Today is a big day around here. We are revealing the cover and blurb for Reconciliation! Since you’ve been champing at the bit, I won’t make you wait any longer.
I have to warn you, though, this story is not for the faint of heart! In this second installment, Liz and Ryland face an even more brutal enemy, and challenges they never saw coming.
Challenges that may tear them apart.
If you think you have what it takes to stay in the fight, read on.
Some ghosts from the past refuse to stay dead.
Finally. Finally everything is coming together for Liz Brantley. She’s marrying Ryland Vaughn, the man of her dreams. She’s embraced her calling and battles the minions of hell bent on her destruction. And she’s left her dark past far behind her. Or so she thought.
A secret she holds close, stuffed down deep, surfaces at the wrong time for everyone in Liz’s life, leaving a trail of devastation. Left reeling, Liz wonders if she made a mistake, putting her trust in God, her guardian Arie, and Ryland. And the demon Kade capitalizes on her shaken faith. With a vengeance.
Torn between her tortured past and the future she craves, Liz is desperate to defeat every demon that stands in her way. Before all hell breaks loose and swallows her whole.
Two friends and a Jeep. Loaded to the gills. Headed to Nashville, Tennessee for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. They had plans to take their first year at the conference by storm, learning all they could, meeting new friends, and hugging those they’d only met online. They were determined to make their presence known in the best of ways.
Their brilliant plan was nearly sidetracked, and their song of joy partially transposed into a melody of sorrow in a minor key only a couple of hours after they arrived in Music City.
As they sat down to lunch, a short text that seemed innocent and sweet and the two minute phone call that followed changed everything.
“Hey, Mom, I just wanted to say I love you.”
This picture was taken seconds before my son sent the above text. I showed that text to everyone at the table. It was just like my sweet son to send a loving note like that. The call that followed cast his message in a whole new light.
One of my friends was on the other end, wind screaming in the background, panic squeezing her voice. She told me there was another tornado plowing through our neighborhood. She was on the way to get my son, who was home alone. My brain shut down. My body went numb. I looked at the friend sitting to my right and said,
“I can’t do this again.”
When the last tornado hit in November 2013, it was bad. This time was worse. My seventeen year old baby was all alone. In the middle of the monster. Was he okay? Did he make it to the bathroom for shelter? Was that text his way of telling me goodbye? All these thoughts boiled my brain as it went into lock down mode.
I don’t remember much of Wednesday evening. Numerous calls and texts. The girls praying with me and holding me. Being kept off of Facebook and away from the news. We went to eat at a local restaurant. I remember the music. I remember standing on the balcony and watching the water below. I remember I did eat something, at my friends’ orders.
Then finally those words came I’d been dying to hear all afternoon.
Everyone is okay. All the kids are accounted for and safe.
I wanted to go home, but was instructed by my husband and friends to stay put. There was nothing I could do, and my husband didn’t want me to have to deal with the mess at home a second longer than I had to. I fought them. I was two seconds from jumping in the Jeep and breaking the laws of the land and physics to get home to my husband and babies.
Then I met Dineen and Heather.
They found me roaming the lobby, I’m sure looking lost and pitiful. They prayed with me. They spoke peace and common sense into me. Both of them felt what I already knew but wanted to deny anyway: I was there for a reason. They refused to believe the timing was a coincidence. Looking back, I agree. I have no idea how I would’ve handled being in the middle of another storm, as I was still dealing with emotional issues from the first one. They convinced me, albeit begrudgingly on my part, I should stay and get what I could from the conference. Gain strength to take back home and share.
For once, I obeyed, and stayed put. I’m so glad I did.
I crawled into bed Wednesday night weary and hurting. It took me hours to fall into a fitful sleep. Finally Thursday morning dawned. It was then I noticed something I hadn’t the night before in my hurry to hide under the covers and wish it all away.
A concierge named Vincent had sent a basket of goodies and a note expressing his sympathy for what had happened at home and his hope my weekend would improve. In that basket, among other things, were two treats I adore and rarely get. One you can’t buy up North where I live now, and the other is hard to find.
