April Blog Hop — Write Like a Wizard

BLOGHOP

Welcome to the Write Like a Wizard April Blog Hop!

Visit each blog for a chance to win an ecopy of the books the characters are from, AND a $10 Amazon GC!

Character Q&A: Isabella Foxworthy (The Lost Heir by Allison Whitmore, Erin Virginia and Grace Arden)

Where are you from? Culver Hills, which is a neighborhood in Los Angeles right next to Culver City. Most people have heard of that more.
How old are you? 15
What do your parents do? They’re dead. But they used to run The Foxworthy Hotel. Now it’s just me and my grandmother.
Tell us about your closest friends. — My best friend’s named Lana Starr. She’s the only person I really trust a hundred percent in this world. I can’t even trust my grandmother, really, and she’s just always been there for me. I recently met these Seth and Micah, and they are okay. I think I like them, but I’m not sure yet.
Any secrets you want to share with us? I really don’t like to share my secrets, but if you won’t tell too many people… Okay. I feel like I’m going crazy almost all of the time lately. It’s because of I have this thing where I can feel other people’s emotions, and it’s getting stronger. I really don’t know what to do about it. Anyway, that’s about it for now.
Describe one moment that you feared for your life. — The night my parents died was really scary. There was a lot of fire, and to this day, I hate fire, and then I just felt like I wanted to save them, but I couldn’t. All I could do was protect myself. I don’t know. I think it’s my fault. I think it’s all my fault.
Is there a love interest we should know about? Okay, well, I have a crush on this guy Max that works at my favorite restaurant Cake N Honey and also…I think Seth Logan is kind of cute, but please, please, never tell him that. He has enough of an ego as it is. I also like him because he seems to really care about people. I think that’s a good way to be, but he is really full of it too, so I don’t know.
Anything else you want people out there to know? The Foxworthy Hotel is an awesome place to visit and if you come ask Rolf for a tour. He’s really good at the history stuff. Thanks for listening to me and my babble. I tend to do that sometimes, and also I tend to get a bit bratty, some people don’t like it, but hey, I’m a kid trying to deal with a lot. Hope you’ll cut me some slack. And I think, maybe you’ll enjoy my story!

Thanks for stopping by! 

What was your favorite part of the Q&A? Comment below, enter the giveaway, and visit the next stop posted on www.writelikeawizard.com.

Enter Isabella’s Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Isabella Foxworthy was just another girl…until she learned she was an empath, able to read the energy of others. A secret world known as the Violet City lies beneath her family’s hotel in Los Angeles. Through this discovery, Isabella is catapulted into a whirlwind of magic, adventure, and danger. The Violet City holds the key to protecting her stability; her family hotel, her friends, and her very sanity. With morphlings, empaths, and fair folk also comes a powerful entity that twists her mind into knots, threatening everything she loves. Now, Isabella and her new friends—a guitar-playing jock, his gifted but neurotic brother, and a set of over-indulged twins—have until her 16th birthday to save her world with the help of someone who’s been lost for a very long time…the lost Foxworthy heir. But will they find him in time? And will he be a friend or foe?

Allison Whitmore was born in Los Angeles and studied literature and writing at Long Island University. She spent several years teaching English and history after earning her master’s degree at Mount St. Mary’s University. Outside of writing and reading, Allison loves classic Hollywood films, and spending time with her family and friends. In 2011, she started working on The Lost Heir (Book I in The Diadem Chronicles) with two of her good friends, Erin Virginia and Grace Arden. She is grateful to have them along for the ride as she developed the characters and etched out the massive story world of the novel and the exciting series-to-come.

The Co-Authors:
Erin Virginia spent the first years of her life in Tokyo, Japan before finishing her formative years in a suburb of Chicago. She attributes her wild imagination and her love of reading to her family. She loved working with her two best friends as the three of them created mayhem and magic with The Lost Heir in her new home, Los Angeles.
Grace Arden was born in Philadelphia. She has always lived in the imaginative world and grew up fascinated by dark stories, fantasy and romance. Grace plans to empower the world through her looking glass mirror perspective on life. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
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Social Media

https://twitter.com/grace_avarden

INSTAGRAM:
@allisonwhitmoreauthor

For Better or for Worse

I don’t watch all that much television, but the shows that I do watch have decided to use the same phrase this week. I’m not sure if it means a thing, but I’d like to explore it. For better or for worse: meaning, whether the outcome is good or bad, we stick to the decision made behind it.

SPOILERS involved from the January, 2016 episodes of X-Files, Arrow,  and Legends of Tomorrow. Read with caution.

X-Files
Mulder: I’m afraid that book is closed.
Scully: As are the X-Files…for better or worse. We’ve moved on with our lives.
Mulder: Yes, we have. For better or for worse.

Scully is implying that things have moved on and that even if it wasn’t for the best, it is what it is. Mulder is just like this is what life is like right now, and he’s given up…until, of course, it’s time to become Spooky Mulder again.

x-files-2016

Arrow
Felicity: My point being is that we didn’t really exchange any vows, so the whole for better or worse thing doesn’t really apply here.
Oliver: What are you talking about?
Felicity: That maybe the real reason you haven’t been here is because…
Oliver: Felicity…(takes ring from pocket and holds it up so she can see.) The nurse. She took this off of you in the E.R. How dare she? (Slips that bling-bling ring onto her finger)… For better, for worse.

This is a clear declaration of love and promise….and also a hint that Doom’s Day may be around the corner. ::Shuts eyes in fear:: It’ll be okay. And breathe.

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Legends of Tomorrow
Sarah: This mission is about changing the future. And if we have the power to change the world, don’t you think we have the power to change our own fate?
Captain Cold: For better or for worse.

We can make or fate good or bad.

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The same phrase used over multiple shows meaning specifically very different things for very different characters gives me pause. What do I think of it?

Stick to what I choose…for better or for worse.

Do what I am meant to do…for better or for worse.

Let the past go…for better or for worse.

The underlying theme here? Decision. Do you eat that cheesecake or not? Do you take time out of your busy life to go to the gym or stay home? Do you tell your boss what you really think of the changes she made last week or do you let it go? Do you quit your job and pursue your dream? Do you have children or not? Get married or not? Decide to be happy or not? Make your choices and stick to them and let the chips fall where they

Make your choices and stick to them and let the chips fall where they may. You can always do the other thing later, but the good or bad consequences from your initial decision will come — for better or for worse. You cannot control everything, and when that realization hits you, how will you handle it? You must learn to trust yourself in this great gift given to us all…life. Easier said than done, right?

Now, enough of all that. Who’s enjoying the X-Files reboot? I thought the premiere was crazy awesome but still have issues with it. What kind of a die-hard fan would I be if I didn’t? And loved the Legends of Tomorrow premiere. And Arrow? Can’t get enough of that show…like ever.

Thanks for reading. Nearly one month down of 2016. Just 11 more to go…for better or for worse. 😉

 

 

Location, Location, Location

TOPIC: Story World Building

Many of you have read or heard about our book, The Lost Heir, so my writing partners and I were thinking that maybe some of you might like to see who the “skyside” world in The Lost Heir came to be.

