Friday, September 28, 2012

How can I be two places at once?

The FATHOM Blog Tour officially begins today. YAY!!!

I'm two different places at once. (It's magic. Really.)

First, I'm at BookHounds, chatting about how my German shepherds "assist" me with the gardening. Ahem. AND we're giving away a copy of FATHOM.


Here's a snippet of my interview at BookHounds:

Question: What is the last thing you Googled?

Great question! I’m working on a blog post about one of the main characters in Fathom, my young adult novel that releases on October 1. This particular character, a seventeen-year-old girl named Riley, is extremely rebellious and has a full-sleeve tattoo. So I was searching for photos of full-sleeve Japanese tattoos to include in my post.

And then, simultaneously, I'm at The Book Pushers, where I've written a guest post titled, When Imaginary People Take Over. *shivers*


Here's a snippet of When Imaginary People Take Over:

Imaginary people shouldn’t influence your life. But if you’re a writer or reader, they definitely do. Case in point: Me. I was working on my second novel, Feast, when this character appeared out of nowhere. She wasn’t in my current novel, she wasn’t in anything I’d ever written before. I tried to ignore her but I just couldn’t, because
oh my gosh, did she ever have a voice and a story to tell.

I hope you'll stop by the Tour Stops!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fathom Blog Tour Dates

I just have to say that I am continually amazed and blessed by all the bloggers and reviewers who have agreed to be part of FATHOM's launch. I am incredibly honored to be surrounded by such an inspiring group of people.

Thank you all for being so wonderful as I prepare to indie publish my first YA novel. YOU ALL ROCK!!

So, here is the Fathom Blog Tour. Some of it consists of bloggers who have already or will review the book. Some of it consists of bloggers who will be posting guest posts or author interviews or other various promotional works of wonder. Some of these blogs will also be hosting giveaways (the giveaways are marked.)

I hope you will stop by and say, Hi!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Book Chatter Cath

Vampire Book Club

Lady Techies Book Musings

The Writer's Sword

Just Us Girls

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


SEPT. 27
I Am Alive Blog
Review of Fathom

SEPT. 28
Book Hounds
Author Interview

SEPT. 28
The Book Pushers
Guest Post: When Imaginary People Take Over

SEPT. 30
Becky’s Barmy Book Blog
Fathom Promo

OCT. 1
I Smell Sheep
Fathom Launch Party

Oct. 1
Midnyte Reader
Guest Post: The Magic of Halloween

OCT. 2
Books N Kisses
Guest Post: Romance is a lot like Chocolate

OCT. 4
My Bookish Ways
Guest Post: Creating a New Monster

OCT. 5
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Author Interview & Giveaway of 2 FATHOM e-books

OCT. 6
Saturday Spotlight
For What It’s Worth
Guest Post: Making Tough Decisions

OCT. 8
A Backwards Story
Review of Fathom

OCT. 8
Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog
Guest Post: Is it Paranormal or Is it Fantasy?
Also, giveaway of 2 FATHOM e-books:

OCT. 9
I Smell Sheep
Author Interview

OCT. 11
Book and Things
Guest Post: Walking on the Dark Side
Giveaway of 3 Fathom e-books

Oct. 17
Short & Sweet Reviews
Author Interview

Black N Gold Girl's Book Spot
Guest Post: The Scarier, The Better

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Literary Escapism

Good Choice Reading

The Travels of Sullivan McPig

Book Faery

Glitter in the Sun

Once Upon A Blog

Fiction Addict

My Pages and Words

I Smell Sheep

Little Hyuts

Books are Wonderful Magic

Oh, For The Love of Books

The YA Bookworm

Bitten by Books

Dark Faerie Tales

All Things Books

Wayfaring Writer

The Compulsive Reader

Donna’s Blog Home

All Things Urban Fantasy

Once Upon A Bookcase

Short and Sweet Reviews

I’d So Rather Be Reading

Sweet Southern Home

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meet the characters from FATHOM

The winner of last week’s giveaway (4 YA ARCs) is…..
Melissa, from My World…in words and pages.
CONGRATS, MELISSA!! (Yay and round of applause.)

