Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Short Story: Rescue From Suburbia

Since the release of City of Mages, I've been doing the prep work for the next revision of For the Wildings (the 6th and final book of Daughter of the Wildings) and I've also been getting back in the habit of writing new words (almost) every day. Part of that has been doing writing exercises from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. One of the exercises was to take a description of a neighborhood given in the book and write a scene showing the neighborhood. I started with that exercise, and it kind of took on a life of its own... Not my usual kind of thing, but I hope you enjoy it.
Roma Flowers
Rescue From Suburbia
copyright 2015 Kyra Halland

"Turn left from Route 9W in six hundred feet," the fembot voice of the GPS said.

Left? Sandra thought. She didn't think that was what the directions had said. But going 65 miles an hour down the highway with a cement mixer crawling up her back end was no time to fumble for the sheet of paper with the directions on it. She had programmed the address into the GPS, so she would just follow that and if it didn't seem right, she would check the directions when she found a place to stop.

The turn came up quickly. She veered into the turn lane without having time to slow down, and the cement truck blasted past her. She waited while the traffic coming the other way passed, then made her turn.

Woods lay between where she had turned and where the business park she was looking for was presumably located. Sandra drove into the shelter of the trees --

Then, in what seemed an eyeblink, she found herself not in the driveway of a large industrial business park but on a winding suburban street. Maybe the business park was beyond this neighborhood, if she kept driving straight through.

The street she was on curved and met a second street that branched off, also at a curve. She slowed down and looked at the street signs, hoping to see Commerce Street. No such luck; she was at the intersection of Mars Court and Mercury Terrace. She braked for a moment and considered; she thought she wanted to go north. Mars Court, the street -- excuse me, court -- she was on continued curving around to the east, but Mercury Terrace seemed to go north.

She turned and followed Mercury Terrace north, then it angled west-northwest. It turned into Venus Lane, Uranus Place -- the kids probably had fun with that one -- and Pluto Circle, then turned into Mars Court again and met another street at a sharp T angle. Jupiter Landing, the new street was. She turned right, hoping to get going straight north again, but Jupiter Landing made a hairpin curve. She followed it all the way around to get back to Mars Court, but right about where she thought Mars Court should be, Jupiter Landing met with Jupiter Court at about a thirty degree angle.

She was lost. Sandra stopped the car and looked around. The streets all looked the same. And so did the houses -- miles and miles of off-white stuccoed suburban sameness. Except the flock of pink flamingos in front of the house at the corner of the Landing and the Court added a nice individual touch. The compass on the GPS unit said she was facing south. Which seemed odd; if it was still morning, shouldn't the sun be on the other side of the sky from where it was? Either she was really turned around, or the GPS was messed up. Or both.

One thing was clear, she wasn't going to be able to just drive straight through the subdivision to the office park. The only thing to do was to backtrack to the highway and find the right exit this time. And ignore the GPS.

Sandra reached over to the passenger seat for the directions she'd scrawled on the back of the envelope while she was talking to the HR person on the phone. As she thought, she should have taken a right turn off the highway. But there hadn't been a right turn where she'd turned; it was a T-intersection. The turn must be farther up. Oh well; she'd left the house in plenty of time, anticipating trouble finding her destination. With any luck, she should still make it to the interview on time. Fortunately, she had the phone number of the woman she'd talked to in her cell phone. She pushed call; the chipper, cheery voice of the HR assistant answered.

"Hi," Sandra said. "It's Sandra Benson. I have an interview at 11:30; I'm having a little trouble finding your office, but I should be there on time. I just wanted to let you know, in case I am a few minutes late."

"Benson..." the HR woman said. "Let me see, I'll put a note on your file, just in case... I'm so sorry, Ms. Benson, there seems to be some sort of mistake. We don't have you scheduled for an interview today... Or any day this week."

Sandra huffed out an exasperated sigh, holding the phone away so that the HR person wouldn't hear her impatience. "It's right here on my calendar," she said, looking at the envelope where she'd scribbled down the information. "Tuesday, October 7, Mega-Lite Industries, interview with Ms. Valance."

"Well, then, I do apologize," the HR woman said. "It must have fallen through the cracks. I'll go ahead and put you on her schedule, and she'll work you in today, since you've already gone to all the trouble of driving all the way out here."

"Thank you," Sandra said. "I should be there soon."

She hung up, turned the car, and began backtracking. Now that she had noticed the pink flamingos in the yard of the house she had stopped in front of, other yard ornaments came to her attention. A Virgin Mary in a half-buried bathtub shrine, a basketball hoop, a garden gnome, a birdbath, a politcal sign for last year's election, an army of garden gnomes, a Camaro up on blocks, a flock of pink flamingos...