**skyside=Above ground (as this world also includes vast environs below ground).

There are two major locations considered skyside in the novel: Brightwood Studios and The Foxworthy Hotel.  As a writing team, over the course of about two years, we visited many places to write and take notes. The year and a half after that, we spent in edits and publishing this title, along with my other book, Forget Me Not. Thank you, Booktrope Publishing for helping make that happen.

When it came to building the world of The Lost Heir, we decided on occasion to get outside of the house and work in blissful settings that might inspire the story locations fluttering around in our imaginations. We looked no further than the city we live in, Los Angeles, CA. I am a native of the area, and I think it’s my imagination that holds the novel’s world the most, but I feel that Erin Virginia and Grace Arden are powerful forces that swirl around in it and give it new life. But where did all this life and this world spark from?

Inspirations for BRIGHTWOOD STUDIOS

The Culver Studios is the movie studio that inspired Brightwood Studios in The Lost Heir. We spent a lot of time walking along the outer rim. Though we’ve been inside briefly, we have not had the full tour yet. But when we stayed as guests at the Culver Hotel, we had a good view of it from our windows. From the best of our views, we found out what it might have looked like as Isabella looked out of her window onto Brightwood Studios. See below. Cool huh?

Below is the 2oth Century Fox backlot. A good deal of Brightwood’s backlot is based on this studio, which is about five miles from Culver Studios. I have been on this backlot a few times more times than Culver so it was easier for me (Allison) to picture this one. Also, Brightwood is about halfway between the size of the Culver Studios and Fox lot. Though Sony Studios is closer to our main location, the only thing I think we used as inspiration is that lot’s main gate…It once used to be good old MGM. Yay for Leo the Lion!

THE FOXWORTHY HOTEL

The Culver Hotel is the hotel we spend the most time in and was the primary inspiration for The Foxworthy Hotel. I guess you could say The Culver Hotel is our hero. Practically adjacent to Culver Studios, just like The Foxworthy is nearly attached to the fictional Brightwood Studios in The Lost Heir, The Culver Hotel was always accommodating and friendly when we’d spend hours there working with our laptops. Some of the staff members even made into the book! We’ve had several tours of the hotel and as we mentioned earlier have rented rooms a few times to make sure we soaked up the classic Hollywood charm that the stunning boutique hotel has to offer. The Foxworthy is meant to be much larger than The Culver Hotel. We had to do that so we could make sure it has plenty of places to move and get lost in. But The Culver Hotel itself is not without its own magic and mystery. Talk to the staff and you’ll hear stories of the ghosts of Hollywood past. Legend has it that there is even an old tunnel underneath the hotel that led to MGM (now Sony lot). Sorry, people, it got plugged up… or so they say.

Below is the gazebo at The Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey. We only went to this hotel once to write, but we loved the back garden and the staircase that led to it so much that we decided to make it the inspiration for the gardens behind the ballroom The Lily Field Ballroom in The Lost Heir. This gazebo looks like it comes from a magic world, doesn’t it?  It definitely opened up our imaginations to beautiful ideas.

We visited the Chateau Marmont and felt it was as spooky and grand as The Foxworthy. The Foxworthy, again, is larger than the famed Hollywood Hotel, but lacks the bungalows the Marmont is famous for. Also, there aren’t many wild celebrity parties at The Foxworthy — in the first book, anyway. 😉 We created a funny character whom you’ll meet later in the series just before we went inside that. It was a fun visit, but since we were afraid to break something, we decided to leave after about an hour. They seemed nice enough though.

The Beverly Hills Hotel‘s Cabana Cafe was a fun place to have lunch and write. We shared steak quesadillas and had amazing cocktails. Yes. We are over 21. We had a great time discussing Isabella’s life and family legacy at this historic Los Angeles landmark. We did not base specific decor of the hotel in The Lost Heir, but we do imagine Isabella and her grandmother’s suite to look a bit like the interiors of the bungalows. The hotel staff clothing in our novel is also similar to that of the BH Hotel staff’s. Thank you Pink Palace for always being so friendly and making our poor writer girl days filled with hopes and dreams.

We also spent some time at The Roosevelt Hotel for inspiration. It’s bigger. It’s Hollywood. It’s legendary. We could not skip it.  So what happened on the first, second then and third visit? We just ended up eating giant burgers at their Average Joe and Jane restaurant, 25 Degrees, situated at the back of the hotel. Nothing specifically in The Lost Heir is based on the Roosevelt, other than this restaurant. The food at Betty’s is a combo of the food here, The Culver Hotel, The Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles, and, of course, Musso & Frank!

That’s it! There will be many more places visited in the series, but unfortunately, there is no underground Violet City, but I’m sure we’ll find ways to make do. Oh, note: Isabella’s school (St. Agnes) is based on Immaculate Heart School for Girls as well as Marymount High School. We did visit the below location to map out Isabella’s run from the bullies with Pythian and decided to place her school, St. Agnes, in a fictional location near the 8600 block of Sunset Blvd, known as Sunset Plaza. Fun times! We actually walked the chase path. We had a lot of fun.

Sunset Plaza, Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA -- setting for Part 2 of Chapter 1

Sunset Plaza, Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA — setting for Part 2 of Chapter 1

We’ve had a great time getting prepped for the novel. Now it’s time to work on its sequel. Since we know the world so well now, we are ready to write it and the rest of what we will call The Diadem Chronicles much more quickly!

Happy 2016!

**Dedicated to Alan Rickman, a wonderful actor and talent.

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday.

I would like to share with you a story for you to read at your leisure. It is the beginning of a new series by my co-author Erin Virginia and me. Have a great holiday!

It’s the story of Cinderella’s stepsister after happily ever after and the curse that has been placed upon her..

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The dark, foreboding sky looming above Barren Wood that night painted it in a more haunting light than usual. At only ten-years-old, Hans Nox, was used to nightmarish things: things many in their realm thought to be mere myth or legend. But for the boy, whose hair and eyes matched the darkness that followed him wherever he went, this was a good thing. Hans fashioned himself an apprentice to both the darkness and the light, so he had to study each carefully. Twigs snapped beneath his feet until he came to a familiar clearing in the woods, not too far from the cottage where he lived with his family. It was odd, all the moonlight seemed fall into that circular area. Then, he saw her standing by the cauldron as it bubbled brilliantly above the crackling fire. She wore a dress layered in black and red. In her hand, she held a raven, petting it gently as an evil smile creased her lips. She forcefully cracked the bird’s neck, causing a sharp snapping sound to echo through the night. Then, she tore away a clump of feathers and tossed the carcass into a nearby bush as a dark, red liquid gushed over her hands.

“Why are you doing this, mother?” Hans asked, pulling himself onto a tall tree stump that overlooked the cauldron. With his feet dangling back and forth, he watched her carefully and waited for an answer.

