The Rise Tour!

The Rise Tour!

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How would you live if you knew the day you’d die? 

In a world where everyone has a Clock showing their day of death, Parvin Blackwater tries to find purpose in her last year alive.

But will she defy the authorities to find it?


Hello!

Good sunset, readers!
       I can’t believe we’ve come to the launch of the last book in the Out of Time series. This series has been so important to me, it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end. Has it really only been a year since I found these books in the first place?
Anyways, today I’ve got a couple fun things for you.

  1. Fan art! I’ve been working on this for a while, a piece by yours truly, inspired by my favorite series in the cosmos.
  2. “Why I Love the Out of Time series—a personal testimony.
  3. And last but not least, an author interview! I got some bizarre questions to Nadine Brandes, and she answered them epicly (which is completely a word).

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Technically it’s a video. But. I’m calling it fan art. I made this promo. *snods* Very awesome.

It’s not very long (though it took foh-ev-ah to make), but I hope you enjoy it. Here you go, Radicals!

 


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Like I said earlier, it’s hard to believe this is the last book in the series.

In a nutshell, the Out of Time series is the story about a girl in a dystopian world, who, in a struggle to find meaning and purpose in last year alive, gets caught up in a scheme which could change her world: for the better or the worse, time will tell.

I remember when I first heard of Nadine, she was editing A Time to Speak for Camp NaNoWriMo, I believe. My cabin mates invited her, and she came into our cabin, and I kept hearing about how wonderful her book was, but I didn’t actually look it up.

Actually, I never would have read A Time to Die in the first place if I hadn’t won it in a giveaway—it wasn’t until A Time to Speak was published that I broke my habit of not ever, ever buying books.

After I won the book, I looked up what it was. (Silly me.) All I knew about it was that Nadine wrote it and it was dystopian. I saw the synopsis, and thought, “Okay, this sounds pretty cool. I hope it’s good.”

And, oh, was it ever.

I don’t actually remember the first time I read A Time to Die. I’ve read it so many times that things blur. xP What I do remember is the aftermath.

A Time to Die is such a deep book. Honestly, I’d never read anything like it. Something was either well-written and not exactly Christian, or it was preachy and not very well done (sad, I know, but generally it’s true). AT2D was neither of these.

Honestly, when I read A Time to Die I was at a very stale place in my faith. I was a Christian, yes, and I was going to heaven when I died, but I didn’t really care. It wasn’t a big deal (again, silly me).
After I read A Time to Die, something changed. It wasn’t just the book, of course. We had just started going to a different church, which always shakes up my faith a little, but it was mostly A Time to Die.

I read the Bible in three months after I read A Time to Die.
I’m not saying this to boast. In fact, I’m ashamed to say I’d never read the whole Bible before then. But I wanted to know what was in there, so I read it. And you know what? It was pretty great. xP
A Time to Die shook up my faith and made me see what, exactly, I was doing, and I grew dramatically closer to GOD because of it.

A few months later, here comes the next book in the series, A Time to Speak. It was published. I was expectant.
By that time, I was a rabid fan of Nadine Brandes, not only because of what I’ve previously mentioned, but also because, have you read this thing? It’s amazing.

So here I am, pre-ordering a copy of a Time to Speak and getting involved with the launch. Me. As in, Faith Song, who never buys books, especially if she’s never read them. Who isn’t really a big fan of anything.

And you know what? I’ve never regretted it.

I got A Time to Speak in PDF form… I don’t even remember why. xP

And while I can’t remember reading A Time to Die for the first time, that is not the case with A Time to Speak. I remember full well staying up late, curled up with my tablet. I remember nearing the end and desperately hoping it wasn’t the end. I remember gripping the tablet with shaking hands and breathing hard while tears fell as I got to the end.

Call me sappy, but that’s how it happened. Have I ever mentioned I don’t actually cry over very many books?

In A Time to Die, Parvin relearns her faith, rethinks her life. Reconsiders what it is to be a Christian, who GOD is, who she is. In A Time to Speak, Parvin learns how to speak up for her faith. How to be strong even when she was weak, because it was GOD’s strength working through her. She learns how to be a leader.

That’s what I got out of the Out of Time series. I understand you might not see the same thing–in fact, I know several people who don’t like it nearly as much as I do. It was the perfect set of books for me, but you aren’t me.

But even if you don’t get as much out of it as I did, you’ll probably still like it, because it’s a good story with deep characters and high stakes.

What will A Time to Rise be about? I don’t know yet.

But I bet it’ll be radical.

 


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So, a while ago, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing the author, Nadine Brandes. And this wasn’t the typical interview, either. I tried to find the most bizarre questions (within reason) to ask her, including a few questions that are the type USUALLY asked of characters. There are a few playful questions in here, along with a couple serious ones. And this is what happened.

Welcome to my blog, Nadine! It’s FABULOUS to have you here.

Since this post is already getting a little long, I’ll just dive right into the questions.

Nadine : *rubs hands together* Let’s do this thing.

I have a couple of weird questions in here… Seems fair to warn you of that.

Nadine : Me likey weird questions!

Good. ^-^ If you were stuck on a jungle island, what would be the number one thing you would want to have with you?

Nadine: Part of me wants to name a book, but let’s think Survivor for a moment. I’d want a machete! Because that would let me chop firewood, kill little beasties to eat, and other stabby stuff. Maybe even use reflection to start a fire? Hm…maybe I should have gone with matches.

That’s an epic answer. xP

If you somehow fell into another universe and found that you were a character in a popular book series, what genre would you want your story to be?

Nadine: Fantasy all the way. This might surprise some people because my series is dystopian, but I am a finicky COWARD, people. I’d be doomed in a dystopian world. Besides, fantasy (particularly a fantasy England) just sounds so magical and wondrous…*happy sigh*

Now I’m imagining what sorts of magical powers you would have…

Nadine: All the good ones, of course. 😉 Healing. Flying. Growing stuff. Invisibility. (I’m not high-maintenance at ALL)

Sounds perfect. On a different subject, what is the grossest thing you have ever eaten/drank?

Nadine: Ugh. Okay, here goes: The grossest thing I’ve ever eaten is Black Pudding. And I think it was just a mental thing because it really didn’t taste all that bad. But I just couldn’t get over what it WAS. (For the curious, go look it up. Don’t ask me to…*gag*…tell you.)

Okay, so I’ve never had black pudding, but I do know what it is… Blech.

Nadine: The grossest thing I’ve ever drank was when I was in college. I was in the habit of buying little to-go smoothies for a snack when hanging out on campus. One day, I grabbed my half-finished smoothie by my computer, but it ended up being WEEKS old. It was the wrong smoothie. I almost died. Probably literally.

o.o

Nadine: That probably reveals way too much about what sort of messy college student I was.

Very likely.

What’s your first memory? If you don’t know, just say an early memory and we’ll pretend. XP

Nadine: Ooh, I love this one because I have a good answer! My earliest memory is being taken to the movie theater on my 5th or 6th birthday to watch the original Beauty and the Beast Disney cartoon. That’s probably why I love adventure and books so much…and why I’m terrified of wolves. O.o

Ooh. That’s a good first memory. ^-^

Who is your role model, or who do you consider a hero?

Nadine: Okay, maybe this will sound cliche, but one of my role models is J. K. Rowling. Not because she’s famous, but because she wrote from her heart and that rebooted the world of children’s literature. It got an entire generation reading again. Then she used her fame to found charities that are saving and changing lives. But even beyond that, she kept writing …because she’s passionate about storytelling. She wrote crime novels that people may or may not love, but she kept writing them because she is a storyteller. And stories need to be freed. I just think she has a beautiful soul and handles fame in a way that inspires me to write more and dig deeper into the craft.

This is a hard question to answer, because I have many other role models who have been spiritual leaders and turned my life and writing completely around. But I’ve admired J. K. Rowling since I was a young teen when the first Harry Potter book came out, and I’ve got to credit her for infusing the passion of fantasy in my heart.

And I think we’re all grateful for anyone who lead to you starting to write. 😛

Here’s a question normally asked in character interviews, but I’m being weird today, so it fits right in. Who would you die for? And alternately, is there anyone, and in what situation, that you would kill for?

Nadine: Wow. You don’t pull any punches. 😉 Assuming I would have time to actually make a logical decision, I will always die for my husband, or my family, or any of my nieces or nephews or dear friends. Maybe that’s too broad, but it’s true. I adore the people God has put in my life and would do anything to keep them changing this world even a day longer.

I certainly do not. xP Have to have a couple deep questions in here, eh?

Nadine: The second question is, obviously, much harder. I don’t know that I could kill for anyone, even in self-defense. Because I don’t have the right to take a life, no matter whose it is or what they’re doing. But if the situation was that someone was threatening other people–strangers even–or a mass shooting of sorts, I would probably kill in that situation if it would result in saving other lives and if it was a last resort. Phew! This question… O.o

That’s actually very similar to my answer to that question, actually.

So, I recently found your blog post on how you met your husband (which is sooo sweet, by the way), but I could not find anything about your wedding. So I was wondering, though it might take a little while, if you would tell us, if in brief, about your wedding day.

Nadine: *girlish squeal* Are you saying I need to write a blog post about our wedding? 😛 *must….resist….*

Okay, our wedding day WAS MAGICAL. There had been a fresh snowfall the day before, but our wedding day was clear and almost warm. The wedding would be in a little stone church in the 300-person town where I grew up.

I woke up and met my soon-to-be-hubby early to pray over the day. Then I didn’t see him again until he was waiting at the altar. Next I prayed with my parents and then me and my girls went to get hair and makeup done. When finished, we had to keep sneaking around the church so hubby wouldn’t see me. *giggle* Photos were taken, and then I got all dressed up. I could wear that wedding dress every day, let me tell you. It’s SO COMFY. Only now it doesn’t fit anymore. But we don’t talk about that. *ahem*

My close friends and family came in to my little bride room and we all prayed (and cried…happily.) It was so special. Then my daddy escorted me to the closed double doors. The attendees and MY MAN were on the other side. I was so nervous and my dad was tearing up (which IS THE SWEETEST THING EVER.)

The doors opened and my uncle was playing on his guitar for the ceremony music. The first people I saw were two friends who had flown all the way across the country to surprise me for my wedding. That was the first time I saw them. I totally lost it.

Then I turned the corner and saw hubby and we were both so nervous and excited and giddy that it’s pretty much fuzzy after that moment. LOL. His best friend did the intro, and then my dad (a pastor) did the ceremony.

Afterward, we left in a horse and sleigh that hubby had spent weeks learning how to drive! We went over hills and through the woods, just like the song. LOL. Straight from the little steepled church to my parent’s house where we squealed and got ready for the reception.

And I’ll stop there, because this is turning into a novel. 😛

Aaaaawwww. ^-^ You should totally do a blog post on this. XD

I’m sitting here grinning like a romantic fool. 😛

One last question, which I just wanted to know the answer to. Which of Wilbur Sherrod’s suits would you most like to have, and why?

