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

Advertisements

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.”

Hello Again And A Cyber Monday Sale!

Why, hello, friends! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I blame college. But I have a surprise! In case you haven’t noticed, today is Cyber Monday! I decided that today would be a great day to put Twinepathy on sale for only $0.99! If you haven’t read it or if you want an e-book copy for yourself, go ahead and pick it up now! The sale will only last through tomorrow. This is my way to thank all of you for all of your help and support!

twincybermonday

If you’ve already read Twinepathy, you can still help out by posting a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your own blog, and by sharing about the sale. Thank you all!

Twinepathy (Part 3): An Erased Whatchamacallit

Hullo, everyone! Are you enjoying this so far? Are you excited about yet another post? Are you even reading this, or are you just skipping to the part already? *laughs awkwardly* For those who are reading this, I’ve set the cover reveal for November 1st!!! Eeek! I’m so excited! Well, I’ll let you get to reading now… (Need to catch up? Check out the first part here.)

It’s weird how much things can change in only a few minutes. With those three words, “I don’t remember,” our entire futures were changed. Not just for me and Brooklyn, but for the little girl, and Denver, and Jenna and Blaze and – darn, I’m getting ahead of myself again. So much for trying to be dramatic.

Brooklyn suggests to Denver that he go and get ready for his date. Knowing how nervous he gets, he’ll probably try on every piece of clothing he owns. He’ll be up there a while. Brooklyn gets the little girl to drink some more water, still asking her about random things to check her memory, like her name, age, what she was doing here. But she can’t remember anything.

Read her thoughts. A telepathic message from Brooklyn. It’s understandable why she didn’t say it out loud. The girl would freak out. And, come to think of it, we probably need to find something to call her other than “the girl.” I place a hand encouragingly on the girl’s knee and use that to strengthen my connection to her thoughts. They go something like What’s going on? Who are these people? Can I trust them? Who am I? What am I doing here? Oh boy, I’m so scared. Where’d that guy go? Is it safe here? What happened to me? Why can’t I remember anything? I look past those surface thoughts and… nothing. It’s blank, like a newborn baby’s brain. Not completely blank, though – there are a few memories there, but only ones since she woke up on our couch.

Confused, I pull out of her thoughts. I’ve never been in the head of an amnesia victim before. It’s both intriguing and, to put it bluntly, scary. What would it be like to not remember anything? With my connection with Brooklyn, I’m guessing we could restore each others’ memories, or send our own memories to the other person. But this… true amnesia? Absolutely, positively frightening.

Anything?

I shake my head in answer to Brooklyn’s telepathic question, still a little shaken by the insider view. Brooklyn pulls me into the kitchen. “What are we going to do?” she asks me in a low voice when we’re out of earshot.

“We should probably give her a temporary name,” I suggest. “Like Sydney. Or Madison. We should stick with Mom and Dad’s city name theme. Maybe we can convince them she’s our long lost sister.”

Brooklyn rolls her eyes. “Focus, Al. We need to figure out what to do before Mom and Dad get back.” She pauses. “We can’t keep her here.”

“You make her sound like a pet,” I say, leaning against the counter. “Have you thought about asking her what she wants to do?”

She gives me a withering glare. “She’s just a kid, and she’s a kid that has amnesia. What about her memories?”

I shake my head. “Nothing. It’s like an empty warehouse in her brain, except for the new thoughts and stuff that are coming in since she woke up. It’s like all her memories just disappeared.”

Brooklyn frowns at the table. “So it’s not like she just can’t get to them. They’re not there.”

“Like an erased whatchamacallit.” I wave my hand in the air vaguely. “Those computer things Ezra and Denver go nuts over.”

A frown flits across Brooklyn’s face at the mention of Ezra, but she moves on. “No clue what you’re talking about. But you need to focus.”

I throw my hands in the air. “I am focused! I’m trying to figure out if there’s any way we can fix her memory. It it’s like the computer thingamabob, then Denver might know how to fix it.”

“That’s not our main problem right now,” Brooklyn insists, putting her hands on her hips. “We need to figure out what to do n—” Her eyes pop wide open as she stares over my shoulder.

“What?” I ask, turning around and looking out the window. Panic rises in me. It’s too early, too soon…

Mom and Dad are home.

