Five Golden Braids Blog Tour: Mechanical Heart Review

Hullo, everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of the Five Golden Braids release tour! If you haven’t heard of this release, there are 5 authors, and each is releasing a Rapunzel retelling. All of the stories are in different genres, everything from classic fantasy to steampunk! The book releasing today (just kidding, yesterday, because I forgot to schedule this post…) is Mechanical Heart by Sarah Pennington. I’m so excited to be bringing you guys my review, so let’s get started!

Description:

Can you save someone who doesn’t know if she’s alive?

Breen lives locked away, separated from the world by the walls of her clock tower and the machine of gems, gears, and magic that replaces her heart. That is, until an unexpected visitor appears in her tower, offering a dangerous gift: freedom. His promises awaken hope for a life unbound by the tower walls — but she knows that if he learns about her heart, it’s only a matter of time before he turns on her.

Josiah is powerless. Though he’s the crown prince of the mighty Chanian empire, he feels stifled by his inability to protect his people from the schemes of corrupt nobles. When he discovers a girl trapped in a locked clock tower, he thinks he’s finally found a problem he can solve . . . but more than just walls keep her captive.

From the royal palace to the streets of Rivenford to the tops of clock towers, secrets hide around every corner in this steampunk retelling of Rapunzel. Breen and Josiah hold the keys to each other’s struggles — if they can break down the barriers that divide them.

Amazon | Goodreads

My Review:

I love a good fairytale retelling, and this book was no exception. Mechanical Heart is the first book I’ve been able to read by Sarah Pennington, but I’ve been following her blog for a long time, and I’ve been able to read some things she’s written on there. Because of that, I was not at all surprised at how much I loved this book! The world was absolutely amazing and so well developed, and I couldn’t put the book down.

[Probably some minor SPOILERS below, so if you want to read this book without knowing anything about the plot… just go buy it!]

The plot itself wasn’t necessarily fast-paced or full of action that keeps you reading, but it was more suspense-driven. There was so much character development, and I loved getting to know these characters, especially Breen and Josiah. I also really liked the approach the author took to the characters’ interactions in the clock tower. Grace provided a great contrast to Josiah as well, and I loved that the little sister was taking over. That played into the plot so well. (I’m trying so hard to avoid spoilers…) The tension with Madame and my own questions kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. While I guessed some of the plot twists ahead of time, I was still surprised by a lot of things, which was awesome.

Breen was probably my absolute favorite. I loved having a deaf main character, and the author handled that aspect of Breen’s character so well… plus it plays into the story in an important way later on. Her development really tugged at my heart, too. Basically, she’s awesome and the best and I want to give her a hug. ❤

Josiah was also pretty awesome. I loved his character arc too, and I also loved that he did his own research throughout the story. He wasn’t a typical stuck-up noble, but you can also see that he has his shortcomings, too. He was a really well-rounded character, and I would love to see more of both him and Breen. 😀

There’s not anything I really disliked about the book. There were a lot of senate/government meetings, but they provided important information and tied in really well with the rest of the plot, so they weren’t boring. There’s also a lot of magic and alchemy, if that’s something that concerns you.

Author Bio:

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list. Find her online at:

Website | Blog | Second Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

 

Overall, this was an awesome book, and I highly recommend it! You can check out the book with the links below, and you can also check out the tour giveaway and full tour schedule here. Be sure to let me know in the comments below if you’ve read this book, and if not, go check it out! 

Amazon | Goodreads

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Tales From The Writer’s Desk: Procrastination and Productivity

Hullo, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written a Tale From The Writer’s Desk, but I had a lot of fun writing this. This is also a way to announce my new Facebook page, which you can check out here if you don’t feel like reading to the end (I highly recommend you do). It’s basically a way to keep you guys updated on my writing without always having to write a blog post, plus a way to interact more with y’all. So check it out, and enjoy the post, too!

I sat at my desk, flipping through an old folder and frowning at the contents. A superhero retelling of Snow White might be a fun story to start on again. It needed a lot of editing though. I shrugged and set the folder down on top of the terrifyingly-large stack next to my desk labeled To Continue. I groaned. “There is no way I’ll ever get all of these done.”

“Yeah, no kidding!”

I jumped out of my chair, spinning around. My shock quickly turned into annoyance. “Blaze, seriously? Why don’t you ever use the door?”

Blaze grinned and pulled my chair towards him, flopping down in it. “Because I can teleport? Also, Benedict wouldn’t let me in.”

I lifted an eyebrow. “Am I supposed to be surprised by that? I told him not to let anyone disturb me.”

He spun around in my chair, ignoring my comment and my glare. “Yeah, he said you were finally being productive, so I needed to leave you alone.” He turned to face me, and I was shocked to see a serious look on his face instead of his usually teasing grin. “Bri, you need to write and be productive. And I’m not leaving until we get you on track.”

“I was being productive, at least until I was interrupted.” I motioned at the pile of folders next to my desk.