And, before I start this week's character introduction, I'd like to share another amazing review of FATHOM, this one written by Jo at the Vampire Book Club.

“Fathom had me feeling the entire emotional spectrum, I devoured it in a day. With a mixture of first love, a plot filled with emotional twist and a heart wrenching climax, I can only hope this is just beginning for Kira and Co. Fans of Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series will want to look out for this one!”

Thanks so much for the wonderful review, Jo!


Today you'll meet the last of the four main characters in FATHOM. This girl is another one of the mysterious teenagers that comes to Crescent Moon Bay during tourist season—Riley.

Played by Alexis Knapp, with short hair. (Doesn't she look dangerous?)

• Name: RILEY
• Has lived so many places, nowhere feels like home
• Should be a junior, but she is so done with school
• Favorite class: Really? None
• Best friend: Herself
• Hobbies: Practicing survival skills
• Favorite bands: No time for music
• Favorite drink: Coffee
• Social standing: In charge and everyone knows it
• Greatest joy: When people finally decide to do things her way
• Biggest nightmare: Being eaten by a sea monster

And now, the giveway...

I'm giving away something different this time, something to inspire you when you're reading or writing—an iTunes gift certificate for $15.00.

To be entered for the giveaway, you must:
1. Follow my blog
2. Post in the comment section below (be sure to include your email so I can contact the winner)
3. Share a link and comment about this giveaway, either on Twitter or Facebook or your blog. Be sure to let me know you did all three of these in your comment.

Contest ends midnight on Sunday, September 30, and I'll announce the winner next Monday—which is also the official release day for FATHOM.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet the Characters from FATHOM + a Contest

Before I start this week's character introduction, I'd like to share snippets of FATHOM reviews from GOODREADS:

"Wow! Every book Merrie Destefano writes is even better than the last. I loved the books she wrote before, but Fathom is unquestionably my favorite of her stories. The characters, plot, and world are all well-developed and they sucked me right in. I spent almost an entire day immersed in Fathom, and I didn't want to leave when it ended."—Becca

"Nothing is at it seems. There are surprises and twists everywhere. This book fits right in with Merrie Destefano's past books that tend to swim in their own lane. She has a great imagination and does a wonderful job with imagery and characterization."—Cheryl

And now, for the CHARACTER OF THE WEEK...

Today you'll meet one of the mysterious teenagers that comes to Crescent Moon Bay during tourist season—Caleb.

Played by Liam Hemsworth.

• Name: CALEB
• Lives in Duncarrig
• Not attending high school
• Favorite class: Not really a class, but enjoys studying other cultures and people
• Best friend: Ethan
• Hobbies: Swimming, hunting,
• Favorite bands: Celtic music
• Favorite drink: Water
• Social standing: A quiet leader in his circle of friends
• Greatest joy: Listening to legends
• Biggest nightmare: That he will have to go to war before fulfilling his dreams

Here's a snippet of text from when Kira first sees Caleb:

This guy was gorgeous and then some. Light brown hair streaked with blonde, skin paler than you’d expect for someone as athletic as he obviously was. I couldn’t tell what color his eyes were, but I had a feeling they were green or blue. Like mine.

My heartbeat sped up when he stared at the window display. Then he did something unusual—he lifted his gaze, as if he was trying to see through to the inside of the store. He looked around, first at the racks of postcards, then at the display of starfish and shells, then at the ceramic mugs painted with our store logo, until at last, he spotted me at the counter. Our eyes locked and his lips curved in a swoon-worthy grin.

And now, the giveway...

I'm giving away FOUR ARCs this time!

Here they are:
THE INFECTS by Sean Beaudoin
ZOM-B by Darren Shan
GETAWAY by List Brackmann

To be entered for the giveaway, you must:
1. Follow my blog
2. Post in the comment section below (be sure to include your email so I can contact the winner)
3. Share a link and comment about this giveaway, either on Twitter or Facebook or your blog. Be sure to let me know you did all three of these in your comment.

