Books To Read Eventually (Gifted and Won, Part 1)

Hi, I’m Danielle, and I’m a bookaholic who amasses more books than I’ve got time to read in the immediate future.

Hi-i-i, Danielle.

I’m largely resigned to this, but one aspect of it itches at me: How am I supposed to help authors spread the word about these books of theirs if they’re sitting largely ignored on my shelves, shunted off to the side by bigger priority responsibilities and deadlines and whatnot? As an author myself, I know the value of reader word of mouth, and of even just having your books’ titles and faces out in the open where it might just connect with someone who’ll end up adoring that story to death.

Well, I may not have time to rip through all of these books, just now. But by golly, I can find time to make their titles and faces known. So here’s the first of several posts we’ll call my Books To Read Eventually series. Today’s category, books I’ve been gifted or won in various giveaways.

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Angelfire cover

“Angelfire (Angelfire, #1)” by Courtney Allison Moulton

First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

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Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks

“Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks” by Andrea Brokaw

Darcy Bennet lives to be on the ice. When the other little girls were watching the Olympics and dreaming of figure-skating, she was dreaming of representing her country not with skates but with a broom.

At seventeen, Darcy still has Olympic dreams, but she has more immediate concerns. Like getting her team to Regionals, making sure she’s accepted by the local college, and convincing her best-friend and team skip not to go to a university on the other side of the continent. And, possibly most important of all, resisting the urge to kill Lucas Fitzwilliam. ‘Cause he may be really annoying, but Darcy’s pretty sure they don’t have curling in prison.

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I'd Rather Not Be Dead cover

“I’d Rather Not Be Dead” by Andrea Brokaw

Drew McKinney never liked living in Pine Bridge, North Carolina, but she liked it a lot better than being dead there. No way does she want to haunt this stupid hick town for the rest of forever. She doesn’t want to haunt anywhere if she can help it. But can she?

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The Secret of Shadow cover

“The Secret of Shadow (Thunderstorm and the Elementals, #1)” by T.J. Silver

Charbroiling a cheerleader, twisting a tornado in history class, darting head-on into a Shadow-wing dragon named Drakyus…it wasn’t exactly how Thunderstorm Valdar had pictured his first day at his new school, Paracelsus Academy. Thunder and his family had just relocated from Chicago to Silver Oak, a move he wasn’t thrilled about. Up until that fateful day, Thunder had been an ordinary – though socially awkward – teenager who didn’t know that his uneventful life was about to change forever.

Thunder is quickly initiated into a world of mages who can control fire, air, water, and earth – and who are aided and protected by gryphons, pegasai, seadrakens, naiads, and dragons.

Just when Thunder thinks his day couldn’t get any more craptacular, a dark sorcerer kidnaps his parents and Drakyus whisks Thunder and his new mage friends, Angel and Darius, off on a wild adventure to save them.

Thunderstorm and his friends are forced to embark on a dangerous quest to find the seadraken Kanalia – the only one who can help them rescue Thunder’s parents and avoid an evil trap. As they travel to the ends of the earth, battling trolls, naga, and giant sea creatures, they uncover truths about themselves as the battles between good and evil, light and shadow, threatens their mage world.

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Marvelous cover

“Marvelous (The Books of Marvella, #1)” by Travis Thrasher

Brandon Jeffery’s summer started out with a bang—as in, a friend crashed his car and now he has to work two jobs to pay it off. It’s at Fascination Street Records that he’s introduced to a beautiful but quiet girl named Marvel. She’s new to Hidden Cove and looking for a summer job, so Brandon secretly strikes a deal with their boss to work for free so she can be hired.

When a classmate is found murdered, however, their summer takes a turn for the mysterious. Brandon’s friend Devon is sure he knows just who’s to blame: the creepy recluse of the town quarry. But the police have few leads, and Brandon has the sneaking suspicion he’s being watched.

That’s not what’s in the forefront of on his mind, though. More than trying to pay off his car to his unemployed, alcoholic father and protecting Seth Belcher from the school bullies, he’s determined to date Marvel. He doesn’t understand why they seem so close and she refuses to date him, but as the mystery behind her tragic past begins to unravel, Marvel finally confesses her reason: God has revealed she’s destined to die saving others—and it’s going to be soon.

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Sky Blue cover

“Sky Blue” by Travis Thrasher

Colin Scott is a top literary agent at a firm representing some of the biggest names in publishing. He’s worked hard to reach this place, yet now it seems routine and aggravating. On top of the creeping cynicism in his professional life, Colin and his wife are desperate to have a baby. As the pressure mounts, he finds himself questioning almost every decision he’s ever made. And he seems to be having a nervous breakdown.