Without a word, his mother lifted her bloody hand above the brew. Then, she slowly dropped one feather into the brew at a time, which bubbled and smoked with ferocity until they had all been added. Moments later, it faded back to a quiet boil. “I owe it to my sister’s memory and to the peace of this realm,” she said, her sharp glare focusing on him for a moment.

From her pocket, she pulled out a smooth, round mid-sized stone and gripped it tightly. It was dark green and glowing. It could have been from the moonlight or the light of the fire, but Hans knew differently. It was coming from a place of magic. He frowned, attempting to make sense of his mother’s words. “But I thought the curse was to be lifted nevermore?”

She glared at him again then when he thought she’d shoot him with a spell to punish his sass, she turned back to the brew and barked with laughter. The sound was so terrifying that even his skin stood on edge, but he knew what she needed next. Without waiting to be asked, he slid off the high stump and walked over to his mother, who now had her hand out in anticipation of his approach. From his pocket, he pulled out the small purple root that he had just retrieved from the deepest part of the woods and held it out her.

As the root disappeared into the clutch of her hand and sharp fingernails, she smiled at him and shook her head. “A curse can always be lifted, but I will not allow that. I cannot allow that.”

Then, she raised her hand above the cauldron and let the root fall from her grasp. As it slipped into the liquid below, a large cloud of smoke emitted from it, filling the entire clearing with a faint green mist. Hans looked up, unsure of what to say or do, but when he set his focus back on his mother he noticed that the stone held in her opposite hand changed to black.

A flock of ravens burst from the trees as steam from the brew climbed into the sky.

“As long as this stone remains black, we can be certain that Stephanie Thorne will die-without true love, or happiness.”

Chapter One

CURSED
Beyond the shadowy trees of Barren Wood in the northern realm of Fairland, sat a vast castle; one that had once been used during times of war to stave off soldiers and threats that had spilled out from the mysterious, darker parts of the country. At the moment, war was not on the horizon but that did not mean relations were harmonious between the four kingdoms of Fairland. The High Emperor, who overruled it all, imposed many restrictions upon the citizens though the kingdoms, who each had their own rulers, remained independent in their day-to-day lives.

As the morning stretched toward noon, the beautiful raven-haired, Stephanie Thorne, sat in the kitchen yard of the Northern castle, the section of Fairland that was on one side dark and on the other side very green, with a bowl of cherries and a sharp, thin knife. The juices gushed over her hands and clothing with each pit she removed, soaking her apron in their blood-red stains. She’d finally reached the last cherry when a large cloud of smoke burst from the woods in the distance. A pain in her stomach twisted at the same instance. It mirrored the pain she’d felt the night she’d moved to the castle over five months ago, and the pain she’d felt the morning of Prince’s Dominic’s Rose & Slipper ball, and the pain she’d felt when she turned sixteen and every birthday before that since she was eleven-years-old. It came more often and erratically as of late. Stephanie watched the billowing smoke evaporating into the sky, waiting for the sharpness to pass and wondered if she’d been stricken with a kind of intuition about whatever happened in the woods that she didn’t understand yet. It wasn’t a place she’d often go. She wasn’t like her younger sister, Helena, who didn’t mind the trees and the earth. But the feelings were probably only bad stomach spells as many were wont to have. They passed, then they were gone. Age had probably increased their frequency. She’d be twenty in a few months time.

“You’re wanted upstairs, milady,” said a familiar voice. Stephanie turned to see the head kitchen maid standing in the doorway, brushing the back of her hand against her sweaty brow.

“I’m just Stephanie, Mary Oliver,” she told the woman tiredly. She didn’t seem to understand that Stephanie was no longer a lady, or maybe she did understand, but it was too much for the middle-aged woman to ignore Stephanie’s true station.

She stood up with her bowl of cherries, handed it to Mary Oliver, then removed her apron to give it to the kind-faced woman as well. At that moment, the kitchen mutt with its light somewhat unclean fur and adorable but mischievous panting face, ran out of the backdoor, limping. Stephanie whistled for the dog to come back to her. She sat back on the stoop and put the dog in her lap, scratching it behind its ears and looking at its injured paw. “Has anyone looked at this?” she asked Mary Oliver.

“What? No, milady. We’ve been too busy.”

Stephanie gave the dog another scratch, this time beneath its chin. “Well, Mr. Wallford,” she said to the dog. “I’ll just have to send someone to look after you myself.”

“Milady,” Mary Oliver cleared her throat.

“Yes, Mary Oliver?”

“Princess Ellinor wants to see you.”

Ellinor. She sighed. Ellinor was the person she spent most time avoiding at the castle. Her step-sister, who’d been in her place once upon a time, was now royalty. It didn’t seem right, but what could Stephanie do? “The cinder princess. Whatever for?” She watched the dog hobble over to its small bed set up for him inside of a wooden crate then stood to look at Mary Oliver directly.

“It’s not for me to question,” she replied, avoiding eye contact.

“But you know?” Stephanie asked stepping over to a washing bucket the maids used to clean their hands. She took a cup and scooped out the water, then watched it send the redness from the cherries with a splash into to the ditch in the kitchen’s dirt packed yard. Stephanie took the small towel Mary Oliver had on her shoulder and wiped her hands with it before replacing it neatly. She gave the woman a pointed look. “Well then?”

“They want you to move all of your things upstairs, milady,” Mary Oliver said, unable to contain her smile, re-folding Stephanie’s apron over her arm, while still balancing the cherry bowl in the crook of her other arm.

For some reason, Stephanie felt the urge to smile back. At last, this could mean they’d finally come to their senses and were ready to grant her title back. Would they grant her mother and her sister’s titles back, too? And the lands that had been taken away from them after Ellinor had married the prince, would those be restored? They’d found her mother guilty of treason after lying to the Grand Duke and hiding away the now Princess Ellinor from the prince. Her mother could have worked her away out of it if she hadn’t spit in the Grand Duke’s face during a heated argument in front of several nobles. She was lucky to have her head, really. But the Grand Duke had known Lady Lavinia years before under what circumstances Stephanie was never quite clear on, and so he’d had the king punish her and her daughter for their crimes mildly. They would either be banished from the kingdom to live penniless, or they could stay at the castle and work as Ellinor (or as they’d once called her as children, Cinderella) had done all those years as a servant. But Ellinor must have seen the darkness of this cruelty and fought to bring the light back into their lives. She, after all, had the kindest heart of all of them growing up, a heart that Stephanie sometimes envied. She had to have gotten the king and his brother to re-think everything. What else could it possibly be? Stephanie rushed inside, passing through the kitchen and the other servants. As she rounded the first corner, mirth compelled her to reach into one of the maid’s mixing bowls and pull out a handful of berries. She stuffed the small bunch into her mouth as she skipped through with a wide grin on her face. There were gasps and sighs all around her as Stephanie yanked the apron tie from another maid, spun her around then let her go. The maid held her head as if she’d gone dizzy. As she ran out of the kitchen, she heard that same maid’s voice shout, “You’d think she weren’t never a high born lady!”