Contest ends midnight on Sunday, September 23, and I'll announce the winner next Monday.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

Winner of THE BLESSED ARC announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway of the THE BLESSED ARC by Tonya Hurley!

The winner was selected by and is:
[drumroll here]



I've already contacted her via email.

Thanks again to everyone and stay tuned--there will be another ARC contest starting on in a few minutes, when I reveal another character from FATHOM.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meet the characters from FATHOM

Every Monday for the next 3 weeks, I'll be introducing you to one of the characters from FATHOM. Plus, I'll have a giveaway.

This is the second week of Meet the Characters from Fathom. Today you'll meet Kira's best friend, Sean.

Played by Steven R. McQueen

• Lives next door to Kira in Crescent Moon Bay
• Age: 16
• Sophomore at Crescent Moon High School
• Favorite class: Science
• Best friend: Kira Callahan
• Hobbies: Football, track, swimming, baseball
• Favorite bands: The Foo Fighters,Yellowcard and Flyleaf
• Favorite drink: Sport drinks
• Social standing: Hangs out with the jocks, knows everyone, popular in his crowd
• Greatest joy: When Kira smiles
• Biggest nightmare: That Kira will get a boyfriend and no longer want to be best friends

Here's a snippet of text from Kira's POV:

A warm breeze teased the curtains beside my bed, stirred my hair.

Then I held my breath and opened the door to my room. With one hand I smoothed my dress as I walked around the corner, through the hallway and into the living room.

There he was. Standing by the front door.

Wearing tight jeans and a black shirt, his long hair messed up like he’d just taken a shower and forgotten to brush it. His eyes looked darker than usual. His mouth opened just a bit when I walked into the room.

“Wow,” Sean said, so soft that I don’t think he wanted me to hear.

I think my heart skipped a beat.

It might have been a perfect moment, if Dad and Gram hadn’t been there.

And now, the giveway...

I'm giving away an ARC of BLESSED by Tonya Hurley.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a captivating and haunting teen trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy—a boy who believes he is a saint. What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is beyond belief.

Sounds cool, no?

To be entered for the giveaway, you must:
1. Follow my blog
2. Post in the comment section below (be sure to include your email so I can contact the winner)
3. Share a link and comment about this giveaway, either on Twitter or Facebook or your blog. Be sure to let me know you did all three of these in your comment.

Contest ends midnight on Friday, September 14, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Winner of SCARLET ARC announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway of the SCARLET ARC by Marissa Meyer!

The winner wqs selected by and is:
[drumroll here]



I'll contact her via email. However, if I don't hear back from her within three days, the ARC will be given to another winner.

Thanks again to everyone and stay tuned--there will be another ARC contest starting on Monday, when I reveal another character from FATHOM.

Friday, September 7, 2012


For the next three days—today, tomorrow and Sunday—my ebook anthology, WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT, is available for FREE DOWNLOADS. (Eeeeek!) I hope you get a chance to read it and, if so, that you enjoy it!

There's a very nice review of WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT, written by Marcy Weydemuller and posted on the Savvy Authors site HERE.

Here's a snippet of what Marcy says:

"Merrie Destefano is the author of the urban fantasy Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles and Feast: Harvest of Dreams. She brings a unique perspective to her writing that impacts plot, character, theme and setting in her multi-layered story world. However not only does she accomplish this in her novels, but also, in this collection put together for her fans, we see that she adeptly applies her style—her voice to shorter pieces as well.

For example in the short story In the Garden, Destefano weaves three distinct narratives through her POV character Francine; which include a memoir, a murder and an unobtrusive sub-text development of ethical choices. Although Francine holds the storyline, many other voices share the details and theme creating a chorus of layers that linger long past the end.

Her stories and flash fiction range across tone with humor, curiosity, danger, macabre, surprise and grief. Her settings include the house down the street, the otherworldly, and time-less. A flash fiction piece Sentimental Ending will inspire you to create a variety of endings that may or may not be reality."

And here's a free short story from WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT:


During the day, he slept amidst rubble and grass, hidden from view, partially because his skin was now the color of dirt. During the evenings, he would creep out, sometimes on all fours—until he knew it was safe. Then he would scamper about beneath the stars and a crescent moon, his limbs lean and his clothes ragged. We all did our best to ignore him. We called him the Perro Muchacho. Dog Boy. He ran with the wild dogs and that name seemed to fit him.

I watched him with a cautious eye, fearful of the magic that I knew trailed after him. It coiled like a snake in the shadows, dangerous, forbidden. He stole from my trash and I would chase him away. I’d toss small stones in his direction, careful not to come too close, although I know for certain that I struck him once. For after that he kept a distance from me.

His hair stuck out in thick tufts, never combed or washed. His shirt had lost its color and its sleeves were gone, and I often wondered if he shivered while he tried to sleep. One night, when he and his pack of stray dogs were off prowling through alleys and along the riverbed, I crept out to his hiding place. I found a few toys lying about—a ragged, lopsided rabbit, most of the stuffing gone; a small truck, the paint almost completely worn off. There, I left an old blanket. And a Bible. I doubted that he could read, but I knew that if he could walk on two legs, then he had a soul.

And there was no doubt in my mind that he needed saving.

I ran my fingers over my rosary as I hobbled back to my house, the stucco white as bone. A prayer whispered over my lips as I hailed one saint after another, searching for one that could save a creature like him. I tried and found none, so in the end, I merely repeated the same words over and over, as each bead slipped through my fingers.

Help him, please, help him, please.

Before the moon swallows the sky.

She was growing above me, even as I hunched over broken cobblestones. She was eating stars and growing more bloated with each and every bite. In a few days, she would be full.

I didn’t want to see what would happen then to Dog Boy. I didn’t want him to come to my house and scratch claws across the lattice on my windows. Didn’t want to hear the cries that would no longer sound human.

For some reason, when the moon has swallowed the sky, on that same day, the sun grows weak. He hides, as if terrified, behind mountain peaks and clouds. His face refuses to reflect in the river water. He turns into an old, weak man. His steps across the heavens falter, as if he could plummet from the sky and burn up the sea, turn the world into a land of mist and shadow.

That was how he looked today.

Meanwhile, I saw the boy, awake, playing in the long grass, his hair blowing in the wind, his cheeks ruddy, the dust stirring around him in a thick cloud. He ran from one edge of the wilderness to the other, no longer afraid to be seen. All around him, his furry companions loped, mouths open wide in toothy grins, paws jumping up and down. They whined and yipped, tails wagging.

They knew his secret.

He paused, when the wind grew calm, as the sun slid behind the church bell tower, and he looked at me. A smile creased his dirty face and he cocked his head. I realized then that he had made a sling and was carrying the Bible like a talisman. A strap of old cloth hung across one shoulder, then widened to form a pouch that draped in the crescent of his narrow back. When he moved, I could see the glint of gold-edged pages and the gnarled black crust of leather binding.

I wondered if he ever opened it. If he even looked at the pictures. You can tell a lot from the illustrations. The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, the exodus of Moses from Egypt, the ark of Noah with all the animals. Although, without the words or someone to tell him the stories--

He was just another beast.

Still I could see the spark of intelligence in his eyes. And despite his wild nature, there was no evil streak. Not like Jose, who beat his wife twice a week. Not like Manuel, who took his wages in tequila and let his children grow weak from hunger.

I knew all the secrets of this little village, was forced to listen to them every Sunday morning. Then grant forgiveness. My fingers ran over my rosary again, words familiar and sweet pursing my lips. I watched the boy then as he turned and dashed off into the nearby forest, knowing it was just as well.

If he disappeared, then none of us would see him when he turned.

And none of us, me especially, would be responsible.

• • • • •

A wind like fire blew through the hills, scorched the edge of our village the moment the moon revealed herself. Silver light spilled down narrow streets, turned everything and everyone white hot and still. All doors swung shut and curtains were drawn across open windows, a rabid hush of Hail Marys and Our Fathers murmured while chairs rocked and shoulders bowed.

