Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Story Continues

I'm posting this for all of the "Saving Elizabeth" fans out there. It's especially for those of you who have been questioning me about a sequel. You guys rock my socks off by the way! Yes, I am working on one. No, I don't know when/if it will be published, but hopefully, this will satisfy you until (crossing my fingers) it is!

After writing the final battle scene of "Saving Elizabeth," I couldn't help but wonder what Lucifer's reaction would have been. Here it is in all of its raw, unedited glory. It didn't make the final cut, but I couldn't stand the thought of getting rid of it. Hope it sheds a little bit of light on what's to come. Enjoy! :o)

P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.

WARNING: If you haven't read "Saving Elizabeth," but want to, you might want to wait to read this. Reading this before "Saving Elizabeth" will be a bit of a spoiler.

I walked into the lair, shoving away the hands of those offering their assistance.
            “Leave me!” I growled through clenched teeth. “I’m fine!”
             I waited on the last creature to whisper his apologies before I turned the corner and shrugged off my cloak. 
            “Tonight was just a setback.”    My voice bounced off the walls of the empty chamber, but for some reason, the echoed words didn’t sound as promising as when I’d first spoken them. Appalled, I glanced at my wounds.
            A setback. Nothing more.
               The sticky black liquid oozing from my chest begged to differ, but try as it might, it proved nothing to me, nothing other than the fact that Gabriel, unknowingly, was about to sign himself over to the dark side. If he was going to use a little girl to fight his battles, then he might as well have changed sides tonight. Joining the dark army was the only thing that could keep him from losing any twinge of pride he possibly had left. It was just a matter of time before Gabriel came crawling on his hands and knees, begging to be given a place with the darkness.
 Chuckling, I dipped a finger into the gash, then examined it with curious fascination.  
            “Interesting,” I murmured, as I brought it to my lips for a taste. I’d never been wounded in battle before.
            “Who knew there was anything at all inside me?”  I licked my fingers and swallowed hard to force the bitter substance down my throat. Mortal blood always tasted warm and sweet. This was vile.
            “How fitting.” 
            I kicked the tattered cloak into the shadows and retrieved the newer, more ornate one draped over the arm of my makeshift thrown.
            “Armon!” I summonsed, as I slithered into the new robe, concealing all evidence of the outcome in the forest. “Come quickl…”
            “Yes, Master. You called?” 
            I lowered myself onto my perch and smiled at the creature before me. My most trusted servant, Armon had always been cool and collected in his dealings with others, but I couldn’t help noticing his trembling shoulders as he bowed before me.
            I motioned for him to stand. He followed orders, but kept his eyes lowered to the stone floor beneath his feet.
            “Armon,” I began, “I think we underestimated the power this girl possesses.”
            The words in my mouth tasted almost as foul as my own blood. They were an unwelcome reminder of the human who’d found strength and bravery when Gabriel, one of my own kind, had been so close to failure.
            “She’s far more precious, and much stronger than even I presumed.”
            Armon’s head nodded ever so slightly.
            I leaned forward, placed a finger under his chin, and lifted.  He flinched at my touch, but slowly raised his fearful eyes to mine.
I smirked and leaned back in my chair. 
Sometimes, it was the smallest things that pleased me.
            “Gather your brothers together,” I ordered, noticing the black streak my finger had left on Armon’s chin. I glanced down at my sticky finger, then wiped the remnants of my wound on my cloak.   “I must speak with them at once. Tell them we’re not finished with her and we must start planning our next attack right away.”
            “But…but, Master,” Armon hissed. “You were almost defeated tonight. Next time, Gabriel may bring reinforcements. What if,” the creature paused, aware of how dangerous it was to be saying such things in my presence, “What if HE shows up Himself? What will happen to us then?”
            With a thunderous growl, I catapulted from the thrown. Armon attempted a retreat to the shadows, but I reached him before he could escape my wrath.
            “I said, gather them together!” My trembling fingers lurched for Armon’s throat. It made a slight popping sound as I clenched it and lifted him into the air. “This girl could be the key that changes our fate,” I hissed, my jaw now tense with anger.   “I. Will. Not. Accept. Defeat!”
             I threw the sputtering creature against the chamber wall.
The smell of dust filled my nostrils as crumbled rock showered the floor.
             “Now, go!”    
            I lowered myself onto the thrown.
            Wide eyed, Armon scrambled to his feet and rushed from the lair.
            “Stupid, ignorant creature,” I mumbled.
            It didn’t take long before the sound of angry, questioning hisses drifted into the chamber.            “Is he mad? Does he not realize this could bring us all to an early end?”
            I touched the wound on my chest through the fibers of my robe, questioning whether I really was mad. Was my decision to continue in my pursuit of Elizabeth really worth it?
I reasoned with myself.
            What are you saying, Lucifer? Of course it’s worth it. It is written that in the end, you will be defeated by the light, but if this girl can predict your advancements, then surely she can be used to predict His advancements as well. If so, then she is the key to gaining the upper hand and rewriting your future. You must pursue her! What do you have to lose?
            Calmed, I stood and straightened my cloak.
            Yes. We will continue.
            I sauntered out of my chamber and made my way to the great meeting hall. The confused mass of demons roiled as I made my approach, but when their eyes beheld me they whispered their reverent praises.
            I raised my hands to signal their silence, and was suddenly reminded of the last time I’d been in this position. It was the time before the fall, and I was the Morning Star most treasured by The Creator. I was convinced I was more powerful than God himself. 
            At that time, the faces of those I addressed had been hopeful, encouraging, trusting. They had followed me to the end and unknowingly sealed their fates to eternal banishment and darkness.
            Now, those very same faces looked haggard, angry, and confused.
            “I have called you together to address a concern that I am sure many of you share.” My eyes rested on Armon crouching in the far corner. “It has been brought to my attention that some of you wish to cease our pursuit of Elizabeth.”
            A few in the crowd were brave enough to mumble their admittance.
            “This makes me wonder, then, if you have forgotten just how much her God took from us.”
            Those who had been mumbling now hushed. Confusion slowly etched their brows.
            I scanned the crowd.
            “Do you not remember what it felt like to be ripped from His presence and banished from paradise with no hope of returning?”
            Their stunned looks encouraged me to continue.
            “What it was like to have me, your ruler, refused a thrown?”
            A few silently nodded.
            “Do you remember what it was like to see Him create the earth, and the wonderful things in it? To realize that He created it for the hideous mortals he fashioned to replace us…mortals whose knowledge and beauty paled in comparison to ours? Weren’t you angry when you learned of the gifts He insisted on embellishing them with? Those gifts should have been ours!”
            The crowd began to surge with anger. Adrenaline coursed through my veins at the sight of it.
            “There we were, cold and dark, wallowing in regret over our mistake, but did he allow us to make amends?”
            I raised my hand, then slammed it down on the boulder I was using as a podium.
            “ No!”
            I had the crowd right where I wanted them.
            “And, as if he hadn’t punished us enough, he rubbed our mistake in our faces by sending the last Adam and giving the mortals the second chance to walk in His presence that we deserved. He gave them our gift, even after we’d lured them into disobeying Him. Did He ever once do anything like that for us, the fallen?”
            “No!” the chaotic crowd answered in return.
            I raised my hands in an attempt to silence them.
            “And do not forget, friends, about our future. It is written that in the end, the darkness will be defeated by the light. Our fates are sealed unless we do something to stop Him.”
            The crowd silenced now as I talked of our ominous future.
            “Capturing Elizabeth may be the something we need to change our fates. If she can see our every move and stop us from capturing human souls, then surely she can warn us of His advances if she works for us. If we know His every move before he executes it we WILL rewrite our futures.”
            I stepped around the podium and placed a hand on the shoulder of a nearby minion. “Not only that, but it will allow us the revenge we so desperately desire. He should pay for what He’s done to us, and if we stay the course, reinforce our plan of attack, and capture Elizabeth, He will be punished!”
            The crowd cheered, offering their support.
            My eyes flickered to Armon, who had yet to take part in the excited mayhem. His eyes regarded me warily.
            I snarled. He cowered in the shadows as I stepped behind the podium once again.
            “So, my friends let this be a day you remember for all time, for this is the day when His kingdom began to crumble, and the kingdom of darkness began to reign!”
            Cheers, almost deafening, roared through the meeting hall.
            “We will capture both Elizabeth, and Gabriel!” I yelled, my voice rising above the chaos. "God will be defeated, for we are legion, and none can bind us!"  


Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: "Halflings" by Heather Burch

I want to preface this review by saying I'm not just a fan of Heather Burch the author, I'm also a HUGE fan of Heather Burch the person. I know, I know...they're one and the same, but let's face it. There are instances where we've all fallen in love with an author's work only to realize the author didn't seem to really care that we stood in line for hours just to get an autograph , or we've fallen in love with an author only to realize their work didn't meet our expectations. I can honestly tell you that this is not the case with Heather. I had the distinct priviledge of meeting her at a writer's conference back in August long before "Halflings" was ever released. We were both attendees who had just signed publishing deals, and even though hers was on a grander scale than mine, we shared our thoughts about the exciting roads we had ahead of us. I found her to be an absolute joy to be around. Now that I've read "Halfings," I realize that her work perfectly compliments her kind, encouraging spirit. She's worth standing in line for, you guys!
Now…on to the  review! 

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

I was so very excited to receive an ARC of "Halflings." I'd heard so much about this book and how it would usher young adult paranormal romance into the Christian book industry...something I'd been waiting on for quite some time. Being a young adult paranormal romance writer of faith myself, I knew the matter would have to be handled delicatley for its audience, but feared the author would play it too safe to pacifcy a sometimes easily offended crowd. I'll be honest. There are many times I've played it safe in my own writing, but I'm happy to say Heather took the bull by the horns and offered us a debut that not only touches on deep spiritual matters, but also provides us with the action and sizzling teenage angst we've all come to expect from young adult paranormal romances.

First, we've got a pretty amazing protagonist.  Nikki Youngblood isn't your typical teenage girl waiting around on some knight in shining armor to come rescue her, and I love Heather for creating that! Forget the frills and lace. This is a girl who rocks her Vintage Tees. She drives a motorcycle, knows karate, and can beat the heck out of some hellhounds when given the chance. Does Nikki have moments of weakness? Of course she does, but don't we all? That just makes her more like us. I can relate to the tough girl who doesn't know what's going on in her life at times, can't you?

The second thing that stood out to me was the plethora of "yummy" male characters. Hand me a spoon! I could just eat them up! You've got your sweet, dependable Mace, your bad guy, Raven, and your adorable, Vine. Zero is even intriguing in a nerdy, dude needs some sunlight kind of way. They're all fighting to protect Nikki, but in doing so, some fall in love with her, creating a love triangle to rival the best I've read.

Third, I found Heather did an amazing job with her imagery. She can honestly paint an elaborate picture with only a few words. This isn't a book just to be read. Heather made sure you'd see it, feel it, hear it, taste it, and truly experience each moment with her characters. What a gift!

Last, but certainly not least, I have to mention the spiritual elements. Every character in this novel is on a journey...a journey between what is good and bad, right and wrong, light and dark. They're all fighting inner battles that almost make the physical battles with the hellhounds seem miniscule in comparison. Don't we all fight these types of battles on a daily basis? I know I sure do. Our lives are constantly dictated by the decisions we make. The problem is that many of our decisions aren't easy. Sometimes the world, our minds, and even our emotions tell us one thing while God tells us another. Thank you, Heather, for creating multi-dimensional characters who struggle with the deeper issues in life. 

So, as you can tell, I'm a fan. I think Heather did an amazing job with her debut novel. She introduced us to the world of the Halflings and set us up nicely for more (hopefully many more) novels to come. So, what are you waiting on! Run out right now and pick up "Halflings" by Heather Burch...or you can just click HERE.    

  P.S. Heather, totally gets bonus points for using Gilead's Balm in "Halfings." Love, love, loved it. Oh, and extra, extra bonus points for the similarities between "Halflings" and "Saving Elizabeth!"