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

lostheir

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

The Lost Heir — An Excerpt

“Oh my God!” Isabella cried as a blast of air thrust them  forward down a tube in a wild zigzag. Seth’s shouts filtered into her ears as they whipped left and right. Then, without warning, the tube spat them out onto black asphalt. “Ouch!” Isabella rubbed her behind as she looked around them. “This looks like an alley or something.” There were black-brick walls on either side of them, and above their heads, warm light spilled from what looked like a blue sky.

“That can’t be the sky. We didn’t go that far up,” noted Seth.

“But it looks like it, and that definitely feels like the sun,” she replied.

They looked around, spotting lots of trash bins and decaying fliers taped to the walls. They heard what sounded like a train whistle followed by a loud rumble. Then, voices peeled into the alley, and above their heads, a little gray bird tweeted the calls of the train whistle and then repeated the rumbling noise. “It’s a mockingbird,” said Isabella.

“So that’s where he went.”

The bird flew a figure eight in the air and then, without warning, dive-bombed Seth’s head, missing it by a hair. “I told you it was going to attack!”

Before she could respond, the bird swooped by Isabella and into a doggy-door-size opening in the brick wall in front of them.

“Look! It went in there.” Isabella got up and moved toward the opening.

“Oh, no,” Seth said, scrambling up behind her. “I’m not going back into another dark hole.”

“But that bird saved us,” said Isabella.

“It just attacked me,” Seth reminded her.

“It led us out here, didn’t it?”

“It was just getting itself outside. We happened to head in the same direction. It’s not like it waited around for us.”

Before the rest of their argument could play out, commotion emanated from the bird’s hole. “I don’t think a mockingbird could make that much noise,” said Seth. “Something else is in there.” They both stood fixed in front of the small opening, like two deer about to be run over by a semi.

“I was actually a gray catbird,” began a teenage-sounding female voice. “But sometimes I do a black catbird or just a plain ole lil’ black cat. Depends on my mood. Technically, I’m not allowed to go feline, so I keep that under wraps.” She was still talking, but no one had appeared. “Oh, no!” the voice cried. “I think I miscalculated something. I’m stuck. Frickety frack! Help, please! I can’t change unless I’m upright.”

Unsure of what to do, Isabella looked at Seth.

“I’m not going near that thing. Let’s go,” he said.

“Just move the boxes to one side, and I can get out. Please!” the voice implored.

Isabella, ignoring Seth’s protests, knelt down in front of the hole and pulled free several pieces of cardboard. She immediately jumped back to her friend’s side, afraid that she’d made the wrong decision. If she thought about it, she knew her instincts rarely led her astray. Of course, she felt a little different down there: frightened and confused but also calm and less chaotic. She really could not explain the contradiction.

Thanks so much!” the voice said as she crawled from the hole and stood before them. She was a girl. A short girl who looked to be no more than thirteen. Her hair was the color of rust and stuck to her head in loopy curls, and her eyes were a haunting sort of gray. She wore a ratty velvet coat, a too-big dress, and thick boots. “So, as I was saying, I do like to do the kitty thing when no one’s looking. It’s fun to curl up into a ball and roll, but it’s not safe to do that outside, really, and my mother would kill me.”

“Why’s that?” Isabella asked, curious, forgetting for a moment that the conversation was absurd.

“Well, I’m supposed to morph into a raven like the rest of my line, but nobody likes ravens. They have really bad reps, ya know?”

“I guess,” Isabella replied.

“So I do the catbird. I just don’t like the way they sound,” the girl babbled, exposing a row of teeth about half the size of a normal person’s. “I do admire the mockingbird’s ability to mimic, so I’ve mastered a way to morph the two. It’s a rare skill, but I can do it because I’m… well, me!”

“You mean to tell us you are that bird we just saw?” Seth asked.

“One and the same.” She thrust her hand out for one of them to shake. “Name’s Mimi.”

Seth eyed her. “How do you expect us to believe that you were that bird?”

