Trial by Fire, Chapter Three!

I'm so excited to be hosting a sneak peek of Jennifer Lynn Barnes upcoming book Trial by Fire!

If you don't know Jen, she is awesome both as a person as a writer.  She's wicked smart, crazy cute, super nice and just someone that I look up to immensely.  She's also phenomenally talented (her The Squad books are still some of my favorites) and one of the many things I just thought was fascinating about Raised by Wolves, the prequel to Trial by Fire, is how dead on Jen gets the pack dynamics of her werewolf world.  Which of course shouldn't be surprising since she studies pack dynamics, but still -- it's was really really cool and fantastic!

This week I'm part of a chapter trail to celebrate Trial by Fire's release on Tuesday, June 14th!  To read the first two chapters go here: Chapter One at Ally Carter's Blog & Chapter Two at Sarah Rees Brennan's Blog and for chapter four check out Rachel Vincent's blog tomorrow!  So, without further ado here's Chapter Three of Trial by Fire!

Trial By Fire
a Raised by Wolves Novel
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


After—but only partially because of—the bombshell I’d dropped on the boys, Thanksgiving dinner proved to be a tense state of affairs. Casey had to leave the table twice: once when Mitch’s hand brushed Ali’s as he reached for the salt, and once when Katie started bawling and Mitch was the one to reach out and distract the temperamental little miss from the indignity of being stuck in a high chair. As for Devon and Chase, they were acting even more high-strung than Ali’s ex.

Apparently, my distraction had worked a little too well, leaving the two of them closing rank around me, like the Thanksgiving steak—a vaunted Were tradition—might leap off the table at any moment and attempt an assassination.

It was just a dream, guys.

I sent the words to the two of them through the bond, thankful that I’d mastered this part of being an alpha and didn’t have to worry about other members of our pack overhearing.

I’m fine. I’m going to be fine, and if either of you move your chairs even a centimeter closer to me, you’re going to be picking stuffing out of your hair while trying to pry my foot out of your you-know-what.

The humorless expression on my face sold that threat. I wasn’t some weak little human girl anymore. For that matter, I’d never been some weak little human girl. I was a survivor, I was their alpha, and I could take care of myself.

“Ouch!” The cry escaped my mouth before I could stop it, and on either side of me, Chase and Devon leapt to their feet.

“Problem?” Ali asked mildly, amusement dancing in the corners of her eyes. Given the whole Casey thing, I didn’t think she had call to be in such a good mood, but what did I know?

“No problem,” I said darkly, rubbing my shin. “Somebody just accidentally kicked me under the table.” I narrowed my eyes at Lake, and she helped herself to another T-bone and smothered it in steak sauce.

“Wasn’t an accident,” she said cheerfully.

“Lake.” Mitch didn’t say more than his daughter’s name, and she rolled her eyes.

“It’s not like I shot her.”

There was a retort on the tip of my tongue, but I was pretty sure Lake had kicked me because she’d picked up on my saying things she couldn’t hear, and I really didn’t want to open up that topic of conversation to the table at large. The boys’ overprotective act was conspicuous enough as it was.

Note to self: in the future, I needed to be more careful about how I changed the subject.

I’ll tell you later, Lake, I said silently. Promise.

Lake met my eyes and nodded, all thoughts of further under-the-table violence (hopefully) forgotten.

I reached out to dish up seconds, and the door to the restaurant opened. Casey crossed the room and slid back into his seat, composure regained. Even though I’d gotten used to his presence, something shifted inside my body. I took a long drink of water and gave my pack-sense a chance to acclimate again, only this time, it didn’t.

Foreign. Wolf.

Through the heavy scent of homemade gravy and pies baking in the oven, I couldn’t even pick Casey’s scent out of the crowd’s, but what I was feeling now had nothing to do with the five senses and everything to do with my psychic bond to the Pack. The niggling sensation persisted, and the longer I waited for it to pass, the larger it got.

Foreign. Wolf.

That was when I realized that I wasn’t sensing Casey. It was something else. Someone else.

Across the table, Mitch glanced toward the door, and then he looked at me.

“Get the kids to the back,” he said.