Stephanie could have cared less what maids thought of her. They’d never warmed to her anyway. That didn’t matter now, did it? As she passed the servants’ quarters, she stopped in the threshold and peered in. Along the floor lay stacks of hay with makeshift hay beds and floor mattresses littering the room. It was modest and dreadful, but the thought of moving upstairs caused her to sigh in relief as a smile creased her lips. “At last,” she said to herself, before heading down the back western corridor to the spiral staircase at the end of it.

***

At the top of the staircase sat the princess’s quarters, which was connected by a bedroom in the center to the prince’s rooms. When Stephanie reached the landing, she came to a set of guards standing watch outside of the door. They immediately moved aside and held the door for her. Chin high, Stephanie walked into the room to see her step-sister standing by the window with her ladies-in-waiting just behind her. At eighteen, Princess Ellinor, was the youngest of the group, but she was also the most beautiful. Her long, honey-colored hair shimmered in the light as it fell in perfect waves down her back, and her sweet hazel eyes added to her innocence.

The moment Stephanie’s presence was known, the ladies-in-waiting turned toward her with sharp glares. Stephanie paid little mind, however, as all three of them were nothing but an annoyance to her. She’d known them growing up, and she knew that they loved the idea of seeing Stephanie in such a state, any excuse to look down on someone. She’d been like them too once, she supposed, but now, she just wanted to be home again, comfortable and at the station she belonged to. She wouldn’t take it for granted ever again. Not like these girls did. The three ladies continued blinking at her as if the image of her stung their eyes. There was Marigold, who was beautiful and bookish, but her problem was that she never failed to let you know just how smart or attractive she was. Then there was Abigail, a stern, plain, no-nonsense kind of woman–whom frankly she found dull. Last but not least was Penelope, the group’s peaceful mediator. She was the nicest of the bunch, but that wasn’t saying much. Even she made Stephanie feel uneasy most of the time.

“Thank you, ladies. I would like to speak to my sister-cousin alone, if you please,” Princess Ellinor said, still looking out from her window.

“Why, so I can strangle you without any witnesses?” Stephanie mumbled to herself.

The three ladies curtsied toward the princess and then exited the room, leaving only the step-sisters behind. Just then, Stephanie stood up straight and mimicked their curtsy, grinning widely as she thought of just how fake and irritating they were. “Your highness.”

Ellinor smiled, her eyes darting back and forth. Seconds later, she began pacing the room, picking up and folding garments as she came by them.

“Ah… your highness?” Stephanie repeated, hoping to gain her attention, but it didn’t work. Instead, the princess carried on, ignoring her as she became engulfed with the task at hand. Not wanting to overstep any bounds, Stephanie waited patiently; well, as patiently as she could.

Once Ellinor had finished, she turned back to her with a bright smile. “How long have I been married to Prince Dominic?”

Stephanie tried to hide her face from the princess as she gritted her teeth at the thought. “Five months, three weeks, seven hours, twenty-three minutes, and three seconds, your highness.”

Ellinor tilted her head slightly and shot Stephanie an incredulous look. “You never took care to know any minute of the day when we were children.”

“Things change, your highness,” she said in earnest. She was tired. Her bones hurt and feet ached. She just wanted to take a hot bath, but she never got to do such things. Who would carry hot water in for the likes of her ever again? It was obvious that Ellinor had not called her in to restore any title. She would have come out and said it by now.

Princess Ellinor then returned to the vanity by her window. “They do,” she said, staring out of her wide window that overlooked the castle gardens once again.

Stephanie stood there, watching Ellinor twiddle her thumbs as she stared blankly out of the window. She was already growing weary of the princess’s delays. Why didn’t she just come right out and say it? “Your highness, I heard from Mrs. Oliver that you wanted to speak to me,” she said, her tongue a bit sharper than in should have been.

“Oh. Yes,” Ellinor replied, her eyes still refusing to focus on Stephanie. “As you may have noticed,” she sputtered. “I am not doing well in my station. I’m rubbish, really. And the last time I attended a tea party was when I served you, which-”

“Not to be rude, Ellinor… your highness,” Stephanie said, interrupting her mid-sentence, “But would you please get to the point?”

The princess turned away from her window and shot Stephanie a piercing gaze before speaking. “Prince Dominic’s mother is returning from the south for the first time since our marriage, and I want to host a tea party for her before the gala that night in honor of her homecoming.”

“And?”

“And… I wondered if you could be my etiquette tutor,” Ellinor said, her voice sounding a bit strained. Stephanie shook her head, taken aback by the offer. She wanted to say something–anything–but she couldn’t find the right words to use before the princess spoke again. “If you want to keep your kitchen duty, I understand. Is that what you were doing just now?”

Stephanie could tell by her step-sister’s actions and expressions that she was keenly interested, but it didn’t make her any less exasperated by the request. “Cherries, Princess. I was cutting cherries.”

“Oh,” Ellinor said, smiling as she turned back to the window. “I love cherries.”

Without control, Stephanie raised her hand and made a choking gesture aimed at her step-sister’s neck. Something had come over her. She was not going to harm Ellinor, of course. In spite of everything she’d done or said to Ellinor in the past, she did not hate her, or at least she did not want to. She’d tried hard on many occasions to be friendly with her, but there was always something holding her back. Any time Ellinor irritated her or didn’t grasp things as sharply as she did, she found herself annoyed, fired up in a way that almost seemed magical. It was a feeling she’d felt so many times growing up, a feeling that seemed almost as if it was not under her control. It was as if a mystical force was causing her to lash out at Ellinor when with another person she would have easily been able to relax or brush it off. The feelings had left her since she’d moved to the castle, but she’d made it a point to stay as far away from the princess as possible. That likely had everything to do with it. The only thing was that it felt stronger than ever today, like it had when they were children and like the day she’d rather forget, the day of the Rose and Slipper ball. It always frightened her a little, but she was able to find the composure to close her eyes and take a deep breath.

When Stephanie opened her eyes again, her hand fell right to her side seconds before Ellinor turned to face her again. “You could live right here next to me. There’s a small room adjacent to this one,” she said, her tone now perking up quite a bit.

Stephanie sighed loudly, shaking her head in disapproval; although she really did want to escape the servants’ quarters. “Why, so I can hear you and the prince in the throes of passion while I lie cold and grateful under a thin sheet of cotton alone?”

“Don’t be silly,” Ellinor said, almost laughing. “You’ll have thick blankets.”

And that was it. Stephanie clenched her fist tightly at her side, anger swarming over her. “Will I have my title reinstated?”

“You know I can’t do that,” the princess said, letting out a faint sigh. Then, she turned away and began brushing her thick, fair hair.

Stephanie shot her a heated glare, frustrated and angry with her flippant response. “At least, I wasn’t raised in a cinder closet.”

Almost immediately, Ellinor’s hand stopped brushing, and she looked back at Stephanie through the reflection in her mirror, blinking.

