NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Sneak Peek of the Pirate Princess

So I’ve been working on the next book in the Finding Home trilogy and I thought it was high time for a preview of the newest book. So, if you’ve read any of my books or you’re interested in adventure stories for young readers, I hope you enjoy this preview for Finding Home: The Pirate Princess.

Serina stared out at the violent waves, as they finished their job of wrecking the small rowboat to shreds. It felt like the sea was mocking her, arrogantly destroying her last shred of hope. How could it have gone this wrong? The sand felt hot against her bare feet, but she didn’t move, she couldn’t. Her whole world had crumbled and there was nothing she could do about it. Why? What did I do to deserve this? She clenched her fists and tried to keep the tears from coming but they came anyway, adding to the saltwater that already covered her trembling body. Now that she was alone, she couldn’t hold it together anymore. Why couldn’t it have been me? Why did they have to take Adrian? Why does it always have to be Adrian? Why can’t God just give me what I want for once in my life? She pulled on her hair, tempted to rip it out in frustration. But instead she fell to her knees and sobbed.

She didn’t know how long she’d been crying but her eyes refused to produce any more tears. She was dehydrated, drained and she felt like giving up. She looked up at the sky. “Alright, fine. I give up. Are you happy now? I’m sick of trying to do things my way. It never works and I’m tired of it. I don’t have anyone else so I’m giving You a chance. So help me save Adrian, please. He’s the last person to deserve this.”

She waited, silently hoping for a thundering voice to speak. But the roar of the waves and the cawing of seagulls was all she heard. Then in the distance she spotted a dark spot on the horizon. What is that? She stood up and put her hand to her forehead to block the sun and help her see clearer.

She stared for so long that her eyes began to hurt, but she didn’t take them off of the small dot. The wait was almost unbearable, the heat stifling, her clothes were already almost dry as the sun beat down on her. But the dot continued to get bigger and a flame of hope had lit in her chest that she held onto with everything she had left. Please be a ship. Please!

Finally the mast and sails took shape and Serina jumped with excitement. “Yes! A ship! Thank you God!” She didn’t care about anything else, not her torn dress or parched throat, or empty stomach. She just kept staring at that lovely ship. It was the most beautiful thing in the world to her. Thank you God!

Caleb stumbled out of the trees. “I heard you yelling, what happened?”

“A ship!” Serina said excitedly and pointed. She stopped as she realized Caleb was alive. She turned to him and gave him a big hug. “We’re saved!”

Caleb indulged her hug for a moment then stood back and blushed. “Do you still happen to have that spyglass?”

Serina wondered how she could have forgotten about it as she had watched that small dot getting closer. I really must be tired. She reached into her damp jacket and fished out the spyglass. She gave it to him with a smile.

Caleb took it and stared out at the ship. After a minute he mumbled sarcastically, “Oh great.”

All of the excitement drained out of Serina in an instant. “What?”

Caleb handed her the spyglass. “Take a look for yourself.”

Serina hurriedly pulled the odd contraption to her eye and tried to focus. Her hands were trembling too much and she had to take a deep breath to calm her nerves. Finally she found the ship among the vast blue ocean. She couldn’t see anything wrong with it. It looked sturdy and large enough to fit two extra passengers. But then she spotted the flag. The ugly red with a black X chilled her to the bones. “Oh no, it’s the pirates.”

“No, really? Ya think?”

“What are we going to do now?”

Caleb threw his hands up in the air. “I have no idea! But they’re headed straight here. It’s probably one of their bases of operation.”

“Maybe we could hide.”

Caleb shook his head. “I searched the whole island and besides a fresh spring it’s worthless. There’s nowhere we could hide where they wouldn’t spot us. It’s just not that big.”

Serina felt her chest tighten as the ship came nearer and nearer. And I thought things couldn’t get any worse.

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NaNoWriMo in April

So apparently there are writing camps and all sorts of fun things that NaNoWriMo does throughout the year. I’ve only ever done the write 50,000 words in November contest before. But this month my sister was thinking about joining a cabin and writing for the month of April. When she told me about it, I suggested that we use the month to start writing our co-authored book together. You see, we talk about story ideas all the time. Usually we keep our writing separate, but we’ve talked for years about writing a novel, or even a series together. So I figured, why not try it this month?

Our story idea revolves around a middle school student getting the super power of teleportation and then learning how to use his powers and become a hero all while keeping his identity a secret and keeping up with normal teenage life. It’s been a blast so far, though I still have very little direction for where this story is going. But I figured y’all might like getting a glimpse of what I’m working on, so here’s a section that I wrote.

Keep in mind that this is unedited and subject to many changes.

Our working title is:

Tales of a Middle School Superhero

This is the story of how I became a middle school super hero. It’s pretty crazy so be warned. You might not believe me but I’m totally telling the truth.
It all started when I was sitting in history class and my teacher, Ms. Robinson was talking on and on about the Great Depression. Which I think is such a bad name, like how can a depression be great or even good? They should have named it something else like the horrible depression. But anyways I’m getting off topic. So I was trying my best not to be depressed listening to her talk about all the horrible things people had to deal with, like dust tornadoes and living in cars instead of houses. And I started thinking, why couldn’t everybody just go to Disney World and be happy? Or better yet why can’t everyone go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for free? I mean they have so many good rides and like the best water park. Why can’t we all just be happy? And I started thinking about my favorite ride at Six Flags. It’s totally the Superman Krypton Coaster. I love when the first drop makes you feel like you’re really flying and then spins you in the giant loop. I started imagining that I was on the roller coaster instead of stuck in my boring… and depressing classroom. This is a normal thing for me, my mom says I have trouble daydreaming. But I really don’t have any trouble with it. I do it so well that I could actually call it my special talent. I can actually picture that I’m there and not here. But well, this time felt different because, I didn’t just see it. Like I heard it. People were screaming around me and there was wind in my hair and I could feel the twists and turns of the coaster pulling me out of my seat. And that’s when I realized something. I was no longer in my class. This was NOT a daydream, or even a dream dream. This was real! Somehow, I had left my class, traveled over a hundred miles, and landed in a an empty seat on the Superman. I let out a surprised scream, but no one else seemed to notice me. They were already screaming anyway. I realized the restraining bars were a bit tight. I guess the guy who closes the empty coaster seat put it as tight as it could go, since no one was in the seat when the coaster left. Lucky for me, I’m small for my age. I haven’t quite hit that growth spurt yet. So the coaster sped me on my way and gave me a great look at the park. I noticed that there weren’t many people around, which makes sense. It it a school day. Even though summer is definitely on it’s way, most people aren’t going to the theme parks yet. The brakes squeaked loudly and jolted me to a stop, then we coasted slowly into the terminal. The fat guy behind the controls looked at me and blinked a couple times. I froze, wondering if he realized I hadn’t been there when the ride started. Then he pressed a button releasing the locks and our restraints lifted. I unbuckled mine and stepped out of the seat.
“You want to ride again? There is no line.”
I looked up at the operator but I felt a bit unsteady from the coaster. That or reality that I had just teleported.
“No thanks, I’m good,” I said, then quickly got up and hurried past the worker, following the walkway into the Superman gift shop. I sat down at a bench and took a deep breath. Before I could decide what to do next, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I fished the phone out of my cargo shorts and promptly dropped it on the concrete sidewalk. The phone kept buzzing though, so I picked it up and saw the picture of my best friend stuffing an entire slice of cake in his mouth. It was the profile picture I had assigned him. It matched his personality quite well. Sam was always hungry, especially for anything sweet. We joked that he didn’t have any normal teeth, only sweet tooths. I managed to swipe my finger across the touch screen before it went to voicemail and put the phone to my ear.
“Nick? What happened to you? Did you ditch without me?”
“Hey Sam, I uh. I don’t…”
“Dude, that was not cool. Ms. Robinson grilled me like crazy. She said she never said you could leave for a bathroom break. I had to tell her you were about to throw up.”
“Actually, I might.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, you’re never going to believe me Sam, but I think I just teleported.”
Sam cackled. “You’re right, I’m never going to believe you. So where did you go?”
“I uh, went to Six Flags. I just rode the Superman.”
“Are you tripping man? Seriously, do you need a doctor or something?”
“I’m serious. I was imagining riding it while Ms. Robinson droned on and on and then suddenly I was riding it.”
“Okay, you can stop with the joke, it is way too late for April Fools.”
“I’m not joking Sam. I don’t know what happened. One second I was there and the next I was here.”
“So you didn’t sneak out of class?”
“No, I didn’t mean to leave.”
“Wierd. I didn’t even notice. No one did. Ms Robinson just asked me where you went and then I noticed that you weren’t there.”
“What’s wrong with me Sam? People don’t just randomly start transporting places!”
“I know, I know, chill. We’ll figure this out. Where are you now?”
“At a bench, next to the Superman Coaster.”
“I wish I was there, I still have two more hours of torture before school ends.”
“What do I do Sam? I can’t walk home from San Antonio!”
“I know, I know. Just stay calm. Maybe you should call your mom.”
“And tell her what? Hey mom, I just teleported, could you come pick me up please?”
Sam giggled. “Yeah I think she might not believe you.”
“You do believe me though, right?”
Sam didn’t answer.
“Sam?”
“Look I know you like playing jokes–”
“This is not a joke! I’m really in San Antonio. You want me to send you my location on my phone?”
“Sure, do that.”
I hung up and opened up my maps app. I took a screenshot of my location and texted it to Sam. I waited till the text went through then called him back. The phone rang twice before he picked up.
“So did you get it?” I asked.
“Yeah, how’d you do that? This is a pretty elaborate prank.”
“It’s not a prank Sam, I’m really at Six Flags. I can send you pics if you want, or a video. But I’m not lying. I’m really here.”
“But you were in class ten minutes ago. You couldn’t…”
“I did.”
“Okay you’re totally scaring me now. If this is a joke you’d better tell me right now.”
“For the last time, it’s not a joke.”

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Author Visits and a Shout Out to School Librarians

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of visiting Baranoff Elementary in Austin, TX. I feel like I’m becoming an old pro at these author visits and instead of being nervous, I was excited. As I drove in the misty morning rain to this elementary school, I couldn’t wait to get started. Just as Dezavala, I was scheduled to speak to the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I had several boxes of books, my slideshow all ready to go, and even some fun music to play in the background while the kids found their seats.

With all of these school visits, I’ve discovered that having help from the librarian is a huge factor in how the visit goes. They know all of the kids and teachers, how the computers work, and what setup would work best. So I just want to give a shout out to all the school librarians out there. You do a great job at opening up the world of reading to students and I’m personally grateful for all the work you do.

Ms. Merriman is the librarian that I got to work with for this school. She did a great job of advertising the visit and getting the students excited. By the time I got there, they were all ready to pay attention and learn. I was particularly struck that my being a native Austinite had such an impact. I guess I’d never noticed that the other schools I’ve gone to are technically not in Austin. So this was my first Austin ISD school visit and they really made me feel welcome.

Ms. Merriman and her library clerk

Ms. Merriman and her library clerk

Several students had preordered the books and I had spent a good hour or so signing books the day before my visit. But Baranoff wasn’t done. Several more students decided they wanted a book the day I came and I ended up signing several more books while I was there. Ms. Merriman did a great job of giving me space to breathe and sign books in between each group. She also had the great idea that I would read a section of the book after my presentation and before the question time. That way the kids were still focused and ready to listen. It worked great and I was especially happy when I stopped reading and several kids made the “aww” sound because they wanted more. I hope most of them get to read the books over the holiday break.

And speaking of the kids, boy were these kids fun to talk to. So many of them were interested in writing and had great questions or wanted to tell me about their own books or stories. It was so fun to see their enthusiasm. I even had one girl say that her favorite book is Finding Home. I got pictures with a few of them and personally signed about 80 books. It was a great experience and I hope that all of the future schools I visit will be like this one.

So in honor of the Baranoff kids and in case you’re interested in the book, I thought I’d give a little preview of the section I read to the students. And actually I’ll add a bit extra since it’s one of my favorite scenes. Enjoy!

Chapter 2

The Innkeeper

“Lazy hands make a man poor,

but diligent hands bring wealth.”

Proverbs 10:4

      Ben finally collapsed in a field; too exhausted to take another step. He let the tears run freely now that no one was around to watch him fall apart. Gradually his heart slowed down and his breathing became normal. Finally Ben rolled onto his back, and stared aimlessly at the clouds.

Why God? What did I do wrong? Ben waited for an answer as the clouds floated gently in the spring breeze. After several minutes, Ben sighed and sat up. Now what? He wiped another tear from his cheek as the face of his father came to mind. He always believed in me… taught me so much, and gave me all that I needed… I didn’t deserve him.

Ben pulled his father’s sword out of the common scabbard it was stored in and studied it. Unlike the scabbard, the sword itself was very beautiful. It was double edged with an ornamented silver hilt engraved with the image of a golden eagle. I wonder where he got this. It doesn’t look like a sword that he could afford.

Ben noticed the sun was already past its zenith. I guess I should try to find a place to stay…. He reluctantly slid the sword back into its scabbard and stood up. He gazed back to where he had come from and shook his head. I never want to see that innkeeper again. He turned and started walking in the opposite direction.

* * * * *

      As the sun began to sink behind the horizon, Ben climbed a small hill and stopped to survey the landscape. A strange gray fog in the distance caught his attention. He was mystified as he studied the odd blending of gray into the colorful sunset. After a minute or so it dawned on him what the gray haze was. That must be smoke from a village.  Ben glanced at the sun as it dropped behind the horizon. I better hurry so I won’t get locked out of town tonight.

