Misha, the Queen of England, and an Elopus. I read it as Misha being the Queen of England, which made my stories all that much more strange. I ended up writing 18 of these little stories, which I ended up putting my own little spin on with turning them into a serialized story so all 18 parts become part of a bigger story around 2700 words. I had a blast doing this.

I have to thank all the teams again who used me. I would totally be willing to do this again. But something started happening I wasn’t prepared for…

I started to get fan mail and thank you letters.

I wasn’t expecting anything to the effect, but it really hit me in that good way. That taking 10 minutes out of my day to write a 140 word short story would/could create so much good will… I am not sure “good will” are the words I am looking for… but I hope you see or get what I am say here.
Let me share with you what I was sent.

Thank you somuch for the story, it was awesome. Sorry I didn't email sooner, last minute submissions and all.


Thank you so much!!


I just wanted to really thank you for what you submitted to me.. It was funny too... I admire people who write and it is on my bucket list to be a published writer, so you are living my dream.

Thanks again! 


thank you very much! Team Free-Pizza is forever in your debt. :)



So, I know my team has already sent you a thank you note and the likes, but I wanted to thank you personally (which is already delayed, my apologies.)(Though I guess it's better late than never).

So thank you for writing this perfect story. And it's not just my words here, this is what the team said when they read the story for the first time. I mean Misha as the Queen? Genius.

Hmm, I don't really know what else to write besides praising you more and more. I'm also not that good with words, as I bet you noticed.

So I'm gonna say thank you and let you know that your work brings a smile on to my face every time I read it. Which is a lot.

Forever in your debt and holding you to the highest regards,


I know that not every author could do this, or was willing to, and that is okay. Everyone is entitled to say no. But GISHWHES and this short story was so much fun for me to do. I know I am not a huge name when it comes to writing, I am not even sure I qualify even as a small name; but I am a published sci-fi/fantasy author. But these teams, and their thank yous made me feel incredible and I would without a second thought participate again if there is a writing segment the next time GISHWHES occurs.

I think what I am saying those 140 words effected those I wrote them for; but what they sent back to me made me feel all that much more special. So what I am trying to say if you like something an author wrote or it affected you on some level; let the author know. You might give them that note or a message on a day they really need to hear that thank you for writing you wrote. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Writing Hacks During the Revision Process

You've heard of life hacks--simple tricks that make your life easier, more fun, and interesting.

While every book is different and you have no doubt found your own bag of editing swag, some tools are just indispensable.

I'm in the middle of revision right now. And starting another novel. This may or may not be ill-advised, but I'll see how it went after I'm done.

Here are some writing hacks that you may or may not have heard of.

1. Paragraph Hacking

You don't have to read the following. Just look at each section and tell me which looks more inviting to the eyes.

Example 1

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Example 2

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Both examples are an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson. But only one is structured in a welcoming way.

The second example is the winner. The reader doesn't go, "Oh, great let me slog through this."

Don't be afraid to break up your paragraphs.

Even if they are only a sentence long, a single sentence paragraph is a great technique to get a particularly important message to the reader.

(See what I did there?)

2. Reading Aloud

Yeah, yeah. You've heard this before.

But it works.

While going through your manuscript during edits, read aloud. If you stumble on a word or sentence or it just seems weird to you, investigate the conundrum and see if it needs to be added to, cut, or changed to make it all flow better.

3. Get Feedback but Wait on Using it.

Run through your manuscript by yourself the first time and then consult your beta readers' notes. You may fix something they point out any way.

You want constructive critique but you don't want any notes that could adversely shift the structure of your story.

Remember, YOU are the architect. The CPs are the guys who make sure your building is up to code and not a fire hazard.

You want to have the deepest sense of your story FIRST, then look at the notes and see how it fits in the large scheme.

Revision is different for everybody and no one has all the answers. At the end of the day, it's your book and your call. Do what works for you.

But at least DO revise. First drafts are toothpick houses built by the tide. They have to be moved, fortified, and made to last.

And you're the one with the plan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Crafting Concepts

Hi everyone!  Nice to see you!

Today I wanted to talk about concepts and how to craft one.  Sounds simple right?

Well, maybe not so much.

Every writer has story ideas - they come to us in all forms.  Sometimes we get a flash in the pan idea, at other times a whole storyline, and sometimes it's just snippets of scenes and dialogues.  Some writers even overhear or see something and that sets their mind to whizzing.