I turned immediately to Maddy, and with the quiet efficiency that had always made her a leader among the Rabid’s pint-sized victims, she ushered the others away from the table, even Lily, who let loose a comically high-pitched growl at the thought of being separated from her food.

“Now, Lily.” I added my voice to Maddy’s, but my thoughts were on Mitch, who’d already started reaching for the gun he and Keely kept behind the counter.

Ali didn’t ask what was happening. She didn’t have to. Within seconds, she had Katie in one arm and Alex in the other, and she met Casey’s eyes.

“Are you staying or coming?” she asked him calmly.

I could see the temptation of going with Ali warring with Casey’s lupine desire to prove himself—to Ali and to the rest of her pack.

“This is Cedar Ridge business,” I told Casey quietly. “We’ve got it covered.”

The dagger eyes Casey shot me in that moment made me realize that he hadn’t forgiven me for being the straw that broke his marriage’s back.

He wouldn’t ever forgive me.

Foreign. Wolf.

Right now, I had bigger issues than Casey.

“If I asked you to come with us, would you come?” It took me a second to figure out that Ali was addressing that question to me, not Casey.

I didn’t answer.

Ali started again. “If I told you to come, would you— You know what? Never mind, but if there’s a hair out of place on your head when I get back, be forewarned, I will kill you, alpha or not.”

With those words, Ali followed Maddy and the rest of the younger kids back into the kitchen, out of sight and, hopefully, out of harm’s way. After a long moment, and another glare in my direction, Casey retreated, leaving only five of us to meet the coming threat.

Devon, Lake, Mitch, Chase, and me.

Foreign. Wolf.

This time, the feeling was so strong that it brought me onto the balls of my feet. There was a foreign wolf on our territory. My territory. He’d come without permission, on an evening when the bar was closed. Teeth gnashed in the recesses of my brain, painting the walls of my mind red with blood as I realized the potential for this to end badly.

Very badly.

The werewolf Senate hadn’t been happy with the idea of a human alpha, and there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about the fact that I had something most male Weres wanted very, very badly.

Maddy. Lake. Lily, Katie, Sloane, Ava, Sophie . . .

Their names blended together in my mind, and the adrenaline pumping through my veins turned angry and cool. Most werewolves were male. Natural-born females, like Katie and Lake, survived to birth only because they’d been half of a set
of twins, and most packs didn’t have more than a handful of females, period.
Ours had nine, all of them young, none of them mated. As long-lived as werewolves were, most wouldn’t have batted an eye at the idea of taking possession of a female and waiting a decade or two for her to grow up.
If I had to, I’d tear this intruder to shreds with my bare hands to keep our girls safe.
“You even think of telling me to turn tail and hide, and I’ll laugh you out of Montana proper.” Lake’s words left no room for argument, but we both knew that if I wanted her to leave, I could make her leave. That was what it meant to be alpha.
I met Lake’s eyes. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” I said. Alpha or not, forcing my will on someone else wasn’t what it meant to be me.
An alien smell—snake oil and vinegar, feces and blood—permeated the thick wooden door, strong enough that even my human nose could make it out, and though none of the five of us moved, the shift in the room was unmistakable. My pack was ready to fight, and I was ready to let them—and to do what I could to back them up—but whoever the intruder was, he never crossed the threshold of the door.
There was a loud thump outside, like a duffel bag being dropped onto cement, and then a high-pitched gargle—half choke, half whine—filled the air.

The smell—and the meaning behind it—finally registered, and I pushed my way through my werewolf bodyguards until the only thing standing between me and the door was Mitch.
“Someone’s hurt.” I said those two words like they were all that mattered. For a moment, I didn’t think Mitch was going to get out of the way or even open the door. He’d spent a long time living on the periphery of Callum’s pack, with Callum his alpha in name only. Mitch wasn’t used to taking orders, and even though he’d joined our pack shortly after Lake had, I wasn’t used to giving them to him.