* * * * *

      It was nearly midnight before Ben reached a worn sign just outside the small village. The sign’s faded letters revealed that Ben had just arrived at Rosenwood. The gates were closed. However, the man guarding the gate allowed Ben in without too much of a fuss. While walking through the deserted streets, Ben felt the weight of an overpowering emptiness. All was quiet and dark, only a few scattered noises in the distance gave proof that anyone lived here. An old creaking sign indicated an inn nearby. Ben walked stealthily to the inn, feeling as if disturbing the quiet would be disastrous.

A lone light shone inside where a hefty innkeeper with graying hair was counting his money from the day’s business.

Ben walked in and studied the man’s plump nose and crinkled face, trying to decide if he was the kind of man that would let him stay the night without paying.

The man stopped counting all of a sudden and turned to face Ben with a frown of annoyance. “What do ya want?” he asked gruffly.

“I was wondering if I could sleep here tonight.” Ben replied.

The innkeeper’s small brown eyes darted up and down, studying Ben’s features. “Got any money?”

“Well no, but I can work for my stay. I can wash dishes, clean tables, serve food, or even muck out the stables.”

“Ha, muck out the stables. Tell ya what, if you clean the stables, you can sleep there.”

“Alright,” Ben answered with a faint smile on his face. “I’ll do it.”

The man grunted as Ben left, then turned back to resume counting his gold.

Ben found the musty old stable and started cleaning the stalls. He tried to focus on his work and keep the thoughts of the loving family he had lost to a minimum. However, as the night wore on, Ben couldn’t keep the thoughts from creeping into his mind. Once he had finished cleaning, he gave each of the few horses a fresh bucket of water and a thorough brushing. With all the unhindered thoughts of his family floating about in his head, Ben doubted that he would be able to sleep at all. However, around three in the morning, he finally drifted off in a pile of fresh hay.

* * * * *

      The next morning dawned bright, and the little town of Rosenwood started bustling with women doing laundry, men beating out metal, venders hollering out to shoppers, and children running around the market.

The old innkeeper closed his tired eyes and stretched his sore back. He had spent the whole morning making food for his customers and finally had a free moment to sit down.

A customer came up to pay his due. “What money do I owe you?” he asked pleasantly.

“Ten pieces of gold,” the innkeeper replied.

“Really, that seems rather generous of you.”

“What do ya mean?” the innkeeper’s eyes squinted as he tilted his head to the side. “Ten pieces isn’t cheap, at least not for the prices ‘round here.”

“Well my horses were taken care of so well, I assumed it would cost more.”

The innkeeper stared at him dumbfounded.

“You know, the clean stalls, fresh water, and they were groomed magnificently. I’d say they were the king’s horses, if I didn’t know them.”

The innkeeper wasn’t sure what to say so he remained silent.

“Well here’s five extra pieces, I think you deserve them,” the man said with a smile. Then he turned and went on his way.

The innkeeper scratched his head. “What in the world is he talking about? That stable is filthy and I wouldn’t touch a horse for all the money in the world.” He dropped the coins in his pocket and went over to the stable to make sure the man wasn’t hallucinating.

As the innkeeper walked to the stable he saw the man leading his horses out into the street. They really were magnificent; each had a smooth clean coat that shone in the morning light. Even with his fear of horses the innkeeper admired their beauty. “But how did they…? I didn’t….”

As he stepped into the old stable, he gasped.

Everything was put away, the stalls were all clean and the smell of fresh hay filled the room. He stared almost unbelieving when a thought struck him. “There was a boy last night… and I told him that he could sleep here if he cleaned up the place.” The innkeeper smiled to himself, “So that explains the fancy horses and clean stable.” The old man soon spotted the boy soundly sleeping in a fresh pile of hay. He walked over to the boy and gave him a gentle shove with his foot. “Wake up young sir. Are ya hungry?”

Ben rolled over and opened his calm blue eyes. “Huh? Hungry? Oh, yes I’m hungry.” He sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“Good, I need some way to repay ya for cleaning this old stable and those horses. Did you know I got five extra pieces of gold for your work? And a mighty satisfied customer if I do say so myself.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that, sir.”

“Yes, well, no need to call me sir… and what pray tell is your name?”

Ben stood up. “I’m Ben, what’s yours?”

“People call me John.”

“Well nice to meet you John,” Ben said as he shook his hand.

“Nice to meet you too. By the way, I’m sorry for making you sleep in the stable. I thought you were some naughty kid that needed to be taught a lesson about running away from home.”

Ben frowned and looked down at the floor. “No, I didn’t exactly run away, I kind of lost my family.”

“Well I’m sorry… is there anything I can do?”

“Not really.”

John studied Ben’s downcast face for a minute. “Alright, then we’ll just get you some breakfast.”

 

 

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How I Became An Author

I’m excited to announce that I will be visiting a school in Giddings, TX! Immanuel Lutheran School has graciously invited me to come speak about writing and my new book Finding Home: The Lost Brother on September 8th. I’m so excited to talk with kids about my experience with writing and publishing books that I just had to share.

I know most people who read this blog will not be able to come to this school, or any of the school visits I get to be a part of, so I thought I’d share a little bit of what I will be talking about while I’m there. There’s a lot more to my speech along with some questions for the kids, but I thought y’all might like this little glimpse into my life and how I became an author.

IMG_8873

My sister after she won NaNoWriMo for the 1st time

How I Became An Author

When I was younger I always loved to make up stories by playing pretend games. I’d imagine that my backyard was the Oregon Trail and I’d pull my little wagon around it like I was really traveling to Oregon. I’d pretend I was a horse or a dog with my sister and I’d pretend I was a mermaid or a dolphin while I was in the pool. But as I got older, I started to write down some of the stories I imagined. And I always wanted to make up new ones. I got into the habit of trying to think up a good story whenever I went to bed and hoping that I would end up dreaming about it. That didn’t work very often, but one time, when I was trying to fall asleep, I started thinking up a really great story. Usually if I liked the story enough I would try to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it, but this story was so good, I didn’t want to just write it down, I wanted to share it. So I started writing.

Now writing down the basic plot points of a story is one thing, and actually writing out the dialogue and what the characters do and say is very different. I worked really hard on making my story a reality for a few months, but eventually I started focusing on other things, like school and friends. By the time I went to college my idea of finishing this story and actually publishing a book was still something I thought would be cool, but I didn’t know if I ever would.

Then when I was a senior in college my sister did something amazing, and well it kind of brought out my competitive nature. She decided to do NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month and write 50,000 words in one month. I didn’t think she could do it, I mean I had been working on my book for years and hadn’t written that much. But she did it, she wrote a whole book in one month. And I decided, if my little sister can do this, I can do this. So I set to writing my book and actually finishing it. And the next year when she decided to do NaNoWriMo again, I joined her and wrote the first draft for my sequel.

And that’s how this book got it’s beginning, from a little bit of competition.

 

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Release Date

BookCoverPreview1

Hey everyone, I’m trying to be more intentional about my writing. So all of you can hold me accountable. The next book in my Finding Home series is almost done. I’m setting the Release Date for June 30th 2016! If you read the first book: The Orphan’s Journey, then you’ll like the continuation of the story in: The Lost Brother.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me through this long process of writing and editing. I hope y’all enjoy the new book! And as a gift to you, here is a sneak peek of the newly revised 1st Chapter!