“Apologies, your highness; but I must decline,” she said, offering a final curtsy to the princess before walking toward the door. Before she could leave, however, she turned to her. “Your old dog, Mr. Wallford. He’s got a bad foot. Would you mind sending someone for him?”

Ellinor’s eyes went wide. “Mr. Wallford is hurt? I wish I could bring him up here with me, but he is an outside dog.” And not a purebred, who might have been given a caretaker and a groomer.

“Tell that to the kitchen maids,” said Stephanie.

“I’ll send someone.” Ellinor looked a bit guilty, but Stephanie knew that Ellinor really had as little control over her life as she did. Thinking she could help her had been a wild idea at best. There was no one to help either of them.

“Thank you, your highness,” Stephanie said softly and left Ellinor alone.

***

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the first part of Cursed. You can find more of the story on Wattpad

 

 

Forget Me Not, Excerpt, Miss Carrington’s

Forget Me Not — Excerpt, Chapter 17

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The Head Student, Virginia Larson, sat behind a long brown table like she did every day after lunch, handing out mail like a drill sergeant. Virginia’s iron demeanor contrasted the rest of Teddi’s comforting days at Miss Carrington’s—or “Middletown,” to the girls who lived there. Virginia’s long dark hair hung straight down her back, pinned tightly at the sides, reminding Teddi of a nun’s habit. She wore her uniform skirts just longer than they needed to be as if to emphasize her position as the most proper and well-groomed young lady at the school.

“Bryant, Pamela,” Virginia’s voice rang out over the whispering girls who crowded together in the front hall.

“Oh, hold these, Teddi. I’m expecting a package today.” The tall blonde named Pamela stuffed her books into Teddi’s arms and pushed her way to the front of the crowd.

“She’s probably getting another gift from Randall,” said Laura Norwick. She stood beside Teddi in their usual spot near a pair of imposing white double doors that led into the main courtyard. Today, the doors were closed to keep the December chill out.

“Could be Christopher this time,” Teddi drawled tiredly.

Laura giggled, then slumped against the wall with a sigh. “I wish I had just one boy writing to me and sending me gifts.” Laura hadn’t received a scrap of mail for weeks. Her parents weren’t exactly the overprotective types, and boys… well, she was far too shy to talk to one.

“What about Stu Buchanan?” Teddi asked with a knowing smirk, causing Laura to blush.

“Oh, he’s too handsome for me. Besides, any boy I’m interested in will look right through me and ask about Jeanne.”

Laura’s sister Jeanne was an actress, to the chagrin of their parents, and engaged to a famous Broadway producer. Jeanne graduated from Miss Carrington’s the year before, and therefore, was the talk of the girls—and any boys who visited the school. They joked about Jeanne in ways that Teddi didn’t think the former debutante would have appreciated. Being an actress seemed glamorous to Teddi, but at the same time she knew a world like that would never be hers. She loved the movies and movie magazines, but she couldn’t imagine being in that life. Laura, she knew, felt the same way.

“Ask him to dance with you tonight,” Teddi suggested, referring to the winter formal that was taking place that evening.

“I don’t think so,” said Laura, shaking her head as if even the thought of such a thing would cause sudden death.

Teddi shrugged. She didn’t feel like talking about boys right now. She was done with them. Unfortunately, she was not going to get her wish as Pamela approached them holding a rectangular box in the palm of her hand.

“Well?” Teddi smirked with a raise of an eyebrow.

Laura was a bit more enthusiastic with her inquiry. “Is it from Christopher or Randall?”

“Paul,” Pamela said quickly. “But not as big as I was hoping. Well, you know what they say about small boxes.”

“Paul? Who’s Paul?” Laura asked, wide-eyed.

“Hotchkiss boy. He’s rather good looking, I suppose. He’ll be here tonight,” she said with a flippant wave of her hand. “Ted, you’ve got a couple of packages waiting for you up there. Do you want me to run back up to the room and put this away so I can help you?” The house they roomed in was just across the snow-speckled lawn.

“No, I think I can manage.”

“I’ll help her,” said Laura.

“Thank goodness,” she said. “That nearly put me in a spot. I still have to finish that history report.”

“It’s due in twenty-five minutes!” Teddi admonished her.

“Well, I guess time’s a wastin’,” Pamela said, waving at them as she turned then dashed out of the building.

Teddi shook her head. “Some roommate.”

“At least you don’t room with Bertha the Bull.” Laura glowered.

Teddi laughed as she thought of the field hockey captain and her brutish attitude. To say she was a contrast to the bookish, giggly Laura would be an understatement. Teddi found her nice enough, but Laura was scared to death of her and spent most her time in Teddi and Pamela’s room.

Pamela was also quite different from Laura, but as Laura pointed out, Pamela was like her sister Jeanne. Boy crazy and glamorous. She was used to those types of contrasts.

“Donovan, Theodora,” Virginia boomed. Teddi and Laura gathered their things and headed for the table.

There were three midsized parcels waiting for her. “Thanks,” she muttered, placing both on top of her books.

“My grandmother is crazy. We have one more week before the holidays. What is the point of all of this?”

Laura helped Teddi carry her last package and noticed a red envelope fall to the floor. “Hey, Teddi, don’t forget your letter.”

“What letter?”

“This.” Laura held up the red envelope only to realize that Teddi couldn’t see in front of her for all she was carrying. “Oh, it looks like a Christmas card or something. I’ll keep it for you,” she said, navigating Teddi through the crowd so she wouldn’t drop anything.

When they reached Teddi’s room, they dumped everything onto her bed, books and all.

Pamela sat scribbling on a pad of paper at the edge of her own bed. Her desk was too cluttered with pictures of boys and decorations for practical use. “Wow, positively symphonic timing, ladies.” She smirked without looking up. “I’m just about done. And I’ll wager one of those packages contains goodies prepared by a certain housekeeper extraordinaire named Gertrude, Miss Theodora.”

“My grandmother exploits her. She works for another family, too, and doesn’t have time to waste baking stuff I’m never going to eat just because my grandmother feels guilty about judging everyone and destroying my life.”

“Be grateful she’s not sending you dried berries and nuts like my mother. What did she send this time?” Pamela asked, looking up with hopeful eyes.

Teddi opened a box and found several pairs of socks inside.

Pamela tossed her essay aside and went to sit next to her roommate. “Hmm, nothing. Okay, next box,” she said, putting the socks behind them and handing Teddi another parcel.

In it were pictures of the family, several of them. “Aw, is that you, Teddi?” asked Pamela, grabbing one of the framed photographs from the box. “You were too adorable.”

“Oh, you were. Who’s this?” asked Laura, squeezing in beside Pamela and pointing at the picture.

“My sister Liza.” Teddi’s brow furrowed. Why would her grandmother send her a picture with Liza in it? She hadn’t seen one in plain sight of their house since before she moved in.

“Okay, Ted,” Pamela sing-songed, holding the remaining box in her lap, “open this up before we have to go to class.”

Teddi put the pictures aside and ripped through the third and final package.