But my question is this - should we write the first story that pops into our mind, and is this the best way to create a story that will gain you a strong readership.

I'm all for a passionate writer (you have to write the story you want to write, after all), but I'm an even bigger advocate for sitting down with your initial concept and crafting it into being something stronger than it originally started as.

And how do you do that?

If you look at how your concept compares to other books, you'll soon see there will be room to craft it into something stronger.  When you study it, you'll need to ask some questions -is it the same as every other book in your genre?  Is there something unique about your story and how it's told?  Really think about this.  A lot of our first ideas are similar to other people's as we have the influence of everyone's ideas all day long (media, conversations, books, movies, etc).  Our minds are a huge storage place for everything we've seen and heard, so it's only natural our brains will kick out ideas that resonate most quickly with our experiences.

Of course, some people do have sudden concepts come that aren't in need of crafting, but I can bet sure money that a majority of concepts need crafting.

Once you have your idea and have identified what makes your book unique, you need to hone in on your character's desires, conflict and stakes.  Sometimes this is clear, sometimes it's not.  But you have to craft this into your concept too, because if you do it now, you'll have a clearer view of where your book should go when you write it.

Crafting concepts is one of my favorite aspects of the writing process.  Let me know how you craft yours!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Agentopia: Whitley Abell

Welcome to the August edition of Agentopia! For more information and to see other Agentopia posts, click here.

This month Whitley Abell from the Inklings Literary Agency is in the spotlight.

Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women's fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craves cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults.

To query Whitley, please follow these submission guidelines.

Whitley was kind enough to answer a few questions for YAtopia's readers...

What are you looking for in YA submissions right now? 
I'm especially drawn to contemporary novels with an interesting hook and a really strong, authentic voice (think Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, Nova Ren Suma). And I'm always looking for a great historical, either realistic or with fantasy/ magical realism elements, preferably regency era through recent decades (I'm not big on medieval times).

What's an immediate turn-off in a query, something guaranteed to get the author rejected?
Not following submission guidelines. Telling me your book doesn't have vampires, werewolves, kids with cancer, etc. Telling me how your book is targeted towards a specific "unexplored" niche, or telling me why you wrote the book... especially if it's to "teach a lesson". That's a huge red flag for me, because it indicates that you aren't really connected to the teen experience. I also hate when authors say that they're hoping to make millions off this one book. I mean, that's great that you're now able to write full-time, but you're in for a rude awakening.

What's the story got to have to make you want to represent it?
VOICE! I can help work out the kinks in terms of anything else (plot, world building, etc.), but voice is intrinsic; it can't be taught. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Standard for Flashbacks?

This post is brought to you courtesy of Netflix and binge-watching. Specifically, the first season of Once Upon a Time.

With one of the most engaging, movie-like pilots I’ve seen in a long time, it took me until episode two to come to the realization that the storytelling device OUAT uses is that of flashbacks. Just like another of my all-time favorite TV shows: Lost.

When I noted the similarity, my husband gave me a nonverbal “duh.” My husband may be the biggest Lost fan on the planet. He will challenge you to a lightsaber duel if you dare criticize the show — yes, even the final season. So of course he knew that two of the writers from Lost are at the helm of Once Upon a Time. Hence the flashback structure is not mere coincidence nor the work of a copycat. It is a purposeful, and I think, masterfully done storytelling device.

Putting aside the other merits of both TV shows . . . wait, I actually don’t think you can put aside the other merits. Great casting, terrific acting, smart writing, clever spins, unique twists, they all contribute to making each show well executed. However, I contend without the flashback storytelling structure, none of those other merits would be delivered in such a way that would glue my bum to my couch night after night.

While there are many reasons why this structure works, for me, one soars above the rest. It is what I care most about in a TV show, movie, and book: character.

As a storytelling device in these television shows, flashbacks allow the characters to materialize slowly. Instead of being presented with stock, one-dimensional stereotypes, we get a snippet of each character at the beginning of each series. Then, if we are patient, we are rewarded with a full character profile in one episode. We viewers get an “origin story” for each character that populates the series. And at least in the case of Lost, that profile is expanded and built upon in subsequent episodes. Over time, we see a fully formed, complicated, multidimensional character. And we love these characters because of this, specifically because we understand them, their motivations, their wounds, and their wants. All things essential to understanding and caring about characters in the novels we write and read.