Nadine: *considers the blog post* Okay, the Wilbur Sherrod suit that I would want the most is Inkling. It’s mentioned briefly in book one and Parvin goes into a simulation with it. It stimulates the creative and brainstorming part of one’s brain. And can you imagine the story ideas I would end up with?!

 

That’s the same one I would want! 😀 For the same reason, even.

Well… Thanks for coming to be interviewed. ^-^ It was awesome.

Nadine: Thank you so much for having me! This was so fun! 😀

It was. ^-^ Anything else you want to say to my blog readers?

Nadine: Firstly, thanks for letting me come be a dork with you. 🙂 And secondly, I pray that each of you strives to be a bringer of shalom. We CAN usher this world closer to the way God intended things to be. Your voice, your actions, and your creativity have power. ❤

What else am I here for? xD *hugs* Thanks for being an awesome person, Nadine.

 




Update: I just got A Time to Rise in the mail. I. Can’t. Breathe. *can’t stop grinning*

Not only do I get to read the epicness, NADINE ALSO PUT ME IN THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS! O.O Really. o.o Look:img_20161003_154105


*FREAKS OUT* ISN’T THAT AMAZING?



So, ready to go read Out of Time? (Hint: The correct answer is YES!)


 

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#Blogbattle 72 — Vampire

#Blogbattle 72 — Vampire

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So, I missed a week. I could not for the life of me figure out how to incorporate the word “sacrilege” into this story… But I’m back! Unlike last time I participated, I wrote this very early on in the week.

Also, fairly soon I’ll have a post which isn’t #BlogBattle, but for now, here’s another Menagerie installment. ^-^ Enjoy!


 

Netra’s first impulse was to go on the defensive. This eagle person was invading her mind and somehow talking to her where only she could hear.

Then disbelief. The Eagle had built this burning wall?

And distrust. Is he working for the Keeper?

The Eagle broke gaze and looked away, toward the forest. He hadn’t actually looked at the wall the entire time they were by it.

“I’m not working for the Keeper.” His voice said, in her mind, “But… I did, once,” he said, “I’m sorry.”

Netra was not entirely sure what he was apologizing for: working for the Keeper, or not working for him. Or talking in her head?

Altogether, Netra wasn’t sure what to think of the Eagle, but looking at the scar twisting up his arm, and her own throbbing palm, it made sense. And if he could speak in her mind, it was possible he had other strange abilities, too. Netra had read stories about this sort of person.

Slowly, she focused, and thought a question toward him as hard as she could. What does the Keeper want with us?

The Eagle flinched. Flinched. What had she said? Maybe it was the intensity of her thought.

“It’s… Complicated.”

Netra growled. Does that mean you won’t tell me?

“Guys.” Hazel said, bringing Netra’s attention to her, “We’ve got company.”

The Eagle’s head snapped up, and Netra had a brief fear that the Keeper was approaching.

Instead, it was a reddish-brown haired young man, probably a few years older than the Eagle, maybe nineteen or twenty.

Netra squinted, watching him duck out of the trees, but the wind was wrong for her to be able to smell much about him.

“Hey, you guys.” He said, flicking his hair from his eyes. “Trying to escape, are we?”

The Eagle was visibly more tense than he had been a few moments ago, and Hazel was rolling her eyes.

Netra raised her eyebrows.

He looked at her. “Oh, you’re new, aren’t you?”

As he stepped closer, Netra finally caught his scent, and honestly, it didn’t surprise her.

A cat.

“My name is Martin,” he said, dropping to one knee in front of her with a weird half-smile, “At your service, beautiful. And you are?”

Netra was beginning to understand The Eagle’s hostility. Mute and not interested in talking with you anyway, cat.

The Eagle smiled wryly, obviously having heard her thought.

Netra frowned at him. Get out of my head.

He averted his gaze, a frown inching back in.

“She can’t talk.” Hazel broke in, “But her name is Netra.”

“Ah, Netra.” Martin said, as if savoring the name for a moment. Then his tone changed to conversational, and he stood. “Nice. I’m in the next room over from you, and might I say I’m impressed with your level of fight. Won’t take long to get rid of it, but it’s valiant while it lasts, eh?”

Netra growled.

Martin took a step back, grinning and raising his hands. “Hey, hey, back off, wolf. I didn’t mean any harm.”

He glanced over toward the Eagle and his expression shifted, just the tiniest bit. It was hard to tell with a cat, but Netra was fairly certain he didn’t particularly like the Eagle.

“How’s it going, man?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. “Still learning to fly again, eh?”

Netra was beginning to dislike this cat more and more every time he spoke. The Eagle’s wings being clipped was a terrible thing, and making fun of it was probably one of the worst things the cat could say.

Netra suddenly felt very protective of the Eagle, though she couldn’t say why. If what he said was true, he was the one keeping them in here. Why should she even care?

The Eagle’s expression was dark. “I’m doing just fine, thank you.” He said tersely. “Don’t you have someone else to bother?”

Martin made an expression of mock pain. “You wound me, Eagle. What have I ever done to you?”

Instead of answering, the Eagle turned away.

Martin tsked. “Sorry about that, ladies. The bird and I have our disagreements. Sort of a wall between us, you know?”

Netra’s gaze darted toward the wall beside her. Martin knew that the Eagle had built it. Probably knew more than Netra did, but there was no way she could get more information out of him.

First of all, he was a cat, and so he wouldn’t volunteer information. Secondly, Netra had no way to ask him, because there was no way that he would know her sign language, any more than Hazel or the Eagle would.