“Sorting through stories isn’t the same as actually working on them.” Blaze stood up and motioned to the chair. “So you’re going to sit here and write while I watch. Albany is working on your reward for when you finally make progress.”

I sat and glared at him suspiciously. “She’s not making cookies or anything, is she?”

Blaze smirked. “Yes, but that’s the punishment for not being productive.”

I immediately turned to my computer, pulled out a folder, and got to work. Before I even knew it, I was in the zone, writing as fast as I could. Who knew that writing was so much easier once you actually got started?

A snort from Blaze brought my attention back to the room. He was peering over my shoulder at my computer screen, and I moved to cover it up. “It’s not ready for anyone to read it yet!”

“That was an awful pun.” He stepped back and sat down in a very fancy armchair that he must have brought while I was writing. “And that’s coming from me.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’ll work on it. Besides, it’s supposed to be cheesy.”

Blaze shrugged. “At least you were productive. That’s all I can ask for.” He grinned. “That wasn’t so painful, was it?”

I couldn’t help but smile back. “Thanks. I needed a kickstart to get me going.”

“And now you get your reward.” Blaze pushed my spinning chair out of the way and bent over the computer. I watched over his shoulder in confusion as he pulled up Facebook. “Ta-da! Albany and I set up your very own author Facebook page!”

“Really?!” I’d been wanting to start one for a while, but I’d never found the motivation or the time.

He nodded. “Okay, so this way, people can like your page and get updates you post about your books and writing, and–”

“I know how Facebook works,” I interrupted, but I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. “Thanks, Blaze.”

Blaze sat back in his chair, looking like he owned the place. “Glad I could help. Now, please… work on book 3.” With that parting shot, he disappeared.

I grinned at the empty spot, then turned back to my computer and began to type.

I hope you enjoyed that Tale From The Writer’s Desk! Be sure to check out my new Facebook page for more updates on what I’m writing (and maybe Blaze will take over occasionally, too). And if this is your first time meeting Blaze, be sure to check out Twinepathy, which is currently free on Kindle Unlimited! Comment below your thoughts on this story, and let me know what you think Albany was trying to make!

Cover Reveal: Underground by Ashley Bogner

Hey guys! I’m so excited today to bring you the cover reveal for a book I’ve long been awaiting: Underground, book 2 in the Reintegration Trilogy! I reviewed the first book, Reintegration, a while back, and I really enjoyed it. Then I found out that Ashley Bogner was having the cover reveal for book 2… and here we are!

First, a little about the book:

Underground (Reintegration 2) by Ashley Bogner

Release Date:
August 24, 2019

Summary:
Katherine Holliday has left behind her life in the Federation. She is ready to start a new one with Matthew and the Intolerants. But it isn’t long before the Underground leaders send her on a mission that takes her back to the Federation. Katherine finds herself in City 1, with the help of new and unexpected allies, in an attempt to locate information that could help the Underground escape the Council’s battle plan called Project Endgame.

But the Federation has changed and the Council is more desperate than ever. While back in the Federation, Katherine uncovers a tangled web of deception and manipulation. Haynes isn’t the only one with secrets, and the question of who to trust becomes harder to answer.

And here’s the cover…

Guys, you will not believe how excited I am about this book! Finally, here’s a little bit about the author. Be sure to check out the first book, Reintegration, too!

Ashley Bogner is a nerdy author who lives in Utah with her nerdy theologian husband who may possibly own more books than she does. She is a homeschool graduate who wrote her first “novel” when she was in fifth grade (which was really a thirty-page story about talking cats she is grateful no one will ever read). It’s a rare occasion when she isn’t writing—she works as a technical writer at her day job and writes novels in her spare time.

In 2017, she published her debut novel, Reintegration, a dystopian novel for teens. The sequel, Underground, is scheduled for release later in 2019. Ashley writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that explore themes of sacrifice, redemption, and hope. Ashley may or may not be the stereotypical author who loves fancy coffee drinks, chocolate, and lengthy chats about her favorite books.

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Let’s talk! Have you read Reintegration? If not, do you plan to now? What do you think of the cover? Comment below with your thoughts! 

Short Story: The Villain And The Hero

Hullo, friends! Unlike some of the short stories I’ve posted recently, The Villain and the Hero is firmly planted in my usual genre: superhero. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it was nice to get back to writing with superheroes after a little break for other projects. Enjoy!

I’m in love with a boy, and unfortunately, he hates my guts. I know that if he got to know me, he would begin to like me, I just know it! But there’s not much chance for small talk when he’s blasting fire in my direction.

I stand firm as fire blazes towards me, and I throw up a forcefield with one hand. It’s virtually invisible, but I can see the air shimmering slightly in front of me as I hold my hand over my head. With my other hand, I stuff the rest of the money from my latest robbery into the inside pocket of my long black trench coat. Torch’s fire hits my forcefield, reflecting off and shooting straight in the air. I hear him yell in frustration, and I drop my hand, letting the forcefield dissolve. I reach up and scratch around the black mask on my face. Paired with the dark wig, it hides my identity, but I can’t wait to take it off. Talk about itchy.