GooGoo clusters and Moon Pies.
His simple act of kindness, added to the love and prayers of my friends, were what propelled me out of my stupor. As I enjoyed a GooGoo Cluster for breakfast, I prepared myself anew for the conference. I became determined to milk every last drop out of the weekend. To fortify my armor. To be stronger than ever.
I began to push aside all the depressing, crazy-making thoughts and focus on where I was. It wasn’t hard. Being surrounded by friends, sisters and brothers, made it easier to shove my troubles back and find my joy. Throughout the weekend, especially Thursday, I had my moments. Ups and downs. But there was always someone by my side to pull me up and out of the down times. I am forever grateful.
Then came Friday morning. I’d signed up for a class I knew would be highly beneficial to me. As I sat down, the instructor immediately gave valuable information I could use to better my manuscripts. But something felt off. Not with her, with me. I had a nagging feeling despite what I could glean from this class, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
After about 10 minutes, I left. I roamed the halls, trying to decide where to go. Looking for answers. I passed a room with the doors wide open and heard the speaker, Allen Arnold, say something that demanded my attention.
Okay. I sure needed a miracle. One I didn’t want to need. Hmm. I had to hear what he said next. I rushed inside and chose a seat. That’s when he said he had something for us. Notebooks he’d prayed over and written messages in. There were no names on them, and he handed them out randomly. He was confident they would go to the right people and be the exact message they needed. When I reached up to take mine, our eyes met and he grinned and nodded. In that moment I knew. I was in the right place. That was only confirmed as I opened my notebook to read the message it contained. Tears flooded my eyes and I instantly froze. The first line said:
My toes began to hurt from being stepped on. Yep. He’d nailed it.
The confirmation that this class, this conference, was precisely where I was meant to be just kept coming. That note? Only the beginning.
With each keynote, each class, I was challenged. Challenged to write with God. To see things from a different perspective, whether it be a storm I’m going through or the people and things around me. To become one with God, with the universe, and let myself be used as a conduit. To discover myself as I write. To write for the sake of my own transformation. That the only way to change was through a shake up.
I had to step out of the boat and into the turbulent sea, having faith He would hold me.
Another class that really resonated with me was called “Soul Care for Authors”. Boy, did I need that one! They talked about four aspects: Spirit, Soul, Body, and Community. I learned that God is not a teacher who fathers, He’s a Father who teaches. That He wants that deep communion and intimacy with each of us. That sometimes things would be beautiful and messy, but we had to be willing to say yes to the invitation. We had to be ready to jump on that ride God was inviting us on.
So many crossed my path, some unknown to me before the conference, who became close friends. Allies. They saw the light when all I saw was darkness. My roommates Michele, Jebraun, and Terri. My friends Lauren, Ralene, Sara, Sarah, Morgan, Dawn, Naomi, JC, Ronie, Amy, Elizabeth, and Cynthia. So many others. Their paths collided with mine in what could only be these special God moments. People sent to me, to love, encourage, and hold me up. They were my Aarons and I am so thankful for them.
Aside from having my soul, mind, and spirit fed by a sumptuous buffet of instruction, and gaining strength from all I was given, there were multiple lighthearted moments that infused my heart as well. From the genre dinner to the awards gala, to dinners out on the town, to hanging out in the lobby talking about everything and nothing. These precious hours of fun recharged me. They steeped me in joy I would need when I went back home. Not all God appointments are serious and somber. He knows we need the levity to balance the heaviness. And He provided for me in spades.
Yeah, my trip didn’t go according to plan.
Really, when does everything go exactly how we planned it? I would’ve certainly preferred not to have to go through this particular storm and deal with the things I faced once I returned home. But I wouldn’t trade the rest of that weekend for anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would still make the choice to stay. God knew where I needed to be and when, and He put me there. He knew I needed these people, the teaching I received, the fellowship, the strength He gave me through them, and the conversations that forced me to think differently and stretch beyond my limits.