Martin cocked his head at her, raising his eyebrows. “You’re pretty high in the rankings, aren’t you?”

Netra frowned at him. What did he know of pack rankings?

“I’m going to guess Gamma.” He paused. “Too high? Delta, then.”

Apparently he knew at least some. Netra nodded a little bit, slowly.

He inclined his head in a half-bow, raising his hands, and rapidly signed a phrase. “You outrank me, Delta.”

Netra’s eyes widened. How could a cat know the hand language of a wolf clan?

“How do you know sign?” She signed back, her brow furrowing.

He grinned, mildly triumphant. “We cats have our ways.”

Hazel was staring at them with a weird expression. “What are you doing…?”

Martin turned toward Hazel. “Talking, sweet lady. What are you doing?”

Hazel blushed a little bit. “Uh. Watching you.”

So apparently she fell for his fake charm. Lovely.

Netra frowned at Martin. “Can you tell me why the Keeper is keeping us here?”

He smirked. “Because he’s a Keeper. It’s his job.”

Netra waited.

Martin shrugged off his joke with another wry smile. “He’s sucking out your energy. Like a vampire or something. We shifters have more energy than most, so he gets it from us.” He glanced toward the Eagle. “With a little help.”

So the Eagle was still helping the Keeper.

Martin must have seen her expression darken, because his expression shifted a little, though he never dropped his smile. “Aye. You know, don’t you?” He said aloud.

Netra hesitated. She knew part of it, but if there was more, it would be a good thing to know.

She started to answer, but the Eagle turned back. “Get lost, cat. You’ve made your point.”

Martin gave him a mildly condescending smile. “I was just leaving anyway.”

He turned to Netra. “I’m sorry.” He signed, raising his eyebrows.

“Sorry for what?”

He walked backward toward the woods. “Sorry you have to share a room with the mini-Keeper.”

Then he turned, shifting into a sleek reddish panther, and darted away. Netra barely had enough time to wonder if he was afraid of the Eagle before Hazel stepped in front of her, talking.

“You can talk with your hands? That’s so cool!”

Netra turned her gaze on the Eagle instead. Take it down. She thought, fiercely.

He pursed his lips, obviously knowing what she was referring to, and glanced after Martin. “I can’t.”

You made it, take it down!

He looked at her, and she drew back. There was something… something in his eyes that reminded her of the Keeper. Something she couldn’t place, but it scared her.

Netra, forth from the top in her pack, was scared of a bird.

That wouldn’t do.

She couldn’t stay here, as a prisoner. It would drive her mad. And the Eagle, whether he was currently working with the Keeper or not, could let her get out. Why wouldn’t he? Was he scared of the Keeper stopping them?

Netra growled. She had to get out. Let me out, she thought, or I’ll make you.

The Eagle met her gaze, and there was a flicker of anger. “Try.”

Netra shifted to wolf form, crouching. Was he challenging her?

“Netra, what are you doing?” Hazel asked, her voice nervous.

Would you like to reconsider that? Netra asked, glaring at the Eagle.

He turned away. “I’m not letting you out, Netra.”

Netra sprang. The Eagle pivoted, his wings flaring behind him, and sharp pain shot through Netra’s mind.

She fell hard against the ground where the Eagle had been before he stepped back. Her muscles were weak, and her head was pounding with dark, hot pain. She struggled to draw in a breath.

Someone was pulling her up. “What were you thinking, Derek?” Martin’s voice shouted, a bit distant.

Netra curled into a ball, squeezing her eyes shut as every fiber of her body hummed with pain.

“Netra?” Hazel called. “Netra!

Netra took a deep breath and remembered the Keeper.

“This,” he had said, “Is what will happen if you disobey. Do you understand me, wolf?”

Unconsciousness was closing in, and Netra realized she was being carried.

“You’re an idiot, Derek.” Martin said from somewhere above her.

Netra had just enough time to wonder who this Derek was, and then blackness took over.

#BlogBattle 70 — Derelict

#BlogBattle 70 — Derelict

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Hi, y’all! If you are terribly unobservant, you didn’t notice that I’m doing the #BlogBattle again. But since you aren’t, I won’t mention it (shh).

Maybe it’s getting monotonous seeing battle after battle on here, with no posts in between… I need to find something else to do, as well, but for now, another blogbattle post awaits! This week’s was difficult. In fact, I didn’t even start writing it until Saturday, so it’s probably not very good. HOWEVER. I had to write it, because I made the picture for the post, and I loved it, so I couldn’t let it go to waste. xP

I don’t know if I’ll continue with this story in future weeks, or even if I’ll continue doing it weekly (I didn’t expect to when I started), but I think I’ll try to bring this story to a close if I’m going to abandon it. xP

So, well, here y’go.


 

Derelict

 

An eagle’s wings are his pride. Not only that, they are, generally speaking, the way he can escape from danger.

Derek had learned long ago that this was not true for an eagle in captivity. He could try all he could to escape, but his wings weren’t of much use to him in this state.

The wolf—Netra— was staring at him as if she expected him to fly her out of here, or fight to the death. Apparently she didn’t understand much about the menagerie.

Derek averted his gaze, and Netra grabbed his arm, with an expression that said, “you’re not backing out now.

Oh, the wolfish determination.

Hazel was standing nearby, with a cocked head and a worried expression.

Derek could barely believe that the child had stood up to the Keeper. Especially after what had happened with Arthur.

Shaking his head, Derek pulled away from Netra. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll show you what’s keeping us in.”

