Gwen Gardner: Demon Holes vs. the Knight Bus

Today you’re in for a treat because Gwen Gardner is here to guest post, woot woot! I first came across Gwen on the blogosphere because we both had our debut into the publishing world around the same time, her with Giving Up the Ghost, and me with 18 Things. I’m pretty sure it was our Ninja Captain that brought us together. If you don’t know Gwen yet (go ahead & slap yourself), allow me to introduce her.

Gwen Gardner author photo

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter.

Since ghosts feature prominently in her young adult Indigo Eady Paranormal “Cozy” Mystery series, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face – but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate – not necessarily in that order.

Knight Bus vs. Demon Hole

Thanks for hosting me today, Jamie!

I know Jamie is a Harry Potter fan and so am I! We’re both still waiting for our owls from Hogwarts with our invitations to attend. Well, Jamie would be one of the professors, for sure. Probably Muggle Studies, because she’s so good at human nature. I’m sure I’d be sorted into Griffindor where I’d excel at Defense Against the Dark Arts. At least, my characters might or might not agree with that.

I mean, I get them into dark and dangerous situations, but I get them out again, don’t I?

Indigo Eady is a ghost-whispering teen psychic and the protagonist in my Afterlife novella series. In Second Death (book I), I did sort of have her sucked down into a demon hole. She later compared it to that scene in Harry Potter’s The Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry inadvertently hails the Knight Bus.

The Knight Bus rescues witches or wizards in trouble and takes them where they need to go. There’s a scene where Ernie Prang is driving and throws a switch to maneuver between two muggle buses and so the Knight Bus shrinks to about six inches wide, squeezing all on board into a fun-mirror deformed version of themselves.

Well, according to Indigo, that’s what it feels like getting sucked down a demon hole. Sort of like being squeezed through the gullet of a snake. Slow, arduous and suffocating.

But that’s where the similarity between the Knight Bus and a Demon Hole ends. The Knight Bus is completely dangerous, true. It averages about one accident per week. None of the seats or beds is bolted down and so they slide all over the place. And being squeezed like that can’t be good for the mind or body. But at least they offer beds and hot chocolate!

Demon Holes–well, you can imagine what a nightmare they are. Indigo hasn’t quite forgiven me for the following scene, where she found herself all alone in the cemetery… at night…

Second Death cover

 

I reminded myself we were still in Gertrude’s Garden. We’d already seen how easy it was to go from one dimension to another without even trying. Yeah, maybe that was it. I should wait right there for Badger and Simon to get back. I folded my arms over my chest. Clamped my teeth together to keep my chin from wobbling. “Yeah, I’m just going to wait right here,” I spoke aloud, continuing to scan the area. “Sounds like a good plan, Indigo,” I answered myself. I glanced left and right. “I’ll just sit and wait,” I mumbled, backing up to the Earl’s headstone and sliding down into a sitting position. I waited and waited. And waited some more. I’ll admit that patience wasn’t my best virtue.

I changed position, using my left hand to shift to a more comfortable spot. That’s when I felt it. A general tugging sensation, followed by a swarm of orbs swirling up my arm. A squeezing numbness encompassed my body, like I was being swallowed whole by a boa constrictor, suffocating slowly, inch by inch, while contracting muscles pushed and sucked me further and further down into the bowels of…

SPLOT!

I lay on my back, no idea what had just happened, only that I couldn’t breathe. Panic was about to set in when my lungs finally expanded. I sucked in air like a fish gasping for water. Scrambling to my feet, I found myself in a narrow, dusky corridor, lit intermittently by orblight sconces along the walls. The floor and walls were uneven and dirt-packed, with roots protruding, some big, some small. The impression of being deep underground clung to me, like I’d been buried alive. I struggled to control my breathing, which threatened to turn into full-on hyperventilation.

You really landed in it this time, Indigo Eady. Under the freaking cemetery! I whimpered, which echoed and dwindled to silence down the corridor.

What do you think? Has Indigo forgiven me?

Thanks, Gwen! I loved your HP analogy, & this book sounds A*M*A*Z*I*N*G!!