But this learning about a character’s past sounds eerily like an element of novel writing we writers are told to treat like the plague: backstory. And backstory told through flashbacks? I think all the writing teachers in all the land just fainted at the same time.

Am I living in my own fairy tale to believe this might be a double standard? Is there a reason why flashbacks and backstory make for great TV but mediocre books? Or is that assumption itself incorrect? What do you think?

Disclaimer: The fact that I recently vacationed with one of the stars of Once Upon a Time — who coincidentally was also on Lost — has no bearing on my love of either show. Right, and by vacationed “with” I mean “was at the same resort at the same time.” Hey, we had the same fruit plate for breakfast.

Lori Goldstein is the author of Becoming Jinn (now available for preorder; Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, May 12, 2015, sequel, Spring 2016). With a degree in journalism and more than 10 years of experience, Lori is a freelance copyeditor and manuscript consultant for all genres. She focuses on the nitty-gritty, letting writers focus on the writing.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book To Movie--The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry is probably one of my mostest favoritest booksies EVAR. Simple and short, but profound and moving, Lowry's dystopian world left an impression on me that I've not forgotten, even years after reading it.

When I saw the movie trailer, I almost SQUEED out loud in the theater. To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

Yet I'm also hesitant. The main character seems older than I remember (bringing back some trepidation I felt for the Ender's Game film), and while the cast is impressive, I'm not sure they fit the images I had in my mind. Some of the scenery doesn't really match what I remember either. (Guess I have a crappy memory, LOL!)

The whole thing has got me kind of nervous about seeing the movie version. I try not to compare the book to the movie (I find it leads to disappointment more than anything), so I hope I can keep an open mind when I roll up into the theater in a couple weeks.

So what say you? Do you like film adaptations of books, particularly your favorites? Do you tend to avoid those flicks, keeping the memory of the book pristine and untarnished, or do you seek out the movie as a bit of entertainment, a perusal of someone else's imagination bringing it to life?

For more info, check out the IMDb page for The Giver, and Lois Lowry's interview with The New York Times on her book becoming a film.

Happy reading and happy watching!

* * * *

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. She’s a lucid dreamer, meaning she can direct her dreams while they’re happening. When she’s awake, she pens stories from her dreams and shares them with her readers. Laura has many published titles including the Pride Series (New Pride, Shifting Pride, and Tsavo Pride), the Endure Series (Endure and Evoke), The Zodiac Collector, a novella Sunset Moon in the Lore anthology, and several shorts stories. When she’s not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion.

If you’re interested in reading more about me, or interacting with me on the web check out the following links:

Author Laura Diamond:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Forget Me Not

My amazing Alpha Reader, Stacey Nash, has a book birthday today! FORGET ME NOT is out now and it is one of the most gorgeous Speculative Fiction stories going around!
There's a great giveaway offer at the bottom of the post, so make sure you check it out. 
About Book One: 

Forget Me Not by Stacey Nash
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Published August 1st, 2014
Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true.
Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They’re not just jewellery, they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device – and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.
She’s forced to leave her father behind when she’s taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.

About Book Two: 

Remember Me by Stacey Nash
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Published October 1st, 2014
When all is lost, she must remember…

Anamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list.

After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache?

And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?
About the Author:
Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. When her head isn’t stuck in a fictional world, she calls the Hunter Valley of New South Wales home. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards, full of history and culture that all comes together to create an abundance of writing inspiration. Stacey loves nothing more than writing when inspiration strikes.

Pre-order buy links:

Chapter 1

It’s not getting any easier to tell my mother what’s happened, what she’s missed, what’s been going on in my life. It’s not getting any easier to survive each day without her. It’s not getting any easier to think of her and not cry. Elbow on my writing desk and chin cupped in my hand, I stare at the yellow notepaper. The lines across it are as empty as my pounding head. The spot where the tip of my favorite pen touches is marked by a growing dot, evidence that there are no right words.
It’s sure as heck not getting any easier.
Hoping to find inspiration, I glance at the photo waiting to be slipped into the envelope with this letter. Normally I put aside a nature shot for her, but this one’s a ‘selfie’ of me and Will. His sandy hair looks kind of messy the way it falls into his bright eyes, and his arm, resting over my shoulders so naturally, pulls us close together. Our grins say more than words ever can.
Twirling the pen between my fingers, I gaze out the window at the soft autumn afternoon and daydream about what to write. A distant clang like metal against metal sounds from outside. Will must be at it again. I shoot up, lean over the desk, and raise the window, letting a rush of warm air brush my face.
His jean clad legs stick out from under the hood of a beat-up car parked in their yard.
That car is like a full time job, he works on it so often now. He backs out and hoists a motor, or something, onto his shoulder, lifting like it weighs no more than his kid sister. He looks up, catches me watching him, and grins. I wave and, with a sigh, plonk back into the chair, dropping my gaze to the blank sheet in front of me. I really want to write her.
For nine years I’ve been writing these letters and placing them in my top drawer with a photo. It’s become a yearly tradition. At least if we ever find Mom, she’ll know what my life’s been like.
Nothing comes to me. None of the thoughts ambling through my mind are quite right, so I drop the pen, pinch my lips together, and tap my fingers on the desk in a sharp rhythm that cuts through my aching head. I need the right words.
I last saw her on an ordinary March school day the year I was eight. She packed my lunch, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and waved goodbye. I climbed into the bus. As she stood on the curb, she didn’t look happy or sad, scared or frightened—just the same as any other day.
Heaviness squeezes my chest and makes each inhalation of breath hurt. I’ve played that day back in my mind over and over, analyzed every detail: her wave, her smile, her words, her haunted look. Did she know it was goodbye?
Not knowing leaves a complete emptiness inside me. Knowing if she’s alive or dead, or why she hasn’t come back would make it so much easier. Especially since Dad barely mentions her anymore, and no matter how many times I turn her photos around, they continue to spin and face the wall. I guess it’s just too hard for him.
I shake my head in an effort to expel the memories, but it’s no use. The lines on the paper blur, my eyes slide shut, and it hurts too much. I can’t do this right now. Grabbing my camera off the desk, I slam the window shut and run down the stairs, shouting to Dad, “I’ll be back for dinner.”
“Wait. Can you grab milk?”
He walks out of the kitchen, a five dollar bill pinched between his fingers. I pluck it from his outstretched hand and turn to leave, but his hand closes over my shoulder, spinning me around. “Everything okay?”
I close my eyes and expel a long breath. He won’t want to hear it, so there’s no point sharing. “I miss her, too.”
He pulls me into his chest, and it’s too much. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I throw my arms around him, holding him as tight as I can while he runs hand over my head. “Sweetheart.”
I cling to him. “It’s just…”
“I know.”
He holds me for a long time, until my tears stop. When I pull away, I rub the telltale streaks from my cheeks, and shove the money in my pocket. “Milk, right?”
He nods, and I turn for the door. “Anamae,” he says, “I love you, kid.”
A weak smile raises my lips. “Love you, too.”
Outside, I head straight to the white picket fence separating our yard from Will’s. He’s been my best friend since he moved here in the sixth grade, and I’m so grateful his parents decided quiet suburbia was a better place to live than the inner city. slap my hands onto the flat tips and stretch over, calling, “Will.”
He peers around the corner of the house, and the sight of his smile is enough to rattle this awful mood.
“Sure. Two minutes.”
Fishing for weeds in the garden occupies the time while I wait. The Averys have the nicest yard on our street. A perfectly manicured lawn complete with stone statues and spiky plants in white pebble gardens. Will’s mom likes being fashionable and modern, obvious from the gravel now crunching under his feet. Appearances aren’t important. Sure it’s nice to look good, but it’s not the thing that matters most. That’s one of the things she just doesn’t get about me. I always wear faded jeans and comfy t-shirts, yet she constantly tries to dress me up. Make me look like a girl. Still, she’s been like a second mom to me. She even gave me The Talk. I just about died when I realized what was happening.