He folded his wings back and headed toward the trees.

Unbelievably, his spirits lifted as he walked. Maybe it was the scent of the fresh grass, or the way the trees danced in the slight breeze. He could almost, if he tried, think he was free.

After a few minutes, he realized that Hazel was following them.

He turned back, raising his eyebrows. “What are you doing?”

Hazel flashed her easy smile. “Following you. You’re going to try and get out, aren’t you?”

Derek hesitated. Netra seemed to think so. There were a few others they might meet in the woods who might join, though most of them knew how impossible it was.

He shrugged, gesturing toward Netra wordlessly, and started to turn away.

Hazel shifted into her reptilian form, sitting up with her ears perked. “I’m in.”

Derek froze. “You’re—”

Hazel snorted a puff of smoke. “We can try. Keeper won’t know unless we succeed, right?”

He hadn’t thought of that.

Shaking his head and trying to ignore the wry smile creeping into his expression, he turned and continued. Netra followed along like an obedient dog, but every ounce of her being was focused, in a smooth way. What was she, an aristocratic hunter?

Maybe. Who knew where she came from, since she couldn’t tell him.

Pausing just under the shade of the trees, he glanced back. Well. She could, but not without a bit of effort from him.

Derek shook his head and gestured forward. “There we go.”

Netra moved forward, pushing dark hair out of equally dark eyes, and squinted up at the wall.

Derek knew what she was seeing, even though he didn’t look. It was a tall but broken down wall, sagging as if it had been abandoned.

Derelict. The word entered his mind and immediately made him cringe. It was what the Keeper had called him when they first met. “Aren’t you a little derelict, eagle?”

He shook his head, shaking off the memory, and met Netra’s skeptical gaze. She gestured over his shoulder.

Derek folded his wings closer behind him, taking a deep breath.

Hazel stepped forward, no doubt to explain, but Derek waved her off with one hand. She didn’t look happy, but she obeyed.

A moment passed in silence, and then Derek spread one wing, running his fingers along the feathers at the edge.

“They’re clipped.” He said simply.

Netra’s whole body tensed, as if she was suddenly angry. She met his gaze, eyes burning brighter than Hazel’s fire.

“It’s not permanent.” Derek said. “Only the feathers are cut, not the actual wing, but the Keeper does it regularly. If he only didn’t do it for a few months…” He trailed off, giving her a sad smile. Maybe she saw now that they couldn’t get out.

Spinning on her heel, she marched toward the wall, reaching to climb on the uneven stone.

His breath catching in his throat, he let a moment pass. Maybe…?

Then he grabbed her wrist, pulling her back. “Don’t touch it.” He said softly. “It’ll burn—”

She glared at him.

What? He had just saved her from pain worse than the Keeper’s drain. Why was she mad?

Netra jerked her hand away, growling, and reached for the wall.

Derek’s breath hitched.

An instant before she touched it, there was a spark, and she was thrown backward, crashing against the ground.

She instantly curled into a fetal position.

Hazel reached her before Derek did, grabbing her unburned hand. “Netra!”

Derek crouched beside her. “She’ll be fine,” he murmured, “in a little while.”

Netra found her breath and pulled in a ragged gasp, hugging her hand to her chest.

Derek pushed Hazel’s hand away from Netra. “Leave her alone for a moment.”

After a second, Netra pushed herself up into a sitting position. Black dirt stuck to her clothes.

She looked at him, jaw set and tears gathering in her eyes.

He took a deep breath, standing, and held out a hand to help her to her feet. She hesitated, then took it, tossing her short hair out of her face as she stood.

“I’m sorry.” Derek said. “I tried to warn you.”

She uncurled her fist, examining the burn, then looked up at him, eyes widening.

Derek shrugged a little bit. “I know.”

Hazel swished her tail through the grass. “You know what?”

She shifted to girl form, standing on her tiptoes to peer at the instant scar on Netra’s palm.

Her gaze darted to Derek’s own scar, which curled up his arm quite unlike the flat scar Netra now had, but somehow the same.

They probably thought he had tried to escape through the wall.

“Let’s get back to the menagerie.” Derek said, turning away.

Netra didn’t follow, but instead shifted and crouched, staring intently at the wall.

Derek growled under his breath, feeling more like an animal than ever. “Netra, you’re going to kill yourself if you jump at that. You can’t get through it.”

She glared at him, challenging him. He slowly inched in on her thoughts. “How does he know?” Her thoughts challenged.

Derek glanced at Hazel, who was giving the wall a distrustful, mildly frightened look. Derek did not want her looking at him like that, but Netra needed to know, or she might just try jumping.

“I know.” He said, softly.

She didn’t break gaze.

Derek focused, entering her thoughts again, and projected his own.

“I know,” he thought, “because I built it.”


(As a side note, check out Katie Grace’s blog! She’s doing a giveaway for her blog anniversary!

 

#BlogBattle 69 — “Hazel”

#BlogBattle 69 — “Hazel”

Hazel2.png

Good morning (or whenever), folks! I’m participating in Rachael Richley’s #BlogBattle again, and since I got the idea for another installment of the same fantasy story I did last time, I’ve continued it. You can find the first part by clicking the “#BlogBattle” category at the top of this post.

It’s less edited than last time, because I wasn’t quite as prepared, and finished late, but… Enjoy!


 

Hazel

 

The sunshine was bright and inviting, and a light breeze brushed across Hazel’s scales.

At least, she imagined it did. It always made waiting easier, so she closed her eyes and imagined as hard as she could. She had gotten pretty good at it.