 

Chapter 1

A Lost Home

“The rich rule over the poor,

and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Proverbs 22:7

The small town of Hampton was full of life as the salty air rushed by in the afternoon breeze. The stalls of vendors reeked of fish and mollusks from the day’s catch. The sounds of haggling mixed with the shouts of children who were playing hide and seek amongst the crowd.

War, it would seem, could not touch this place. This rural fishing community with its squat little cottages spread across the rolling hills was too far removed from the rest of the country to get caught up in any of its recent excitement.

Unlike the other children playing hide and seek, Josiah was neither smiling nor laughing. He set the heavy water bucket down for a minute to catch his breath. It was a long climb from the village well back to the breezy hillside where he now lived. He studied the imposing stone structure for a minute, so different from the home he had grown up in. He tried to remember instead the old cottage, with the kitchen fire bringing warmth and light to the whole family. He could still picture each of his brothers’ smiling faces. That’s how he remembered them; always smiling, always having fun.

Josiah shook the image from his head and found himself staring at the full bucket. No, I shouldn’t be thinking about them. Everyone says I can’t change what happened and I should be thankful for what I have. A sigh escaped his lips. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful for the family that had taken him in, now that he was an orphan, but still things would never be the same.

“Josiah? Are you going to dawdle all day or are you going to fetch me that water?” a loud voice echoed down to him.

“Coming!” Josiah replied, trying to sound respectful. He flexed his fingers and again took hold of the rough handle.

The large woman with dark brown eyes who met him at the door could have been pleasant to look at if she wasn’t constantly frowning. She glared down at Josiah with her permanent frown planted squarely on her fat face. She crossed her arms, “What took you so long? A grumpy old donkey could move faster than you.”

Josiah’s eyes fell to the ground. “Sorry, Margaret.”

“It’s Lady Margaret to you!” she said with a huff. “How many times do I have to remind you? You’re such a dunce. Now hand over that water bucket.”

Josiah handed the bucket to the waiting servant and reluctantly took another empty bucket from the floor. “Yes, Lady Margaret.”

“Now be quick with this one. No more lollygagging, got it?”

Josiah nodded and turned back down the large hill. He hurried along, willing his legs to move faster than he felt was possible.

An hour later, Lady Margaret, finally satisfied with the amount of water Josiah had collected, released him from his chores. “I shall be indisposed for an hour, but I expect you to be back here when I am through. Do you understand?”

Josiah nodded. “Yes, Lady Margaret.”

“Good.” Lady Margaret shut the door.

Josiah sighed and turned to face the sea. This was his favorite time. Lady Margaret, for all her faults, also had a love for long baths that allowed Josiah a precious hour of freedom. He skipped down the hill’s worn path toward his best friend’s home.

A sturdy little cottage covered with flowers came into view. The woman of the house loved to garden, and the sweet scents overpowered the salty sea air around the home. Vines covered with little purple flowers climbed all over the stone walls, while window boxes overflowed with yellow and pink blossoms.

Josiah smiled to himself and called out, “Alex?”

A woman’s thin face popped out from behind a bush teeming with little pink flowers. “He’ll be out in a minute Josiah. He’s washing the dishes for me.”

Josiah grinned back at the woman’s kind face. “You need any help Holly?”

Thin strands of her brown hair swayed as Holly shook her head. “Not today. I’m almost done.”

Josiah nodded and began to wander through the various flowers while he waited. As he watched the bees hum from one bloom to the next, he finally felt a sense of peace. Compared to the dark stone mansion where he now lived, this place felt like heaven. Why couldn’t Alex’s family have adopted me? We’re already like brothers.

Josiah sighed because he knew why. Though Alex’s family was generous, there was a limit to the help they could give. They could barely keep up with feeding their own children. In comparison, Lady Margaret and Lord Gregory had a surplus and no children to care for. Even though Josiah felt more like a servant than a son in their home, he couldn’t complain. He had food to eat, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over his head.

“Hey Josiah!”

Josiah turned to see Alex wipe a wad of soap bubbles out of his tangled brown hair. “You done with soap duty?”

“Yeah, you done with bucket duty?”

Josiah rubbed his calloused hands. “Yeah, for today anyway.”

“You want to go to the beach?”

“Actually, I was thinking of… you know.”

Alex shrugged. “Sure, we can go there today.”

“Well let’s go then! I only have an hour you know,” Josiah said as he sprinted toward an old dirt path.

Alex picked up a smooth walking stick and swung it over his head. “I’ll get ye yet ya slippery eel!”

“You’ll have to catch me first!” Josiah called over his shoulder. He darted through the forest, ducking under low limbs and jumping over thick tree roots like a wild animal. Then he dived behind a bush and waited for Alex to catch up.

Five minutes later Alex came up the path poking his stick into several bushes. He stopped and called out, “Alright, you can stop hiding now Josiah. I’m tired of this game.”

Josiah grinned as he watched Alex and mimicked a bird’s sharp whistle.

Alex sat down and crossed his arms. “I’m not playing anymore Josiah. You always win.” He waited for an answer and poked his long stick into the thick foliage. “At least give me a hint!” Alex searched a bit longer than threw his stick down. “Ugh, you’re no fun. I’m going home.”

Josiah suddenly sprang out of the bush he had been hiding in and tackled Alex to the ground. “Got you!” he said triumphantly.

Alex pushed him off. “No fair! You didn’t even give me a hint that time.”

Josiah sat up with a grin. “Sure I did. Didn’t you hear the bird calls?”

Alex tilted his head to the side. “That was you?”

Josiah winked.

“It’s not fair,” Alex pouted. “I never got special lessons about being quiet in the woods.”

Josiah frowned. “Yeah, well, just be glad it wasn’t you.”

“Come on, tell me about it.”

Josiah shook his head to dislodge the image that had popped into his brain of a man with feathers sticking out of his dark hair.

“Please,” Alex whined.

“Cut it out Alex. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“But I’m your best friend! You can share your secrets with me.”

Josiah stood up with a grunt. “Come on, let’s go to the house, I don’t have much time left.”

Alex got up reluctantly.

The two boys scurried through the woods and soon broke into a clearing. They raced up the familiar path that led to a well-worn cottage in the distance.

“Are you still planning on living here one day?” Alex asked.

“Of course, we’re going to be neighbors. I’ll live in my cottage, and we’ll build you another one right… there.” Josiah pointed to an uncommon spot of level ground.

“I wish you could live here now,” Alex sighed. “Then we could play all the time… like before.”

“Like when we were kids.”

“What are you talking about? We’re both ten. We are kids,” Alex said, a bit confused. Then he laughed. “Except when I’m doing dishes, then I’m just like a real adult.”

Josiah shook his head and laughed. “Yeah, you’re a real grown up now.”