I cracked my back door open, slipped outside without a sound, my bare feet padding over a dirt trail that led toward the wildwood and the river. Somewhere along the way, my rosary slipped from my fingers and tangled on the ground, but I did not stop. Every bone in my body ached as I moved, my muscles weary of this journey. I felt a tremor in my leg as I descended the river bank, as I moved closer to the rippling water. All I wanted was to immerse myself in the cool reflection of that damned, swollen moon. My robes fell away and I was waist deep in the sluggish current, fingers trailing behind me. Spasms wrenched my arms, twisted them back and forth and for a moment, I wondered if maybe this time I would fall headlong into the water and drown.

Part of me wished it to be true.

Death can be a good companion, if you are ready for him, when he comes.

My left foot slipped and I tumbled to my knees, up to my chin in blue-back water. That was when I heard him behind me. I turned my head and saw Dog Boy on the river bank, his head cocked as though he were afraid for me.

“Padre,” he said, his voice timid.

I waved a hand at him, wishing he would scoot away, deeper into the shadows where he belonged. He had changed, as I suspected he would, but it was amazing that he could still speak.

His arms and legs and back were covered in thick matted fur and his spine arched wide. Soon he would be down on all fours and his nose would grow long, his teeth jagged. But right now he was somewhere in between boy and wolf.

He took a step toward me, concern in his eyes. Behind him, his pack growled and howled. They knew me better than he did.

My own limbs snapped and cracked, my transition nothing like it was when I was younger. Every bit of it as if my bones were being ground into powder. Only the touch of the water on my flesh and the silver light of the moon seemed to offer any release from the pain. I stumbled back toward the shore, temporarily able to balance myself on two legs, although by the time I reached shallow water, I had fallen down on all four. Paws where hands had once been, a long snout instead of a nose.

A low growl sounded in my throat as Dog Boy approached.

He recognized me now, of course he did. My scent was like his own. He was the seed of my sin and part of me hoped that he had learned the secrets from the book I had given him. Right now I couldn’t remember what they were, only that they were very important.

Then I vaulted into a stiff run, paws grasping muddy river bank, pulling myself up toward the shelter of wooded shadow. Dog Boy recognized the look in my eyes just then, a moment too late perhaps. He turned and bounded away from me.

I stopped to howl at my mistress, the moon, at the same time, giving my son a head start.

Then I gave him chase that would last all night or longer if necessary, not stopping until one of us was dead. Part of me hoping that this would be my last hunt and that this child would be strong enough to finally end my curse.



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sometimes I forget to mention something cool

Sometimes I forget to mention things—some very cool things. Like the fact that I have a young adult short story for sale on Amazon. I think this is the plight of the writer. We work so hard to write and produce a story that we often forget to even mention it. Argh!

Anyway, my apologies.

Here's my new baby...

A teenage runaway’s post-apocalyptic world comes tumbling down when she discovers a survivor in a field of dead bodies.

Condemned as a runaway and sentenced to work as a Cleaner, fifteen-year-old Anna now spends her days searching for valuables in a field of dead warriors. Her life goes from bad to worse, however, when she stumbles upon a plague carrier, a boy her age who could kill her entire camp with a single drop from the flask he carries around his neck.

Approximately 26 pages long, THE PLAGUE CARRIER is the first story in my new series set in a post-apocalyptic United States, where survivors are still recovering from a Civil War. East of the Mississippi, peace reigns and the people are free. But west of the Mississippi is a different story. There, the countryside is ravaged by erratic thunderstorms and tornadoes, and the inhabitants continue to battle one another using advanced forms of chemical warfare. There, anyone who breaks the law is sold into slavery, where he must serve in a labor camp until his sentence is fulfilled.

The short story is .99 on Amazon and a LINK TO THE BOOK IS HERE.

Reviews from Amazon Readers
"In typically flawless Merrie Destefano style, The Plague Carrier is at once evocative, engaging and terrifying."—Auburn McCanta, 5 stars

"While it was a short 27 pages, it was great! I could not put it down! It will leave you wanting more. I cannot wait to read more about Anna and William."—Allison D. Sautkus, 5 stars

And, here's the first chapter:


THE SUN WAS SUPPOSED TO BE OUT, shining and bright, on the day I ran away. It was going to help me run faster and longer, was going to light my way through our ruined city, all the way to the river and the train yard on the other side. My wet clothes were going to be dry by the time I climbed inside one of the cars bound for Indiana and I was going to sleep all night long, hidden in a pile of rags, behind large crates of fruit.

I don’t like to blame everything that’s happened on the weather, but if it hadn’t started raining, then I wouldn’t have gotten caught in that thick patch of river mud—

And I might have gotten away.

“Hurry up, Runner! Don’t stand there holding onto yer plate all day long. Field’s awaiting.”

Laughter barks around me as I finish my breakfast. It’s been a long time since anyone has called me by my given name—but I hear it whispered soon enough. Two men with sallow skin and long braided hair sneer as they pass me on their way to the field. One of them breathes, “Anna,” in my ear as his left hand lingers on my thigh. I shove him away. Behind me, the morning skies fill with a multitude of dark clouds, casting more shadow than light down on our camp. A hundred gray tents line the riverbank—the same river where the Chasers caught me, just last week—and all of the tent flaps are tied down in case the wind picks up again.

I pause, plate in hand as I glance up at the sky, wondering what it’s going to give us today. Ever since the Last War, everyone west of the Mississippi’s been tormented by lightning storms, demon winds and earthquakes. Sunshine comes like a fiery flash, straight out of nowhere and it always passes before you can enjoy it.

Never can count on a sunny day anymore.

Thanks to those Chasers and that blasted sun, today I’m heading into a war field, where I’m almost instantly surrounded by dead bodies, knee-deep in blood and gore, shovel in one hand, bucket in the other. A thick canvas apron covers me from neck to ankle and a plastic visor shields my face. Flies buzz from one carcass to the next while the other Cleaners are already grumbling that I’m taking too long, hunting for valuables.

“Get a move on there, dearie!”

“Just look for somethin’ shiny and hurry up—”

“Never shoulda taken that Runner, she doesn’t have a stomach for blood—”

I ignore them as I flip a body on its back, then run a gaze over it, looking for anything worth a coin or two.

Right about then, the sun creeps out like the sneaky devil it is, scaring away all the clouds, charming steam to rise up from the heath and turning the field to haze. I’ve learned that sometimes a sudden change in temperature can cause the dead bodies to shift and moan, and more than one Cleaner has let out a startled cry when that happens.

Not me.

I refuse to cry out. No matter how terrified I am.

Instead, I pretend I don’t hear the other Cleaners as they whisper spells of protection, all of us still working despite the puffs of steam that billow about. Hot sun on my back, sweat dripping down my face, the stench of my plastic visor blocking out the stench of death, I lean forward and rifle through another dead man’s pockets, his yellow eyes gazing to heaven, his open mouth spilling a gruel of spit and blood.
My fingers latch onto his.

I brush away the mud from his rough knuckles until my thumb rolls across something slippery—a ring, most likely. I tug it off, lift it into a patch of sunlight, and then smile when I see a gleam of gold mixed with ruby. With a soft clink, the ring is dropped into my bucket, where it rolls to a halt atop a shallow pile of silver bullets, ornate daggers and a handful of gold teeth. You have to be careful when it comes to sticking your fingers inside the mouths of these dead creatures—their jaws can snap shut if you’re not paying close attention. You can lose a finger or worse, you might catch their war plague.

Still, I’m not afraid to do the dirty work. That’s one of the reasons this band of Cleaners took me on.

That’s when I get a flash of brilliance and I suddenly realize this fellow must have been rich. So, I hunker down, rest my shovel on a nearby body and set the bucket on the ground.

In a heartbeat, I’m cutting open this dead guy’s tunic to discover three gold necklaces draped around his throat. Just as I’m slicing the seams in his jacket and pulling out an ivory tribal purse, I hear a faint groan to my right.
I stand up, blade ready.

There are two kinds of groans in a field like this: the ethereal groans of the dead and the kill-it-before-it-kills-you groans of the near-dead.