Yes, God can truly use anyone, anything, any situation, to do some amazing stuff and bring incredible good to us. It’s mind boggling how He knows each of us so well, and knows exactly how to nudge us along.
Fire purifies. It transforms. I will allow it to transform me, to change my perception. I will be the Phoenix, rising from the ashes, stronger than ever. My greatest hope is that you will do the same.~
It must be the week of cover reveals! And I have the privilege of introducing you to yet another!
This offering is from debut author Deanna Fugett. I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of this tour. I’ve had the opportunity to read Deanna’s work through several stages and I absolutely cannot wait to see the finished product.
She has created an intriguing, gritty, and sometimes too real and cruel world (in a good way!), drawn me in, and made me yet again doubt my resistance to YA.
You girls are killing me with the amazing YA stories!
Without further ado, let’s find out a little more about Deanna and then we can get to the gorgeous cover and a peek into the story!
Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-six years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better.
Are you ready for the cover? Are you sure? Okay, here it is…
The cover for Ending Fear!
Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Running from her abusive Downer family, Fear discovers a new family. One who knows how to love. But then her new little sister is kidnapped and sold to a harem. Fear must go against her namesake and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever. Can she save Happy in time?
Want to stay connected and up to date on everything Deanna’s got going? Then be sure to follow her online!
Today I have a special guest: Author Michele Israel Harper from L2L2 Publishing Inc.
Before we get into the interview, though, I’d like to tell you a bit more about her and her latest novel, Zombie Takeover.
I was the bravest, fiercest warrior, single-handedly stopping the zombie apocalypse and earning the respect and admiration of those who fought with me.
I pretty much peed my pants and wasted a ton of ammo. At least everyone else shot what they were aiming at.
Me? Not so much.
This is my story—me, Candace Marshall, the world’s biggest scaredy-cat, facing my biggest fear. Zombies. It was awesome. (As in, not at all.)
Candace Marshall hates zombie movies. She hates anything scary, in fact. In his usual, not-so thoughtful way, her boyfriend surprises her with advanced screening tickets to the latest zombie flick, complete with interactive features and a tour. She refuses to watch it, but it doesn’t matter.
Horror becomes reality when an experiment gone wrong transforms her peaceful town
into a mess of slathering zombies. Thrown together with the only other survivor, Gavin
Bailey, her favorite actor and secret crush, she somehow fights her way through the mess,
making plenty of blunders and surprising herself with…courage?
But, just when Candace thinks it can’t get worse than zombies, it does.
Michele Israel Harper spends her days as a stay–at-home mom and her nights typing
away furiously on her laptop. Sleep? Sometimes… A member of the Heartland Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as the treasurer for the Indiana chapter of ACFW, Michele has her bachelor’s degree in History and can most often be found with her nose in a book when not chasing her two rambunctious boys or cuddling her new baby daughter. Visit her website at http://www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com to learn more about her.
I recently had a conversation with Michele that started out as a serious interview. You know, hard-hitting journalism at its best.
Okay, so I’m kidding. But I did try to be serious.
It just wasn’t happening.
This book and Michele herself are just too much fun! And if you know me at all, you know I just can’t seem to help myself when it comes to cutting up and asking off-the-wall questions.
So here it is, burning questions and sometimes hilarious answers from Michele Harper!
A:Michele, thanks so much for joining me on Guts On The Page. (Funny, since we’re talking all things zombie-licious!)
M: Thank you so much for having me today, Amy!
A: On to the questions. Zombie Takeover seems to be a bit of a variation on the types of stories you normally write. What prompted you to write a zombie story? Do you have a secret love of all things zombie that we don’t know about?
M: Zombie Takeover was actually the second book I ever wrote. (The first was a historical romance I trashed. Believe me. It needed to be. It. Was. Awful.) I hate all things scary, all things zombie, and all things gross, so it blew me away I had this burning story I had to tell—about zombies! What on earth?