Then disaster strikes. On a much-needed vacation in Mexico, his wife’s parasail malfunctions and she plunges to her death. From that point on, Colin’s life goes from bad to worse as he loses his job and, apparently, his mind.

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So ends Part One. What think, gang? Read any of these yourselves? Feel like reading any of them, having seen them displayed here? If you soon had to hop on a plane to your friend’s wedding across the country – as do I – which of these would you most likely take with you to read in the air? Share below!

Secret of the Souls ARC Giveaway!

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Secret of the Souls by Terri Rochenski!

Check it out!

Secret of the Souls

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Readers will experience Hyla’s spiritual and self-discovering journey once more, in this latest addition to the Pool of Souls duology.

And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.

To YOU!

You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by October 12th 2014, you are eligible to enter.

Interested?

Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of September 21st, 2014 to enter.

*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 – 500 (or more, if desired) words in length.

About Terri Rochenski

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

In Which the Guest Author Speaks of Foresight and Surprises

As today’s stop on the TORN Blog Tour, Ever On Word is proud to present Laney McMann! *studio audience applause*

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Torn Blog Tour Button

For my guest post, Danielle was curious about how much of TORN, the second book in the Fire Born Novels trilogy, I saw coming while I was writing the first book, TIED.

This is a great question and luckily an easy one to answer. I saw everything and nothing while I was writing TORN. ;) What I mean by that is I knew exactly where the story would go, where I planned and wanted it to go, BUT the route in which it took to get to that place surprised me. My characters always surprise me when I allow them to lead rather than trying to direct everything, and I absolutely LOVE that.

At the end of TIED, I knew that TORN would be even darker in nature. I knew where the story had to go, but the extent to which the characters delved into that darkness was deeper than I’d envisioned, and the level of emotion followed in suit. So did the tears. TORN ended up being an emotional whirlwind that I didn’t completely see coming. Layla and Max grew as characters, Justice and Tristan moved to the forefront, and a few unforeseen, as well as foreseen, characters developed into major players. All in all, the story became much bigger in scope than TIED, and it continues to grow.

Writing is always such an awesome ride, and I loved creating a larger world for Layla and Max to live in. A few tears were shed during the process, and I know more will come, as I’m finding as many surprises writing the third, and final, book in the trilogy, TRUE.

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Torn cover

About TORN: Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

Laney McMann 2

About Laney: With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

You can find her occasional ramblings on Twitter.

Book updates on her author page at Goodreads.

Her Facebook Profile for inspiration and randomness.

Updates on The Fire Born Novels at her Facebook Author Page

Here interests on Pinterest.

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Webite: http://laneymcmann.weebly.com/

You can also contact her by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

Enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win signed paperback copies of TIED and TORN, or e-copies of the same!

TORN Release Day Blast

Shouting for a friend: As of today, TORN, book #2 of the Fire Born trilogy by fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Laney McMann (whom you may remember from this interview of yesteryear), has launched! Click here to add the novel on Goodreads…before or after you read on so you’ll know what the book is even about. ;D

Torn cover

Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

I’ll have Laney over this time next week to grace us with a guest post as part of the TORN blog tour. In the meantime, TORN is available for purchase in paperback and e-formats via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so by all means feel free to grab your own copy(ies) today!

Furthermore, the e-version of TIED (Fire Born #1) is currently on sale for just 99 cents, so no better time than now to catch up on the series. And let us not forget you can enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win 2 signed paperback copies of TORN, 2 e-copies of TORN, and 5 signed TORN bookmarks.

/End blast. Commence tour! (See schedule of stops here.)

The Face of Five

Happy (belated) blogiversary to me! September 1st of 2011 saw the very first Ever On Word blog post, and just look at what all’s happened since then: More than 4.5 hundred posts in the archives, blog hops and blog tours, hosting guests and being hosted, pics, gifs, Will Scarlet holding my Saturdays hostage… and, of course, intermittent hurrahs to do with whatever professional publication things are hitting the market. Case in point: Today I am elated to reveal the cover of the fifth book in my series of fairytale retelling novellas. Behold!

Sun's Rival Cover, front

Next to the uncommon beauty of her sisters, Princess Laraspur feels invisible, until she learns the two most powerful kings in the world have their eyes fixed upon her. But the ensuing double-courtship goes horribly awry, requiring Laraspur to brave the secret perils of earth, sea, and sky, on a quest that will try the very essence of her being.