Will’s coming. “Hi, Mae.”
“Hey.” I grin. Love it when he shortens my name.
We stroll down our wide path and turn onto the next street. It’s only a few blocks from our street to a small cluster of shops. The short walk, fresh air, and Will’s banter help lighten my mood. The cafe comes into sight, and I grab his hand, dragging him across the road toward another storefront—an old shop. Aqua paint peels off the brick walls around huge glass windows, and two stories rise up above us. Like all the shops on this street, big tin awning slants out over the pavement, and a balcony juts out above. Albert’s Second-Hand Treasures emblazons a window spanning the shop’s front. Through the window piles of odd stuff are visible, cluttering the inside. According to the kids at school, it’s evidence the old man who owns the store is a little unhinged, which earns this place the nickname, Crazy Al’s. But to me, it’s far more than that. ‘Crazy Al’s’ been a part of my life almost as long Will.
“Bet you can’t find the weirdest one today,” I say.
Will raises his brows and shoots me a look that says ‘you’re insane.’ “Really, this old game? I thought you wanted to get coffee.”
“Oh, come on. I need some childish fun.” I lean in toward him an smile. “Bet you can’t win.”
I also need to see Al, not to talk… just see him. His grandfatherly ways might make me feel better.
I drag Will toward the front door, and all the while he shakes his head and scuffs his heels. “Okay, but loser buys coffee,” he finally says, “and cake.”
He pushes me through the door, making the bell overhead jingle. As he heads toward a large table in the far corner of the shop, a small smile crosses my lips. Glancing toward the counter, I stop at a long bench and paw through ancient yellowing books and old jewelry scattering it in a disorganized mess. I’ve no idea how Al even knows what’s here.
Al raises his white-grey frizzy-haired head from the newspaper sprawled on the glass counter. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he throws me a warm smile which somehow makes me feel a little better.
Running my hand over the ‘treasures,’ I stop at a ceramic owl perched amongst the clutter on the table. When I turn it over in my hand, chubby little claws grip the sides of a skateboard. I hold it up so Will can see it. “Check this out.”
“A skating owl?” Will laughs. “I can top that.”
He holds up book with the title Peanuts in Love. On the cover two peanuts hold hands, their cute little shell bodies in sea of pink hearts.
“Not good enough.” I scan the table looking for something better and spot a pile of old movies scattered over the next table. I move them aside one by one, looking for a good title. Sunlight dances across the table and glints off something shiny. A blue flower with a yellow center. My heart jumps, the only part of me still moving. It can’t be. Surely Dad didn’t pawn it or give it to Al. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. It can’t possibly have been made into something else.
small noise of surprise escapes my lax mouth, and a memory flashes into my mind: the pendant lying on Mom’s pillow the day she disappeared.
Will chuckles from the corner. I drag my gaze away from the flower brooch to see a bright pink pith hat sitting atop his sandy head. He eyes my open palm, which now holds the brooch. “You call that weird?”
I run my fingers over the cool glazed metal, and a lump grows in my throat. “It’s the same as the forget-me-not pendant Mom always wore.”
Not missing a beat, he raises his voice toward the back of the shop. “How much?”
Al pauses in his perusal of the paper, two fingertips touching his tongue as if to dampen them as he flicks page over. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he clears his throat.
“Gosh, lad, for that?” I hold up the brooch, and Al squints at it. “It’s for Mae?” He smiles at me.
“Yep.” Will pulls his wallet out, and empties the coins into his cupped hand.
“Nothing,” Al says, then flicks his gaze to me. “Tell your Dad poker’s on tomorrow night. All the boys are coming.”
I return his smile with a nod. “Sure thing, Al.”
“Take care, Mae.” He doesn’t mention today’s Mom’s anniversary—the day she disappeared, but he doesn’t have to. Even though he never knew her, I’ve always suspected it’s why he took me and Dad under his wing. Especially after Nan died; her death upended the last slither of normalcy we had.
“No refunds….” Al says.
“Without magic,” I chime in on his usual farewell. No wonder people think he’s crazy, since he’s always saying stupid things. A sign hangs on the wall above the counter mimicking his words. No refunds without magic.
We walk out the door, and the bell jingles. “You owe me cake,” Will says.
“I do not. The brooch won.”
“No way, the peanuts definitely—”
“The peanuts did not beat the skating owl,” I say, and we both laugh.
I want to go home. I want to go straight to mom’s pendant. I want to compare it to this brooch, but I promised Will cake and coffee. He’d understand, but it wouldn’t be fair after dragging him out here. Although it makes me a little impatient, I’ll wait.