Alex hit Josiah in the stomach playfully. “Hey, it’s a start.”

“Yeah well, don’t be in a hurry. Being an adult isn’t that great. Trust me.”

Alex stared at his friend with concern. “What do you mean?”

“Never mind.”

“One of these days Josiah, you’re going to tell me what happened to you.”

Josiah studied the ground and kept silent.

Alex sat down with a huff and stared out at the ocean. “It is a nice view though. I can see why you like it up here.”

Josiah nodded, but he turned to look at the cottage instead. He closed his eyes and imagined his family standing there with him.

“Guess you have to go home now,” Alex muttered.

Josiah’s eyes snapped open and he glanced at where the sun was in the sky. “Oh no, I’m going to be late,” he groaned.

“Well, guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Alex said as he stood up and wiped dirt off his hands and onto his pants.

Josiah nodded glumly but didn’t move; he didn’t want his hour of bliss to end.

Alex headed for the worn path that led to his home and turned to wave. “You better hurry Josiah!” he called.

Josiah lifted his hand in farewell and watched as his friend disappeared into the trees. “Bye,” he said under his breath. He took one last look at the snug little cottage then took off at a sprint, heading for the cold stone manor that he now reluctantly called home. He arrived out of breath and as he suspected, late. He could hear Lady Margaret mumbling to herself through the door. He couldn’t make out the words, but she sounded irritated. Part of Josiah wanted to turn and run away. I could just leave, never look back. I could just live on my own…. But something held him there, for though the situation was almost unbearable, being alone seemed far worse.

“I can hear you breathing,” Lady Margaret said loudly. “Get in here now!”

“Too late now,” Josiah muttered to himself. He pulled the door open and walked into the dimly-lit manor.

“You’re late,” Lady Margaret said with quiet impatience.

“Sorry,” Josiah mumbled.

“You don’t even have an excuse this time?”

Josiah shook his head.

“Gregory is not going to like this.”

Josiah cringed.

Lady Margaret smiled with satisfaction. “Go wash up now, dinner is ready.”

Josiah nodded and sulked over to the washbasin. He rinsed his hands slowly, his mind racing, wondering which punishment Lord Gregory would inflict on him this evening.

Just then, Gregory’s oversized body squeezed in through the door. “Ah, it’s good to come home to a warm meal,” he said happily. “What’s this I smell Margaret? Could it be lamb?”

Margaret laughed. “No, guess again.”

Gregory’s heavy footsteps caused the stone walls to echo with loud thumps as he made his way to the table.

Josiah frowned at the large muddy tracks scarring the freshly polished floor. Great, guess my punishment will be cleaning that floor again.

Gregory inhaled deeply, moving the thick brown hairs of his mustache. “Hmm, perhaps venison is our treat of the evening.”

Margaret shook her head. “Come now, stop being so extravagant.”

Gregory frowned and rubbed his scruffy beard. “We’re not having chicken again, are we?”

Margaret nodded. “Unfortunately, when we have more mouths to feed the delicacies give way to the practical.” She eyed Josiah accusingly.

Josiah avoided her gaze and took his seat. It’s not like I wanted you to take me in either.

Gregory sighed. “I was hoping for something else, but at least it’s not fish.” As he sat at the head of the table, his massive chair gave a groan.

A servant rushed in with a platter of steaming chicken and another followed with a platter of rolls. The two servants rushed in and out of the kitchen, carrying dish after dish of delectable food.

Gregory began tearing into a chicken leg and several rolls before the whole meal was even on the table.

Margaret sat delicately in her own chair and began picking out several choice berries and a slice of chicken breast.

Josiah sat still as a statue, waiting for them both to begin eating. He had come to the understanding that the more his presence went unnoticed, the better. Once the two had finished serving themselves, he grabbed a few leftovers and nibbled at them quietly.

As Gregory started on his second helping of food, Margaret cleared her throat.

Gregory ignored her as he kept eating.

A servant refilled Margaret’s glass, but she cleared her throat again, more loudly this time. When her husband still ignored her, she raised her voice. “Gregory.”

Gregory made eye contact but refused to stop eating.

“We’ve had another unfortunate mistake that needs correcting.”

Gregory rolled his eyes and swallowed. “What is it this time?” he moaned.

Margaret locked eyes on Josiah. “Our dear little boy has refused to follow directions again. He needs to be disciplined.”

Gregory glanced at Josiah with annoyance. “Can’t you go one day without getting in trouble?”

Josiah’s eyes dropped to his plate.

“Apparently not,” Margaret said with distaste. “It’s a pity that we have to deal with all his childishness. His parents really should have done a better job of raising him.”

Josiah glanced up at Lady Margaret, stunned. He felt like crying and yelling in rage at the same time, but nothing came out of his dry throat.

“Margaret,” Gregory said calmly. “There’s no need to bring that up. It’s not like he could help it.”

Margaret sniffed and went back to cutting her chicken into bite-sized pieces. “Well, he still needs to be punished. I won’t allow his uncouth behavior in my house.”

“Fine,” Gregory said quietly. “Then he won’t sleep in your house tonight, how’s that?”

Margaret gave a quick nod of approval and went back to eating.

Josiah glanced up at Lord Gregory. “So where will I sleep tonight?”

Gregory’s face softened; he almost looked apologetic. “In the barn.”

Josiah stared back at his plate of food.

“What do you say?” Margaret said with an air of satisfaction.

“Yes, sir,” Josiah said with as little emotion as possible.

* * * * *

Josiah stepped into the weather-beaten barn. The small lantern in his hand illuminated the damp quarters, revealing several stalls where quiet animals stood staring back at him. It was more unnerving in the dark than it ever was when he had to feed the animals in the light of day. Josiah clung to the thick blanket in his other hand and took a deep breath. “Alright, nothing to be afraid of in here,” he tried to reassure himself.

The wooden panels creaked as a sharp gust of wind came in from the sea. Little streams of air whistled through the cracks in the siding.

Josiah gulped and took another step inside. He jumped as the wind slammed the door shut behind him. Calm down. It’s just wind, it can’t hurt me. He settled down on the damp hay of an empty stall and snuggled in his thick blanket. Josiah wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall asleep in the dark barn, but he tried to get comfortable anyway.

* * * * *

Josiah’s was running through the forest but his legs began to give out. Then he stumbled over a rock and tumbled into a shallow creek bed. He landed on his back and before he knew it, a boot had pinned him to the soft wet ground. Josiah stared helplessly at Harold’s terrifying face, and knew nothing he could say would deter this monster.

“You’ve done it now,” Harold gloated. “I gave you a chance, you know I did. But now it’s too late. I really shouldn’t have let you live this long.”

Josiah closed his eyes.

Suddenly the pressure of Harold’s boot lessened. “What the?”

A twang reverberated through the forest, and Josiah opened his eyes to see Harold with an arrow sticking out of his chest.

Harold stood with a surprised look on his face for a second and without another word tumbled over, dead.