Please, Mitch. I met his eyes.
With a slight nod and his gun at the ready, Mitch opened the door. I didn’t push him, didn’t rush it, but when Mitch knelt down next to a heap of bones and fur, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I was beside him in an instant—not within biting range, but close enough that I could make out every inch of this ravaged Were’s body.
He looked like he’d been taken apart piece by piece and sewn back together—badly. He was stuck halfway between his human form and his animal one, and the patches of skin that weren’t covered with fur were angry and red, welts layered over bruises layered over burns.
Why didn’t he finish Shifting?
Bile rose in my throat with the question. Weres healed extremely quickly, but you couldn’t Shift and heal at the same time; it was like trying to eat while throwing up. That explained why the body in front of us was still battered to a pulp, but not why its owner had let himself be caught in the throes of Shifting for any extended period of time.
Without meaning to, I moved my gaze to Chase. The expression on his face was completely impassive. Even I couldn’t read it, but I didn’t need to, because the last time I’d seen a Were caught between one form and another, Shifting back and forth with excruciating results, it was Chase. We’d been hunting the Rabid who’d Changed him into a Were, and the monster had turned the hunt back on us, infiltrating Chase’s head.
“Is somebody doing this to him?” I kept my voice low, and it was almost drowned out by the heavy, tortured breaths coming from the porch. “Should I try to break off the connection?”
That was what I’d done to free Chase from the Rabid. I’d gone into Chase’s head, taken the connection the Rabid had formed when he’d Changed him, and snapped it in two.
If I had to, I could do it again.
“No.” Mitch’s voice was sharper than I’d ever heard it. “This wolf isn’t yours, Bryn. Unless you’re wanting war, you’ll keep your little alpha nose out of his pack-bonds. Not all alphas are as forgiving as Callum when it comes to other people stealing their wolves.”
I felt like Mitch had slapped me, like I was stupid and young and completely incompetent as an alpha and a person.
“Whose is he?” I asked quietly, trying to place the wolf’s scent but thrown off by the smell of blood and the mewling sound now making its way out of the creature’s monstrous hybrid mouth.
Mitch didn’t reply; instead, he pointed to the creature’s neck. “There’s what’s keeping him from Shifting.”
My eyes adjusted to the darkness on the porch, and I saw the object Mitch had referenced: a long, thin metal shaft that glowed in the light of the nearly full moon.
“Dev?” I could have removed it myself, but impulsive or not, even I wasn’t stupid enough to think that my going that close to an injured Were was a good idea. Whoever he was, the mass of flesh and bones on our porch was out of his mind with pain, and pain had a habit of making Weres unpredictable.
If Devon got bitten, he’d heal in a matter of moments. If I got bitten, I might never heal, and if I got bitten badly enough, I’d end up either dead or Changed—and neither one of those was a future I would particularly relish.
Devon walked forward, and without waiting a beat, he knelt, closed a hand around the shaft, and pulled. Most werewolves were allergic to silver, but as in many areas of life, Devon was an exception. As he jerked the hated object out of the wound, the injured Were reared back, and I heard teeth snapping and the sound of flesh—though whose, I wasn’t sure—giving way.
Chase came to my side, and I thought of that moment of quiet in the woods—how fragile it had been, how fleeting.
Dev tossed the silver rod to one side. “We’ll want to pick that up,” he said, almost absentmindedly. “Wouldn’t want one of the kiddos to get ahold of it.”
Our visitor’s body registered the silver’s removal. It shuddered and finally gave way to one form.
Human form.
If I’d been horrified before, I was sickened now. There wasn’t a piece of flesh that had been left untouched, and for a moment, I thought I might throw up or cry or both.
The injured Were was a boy. Not a man, not a threat. A boy—maybe a year or so younger than me. All business, Mitch bent and hefted the boy into his arms, eliciting a high-pitched whine more lupine than not.
“Tell Ali I’ll need medical supplies,” he said. “Lake knows where they are.” With those words, Mitch turned to carry the boy away, leaving the rest of us standing there, slack-jawed and tense.
Lake was the first to snap out of it, and she hurried back to the kitchen to relay the message to Ali. Chase’s eyes followed Mitch’s progression, and I could see the gears in his head turning as he analyzed the situation. He ran a hand through my hair, assuring himself with every light touch that I was all right, convincing the wolf inside him to still.
Devon didn’t move, and this time, I said his name silently.