“Kippy! Oatmeal raisin! That woman is a goddess,” Pamela said, grabbing one of the voluminous cookies and sinking her teeth into it. “Mm, well, time for class.”

“Did you get it done?”

“Yep. It’s a little over a page.”

“It’s supposed to be three,” Teddi snorted.

Pamela shrugged. “I’ll say I had a stomachache.”

“I’m sure she’ll believe that.” Teddi sighed, watching Pamela stuffing the last bit of cookie into her mouth before grabbing another.

“What? I didn’t have much at lunch.”

Laura laughed and Teddi shook her head, eyes dropping to her watch. They had three minutes to make it across campus. She pushed her friends out of the door, and they high-tailed it to their lesson.

Find Forget Me Not on Amazon

**Photograph courtesy of WikiCommons of Choate Rosemary Hall

Watching an Old Favorite with Brand New Eyes

Moulin Rouge

What are you doing tonight?

I missed Sinatra 100 tonight because I have Internet only. No TV. I can’t imagine telling my ten-year-old self that I would have to live even one day without TV. But rest easy child, there is the internet. The what? The glorious web of all means of distraction, entertainment, folly, nostalgia, news, and the dot-matrix of human consciousness.

So what did I do in lieu of Sinatra? I watched an old favorite, Moulin Rouge. I haven’t seen this film in at least eight years. Would I still enjoy it after all this time? Tastes change, don’t they? If you haven’t seen the movie, you will not get the rest of this post, and if you intend to watch it, the rest will spoil you. Please move on.

For those of you who may be fans of the film, I will go on. My perspective on the movie more than half a decade later is new. It’s because life has made me older than Satine (Nicole Kidman), and so far from Christian (Ewan McGregor) that, though I still love him, I feel sadder for his naïve state than I ever thought possible. He comes from a home like mine–parents who take care of you and things are okay, even if they have judgment. But when you go out into the world, you learn it is sad and not always what you dream it to be. Then there is poor Satine. This girl I always imagine brought into a harsh world from the time she could speak. She survives in a way that only she can and then she sees that things can be beautiful. She’s dreamed of this, but she was confused as to where it might come from. Rather than from love, she assumed, it would come from money. Maybe that is true in the sense of security, but then she finds it in a person who simply sees her as more than just an object. After that, she dies. Then there is Toulouse (John Leguizamo)–dwarfed by disease, talented and genius but forgotten as a clown. His tears remind me of life unrealized and loneliness. He has friends, but he has no family at home. Then Harold (Jim Broadbent). He’s in his 50s and pandering to a Duke, who may save his theater, a duke, who is so alone he feels he has to buy love. What is beauty, freedom, truth and love?

The ideals are what they want, but because they lack freedom, they really can’t have any of these—at least not in the environs of The Moulin Rouge. Harold is a dastardly person but tragic too. He uses Satine, hides her fatal illness so she can make money for him until her last breath is drawn, but what is his life but nothing at all? There is so much painful beauty in this movie for me, and to-be-honest, memories of being shocked that these actors could carry a tune keep it light. It’s also very funny at certain moments and has a great love story weaved throughout its creative soundtrack, not to mention Baz Luhrmann’s beautiful directing makes it complete eye-candy. The fourteen years since its release has not changed that.  Christian and Satine are beautifully tragic, and I think I will always enjoy watching this movie. Maybe I am a movie masochist, but the crying and the sad state of life and the truth it tells its audience will remain beautiful to me for a long time.

 

Person-to-Person

Seven Facts About Allison W.

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  1. I started out as an actress at 17 in the late 1990s. It was a lot of fun. I always wanted to story-tell. My parents remind me that I wanted to do something with story-telling my whole life. I guess acting makes sense though I can’t imagine doing anything but writing these days.
  2. Though I started as an actress, I ended up a teacher for many years. I taught English and got to play in stories that way. I’ve always been a bit of a mentor at heart, so it made a lot of sense for me. I was recently asked if I felt like I’d wasted my time pursuing other things before finally pinning down writing as my life’s work. Not for a second.
  3. I love movie soundtracks and old TV show theme songs.
  4. Though I write in various genres, most of my work features strong heroines in a coming-of-age story, and there’s always romance.
  5. I didn’t think I liked poetry growing up past my Shel Silverstein phase. It grew one me in college, but it wasn’t until I took a poetry writing class in graduate school that I actually tried writing it. Ninety percent of the poems in my chapbook were written in that class. Now, I write poetry as a creative release, fearing it’s never good, but oftentimes needing to do it anyway.
  6. My family and my friends are the hallmark of my life. I enjoy their company though they may think I don’t since I’ve become a bit of a recluse with my writing lately.
  7. An extension of myself beyond the keyboard includes love for old movies, dismay that bookstores are dying, and joy in really good takeout. One day soon this writing will pay off, and I intend to live the world. Until then, see you around the blogosphere.

Any fun facts about yourself you’d like to share in the comments below? I’d love to hear them!

The Lost Heir — Cover Reveal

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The Lost Heir by Allison Whitmore, Erin Virginia, and Grace Arden will be available in December for readers! Today, we reveal our cover! And in the previous post, you can take a look at the first chapter of our book.

Synopsis:

Isabella Foxworthy was just another girl who wants to enjoy Christmas break…until she learned she was an empath, able to read the energy of others. A secret world known as the Violet City lies beneath her family’s hotel in Los Angeles. Through this discovery, Isabella is catapulted into a whirlwind of magic, adventure, and danger in the middle of the holiday season. The Violet City, in the thick of their Winter Solstice celebration, holds the key to protecting her stability; her family hotel, her friends, and her very sanity. With morphlings, empaths, and fair folk also comes a powerful entity that twists her mind into knots, threatening everything she loves. Now, Isabella and her new friends—a guitar-playing jock, his gifted but neurotic brother, and a set of over-indulged twins—have until her 16th birthday to save her world with the help of someone who’s been lost for a very long time…the lost Foxworthy heir. But will they find him in time? And will he be a friend or foe?

The three authors have worked for many years to complete the first in this series they call, The Diadem Chronicles. A Diadem is a special empath, almost like royalty, and Isabella is the last of them.

Thank you to Booktrope Publishing and our publishing team for helping us get this ready for you this Christmas!

 

The Lost Heir — Chapter 1

A girl who isn’t Katniss or Harry Potter, but a girl who can take on her world and be awesome about it.

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The Lost Heir, Chapter One

Isabella Foxworthy

Fire licked the walls and formed a canopy above her head. Numb. Trapped. Their screaming burned in her ears as the earth shook, and near-death coated her skin. The fire whipped around her, close but not touching, never touching. It was almost as if she wielded some sort of power over the flames, but that couldn’t be. She heard her mother and father’s screams over and over as they were engulfed by the blaze. She was helpless to save them. Suddenly, the screams stopped. Terror climbed into her throat as a shadow moved toward her. She tried to breathe but couldn’t. The room grew darker as her body weakened.

