This year we have 23 authors that I'll be featuring over 7 days and each day you'll have a chance to enter to win! There's also a scavenger hunt going on, so be sure to check out The Crossroads Tour Post to see what questions will be asked, what blog you'll be able to find the answer on and enter to win!
Today I am featuring Dorothy Dreyer, Sarah Bromley, and Ty Drago. Be sure to check out the rafflecopter giveaway, too!
1. Tell us what makes Zadie such a great character. What are a few things we need to know about her personality?
Zadie is no ordinary girl, as one might be able to gather from the book blurb. She has powers, though she doesn’t quite know how to control them. But I don’t think it’s her powers that make her so great; I think it’s the love she has of her family. She would go to any lengths to protect them, to save them, and to keep them alive. She has a big heart she just has to learn to trust it.
2. Share with us your favorite line from My Sister’s Reaper.
The leather cover was smooth under my fingertips, worn with age, but the photograph tucked along its binding grated against my heart like sandpaper.
1. A Murder of Magpies will be coming out next year. What can you tell us about the book?
I wrote the book in 2008 after a hiatus during which my first two children were born. Vayda and Ward were both so strong in my head, and I knew there was no putting off their story. I am firm believer that the things our parents do can trickle down and, in some cases, taint us. Curse us. Vayda and her twin, Jonah, experience a lot of that, and Ward does as well. Vayda and Jonah come from a background of murder and scandal and have been in hiding in Black Orchard for two years. Ward is the first person either of them has grown to trust, and they know it can go terribly wrong in a heartbeat. They fight against expectations placed on them, but as they do so, they all uncover secrets about their families, truths they weren’t prepared to face.
2. Can you share an excerpt from the story?
I can! My publisher, Month9Books, LLC, has been gracious in letting me give you the first sneak peek at the book with the entire first chapter of A MURDER OF MAGPIES!
I always swore Jonah would blow our cover, and today looked ideal for a catastrophe.
We’d seen disasters, somehow crawled out of the rubble and lived. They didn’t just happen, all explosive and bombastic at once so that we had no doubt everything had changed. No, a real disaster began with a slip-up, a spark of fire that rose in the air and snuffed out. But when the ash landed, it was still hot enough to burn, and from that ember, everything we knew went up in flames.
It had happened before. I had reason to fear it would happen again.
My fingers drummed on the time-scarred armrest on a chair in Monsignor Judd’s office. Someone etched a cross into the wood five, ten, maybe twenty years ago. In an ornate stained glass window, there was no comfort in the saint’s face, only my guilt for not knowing the saint’s name. Outside the office, Monsignor stood with his fingers steepled while the heating vent blew the draping of his cassock. His ear turned to the young nun whispering with him over the manila folder of Jonah’s permanent record. Curls snaked out from her nun’s habit, and her eyes slid to watch me. Dull, dark. Nearly dead.
My hands grew warmer. I forced my breathing to slow. Calm down, Vayda girl. Nothing to get too worked up over yet.
Not easy when I was literally a magnet for emotion.
Slouching low in his chair, Jonah fidgeted with a hole in his blue trousers. A bruise purpled his cheekbone. His heat, a mix of emotion and energy, radiated with an intensity that further prickled my hands until they were scorching. I needed to cool down, put everything on ice to stabilize both myself and Jonah. I exhaled in hopes for a cold breath. I wasn’t built to absorb my twin’s fury.
You outdid yourself this time. I pointed the thought to his mind like a laser. Do you honestly think fighting with Marty Pifkin is worth all this trouble?
He avoided eye contact, naturally. That didn’t mean he didn’t hear me. And he answered soon enough, silent to all but me. Dad’s already gonna read me the riot act. Don’t give me any grief, especially since I was defending you.
Defending me from Marty Pifkin of all people. Let it go. What’s done is done. I didn’t know whether to give my brother a good wallop upside the head like our mom would have or pray we’d skate on by. Keep at it, Jonah, and people will notice what you can do. Deliberately throwing a desk without using your hands isn’t exactly wisdom for the ages.
Why don’t you keep that in mind the next time you lose it and break all the light bulbs in the science lab? He swiped a rogue strand of long, dark hair from his face. You lack subtlety and finesse, Sis.
Subtlety. Finesse. Words sixteen-year-old boys knew oh-so-much about. I choked on a laugh and lowered my eyes to the natty, blue Chucks I paired with the Catholic school-issued plaid, wool skirt and tights. Even when I wasn’t in school, I wore long skirts most days. I could move my legs and didn’t feel so caged in.
Brushing away the glass dust on my skirt, I overlooked the blood drying on my hands and clasped them together. They were less dangerous that way.
The door to the office lobby opened. The new nun’s floor-length dress gave her the look of a black dandelion seed gliding into Monsignor’s office. He followed then finally my father walked in last, the scent of wood dust clinging to his clothes. Most parents visiting St. Anthony of Padua High School rolled in wearing suits or golf attire, and then there was Dad with his New Glarus brewery shirt and vanish-splattered jeans—evidence he’d been working on restorations when called to the school.