A: Candace says she’s the biggest scaredy-cat in the world. So tell us, what’s your biggest fear? And, are you a fraidy cat or is there a bit of daredevil hidden in you?
M: I don’t like the dark, being alone in the dark, watching scary movies, being alone after watching scary movies, Halloween, or anything else scary. Period. Candace Marshall is probably the world’s second biggest scaredy-cat, come to think of it… But tell me I can’t do something, and I’ll just about kill myself trying. I have this crazy competitive streak that just isn’t healthy for me. But I must win! 😉 So…daredevil when it comes to non-horror-ish things!
A: ZT is next on my to-be-read list. I’ve heard there are some hilarious moments. I love a good laugh. I especially love pranks. The bigger the better. I’ve been known to design a few in my time. Like… short sheeting my church camp dorm mom’s bed, eggs included! (No proof was ever found to nail the culprit, so as long as she never reads this, I’m still in the clear!) Have you ever been one to pull pranks on people, and if so, what’s the biggest prank you’ve ever gotten away with?
M: Oh, yes. Pranks all the time—but in high school. I was way more fun back then. Every once in a while I get struck with a “Let’s move all of so-and-so’s furniture out of their house and do an Ashton Kutcher-worthy prank where they think their house has been sold or robbed” idea and my husband just looks at me. “Do you know how much time that would take? Where would you put the furniture?” And I have to back down. Sigh. Can’t think of something small. Of course.
A: So, say there’s a zombie apocalypse. What five fictional characters would you want in your group and why?
M: Doctor Who (but the eleventh). Because I’ve just discovered him, and I’d desperately hope he’d choose to whisk me away instead of investigating. Thor. Because lightning bolts would surely do some damage, right? Uh, Wolverine. He could hack them to pieces. I think that would stop a zombie. Gavin Bailey (if I were Candace). Because who wouldn’t want her biggest crush/movie star/guy who would do absolutely anything to save her and was pretty darn good at it? Ryn from The Faerie Guardian. Because he could write a door to a faerie path with his stylus and take me to a zombie-free part of the world. Okay, I’d take anyone who could keep me away from the creatures and make it so I wouldn’t have to look at their faces. I never, ever, ever want to see one in my entire life. Ever.
A: Do you think you’d survive long? What would you do to ensure your survival? Would you be a hunter, or try to hide out as long as possible?
M: Are you kidding me? Running, screaming, crying? No way! But I did take martial arts, I’ve always been a fighter, and I love guns and weapons…so maybe? When I paintball, I’m extremely aggressive (and have won a few battles being the only remaining member of my team) and have no problem holing up for hours as I pick off members of the enemy team. Mwahahahaha. So, yes. I’ve changed my mind. I wouldn’t go down without a fight.
A: How many books do you have planned for this series? This is assuming Candace the scaredy-cat survives the initial onslaught and we see more of her. 😉 What kind of track do you see this story taking?
M: Spoilers, sweetie. (Sorry, couldn’t resist! I am a way bigger Doctor Who fan than I thought…) It all depends on whether Candace survives. I make no promises.
A: Zombies seem to be the “it” story line right now. Any thoughts on the current zombie craze, like maybe why the theme is so popular?
M: Nope, none at all because I avoid it. All of it. Scaredy-cat, remember? Maybe because they’re so deliciously creepy and people like to be scared? I don’t get it. (Maybe one of you can help me out with this one? What do you think?)
A: And finally, aside from all the laughs, screams, jump out of your seat moments, episodes of spontaneous shouting as we cheer on the heroine, and all around zombie fun, what do you want readers to take away from this story?
M: Fun. Just good, clean, edge-of-your-seat fun.
A: Now Michele has a few more words for you, the readers, and a question!
M: Thank you for reading this article! What about you? What uber-creepy creature is your fave lore, or you just can’t seem to get enough of?
Now, the fun doesn’t stop here! No way. This is just the beginning of what promises to be a blog tour full of fun, craziness, and laughs.