Hazel pressed up against the bars, flicking the tip of her tail back and forth against her palms.

In a few minutes, she knew, the Keeper would unlock the enclosures, and she could get out. It was what happened, and Hazel always knew when to expect it, even though the sky was blocked out and she couldn’t tell the time. Somehow she always anticipated it.

Hazel glanced over at the wolf in the second to next cage, avoiding the sight of the empty cage between them.

The girl was crouched with her back to the bars, watching the door as if it was going to jump out and attack her.

Hazel tilted her head to the side, squinting, and then dropped to the ground and wriggled through the bars.

The wolf-girl heard her before she got there, and started, turning toward her. Her eyes widened.

“I know.” Hazel said, stopping just outside the bars. “I’m outta my cage.”

The girl’s eyes darted toward the Hazel’s cage.

“Nope. It’s not unlocked. I can fit through the bars. I’m like a mouse or something. Liiiittle tiny space, but I can get through.” She grinned. “Keeper hasn’t figured out yet.”

She girl was silent, but her eyes asked a question.

Hazel shrugged. “I can’t get outta the building. No spaces.” She paused. “’Sides, Keeper’d catch me again.” She took a small breath. “You’re mute, right?”

The wolf-in-girl-form nodded, cocking her head a bit.

Hazel grinned. “I was listening in on you and the Eagle. Couldn’t hear it all, but I heard that. Can you write?”

The girl nodded slowly, glancing around as if she expected to find a paper and pen lying around.

Hazel darted back to her cage and wriggled through again, rifled through her blankets, and was back in a few seconds, in girl form, with a stick of charcoal. She passed it through the bars. “Don’t break it. Took forever to get some wood to make it.”

The girl raised her eyebrows, scooting over to the charcoal and picking it up gingerly.

“To write your name.” Hazel said, “Because I’m not calling you Wolf. The Eagle’s bad enough, not telling anyone his name.”

The girl cast a quizzical look toward the Eagle, then leaned over and wrote in large, jagged letters, “Netra.”

“Ooooh.” Hazel said. “That’s a pretty name. Mine’s Hazel, even though I’m—” She stopped, straightening. Was that a noise from outside?

Hazel snatched the charcoal back, earning a snarl from Netra at her quick motion, and darted back toward her cage, barely managing to get back inside and stow the charcoal before the door opened.

She ducked her head, rubbing the black marks off her fingers and onto her blanket, and then looked up at the Keeper, ignoring Netra’s snarl.

The Keeper was a tall man in a grey coat, with dusty-gold hair and grey-blue eyes. If it weren’t for the memory of pain in the back of Hazel’s mind, and the empty cell to one side, she might have thought him dashing.

He was silent as he walked through the cages, glancing at each occupant with expressionless eyes.

Hazel stared back at him, not crouching in an almost-cower like Netra, but also not hissing like Arthur had. She just sat.

Keeper glanced over at her, and nodded the tiniest bit, almost in approval. Hazel couldn’t explain why that made a thrill go through her, but it did. Was he proud of her?

Keeper walked over to the door and opened it, letting shafts of sunlight dance on the dust motes.

Hazel stood, walking over to the gate of her cage in girl form. She didn’t touch it, though; it had burned her once, when the Keeper was there.

The gate unlatched, and then soundlessly swung open. Hazel glanced up at the Keeper, and then darted through, running at full-tilt toward the open door.

The outdoors were an explosion of color compared to the indoors. Yellow wildflowers, reddish dirt, grey rocks, brown tree trunks, and green, green, green.

Hazel dropped to the ground, cross-legged, and looked back at the door. She could see Netra’s enclosure through the opening, and though Eagle passed, and Hazel knew people were being let out from other rooms, Netra’s cage door remained shut, prompting Netra to growl.

There was a sinking feeling growing in Hazel’s gut. Netra had displeased the Keeper, so she wouldn’t be let out today.

Hopefully she wouldn’t continue growling and being defensive like that, or she’d eventually attack him, and then…

Hazel shivered, shaking her head. She wouldn’t think about that. It was best to not remember at all.

But try as she might, she couldn’t forget. Maybe she should have tried to protect Arthur, but it had happened so fast…

Maybe it would always happen that fast.

Hazel clenched her jaw, stood, and marched back into the room, planting herself in front of Netra’s cage—mostly because she couldn’t bring herself to get any nearer to the Keeper.

His eyebrows rose.

“I want Netra to come with me.” She said, her voice coming out much meeker than she’d anticipated.

“The wolf?” Keeper asked, tilting his head. Hazel froze. Surely something so small couldn’t get them in trouble, right? Hazel wasn’t attacking Keeper or anything.

“Why would you want that?”

Hazel paused. Why did she want that? Was it worth disappointing the Keeper?

Something brushed Hazel’s hand, and she jerked forward, snorting in surprise and tasting fire. She turned and looked back at Netra.

Netra was looking at Hazel with an intense stare that made a shiver run through her.

She chewed the edge of her lip, turning back to Keeper.

“Because we’re friends, and I don’t want her to have to stay in here. And she’ll stop growling if she can come outside, right, Netra?”

Netra ducked her head, nodding.

Hazel turned back to Keeper to find him crouching in front of her. She flinched back automatically.

“Alright. You get your way, dragoness.” He said, “She can come out.”

Dull pain briefly coursed through Hazel’s head. A threat?

Keeper stood, half-smiling as Netra’s cage door opened.

“You have an hour.” He said, for Netra’s benefit, most likely, since Hazel knew that.

Hazel breathed in, rubbing her tongue along the roof of her mouth and still tasting soot from her accidental burst of flame.

She was Keeper’s most valuable person in the whole menagerie, she was fairly certain, but would that change if she stood up to him? She wasn’t strong enough to actually fight him; she wasn’t sure anyone was.

Hazel didn’t really understand what would make the Keeper angry. Maybe she would when she was older than ten. But she wasn’t about to make him really get angry.

At least Netra was allowed outside.

Hazel hunched her shoulders and followed Netra out into the yard, letting the wind brush her skin, but ducking into the shade cast by the wall.

Netra gave her a small, grateful smile, then turned to Eagle, her mouth pressing into a determined line.

Hazel moved over to her, brushing her hands along the tops of the grass.

Netra looked at her, and Hazel froze.

There was that intensity again.

Maybe it was dragon’s intuition, but Hazel was pretty sure Netra was going to make the Keeper angry.

#BlogBattle 68 — “Menagerie”

#BlogBattle 68 — “Menagerie”

Menagerie

Shalom, haverim! Today I’m participating in the weekly #BlogBattle writing challenge, where the host, Rachael Ritchley, gives a randomly chosen one-word prompt, every week. I’ve been following along for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve actually participated, with the word, “Menagerie.” I combined this with another prompt I received somewhere else, “Broken.”

A lot of the BlogBattlers participate weekly, which I most likely will not do as that might be overwhemingly often, but we shall see if I participate again after this.

Aaaanyways. Without further ado, my fantasy flash fiction piece,

Menagerie

A rustle of feathers.

Netra opened her eyes, slowly uncurling from her place at the back of the enclosure.

The Eagle was awake in the next cage.

Folding her ears back, she moved over to the bars, glancing around quickly. The Keeper wasn’t around. Good.

Netra stopped beside the bars, letting out a low whistle to get the Eagle’s attention.

The man looked up, his wings folding down even as his eyebrows raised.

He probably thought she was threatening him. Genius.

“You’re new.” He said, his voice low.

Netra hesitated before nodding. It felt like she had been here for a very long time, but she realized, now that she thought about it, she had probably only been here for a few days.

Eagle nodded, giving her a wry smile which was much more condescending than Netra would have liked. “Welcome to the menagerie.”

Menagerie. So that was the name of this place.

“They were faster than you, mm?”

Netra sat down, crossing her legs, and shrugged.

“Got a family?” Eagle asked, moving over toward the bars that separated them.

She nodded, almost imperceptibly. She had a pack, or at least she had before she came here. Who knew what the Keeper had done with them. If Netra wasn’t fast enough, there was no way they could be.

“Cubs?”

Netra straightened, eyebrows shooting up. Did she look old enough to have cubs?

Eagle dropped into a crouch. “Okay, then. No cubs.”

Netra sighed, frustration edging in. This bird was hopeless. Did he even care that they were trapped here, in cages, no less?

“… Can you… Not speak?” Eagle asked, his voice oddly subdued.

Netra wasn’t sure how to answer the question, when it was phrased like that. She shook her head.

Eagle gave a nervous laugh. “Was that no you can, or no you can’t?”

Netra just looked at him.

He cleared his throat. “Can you speak?”

Netra shook her head, once, abruptly.

“Ah. Well. I’m sorry.”

Netra shrugged, glancing around.

There were cages lining the walls, but the one on the other side of Netra’s was empty. She could see some kind of small scaly animal past that.

“So… If you can’t introduce yourself, what am I supposed to call you? Wolf?”

Netra was somewhat amused that he had chosen that, when she was mentally calling him Eagle.

She shrugged again, studying the bars. She hadn’t gotten much of a chance to study her enclosure in the past few days—or was it weeks?—that she had been here, with the Keeper there. He was always there. She wondered why he wasn’t there now.

“If you’re looking for the Keeper, he’s not here.”

Netra shot him a glare. She could tell that much.

“He’s only constantly here when there’s a new person coming in. He had to break you.”

Netra lay down on her back. She only remembered snatches of what went on. She knew for certain, though, that the Keeper was dangerous, and he was alpha around here.

Netra was not an alpha. She had never been an alpha, and in her pack, probably never would be. Not with the competition.

But here… A delta was high enough to challenge the alpha.

Netra looked over at Eagle, and he looked back.

Eagle wasn’t broken. He didn’t seem like it, anyway.

Netra wasn’t broken. The Keeper may have tried to break her to the menagerie, but she was stronger than he thought. It took more than a few days to break a wolf.

Netra took her wolf form, pacing around the cage until she came to the door. Locked, of course.

“Wait, Wolf. I know what you’re thinking, and it won’t work. He’s too strong.”

Netra gave him such a glare that he faltered. Was he broken, really?

“You’re strong,” Eagle said, “I can tell. But he’s too strong right now. You know how I know?”

She tilted her head at him. He lifted his arm to show a long scar. “I had to be broken more forcefully than most, not counting you. I took longer, though.” He paused, “Though I guess you weren’t broken, were you?”

Netra remembered the fear. Maybe she had been broken. She had woken up in a cowering stance.

But whatever had happened, she wasn’t broken now. She knew it.

Wolf.” Eagle’s fierce tone caught her attention. She looked over at him.

“Wait, for a little while. We’re let out into the yard once a day. If you’re in, we can try and get out then. A few others will join. Okay?”

Netra growled. It wasn’t like her to wait. She didn’t like it. But if it would get her out of the menagerie, shouldn’t she go along with Eagle?

She turned toward him and nodded. She could wait.