After a long moment, Devon managed to drag his eyes away from the blood seeping into the wooden planks of the porch. His fists clenched, and he turned toward me. “Bryn.”
There was a wealth of information in that one word, and I knew that whatever Devon said next was going to send a tremor through our pack, like static feedback or a punch to the gut.
“I caught his scent, and it wasn’t pretty.”
I waited for Devon to make a comment about Calvin Klein cologne or something equally flippant, but he didn’t. Instead, he cut right to the chase.
“This kid is from the Snake Bend Pack, Bryn. His alpha is Shay.”
Remember to check out Rachel Vincent's blog tomorrow to read the next chapter and to pick up Trial by Fire on Tuesday!

Bonus! I'm also going to follow in Ally Carter's brilliant footsteps and offer a bonus gift/prize/offer of an autographed (by me) advanced reader copy of Entrhalled, the smart chicks short story collection featuring Jen, me and a whole bunch of awesome authors!  At the end of the week I'll draw a random name from the comments to this post (both on blogger and LJ) - as usual you get an extra entry for tweeting/facebooking/linking to this chapter (just make sure to put that information in the comment so I can give the bonus entries).  Enter by midnight EST on Friday June 17th to win!
Thanks to Jen for letting me celebrate the release of Trial by Fire which comes out in only two days!  You can order it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Reading Life

One of my goals this year has been to read more.  I know that may sound strange given my profession, but I started realizing last year that I just wasn't reading enough.  When I was growing up I'd devour books on the weekend, usually staying up until all hours of the night.  Then, once I hit college I sort of... stopped.  Sure I read for class but I rarely read for pleasure anymore.

Part of that was guilt -- the feeling that if I was going to read anything it should be the mounds of homework I was always behind on.  Part of it was also my perceived lack of free time.  Once I graduated I spent more time reading and the year before law school I practically lived off books as food -- I chewed through several a week.

Law school was a lot like college -- I felt that if I were going to take the time to read it should be the mounds of course work (again, I was always behind -- even if I was up to date with the assigned reading there was *always* something else to read such as study guides and outlines).

And that's when I realized how busy life could be (though I'd later learn it could get a WHOLE lot busier) and that if I wanted to have books in my life I had to make time for them.  No longer was reading something I could binge on during a slow Saturday.  That's when I made the conscious decision to read before bed every night.

Let me tell you... this step, almost more than anything else, made me feel like I was turning into my parents who always read before sleep.  And now I realized why they did that -- there was no other time in the day. For a while this step solved my problem -- it got me in the habit of reading daily and I slowly made my way through the books on my to-be-read pile.

But last year I realized this short bit of reading time was no longer enough.  I'm drowning in books so much that my to-be-read piles have become more like mountain ranges (as I type this I have 25 unread books just sitting on my coffee table, five tossed on the couch next to me, a dozen on my ereader and towers of them lined up against my dining room wall -- not to mention the bulging bookcases and stacks on every other horizontal surface in the house).

I could probably break the books down into categories: craft books, research books, friend books, CP books, blurb books and then general reading books (books that look good, recommended books, books to stretch my horizons, etc etc etc).  But even then it's hard to prioritize what to read next (though CP books almost always skip to the head of the line -- I've read three in the past two weeks).

So I decided I needed to find more reading time.  The first step was figuring out where I spent my time and how to shift it around and right away I noticed something: because reading is something almost always fun, it never feels like work.  And because it doesn't *feel* like work I have a hard time allowing myself to focus on it during the work day even though it's something I should be doing for my job.  I'd find myself haunting message boards or reading blogs before I'd put down the computer and pick up a book.  For some reason, just being at the computer feels more like work that lounging with a book.

Really, all I had to do to find more reading time was (a) acknowledge it's part of my job and (b) allow myself to take the time to read.  Simple, right?  Sometimes it is -- especially editing CP books or skimming through craft or research books.  Other times I have to make the conscious decision to step away from the computer and pick up a book.

At the end of the day I realized it comes down to this: prioritizing reading.  During my tour I was talking with one of the media escorts who pointed out that if everyone gave up watching Wheel of Fortune (or some other 30 min show) every day and read instead they'd get through several books a year.  I'm constantly talking to people who lament their lack of time to read but when you ask them about TV they'll go on and on about all the shows they watch.