Torch stalks toward me, his anger and frustration clearly evident. Unlike my dark mask, his black one with flame details makes him look even more attractive. Then again, I’ve always liked guys with brown hair. “Give yourself up, Mirror!” he yells.

Okay, let’s be honest here for a second. I could easily win this fight. It’s as simple as throwing a bubble forcefield around him and making it shrink. Easy peasy, no more Torch. That’s the dumb part about having a crush on your superhero. You tend to go easy on them, even if you’d be better off getting rid of them.

Then again, I’m just stealing from overly rich corporations to pay off student loans, and killing someone wouldn’t help with that anyway.

I put my hands in the air slowly, in a show of surrender, eyeing the distance between the two of us. “You win, Torch. Take me to jail.” The air shivers ever so slightly between us, and I grin. “Or you could take me to dinner instead.”

Torch looks at me suspiciously and rolls his eyes, but he walks towards me. After two steps, he smacks into my invisible forcefield. He yelps and steps back, rubbing his head and glaring at me.

I shake with laughter, letting out a snort on accident. Dang it, Alexis. Play it cool. I try my hardest to smother my laughter, but the glare on his face makes it really hard. Why does he have to be so cute when he’s annoyed? “Sorry, Torch!”

“That’s cold, you know!” he yells back, although I swear he’s hiding a smile. My smile fades when he calls me cold, though.

I throw a disk forcefield on the ground in front of me and step onto it. The other forcefield dissolves automatically. Only being able to make one forcefield is one of my weaknesses that no one has figured out. Not yet, at least. I crouch down and salute Torch, winking. “Until next time, hot stuff.”

At my command, the forcefield raises slightly off the ground and takes off over the nearest building. The wind blows through my hair—at least, the hair on the wig—and I breathe deeply. The air smells of car exhaust and pollution. For a second, I miss the fresh country air from my childhood, but I shove down those memories. This is my home now, and I need to love every part of it. It’s not like the time I spent in the country was any better. Living with my mom was a nightmare.

I lower my forcefield, dodging in between buildings and down alleyways. I come to a stop and dissolve my forcefield, landing on the ground. No one’s around, so I ditch my costume and hide it in the usual spot. I let my long blond hair down and slip on my favorite sweatshirt. Back to my normal college student self.

It doesn’t take me long to make it back to school, and I unlock the door of my apartment. Some kind of Latin music fills the air, probably coming from the kitchen, while I can hear Riley yelling at a basketball game in the living room. I can’t even hear the door close behind me as I walk in.

Lucia does, though. She pokes her head out of the kitchen. “Alexis, amiga! You’re just in time for dinner. Everything’s almost ready.”

I sniff, inhaling the scent of Mexican spices. “Yum! I can’t wait.” I kick off my shoes by the door. “Have the neighbors complained about the noise yet?”

An unintelligible shriek of triumph rises for the living room, and Lucia winces. “Not yet, but I would not be surprised.”

She slips back into the kitchen, singing in Spanish along with the music. I cross into the living room to find Riley flopping back onto the couch, still in her running clothes. She glances up at me and then turns her focus back to her game. “How was your shopping trip?” she asks, reaching for a bag of chips.

I grab the chips before she can get them. “I didn’t get to do any shopping. Mirror and Torch were fighting right by the mall.” At her glare, I set the chips back down, just farther away from her. “Lucia says dinner is almost ready.”

A few minutes later, Lucia calls us into the kitchen. She always makes the most amazing food, and Saturday nights are sacred “Roommate Dinners” for the three of us. After dinner, we all hang out in the living room together, watching a show or talking about our lives. Tonight, we gather all of the junk food in our apartment and sprawl out in the living room. The fight with Torch is still lingering in my mind, and I glance at my two roommates. I love these girls, but if they ever found out about my secret identity, they would go crazy. At least I’m just a supervillain who steals, not one who kills people. I mean, I’ve hurt a few people, but I’ve never killed anyone. I’ve met some villains who are much worse than me.

We’re halfway through our show when Lucia gasps. “Oh my gosh!” Riley and I both turn to look at her in surprise, and she turns her phone around to show us. “Mira!”

A breaking news alert lights up her screen, with a picture of Torch, mid-fight with a supervillain that I immediately recognize. My stomach sinks. Riley snatches the remote and changes the channel to a news channel that’s covering the fight. The voiceover crackles with panic, sending a shiver down my spine.

“…no one knows what Glacier is doing in the city, but so far, she’s been giving Torch quite the beating…”

I tune out the voice on the TV, focusing on the footage. Even from the view of a helicopter, I can tell he’s tired. “Oh, he’s got this,” Riley says, popping a chip in her mouth. “She must be a nobody. I’ve never heard of her before.”

On the TV, Glacier shoots a blast of ice out of her hands, and Torch barely manages to dodge it. Glacier smirks up at the helicopter, and I feel like she’s staring into my soul with her icy gaze. Lucia winces. “I hope he’ll be alright.”