Josiah was too stunned to move, he stared at the arrow, then slowly sat up and looked around the woods frantically.

It wasn’t until the stranger was ten feet away that Josiah saw him. He was a young man who wore odd clothing and had two feathers sticking out of his dark brown hair. He approached Josiah slowly, barely making a sound. He was neither smiling nor frowning but was studying Josiah with keen inquisitive eyes.

* * * * *

Josiah’s heart was pounding as he opened his eyes. He sat up and looked around the shabby barn. It was just a dream, it’s not real. He tried to breathe slowly. It was just another stupid nightmare. Gradually his heart’s quick beats began to slow. He lay back down and tried to get comfortable but he couldn’t fall asleep. So he did what he always did; he started picturing his father, then his mother, and proceeded to each of his brothers, finally ending on the one person who wasn’t dead, but had left him anyway. He visualized the man with the feathers again. Why? Why did you leave me here? Why does everyone have to leave me?    

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Sneak Peek: Chapter 1 of The Lost Brother

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’ve been editing up a storm this past month and I’m about to print my first test copy of my sequel novel Finding Home: The Lost Brother. Since it’s Christmas time, I thought I’d post the whole first chapter for y’all to read. So enjoy! Merry Christmas! And feel free to leave comments if you’d like to.

 

DSC01784

A Lost Home

“The rich rule over the poor,

and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Proverbs 22:7

The small town of Hampton was full of life as the salty air rushed swiftly by in the afternoon breeze. The stalls of vendors reeked with fish and mollusks. Even the children playing hide and seek amongst the crowd wore smiles of joy. War, it would seem, could not touch this place or leave any lasting marks on the landscape.

However, for young Josiah, life was not well. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful for the family that had taken him in, now that he was an orphan, but still things would never be the same. Josiah set the heavy water bucket down for a minute to catch his breath. It was a long climb from the village well back to the breezy hillside where he now lived. He studied the imposing stone structure for a minute, so different from the home he had grown up in. He tried to picture the old cottage, with the kitchen fire bringing warmth and light to the whole family. He could still picture each of his brothers smiling faces. That’s how he remembered them, always smiling, always having fun.

Josiah had been completely content as a child, ignorant of his parent’s money problems, and constantly babied by his mother, he was after all the youngest. Although he was inevitably picked on by his older siblings, life had seemed good to him; that was until things turned for the worse.

He stared at the full bucket and sighed. It was no good brooding on the past. He had been told over and over that he couldn’t change what had happened and that he should be thankful for his life.

“Josiah? Are you going to dawdle all day or are you going to fetch me that water?” a loud voice echoed down to him.

“Coming!” Josiah replied, trying to sound respectful. He flexed his fingers and again took hold of the rough handle.

The large woman with dark brown eyes that met him at the door could have been pleasant to look at if she wasn’t constantly frowning. She glared down at Josiah with her permanent frown planted squarely on her face. Then to make things worse she crossed her arms, “What took you so long? A grumpy old donkey could move faster than you.”

Josiah’s eyes fell to the ground, “Sorry Margaret.”

“It’s Lady Margaret to you!” the lady said with a huff. “How many times do I have to remind you? You’re such a dunce. Now give me that water bucket.”

Josiah handed the bucket to her, and reluctantly took another empty bucket from her outstretched hand. “Yes Lady Margaret.”

“Now be quick with this one, no more lollygagging, got it?”

Josiah nodded, and turned back down the large hill. He plodded along, willing his legs to move faster than he felt possible.

An hour later, Lady Margaret finally felt satisfied with the amount of water Josiah had collected and released him from his chores. “I shall be indisposed for an hour, but I expect you to be back here when I am through. Do you understand?”

Josiah nodded, “Yes Lady Margaret.”

“Good.” With that Lady Margaret shut the door curtly.

Josiah sighed and turned to face the sea. This was his favorite time. Lady Margaret for all her faults also had a love for long baths that allowed Josiah a precious hour of freedom. He skipped down the hill’s worn path towards his best friend’s home.

A sturdy little cottage, covered with flowers came into view. The woman of the house loved flowers, and so the sweet scents overpowered the salty sea air around the home. Vines covered with little purple flowers climbed all over the stone walls, while window boxes overflowed with yellow and pink blossoms. Even the ground seemed to explode with growth. No matter what season, some kind of flower was always in bloom at this home, even if only in the windowsill while a wintry storm blew outside.

Josiah smiled to himself and called out, “Alex?”

A woman’s face popped out from behind a bush teeming with little pink flowers, “He’ll be out in a minute Josiah. He’s washing the dishes for me.”

Josiah nodded and smiled back at the woman’s kind face. “You need any help?”

Thin strands of her brown hair swayed as she shook her head, “Not today, I’m almost done.”

Josiah nodded and began to wander through the various flowers while he waited. As he watched the bees hum from one bloom to the next, he finally felt a sense of peace. Compared to the dark stone mansion where he now lived, this place felt like heaven. Why couldn’t Alex’s family have adopted me? We’re already like brothers. Josiah sighed because he knew why. Though Alex’s family was generous, there was a limit to the help they could give. They were not well-off, and could barely keep up with feeding their own children. In comparison Lady Margaret and Lord Gregory had a surplus, and no children to care for. Even though Josiah felt more like a servant than a son in their home, he couldn’t complain. He had food to eat, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over his head.

“Hey Josiah!” Alex said excitedly.

Josiah turned to his see his friend wipe a wad of soap bubbles out of his tangled brown hair, “You done with soap duty?”

“Yeah, you done with bucket duty?”

Josiah rubbed his calloused hands, “Yeah, for today anyway.”

“You want to play at the beach?”

“Actually, I was thinking of… you know.”

Alex shrugged, “Sure, we can play there today.”

“Well let’s go then, I only have an hour you know,” Josiah said as he sprinted towards an old dirt path.

Alex picked up a smooth walking stick and swung it over his head, “I’ll get ye yet ya slippery eel!”

“You’ll have to catch me first!” Josiah called over his shoulder. He darted through the forest, slipping under low limps and over thick tree roots like a wild animal.

Five minutes later Alex called out, “Alright, you can stop hiding now Josiah. I’m tired of this game.”

No one answered, just the call of birds echoed under the green canopy.

Alex sat down and crossed his arms, “I’m not playing anymore Josiah. You always win.” Alex waited for an answer, and still there was nothing. “At least give me a hint!” Alex searched the brush, poking his long stick into the thick foliage. “Uhgg, you’re no fun. I’m going home.”

Josiah suddenly sprang out of a bush and tackled Alex to the ground. “Got you!” he said triumphantly.

Alex pushed his friend off, “No fair, you didn’t even give me a hint that time.”

Josiah sat up with a grin, “Sure I did; didn’t you hear the bird calls?”

Alex tilted his head to the side, “That was you?”

Josiah winked.

“It’s not fair,” Alex pouted. I never got special lessons about being quiet in the woods.”

Josiah frowned, “Yeah, well just be glad it wasn’t you.”