But tomorrow, they would get out.

Netra was a delta—she wasn’t broken.

A Time to Rise COVER REVEAL!

A Time to Rise COVER REVEAL!

Aaaaah, people!

IT. IS. TIME!

If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you’ll know that Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time series is my favorite book series ever, in all the cosmos.

Well, today I have the enormous pleasure of participating in the cover reveal for the third and last (I won’t think about that) book in the trilogy.

And. I saw it. And. WOW. It’s such a lovely cover! I’ll show it in a moment, but stick around afterward for a giveaway, post-able promo pictures, and pre-ordering information.

Without further ado, I present the lovely, RADICAL cover of A Time to Rise!
atimetorise_6_29
Look at it. Look at it! Zoom in. Study it. JUST. O.O This cover!

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?


I can’t even think, and I’m sitting here grinning like an idiot. xD Just, PEOPLE.

A Time to Rise doesn’t release until October 14th! But for those of us who are waiting anxiously for the release date, there is a countdown which you can put on your website!


 

Also, a giveaway! Would you like to have these adorable magnetic Out of Time bookmarks?

OoT bookmark

Sorry, WordPress is being bothersome and doesn’t want to let me put it straight into the post, but here’s the link: Giveaway, yes!

 


Social Media Promo Images:

Twitter –
ATtR Cover TW Banner - ST - No preorder
Facebook Banner –
ATtR Cover FB Banner - ST
All Covers - FB - ST
Instagram –
ATtR Cover IG - ST - no PreOrder
ATtR Full Cover - IG - ST no PreOrder
All Covers - IG - ST

nadine-brandes-head-shotNadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by ‘bumbershoot’.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures. You can find Nadine on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.


 

Ready, Radicals? Fan squeal on three! One, two, THREE!

(Also, my Works In Progress page is live with my Camp NaNoWriMo novella, if you are interested in checking that out.)

#Walk30Days Wrap-up/Highlights

#Walk30Days Wrap-up/Highlights

#Walk30Days Wrap-up


Shalom, haverim!

You’re probably wondering what this strange hashtag thing is doing in my banner.

Truthfully, I’m as surprised as anyone. I actually went outside this month. Walked, even.

The fault belongs to my awesome writing-hero-and-author-of-what-I-fan-over (I totally call her that every day), Nadine Brandes. Just before May, she posted about this insane idea of (gasp) going outside! So, the challenge (#Walk30Days, in case you couldn’t guess) was to go outside and walk every day of the month, and get lots of neat pictures at the same time.

Did I do it every day?

No. I did miss four days.

Did I walk more this month than I did all last year? Probably.

Did I also develop a weird interest in photography? Why, yes, I did.

If you stalk follow me on Google+, you’ve probably seen a lot of the pictures from this month which I posted almost every day. I missed several days more in posting pictures than I did in walking, sadly, and several of the pictures that I posted, I accidentally set on private… Whoops.

So today, I’m going to do a Wrap-up/Highlights post about #Walk30Days (hence the title), where I show some of the best pictures, and tell you some of the best things about the month of May and my crazy idea to be less of a hermit-writer.

Day one was not very exciting. I walked to the end of the road, took no pictures, and on day two, got one picture, which I will not be showing today, because I am not terribly pleased with it.

No, I am not going through each individual day. I’ll summarize. Because I don’t have enough patience to go through each day.

Still, prepare yourself for a long, picture-filled blogpost.


On my walks, I walked through rain:

16 - 5 (4)

Shine:

IMG_20160520_184014

Shiny rain:

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Gorgeous sunsets:

16 - 3 (5)

16 - 5 (2)

And dreary mornings:

16 - 5 (3)

I saw beautiful things:

16 - 1 (1)

16 - 1 (2)

16 - 3 (3)

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16 - 7 (1)

16 - 8 (2)

IMG_20160520_182921

16 - 1 (3)

Things I would normally consider ordinary, but when I looked closer, I saw the beauty in them, too:

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16 - 3 (1)16 - 3 (2)16 - 416 - 5 (5)16 - 716 - 8 (1)16 - 9IMG_20160520_183151IMG_20160520_183613

16 - 9 (1)

16 - 3

16 - 5 (1)

Unusual things:

16 - 1 (4)16 - 216 - 3 (4)

Slightly frightening things (although, I’d been waiting all month to get a picture of a snake. This one was just asking to get photographed):

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New things:

IMG_20160520_134137IMG_20160520_171830IMG_20160520_182344IMG_20160520_182844IMG_20160520_190421IMG_20160520_191129

And old thing:

16 - 10
Okay, so I saw this before the walk, but I wanted to post a picture of it anyways. This is my older brother’s record player, in case you can’t tell. xP

So, I suppose someone should kick me out of the hermit-writer club, but really… It was awesome. I got plenty of mosquito bites, a bunch of ticks, a sunburn, and muddy clothes, but it was awesome anyway.

Because it’s been a long time since I stopped and really looked at nature; the tiny flowers, fireflies, and the clouds, trees, butterflies, and rain.

Do you realize how pretty it is out there?

Nadine promised that I would feel inspired throughout the course of the month, and, boy, am I inspired. Not just for writing—although, you should see my random notebook—but also for other things.

But yes, I was inspired to write, and of course, that leads me to one thing: Camp NaNoWriMo. Yes, I will be doing it, and yes, I am quite excited.

So, hermits. Why don’t you get outside? You might just like it, after a while.

Would you consider doing a challenge like #Walk30Days? What was your favorite photo?

(And, of course, Camp! Are you participating in July?)