“Why would I lie about something like that? It’s no big deal,” she replied with a good-natured smile.

“Yeah, Seth, it’s no big deal,” Isabella joked, taking a step backward. Mimi’s hand was still extended, unshaken. This girl couldn’t be that bird, really. Could she?

“Okay. If you’re some kind of sci-fi shape-shifter,” Seth continued, though the girl looked like she had no idea what he was talking about, “how do we know you weren’t the one chasing us with those tornadoes from hell?”

“Oh! I saw that, but I don’t really like chaos, so I hid until it was over.”

“Gee, thanks,” said Seth.

“But I did try to help her when she was drowning. I sent a boat, but you didn’t take it.” She turned from Seth to Isabella and folded her arms with a pout.

“If you’re not a shape-shifter, what are you?”

Her pout turned into a bright smile. “A morphling.”

“Sounds like another word for shape-shifter,” Seth muttered.

“I don’t know what you mean, but everyone knows what morphlings are.”

“Is that a type of empath?” asked Isabella.

“No, we’re nether-creatures. Somewhere between fair folk and you empaths.”

“Nether-creatures?”

“Most of us are extinct. Except maybe the noxies in Druid Lake. Oh, and the ones who live in his forest, but they never come out. Unless you count the Bahrguest,” she said quickly. “I hate that thing.”

“Wait. First of all, whose forest? And what is a noxie and a—”

“Bahrguest? That’s just a big, black dog that comes out when people die an untrue death. He howls at the moon, and all the other dogs come out—unless they’re locked up, of course—and walk down the Avenue,” she said, nodding her head toward the opening in the alley.

“I don’t think I like the sound of that,” said Seth.

“Whose forest?” Isabella pressed, half-wondering if she’d say Jack Heel.

“What?” Mimi asked absently, as if she seemed to notice Seth for the first time. A faraway look touched her gray eyes.

“You said something about someone having a forest,” Isabella said through gritted teeth.

Hmm? Oh, yes, Joseph Gaut,” she said dreamily, smiling at Seth for a moment longer before turning to Isabella. “I mean, no one’s ever seen him, so I don’t think he’s real. Other than the fair folk, he’s supposedly the only one who can talk to Yemaya.”

Isabella frowned. “Is that your word for God or something?”

The girl giggled. “No, silly. Yemaya is the oracle goddess of all of us elementals.”

“So she is your god?”

“No. It’s complicated…”

Isabella grasped her necklace and a light shone around it. Mimi looked at her with big, bright eyes. “Theophilus sent me to give you a message! If only I knew where it was or what he told me to tell you. Argh!” She fidgeted through her pockets but nothing was retrieved.

“You know Theophilus? What did he say?” Isabella’s anxiety was almost too much for even her pendant to keep in check. Seth watched her, his expression colored with anticipation and perplexity.

“I can’t seem to remember the words he sent for you. I’m sorry.” Mimi looked off into the distance as if her mind was clouded. “Oh, P.S., I would be extremely careful with the one who calls himself The One True Light… He is no fun.”

“Who?”

“The one feared by all. The one who wants him, who wants the Fire. The one who wants…” She inaudibly mumbled another word.

“What did you say?” asked Seth.

Mimi looked around with wide eyes as she mouthed, ”You’re cute.”

Seth rolled his eyes. “Is that why you dive-bombed my head?” He then turned to Isabella with raised eyebrows. “We need to find the others. And I’m so done with this wetsuit!”

“Okay, then we need to focus on finding the lost heir,” said Isabella. Mimi gasped; Isabella had no idea why. She looked toward the opening in the alley. “Is this really a street? You called it the ‘Avenue,’ didn’t you?” She looked back to Mimi when the girl didn’t immediately answer. But no one was there. “Where’d she go? Why do people keep disappearing into thin air?”

Seth looked around and shrugged. “She was weird, anyway. Let’s go.”

“How can you be so calm? Aren’t you still freaked out?”