I know how easy it is to let a reading life slip away -- to queue up the DVR rather than flip open a book or to think there are other things that have to come first.  I've been there and sometimes I'm still there.  This year I pledged to be more conscious about how I spend my time -- to think about what I prioritize and then divvy up the hours of the day accordingly.

I prioritize reading -- reading broadly, trying new books outside my comfort zone, trying to keep up with my obligations while still expanding my horizons.  My day reflects that: I read first thing in the morning, last thing at night and hopefully more time in between.

Every day I choose to live a reading life and I hope that each of you choose to live your life according to your priorities as well, whether that be reading or some other passion.

It Lives!

I live!  I have much to blog about but I've been lacking the time to actually sit down and write said blogs.  And I haven't wanted to short-shrift my blog readers so I've ended up just sort of letting the days pass in blog silence.  Sorry!

This same thing happened last year when I left for tour -- I tried to stay on top of things, tried to blog and tweet but then as time stretched thin I was lucky if I had a chance to speak to my husband before collapsing into bed at the end of the day.  I just did a quick calculation and discovered that since mid-December I've been away from home more than I've been at home (in the last 137 days I've been away 71 of them and home 66).

Perhaps this accounts for the messy state of my house?

And of course I'm leaving town again.  Sunday I head to Weslaco Texas to speak and the next weekend I'll be at the Edward's Memorial Library near Charlotte (hear that NC peeps?  I'll be talking nearby!  They'll be selling books!  Come out!  Details here.)

I've truly had amazing times with all the travel -- so much that it's difficult to put into words (and to find the time to wrangle said experiences into words).  For example, last weekend I was the keynote speaker at Richland County Library's Kids in Print reception where they unveiled a truly fantastic literary magazine full of kid's poems, stories, photos, pictures, etc.

A friend of mine recently said that the best thing you can do in the world is find your tribe -- those people who are like you in so many ways.  The librarians at the Richland County Library are totally my tribe (if they'd accept me).  Seriously -- some amazing people down there (Columbia, SC -- my husband's local library growing up) and an equally amazing library.

In my scant time at home I've been diving back into the book I'm working on.  I'm still in the obsessive plotting/craft stage which necessitates me taking lots of long walks as I figure out bits and pieces.  Thankfully it's been *amazing* weather here and the park behind my house has a wonderfully sloping expanse of lawn that's perfect for lounging and pondering.

I've also read some great books!  I shall share them!  First, I'm a MASSIVE fan of Sarah MacLean.  She gets better and better and the only thing I don't like is having to wait for more.  Her latest Regency set romance, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart just came out.  It's awesome (and isn't YA, FYI).  Go forth and purchase and love it as much as I do!

Second, I think I may have been remiss in posting about Saundra Mitchell's The Vespertine.  This one has been out for a few months and I still can't stop thinking about it.  She is a gorgeous writer and this one is full of yummy romance.

Third, Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler.  I've actually had the first of this series, Hunger, at home and haven't read it.  But Rage caught my eye and I started it on a whim and WOW.  Her writing is stunning and the character is fascinating.  I couldn't put it down -- truly phenomenal on all levels.  This isn't a book for the faint at heart -- it's tough and raw and can be brutal emotionally but it shouldn't surprise anyone that these are the kinds of books that really stick with me.

Fourth: Wither.  I actually read this several months ago (and blurbed) and it's finally out!  Lauren DeStefano's writing is also very wonderful and I loved the claustrophobia of her dystopia.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next in this series.

I know there are other books I've read and loved recently but they're scattered throughout the house and it's time for me to get back to working on that next book.  I still hope to blog more about the amazing tour and other exciting things!  Sorry for the long absence!

Original ebook release: Hare Moon!

So remember how I mentioned I had some exciting secret projects?  Well I can finally talk about one of them - yay! Last year I wrote an original Forest of Hands and Teeth short story for the Kiss Me Deadly anthology.  This year, after a bit of revision with my editor, Delacorte Press packaged the story as a standalone ebook you can now download!  It's a prequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth about Sister Tabitha as a teen.

Here's the cover (which I LOVE):

And here's what it's about:

Tabitha can’t shake the feeling that something exists beyond the fences of her village. And when she sneaks out, past the gates and down the path into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, she meets a boy who teaches her heart things she never knew. But love in a world surrounded by so much death doesn’t come without its sacrifices, and Tabitha gradually realizes just how much she’ll have to give up to live among the Unconsecrated.