I’ve always preferred the groans of the dead. Unfortunately that’s not what I hear today. I run a hasty scan across the field, searching for movement. Puffs of steam rising, sun dancing behind a bank of clouds, a sea of arms and legs and shaved skulls surrounding me, I suddenly realize that all the other Cleaners have moved away.
They’re heading toward the river to wash up for our midday meal. I’ve been left standing alone in a field of dead mountain warriors.

And right now, one of these plague carriers is moaning back to life, twisting in the mud, trying to push its way free.

One hand on my knife, I yank a silver chain from beneath my apron, pull a dangling whistle to my lips. I’m ready to call the others back. That’s when I spot the creature, not ten feet away. The whistle stills, my mouth turns dry and a demon wind¬¬—the worst kind, since it heralds both death and danger to those who hear it—circles about me, turning my flesh to ice.

The whistle slides to my chest and I stand quiet, staring.

It’s just a boy, not much older than me, probably fifteen or sixteen. And he’s wearing a Runner brand on his left cheek—a big black X that says he’s left his home and his tribe, that he tried to make it on his own but failed. All the Western tribes use the same symbol. It’s how we keep track of our traitors and deserters.

“Boy,” I call a hoarse whisper in his direction, my blade still lifted and ready to use if necessary.

Instinctively, he glances up at me.

His eyes are clear. No sign of the yellow plague. But then why is he wearing the tunic and leggings of the mountain people? It’s a puzzle that confuses me. Their warriors always carry the plague. It’s the highlanders’ way of making sure they destroy their enemies.

So why is this boy free of the disease?

“Keep down,” I say, a tiny bit louder. “Wrap your scarf about your neck.”

It’s no guarantee that a tiny bit of fabric will protect him, but that’s all I can think of. He hasn’t been sprayed for nearly an hour with biochems, like I have. He may not make it out of this field alive, no matter what he does.

He crouches low, brown hair scuffing in that demon wind, cheeks turning pink from the sudden cold. One slow movement at a time, he crawls over the tangle of bodies, away from the Cleaner camp, toward the forest that stands at my back.

“Hurry!” I say, lifting my plastic visor to see him better. He’s moving faster than I expect and I now see sun-browned skin peeking out from rips in his tunic and thick black eyebrows bunched together in a frown. He pauses when he’s close enough to see me clearly, a shock of recognition in his eyes when he notices my cheek and the mark I bear like his.

I touch the brand with my fingers, wondering if the raw skin has darkened yet or if it’s still as red as the day the Chasers caught me.

“What are you doing here?” he asks. “Children shouldn’t be roaming through a killing field.”

It’s the first time he’s spoken and his voice startles me. He sounds more like a man than a boy.

I take a step backward, my foot thumping against a pile of bodies, my right hand remembering the knife and lifting it higher.

“I should be asking you the same thing.” I glance back toward my camp, wondering if anyone has seen him yet. “What’s a boy doing in a camp of dead men?”

Still on his hands and knees, he shrugs. “Runners go where they’re told.” He’s watching me like I’ve got a tell, like there’s some mystery inside me that he’ll be able to figure out if he stares long enough. He pulls himself to a shaky stand, never taking his eyes off mine. “Am I right?”

“You are,” I answer. “But right now, you better do as I say, if you want to live. Head toward that wood and be quick about it!” I point at the forest, still heavy with shadows even though the sun is nigh. “We’ll be burning this field in a few hours.”

His eyes—his beautiful gray eyes—flash with some dark emotion. He runs a fast gaze over me, head to foot, that makes a strange spark flutter in my gut.

“I can’t go.” He’s made a decision, I can see it in the resolute set of his jaw. “I can’t leave,” he says again. “My father is here somewhere—”

“Your father?”

He nods.

“Why would a Runner be in the same killing field as his own father? Haven’t your parents disowned you?”

“Of course, they have—I wouldn’t be wearing this brand otherwise. But my real father never even knew I was born. He’s here somewhere and I have to find him.”

“Boy, your real father’s dead if he was in this field. You know the mountain folk send their warriors out, never expecting them to return.”