“After being attacked by those things in there and seeing that bird turn into a girl, I’ve decided to give up on being shocked at this point.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Let’s hope we don’t get sucked into anymore tubes.”

Seth started toward the noise coming from the opening in the alley.

Isabella gasped. “Get back here!”

“What’s wrong?”

He followed her line of sight as she pointed at a sign that swung high above them. It was shaped like a pair of goggles with an arrow pointing to its destination. “Dodge’s Diverting Delectables,” she read.

“Theophilus,” they said in unison. Thank God.

“He’s obviously not gonna be there,” surmised Isabella, “but maybe we can get some answers.”

They approached the corner of the alley. Before Isabella could inch a toe beyond it, Seth held her back with his arm. “Wait until I say it’s all clear.”

“What are you doing?”

“Just be still until I say to move.”

She tried very hard not to grind her teeth. He was still playing Mr. Tough Guy. “Seth?”

“What?” he sounded annoyed but looked back anyway.

“Let’s go find some dry clothes.”

He sighed. “And some food. I’m starving.”

The sound of horse hooves clopping on pavement filled her ears. That can’t be right. The telltale stench of horse wafted into the alley.

A man wearing a tight, charcoal suit and a black bowler hat lumbered past, pulling a large black steed behind him. Just like Charlie Chaplin in that cutout she’d seen in the Freakland Lagoon back there.

“That’s so random,” said Seth, peering around the corner. “It’s a street, a huge street, with people, lots of ‘em. Like it’s downtown L.A. or Midtown Manhattan or something. Well, maybe not that crowded. And all decorated. It’s like a town square but way cooler.”

“You’re joking.”

“No. Look.”

He held her shoulders, hovering behind her as she peered onto the street. She couldn’t believe her eyes. It was a street, an avenue, like the girl had called it, but not like any avenue she’d seen before. Decorated with wreaths plus blue, green, silver, and gold bows, and eight-pointed stars, it looked like a vintage Hollywood village imprinted for the holidays, yet not so commercial. Hunter-green banners with the letters and S embossed in gold hung from the light posts.

“E.S…. Empath Society,” Isabella whispered to herself. “Awesome.” Even more impressive was the design of the thoroughfare. Sidewalks were patterned in a large checkerboard of gray and black stones. Running down the center of it all were two terrestrial rails, as if for a tram system of some kind, with no room for automobiles. Footbridges crossed up and over the streets at the corner of each block. And shops with uniquely designed signs almost seemed to wink at every passerby, as the soft light from above filtered down over them in a peaceful haze.

“Let’s just slip out and try to act like we’re not flipped out, okay?” Isabella insisted.

“Well, I think it’s pretty awesome, but just the same, stay close,” he said.

They eased around the corner. Isabella started to walk, but she heard Seth clear his throat. “Izzy, I think the sign was pointing this way…” Seth trailed off, eyes wide, as two car-size vehicles zipped down the rail lines. “Whoa!”

“Guess it’s not a tram,” she said. A third zoomed by in the opposite direction. They were all different colors and shapes, like mini-bullet trains.

“Sick!” Seth exclaimed once more, pushing past a woman wearing a bird hat who eyed him as if he were some oddity. The look she gave Isabella was not much different.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but do you happen to know where Dodge’s Diverting Delectables is located? Or do you have a cell phone we could use?” Isabella had an inkling that phones were not commonplace here, but the thought of calling someone from home—maybe Elyse or Rolf; okay, not Rolf—might have been a good idea.

The woman laughed out loud. “Do you think this is the 1980s? We haven’t used phones in the Underground for thirty years. Haven’t you heard of the empath network? Cell phones…! Why they open the portal for Wintertide, I’ll never know,” she said tiredly, eyeing Isabella up and down. Self-consciously, Isabella looked down and gripped her necklace. “And why are you both soaking wet?”

“We went diving today,” Isabella said, feeling a shiver run through her body.

“During Wintertide? Mighty cold for that.” The woman stepped closer to Isabella and studied her eyes, ears, and nose. “Where’s your seal?”