“Come on. I’ve got you,” the man said, as her knees buckled and she grabbed his shirt. “I’ve got you. You’re a light in this darkness. You’re safe.” The trembling in the ground stopped, but the fire continued.

Enveloped in a warmth different from the conflagration, eight-year-old Isabella Foxworthy collapsed. Cradled in the man’s arms, her terror melted into tranquility as she was taken from the house into the cool night. Her eyes opened to an oddly purple sky, and she noticed a light glowing around them, not unlike the vicious flames of the fire. Red deep as blood. An empty blackness filled the room. A foreboding fear encircled her heart. Then, her savior mumbled something, and the light turned to a silvery blue.

“Give her to me,” another man said.

“I can watch over her.”

“Give her to me,” he repeated. “She needs to be at the hotel with her grandmother.”

She felt a gentle caress on her cheek and a rush of coolness shoot through her body. “Then I’ll take her.”

Isabella reached up to touch the second man’s hand, but he was gone. “Where’s my mother?”

“Hush. I’ll take you to your Nano,” said the one who held her, the one who’d saved her.

Then, as the violet sky turned blue again and as the approaching fire engines howled in her ears, the man carried her up the narrow road to the Foxworthy Hotel.

Los Angeles, CA – Present Day

 FREAK!”

As sunlight and darkness fought for occupation in the sky, nearly-sixteen-year-old Isabella clutched her backpack as she approached Sunset Boulevard en route to the city bus stop a few blocks down the famous street. Classes at St. Agnes High School had gotten out an hour earlier that day, but she’d stayed behind with a couple other girls to work out with their capoeira instructor. She was shocked when she’d learned St. Agnes offered it as an after-school activity. Brazilian martial arts didn’t really go with the strict traditionalism of St. Agnes. Carte Blanche, the school she’d gotten thrown out of last year for something that wasn’t her fault, would have offered capoeira as standard physical education, however, along with extreme dodgeball and competitive hula hooping. Their motto: Unschool the schoolchildren and the world will be in harmony. Honestly, Isabella just wanted to go to a normal school for once, have a normal family. But she didn’t have either. In fact, all she had was her grandmother who, half the time, wanted Isabella out of the way and the other half of the time wanted her locked up in their family hotel and homeschooled until she finished college.

Isabella shifted her eyes down to her smart phone. 3:52. Perfect. Eight minutes until the bus got there. She could make it to the stop in less than five if she walked fast. She loved the stability of the city bus system. Always coming and going on time. Well, at least in theory. Even if the afternoon bus was late, she could always count on it coming eventually. And if she missed it, another one would come along soon. It took care of her and other people, no matter who they were. It, in an odd way, allowed her to wobble on the wings of independence before she was ready to fly off on her own. She was glad her grandmother had let her ride it this year. 3:53. She didn’t want to be late, though. Not today.

WEIRDO!”

Two voices filled her ears as she got closer to her destination. One like the roar of a lion, the other—a baboon, maybe? Against her better judgment, she continued down the street, past a hippie clothing store and Mel’s Drive-In restaurant. 3:54.

Stop it!” A third voice protruded with sheer fright. It seemed to come from a young boy; his pleas punched fear straight into her chest and invaded her senses.

“Please? Please, leave me alone!” the young boy continued to plead. She could feel his fear.

Her heart squeezed as she heard another shout of, “Stop!”

She had wanted to make it home in time for Betty’s corn ‘n’ crab chowder. The cook was leaving for the Christmas holidays after her shift ended at five, and Isabella wanted one last cup. So hot, so creamy. No, that was selfish, right? Other things were more important than her stomach. It growled. But maybe it didn’t have to be her. Maybe a cop would come by.

Images of chowder fled her mind when she saw them in the opening of an alley a few feet from the bus stop. Three boys. The largest was dangling the smallest off the ground. The other stood laughing as he watched—the baboon. He and his bigger friend were dressed like skaters with no skateboards in sight while the boy was in black pants, a white shirt and a vest. Strange outfit for a little kid. The boy shook him again. She told herself that she felt absolutely nothing. She could just walk by or maybe call for help. She could call for help. The connection between her and the younger boy grew stronger.

Fat flying fists seized her heart and squeezed. Her throat narrowed as her eyes centered on the action. 3:56.

“I should help this kid.” Beads of perspiration exploded onto her temples. “I can still make the bus.” When the big boy dumped the little one onto the ground and kicked him, Isabella gave up, threw down her backpack, and marched full-speed over to the scene. With expert ease, she yanked one boy’s already low-hanging pants down. The pudgy rat-faced boy bellowed. His friend, lankier and full of acne, lost his hold on the small boy as he doubled over in fits of laughter. He was met with a swift kick to the shin, making him stumble and fall. “Come on, kid. You gotta get up. You gotta run.”

“I can’t,” the small boy moaned. She could feel him acutely. He was nauseated, worn out, and still afraid.

Isabella snatched him by the collar, forcing the boy into a squat. A large shadow loomed over them. Kicking her foot out behind her and then sweeping it backward, she tripped Lanky-Acne again, but she didn’t think she would be able to get away with her amateur capoeira tactics much longer. From the look in Lanky-Acne’s eyes as he got back to his feet, Isabella knew it was going to be game over soon.

“Run, kid! Run!” She yanked the boy to his feet, hearing the 4:00 bus pull up to the bus stop behind them. “Follow me!” She felt his hopeless fear slide into relief mingled with a sudden burst of adrenaline. The change in him was fast, but it worked for their situation. They needed to outrun these guys. The bloody-nosed boy’s adrenaline charged Isabella forward even faster as they raced down the alley to a small street that ran adjacent to Sunset. They could take that street down to her school and be pretty close to the main gates. She wanted to go back for her backpack, but she’d run away from it. Damn it. She looked behind her. Pudgy Rat-Face fisted it between his thick fingers, slung it over his shoulder, and, with his friend now fully recovered from having his pants around his ankles, chased them down the wide alley.

“Keep up, kid! We have to hurry.”

“Do you know where you’re going?” the boy asked as they ran.

“I always make sure I know where I’m going.”

They turned the corner onto the back street and ran down several short blocks until they came to the narrow road that led to the front gate of her school. White, purple, and green Victorian houses sat on the expansive grounds of a former oil baron’s estate.

The campus guard let her pass, but when the boy followed, the burly man stood. “Whoa. Whoa. Where do you think you’re going, kid?”

Isabella turned back, chest heaving. “Oh, Sam. This is, uh, my little brother.” She felt newfound safety and warmth threading between her and the boy. He wasn’t worried that Sam was going to toss him out. It was odd. He didn’t even know Sam, and those goons were still just outside. She tried to ignore the boy’s reaction as Sam raised his eyebrows and folded his arms. Isabella’s dark, wavy frizz, tan skin, and dull, olive-drab eyes clashed sharply with the pallid, sleek-haired boy with a dust of slant at the corners of his black eyes.

“He’s adopted.”

Sam looked skeptical. “I never heard you mention a brother.”

“I…” She’d always wanted a brother. Did that count?