“But I can’t leave him here to roast in a heathen fire. I have to take his body home and give him a proper burial. He’s a warrior and he deserves to rest in a grave with wreaths of flowers and choruses of song.” There’s a pleading in his gaze that’s softening my heart more than I like.

“You’re crazy! Your people will never let you back inside their city gates—”

He tugs a long cord from beneath his tunic, revealing a small flask. “They will let me in.”

I see the flask he holds and I freeze, unable to speak or move. I can’t even breathe.

“I’m the Plague Carrier—”

As soon as those words leave his mouth, I swing my visor down, then I turn and leap over the bodies behind me. In two bold jumps, I put a barrier of dead flesh between us, then I pause to brace my left arm over my chin, protecting that narrow gap between my neck and the visor.

“Stay back! Or I’ll call the others!” I yell in a muffled voice.

Already I’ve pulled out my whistle and I’m getting ready to blow it. Just last week I was running through hail and wind, along a riverbank choked with mud. I thought I was going to make it to the Eastern border. I thought I was going to be free.

Now, I’ve got a Plague Carrier, not five feet away from me and moving closer.

This monster could kill the entire camp with the virus he’s carrying in that flask around his neck. I try not to let him know how frightened I am. Meanwhile, all I can think is, from bad to worse, that’s the way my luck’s been going lately.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Books I’ve been waiting for

There are three books I’ve been waiting for and two of them release day. Yay!!

So, Happy Release Day to:

Releasing on September 4.
Ann Aguire's

This is the sequel to her young adult novel, Enclave—which I love, love, love. One problem I have with many young adult books is the world-building. There seem to be so many plot holes in the construction in some of these novels and I can’t bring myself to read past ten or fifteen. Not so with Ann Aguire’s books! Her books are so well-researched and constructed that everything falls into place perfectly. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book as original as Enclave, so I am eagerly awaiting Outpost!

Here’s the actual synopsis:
Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

Releasing on September 4.
Gwenda Bond's

Here’s a brief synopsis:
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.

Releasing on September 18.
Gretchen McNeil's

Here’s a brief synopsis of this amazing book:
Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. House party. 
White Rock House on Henry Island. 
You do not want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?


Wow. Don't those books sound incredible? If you're looking for something to read, I highly recommend you check out these three novels.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet the characters from FATHOM

Every Monday for the next 4 weeks, I'll be introducing you to one of the characters from FATHOM. Plus, I'll have a giveaway.

First up, the main character of the book: Kira.

Played by an unknown breakout actress.

• Lives in a bungalow atop a cliff in Crescent Moon Bay
• Age: 16
• Sophomore at Crescent Moon High School
• Favorite class: English
• Best friend: Sean
• Second best friend: Brianna
• Hobbies: Swimming and writing down secrets in her journal
• Favorite bands: Kings of Leon, Paramore, Snow Patrol and The Killers
• Favorite drink: Coke
• Social standing: Never been kissed, never been asked to a party, never been popular
• Greatest joy: The ocean
• Biggest nightmare: That she will one day join her dead mother and sister by drowning in the Pacific

Here's a snippet of text from Kira's POV:

Gray skies gave way to blue, seagulls circled overhead, and almost everyone else in California was still asleep. But I was racing as if my life depended on it. The rest of the world faded away, from the seals that waited back on shore to the homework I hadn’t finished. Sand spun beneath my feet as I ran across the beach, waves curling and snapping as I approached. Hands over my head, I dove into the water.

He was just a step behind me, I could feel it.

And now, the giveway...


I'm giving away an ARC of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. This is just the type of book Kira would read, since she loves fairy tales and legends.

Here's a synopsis of Scarlet:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

To be entered for the giveaway, you must:
1. Follow my blog
2. Post in the comment section below (be sure to include your email so I can contact the winner)
3. Share a link and comment about this giveaway, either on Twitter or Facebook or your blog. Be sure to let me know you did all three of these in your comment.

Contest ends Friday, September 7, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Another taste of FATHOM

Here's another quick snippet from FATHOM. Plus, stay tuned. Next week I'll be doing some book giveaways.