Even if the fight between my brother and Marty hadn’t already strained my mental barriers, I would’ve noticed the disappointment coming off Dad. He had so many of what he termed cardinal rules for Jonah and me, and right then, one whispered in my conscience: There’s a devil on every man’s shoulder, whispering in his ear. Only he decides if he’ll throw salt at the devil or feed him his soul.
“What happened, Magpie?” Dad asked, a Georgia-born drawl buttering his voice, as he checked out the cuts on my hand.
“Broken glass,” I answered.
“You ought to be more mindful, don’t you think?”
His question had everything and nothing to do with breaking glass.
Monsignor cleared his throat. “Sorry to have you back in my office so soon, Mr. Silver.”
“Twice in one week is overkill.” Dad stood behind Jonah and me, a hand on each of our shoulders.
“I’ve spoken with our new staff psychologist, Sister Polly Tremblay.” Monsignor introduced the new nun. “She was hired this year after Dr. Fernandez took a position in Madison. Sister is a licensed practitioner, educator, and bride of Christ.”
Dad raised an eyebrow. “Is she now? That’s all very impressive, Sister. Do you go by Sister Polly or Sister Tremblay?”
The nun blinked twice, no emotion registering on her face. “Sister Tremblay. Polly is from my past life.”
Monsignor grabbed the manila folder from the nun’s hands and hurried through his words. His hurrying, seemingly to get us out of his office and be done with us, made blots of sweat rise along my widow’s peak. “Sister Tremblay has acquainted herself with Jonah’s file and feels he may benefit from some sessions with her. Mr. Silver, your family came to Wisconsin two years ago, but of the people I’ve spoken with, no one really knows you.”
“I see you’re a widower running an antiques business,” Sister Tremblay added.
“What’s that got to do with anything?” Dad snapped.
“The adjustment period after moving, especially when grieving and moving, can be prolonged. In that regard, two years isn’t very long at all,” Sister Tremblay answered. “Teenagers tend to cope by acting out. And if you’re as busy as I suspect—”
“I’ve got time for my kids,” Dad argued. “Always.”
The heating vent blasted more hot air into the office. My brother beside me, silent, burned with frustration, and my shoulders tightened. I crackled my knuckles, all too aware of how the lights dimmed as I did so.
Monsignor let out a sigh. “Sister Tremblay is only suggesting that talking to someone away from family could be good for Jonah.”
There was no outside the family. There never was. Hard to make friends and get past the New Kid stigma when we were either cooped up at home or at Dad’s shop under his watchful eye. No wonder our classmates thought we were weird—we were.
The hairs on the back of my neck stiffened, and I shifted in my chair for a better view into the lobby where another boy waited to talk with Monsignor. His hair curling near his jaw was the color of liquid cinnamon dashed with espresso, and a wire umbilical cord tethered an iPod to his ears as he held an icepack to his bottom lip.
Jonah’s sort of friend, Ward.
He averted his eyes from mine.
My hands grew hot again, and the overhead lights flickered, this time drawing everyone’s eyes to the ceiling. Dad’s grip pumped my shoulder.
Jonah stretched his legs. “I’m not seeing no damn shrink. Marty Pifkin’s got everyone wrapped around his finger.”
“Here we go again,” I muttered. “Jonah, stop it.”
“That guy is a creeper, and—”
I looked to Dad for sympathy. “Marty asked to compare answers on our homework and Jonah lost it.”
“—he was bothering Vayda,” my brother talked over me. “Guys like that shouldn’t be talking to her. He’s gaje. I didn’t throw the first punch, didn’t ask for Ward’s help. I barely know the kid.”
Monsignor waited until Jonah and I both quieted down. “What’s gaje?”
Jonah gave Dad a pleading look, but Dad confessed, “It means outsider, though it seems we’re the outsiders here.”
Monsignor gave a satisfied nod. “Marty claims Jonah threw a desk. That’s not behavior that will go unpunished.”
“And the physics’ lab? Every light was broken.” Sister Tremblay crossed her arms.
I sank into my chair and hid behind my hair. Those dull eyes couldn’t be avoided. I wanted out of the office. Now.
The flickering of the overhead lights grew faster. I shuddered, not cold but burning up. The poster of a kitten clinging to a clothesline cheering “Hang in there!” obviously didn’t know how fragile my grip was when so many emotion flooded a room. Usually, I could keep it together with mental barriers to deflect the constant flow of others’ feelings, but so much tension …
“You’re seriously suggesting a couple of kids broke every light bulb just like that?” Dad’s voice rose. He gestured to the palsied lights above our heads. “Y’all would be better off hiring an electrician before the school burns down.”
The room skewed left, and my vision blurred and head dizzied. Too hot, cluttered. My hands—I shut my eyes.
Energy. Rising. Must release!
Crack! A fracture drove down the length of the fluorescent light above the desk. Sister Tremblay yelped and snatched Jonah’s folder to her chest.
“Hell of a power surge.” Jonah’s black eyes searched for a way into my mind. I flung up a barrier to keep him out. Not gonna let him in, not this time. He was worried, but nothing was wrong. Except that I felt like I could spew red, white, and blue.
“Vayda, go get some fresh air,” Dad ordered. “You look flushed.”
