Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Captured Minds by RA Odum

Today, I am excited to be a part of Rebecca's blog tour for her debut book, Captured Minds! I love the cover for her book and her excerpt. I already bought my copy and I can't wait to read it!

Captured Minds
Living a peaceful life is supposed to be ideal, but what if it’s what makes you the perfect victim? For the last decade, famine has had the thriving land of Zoar in its grip. With money and food dwindling, seventeen-year-old Raven Montgomery longs for something more than working in the library. Driven by her love of learning, she enters a competition hosted by the Other World, where she will test her knowledge in order to win supplies Zoar desperately needs.
Before she can do so, Zoar’s ruler is killed, and hours later the Other World closes its door. Raven can’t believe the two events are connected. Yet, when she stumbles across Other World technology that holds classified information, she learns there may be more to the competition than meets the eye. Sure that her ruler’s death is somehow linked, she now faces the challenge of revealing the truth behind the Other World’s sinister ways before both lands are changed forever.

Union City, Zoar
“Imagine never opening a textbook or sitting at a desk. Imagine having the information you learn in school being handed to you without lifting a finger. For the kids of today and tomorrow, this can be a reality….”
The words blurred together and Raven Montgomery rubbed her eyes. No homework? No tests? She squinted at the tiny writing in the right hand corner. New York, it read.
That’s in the Other World. Maybe it’s magic after all.
On the bedside table, her mirror flashed green. She snatched it up and found a new message. She touched the screen, and the Ruler’s face appeared.
“Good evening, Zoarians. I am pleased to announce that starting at nine tomorrow morning, the Competition Board will be accepting applications.”
Raven turned off the mirror and took in her wall-to wall bookshelves. In less than an hour, she’d gather with kids who owned as many books as she did.  Today she wasn’t the lone girl no one understood, unable to control her need to voice the information running through her head.
Bet everyone there can pick up one of their books and recall every single word of information on every page.
She slowly moved to her chair and was halfway to the closet when her bedroom door opened.  Her older sister, Kate strode into the room, already dressed in a white short-sleeved dress, a black belt around her waist. She'd pinned her long, straight red hair in a bun.  What stood out most was the red lipstick, almost like blood next to her whitish complexion. Raven bit back a laugh. She looked like one of those women in the magazines she’d found in the attic once—perfectly put together.
“What?” Kate cocked her head to the side. “Stop looking at me like that. I want to look my best.”
Raven’s giggle died, and she put on her signature pout, used only in the presence of her family. Since when did Kate care about looking her best?
 “And I don’t? Gee, thanks.”  She glided her hand along the row of dresses. “I have no idea what to wear. Where’s Ava? She promised she’d help.” She usually threw on the first unwrinkled dress, much to her other sister’s dismay, but today was important. 
 “Ava said to wear this.”  Kate tossed a solid blue short-sleeved dress onto the bed.  “Hurry! Mom said we gotta leave in an hour.”  She patted Raven’s shoulder and walked out of the room.
Raven peeled off her nightshirt and slipped on the dress. She ran a brush through her long, straight black hair, pulled it back into a high ponytail and dug out her heels from the back of the closet.  With the folded application in her pocket, she made her way into the living room. Ava, Kate’s twin, sat on the couch with her best friend Maggie Tisdale,who was clad in her favorite red dress and black heels.   Maggie’s long blonde hair wasn’t in its usual braid, but flowed freely down her shoulders.
“There you are.” Ava said with a smile. “You both look beautiful. Blue is the perfect color on you. Brian says there’s already a line.”  She wrapped her flowered robe around herself, her red hair in a messy bun—a far cry from the usual dresses, makeup and fancy heels she wore every day.
 “Let’s go! We’ll be waiting in line until next Tuesday,” Maggie said, tugging on Raven’s arm. “I want to get there before I lose my nerve.”
Raven started for the door, but a sharp pain slicing through her temple and down her right arm and leg made her freeze. In all the excitement, she hadn’t anticipated pain this early.
How stupid can I be? Mom will probably make me take my chair, too.
Tears prickled her eyelids, but she refused to let them fall. She stood at Kate’s waist. People already jumped to conclusions.
“Here, honey.” Her mother’s hands were steady as she injected Raven with the needle and took a step back.  “Let me get a picture of you two.”
Raven sighed and  put her arms around Maggie’s shoulders, their heads touching. There was no one else could she stand next to and not feel like an insect. Since Maggie’s family had moved in across the street four years ago, the two were inseparable. She was grateful every day to have someone to share her unusual height, brittle bones, pain that felt like  needles down her legs and arms and headaches with. Not to mention the need of a wheelchair.
I better not need it today.
“Okay. All done. Go have fun.”
“Thanks!” Raven followed Maggie outside. At the end of the drive a carriage waited, its doors open. Brian, Ava’s fiancĂ©, stood next to it clad in his green Guard’s uniform. His light brown hair was slicked back, a mischievous glint in his brown eyes.
“You’re the best guy Ava could’ve picked to marry,” Raven said. She dangled the folded up piece of paper in his face. “You think your new job can get me instant results?”
Brian laughed and patted her arm. “Not a chance, little lady.” He opened the door and helped her and Maggie inside. “I’ll be up front with the driver.”
She took in the familiar scenes of the city as the carriage bounced down the street: people walking along the sidewalks past the one-story brown houses that lined the street on both sides, children holding hands as they walked to the schoolhouse, parents on their way to work. It wasn’t hard to pick out those that were turning in their application. People dressed up for the occasion. To have your name picked to take the exam was an honor, and everyone took it seriously. The square already swarmed with people when they approached the palace and the carriage stopped a few blocks away. The line ran down the sidewalk, past the diner and clothing store.
The early morning breeze blew a strand of hair into her face as Brian lifted her out of the carriage. Once Maggie was down, the two linked arms and made their way to the back of the line. The sun radiated intense heat from a light purple sky, and Raven fanned her face.
“I’ll see you shortly.”  Brian waved and disappeared through the gate to join the other guards. The line inched forward and Raven could not hold back a grin. In a few short minutes they’d deliver their application.
“I’m so nervous,” Maggie said, twirling her hair around her left hand. “Why did I let you talk me into this?”
Raven gently took Maggie’s hand in her own. “You’ll be fine. We both will. We can do this.” The line started to move and she pulled Maggie after her.
“Everyone, please hand your application to the nearest guard and be on your way,” a guardsman shouted.
Murmurs floated through the crowd as Raven searched for Brian. He’d know what the announcement was about. He arrived by their side seconds later, his expression grave.
“What’s happening?” she blurted.
“The Ruler was found dead.”

RA Odum grew up and still lives in Georgia. Her love for writing and stories started in her grandmother’s attic and never stopped. Born sixteen weeks early and loss of vision in one eye, RA faces obstacles head on.  From the time she was very small, she has had a host of characters in her head, screaming for their stories to be told. When she is not writing, she loves to spend time with her family, sing and read. She also enjoys learning and teaching others American Sign Language. She hopes her novels will inspire and make a difference.

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Congratulations Rebecca! You should all be sure to check out her debut novel!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Endings Blogfest

Today is "The Endings Blogfest", hosted by L.G. Keltner, in celebration of her two-year blogging anniversary! Congrats Laura! :) We've all been so lucky to join you in your journey of writing so far and for another year to come. :)

The rules are very simple. On January 9th, post about an ending, whether about the ending of a book, movie, TV show, or as a writer write about an ending of something you've written or about how you write an ending. You can also share a flash fiction or the ending of something in your real life. It's very open!

I love writing endings, though they aren't always the best. To celebrate "The Endings", I am going to share a few of the last lines in three of my books. (Don't worry, they don't give away any spoilers!)

"Just shut up and kiss me. I love you, Jon. I always will."

Somebody to Love
The prince put his hand on his chin and pondered it for a moment. "For you? Deal."

"As long as the story has a happy ending, I'd love to hear it."

I really enjoy writing the last lines of a book! I want those words to somehow summarize everything the characters went through to get to that point, but also leave the reader with words that will stay with them for a little while. Make sure to visit the others blogs participating and congratulations to Laura! :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG - Will I make it this year?

It's time for the first installation of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month and is run by our Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh. (We are posting on the second Wednesday this month because of the holiday.) This is a place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

A new year is upon us. A new year of writing, editing, revising, querying, rejections, joys, and failures. It makes me feel really insecure about my writing. For one, I am currently working two jobs and still having trouble, so I'm searching for a 3rd job, but I already have very little time for writing. When I do get a little time, I'm usually too tired or just want to watch another episode of Law and Order to relax. I'm finding it hard to write when I just don't want to write.

Two, when I do find a little time to write, I feel like it is pointless. I've been writing for a long time and I feel like I'm no closer to having a book published. I can't help but think if I won't be published this year either. My dream feels stagnant. I don't know how to keep moving, when I feel like I'm stuck in a swamp with everyone else who wants to write. We are shouting to get our books read, but no one hears us. The harder we try, the more we feel like failures.

I feel like Mr. Potato-Head...
Will it ever happen for me? Will I ever be published? I need some encouragement. I don't want to give up on writing or my dream, but I'm feeling down in the dumps and a bit like a failure.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Goals

Happy New Year everyone! :) I hope everyone celebrated the coming of the new year and enjoyed spending time with friends and family! I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. My best friend took me to see "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" - even though it was my third time. I still loved it! I'm in love with Kili. :) He's so adorable and funny!

Yeah, he's wonderful. :)

Anyway, back to the point of this post! It's time for an update on my goals from last month.

Here are my goals from December:
* See "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

* Read "Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

* Finish rereading "The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien

* Write to 20,000 words on my "Star Trek: 2009" Fanfiction

 I completed 3 out of 4 goals! Not bad! :) It was my goal all year to finish rereading The Two Towers, but working two jobs takes a lot of my free time, but hopefully the baby I'm nanny for 3 days a week will take a few good naps and I can finish it.

Goals for January
* Revise "Breathless"
Continue revising dialogue tags, fix physical details, and change the ending chapter slightly.

* Finish writing "Little Mishaps"

Only two goals, but I would like to make a strong start for the new year and want to take it easy. I also need to start reading again! My goal is to read 40 books this year, which is the same as last year. I did it last year and I'm excited to read more this year! :)

How did your goals from December go? Good luck with your goals for the new year! 2014 is going to be great. :)