After hanging out with Will, I climb the stairs into the rarely used, cold, dark attic. Goose bumps prickle my arms with each step. This place is so eerie. Holding my hand out, I grope around in the dark until it closes around the cord for the light switch. A sharp tug illuminates the room with a soft glow which highlights the dust floating in the air. Pressure grows in my nose, and I hold my breath to suppress a building sneeze.
A corner of the chest which holds all my mother’s most precious possessions peeks out from behind cardboard boxes. I need to see the pendant and make sure it hasn’t somehow been altered and made into this brooch. Something so precious to her can’t be lost. A wooden creaking noise makes me spin around so fast my neck kinks, but the entry is empty. Phew. If Dad catches me up here… don’t think about it. He won’t know, as long as the driveway stays empty of his car, I’m safe.
A tight knot grows in my chest, anyway. An image of Mom running her thumb over the charm she wore everyday lingers in my mind.
I ease open the lid of the chest. Love letters, a few small items of jewelry, and other precious odds and ends rest on top of a discolored wedding dress, as if every last item was placed in here with care. Dust and the smell of moth balls make my nose twitch and finally bring on the sneeze.
Blue fabric, the same color as the brooch, peeps out between a stack of old envelopes. I slide it out of the bunch with care and peel back the fabric, my fingers slipping on the soft, smooth silk. My breath catches at the sight of my mother’s pendant.
My memories of it remained unchanged by time. It’s exactly as I recall. Five blue petals come to a yellow center, creating the shape of a forget-me-not flower. The pendant hangs on a long chain with shiny, silver looped links.
The sight of it brings back so many memories. The only time I ever saw my parents fight… Mom shouted so loud I covered my ears, and Dad responded in a low emotionless voice. Young and scared, I hid in the curtains while she screamed. Her last words were punctuated by her yanking the pendant off and tossing it across the room. Dad scooped it up, crossed the room in long strides and pulled her to him. His fingers traced the edge of her face before he kissed her. He lowered the pendant over her head, and the angry lines on her face melted into a smile. It’s not exactly a good memory, but it was her.
Now, I find myself smiling, too. Surely he won’t mind if I wear it. Something so precious to her shouldn’t be left to rust in the attic. I’m almost certain she’d want me to have it, so I slide the pendant into my pocket with the brooch and pack the other contents of the box away.
Easing the door closed, I climb out of the attic and head to the bathroom to clean my dust-covered hands. Water rushes from the spout and splashes against the sides as the basin fills. A reflection of me stares back at me from the mirror, my dirty hand clutching my aching chest. Today everything feels so raw, open, and fresh, like it only just happened. She should still be here.
Rubbing my hands clean, I delve into my pocket for the jewelry. Bringing it to my collar, I pin the brooch into my blouse. The hard edges prick my skin. My thumb brushes over the smooth, round sides of the pendant and when I pull it over my head, the chain catches on my hair. After I twist it through the tangle so it finally falls cool against my skin, it nestles in the hollow of my throat. I pick it up between my fingers and with reverent slow strokes, rub my thumb over the shiny yellow center—the pendant Mom never took off.
A shiver shoots up my spine and out through my limbs like an electric current, zapping every cell, every fiber, every part of my being. Walking on graves, that’s what Mom would have said. Maybe it’s an omen about her.
I plant my palms on either side of the full basin and peer into the still water, taking a moment to collect my thoughts. The water reflects only the cream ceiling. That can’t be right. I do a double take.
My chest tightens. I hold my hand up, but I can’t see it—not my arm, not my chewed fingernails, not my leather watch on my wrist. Where am I? Mouth gaping, I look into the mirror again, but I see nothing.
Not even my face.
I dip my finger into the warm, reflection-free water. Circles ripple in ever growing rings, but there’s no image. My gaze flits to the mirror, but I see only the open door. I have no reflection.
My stomach flutters like a thousand butterflies are trying to escape it. I slap my palm onto my chest, and I can still feel me. I must be here. When I slide the pendant over my head, my reflection blinks onto the mirror. Huh? Pulling it back on, my hand brushes the cool metal. The ripple goes through me again. I look into the mirror, and once more my reflection’s gone.
I grab my hairbrush from the drawer and wave it around in the air, but its image isn’t cast in the mirror either. It has to be magic, but that’s only in fairytales. Will’s not going to believe this, not in a million years. I pull the pendant over my head and my reflection returns. No way. It can’t be, but it is. I’m almost certain it’s making me invisible, but how?
I put it on—invisible. Take it off—visible.