Darn. She was back at the intersection of Jupiter Court and Jupiter Landing. How had she gotten here? She could have sworn she had turned the other way, back onto Mercury Terrace. She called up the map app on her phone and had the GPS find her location; it showed her in the middle of an expanse of emptiness. Apparently this subdivision had been built since the last time the street maps were updated.
There were no signs of life on the streets; probably everyone was at work. Only one thing left to do. She Googled on her phone for a taxi company, and called the first number that came up on the results.

"Galaxy Transportation Company, how may I help you?"

"Hi, I'm at --" She checked for a house number on the pink flamingos house "-- 709 Jupiter Landing. I've got my car and it's working fine, but I can't find my way out of this neighborhood and I'm going to be late for a job interview. If one of your drivers knows his way around here and can lead me back out to 9W, I'd really appreciate it. I'll pay double whatever the fare would be."

"Certainly, ma'am," the cheery voice on the other end said. The connection was funny, from way out here in the boondocks; the sound was slightly metallic. It was lucky she could get a cell signal at all, Sandra thought. "You aren't the first person to get lost in that neighborhood. We'll send someone right out."

"Thank you so much." The rush of relief and gratitude was more than Sandra had expected. She hadn't realized it until now, but she had a really strange feeling about this neighborhood. It was too empty, too new, too weird. Going to a job interview actually sounded like fun in comparison to being stuck here.

She looked at her watch, hoping it wouldn't take the taxi too long to get out there. She got out of the car to stretch; the neighborhood might be empty, but it didn't look dangerous, and it was broad daylight, so it should be okay if she walked around a bit while she waited. The day was bright and held some summer heat that just wouldn't let go.

Then, somehow, the light seemed brighter. She squinted; the brightness hurt her eyes. A chill rushed over her, weird considering the heat and how strong the sun was. She turned to go back to her car, saw at the heart of the bright light something shiny and metallic hanging in the sky, far too large to be floating... Right before the light enveloped her completely and the world fell away, she saw the lettering on the ship, Galaxy Transportation.

At least she wasn't lost in suburban hell any more, was her last thought.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

City of Mages Now Available!

I'm happy to announce that City of Mages, book 5 of Daughter of the Wildings, is now available at the following stores:

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit
Smashwords | DriveThruFiction

The regular price is $3.99, but through this weekend you can get it for only 99 cents! I'm still waiting for it to go live at Barnes & Noble and Google Play, but that should be within a day or so, or maybe less. Over the next week I'll get the paperback edition formatted, then that will be available a couple of weeks later, after I receive the proof copy in the mail and approve it.

City of Mages is the next-to-last book in the series. The last book, For the Wildings, is by far the longest book in the series, so it's going to take a little longer to get it ready to go, especially with the holidays coming up the next couple of months. I'm still thinking about what comes after that; I realized that the second project space in my brain has been occupied by a fanfiction I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, that I'm still editing. I'm almost done with that, so I'm going to finish it up and get ready to start posting it so I can move on to something else. The Healing Tree (dumb working title) really wants to get written, and I've got a bunch of other projects waiting to be planned or revised. A follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings is definitely on the list :-)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Quick Update: City of Mages, Featured Author

Picture Wow, I just realized I haven't been posting much lately. I've been deep in edits on City of Mages, and I'm on to the final proofreading. Look for it next week! To make sure you don't miss the release announcement, sign up for my email alerts. I won't share your information, and I also won't spam you.

Also, this week I'm the featured author in the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Readers, Writers, and Reviewers Goodreads group. I want to thank these nice people who are helping promote me this week - make sure you go check them out!

Aoife Sheridan
Lynn Thompson
Annie B Matthews
Eva Gordon
Elle Jacklee
Shari Sakurai
A.S. Johnson
Brandy Isaacs
Fiona McShane

Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Spotlight: Annie B Matthews

Introducing author Annie B Matthews, author of the YA paranormal novel Talent:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I have always been a voracious reader and writing seemed to be a natural extension of that. I love stories, whether they are written word or on the screen. I’m a runner too, which came as something of a surprise to me, but it’s a great way to bash out plot ideas.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
As a teenager, I would be frustrated by novel endings that I didn’t like and I would reimagine these all the time. I would have these little movies playing in my head too, but it wasn’t until a friend showed me a story she had written that I decided to start writing myself. I was twelve. I started writing YA as a teen and never stopped. Although I do have a couple of adult novels on the back burner.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
At the moment I primarily write YA, as that’s how I started and I like YA. I work with teenagers, so I listen to what they have to say about the fiction aimed at them and I try to consider that in my stories. For instance, many girls want the romance, but without the weak female character that often goes with that. I enjoy writing stories where the romance is important, but the heroine is more important. My heroines are independent and the guys they end up with are awesome, not ‘alpha’, regardless of their age!