Monsignor dismissed me, and with the expected curtsey before hoisting my backpack onto my shoulder, I cracked my knuckles one last time to diffuse the energy swelling in my hands. I stepped out of the office, out of the glow of the stained glass window, and paced near the chairs where Ward waited. Jonah started this whole mess. Marty had done nothing to me. This time. Marty never listened until Jonah made him last spring. Ever since then, Jonah had his eyes and his anger on Marty. Anything Jonah felt, I felt ten times worse. When he was happy, he was very happy, but when he was angry, he was furious.
Mom had been the same way.
“I promise you won’t go belly-up if you hold still.” Ward’s voice was deep, raw honey. His head rested against his chair, eyes shut, yet I knew he’d been watching me.
His left eye opened a crack, and I gave him a weak smile. My ears liked his voice.
Ward had been at our school only since Monday, and already he’d been cast into the same social boneyard where Jonah and I had roamed since we transferred in after Christmas break nearly two years ago. We’d tried blending with the nameless, faceless uniforms, but it wasn’t so simple. The other students never warmed to us, or we to them. We weren’t from here. We didn’t look or act like them. We were among the Avoided. But, as of yesterday, we had a shadow. A gaje shadow.
“How’s your hand?” Ward asked.
I eyed my brother and father talking to Monsignor. That Jonah hadn’t chased off Ward was a tacit tolerance of him. “A few cuts. I’ll live.” I twisted my black hair, which was long enough to skim my hips. “You hardly needed to play the white knight. Marty’s not much of a dragon, more like a salamander.”
“Maybe I like fighting salamanders.”
Chipped gray polish colored his fingernails. Artsy in an I-don’t-give-a-damn-I’ll-wear-it-if-it’s-clean way. If Monsignor noticed, that’d earn him a detention or two.
“Listen, gajo.” He didn’t deserve to be shoved to the outskirts all because of my cavalier brother. He needed to back off. While he still could. “Marty won’t bother you if you don’t bother him. Tangling with him will never be forgotten.”
His mouth twitched, neither a grin nor a frown. “I don’t scare easily.”
He slipped on his headphones and closed his eyes once more. Must be nice to be so untouched, unfazed. Must be peaceful.
“Hey,” I called. He lifted one side of his headphones. “What are you listening to?”
Ward’s eyes popped open and landed on the overturned chair in Monsignor’s office. A chair no one had been sitting in. Dad’s muffled voice came fast as he pulled Jonah by the arm. From the dark expression on his face, we were in for a major talking to.
“We need to leave. Now,” Dad said as he steered Jonah out of the office.
There would be no explanation to Ward of why we were leaving so fast. Dad whisked my brother and me out of Monsignor’s office, past the sanctuary where our footfalls echoed on wood floors polished by nuns until glistening. The school was a dour extension of a century-old Catholic parish. The walls in the language arts’ wing were painted rich blue, the Virgin’s color. Hung between classrooms were carvings from the Stations of the Cross, thick with dust except for the Christ’s eyes, which followed us and knew my family’s secrets and sins.
Outside was better. Riding in the car, the windows were lowered to allow in the fire-musk smell of mid-October leaves, but there was something else, an odor of buried things deep in the black earth. Dad steered into a parking lot by a grocery store. With the silence in the car, I couldn’t push back the memory of the last time we pulled over like this. Instead of a parking lot, it’d been off a highway in a forest in northern Georgia and, with the haze of morning fog guarding the Chevy we’d escaped in, Dad had vowed we were going straight to Wisconsin. There, we would start over.
Find someplace new. Claim different names.
Dad pushed his fingers through his black hair streaked with silver and set his green eyes, the same shade as mine, on my reflection in the rearview mirror. “This stops now. Your mama might’ve called what y’all do Mind Games.” The last two words were spoken slowly. “But I won’t play.”
“Yes, Sir,” Jonah and I answered.
“Mind Games, if you must work them, are private. Working them in public is how your mama found trouble.” He twisted his wedding band. “We can’t risk a repeat of Georgia.”
I jerked my head to look out the window. Black Orchard, Wisconsin. Such a pretty town despite its eerie name. Easter egg colored Victorian homes lined the streets, and people spoke with northern accents that sounded friendly no matter what was said. But pretty towns and nice people could turn on you.
Last time that happened, we escaped with nothing but our lives.
If it happened again, would we even have that?
SECRET OF THE CORPSE EATER raises the Undertakers’ adventures to a whole new level. The Corpses have launched a daring new scheme down in Washington D.C.: they’ve somehow replaced a sitting U.S. senator with one of their own, a trick that’s supposed to be impossible. But when Will and Sharyn go undercover as Senate Pages to foil the plot, they get even more than they bargained for. Because something haunts the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol Building. Something big and strong and impossibly fast. Something that seems to have a taste for Corpses!
But can the enemy of your enemy truly be your friend?
2. Can you tell us one word you’d use to describe Will and each of his friends?
Will Ritter: Reckless
Helene Boettcher: Courageous
Dave “The Burgermeister” Burger: Loyal
Tom Jefferson: Noble
Sharyn Jefferson: Fearless
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