Riley switches the channel back to our show, but my hands are shaking now. What if something really bad happens to Torch? At least when I fight him, I go easy on him. He’s not going to be able to walk away from this fight. Glacier would never take it easy on him.

Before I can think about it, I’m standing up and heading to the front door. Lucia looks up from her phone. “Where are you going?”

I unlock the door. “I’m just going for a walk. I’ll see if the laundry room is open.”

She nods. “Just stay away from downtown. That’s where the fight is happening.”

I nod and smile. “Don’t worry, I’m not going that way at all.”

As soon as I get out of view of our apartment, that’s the exact direction I go. I run to my hiding spot and retrieve my costume, changing as quickly as I can. This is one of the many reasons I chose a trench coat for my costume, instead of some skintight outfit. It’s so much easier to put on. A forcefield materializes underneath my feet, and I zoom off in the direction of the fight.

The closer I get to downtown, the more unsure I feel of myself. What am I even going to do? Fight Glacier? I’m pretty sure I can fight her, yeah—I’ve improved a lot since the last time I fought her—but as soon as I defeat her, Torch is going to turn on me.

But I also can’t let her hurt him… or kill him.

Ugh, feelings are dumb.

I know I’m getting close to the fight because I start feeling blasts of heat and cold. I lower myself behind a building. I’m even more nervous now, but mostly because I feel more cold than heat in the air. I duck around a few corners and finally come across the fight. I immediately cringe. I’ve fought Torch enough times that I can tell he’s exhausted. His fire blasts are weak, barely reaching to Glacier.

Glacier is smirking at him, clearly toying with him. Her skin shimmers, coated in a frosty layer, and her long, dark blue dress sparkles with ice, too, glittering like stars set against a backdrop of night. Her dark hair, streaked with gray, sparkles with a layer of ice too. She looks like a queen, and I shudder at the sight of her. I could have ended up ruthless and cold, just like her.

I step out of the shadows, the wind from Glacier’s next blast of ice whipping my trench coat around my legs. Torch shoots a blast of fire at Glacier’s ice blast, melting it just before it could hit him. He’s almost done, and Glacier can tell. She starts to stalk towards him, just like he did when he was fighting me earlier.

Then she catches sight of me.

A smile slithers across her face, something sinister lurking behind it. “Hello, dear,” she calls out, her voice deeper from the cold air. “Don’t worry about this. I’m finishing the job you’ve never been able to handle.”

Torch glances in my direction just as I glance at him. Anger flashes across his face, but then it fades to nothing. He’s losing hope.

I’m in the middle right now, off to the side, not committed to either one of them. I look over at Glacier. “You’re a monster,” I whisper, my voice carrying on the breeze.

She shrugs and steps closer, towards me instead of Torch this time. “It took you long enough to figure that out.” With a quick flick of her wrist, she sends icicles shooting in my direction.

I know she expects me to put up a forcefield to block the icicles, but I don’t. I react instantly, swirling my hands in the air and then pushing towards her. A bubble forcefield surrounds her as I jump to the side. I feel the impact from one of the icicles, and cold spreads through my shoulder.

Glacier laughs and starts to walk toward me, but she runs into the forcefield. She reaches out and puts her hands on it, her smile fading as she realizes she’s completely trapped. I look at her, and she stares back at me, horror growing on her face. I hold up my hand, and she backs up, hitting the back of the bubble. “No!” she shrieks.

I slowly begin to close my hand into a fist, and bubble shrinks around her, and she panics, trying to make herself as small as possible. The bubble tightens more. I find myself shaking in anger as I glare at her. Out of nowhere, someone’s hand grabs the one I’m holding up. I turn to find Torch, his hand grasping mine.

“Don’t kill her,” he rasps, his voice weak. “You’re not like her. Don’t become her.”

I look at him in shock and then look back at Glacier. Fear covers her face as she sobs into her own skirt, curled up in the fetal position inside the forcefield. It’s barely big enough to fit her now. Horror floods my body, and I let my hand drop. The forcefield dissolves, but Glacier stays on the ground, still sobbing in terror.

Torch helps me to my feet, and cops descend on Glacier. He holds my arms, looking over me. “Are you okay?” he asks, looking at my face. I stare at him, surprised to see concern in his eyes.

“I’m fine.” I lean against a wall nearby, looking over at the icicle lodged in my shoulder.

Torch puts a hand on my arm and inspects the icicle in my shoulder. “Why would you do that?” he asks, searching my face as if he would find answers there. Ambulance sirens echo in the distance.

I look back at him and give him a weak smile. “You’re just trying to do your job. I knew she wouldn’t leave you alive.” I stare off as the police put power-eliminating cuffs on Glacier and push her in the back of a cop car. Relief and sadness tug at opposite sides of my heart. A whisper slips out of my lips, stolen away by the wind.

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

Poll: Which Of These Short Stories Should I Post Next?

Hullo everyone! So I’ve been working on getting some post set up for the future, and I collected a few short stories to post. If you have a minute, would you mind voting on this poll to let me know which one you want to read the most? Thanks guys! 😀

Short Story: The Interview

Hullo my friends! I’m starting to dig through my collections of stories from the past semester, and I came across this one. This is a little different than my usual genre, but I had fun writing it, and I thought you guys might like it. Enjoy!

It was one of those miserable days where the mix of icy rain and gusting wind makes it impossible to stay dry. Melody could feel the cold water trickling from her hair onto the back of her neck and shuddered, pulling her coat tighter around her. She always hated walking, but walking in the rains was even worse. She quickened her pace, close to the edge of the curb, as the coffee shop came into view. Her meeting was supposed to start five minutes ago, but the closest parking spot to her destination was three blocks away.

Melody hesitated on the edge of the curb, eyeing the oncoming traffic before dashing across the road. Her new boots splashed in the puddles near the edge, sending cold water squishing into her socks. The wind whipped her hair back as she jogged across the street. She didn’t even notice the darker spot on the road, glistening from spilled oil.

Her foot slipped, and she hit the ground. She groaned, trying to catch her breath, but all she could feel was the water seeping into her clothes. A car screeched to a halt, bouncing to a stop only a few feet away from hitting her.

Melody sat up, groaning again. She was definitely going to have some bruises. The car door opened and a guy half got out, peering over his car door. “Are you okay?” he yelled.

“I’m fine!” Melody snapped, pushing herself up to a standing position. She wobbled slightly, but she was glad she could stand. Falling again would be too embarrassing. Not that she wasn’t already a mess.

“Then could you get out of the road?” the guy called, pushing his light brown hair off his forehead. “I’m running late.”

Melody glared at him, any gratefulness she’d had for his concern evaporated. She didn’t give him the benefit of a response and stalked to the side of the road. She made sure to take her sweet time. The guy slammed his door and raced off down the street, and Melody glowered at his retreating taillights.

She walked the little ways down the street to the coffee shop and shook herself off at the door, sending droplets of water mixed with oil flying. Smoothing her hair down and stomping the water off her boots, she slipped into the coffee shop. A bell jingled over the door as she opened it. Soft music played over the speakers, and the dim lighting gave it a homey feel. Unlike most coffee shops, old-fashioned booths and checkered tablecloths made the coffee shop feel more like a diner. Only two or three people lingered in the coffee shop.

Melody went up to the pastry case, where a middle-aged woman was humming as she replaced some of the pastries. The woman looked up and her eyes widened. “Oh, honey! Bless your heart! You’re soaked right through!” She bustled out from behind the counter. “You sit right down and I’ll find you some towels. I’ll get you some fresh coffee, too.”

Melody thanked her and sat in a booth, wrapping her arms around herself as the cool air and her wet clothes sapped her body heat. Her wet clothes clung to her skin, and she was grateful when the woman came back a minute later with two clean dish towels. The bell dinged over the door, and Melody looked up from patting herself dry with one of the towels. Her eyes narrowed instantly as she recognized the man who had almost run over her.

“Hello, sweetheart! What do you need?” the woman called out cheerfully.

“I’m here to meet with Melody Hackett.” He shook the raindrops off his thick coat.

Melody smiled. How perfect was this? She could give him a hard time now. Clearing her throat, she raised her hand. “That’s me,” she announced. She kept her face neutral, but she couldn’t help but feel a spark of delight at the look of utter shock on the man’s face. He approached her cautiously as if she was a wild animal that might bite him.

“Oh… hello,” he said, quickly switching to a smile, but she could tell it was a nervous one.

“You must be Luke Norwood,” Melody said, staring him down, but still trying to keep her expression neutral. Keep him guessing, at least.

He scratched the back of his head, still standing awkwardly next to the booth. “Um… can I sit?” At her nod, he slid into the booth. “Yeah… Um, I’m sorry about yelling at you earlier. I was nervous about this meeting and I wasn’t thinking, and I knew I still had to walk over here from the parking lot down the street…” He trailed off, fidgeting with his hands and staring down at the table.

Melody hesitated as the waitress came over and poured coffee into mugs for them. She sipped the steaming liquid and felt warmth spread through her. She looked over her mug at Luke, and he quickly looked down at his coffee. “It’s okay,” she told him. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you a hard time.” Luke looked up, and he must have seen the twinkle in her eye before she could hide it by taking another sip of coffee. “Why don’t we get started on this interview?”

Luke nodded, seemingly relieved, but his hands shook as he pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. “Do you mind if I record this?”

Melody shook her head, and he started the recorder on his phone. “So, your official book release and release party are tonight. Are you ready for that?”

She shook her head. “I’ve released books before, obviously, but as an author, this project is close to my heart. I’ve never written a story this personal, and this story is based off some of my own real-life experiences.”

Luke tilted his head. “Really? How so?”

Melody began to explain the story behind her book, and Luke seemed genuinely intrigued. Eventually the interview shifted from normal interview questions into other topics of conversation. Before long, the two of them were laughing like old friends.

“I can’t believe you actually went skydiving with your grandma,” Melody said, gasping in between her laughter.

Luke shook his head, grinning. “She’s done more crazy things than I have.” He sipped his coffee. “She’s the reason I wanted to be a reporter, so that I could travel and experience new things.”

Melody looked at him over her coffee cup. “Has she ever almost run over someone before?”

He laughed. “Not that I know of.”

The waitress came by, placing the check on the table. Melody glanced at her phone. “Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been here for over two hours. That went by fast.” She dug around in her purse and pulled out her wallet.

Luke shook his head. “No, my treat,” he insisted, handing the waitress his card. “It’s the least I can do.”

Melody hesitated, then shrugged. “I guess I’ll let you, since you did almost—”

“Hit you with my car,” he finished, grinning.

Melody laughed and didn’t argue any further. The two of them got up from the table. “I can’t wait to read the article later.” She smoothed out her coat, although she knew she couldn’t do anything about the oil stains. “I hope you’re not one of those reporters that twists everything I say to mean what you want.”

“Of course not!” Luke exclaimed. He looked at her, eyes wide. “I would never!”

Melody made eye contact with him and he noticed the mischievous glint in her eye. “Are you teasing me?” he asked, shocked. She grinned and nodded, and he elbowed her. “Not funny!”

Melody laughed and gathered up the rest of her things. “I’m just joking. I trust you.” A little idea sparked in her mind as they walked towards the door. “So, what are you doing the rest of the day?”

Luke glanced sideways at her. “Well, I’m going to finish writing up this article and turn it in, but that’s really it. That’ll only take me a couple of hours.” He opened the door and held it for her.

Melody hid a smile and stepped outside. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” They hesitated outside, and Melody looked at Luke.

“So, um,” Melody hesitated and looked down, fiddling with the edge of her coat. “If you’re not doing anything tonight, do you want to come to the launch party?”

He looked at her, a smile growing on his face. “I would love to.”

Melody couldn’t help but smile back. “It’s a date, then.”

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed that short story. Did you like this different type of story? Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hullo I’m Back! What Have You Been Up To?

Why hello friends! Look who’s still alive over here! Due to the craziness of school, the last few months I’ve definitely slacked on this blog. So now I return for the summer (and hopefully the rest of the year, too)! I thought I’d update you guys on a few happenings and what to expect soon.

First, I have a stash of short stories from a class I took this semester, so I should be posting those soon. Some of them are outside of my normal genre (superhero), like historical fiction and aliens, but I hope you’ll still enjoy them!

Second, I’ve been making some (slow) progress on IDIA #3, but I’m not sure when that will be released. I have another big novella-novel writing project that I’m super excited about, and that will probably be taking precedence since it’s for school. I’m definitely still working on book 3, though!

Finally, voting for the TCK Reader’s Choice Awards is still open, and Twinepathy is on the list! If you haven’t voted yet, you can read more about how to do so here.

Most importantly: I want to know what you’ve been up to! I’ve been out of the loop for a while, so let me know in the comments below about any awesome books you’ve been reading. I love talking with you guys!

Short Story: Meeting Ryan

Hello, friends! I come to you today with another short story that I wrote for class. This one was a lot of fun to write, and I really like how it ended. I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget to vote for Twinepathy in the TCK Reader’s Choice Awards! If you have questions, you can read my post about it here. Now, on to the story! (Make sure to comment your thoughts below, too! I’m eager to hear what you guys think.)

I see things clearer—or at least more logically—than most people. That may not sound like a big deal, but it’s frustrating. Very, very frustrating. Mostly because I’m not as blinded by emotion as other people, and I can look at things objectively. I have an outside opinion on a lot of situations, but people… they just don’t listen to me.

“Are you listening to me, Natalie?” my best friend Destiny asks, her voice pitched higher than usual in annoyance.

I shake my head, clearing away my intrusive thoughts. “I’m sorry, I got distracted,” I admit. “It’s so loud in here.”

That’s not a lie. People’s conversations and shouts echo in the school cafeteria, a messy blend of voices screaming, yelling, and hollering. Dishes clank against each other, and every once in a while, there’s a screech as someone scoots their chair back from a table. The noise is overwhelming, and I can’t help but feel a little claustrophobic.

“So I think you should meet Ryan.” Destiny’s raised voice brings me back to our table.

I sigh. “Your new boyfriend.” Of course that’s what she was talking about. “I mean, are you sure? You don’t think it’s too soon? You guys just started dating, what, four weeks ago?”

“Of course!” She grabs my hand. “You’re my best friend, and your opinion really matters to me.” She hesitates. “Plus, you always have a good sense about people, and you always look at situations objectively.”

I smile, a warm feeling rising in my chest. “And besides, talking about boys is what best friends are for, right?”

She laughs, high and clear, and I can tell it’s a genuine laugh. “So, do you want to meet him tomorrow? We could meet up at the park after school, at our usual table.”

As much as I don’t really want to meet Destiny’s boyfriend, I do want what’s best for her. “Okay, sounds like a plan.”

“Awesome!”

The bell rings, making me jump. Destiny’s chair scratches backwards as she leaps up and gathers up our dishes. “Come on, let’s go to class.” She grabs my hand and drags me through the crowd of people that are stampeding to the exit. I hate being among the crush of bodies, with all the yelling and the smells, all in close quarters. Lucky, Destiny is an expert at maneuvering us through the crowd, and before long, we’ve escaped from the masses and are on our way to class.

The rest of the day goes by as usual, same old boring routine, except that I can’t get my mind off of meeting Ryan. I honestly don’t know what Destiny has told him about me, and I just feel like no matter what, it’s going to be awkward.

Who am I kidding? It’s always awkward for me when I meet new people.

Destiny comes and finds me after school the next day, and by that point, my anxiety is jumping through the roof. I slip on my sunglasses and try to play it cool as we walk over to the park. She squeezes my hand way too tight as we walk, but I know she’s just excited. I can practically feel the energy radiating off of her as she blabbers on and on. Finally, I manage to get a word in edgewise.

“What does he look like?” I ask her.

She lets out an excited squeak that sounds like a mouse. “Well, he’s about the same height as you, and he has longish brown hair. He has these beautiful green eyes…” She squeezes my hand tighter, making me question whether or not my hand will still be attached to my arm when we get to the park.

We walk a little farther and turn into the park. The path changes from hard concrete sidewalk to gravelly dirt that crunches underfoot. Birds tweet overhead in the trees, and I can even hear squirrels chittering at each other and scampering around. I inhale, enjoying the scent of the recently-cut grass and cool afternoon breeze.

I inhale again. “It’s going to rain.”

Destiny sighs. “Of course.” She stops. “Okay, you stay here at our picnic table and I’ll go see if I can find him. That way we have it covered, whether he comes here or I run into him. Maybe we can go to the ice cream shop or something so we don’t get rained on. Sound good?”

“Sounds good,” I reply and slide onto the bench of the picnic table. I freeze. “But how will I know it’s him if he comes by?”

“Oh, I’ve shown him pictures of the two of us together, so he should be able to recognize you.” Her footsteps crunch on the gravel as she walks away. “Oh yeah, and you can ask him what my middle name is, he knows,” she calls, her voice fading as she leaves.

“Wow,” I murmur, picking off pokey wood splinters off the table. “She must really like him if she already told him her middle name.” It took her forever to tell me what her middle name was. It’s not like it’s super embarrassing… just weird.

It’s kind of nice to listen to the sounds of the park without Destiny talking so much. Children laugh nearby, and I can pick out different bird songs, separating them from each other in my mind. A dog barks somewhere in the distance. The most prominent sound is probably the wind rustling the trees—either that or footsteps crunching on gravel as people walk by.

I start to hum as I pick at the splintering wood on the picnic table. The crack as I break off the bigger splinters is really satisfying. The wind brushes against me, pushing my hair in my face, and I can’t help but smile.

“Hey, you’re Natalie, right?”

The deep voice next to me makes me jump, and I turn towards him. “I am. Are you Ryan?”

“Yep, that’s me!” The bench creaks as he sits down. “It’s nice to meet you, Natalie. Where’s Destiny?”

“Looking for you,” I answer, fiddling self-consciously with my sunglasses before going back to picking at the table. A sharper splinter stabs me, and I wince. I tilt my head. “Destiny said I could ask you what her middle name is, to prove it’s actually you, and not some random weirdo.”

Ryan laughs, and it’s a deep, full laugh. “It’s Allegra. Her parents chose it because of its Italian meaning, without thinking about the medicine.”

I nod and grin. “Poor girl.”

The bench creaks again as Ryan leans forward. “So why is Destiny looking for me? I thought we were going to just meet here and hang out.”

“It’s going to rain,” I explain. “We were talking about moving to the ice cream place, just in case.”

He hesitates. “But the forecast didn’t say anything about rain.”

“Smell,” I tell him, and I hear him inhale and exhale. “Do you smell that dampness on the air? It’s definitely going to rain.”

Ryan sniffs again. “I can smell it, barely. That’s so cool.”

“Ryan!” Destiny’s voice carries across the park, as does the sound of her running feet. She stops next to the table, out of breath. She spoke between huffs. “I’ve been… looking for… you!” She puts a hand on my arm as her breathing grows closer to normal. “I’m glad you guys are doing good. Let’s head over to that ice cream shop.”

The table creaks as Ryan gets up and I slide off my side of the bench. “Lead the way, Destiny.” Now I get to judge Ryan and see if he’s right for my best friend.

Destiny hooks her arm in mine. “Rock on your right,” she tells me, and I sidestep neatly out of the way. “I’ll get your cane out of your backpack in a second,” she added.

“Wait, what?” Ryan asks, his confusion evident in his voice.