First off, be sure and check out the Facebook party on July 14th. There will be prizes galore! Here’s the link so you can save it to your calendar. I highly suggest you get right on that. You won’t want to miss this!
Liz hates the fact that she can see the angels and demons in our realm no one else can. When the demons stopped simply observing and started attacking, Liz took off in the middle of the night. She didn’t say goodbye, and only left a note saying she was sorry.
Determined to protect Ryland and everyone else she loves, she’s run far and fast, trying to put as much distance between them as she can. Ryland won’t accept what she’s done until he hears it from her, so he’s set out to find her. Liz knows him well and has moved again, assuming he’s on her trail.
You’re good. I’ll give you that.
It’s been two months now since you left and I’m no closer to having you back in my arms. No closer to having answers. I’ve come so close to you so many times, but every time you blow town before I can get a hold on you, barely leaving a trace that you’ve been there. Either you know somehow or you’re guessing that I’m on your trail, or you’re just trying to stay ahead of anyone who might be looking for you. Knowing you, I’m gonna say it’s a little of both.
Well, I guess it’s a good thing I can work from anywhere, because I have a feeling this could go on for a while longer than it already has. Least I won’t be hurting for money. But that’s actually not at the top of the list of my worries about now.
These places I’m finding out you’re staying, working. Liz, what are you thinking? It’s like you’re deliberately putting yourself in danger, tempting fate. You say you wish you didn’t see the things you do, then you put yourself right in the middle of some of the worst situations you could possibly be in! I mean, do you have a death wish? Are you trying to throw me into some kind of breakdown? Or are you making a point that you can do whatever you want? I don’t get it. This isn’t like you. And it’s killing me. I know you’re hurting and I know you’re scared, but, baby, this isn’t the way. It’s about as far from the right way as you can get.
Just know that I’m not giving up. You can try as hard as you want to scare me away, try to make me think you’re a hopeless cause. It’s not going to work. I will never give up on you. I can’t. I love you too much to not at least try to talk some sense into you. I have to try to help you get back on the right path. Try to get you back home. Even though I’m starting to wonder if you ever intend on coming back. Still, that doesn’t matter. I will find you. I have to hear what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, from your mouth. I won’t rest until I do.
We’re not over, baby. Not by a long shot. I’m going to prove how much I love you. Prove that you can trust me. That we can get through anything together, because I know in my heart that we can.
Sometimes, you can have a freaking awesome idea. Something that you think will solve all your problems, make life so much easier. This whole me leaving thing? Yeah, not my brightest decision. I admit it. Things have NOT gotten better. If anything, they’re worse. I’m staying in this nasty motel, because even though I make good tips at the restaurant I work at, it’s not enough to get a place of my own. Maybe I shoulda thought of that before I left with hardly any money.
Being low on cash is the least of my worries right now, though. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been jumped four times by demons. So I started practicing some more fighting moves like the ones you taught me, pulling videos up online since I can’t afford to go to a class. It’s weird, I’m even stronger than I was when I mentioned it in my last letter. I’ve been holding my own. No major injuries. But I don’t know why or how. None of this makes any sense. Why can’t they just leave me alone like they did before? What changed that caused them to come after me all the sudden? The only good thing is that they’re not coming after you. So if I have to live in this crap hole and fight every day to keep you safe, I will. It’s worth it. If I could just find a way to get rid of this, whatever it is, I would do it in a heartbeat. Then we would all be safer, right? I can’t believe God would do this to me. Why? What could possibly be the purpose in this? I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.
Anyway, I miss home. I miss my parents. Even more than that, I miss you. I know I need to let you go and get over it. I just can’t. I miss you so much, Ry. I would never tell anyone else, but I cry myself to sleep most nights. I know, that totally doesn’t sound like me. But I can’t help it. I’m so alone here. I’d give anything right now to have you holding me. That’s something I can’t ever have again. Not if things keep up like they are. I’m so afraid they’ll never leave me alone. That I’ll never be able to come home.