From New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ryan comes an original story of love after the Return.      

And here's where you can buy it for only $1.99!!: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I really loved writing Sister Tabitha's story.  I realized as I revised The Forest of Hands and Teeth that we only got to see Tabitha from Mary's point of view and in Mary's eyes, Tabitha was nothing but overbearing and incapable of understanding her.  To me, though, Tabitha was much more complicated.  She had a reason for withholding information from the villagers and every action she took came out of love and a desire to protect the village.  I wanted to understand how she got to be that way, what led her to take on the mantle of ruling this village so rigidly and why she believes so much in choice while not allowing those around her to truly make their own decisions.

So I wrote her story as a teen.  As it turns out, Sister Tabitha was once a very very passionate young woman who had her own choices to make.  When she begs Mary to stop dreaming about what lies beyond the fences, she has her reasons.


On signed books, tour stops, memory, and other things

In one week I leave for The Dark and Hollow Places tour!  Wahoo!  I can't wait to visit Miami, Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Austin!  All the details are here.  This will be my fourth time in Chicago which is kind of neat because I feel like I have friends there now -- so many familiar faces and it's always cool being able to catch up :)  I'm also very excited about the new stops to meet new readers (and see new places)!

However, if I'm not stopping in a city near you or if you're not able to come out, you can still get a personalized/ autographed book.  My local indie, Park Road Books, is fantastic and only a few miles away which works out perfectly!  At any time in the year you can place an order with them and I'll swing by to sign it.  You can also pre-order a signed copy of The Dark and Hollow Places and they'll get it in the mail to you -- I'll be dropping by probably on Saturday, March 19 to sign them all so just make sure you get your order in before then (otherwise, I won't be able to sign any until I'm back in town on April 18).

Here are the details about ordering a signed book.  Essentially it's as easy as giving them a call: 704-525-9239 and placing the order!  Make sure to let them know how you want it personalized!

Okay, topic two is my signing policy.  The venues hosting me go through a lot of planning and work to pull off these events even though they always make it all look so seamless and effortless.  These booksellers are passionate about books and I couldn't be more honored that they're willing to expend some of that passion on my behalf.  Therefore, I like to ask anyone coming to hear me speak -- if you're going to get a book signed, please purchase a book from the store.  Every store has its individual policies on signings and so you'll want to check with them about what you can bring to be signed, etc.

Here's my policy: I'll sign anything (well, within reason - lol - if you have a massive stack I might ask you to run back through the line again so other people have a chance to get through).  Or if you just want to show up to hear me talk and ask questions and not get anything signed, that's great too!  But I would love it if, to show support for the store, you'd purchase a book from them (purchasing ahead of time is fine or purchasing someone else's book works too). Again, the store's individual policy on these things trumps mine so always check with them if you have a question!  Thanks!

Finally... I have a bad memory.  I joke about this a lot but it kind of gets both scary and frustrating when I'm traveling.  I'm terrible with names -- HORRIBLE -- which is embarrassing and I'm sorry if/when I'm not able to remember yours.  However, I do have a good situational memory which means that I just have to connect all the dots in my head so please, when you come up to meet me just remind me who you are.  Tell me your twitter handle or your blog name (because I have a visual memory I'm likely to remember your handle picture - lol).  Please don't think that because I can't remember your name, I don't remember you!

I can't wait to see y'all!  Only one more week!!

Hello, again!

For some reason, I think I thought my blog posts were being replicated here or that I'd directed people to the LJ feed of my blog which is here.  I didn't set up that feed (thanks to whoever did!) and don't know how to modify it.  If I had my druthers it would be an easy way for people to still read my blog via their friends list (which, for me, is the only way I really know how to aggregate all the blogs I want to read).

However, it wasn't until recently when a friend said, "You really gave up on blogging entirely, didn't you" and I responded that sure I hadn't been blogging as much as I'd like but I was still at it and her response was, "o_0" that I realized perhaps I was missing something.  And I was: namely everyone on LJ.  in that, most of my LJ friends had no idea I'd been blogging somewhere else.