I laugh, hitting Destiny’s arm. “You didn’t tell him!”

“You must have done a good job being subtle,” Destiny says, and I can hear the grin in her voice.

“Tell me what?” Ryan asks impatiently.

I pull down my sunglasses and turn towards his voice. “Tell you that I’m blind.”

The Mermaid and The Shell – A Fairy Tale Fable

Hullo, friends! So I’ve been trying to figure out some things to post recently, and I realized that I have stories saved up from my creative writing and fiction classes that I can post! So today I’m sharing the first story I wrote this year for my fiction class. It’s a cross between a fairytale and a fable, and I had a lot of fun writing it. Hope you enjoy!

The Mermaid and the Shell

In a far-off land, or sea, I should say, there lived a young mermaid named Nahla. She loved living with her family and playing among the coral reef. Her people were a joyful group, and she couldn’t imagine life without them. The king of the merfolk was a good merman at that time, and under his rule, the merpeople lived in harmony.

For every mermaid’s sixteenth birthday, they were required to decorate a shell to bring before the king. This symbolized their loyalty to the throne and made them a part of the tribe forever. The only requirement was that they make the shells themselves.

“I can’t wait, Mom!” Nahla exclaimed, spinning in a circle next to her mother. “Tomorrow I get to decorate my shell! It’s going to be the most beautiful shell anyone’s ever made.”

Her mother smiled at her. “I know it will, darling. I think you should paint it the colors of the ocean. That’s what I did for my shell, and everyone loved it.”

Nahla tilted her head sideways. “I hadn’t thought of that.” Secretly, she had imagined a swirl of colors, yellow, orange, pink, and purple, the colors of the coral.

Her mother nodded. “I think it would be beautiful. And it would match your eyes.”

Nahla smiled, shifting the picture in her mind. She could put some ocean colors on the shell, she was sure.

Her mother sent her off to find her younger brother, and she found him at the edge of the reef, watching the sharks swimming through the cool blue waters. His eyes lit up as she approached. “Nahla! You need to put a shark on your shell! That would the coolest thing ever.”

Nahla frowned. “Why would I do that?”

Her brother’s face melted into sadness. “For me. I won’t get to make a shell since I’m a merman. If I could make one, I would want a shark on it.”

Nahla put an arm around her brother’s shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’ll definitely find room for a shark on there.”

A little while later, Nahla ran into her best friend, Ara. “I can’t believe you get to decorate your shell tomorrow!” Ara exclaimed, twirling around. “You’re going to put a starfish on there for me, aren’t you?”

Nahla looked sideways at her friend. “A starfish?”

Ara nodded. “It’s our favorite animal, that’s why I put one on mine. It’ll be like a piece of me with you.”

“Of course!” Nahla hugged her friend. “I wouldn’t forget to do that.”

The next day, Nahla was released to find a shell and decorate it. She looked for hours, seeking the perfect shell, and finally, she found it. She struggled as she made it, trying to tie in all of the ideas she had been given. Before long, she finished, a sinking feeling in her stomach. It was nothing like she had imagined, and she couldn’t help but think about how ugly the shell was.

Eventually, the water grew darker, and she knew the day was nearly over. It was time to present her shell to the king, beautiful or not. She entered his throne room, knowing her family and friends would be there watching. Head hanging, she placed the shell before the king.

“What is this, Nahla?” The king asked, his voice stern.

Her mother approached and peered at the shell. “Those aren’t ocean colors, darling. Why are they smeared with yellow?”

“Where’s the shark?” Nahla’s brother asked. “I thought you were going to put a shark on it.”

“That doesn’t look like a starfish,” Ara added, tilting her head.

Nahla felt disappointment welling up inside of her. The king gazed at her. “What do you have to say, Nahla?”

She bowed her head, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “I wanted to make my shell coral colors, but everyone kept asking me to add something else. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom by not doing what she wanted, and since my brother doesn’t get to make a shell I wanted to put a shark on it for him. And since Ara put a starfish on hers for me, I wanted to put one on mine for her, too. I tried to include everything, but it turned into a big mess.”

The king nodded. “I will give you a chance to redo your shell, Nahla. Don’t try to please anyone, just yourself. Remember, the one who tries to please everyone pleases no one.”

And there you go! What did you think? I hope you enjoyed the story! Comment below if you have any thoughts or any ideas for future short stories you think I should write. And don’t forget to vote for Twinepathy in the TCK Reader’s Choice Awards!

Twinepathy and the TCK Reader’s Choice Awards

Hullo, friends! How is your February going so far? A lot of us are back at school now and struggling through the craziness. Don’t worry, you can make it!

I have a quick update to share with you guys. Twinepathy is up for an award in the YA/Middle Grade category in the TCK Reader’s Choice awards! A couple of you have already voted on there, and thank you so much for your support. If you’ve got a minute, would you mind heading over there and voting? The young adult section is section 12 out of the 16, and I would really appreciate your vote!

How’s your 2019 going so far? Did you get a chance to vote? I’d love to talk to you!