“Come on, tell me about it.”

Josiah shook his head.

“Please,” Alex whined.

“Cut it out Alex, I don’t want to talk about it.”

Alex continued pouting, “But I’m your best friend! You can share your secrets with me.”

Josiah stood up with a grunt, “Come on, let’s go to the house, I don’t have much time left.”

Alex got up reluctantly.

The two boys scurried through the woods and soon broke into a clearing. They returned to the path that led to a well-worn cottage in the distance.

“Are you still planning on living here one day?” Alex asked.

“Of course, we’re going to be neighbors. I’ll live in my cottage, and we’ll build you another one right… there.” Josiah pointed to an uncommon spot of level ground.

“I wish you could live here now,” Alex sighed. “Then we could play all the time… like before.”

“Like when we were kids.”

“What are you talking about? We are kids,” Alex said a bit confused. Then he laughed, “Except when I’m doing dishes, then I’m just like a real adult.”

Josiah shook his head and laughed, “Yeah, you’re a real grown up now.”

Alex hit Josiah in the stomach playfully, “Hey, it’s a start.”

“Yeah, well don’t be in a hurry, being an adult isn’t that great, trust me.”

Alex stared at his friend with concern, “What do you mean?”

“Never mind.”

“One of these days Josiah, you’re going to tell me what happened to you.”

Josiah studied the ground and kept silent.

Alex sat down with a huff and stared out at the ocean, “It is a nice view though; I can see why you like it up here.”

Josiah nodded, but he turned to look at the cottage instead. He closed his eyes and imagined his family standing there with him.

“Guess you have to go home now,” Alex muttered.

Josiah’s eyes snapped open and he glanced at where the sun was in the sky. “Yeah,” he mumbled.

“Well, guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” Alex said as he stood up and wiped the dirt off his hands and onto his pants.

Josiah nodded glumly, not wanting his hour of bliss to end.

Alex headed for the worn path that led to his home and turned to wave. “Bye Josiah,” he called.

Josiah lifted his hand in farewell and watched as his friend disappeared into the trees. “Bye,” he said under his breath. He took one last look at the snug little cottage then took off at a sprint heading for the cold stone structure that he now reluctantly called home. He arrived out of breath and even though he had run the whole way, he was still late. Through the door he could hear Lady Margaret mumbling to herself. He couldn’t make out the words, but she sounded irritated. Part of Josiah wanted to turn and run away. I could just leave, never look back. I could just live on my own…. But something held him there.

“I can hear you breathing,” Lady Margaret said loudly. “Get in here now!”

“Too late now,” Josiah mumbled to himself. He pulled the door open and walked into the poorly lit structure.

“You’re late,” Lady Margaret said with quiet impatience.

“Sorry,” Josiah mumbled.

“You don’t even have an excuse this time?” Lady Margaret said disappointedly.

Josiah shook his head.

“Gregory is not going to like this,” Lady Margaret said matter-of-factly.

Josiah cringed.

Lady Margaret smiled, pleased that her comment had the desired effect. “Go wash up now, dinner is ready.”

Josiah nodded and sulked over to the washbasin. He rinsed his hands slowly, his mind racing with which punishment Lord Gregory would inflict on him this evening.

Just then Gregory’s oversized body walked in through the door. “Ah, it’s good to come home to a warm meal,” he said happily. “What’s this I smell Margaret? Could it be lamb?”

Margaret laughed, “No, guess again.”

Gregory’s heavy footsteps caused the stone walls to echo with loud thumps as he made his way to the table.

Josiah frowned at the large muddy tracks scaring the freshly polished floor that Gregory left in his wake. Great, guess my punishment will be cleaning that floor… again.

      Gregory inhaled deeply, moving the thick brown hairs of his mustache. “Hmm, perhaps venison is our treat of the evening.”

Margaret shook her head. “Come now, stop being so extravagant.”

Gregory frowned and rubbed his scruffy beard, “We’re not having chicken again, are we?”

Margaret nodded, “Unfortunately when we have more mouths to feed, the delicacies give way to the practical.” She eyed Josiah accusingly.

Josiah avoided her gaze and took his seat. It’s not like I wanted you to take me in either.

      Gregory sighed, “I was hoping for something else… but at least it’s not fish.” He sat with a loud thump in his massive chair at the head of the table.

“True,” Margaret said.

“Well, come now, let’s eat,” Gregory said.

A servant rushed in with a platter of steaming chicken, and another followed with a platter of rolls. The two servants rushed in and out of the kitchen, carrying dish after dish of steaming food.

Gregory waited for no one and began tearing into a chicken leg and several rolls before the whole meal was even on the table.

Margaret sat delicately in her own chair and began picking out several choice pieces of food.

Josiah sat quietly, waiting for them both to begin eating. He had come to the understanding that the more his presence went unknown, the better. Once the two had finished serving themselves, he grabbed a few leftovers and nibbled at them quietly.

When Gregory was starting on his second helping of food, Margaret cleared her throat.

Gregory ignored her as he kept eating.

A servant refilled Margaret’s glass, but she cleared her throat again, more loudly this time. When her husband still ignored her, she finally sighed, “Gregory.”

Gregory made eye contact, but refused to stop eating.

“We’ve had another unfortunate mistake that needs correcting.”

Gregory rolled his eyes and swallowed. “What is it this time?” he moaned.

Margaret locked eyes on Josiah, “Our dear little boy has refused to follow directions again. He needs to be disciplined.”

Gregory glanced at Josiah with annoyance, “Really? Can’t you go one day without getting in trouble?”

Josiah’s eyes dropped to his plate.

“Apparently not,” Margaret said with distaste. “It’s a pity that we have to deal with all his childishness. His parents really should have done a better job of raising him.”

Josiah glanced up at Lady Margaret, stunned. He felt like crying and yelling in rage at the same time, but nothing came out of his dry throat.

“Margaret,” Gregory said calmly. “There’s no need to bring that up. It’s not like he could help it.”

Margaret sniffed, and went back to cutting her chicken into bite sized pieces. “Well he still needs to be punished. I won’t allow his gruesome behavior in my house.”

“Fine,” Gregory said quietly. “Then he won’t sleep in your house tonight, how’s that?”

Margaret gave a quick nod of approval and went back to eating.

Josiah glanced up at Lord Gregory, “So where will I sleep tonight?”

Gregory’s face softened, he almost looked apologetic, “In the barn.”

Josiah stared back at his plate of food.

“What do you say?” Margaret said with an air of satisfaction.

“Yes sir,” Josiah said quietly.

* * * * *

Josiah stepped into the weather-beaten barn. The small lantern in his hand illuminated a damp structure with several stalls where quiet animals stood staring back at him. It was more unnerving in the dark than it ever was when he had to feed the animals in the light of day. Josiah clung to the thick blanket in his other hand and took a deep breath. “Alright, nothing to be afraid of in here,” he tried to reassure himself.

The wooden panels creaked as a sharp gust of wind came in from the sea. Little streams of air whistled through the cracks in the siding.