Would it matter, though? Do you even miss me? I had to laugh as I wrote that because, knowing you, you won’t believe I left on my own until you see for yourself. Now I’m not laughing. You’re looking for me, aren’t you? Or am I wrong? There’s a good chance you hate me about now, especially since I disconnected my cell. I just couldn’t take seeing your messages or hearing you on the voicemail. You have to be royally ticked that I never answered, then I cut you off completely.
But honestly I know better than that. You won’t give up until you hear the words from me, will you? Until you hear me say we’re done. I really hope that’s not the case. Now I’m wondering if I should move again. If anyone could find me, it’s you. What with all that computer crap you do. Oh man. If I see you I’ll break and I can’t let that happen. I want to stop you, tell you not to come, but then I’d have to talk to you. I can’t do that. Not yet.
I know you’ll never see this letter but I’m glad I wrote it. It helped me work all this out in my head. I have to move. Something in my gut tells me you’re looking for me. I won’t let you find me. Hopefully, you’ll give up and realize that I’m no good for you.
I hope someday you’ll see I did all this because I love you so much.
Okay, I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past couple weeks and I’ve come to a few conclusions. First off, I think I’ll keep up with this writing thing. It actually did help to get this crap out of my system a little bit. Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll actually read it. I can only hope.
Anyway, I’ve realized something pretty important that I should’ve known right away, I was just too ticked off to see it. The last time I wrote you, I said I doubted your love. I knew as soon as I wrote it that it wasn’t true. I know you love me. I’ve felt it, I’ve seen it. Realizing that and knowing you like I do, I’m pretty sure I know at least part of the reason you left. You think you’re protecting me from something. Saving me. Well here’s the thing, baby girl: I don’t need protecting. If you think you’ve got problems I can’t handle, or you think dealing with whatever’s got you running may end up with me getting hurt in some way, you’re wrong. I’m a big boy and I can take a lot more than you apparently think I can. Not to mention, you should know that I would stand by you through anything. I want to be the one that protects you, the one you rely on. The one you trust. You don’t have to do this alone, whatever this is. And I’m not going to let you fight it all by yourself.
I know you’d probably blow a gasket over me telling you I won’t let you do something. But you know I don’t order you around or try to control you. Like that’d even be possible anyway. You’re probably the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. In this case, you’ll just have to get over it. Let me tell you why.
This relationship is a partnership. Or it was. Obviously, we’re having a bit of an issue with that about now. Since you’re not here to be in on the discussion, I’m making a command decision. I’m done wallowing and worrying and wondering. I refuse to just sit here and do nothing. That’s not me. Never has been and never will be. I see what I want, or something I need to accomplish, then I make a plan and go after it. That’s who I am. So why should this situation be any different? You are the most important person in the world to me. I want you. I need you.
I’m coming after you.
You know me, Lizzy. You should’ve known I wouldn’t just let you leave and not do anything about it. Not gonna happen. I deserve answers. You owe me at least that much courtesy. Just like I owe you the proof of my loyalty and love; the proof that I won’t give up on us without a fight. You’re too important. We’re too important, and we’ve been through too much to throw it away so easily. You’re mine and I’m yours. I love you more than my own life. I can’t stand the thought of you being out there alone, knowing what’s following you and what you could be facing. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t at least try to protect you, try to bring you home where you’re safe? Not much of one.
So get ready, baby girl. Whatever it takes, I will find you.
A few days ago I released the first post in the Hearts on the Page series; letters between the hero and heroine of The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles. Letters they never sent. On these pages, Liz and Ryland pour their hearts out to each other without restraint. Their secret missives are raw, honest, and painful, but also sprinkled with joy and, at least on Ryland’s part, a whole lot of hope.
This week, it’s time to take a look at Liz’s first letter. Can she justify leaving Ryland without a word? Will her plan to outrun her pain work, or just pull her farther into the misery pit? Read on to find out.