Don’t forget to follow Gwen on social media! She’s a hoot!!

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“I Was a Beginning Writer”

This past week, my fourteen-year-old daughter and I traveled to Orlando for LeakyCon, a fandom con birthed out of the Harry Potter book series, but has since branched out to include all things geek. We loved this con because they have a separate lit focus. I even got to moderate/present a Live Plot Twist panel with some of my fellow authors from Curiosity Quills (who has a newly launched website, so take a look)!  I also got to hear from YA bestselling authors like these . . .

Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss

Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss

 

 

 

Gayle Foreman, author of If I Stay

Gayle Foreman, author of If I Stay

 

 

 

John Green, author of TFIOS

John Green, author of TFIOS

 

 

Some of the authors participated in a panel titled, “I Was a Teenage Writer.” We got to see and hear these top YA writers reading from some of their early–very early–works. Here’s a clip of John Green reading aloud from  his sample. I couldn’t film much because as you’ll hear, I was the Bozo laughing too hard and couldn’t hold her phone very still.

 

The panel made me want to look at the first novel I wrote back in 2009, Sarah’s Crossroads, the one I thought was so perfect, I didn’t even need to edit it when finished! I submitted it to twenty agents and dreamed at night about receiving acceptance letters from all of them and wondering how I would choose to rep the million dollar deal I was sure to get!! Bahahaha! So, for your reading pleasure today, I present to you my prologue, with some bonus cliffnotes.  The bolded comments are my thoughts while reading it today. And hey, don’t judge. We’ve all got to start somewhere 🙂 Hopefully it’ll encourage you. If I once started out with this piece of crap and landed a publishing deal for my 18 Things trilogy three years later, you can too!

Sarah’s Crossroads Prologue:

In the summer after I graduated high school I accidentally wrote the novel you’re now holding in your hands. (Accidentally? What the hell?!) I blame it on my college application to the University of Florida.  Along with the application I had to write an essay. The assignment for the paper was this: Describe a setback that you faced.  How did you resolve it?  How did the outcome affect you?  If something similar happened in the future, how would you react?

It was hard to narrow it down and focus on one setback because I had already faced so many.  I could’ve talked about being abused by my uncle, my parents divorce and moving away from Michigan to the southern most state in the U.S., losing my house and everything I owned in a tornado, or mine and Ethan’s story. (Wow, can’t believe how obvious I was! Should’ve just titled this Jamie’s Crossroads)  Ethan and I are soul mates.  We were that way for as long as I can remember.  Our parents have been best friends since middle school.  By now our combined families have so many individuals that it’s like a Shakespeare drama where a variety of cast members are endlessly entering and exiting the stage.  Mom got married at seventeen years old and by the time she was twenty-six had six kids, including me.  It can be quite confusing to explain who everyone is and they only play a minimal role in this story, so I’ll wait to delve into that later. (If they play such a minimal role, why am I even mentioning this on the first page of my novel?)

I’m a mature full-fledged grownup telling you these things now; ok so a fairly new one at 18 years of age. (Yeah, full-fledged! I’m just going to tell you these things so I don’t have to show you through my actions. And why am I speaking to the reader? Nobody likes that! And why didn’t I spell out the age?!)  Like I said before, this all started with my essay.  I ended up writing about the move I took when I was 8, away from mom and my sisters and Ethan.  But I realized after that assignment I wanted to tell more.  I’ve been a writer all my life.  I was the annoying girl you come across in every Language Arts class, the one whose papers always got picked to be read aloud by the teacher as an example to everyone else.  My senior high school English teacher even went as far to say on my last day of school in front of the whole class that she was sure I’d be a famous writer some day. (Coughs *Jamie Ayres* Again, why am I telling you everything up front? So the reader won’t be surprised later?)