“My what?”

“Your seal. The Light Council has every citizen on watch for invaders. If you’re from sky-side, you still have to have been given a seal. I am not one to discriminate but have to protect my own, you understand? I’m just glad you’ll be gone when the portal closes if you are that kind.”

Isabella did not understand at all. Seth’s attention seemed stuck to the traffic beside them, as a blue then a black then yellow car-like vehicle sped by on the rail.

“Your seal, youngster, or I shall report you to the Hall Patrol or worse, the Shadows.”

“Did you see that man?” Seth interrupted, eyes shining like a child on his first trip to the circus. “His face was glowing—purple!”

“Violet,” the bird-hat woman amended. “Haven’t heard of the violet ones? The diadems?”

“The what?” Isabella asked.

“Show me your necklace, girl, and you, boy, show me your ring.”

Realization dawned on Isabella, and she pulled out the necklace Theophilus had given her from beneath her wetsuit. Bird-hat woman snatched the pendant. When she turned it over, her eyes grew as big as flapjacks. “I—I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. Forgive me,” she muttered.

“But what did you mean when you said the portal closes?” Isabella asked before the woman could retreat.

“The portal closes as the clock strikes midnight on the first of the year,” she said, her eyes turned down, and then dashed down the road.

“That was weird. And it’s freezing!”

“I know, and I’m hungry,” Seth complained. “Did you notice that bird on her head? Do you think it was one of that Mimi girl’s relatives?”

Ew. Don’t be scary.”

“You never know. Could have been won in battle. Like the Celts, when they walked around with enemy skulls on a stick so they could tell stories about how they’d killed each guy on their kabob.”

“That’s gross, Seth.”

“It’s true! And pretty cool if you ask me.”

“Boys,” she sighed. “Well, I’m sure there’s some place we can get some food around here.”

“I think I see a place up the road.” She followed him, thinking that eating might be nice.

As they walked, she noticed that cool air flowed all around them. It was cold enough to mimic a winter chill, yet warm enough to not cause frostbite. “We definitely need some dry clothes now. It’s freezing.” She resisted the urge to clutch Seth’s hand for warmth. ”My hair’s like a sponge, so I’m really cold,” she said, teeth chattering.

“Do you think they have some kind of air pumps down here?” Seth asked. “They have to, right?” They continued on, passing shop after shop; people stared at them as they walked by. “How come we never knew about this place? You, especially. It’s right under your hotel.” An old man with a white beard and a capuchin monkey on his shoulder passed them. “He was wearing a fez like that weird tour guide,” he noticed.

Isabella looked back and grinned, arms tucked across her chest. “Oh yeah… You remember that guy’s name? The one the tour guide mentioned, I mean?”

“Fleck or Neck or something.”

He really thought he was funny, didn’t he? “Peck,” Isabella corrected, not bothering to play into his joke. “Do you also remember that other name in that room we found? Millford Peck?”

Seth nearly tripped over an enormous dog; it had the build of a springer spaniel but was the size of a Great Dane. “You mean the room with our parents’ names on those gold pen things?”

“Betty’s name was on one, too. You know, my favorite chef at the hotel?”

“Oh, the chowder-taco lady, right?”

“Exactly,” she said, impressed that he remembered. “The only name I didn’t know was Millford Peck… until you mentioned that tour guide a second ago. Didn’t he mention someone with that name?”

“That can’t be the same guy! That guy was a loony tune.”

“So what?” she said, exasperated, although she knew she should not expect Seth to have a penchant for names like she did. “But that was his boss’s name. Remember?”

“Maybe,” he said without commitment.

“Never mind,” she grumbled as they came upon a small shop with a carved sign shaped like a coffee cup and what looked like real steam billowing from its center.

“You think they sell pecan pie?”

“We should eat real food, Seth. Not pie.”

“Pie is real food.”

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Find The Lost Heir on Amazon:

http://amzn.com/B01946ERJK

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.

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.

The-Lost-Heir-final-cover--front-4

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.