My Heart is Broken
I’m sitting here at some hole-in-the-wall joint in a town I don’t even know the name of, writing a letter I know I’m never gonna send. How’s that for pointless? Maybe it’ll make me feel better though. Doubtful. Life royally sucks about now. Yeah, maybe it’s partly my fault, but not all. I for sure didn’t give myself this freaking curse! But I am going to get rid of it. No matter what I have to do.
It’s like seven in the evening, and by now you know I’m gone. You probably flipped out and gathered a posse or something to look for me. I know you, and you wouldn’t believe it until you had to. Until there was solid proof. Which I’m sure you have by now. I know you like plans and order and this threw a big wrench into that. I really am sorry for that. I hate knowing something I’ve done has hurt you. That’s the last thing I ever wanted. But if I’d stayed, you’d end up being hurt worse, torn apart, and I won’t be the one to do that. I love you too much to stay when I know all I’m gonna bring you is chaos and pain.
You should’ve never made plans with me, for us, in the first place. I’m so screwed up, Ry. This curse is messing with my head, and it’s messing everything up. I know you were all cool when I told you my secret, but you don’t know what it all really means. What it would mean for us. I can never have a normal life. We won’t be able to just live and get married and have babies and live like everyone else. I’ll always have to watch my back and yours too because you won’t even be able to see what’s coming. And I have a feeling something real bad is coming. Need proof? Three weeks ago, one of those nasty freak demons that follows me all the time actually attacked. First time any of them ever did more than stare and snarl. I got some good shots in after I got my crap together and figured out what was happening. And it was weird, it was like I was stronger and faster than I should be. I kept thinking there was no way I should be able to take on a big demon like that and live. Still, it was rough. I know I told you I fell when I was out hiking and I hated lying to you, I never had before, but I had no choice. I know how you are. If you found out, you’d never leave my side, and you’d just end up getting hurt because there’s nothing you can do about any of this. I can’t let that happen. I can’t let you tie yourself to a freak that’ll end up being the reason you end up in a world of pain or even dead.
I love you so freaking much, but I had to do this. It’s my turn to protect you, to watch out for you. I had to put you, my parents, my friends, all ya’lls safety before what I want or what I thought I could have. What I want doesn’t even matter. You have to get over it and move on. It kills me to say this, but find somebody else, Ry. Somebody who can give you what you want, what you need, and not put you in the middle of some stinking war with Hell. I know you’ll find her. You’re the finest man to ever set foot on the dang planet. I should know. But I can’t be around that. I don’t want to see it. I can’t be around you. Period. The only way to keep you safe is for me to stay away. I can’t keep pretending everything will somehow be okay when I know it won’t be.
Don’t think it’s not gonna be hard on me. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. If feels like somebody ripped my heart out through my throat and stomped on it. I never knew anything could hurt this freakin’ bad. What we had was─it was crazy. We were like wildfire, but it worked. Everything was always so intense, but it was perfect. It was just us. Not having that insane, burn you up but at the same time able to cool you down, like we’re one person connection is gonna kill me. It was like we knew what each other were thinking and feeling. Now it just feels empty in my head, my chest, and the farther away from you I get, the worse it gets. I need to stop writing, I’m not even making sense anymore and it’s stupid to even do this because you’ll never see it. But it kinda does make me feel better.
You’ll probably never forgive me. I can live with that as long as you’re okay. As long as you’re safe and have a chance at happiness. I gotta go. I need to put more miles between us so I don’t say to Hell with it and turn around. It was so tempting to ask you to go with me. But, I knew you wouldn’t, and it woulda defeated the point of me leaving in the first place. Ok, I’m leaving now. Maybe I’ll write more, who knows. I love you, Ryland.
In my soon to be published series The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles, the heroine Liz and hero Ryland have a powerful yet tortured relationship with a long history. The first book, Rebirth, begins as Liz is coming back home after having been gone for several years. While she was away, both Liz and Ryland had some extreme experiences that changed them and their relationship forever. But, despite everything that happened and the physical distance between them, their connection remained.
The proof? It’s on the page in black and white.