Well, I graduated two weeks ago and have a lot of time to kill (you’ll find out why soon enough if you’re patient). (Oh yes, you’ll be rewarded soon enough, lol) So I decided to write this novel that I’ve come to think of as a simple narrative.   I implore you to set this down right now if you’re looking for a tell-all scandalous story.  Though it may seem like just that to my parents if they ever read it.  But really it’s like a scrapbook of my life, mostly the lovely parts with Ethan, but also the secrets that you’d never mention at our family reunion. (But I’ll record it all in a book I hope gets published and sits on book store shelves across America!) In fact, at times it paints a kind of picture you’d want to burn in a bonfire at a church healing ceremony (that may sound strange to you, but they do that kind of thing at my charismatic house of praise).

I guess it’s like a diary, a written chronicle as a keepsake to pass onto my future children. (This does sound like an assignment I’d give my middle school students . . . perhaps I was still in teacher mode when I wrote this?)  I want to write it down now, before I’m too old to remember the stories I’d like them to learn from.  I’ll openly admit at the start of this thing that I’m not an indifferent commentator and as I am just 18, haven’t yet had the luxury to be healed by time, but I’d also argue that what I’ve suffered through can’t be healed by the ticking of a clock.  It’s difficult to forgive, let alone forget.  And really, I don’t want to forget, not anymore.  It’s what made me who I am today and if it hadn’t, I would’ve wasted my pain.  Like they say, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (I want to go back in time and kill this story before I waste two months writing it!) But to explain what I mean by all of this requires me to back up a little bit and tell you how it all began.  It begins where many good stories begin (but not this one, because this story isn’t even close to being good). . . in a small town where girl meets boy.

This has been a post for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where we provide a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Join us the first Wednesday of every month!

And one more picture before I leave . . . daughter and I got to visit the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studios on our LeakyCon trip. I wish I had a pensieve so I could relive that memory of walking into Diagon Alley and taking the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade for the first time. So A*M*A*Z*I*N*G!!!

HP Park

Top 5 Favorite Books of All Time

So today’s blogfest assignment is to name our top 5 books of all time. Like many of you, this is simply an impossible task for me. So I had to take out non-fiction books and all the classics and narrowed it down to my top 5 YA series since that’s what I’m writing myself.

1)  Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling — this is me being a nerd in line on the opening day of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. We stood in line 6 hours to get in and it was well worth it:-) I still haven’t forgiven my husband when last November he got to attend a red carpet event there as part of the hoopla surrounding the last movie DVD release. He met most of the stars but was unable to smuggle me in (he works for our local Fox news). Anyways, I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many HP shirts I own, but let’s just say plenty to wear a different one for each day of the week:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)   The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis — this is my daughters and I standing next to the sword of the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe featured at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.( Can you tell I’m paranoid about using any pics other than my own after that post by Roni Loren?) I actually didn’t read this series until I was nineteen years old and got hired to work at a Christian bookstore. It was a very small mom-and-pop shop so one of the benefits of working there was we could read when it was slow so we could be better equipped to recommend books to customers. The first thing I picked up was this and immediately purchased the whole series. Yep, the downside of working there was spending my whole paycheck before I was out the door! So glad my daughters have gotten to enjoy these books though, and my students!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. I enjoyed this series and movies so much that I started my own Sisterhood of the Traveling _____ (jacket, bracelet, necklace, ring. . . depends on the year). These are my 4 besties I met at college and we pass our journal and item of the year through the mail and then meet up once a year for a reunion. Three of us are spread across Florida, one is in Tennessee, and another in California.

 

 

 

4) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins . . . I first heard about this one at RWA Nationals in Orlando during July of 2010. What I heard is it was the most violent YA book ever written in contemporary fiction so of course I ran out and bought it, lol. I’m glad I waited to read books 1 & 2 until then b/c I only had to wait a month for book 3. Own just 2 shirts for this one, and a key chain:-)

5) The Internal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. This is the prequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments Series. To be honest, I’m kind of getting burned out on that series (#5 came out this year), but I love this prequel. Here’s the summary from the first book: When sixteen-year-old orphan Tessa Gray’s older brother suddenly vanishes, her search for him leads her into Victorian-era London’s dangerous supernatural underworld, and when she discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother.

*I’ve told you mine . . . now tell me yours:-) If you’d like to join this blogfest hosted by my publisher, Curiosity Quills, you can sign up at Sharon Bayliss’s blog.