Duh-duh-duuuuhh… Sounds like they’re in a bit of trouble! What’s going to happen next? Guess we’ll have to wait until next week…

Next Post –>

TCWT April 2015 Blog Chain: Hello, Ms. Romanoff

My first time doing the Teens Can Write, Too blog chain… and I’m late. *sigh* Somehow I read that I was to post on the 16th, and I was really supposed to post on the 6th. I take complete responsibility. I was originally planning on doing a letter to fictional couples in general, since I couldn’t think of one in particular, and then… BAM. The Age of Ultron TV spot reminded me of one… and I went ahead and started over. 😛

Dear my beloved friend,

Hello, Ms. Romanoff. Look, I know you have trouble, surrounded by five guys, not to mention all those other SHIELD agents, but please. Could you just settle on one guy? I know you probably never took Tony seriously, of course. I *cough* haven’t watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but from what I’ve heard, there’s a little romance between you and Steve. And then in The Avengers… don’t you remember? Loki saying all the stuff about love and “you bargain for one man” and “KNEEL” and all that nonsense? You wouldn’t even have come in if Clint hadn’t been compromised.

And now the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailers hint at a relationship between you and Dr. Banner. Really? Please tell me you’re not going to fall in love with Thor in Thor 3. Seriously. You switching around from guy to guy is really, really annoying! You really should just pick one and settle down. While still working for SHIELD and the Avengers, of course.

I hope you will seriously take this into consideration. Also, please note that I am fully a Clintasha supporter. Just sayin’.

Yours truly,

Bri

5thhttp://www.adventuringthroughpages.wordpress.com/

6thhttp://www.theworldofthewriter.wordpress.com/ (*cough* 16th…)

7thhttp://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

9thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/

10thhttps://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ (Hey, if you liked my letter… she wrote one to Pepperony and Peggy and Steve! 😉 )

11thhttps://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/

12thhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

13thhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ 

14thhttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

15thhttp://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/

16thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.wordpress.com/ (*cough* And me, too!)

17thhttps://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/

19thhttp://from-stacy.blogspot.com/

20thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

21sthttp://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/

22ndhttp://www.pamelanicolewrites.com/

23rdhttp://arielkalati.blogspot.com/

24thhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ 

25thhttp://theboardingblogger.wordpress.com/

26thhttp://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/

28thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

and http://abookishflower.wordpress.com/

29thhttp://gallopingfree.wordpress.com/ andhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Book-Gap/603228309718111

30thhttp://hautehealthhails.blogspot.co.uk/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

Are you doing the chain? Which couple would you want to write a letter to? And, most importantly, who do you ship Natasha with? 😀

Dear Child – A Letter From God

Obviously not really from God. Please enjoy, share, and comment.

Dear Child,

I have heard you.

I hear your cries when you are in pain or hurting. I hear your prayers when you need help or healing.

I know your struggles, your scars and your problems. I know the things you enjoy and the things that you hate. I know your pet peeves and I know the things that ignite a passionate fire within you.

Whether you’re happy or sad, or angry and hurting, I will always be there for you. I’ll be with you in the light of day and in the darkest nights. I’ll never leave you or forsake you. I’ll never abandon you, and you’ll never be alone. You are My child, and I am always with you. I will help you in your struggles and heal your heartache.

When you’re hurting, turn to Me. I can heal the broken heart and put shattered faith back together again. I can fix any problem if you only call out to Me.

Even when you’re lost and don’t know what to do, I will guide you. I formed you in your mother’s womb, and I had a plan for you and your life before you were even thought of by others. Nothing can change that plan. No mistake that you make can make Me give up on you. I can always fix your problems and forgive you. No mistake is too big for Me. You are always mine, no matter what.

It doesn’t matter how far you stray; I will welcome you back with open arms. You are My child, and I love you. No matter what.

Love,

God

Tales From The Writer’s Desk: Out To Lunch

Inspired by questions on sarahtps’ post about her Liebster Award acceptance. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think. I love feedback! 😀

“Hi, Cascade, Iris, Slade,” I greet as the three troop into my office. It’s quite crowded with this many people. “Are you guys ready for lunch?”

“Starved,” Slade groans. Iris jabs him in the ribs with her elbow. We leave and head out of the building. “Where are we going to eat, anyway?” Slade asks.

I shrug. “Um, well, I guess we could go to the Shawarma Palace,” I suggest.

Cascade nodded. “That’s perfect. They’re amazing.”

We make our way down the street and take a cab at the corner. Even with all the heavy New York traffic, it doesn’t take us long to reach the restaurant and order our food. It’s pretty early for lunch, so the restaurant is virtually empty. We quickly devour our food.

“That was good, Bri, thanks for treating us,” Iris says, smiling at me.

“No problem,” I reply. “I enjoyed it, too.”

“So, what are we going to do next?” Slade asks. “You said you had a full day planned.”

“Fighting ninjas? Or crocodiles? Or man-eating tigers?” Cascade suggests eagerly. I laugh, and I’m about to reply when a voice from the booth behind us interrupts me. A man stands up and faces us.

“How about fighting… me?” he asks, an evil grin crossing his face. His knotted black hair is pulled back in a loose ponytail, and his sun-darkened face has wrinkles crossing it. They’re not smile wrinkles. A scar stretches across his cheek from his chin up to his eye. And then his eyes… one is green, the other yellow, and they’re both glittering with an intense hatred and glee.

“Raltan,” I breathe. “Raltan Menger.” He’s the villain from the story that Cascade was in, and he nearly killed her twin brother, Darrin.

He smiles. “Of course.” He turns to face Cascade. “I’m sure you wouldn’t be too scared to fight me.” He smirks.

Slade waves his hand as he steals a French fry from Iris. Raltan tumbles backwards, landing on his rear. Cascade leaps on top of him and clips handcuffs on his wrists. “I would fight you,” she admits, “but it’s probably a good idea to lock you up first.” She winks at Slade. “Too bad you weren’t there when we needed you.”

“Yep, lock him up,” I agree, relieved. “It’s a very good idea.”

Friday Fiction Challenge: 7-4-14

A challenge to help you write, get you thinking, and spark some creativity! Add a link to your response in the comments below and link back to this post. If you just decide to answer the question, and it’s not a full length post, feel free to just comment with your answer. Be creative and have fun!

In honor of the birth of America… and Captain America.

The Question – The Country

Which foreign country would you want to visit?

The Challenge – The Country

Write a tale about your unfortunate experience in this foreign country. Do you get stranded in the middle of nowhere? Or do you find yourself stuck on the Autobahn (or some other super highway)?

Bonus! The Question – The Captain

Would you rather go back in time to the 1940s during World War II or would you rather eat nothing but fondue for the rest of your life?

Bonus! The Challenge – The Captain

Write a fictional story about your time in World War II. Or the rest of your life while you eat fondue. 😀

Singing Lessons: A Novella

This is an excerpt (the entire first part) of a novella I wrote for a friend for her birthday. It was the first longer-than-a-short-story project that I finished completely. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think in the comments below.

PART ONE

“Mo-o-om!” Emily Noble insisted. “You know that I don’t like singing in front of people!”

Her mother looked up from her newspaper. “But, Emily, you have such a beautiful voice. You should share it! Why don’t you try out for choir?”

“I don’t like singing, or being in front of a whole bunch of people.” Emily sighed.

“You could take singing lessons,” her mom suggested.

Emily groaned. “Please, Mom, don’t make me,” she begged.

Her mom sighed, too. “All right, it’s your decision.”

Emily nodded and smiled gratefully at her mom. She knew that her mom wished that her daughter was interested in performing, but she hated being in front of people. Her mom realized that, though, so she allowed Emily to be herself, although she still encouraged Emily to perform, especially as a singer.

“Do you have any homework to work on?” her mom asked her meaningfully as Emily reached for the television remote. She looked up at her mom guiltily.

“Yeah,” she admitted.

Her mother gave her a fake stern look. “Homework first,” she ordered.

Emily grinned at her mom and headed upstairs to her room. She plopped down in her desk chair, flipping on her purple desk lamp. She didn’t have much homework left since she’d finished most of it in study hall.

“Write an essay about your siblings, or another close family member if you are an only child…” Emily muttered as she read over the homework assignment for her English class. She sighed. She only had one sibling, her older brother, Adrian, and she hadn’t seen him since his college graduation. How was she supposed to write an essay about the brother that she hadn’t seen in two years? She checked her notes. The essay wasn’t due until Monday, so she had five days. Emily didn’t normally procrastinate, especially with English since it was her favorite subject, but she really wasn’t looking forward to writing an essay about her brother.

~~~

Emily finally finished her homework and leaned back in her chair. She flipped the switch on her boom box, turning on the radio. Upbeat Christian music swelled and filled the room as she adjusted the volume, turning it down so she wouldn’t bother her parents. She stood up, grabbing one of her many novels, and flopped down on the bed on her stomach. She flipped a couple of pages distractedly, and then set the book down. She closed her eyes and rested her chin on the bed, soaking in the music. The DJ came on and started talking. She tuned him out, thinking about her essay that she had to work on. What was she going to do?

“… and here’s one of Manafest’s hits!” the DJ announced. Emily rolled over onto her back. The familiar beat made her close her eyes and bite back tears. Her brother had been one of Manafest’s biggest fans. He’d listened to their music all of the time, so she knew all of their songs by heart. The two of them used to sing along with the songs at the top of their lungs. Emily hadn’t listened to Manafest since Adrian had left. Now the memories of all of their good times came flooding back, and Emily could barely hold back the tears.

She wanted her brother back.

~~~

Emily slid into her chair at the dining room table. The dining room was one of her favorite rooms, other than her own. She loved the wooden furniture and the paintings hanging on the wall that her mother had painted while she was in college. Her dad came in and smiled at her, plopping down into his chair.

“How was your day, sweetheart?” he asked.

“Good,” Emily replied. She traced the edge of the lacy table cloth with her finger.

Her mom swept into the dining room with a dish in her arms. “Dinner’s ready!” she announced brightly as she set the dish down on the table.

“Ooh, chicken spaghetti casserole!” Emily’s dad exclaimed, licking his lips. The family bent their heads to pray over the meal.

Adrian’s favorite, Emily thought, but she didn’t mention it out loud. It was her favorite, too. She wished that he was with them now. She made up her mind then and there: she was going to find Adrian.

The Perilous Journey – Part II

I wrote this story a couple of years ago for a creative writing class, and I still consider it one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think. Click for Part I.

Annabelle knew that if the knights saw her, they would certainly stop her and ask her why a peasant girl her age was riding on this trail in the middle of the night. That would waste valuable time. And if they were enemies, she might be captured. Thinking quickly, she slid off of Star and led her into the small clump of trees on her right. Hoping that Star wouldn’t make any noise, she guided her along the side of the road, pausing behind the trees to listen and try to locate the knights. Finally, she was alongside them. She listened closely.

“We’ll sneak up on the castle tonight,” one of the knights, who had a rough voice, suggested. “We could figure out which window is his, and climb through and kill him while he’s sleeping. They’ll never know we were there.”

“Yes,” another added, “they may even think that it was one of his workers.”

“No,” a third man replied. “It won’t work. It’s too risky.”

When she realized what was going on, Annabelle caught her breath. These were enemy knights, and they were planning to kill the king! She quickly led Star past the soldiers, being careful not to make any noise. Miraculously, they made it past. She remounted Star, and urged her to gallop on the grassy side of the path, where she figured they wouldn’t make as much noise. With the help of the moonlight, she quickly made it to King’s Tavern. She slid off of Star and tied her up, then ran inside.

The sweaty barkeeper looked up as she dashed in. “May I help you, miss?”

“Yes,” Annabelle cried. “There are some enemy knights down the road, and they are planning to kill the king tonight!” Several men at the tables leapt to their feet and volunteered to go help round them up. The barkeeper organized a team of men to capture the knights.

Annabelle galloped Star down the path next to the tavern. It was a short way to the cottage, and when she got there, an elderly lady, who had heard Star’s hoof beats, rushed out of the cottage.

“What’s wrong, my dear?” she asked.

“My mother has the fever,” Annabelle panted. “Do you have a remedy I could take her?”

“Yes, my dear,” she replied, rushing into the house and returning a few seconds later with a small glass bottle of liquid. Grinning, she handed it to Annabelle, who peered at it. Frowning, Annabelle tried to identify the liquid, but could not.

“What is this?” Annabelle asked curiously. Wondering how it could help her mother, she sloshed the liquid in the bottle around. Slyly, the old lady grinned. Annabelle noticed that it was a toothless grin.

“They are Tears,” she replied.

“What?”

“Every time someone comes to me while they’re crying, I give them a hankie. Then, later, I wring the Tears out of the hankie. I save the Tears. If you rub it on the bottom of your mother’s feet, the fever will go away,” the old lady, who was still grinning, explained.

Under the cover of the darkness, Annabelle grimaced. At least Mother doesn’t have to drink it, she pondered. She thanked the old lady for the Tears and galloped back up the path. At the head of the trail, a dark figure stepped into her path. Star stopped. When the figure stepped into view, Annabelle realized that it was the barkeeper.

“The men are fighting up ahead. I’ll lead you to a short cut. We need you to warn the king’s guard about the knights. I don’t doubt that they’ll beat our men. Our men are pretending to be thieves,” he said as he mounted his horse.

They galloped to a small path next to the barkeeper’s cottage. The barkeeper stopped and Annabelle continued on her way. Eventually, the king’s castle came into view. She stopped at the gate where the drawbridge was down. She yelled at the top of her lungs until a guard noticed. She quickly told him to pull up the drawbridge and told him what the knights had said. She galloped back down the street, Star’s hooves thundering on the cobblestones.

Finally she was home. She took off Star’s bridle and put her in her stall. Star immediately dozed off, tired from the long ride. Annabelle quietly slipped into the cottage, where she found her mother sound asleep. She rubbed the Tears on the bottoms of her mother’s feet, slid into bed, and fell asleep immediately.

Happily, the next day, her mother was completely well. To her mother’s delight, the grateful king came by and thanked Annabelle for saving his life. She blushed modestly. When the king offered to give her anything in his kingdom in thanks for her services, she suggested only one thing as she smiled at her mother. Grinning in delight, she asked that he marry her mother, whose husband had died when Annabelle was a baby, and he agreed. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.

The End