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Talent is my first self-published novel and the sequel, Fire, will be out before Christmas. These will be the only two novels in the Talents series. I have some other projects I want to work on, including a novella on revenge bullying.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The world of Talents is the world we live in, with a variety of ‘talented’ individuals. Telepaths, empaths, locator talents and future seers...just as every person is unique, so are the talents. The Talent world is, in many ways, in its infancy; these novels show the starting point for a new society that brings all the Talents together.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
In Talent, we meet Libby. She’s ambitious, loyal and tenacious. I like her, as she’s not afraid of a challenge - she faces a lot of them! Her best friend, Kelly, also interested me as she started out happy and vivacious, but the world they live in has its own pressures. As she grows up, she has to work out her place in that world. It’s an interesting and often difficult journey that I think we can all relate to. Kelly is the heroine of Fire [book 2].

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Talent took 2 years to finish because I didn’t think I could, or should. I met someone who writes and blogs, and she loves what she does. She inspired me to give it a go. Once I made my decision, the book was finished in 3 months.

Where to find Annie B Matthews:
I blog when I can, or when something interesting comes to mind. You can find ‘Read, write, coffee’ on Wordpress:
Goodreads | Twitter

 Libby didn't expect to have her perfectly planned life uprooted half way through Sixth Form.
Starting a new school is the least of her worries, however, even though the natives aren't too friendly and the boy she has an instant crush on looks at her as though she's his worst enemy.
With her parents acting strangely, Libby starts to think that their big move might tear the family apart.
Then her mum disappears and Libby finds herself thrust into a world she never dreamed existed.

It turns out that no one is ever what they seem.

A young adult paranormal novel.

Available at Amazon

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author Spotlight: Eleanor Webster

Eleanor Webster
Today I'm happy to welcome Eleanor Webster to the blog, to celebrate the release of her first novel, No Conventional Miss.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in a small town in northern Canada with my husband and two daughters.  In addition to human neighbours, I also have bears and deer which frequent my backyard.  One bruin, in fact, broke my very fine cherry tree.

I am a lifelong learner and have a Masters degree in educational psychology and undergraduate degrees in creative writing and history.  I use my writing to explore my fascination with the past and am thrilled to announce the publication of my first Harlequin Historical, No Conventional Miss.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I attempted my first novel when I was in grade 5. It featured a stowaway on a freighter. However,  I lost interest in her somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

As to why I write – I write largely because I am too old to play with Barbie dolls – plus their clothes are too tricky and I always lost the shoes.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write? 
I write romance and I aim to entertain.  I work in a field of psychology which can result in heart-breaking situations and I write to create a place of ‘happy endings’ which are not always duplicated in real life.  I enjoy creating engaging and somewhat quirky characters.

For example,  in  No Conventional Miss   Rilla is an inventor and builds a butter churn which succeeds in flooding the dairy.  Lady Wyburn, another character is kind, lovely and slightly ditzy in a very smart way. For me, Lady Wyburn is that impish inner voice which notes the inanities of everyday life and enables one to cope with humor to life’s vicissitudes.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book is No Conventional Miss. It is debuting today, Oct. 1,through Harlequin Historicals. I have a two book contract with Harlequin so a second book will be released at some point... It is set slightly earlier with the backdrop of the French Revolution.

No Conventional Miss
5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
No Conventional Miss is set in Regency England. I have always loved the Regency Period because it depicts a society poised for change. The inventions of the Industrial Revolution are emerging, bringing with them the anticipation of societal transformation.

Rilla has a zest for innovation and invention. However, she is also plagued by moments of second sight and paranormal ability. Both aspects of her personality are not acceptable within the context of her society..

6. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
My favourite character, Lady Wyburn, is based on my conception of a grandmother I never met but with whom I identify. She was ditzy in a smart, delightful way. Apparently, she once set the veil of her hat on fire with a cigarette. I’d do something like that. In fact, my peers strongly advocated that I NOT take up smoking. Second interesting fact, I am a hand-talker. I can’t help it. Once when working with teenagers they timed me to see how long I could talk without moving my hands. I never made it past 30 seconds.

No Conventional Miss:
She's always been different…

Amaryllis Gibson is an unlikely debutante. She favors fact over fashion, cares not for "proper" conversation and is haunted by ghostly visions which could land her in the madhouse! Marriage is definitely the last thing on Rilla's mind…

But when she's caught in a compromising position with Viscount Wyburn, suddenly she finds herself betrothed! And worse, his powerful presence only increases her visions. By shedding light on the viscount's past, can Rilla gain his trust and win him round to her more…unconventional traits?

No Conventional Miss is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

About the Author:
Eleanor Webster loves high-heels and sun, which is ironic as she lives in northern Canada, the land of snowhills and unflattering footwear. Various crafting experiences, including a nasty glue-gun episode, have proven that her creative soul is best expressed through the written word.

 Eleanor lives with her husband and has two daughters. She is a lifelong learner and  is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology. Eleanor has a masters degree in educational psychology and an undergraduate degree in history and creative writing. She loves to use her writing to explore her fascination with the past.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads