Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Birthday Post (ft. A Look at Me in the Past)

It's that time of year again. That thing that happens to all of us...every year...happened to me today. I had a birthday. I'm nineteen.
Wait, wait, wait, that's not nearly as excited as I want to sound. Take two.

TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY AND I'M NINETEEN GUYS!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D

Better.


Since this is a special blog post all about the fact that I'm now a year older, I looked back through my previous birthday posts and tried to come up with something equally entertaining, while not copying last year and the year before.
So today, you're going to get a few fun facts about the number 19, a look at what I was like as a child writer (including some cringe-worthy works from my six-to-eleven year old self), and 19 facts that you probably don't know about me.
Ready? Let's jump in with both feet.

~Random Facts About the Number 19~

RF#1: Apparently, the number 19 is THE luckiest number out there. So I'm expecting good things this year. (Just kidding. ;P)

RF#2: This made me chuckle: 19 is a "masculine" number. I guess that's a thing? XD I had to wonder though, what makes a number masculine/feminine?

RF#3: Did you know there's a bronze anniversary like there's a silver and gold one? Yep. And guess how many years marks your bronze anniversary? 19.

RF#4: The number nineteen, being made of the first and last number (1 and 9) makes it a number of completions; the number of beginning and end.

RF#5: In a 24-hour clock, the 19th hour is in conventional language called seven, or seven o'clock.

~A Look into My Past as a Writer~

>>Early Poetry: composed at age six and a half
The Pond:
Waddle, waddle, look! There's a pond!
Waddle, waddle, SPLASH
Paddle, paddle, look! There's a fish!
Paddle, paddle, GULP


>>Early Writing:
First short story composed at the age of eleven: Sam and the Scalliwogs
Because it's so short, I'll give you the whole thing. I honestly can't remember why I wrote this story...but I found it in my archives so I thought I'd share it with you all. ;)

“Sam!” A loud cry jerked Sam’s attention away from studying the far horizon with his newly acquired telescope, given to him by his older sister, Olivia. He quickly closed it up and scooted towards the sound.
As he neared the house, he yelled out: “Who calls me?”
"I do,” and from around the corner of the house came his older sister Olivia. “I say, Sam, where have you been? I’ve been calling and calling for you.” 
Sam apologized, explaining that he had been looking through his telescope at the horizon.
Olivia grinned and told him that she was glad that he liked it. “However,” she added, “we’ve just been sent new orders from Birds of Prey Headquarters.”
Sam’s eyes lit up. “A new order?” he asked. “Great! When do we start?”
Olivia grinned again. “Hold your horses, Pal, we’ve not received the entire message yet. It might take a while yet, but I thought I’d call you anyway, since you always have enjoyed getting a new order.”
Sam nodded his head enthusiastically. “Sure do!”
“Come on then, it may be finished now.”
It was. Sam waited, somewhat impatiently, for his sister as she scrutinized the note.
“Well?” he finally asked. “What does it say?”
Olivia laughed at his impatience. “Hold on a sec. I’ve almost got it…” she paused and continued scratching out the message again onto a new piece of paper. Soon She gave the triumphant declaration; “Ah ha! I finished. Here’s what it says:
To Olivia and Sam of the Birds of Prey Scouts:

I am afraid that I need to have you switch jobs for a moment. I have had terrible news that the Scalliwogs, whom I am certain you have heard of, are being yet again found outside of their borders, in which our scouts had contained them for so long. I will need you both to chase back the Scalliwogs into their own territory, which is known as “Rattlesnake Country”. Do not think that this will be an easy job. On the contrary, it will be difficult. You must stand strong Scouts! Never let them know your fear, or else, beware! You will have to cross the Swamp of Death in pursuit of them which has not been done by any in over a hundred years. But stand strong Scouts, and, if in dire need, use the Lasers of Light which we have given you for self-defense. Be brave! Be strong! For you are Birds of Prey Scouts!

                                                        Yours, with Faith,

                                               Birds of Prey Headquarters

Sam gulped and looked at his sister. She returned his look grimly. “Sc-Scalliwogs?” he asked fearfully.
Olivia nodded. “Yes, nasty critters that have eyes as big as dinner plates. Their teeth are huge and they are the ugliest looking critters that you’ve ever laid eyes upon.” She shivered. “Best to let them not know our fears, or else, as the Headquarters said.”
Sam quivered, but stopped himself and showed a brave face. “Well,” he took a deep breath and smiled shakily, “Let’s go get us some Scalliwogs.”
                                                      ◊◊◊◊◊◊
After suiting up to go out into the rain again, Olivia packed their packs with provisions: crackers, sliced cheddar cheese, two chocolate chip cookies each, a ham sandwich to split between them, two water bottles full of good well water, and both of their Lasers of Light.
Sam shouldered his pack, as did Olivia, and they headed out. Olivia didn’t forget to pack two pocket knives just in case, as well as the Birds of Prey Scout Map.
They trekked quietly for a while, until they had gotten quite far into the woods, and came to a three-way fork in the path.
Olivia turned to Sam. “Which way do you think we should go?” she asked.
Sam shrugged and they decided on the middle one, thus going straight. Olivia used her pocket knife to hash a mark into the nearest tree to the middle path. They trudged on.
Suddenly Olivia halted in her tracks and pointed a shaking finger at a tree branch, tucked between two trees, resembling an N. She looked at Sam. “That’s a sure sign of Scalliwogs. That’s how they mark their trails.
Sam nodded. “This means we’re close on their trail!”
Now, with more determination than ever, the two of them continued.
Suddenly, just ahead of them they saw a Scalliwog. It reared up onto its back legs and charged at them. Or, I should say, right at Olivia.
Her face went white, and she froze. “Sam,” she whispered urgently, “while I have it distracted, you go behind and get it with you Laser of Light. Quick! There’s no time to lose!”
Sam nodded and set off on his duty. He evaded the creature pretty easily, and got behind it. Swiftly and silently, he opened his backpack and drew the gun. Carefully, he aimed at the critter’s back, and fired. The creature let out a horrendous scream and did a double flip backwards, landing on its back. It let out a gurgle of rage and died.
Olivia’s face slowly regained its original color, and she smiled gratefully at Sam. He grinned back, and they continued on their way.
They met a few more Scalliwogs, but they were easily disposed of…except one other, a stubborn thing, that ran away from them across the Swamp of Death so Olivia and Sam had to follow it. Carefully, Olivia put one foot out and gingerly felt for solid ground before grabbing Sam’s hand. Sam helped spot solid ground along the way, and so the two of them didn’t get sucked down into the bog.
The Scalliwog, however, was not so fortunate, and got sucked into the mire, screaming as they do all the way down, with vigor. It was a truly horrible sound, and almost made Olivia and Sam’s blood freeze just listening to it.
By the time the two Scouts had safely crossed the Swamp of Death, they were exhausted, physically and mentally. They found a stump to sit upon, but no sooner had they sat when they had another Scalliwog came upon them, and, tired but determined, they fought it.
It was a long and dirty battle, but the two Scouts were able to at last extinguish the creature with their Lasers of Light, and were victorious again. They were also able to rest at last, and, when rested, they were able to tackle the next few Scalliwogs with much more vigor.
Soon, Olivia and Sam drove the Scalliwogs back to their territory, and hooked the gate with a special clasp with a numbered code, so secret that besides them, only the Chief of the Birds of Prey Scouts knew it.
So, with the Scalliwogs now locked in their own domain forever, Sam and Olivia returned to their hometown as heroes, although they were very modest and replied to the praise of the people that without their trusty Lasers of Light, they really couldn’t have done it.
They were both promoted to Super Scout and were able to help the Birds of Prey Scout Masters to train up further generations of Scouts.

First "novel" composed at age ten: The Mysterious Five and the Search for the Lost Dinosaur Leg Bone
(I left the following snippet unedited so you can appreciate -- as I do -- how far I've come in my writing. *shudders*)
Snippet:
Hello, my name is Seth. I am the oldest child in my family, my age: seventeen. I have four siblings, and we are all orphans. From oldest to youngest it goes: Me, Seth Swanson, age seventeen, then Rachel Swanson, age fifteen, next Amy Swanson, age fourteen, after her Adam age eleven, and last but certainly not least, Kenneth age ten. We all have our own personalities, so altogether we make an interesting mix. My own personality is that of most older children, responsibility first! Rachel and Amy have similar personalities and are good little mothers for all of us. Adam is our adventurer and sometimes does not think before he does. Kenneth has more of my personality and is the quiet one of the family. We can always count on him to solve our problems and heal our hurts. All together, we love and support each other in all that we do.

We live in a small cottage at the back of our step-uncle’s Museum. His wife died just a few months ago, and since then, he has become extremely absent minded. We make our keep by helping our step-uncle with his many displays. Often we have to figure out our days work by ourselves because he is far away in his mind. Our personal favorite exhibit is the Triceratops leg bone. It is the best-preserved leg bone ever found in history. My step uncle and all of us are very proud of it. Therefore, it is probably not a surprise that this is also the most expensive display. Rachel’s first job in the morning is to check on that exhibit to make sure its glass is shimmering with cleanliness by the time the museum opens at 7:00 am. She is the secretary of the museum and, if I may say so myself, a very good one. I am my step-uncles everything staff, and make myself useful during the day. Amy, Adam, and Kenneth are the clean-up crew at the end of the day. They are the ones who sweep and mop all the floors, dust the windowsills, and dust some of the less important exhibits. Our story starts here, at the back of this small town museum.

* * * * *
 Early in the morning, I awoke to Rachel violently shaking me by the shoulder.
“Seth!” she whispered urgently, trying not to wake the two other boys next to me, “I have something important to say!” Having had all the grogginess shaken from me, I sat bolt upright, nearly upsetting the small cot that I shared with my two brothers.
“What is it?” I replied as Rachel gasped for breath. (I could tell she had been running.) Finally, she gasped out,
“Seth, our triceratops leg bone is GONE!” She gave especial emphasis on the last word, and made me jump. Kenneth and Adam stirred in their sleep and Adam grunted before his breath evened out again.
“Have you told Uncle?” I asked after regaining my composure from the shock. Rachel shook her head and replied,
“No, He is awfully absent minded today, he walked right by the display it used to be in and never noticed that it was gone.” I shook my head in disbelief.
“I can’t believe it! Have you told any of the other kids?” Rachel again shook her head. “Good, let’s keep it that way until breakfast. I will tell them then. Wake up Amy and the other boys and let me have some quiet time to think. Thanks.” Rachel did as she was told, while I sat and stewed in thought.
Soon, Rachel came in to say Breakfast was ready. I thanked her for the information and headed to the table. Quietly, I rehearsed my speech in my head until the opportunity came to tell them. It took awhile for the noise to die down some, but at last it did and I stood from my chair. All eyes were riveted to me. I did not usually stand up in middle of a meal. Clearing my throat, I began.
“Brothers and sisters, I have just this morning heard the dreadful news that the triceratops leg bone has mysteriously disappeared. I will need all of your help to find it before our step uncle finds out that it is gone. I am afraid that would kill him. Are you all willing to help me in the search?” All heads nodded, though Amy looked a little unsure. Pleased, I continued. “Wonderful! Kenneth, you are to come with me as soon as breakfast is over to help me try to find clues. Rachel, you stay here with Amy and Adam. Are your orders understood?” All of my siblings nodded again, although Adam looked not a little disappointed. Kenneth sat with his eyes on his plate. A look of puzzlement was on his face. I smiled inside for he did look rather comical. “What is it?” I asked. Kenneth looked up, a little startled, from his musings.
“Oh, just a little puzzled about this robbery. Who would want to take a dinosaur leg-bone from Uncle Devon’s Museum? There are so many other museums, why ours?” These questions I could not answer.
“That is what I am hoping to find out next, let’s go.” Kenneth gave me a quick nod, and gulping down the rest of his breakfast, in a manner that was so strange from his usual manner that I was almost worried for his health; He pushed his chair backwards and pulled his boots on. In no time at all, we were hurrying across the lawn still wet with dew. Kenneth opened the double doors; the squeaky hinge seemed deafening in the still morning air. Almost stealthily, we tiptoed through the museum to the dinosaur display at the back. It seemed so strange with no people in it. The hollow thump, thump, thump, of our feet added to the eeriness.
Suddenly, Kenneth froze in his tracks. I followed his example and stopped.
“What?” I whispered.
“Someone is in this Museum and coming our way.” Kenneth replied.
“I can’t hear anything, perhaps you were mistaken.” I said trying to sound more confident than I felt. Kenneth shook his head.
“No, I heard some footsteps coming our way. Listen close, than you might hear it.” Since he insisted, I turned my head to the side to catch all possible sounds, and listened closely. Yes, now I could hear it.
“It’s just our echo, I think.” Kenneth shook his head.
“No, if it was our echo it would have stopped by now.” Embarrassed, I felt my cheeks turning red.
“I-it might be Uncle Devon.” I stuttered, trying to think of another possibility. Again, Kenneth shook his head.
“Uncle Devon’s footsteps would be heavier. These footfalls are lighter; perhaps they belong to a girl.” Shocked, I replied in a loud whisper,
“What! A girl? Impossible. What would a girl be doing in our Museum? Rachel and Amy are in the House, what other girl has keys to the Museum?” Kenneth shrugged.
 “Let’s get hidden, and maybe we might get the clue we’re looking for. Come on lets hide behind this.” Following Kenneth, we both managed to wedge ourselves between a suit of armor and the brick wall before the person came.


>>Early Journaling:
I went through stages of writing in my various journals from time to time...but I was never a steady journal writer. However, I found an entree in my 2011 spree that I found a little entertaining and a little cringe-worthy, so I thought I'd embarrass myself for you. (I wrote comments in parenthesis to give you a little bit of my reaction when I read this out loud to my siblings as tester material.) I can't believe I'm doing this...I can't watch...HERE.

I sit here now, writing in my journal. Thinking. My brothers always wonder why I like to be alone. Good question. I often wonder that myself.
The sky overhead is blue. (I must have been writing this outside? I honestly can't remember. This sentence is so completely random. I don't even know why its here...)
I was a helper in babysitting yesterday, perhaps that's why I want some quiet time today. I have nine siblings. (Why was I writing this down?! I knew that! I guess I just always write for an audience...even when I don't realize I am.) It does get tiresome at times. I must go inside now. Goodbye Journal.


>>Early Fable:
I wrote the following fable when I was about eleven years old. It turned out kind of clever actually, so I thought I'd end with this so I can face you again one day. >_<

One summer day, a cricket was jumping through the grass. "Look at me!" he would boast. "I can jump higher than all the other insects in the meadow!"
Soon the other insects got tired of his constant boastings. So they went to the wise ant to have him stop the cricket's boastful attitude.
The next day, the wise ant brought a tiny flea to the cricket. "Sir Cricket," the ant said, "this flea is the best jumper from the flea world. May he compete against you in a competition?"
The cricket laughed. "Certainly! I will compete against him."
The ant just thanked him quietly and retired to his home.
During the next few days, both the cricket and the flea practiced their jumping.
On the day of the competition, they both felt ready, they both felt ready. The wise ant was the judge on who could jump the highest.
First, the cricket took a deep breath, and then jumped as high as he possibly could. The onlookers gasped.
Next, the flea calmly stepped forward and jumped. Another gasp followed. As the flea landed he was proclaimed the winner. The cricket jumped again, this time in rage, and fell to his death.

The moral of this story is "Pride always comes before a fall."


~19 Facts You Probably Don't Know About Me~

1: I have a pinky finger that can't straighten completely. This is known as "Viking claw".

Image result for Navy blue mustang

2: My dream car is a charcoal gray or navy blue Mustang like the one pictured above.

3: I haven't watched any of the Disney princess movies. Ever. In my life.

4: I have weak wrists, which can make writing difficult if I'm typing for long periods of time.

This was taken over a year ago...I've had three younger siblings out grow me since then. >_<
5: At 5'5", I'll probably be the shortest person in my family...since only my 10 and 8-year-old brothers are still shorter than me.

6: I know how to make pretty amazing pizza. ;) If you have ever been to my house, you've probably had it.

I drew this when I was about fifteen or sixteen I think.
His name is Justin and he's a character in one of my short stories called "Horse Island".
7: I enjoy sketching and drawing, even though I'm not very good at it.
Me n' Patrick. ;)
8: I can play (besides my main instruments the piano and flute) the ukulele, recorder, Irish whistle, slide whistle, and kazoo.

9: I compose and write songs and occasionally preform them at church.

10: I have over 30 beginnings or ideas for books/stories in my author archives that I want to finish one day.


11: I published my first book when I was fourteen.


Image result for peregrine falcon *
12: My favorite bird is the peregrine falcon.



Bonus fact...I also had braces. ;)

13: I've been on a missions trip to Ethiopia with my dad and a couple other people from our church.


Image result for The Reluctant Dragon *

14: My favorite childhood film was The Reluctant Dragon.

Image result for The Mitten by Jan Brett
*
Image result for Are You My Mother? *
15: My favorite children's books when I was little were "Are You My Mother?" and "The Mitten".

16: I'm a terrible speller. I didn't learn how to spell alcohol until high school, and I still can't spell mosquitoes and squirrel without help.

Image result for House Calls and Hitching Posts *

17: The longest book I've ever read in one sitting was "House Calls and Hitching Posts" at 622 pages.

18: I was saved at 6-years-old, with some coaching from my oldest sister, after listening to one of my dad's Easter sermons.

Image result for Ester from the Bible *

Image result for Amy Carmichael*
Image result for Corrie Ten Boom *
19: Ester from the Bible, Amy Carmichael, and Corrie Ten Boom were (and still are) my heroines I looked up to and wanted to be like. :)


Well, there you have it. How many of the facts did you already know? What did you think of my early writing? (If you've read any of my current writing, please tell me I've improved some. PLEASE.) Which random fact about the number 19 did you find the most interesting?

And before I sign off, I'm planning on doing a birthday Q&A (along with an exclusive GIVEAWAY!!!! *cue confetti and fanfare*) soon, so ask me as many random questions you want to have answers to, and I'll answer 19 of my favorite questions in my next post. So have fun with that! :D

Until next time, let everything you do be done for the glory of God!

* All photos with stars by them were not taken by me. Credit goes to whom credit is due. :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

21 Answers to the Question: What is Your Dream Job?

I haven't done one of these in a loooong time. Sorry about that. For those of you who have been waiting anxiously for the next 21 Answers post...here you go! :)


I present to you now, without further ado... *drum roll*

~21 Answers to the Question: What is Your Dream Job?~

1: Retirement.

2: Putting an end to vague, open-ended questions.

3: Sitting on my porch in a rocking chair, watching the grass grow.

4: The Princess Bride at 1:18:37-42 (Look for this moment next time you watch The Princess Bride, guys. B-)

5: Getting paid for what other people are doing.

6: I'm living the dream right now! I already got my dream job.

7: Being a super villain. (You could accompany this with an evil chuckle if you want to...it'd make the reaction more interesting.)

8: Being the sidekick in a comedy show.

9: Taste-testing new candy bars. (Or anything delicious, really.)

10: Is there a way I could get paid to read books?

11: Coming up with 21 Answers to life's biggest questions...like this one.

12: Becoming a famous author. (I might as well throw this one in...I mean, come on!)

13: Something that will have a positive impact on the world.

14: As a friend, I just thought I'd let you know that there's a piece of something green between your two front teeth.

15: Learning to fly. Literally a job you dream about.

16: Being a perfect parent one day...also a literally a dream job.

17: Saving the world.

18: Inventing solar powered air conditioning. (Shout out to my younger sister, Tabitha who actually dreamed that she had done this.)

19: I hate this question.

20: I'm tired of answering this question.

21: I'M DONE ANSWERING THIS QUESTION. No more, people. NO MORE!!!


Which answer was your favorite? Any answers that you've given to people that you didn't see up there? If so, share them in a comment!! :)

Tune in next time for 21 Answers to the Question: What's Your Book About?

Until next time, let everything you do be done for the glory of God!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Introducing "A New Name" (ft. LOTS OF SNIPPETS!!!!!!)

I'm working on something big, guys. Something that has so far been the hardest book for me to write. Something that has been on my mind for a couple years, and is just now making headway.
At only 20,000 words, I know it's too early to be this hyped...but GUYS I love this story so much!!! And I want you all to love it too!! So I decided to give you a little glimpse at what I'm working on.


"A New Name" is a futuristic/dystopia story based on the Biblical book of Daniel. In it, the main character, Danielle (or Ranilla...which she later changes to Ray for reasons you will see) is taken from her home in the Outside and thrust into the godless system of the City. She is joined by Shana, Mishia, and Abendy in her steady and faithful obedience of her Savior. When this faith is forced into the open, she doesn't back down like the Authorities hope, but instead stands firm against all persecution.

Is it perfect? *snorts* Of course not. I mean, come on! When has an author's first draft EVER been perfect? (Especially when its not even finished!) Yeah, that's right, never.
But do I think it's worth a special introductory blog post? Absolutely. If you don't follow me on Pinterest and are a fellow pinner, be sure to find me on there...because I save lots of pictures and quotes on there for "A New Name" and most of my other stories. If you aren't a fellow pinner (good for you! Stay strong! Resist the urge!) I'll include some of my favorite pictures and quotes from my storyboard in amongst the snippets.
Also, if you haven't seen this post come up in your feed, I wrote a Beautiful People post on my main character Ranilla over at my writing blog. So be sure to check out that after reading this. ;)
Alrighty, let's jump right in with the very beginning of my book: the prologue. Ready?

My name was Danielle. I watched it form soundlessly on my parents’ lips as I was dragged away. The pain of losing my parents left me helpless in the arms of a city officer. I watched my fear of the future mirrored in their own eyes, and the anger held toward a government who would dare take unwilling children from the arms of their loving parents.
       The burly officer shoved me into the back of his sleek, black car and wrestled the seatbelt around my flailing arms.
       “Please let me stay!” I begged, the tears streaming down my face and dropped off only to melt into my dark clothes. “I don’t want to go away!”
       No one answered me. The car started and pulled away from my house. I felt deep down inside that I would never see my dad and mom again. The tears continued to flow and I covered my face and let myself weep. I ceased to struggle, knowing it was hopeless.
       In all my fifteen years, I had never prayed as earnestly as I did now. God, I don’t understand why You’re letting this happen. Please tell me. I need the assurance that You’re still with me, even in the midst of this nightmare. You’re all I have now.
       During a moment of sweetness that I had never known, I heard a quiet voice assuring me, I am all you need.
       Peace enveloped me in the silence that followed. I sat; suddenly still, overwhelmed by what had just happened. God had spoken to me out loud for the first time in my life. I wasn’t alone.

Go Ranilla! :)


God, why did you let this happen? I cried heavenwards, my eyes shut against reality...the reality that, at this point, was still a definite blue color. The cold glass, pressed against my forehead, did little to erase the frown that refused to leave my face.
       I tried the name again. Ranilla…R-a-n-i-l-l-a…slowly, I spelled it out, and then said it slower. “Ranilla,” I whispered aloud. Suddenly, a smug grin pulled at the side of my mouth and I snuck a look at the officer sitting in the front seat. He wasn’t watching me at all.
       A thought had occurred to me while whispering my name. The government might cheat me of my family and given name, but I could take a little back of my own by stretching the rules. I could make this name into a Christian name. An undercover, disguised Christian name. I almost bounced in my seat, so full of glee at the thought.
       “Ray,” I whispered in triumph. “I’ll be Ray for short. I’ll be God’s Ray of sunshine in this dark world. With His strength, I’ll part the cloud of evil around me. Through me, His light can shine on others.”
       With this new name came a new resolve. A new mission. Already, the pain of losing my parents faded into a dull ache. I would do them proud by standing for what I knew was right. Shutting my eyes, I smiled. Oh, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy…but I knew God would be with me. With Him, who would stand against me?



The overwhelming loneliness crashed over me as soon as the door shut behind me in my temporary home. While I waited for the adoption center staff to bring my old clothes back, the tears I had swallowed down poured out along with my despair. Doubt and fear assailed me in a flood that threatened to drown any ounce of faith I still held.
       So I did the one thing that always calmed me down.
       I prayed.

Zechariah 2:5❤❤❤


       I stepped inside and absorbed my surroundings. A bed took up most of the wall on my right side, and a nightstand next to it. A desk, a dresser, and a smaller door I assumed was my closet filled the opposite side. All the furniture and accessories were tasteful shades of blues, greens, grays, and browns. Facing me was a window that gave me a gorgeous view of the Outside. Tears stung my eyes and I walked to the window, basking in the familiar landscape I missed so very much.
       I heard Cade join me and turned to him. “This room… I love it.”
       For the first time since meeting my new brother, I saw Cade smile. “Good.” He swept his arm in an expressive motion around my bedroom’s contents. “I’m sorry it’s so...” he struggled for the right word.
       “Masculine?” I supplied.
       “I was going to say manly,” he said with a shrug, “but close enough.”
       I had noticed the gender-specific decorations. “I don’t mind. Blue and green are my favorite colors.”
       Cade pulled the metal desk chair from where it sat tucked away and sat in it the wrong way, crossing his arms across the backrest. “It used to be my brother’s bedroom.”

Isaiah 12:27 Nothing can stand between us and God's plan.


“So do you get a gorgeous view too?”
       “Like in my bedroom?”
       I nodded. “I’d hate to have the better room. After all, I’m kind of an imposter.”
       “You’re not an imposter!” Cade was quick to say.
       I shot him one of my most expressive looks that had gotten me in trouble before at the adoption centers. “Right. And my ancestor’s are apes.”
       “Aren’t they?” Cade gave me a crooked grin.
       “Wow. Way to compliment a girl, Cade!” I shook my head and headed toward the door. “And if you get me started on creation versus the theory of evolution debate, we’ll be here all night – possibly all week depending on how prepared you are to defend the theory of evolution – and we’re supposed to be eating lunch next, right?”
       Cade’s face turned a satisfactory shade of dark pink and he slunk over to the doorway. “I’m really good with words, huh?” He shoved his hands deep into his jeans’ pockets and sighed. “Sorry.”
       I had to smile. “It’s ok.”
       “Friends?” My new brother did his best puppy-dog eyes imitation.
       “For now,” I yielded with a laugh.
       Cade extracted a hand from the depths of his jeans and stuck it towards me. “It’s been a pleasure, Ranilla, I look forward to having you as a part of our family.”
       I rolled my eyes. “Please don’t call me Ranilla. It’s not my name, and I don’t like it. At all.”
       One eyebrow lifted, expressing volumes. “So…what should I call you?”
       “Well, since it’s technically illegal to be called by my real name, Ray will have to do.”
       “Ray it is then,” Cade answered, doffing an imaginary cap to me. “Shall we go?”
       “Age before beauty.”
       “Ladies first.”
       “Oh, please,” I scoffed.
       “At this rate we’ll both end up in trouble for being late for lunch,” Cade warned. “Mom gets touchy about that.”
       I gave a solution by pulling my new brother through the door at the same time as me and we ended up in a pile on the floor just outside, laughing until our stomachs hurt.
 
(Editor's note: Yes I had way to much fun with the dialogue between these two...just wait, it gets better. XD)


“Dex?”
       “Hello, Mother.”
       As he bent down to hug her, the familiar scent of the perfume she always wore was as comforting as the feeling of her arms around his neck. No matter how old he became, nothing would ever make him feel safer than being in his mother’s arms.
 
Dex would totally say this! XD
Cade came back and sat down. “Mom has someone in the living room waiting to meet you,” he said with just enough mystery to leave my curiosity begging for more.
       “Oh?” I feigned indifference. “Can they wait until I’ve finished my sandwich?” Perhaps I was still holding on to the hope that this was all a nightmare, but this was beginning to feel like one of those dreams where you’re trying to eat something and you never really get around to doing it because other things keep happening to you.
       “Can you wait until after you’ve finished your sandwich?” he asked with a grin.
       He was far too perceptive for his own good. “I’m starving,” I said.
       “I have a feeling that hasn’t stopped your curiosity before.”
       I set down my food and sighed. “That’s just not fair. How could you possibly know that?”
       Cade waved around his hands in the air, and then snapped his fingers. “Magic,” he answered, wiggling his eyebrows up and down.
       I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. I give up.”
       He stood up and walked toward the door. “Coming?”
       My sandwich could wait. My curiosity couldn’t. Cade had guessed right about me. “Yes,” I answered in defeat. “I’m coming.”
Aw, Cade. ^_^
 
His sister knelt by the window, her face raised to the sunshine pouring in pointing toward the Outside, and her eyes closed. Confused, Dex opened the door a little more. Now that he was closer, he strained his ears to hear what she was murmuring to herself.
       “…I pray again that You would help me be strong. I don’t know what Your plan is for me, and why You chose to have me brought here, but I know that whatever happens, I want it to bring glory to Your name.”
       Even more befuddled, Dex frowned and let the door swing open more. What was she doing? Was his adopted sister a raving lunatic? Or worse, someone who still practiced the ancient ways of sorcery? Was she trying to call forth some spirit of the dead? He gave an involuntary shiver.
       “I pray for the other Christians in the City,” she continued, “and I pray for the Christians who are still safe in the Outside. Keep my parents safe from whatever forces of evil surround them.” Her voice broke here and she cleared her throat before continuing, “I don’t know how You work, but I pray that somehow, You can let them know that I’m safe and doing my best to be strong no matter what, just like they taught me.”
       Dex pulled out his recording device to catch the next part.
       “This family You put me with…I don’t know what to think about them yet.”
       He froze, thinking maybe she was now talking to him. When she didn’t turn around, he lifted his finger off the button that would stop the recording and let it continue to document her words.
       “They seem nice, and maybe I can get used to the idea of living with complete strangers, but I ask You to help me reach out to them and save them from Your wrath. They need to know the truth so badly. Help me be Your light in this family who need You so very desperately. Help me show them how much they need You. Help me turn their hearts to You. Amen.”

 
He was sure the book, whatever it was, would put his new sister under suspicion. After all, if it wasn’t forbidden or illegal, why would she hide it? Dex pulled the book out from under its plump sanctuary and looked at the cover.
       The title made him frown in confusion again. Love Rekindled. The picture behind the words made him raise an eyebrow. A couple stood in front of some kind of old-fashioned house with roses growing up the sides. The man, of course, was unrealistically handsome with rippling muscles showing through his tightly fitting business suit, and the lady, likewise, was far too beautiful for her own good.
       A romance novel? Why was Ray hiding that? On a whim, he opened the book at a random page. After glancing toward the door to make sure his brother wouldn’t stumble across him reading a romance, he began to read.
          Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
          Refresh me with apples,
          For I am lovesick.
            His left hand is under my head,
          And his right hand embraces me.
          I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
          By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
          Do not stir up nor awaken love
          Until it pleases.
          The voice of my beloved!
          Behold, he comes
          Leaping upon the mountains,
          Skipping upon the hills.
          My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
          Behold, he stands behind our wall;
          He is looking through the windows,
          Gazing through the lattice.
       “What?” Dex mumbled aloud as he read the first thing he saw. “Not only is that weird, but creepy too.” Against better judgment, he flipped a page and kept reading.
            Behold, you are fair, my love!
          Behold, you are fair!
          You have dove’s eyes behind your veil.
          Your hair is like a flock of goats,
          Going down from Mount Gilead.
          Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep
          Which have come up from the washing,
          Every one of which bears twins,
          And none is barren among them.
          Your lips are like a strand of scarlet,
          And your mouth is lovely.
          Your temples behind your veil
          Are like a piece of pomegranate.
          Your neck is like the tower of David,
          Built for an armory,
          On which hang a thousand bucklers,
         All shields of mighty men.
         Dex shuddered. “It’s getting weirder and weirder.” After reading the next two lines his face flushed bright pink and he closed the book with a thud. “Ok, that was too much information. I did not need to know that.” He shoved the romance novel back under Ray’s pillow with a grimace. “Ew. Girls like the weirdest stuff. One thing I’ve learned from this little escapade: never again will I read a romance. Gross.”
       At the sound of footsteps making their way up the stairs, he hurriedly tried to fix the bed covers around the pillow and where he had sat down. He tiptoed as fast as he could over to the closet and pretended to be look around on the floor.

I had to escape, there wasn't a chance in hell I was just going to hang around the institution for the rest of my life. I had to escape, I had to know who I was. "Black Rose" meant nothing, I had to find out who Madison Blackwood was meant to be. I needed to know what kind of life they had taken away from me.
 
(Editor's note: Kudos to you who recognized the excerpts from A Song of Solomon...if you didn't, that's ok. I don't really read that book of the Bible either. XD)
Welp, there you have it. Excited yet? I hope so. I tried to keep it mostly free of spoilers by just giving you facts that you would already know from reading the summery on the back of the story's cover one day. Hopefully I succeeded in that. ;)

Which was your favorite snippet? Favorite quote? Who is your favorite character so far? Let me know in the comments below!
 

Q&A, Giveaway Winners, and Other Exciting News

As I sit here, consuming too much coffee ice cream and enjoying the gentle breezes of summer (which has FINALLY decided to show up) I feel ...