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The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)

I cannot sing the praises of my cover artist loudly enough. Yana Naumova, you knock my socks off harder every time!

Since this cover-revealing anniversary has got me in a festive mood, here are five fun facts about Wilderhark Tale number five!

1) I actually drafted this book ahead of Book Four, because I had an inkling about where I wanted to take this chapter of the series, whereas Gant-o’-the-Lute had yet to divulge his plans for “The Song Caster”.

2) Unlike the other Wilderhark Tales to date, my main inspiration for “The Sun’s Rival” wasn’t a fairytale, but the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche.

3) This is the first Wilderhark Tale driven by sibling relationships, of both the positive and, erm, not to be imitated varieties.

4) It is really hard to compile these five facts for you, because so much of the cool stuff I want to tell you does not comply with the rules of my spoiler-free zone. So I just really need everyone to read this book upon release so we can discuss it freely, okay?

5) This young adult romance adventure is slated to share a book birthday with another publication of mine; J. Taylor Publishing’s “One More Day” anthology (featuring my short story, “A Morrow More”) launched on a December 2nd, too!

“The Sun’s Rival” is currently available to add to your Goodreads shelves (you can do so here. Anytime, now. At your leisure), and will be ready for purchase no later than the official release date of December 2, 2014. ‘Tween now and then, keep your eyes open for excerpts, bookmark giveaways, and any other awesomeness my brain may come up with at the last minute (like it does).

ALSO, I am currently seeking folks willing to give e-ARCs (advance reader copies) of the book an early read ‘n’ review! Qualifications are minimal: Just do your darnedest to read “Sun’s Rival” and post your honest opinion of it (on Goodreads, your blog/social media platform of choice, and Amazon/Barnes and Noble.com), preferably before or on the book’s release date. Interested parties may leave a request in the comments section below or shoot me a message via my contact page.

Thanks in the meantime to all the awesome people who are helping me share the face of “Sun’s Rival” all over the interwebs; you guys get all the Cyber Brownies of Gratitude. ^_^

So-o-o-o? What’s everybody think of the cover?! 8D

In Which Reader Me Sighs in Double Disappointment

You ever hear about a book and think, “Ooh, boy! Want, want, want! I’ll totally love it!” and then buy/read it and…well, it just didn’t do it for you? Yeah. I’ve been there. Twice lately.

Damselfly

Book the First: “Damselfly” by Jennie Bates Bozic.

Genre: YA Dystopian

Blurb: In 2065, the Lilliput Project created Lina – the first six-inch-tall winged girl – as the solution to a worldwide energy and food crisis. Isolated in a compound amidst the forests of Denmark, Lina has grown up aware of only one purpose: learn how to survive in a world filled with hawks, bumblebees, and loneliness. However, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she’s not the only teenager her size. Six ‘Toms’ were created shortly after Lina, and now her creators need to prove to the world that tiny people are the next logical step in human evolution. In other words, they need to prove that reproduction is possible.

Um. No thanks. Lina’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online named Jack. Only he has no idea that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.

When her creators threaten to hurt Jack unless she chooses a husband from among the ‘Toms’, Lina agrees to star in a reality TV series. Once the episodes begin to air, the secret of her size is out. Cut off from any contact with the outside world, Lina assumes Jack is no longer interested. After all, what guy would want to date a girl he can’t even kiss?

Slowly, very slowly, she befriends the six young men who see her as their only ticket to happiness. Perhaps she can make just one guy’s dream of love and companionship come true. But her creators have a few more twists in store for her that she never thought possible.

She’s not the only one playing to the cameras.

My Thoughts: With the premise of a tiny winged girl and a romantic reality show, I went in expecting something a little more like a lighthearted fairytale. Instead, the novel was more a tangled web of cover-ups, manipulation, and both the main character’s and my inability to be sure of what was going on and who to trust. Outside my preferences as it was, I can’t judge whether it was poorly done, but it certainly wasn’t pulled off in such a way that could overcome my inclination toward anxiety and disengagement when presented with that kind of plot.

What frustrated me most about the situation, I think, is that it felt like very little of what Lina did mattered; whether she cooperated or rebelled, powers outside of her held too much control for her decisions to make much of an impact. And while, for these reasons, I did sympathize with Lina, her voice didn’t particularly grab me and induce me to feel any special affection for her as a character.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): All told, it wasn’t the reading experience I’d hoped for. I expect, though, that it is largely a matter of personal taste, and other readers may enjoy it more.

Camelot Burning

Book the Second: “Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1)” by Kathryn Rose.

Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy

Blurb: By day, Vivienne is Guinevere’s lady-in-waiting. By night, she’s Merlin’s secret apprentice, indulging in the new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It’s a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.

More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn’t include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur’s sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn’t have Merlin’s weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this one, guys, but we just didn’t click.

As if often the case in the steampunk genre, the story relied heavily on creative visuals – goggles and corsets and gizmos like animatronic creatures and gun-sword hybrids. For those whose minds can easily envision such things, I expect it would have been a richer experience (despite the fact that, apart from the shiny trimmings and trappings, very little about this Camelot got described at all). Alas for me, visualization, particularly of unfamiliar concepts, is not my strong suit, leaving me to go through the story half-blind. And without the aesthetic to charm me, that story unfortunately fell flat.

I didn’t connect with the characters and their voices; didn’t feel I really got to know them as I’d like. Perhaps with my allergy to anything veering toward the technological, the mechanically-minded Vivienne was ill-suited to narrate the tale in the way that would best speak to me; I had a hard time following her stream of thought, and was generally confused to the point of boredom. I wonder if the story wouldn’t have been better told in 3rd person rather than 1st.

(Skimming the reviews on Goodreads marked with 2 or 3 stars – many of which, I note, also begin with various versions of “I really wanted to like this one, guys” – will further elaborate on a lot of problems I had with the storytelling. I am somewhat comforted to know it wasn’t all just me.)

All told, then, while I can’t help but be intrigued by the idea of a steampunk Arthurian tale, “Camelot Burning” and I weren’t a good match.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): I’d like nothing better than for someone else to read this and love it the way I’d hoped I would. If you think that someone could be you, give it a go.

Have any of you read either of these books and felt differently? Or perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to mine with another book lately? The comment section is open; do share.

And tell you what, friends: If you haven’t yet read these books but think you’d like to give them a try for free, tell me which one you want, and I’ll select one or two of you (depending on what kind of response I get) to win the copies I don’t feel the need to hang onto. You’ve got ‘til Saturday, September 6th. Battle it out!

Fly or Perish (INSPIRED Days)

Inspired Days Button

This is it, gang: My final post for “INSPIRED Days” – an approximate month of awesomeness celebrating my J. Taylor Publishing novel which has lately passed its 6-month semi-anniversary of publication. Without further ado, enjoy this excerpt from INSPIRED, retold from Yves’s point of view!

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Where is he?

Even amidst all the noise outside – the crowds talking, laughing, cheering, jeering, the ceaseless music – his father’s voice cut through. The boy huddled in the dark, too petrified to shiver. Don’t find me. Don’t make me. Please, just this once…

But why should this time be any different? Nothing changed in this place. He was caught in the sickening loop of undiscovered backstory, a merry-go-round of day in, day out sameness which would never still until anchored by the narrative’s starting point.

He wished his author would begin his tale. He wished just as hard that she wouldn’t. For to begin was to invite an ending, and he knew this story too well to believe its ending would be a happy one.

The boy buried his head in the arms crossed over his drawn-up knees. That end might be days or years in coming. Or his author might leave him to languish where he was forever, never finding the time or motivation to find his story’s details. Such things, he knew, happened with terrifying frequency, in the world of words.

How did he know? He wasn’t sure. No one around him gave any hint that they, too, were aware their lives were an unwritten fiction. For reasons beyond the boy’s understanding, the others in his backstory were not like him. It was as if he were the dreamer, and all else nothing more real than part of his dream – his nightmare from which, if his author never wrote him, he would never wake…

The boy’s ears were a moment in telling him something was wrong, but there it was – or rather, there it wasn’t. The crowds had silenced.

He raised his head, disoriented. Not a murmur or rustle did he hear. Nothing but the music, suddenly eerie in the absence of all other sound. Uncertain, the boy rose to standing, crossed the shadowy space on silent feet, and looked out into the evening dim. Nobody there.

His lurching heart propelled him forward a step. Something vital had changed in his world, but was it for good or ill?

A prickle dancing up his spine caused the boy to cast a look behind him, and what he saw there stilled the breath in his throat. Wide as the horizon and high as the sky, a wall of blackness edged forward, devouring all in its path.

From his creation onward, the boy had known only fear, but it was nothing next to his terror now. He moved as he never had before, thoughts of grace and elegance thrown aside by the need for speed. Even so, there was no way to gauge how swiftly he moved, for his surroundings changed from stride to stride, the nightmare he knew shifting through dreams unexplored. The wall of oblivion remained the only constant, not yet managing to catch him, nor yet falling behind.