“You know the rules,” the burly guard said, arms across his chest. “No boys on campus.”

“Look! He’s being chased by them.” She pointed at the two boys who were huffing and snarling at the gate. “They were beating him up.” She didn’t mention that the boy standing next to her no longer seemed fazed by this. In fact, he was just picking at his fingernails as if nothing were going on at all. Sam, on the other hand, did not take the invasion of the menacing boys lightly.

He walked toward them, rattling his keys and waving his baton. “Is that right?”

The bullies backed up, shaking their heads.

Isabella approached behind Sam. “Scared now, aren’t you? Cowards! Just give me my backpack and go away.”

“What backpack? This one here? This is mine,” Pudgy-Rat-Face said, clinging Isabella’s black backpack with hot pink flowers to his chest.

“Fancy pants,” said Sam. He took another step toward them. They stepped back in unison. Rat-Face dropped her backpack, and the boys turned and shot off like two arrows released from an archer’s bow. “Good riddance.”

“Thanks, Sam,” Isabella said, patting his arm.

“Is someone picking you up?” asked Sam.

“I prefer the bus,” she said. The boy stood beside her expressionless as he shifted his eyes between her and Sam as they spoke. He seemed perfectly calm now. It was as if the episode outside the gate hadn’t even happened. Isabella wondered why she was still so connected to him. He wasn’t in danger any longer.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea with those two out there,” said Sam. “You should call your family.”

“I don’t have a family,” she replied.

Sam’s expression was serious when he asked, “What about your grandmother and all those people living under your roof?”

“My grandmother’s all right, I guess, but those people living under our roof need to take a vacation,” said Isabella.

“Isn’t that what they’re doing?” Sam laughed.

“Maybe, but I’m not,” she said, looking down at her phone. It was 4:20. Betty would be leaving soon. “I can take care of myself,” she said as a coolness passed through her body, and her connection to the boy snapped apart as if it was a dried twig. She gasped. That had never felt so abrupt before. Not that it mattered. She had other things to worry about. The kid was fine now, after all. “Well, I guess I wouldn’t mind a ride… this time. My grandmother won’t like that I’m asking for one so last minute, though.”

Sam chuckled. “I’m sure she’ll make an exception. And what about you? Where do you live, kid?” he asked, looking at the small boy.

“I was on my way to see my Uncle Theophilus at the Foxworthy Hotel.”

“What?” Isabella’s mouth fell open. Sam laughed.

The boy continued, “The Foxworthy—”

“I heard you. That’s my hotel. And your uncle hasn’t been around for over a month.” Her old music instructor, a Foxworthy family friend for decades, did have a room at the hotel but not an apartment suite like the rest of the permanent residents. He was always on the go, and he wouldn’t be back for months. That was what her grandmother had told her.

“Oh no, that’s not true,” said the boy. “He’ll be there today to give piano lessons.” This kid really was getting on her nerves.

“Oh, great. I hope they’re for you and not me,” she said with a sigh.

The young boy tilted his head. “And what do you mean it’s your hotel?”

***

Twenty minutes later, a black town car pulled up in front of the school. A gray-faced driver with gray-blue eyes rolled down the window.

“Hi, Archie. This is my friend,” Isabella said, thrusting her thumb behind her at the boy. She turned to him. “What was your name again?” They’d chatted with Sam for a while about a lot of nonsense while waiting, and he had said it, but she hadn’t paid much attention. She had to stop being so selfish, right? But she wasn’t selfish. She did a lot for a lot of people. So maybe it wasn’t that she was selfish. It was more that she really wanted to be selfish but couldn’t. She really didn’t know.

“Pythian,” the boy said.

She smirked. “No wonder you were being pummeled.”

“Pummeled?” asked Pythian.

“You know… beaten up? Creamed? Turned into rodent bait?” She probably shouldn’t have said that. For a person who sometimes felt other people’s emotions, she certainly was good at whipping them with her tongue at the wrong time.

“How’s it goin’, Isabella?” Archie the driver asked as they got into the back of the hotel’s service car, wrinkles pinching the corners of his smile.

“Winter break starts tomorrow, and I already want it to be over.”

“What kid wants winter break to be over before it starts?”

“It’s pretty much sucked for me the past few years, so, uh, this kid,” she said, leaning back in her seat.

“Rolf told me this was a secret mission and not to tell your grandmother I had to come get you.”

Isabella sighed. “I didn’t want her to worry. There’s too much to do at the hotel.”

Archie looked back at her with a wry smile as if he knew exactly what she meant. The Foxworthy Hotel was crowded over the holidays, and Isabella had more to do than ever, but that wasn’t the real reason she wanted to skip this time of year. It never failed that she got into some sort of disaster because her weird empathic abilities heightened even more than usual during the last two weeks before her birthday, December 31.

Isabella shifted her eyes to the boy beside her. He stared out of the window, wearing that empty expression again. He was beyond strange. But if he was right and Theophilus was at the hotel, it meant even more work to do.

Nope. Isabella was not going to let her grandmother win that little game. She was going to have a normal holiday like a normal kid, even if she didn’t have a normal family anymore.

First, she’d dump the strange boy, go find Betty, and then hide in her room to do whatever she wanted. The perfect plan.

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Eating with the family can be such a wonderful thing. At least in my family, things are usually calm and just delicious. We like to keep it small and quiet for just that reason. But what about the people who did not make home for the holiday or just those of you who’ve decided to venture out to grab a meal?

Thanksgiving food

In my book, Forget Me Not, the characters spend Thanksgiving at the Plaza Hotel in New York. This type of outing isn’t just the stuff of fiction. Many people choose to spend the day outside of the house with their friends or families.

I decided to check around my hometown just to see what places were actually open for the holiday. Warning some locations may or may not require advanced reservations. Here is what I came up with:

Akasha, Culver City (Location of my soon-to-be-released book The Lost Heir)

Cafe Pinot (Downtown Los Angeles)

Bouchon (Beverly Hills)

The Culver Hotel (Culver City) (Inspiration for The Foxworthy Hotel in The Lost Heir)

Cleo (Los Angeles) (Can’t believe it, but yes, one of my favorite characters in The Lost Heir is named Cleo — total coincidence)

The Venice Whaler (Venice) (Was $12 per person last year, according to CBS, LA)

If you want to be even more economical, there is always KFC (forget Boston Market, I think they sold out yesterday).

The Culver Hotel

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The Venice Whaler

akasha

Akasha

Thanksgiving spread at Cleo (Not only is The Lost Heir character Cleo a genius fashionista, she’s also a foodie. I know she’d love this place!)

More on Thanksgiving in LA here! As for me, I’m heading home. I kick off my day after watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade (Hello, New York!) with watching Miracle on 34th Street. Such a Christmas movie lover!

Have a wonderful time this holiday. I’m thankful for all you readers!

Dedicated to the star of Miracle on 34th Street Maureen O’Hara (August 17, 1920-October 24, 2015).

Thanks for making me laugh every Thanksgiving!