SO, I'm here to remedy that and I see several solutions.  First, because of the way my website is set up, the blogger blog is just always going to be my main blog.  I had to make a choice between LJ and Blogger when I did my website and I chose blogger (no idea why, I really like the embedded comments on LJ).  So, following or friending that feed (here's the link again) might be the best way to go.  Because won't the feed show all my posts from the blog? 

Yes, this is where I show my ignorance on things like blog feeds.

Second, you can follow my blog.

Third, I'm going to try to always remember to just mirror the LJ to my blog.  Sometimes that works with pictures and formatting and sometimes it gets a little off.  But I'll try!  

If y'all have any other thoughts or suggestions, please let me know!  And yes! I have been blogging!  You can read about my upcoming tour schedule, or teasers from The Dark and Hollow Places.  You can read about what I thought writing life was going to be like versus reality (which is still pretty awesome).  You can read about the story behind my dedication in The Dead-Tossed Waves where I talk about my step-father passing away.  I promise, I've been blogging!  And I promise about making those blogs more accessible to all my LJ friends.

So again, if any of y'all have suggestions of the best way to make sure I get my blog to everyone on both platforms, let me know!  And I'm so sorry it's been silent round these parts -- oops!


But when are you going to write something happy? Also, what's up with the love triangles?

note: this post has some specifics about my books. I tried to mark them as spoilers, but just be aware.

I was just reading Beth Revis's blog about writing dystopias and I think she does a great job of explaining why dystopian literature isn't always depressing and I thought I might piggy-back off of her discussion here.

This is a question I got asked at almost every tour stop: when are you going to write something happy -- your books are SO DEPRESSING!  And here's my answer: my characters live in a pretty brutal world, there's just no way around that so yeah, some bad things happen in my books.

But here's the thing (and I hope this isn't a spoiler but just in case you're extremely spoiler averse, stop reading now): when all is said and done, at the end of my books my characters know who they are.  They know the core of their strength and they survive.  They go up against some pretty difficult odds where daily existence isn't a given and they make it through -- they push themselves farther than I think many people could.

To me, that's a happy ending: knowing who you are, knowing you can survive, knowing what you want in life and how to go after it and not settling.  These are good things.

**and here's where I do actually get spoilery and explainery**

If a happy ending for Mary were just about ending up with a man and a dog, she'd have stayed in the village and married Harry.  That's what her mom did and though it didn't work out terribly well in the very end, she seemed to live a fine life up until her husband got infected.

I meant for Harry to be a viable choice for Mary.  And I meant for Travis to be a viable choice for Mary.  To me, that's the essence of a love triangle -- each man is a viable choice for the heroine but each speaks to a different part of who she is.  The heroine isn't choosing between two men, she's choosing who SHE wants to be and that will dictate who the right match is.

If Mary chose to be content and not seek answers to her questions -- to let the status stay quo -- then Harry was the right match.  If she chose to ask questions and seek out answers and push past the fence, then Travis was the right match.  Mary wasn't choosing between them -- she was figuring out who *she* wanted to be.

**and here's where I get general again**

To me, a love triangle done right isn't about a female* character's affections bouncing back and forth between two men, it's about her internal struggle within herself as she figures out who *she* wants to be and what's important to her.  This internal struggle then gets reflected externally as she wars within herself and grows.  And that's the heart of any book -- a character's growth from first page to the last.  Generally, even as a character grows and changes she backslides (what sometimes looks like a flip-flop in affections) and sometimes a character will cling to their old way of being even as the struggle to adopt a new way.

Growth isn't easy.  Figuring out who you are isn't easy.  That's why I think that a book that ends with a character who knows who they are and what they want is a good thing.

I think Beth makes an excellent point when she says:  "That's why dystopic literature isn't really depressing. Because it's about the strength of humanity beyond the cruelty of the world."  Someone once said that happy people make for short books.  I tend to agree with that.

* I'm talking about a love triangle between one woman and two men, I'm sure the same applies to one man and two women or three women or three men or what have you.

anyone have any questions?

I'm getting ready to update my FAQ page on my website and thought I would toss it out to y'all to see if you had any questions you wanted answered!  About me, my books, writing -- anything!