It doesn’t make any sense. How can something like this—like those video games Will plays—even exist? It must be a magical artifact or some kind of prank. My shoulders shake with a chuckle while I stare at myself in the mirror. This is unreal. I bet he’s gone right back to working on his car. He’ll love this. Ha! Now let’s see who found the weirdest treasure. I slide it back on and wipe my damp hands on my jeans. Watch out Will, I’m going to sneak up and scare the life right out of you.
A sharp rap, someone knocking on the front door, echoes up the stairs. I duck into my room, unpin the brooch, and place both forget-me-nots in the jewelry box on my dresser. The rap sounds again. “Coming.” I bound down the stairs, through the living room, and yank the door open.
A man in blue overalls carrying a toolbox holds a yellow box-like thing snug in his palm. “My name is Thomas. I’m from the East Coast Natural Gas Company. There’s been a gas leak reported in this area, so I need to check the levels in your home. It won’t take a minute.”
A green flame and fancy words, the logo for East Coast Natural Gas, are embroidered on his loose, navy overalls. He’s legit, so I unlock the screen and pull it open, letting him inside.
The man’s gaze meets mine as he walks past me, into the living room. He scratches his head of close-cropped dark hair, and moves his hand to his chin, rubbing it along the shadow of facial hair lining his jaw.
I scrape my palm across my forehead, suddenly recalling my recent vanishing act. He spoke first. I must be visible again. Phew.  I didn’t forget to take it off.
“Ignore the mess,” I say.
He holds the yellow gas meter out in front of him, his eyes never leaving the small flashing green light. He walks in straight lines across the living room. Crossing my arms over my chest, I tap my foot. Hurry up. I’ve got a neat trick to show off.
He nears the base of the stairs and the green light flicks to red. His pace quickens, and he strides up the steps two at a time. I rush up behind him. “What is it?”
The gas meter beeps when he reaches the top of the staircase. Coming upstairs seems kind of strange. I mean, surely gas leaks would have to be a kitchen thing. The beeping sets my teeth on edge, and I just want it to stop. Maybe there’s something wrong, but here in the upstairs hall?
“That doesn’t sound good,” I mutter.
“It means there is indeed…”
He twists, angling himself toward my open bedroom door, and his gaze locks on my dresser. The back of my neck prickles, a sure sign something about this just isn’t right. I step past him and pull the door closed, but he pushes me aside and slams it open. Panic shoots through me, but I’m fast enough to dart around him. Turning my shoulder and reaching for the box.
He lunges toward me, grabs me from behind, and his arm pins my neck to him with a shoulder crushing grip. He pushes me against the dresser, and the box falls open, its contents spilling across the top. Heart pounding, my throat burns with a scream. I’ve got to get him out of here. He must know about my pendant, the brooch. Dammit. I wriggle to escape his vice-like grip, but it’s no use—he’s too strong.
My hand darts toward the pendant. I snatch it, but he grabs my wrist. Adrenaline tries to pound my heart right out of its home in my chest. If only I can get the jewelry on, I might be able to make its magic work and hide.
“Tech breech confirmed,” he speaks into his collar in a matter-of-fact tone; then he turns his gaze to me. “Give me the pendant.”
There’s a tiny ripping sound, like Velcro torn open.
A young guy in a black leather jacket flickers into my bedroom. A sharp gasp leaves me. I can’t escape one attacker, let alone two.
Where the heck are these men coming from? I’m not going down without a fight, so I kick at my captor’s shins. The leather jacket guy wrenches the man’s grip from my shoulders and punches him square in the chin, knocking his head to the side. Shaking his head, the gas man stumbles backward.
The jacket guy raises his knee and drives a foot into the other man’s stomach. The straight, hard kick makes a loud thud and forces the dude to double over and curl in on himself. The leather jacket guy crouches and drives his fist straight up into the man’s chin. It knocks him flat on his back like a felled tree.
My chest rises and falls with my quickened breath. My heart thuds like booming drum.
The mysterious rescuer turns toward me, holding my gaze with intense, steady jade eyes. He grabs my assailant by the arm, and they both flicker out of my room.
My mind spins.
Legs, arms, body—I can’t move, but it doesn’t matter. Moving is the least of my worries.
Who were they, and what just happened? The meter seemed to lead him straight to Mom’s pendant. Gas man, my ass.
I clutch my head in an attempt to stop my mind spinning, but my hand slides off my sweaty forehead and falls against my tightened stomach. They might come back. The guy in the jacket…
What was that? The brooch, the pendant…my disappearing reflection. They wanted it. Damn.
Sweat trickles down my forehead and into my eyes. I wipe it away with a trembling hand. Questions hurtle through my mind, all jumbling together as they race faster and faster in my mind. Seconds, minutes, hours I don’t know, but a single thought emerges through the haze of my mind.