During their separation, each of them wrote letters to the other. Letters they never sent. On these private pages, Liz and Ry poured out their hearts and bared their souls to each other, saying everything they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say out loud.
Now, you can read them for yourself. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be divulging the contents, giving you a little more insight into their hearts and minds. Maybe, someday, they’ll each have the courage to exchange these letters. Meanwhile, I invite you to step into their secret world and discover that sometimes love can be the most terrifying battle of all.
First up, Ryland.
You’ll probably never see this. I don’t normally like to write. It’s not like I keep a journal or anything, that’s your deal. At least, I think it is. I thought I knew everything about you. But I’m learning real fast that I don’t. Anyway, I just needed a way to get some of this crap out of my system. Some way to feel like I’m saying what I need to say, even though I have no idea if I’ll ever even see you again.
When I got the call from your parents this morning and they said you were gone, I panicked. I didn’t want to believe them when they said you’d taken your stuff. That’d mean you left me. Without telling me why. Without me getting to hold you and kiss you one more time. Without even saying goodbye. I tore up this county looking for you. That’s what I’ve been doing all day. Contacted all your friends, went to all our spots, your hideout, everywhere. I even hacked into your email, trying to find something to tell me where you were. But you left me nothing. Nothing except a note that wasn’t even meant for me. The note that didn’t tell us why. That told your parents to tell me you loved me and you were sorry.
Well, I think that’s a load of bull. You’re not sorry. And I’m wondering if you ever really did love me like I love you. How could you? You just left, Liz. I know you had a lot going on, a lot to deal with that you didn’t understand. But you could’ve come to me. You know you can talk to me about anything. I proved that when you told me about the things you saw. All I’ve ever done is support you and try to help you. I thought you knew you could lean on me, could count on me. If you’d have just come to me, trusted me, things could’ve been so different. You could’ve given me the chance to help you. But you didn’t. You have this habit of bottling everything up, hiding what you’re feeling, even from me. And now you’re running from it. I know that’s what’s happening. I know you. You think if you ignore it, if you run far enough, you can get away from it. That’s not how this works. This isn’t something you can run from. And I could’ve helped you deal with it. We could’ve worked this out together. But you didn’t even try.
I honestly don’t know what to do right now. And that’s something I don’t know how to deal with. We had a plan, we had dreams. And now, you’re just gone and I have no idea where you are or if you’re even okay. Are you safe? Not like the question matters, ‘cause I couldn’t protect you now even if you weren’t. I’ve got this ring sitting here in front of me on the table. I bought it right after you graduated last summer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to give it to you, how to ask you. You’re not the average woman, you don’t really like all that mushy crap, so I wanted to do something that was unique to us. Unique to you. I had a few ideas and now I can barely remember them. Probably because you just smashed my heart into pieces. I’m stinkin’ furious with you, but at the same time I’m terrified. You’re out there alone, demons bearing down on you and I can’t do anything about it. You know what? I can’t do this. I can’t even think about this right now. I’m heading to the gym. Maybe I’ll take Nate with me and see if he wants to go a few rounds. I need to pound on something. Maybe I can pound this pain away. I love you so much. How could you do this?
Fantasy author J.L. Mbewe has a new release coming in May, and we get to be part of her cover reveal today! Without further ado, here is the cover and an inside look at Darkened Hope!
Ayianna is a cursed half-elf betrothed to Desmond, but her heart belongs to another. After discovering the cure for the Sorceress’s curse, she and her companions embark on a dangerous quest to retrieve the ingredients.
When dragons descend upon their party, Ayianna realizes the Sorceress is searching not just for the corrupted dagger, but a human sacrifice that will open a portal to the underworld. Battling deadly creatures and natural disasters, Ayianna is forced more and more to confront her insecurities and conflicted heart.
Now she must decide whether to be true to her family or true to herself. As the nations rally for war, betrayal threatens to destroy them all, and it’s a race against time to return before the curse devastates the plains people.
Coming in May 2016
Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award, and its sequel, Darkened Hope is coming May 2016.