At length, too exhausted to race any further, the boy flung himself at the closest thing to an illusion of safety – a wheatstack in a pastel field full of such mounds – and burrowed inside. If it could provide no protection, at least it would prevent him having to see it when the wall overtook him.

Huddled in darkness again, lungs battling for breath, the boy realized of a sudden he recognized this place. Wheatstacks, he thought. End of Summer. He’d glimpsed its like in his author’s mind before. He was in a mental copy of Monet painting.

Wheatstacks, End of Summer

“Yes,” a voice rang from out in the open, clear as the music of a bell. “She was much taken with Monet.”

She. Did the voice speak of his author?

Peeking out through the wheat, the boy caught sight of the speaker – now speaking again – a tall, slender man, glowing like lamplight, hovering in the air in the midst of three others: One big, one medium, one crouched low on the ground and brandishing the black tail of a cat. “An angel?” he answered a question the boy had not heard. “No, Uri, not I. Yes,” – his ringing voice bore a trace of amusement – “I know who you are. I know who all of you are. And you must be made to know it, too, if you wish your survival.”

The boy did not know who all of the people were, but he could guess. They must have been like him – his author’s characters, from stories beyond his own. But not the glowing one, the boy sensed. He was something more.

Though the voices of the other characters did not carry as the bell voice did, the boy could see them startle as Lucianíel (for this was the name the glowing man gave) informed them of the situation. That his existence was fictional was, of course, not the news to the boy that it seemed to be to the others, but at the stated cause of the oblivion wall, he gasped.

Dead?, he thought, dizzy with dismay. His author was dead? His only chance to have his story written, dead? Had he been standing, the pain of the thought would have sent him to his knees. It was over. He was doomed. Finished before he had ever begun.

“You needn’t be,” Lucianíel’s voice chimed, once more seeming to address the three strangers and the boy’s thoughts, both at once. “To exist outside of the author’s mind, the character requires the belief of someone outside of their world. Such is the advantage of having one’s story scribed. So long as the book exists to be read, the character is immortal.”

And what good is immortality if you live forever in a nightmare?, the boy wondered. Was it any better than ceasing to exist at all? He watched, indecisive, as Lucianíel and the others prepared to go – go how or go where, he did not know. If he revealed himself, would they take him with them? Did he even want them to?

Of a sudden, one of the characters – the big one Lucianíel had called Wilbur – turned toward the boy’s general direction, looking all around. Searching for something. Or for someone. Surely not for me? The faintest hope fluttered in the boy’s breast.

Wilbur’s fevered search among the wheatstacks brought him closer. Closer. So close, the boy could have stretched out and touched him. Then, “Come, Wilbur,” Lucianíel called him back.

“But—” Wilbur began, voice choked with grief.

Come.”

No, the boy thought as Wilbur turned away. Fear sucked his mouth dry of words, but his mind strained forward. Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please.

And Wilbur’s gaze turned back. Catching sight of the boy, he jerked to a stop. “Wait,” he said. “It’s a person.”

The bell rang sharply. “What?”

“A person. In the haystack!”

In the space of a heartbeat, Lucianíel appeared at Wilbur’s side, both men crouching down nearer to the boy’s level. “Ah, so it’s you,” said Lucianíel, relief evident in his incandescent face. “I’d wondered at your absence. The choice is yours, child. Fly or perish?”

Fly or perish. The choice of story’s end, faced far sooner than expected. Too soon. The boy was not ready.

“Please come,” Wilbur softly implored. “You’re strong enough to have lasted this long; don’t you disappear now.” He held out a hand in pleading invitation. “It’s all right,” he promised. “You’ll be all right, if you just stay with us. I’ll look after you.”

You can’t protect me from everything, the boy thought. But looking into the pairs of eyes before him, shining gold and warmest gray, he felt sure both of these caring strangers would try.

Gathering what little courage he had, the boy placed his hand in Wilbur’s, placing his trust there, as well, and in Lucianíel. His ill-fated end was coming, but not today. Not to oblivion. His voice a hoarse whisper, he said, “I will fly.”

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And that, my friends, is that. If you’d love to nab the novel featuring this dear lad’s full story, remember there’s a giveaway on Goodreads with three paperbacks for the winning. Meanwhile, for the e-reading crowd, the novel’s e-version is on sale all month for a crazy-low 99 cents via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So for anyone who hasn’t gotten hold of a copy yet, the time is now!

Thanks to everyone who’s joined me for the fun of “INSPIRED Days”! Regular, miscellaneous Ever On Word blogging will resume on Thursday. ‘Til then, farewell!