Josiah gulped and took another step inside. He jumped as the wind slammed the door shut behind him. “Calm down,” he told himself quietly. “It’s just wind, it can’t hurt me. He settled down on the damp hay of an empty stall and snuggled in his thick blanket. Josiah wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall asleep in the dark barn, but he tried to get comfortable all the same. It’s nothing like sleeping on the hard ground, and I’ve done that plenty of times….

* * * * *

“Josiah? Come on, we’re moving on, you can’t sleep anymore.”

Josiah saw his father leaning over him. He yawned and wiped his eyes, “Where’d our roof go?” he asked confused.

His father laughed, “We don’t have a roof out here. We’re not at our cottage, remember?”

Josiah stared up at the trees, “Oh yeah. When will we get to go back?”

“Soon, very soon…. Come on now, up you go.”

Josiah sat up and looked around at his brothers also stirring out of their slumbers. He tried to focus on their faces, but they all looked fuzzy, and the harder he looked, the more blurred they became. Soon everything around him was nothing but a haze of colors.

* * * * *

Josiah opened his eyes, everything was dark. “Father?” he whispered.

Something stirred next to him.

Josiah turned and his eyes adjusted to find a chicken snuggled up next to him. “Ah!” he yelped as he jumped up.

The chicken clucked and flapped away.

Josiah sat back down with a sigh, “It was just a dream.”

     

 

 

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Sneak Peek #4

Finding Home

I haven’t posted a sneak peek for my upcoming book Finding Home: The Lost Brother in some time, so I thought it was time to throw another out there. This section gives a peek into the past but from a new perspective. If you haven’t read the first book, Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey then this will just be a look into what Josiah has gone through. I hope you enjoy it either way. And if this gets you interested in the first book, you can find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Home-Orphans-Lydia-Hill/dp/1490556427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436212902&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+home+the+orphan%27s+journey&pebp=1436212902963&perid=1KRF1D6XS0B1DA0XBG9E

Enjoy!

* * * * *

The wagon creaked as it bounced over the rocky terrain. Tall rocky cliffs rose beside the road’s edge. Josiah sat next to his brother, Joshua in the wagon glancing up at the cliffs. Suddenly out of the corner of his eye, a dark object moved but when Josiah focused on the spot, nothing was there. Josiah shivered.

Joshua turned to look at him, “What’s wrong Josiah?”

“Nothing… my eyes are playing tricks on me.”

Joshua glanced up at the cliff tops and frowned. “Josiah, I want you to go to the back of the cart.”

“Why?”

“Just do it, hide in the silk linens and don’t come out till I say so.”

Josiah felt another shiver run down his back, but he obeyed. After maneuvering around his other brothers to the back of the wagon, he curled up in a corner and pulled one of the silk linens over his head.

It was stuffy under the linens and Josiah began to sweat. The clip clop of the horses’ hooves continued steadily echoing off the cliff walls. Josiah was beginning to wonder if Joshua was playing a prank on him, when he heard his father say, “Hurry up boys, I want to get through here as quick as possible.” The wagon bounced as the speed increased. Josiah’s heart began to beat faster, as his father yelled “Run” and the wagon jolted with the increased speed. Then suddenly it stopped.

Muffled voices suddenly turned to yells and screams. Josiah’s heart beat wildly but he stayed frozen. “Joshua said to stay hidden,” Josiah reminded himself. He closed his eyes tightly, blocking out the noises and praying that the nightmare would end.

After what seemed an eternity, a thick silence was all that remained. Josiah waited and waited but no one came to tell him everything was alright. He was just thinking of peeking out of his hiding place when he heard steps and unfamiliar voices approaching. He held his breath and waited.

Suddenly the satin sheet was pulled back to reveal a rough looking man. He stared down at the frightened Josiah. “What we got here?” the man said with a sneer.

Josiah was too terrified to say a word, he just sat there paralyzed.

Other men soon gathered around the wagon with questions and comments of their own.

“What is it?” one asked as he craned his neck.

“It’s just a kid,” one of the taller men said.

“Should we kill him?” the man who had made the discovery asked gruffly.

“We can’t kill him, look at him,” the tall man replied.

“Well what do we do with him then?” the short man asked.

“Just leave him here,” the gruff man replied.

“But he could die out here on his own,” the tall man said defensively. “Besides, he knows what we look like now, what if he told someone about us, then we’d be done for.”

“You don’t know that,” the gruff man said.

“We could take him with us,” the tall man suggested.

“Yeah, I’ve always wanted a servant,” the short man agreed.

“Well I ain’t taking care of him,” the gruff man replied with a huff. He picked up the bundle of silks, “Fight over him if you want, I just want the loot.”

A couple men started arguing with him about the silks, but the thunder of hooves in the distance cut short their argument.

“Someone’s coming,” the tall man said anxiously. “Let’s get out of here!”

Josiah’s brain finally switched out of frozen mode as he realized his chance to save himself. He leapt off the wagon and darted down the road towards the sound of approaching riders.

“Grab him!” the rough man yelled.

Josiah didn’t get far, as soon as he saw the carnage of the fight his legs turned to jelly. “Papa,” he started crying.

The tall man grabbed Josiah’s arm tightly, and lifted him to his feet. “Come on kid, you’re coming with me.”

* * * * *

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Sneak Peek #3

I haven’t posted any sneak peeks for my new novel “Finding Home: The Lost Brother” in quite awhile, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite moments from the new book. If you haven’t already read them, there are two other sneak peeks: https://lydiamhill.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/another-sneak-peek/  and  https://lydiamhill.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/a-sneak-peek/
You should probably read them first, so this scene will make more sense. And if you haven’t read the first book in the series yet “Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey,” check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Home-Orphans-Lydia-Hill/dp/1490556427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430152065&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+home+the+orphan%27s+journey

And now without further ado, a sneak peek:

Finding Home
Caleb sighed audibly. “I hope this doesn’t take too long.”

Adrian shrugged and turned towards the house.

Caleb reluctantly followed Adrian inside the worn structure. “You know we can’t wait on that kid too long, only a few minutes.”

Adrian sighed, “I know.” He began to study the home’s interior quietly. He touched an old wooden-framed bed and the stones of the soot-filled fireplace.

Caleb looked at the poorly furnished home and wondered what was so special about it. He looked at Adrian for some kind of clue. After seeing Adrian smile at odd objects, like spoons and a wooden sword, Caleb spoke up. “This is where you grew up, isn’t it?”

Adrian nodded as he held a worn bowl in his hand. He glanced around the small room. “It hasn’t changed much.” He set down the bowl.

Caleb nodded but didn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally he broke the silence, “I’m sorry Adrian.”

Adrian turned to look at Caleb. “What for?” he asked, confused.

“I didn’t realize this was your home…. I shouldn’t have pushed you to leave. I know it can be hard… to say goodbye.”

“That’s alright Caleb, you didn’t know.”

Caleb studied Adrian’s face. “So are you alright?”

Adrian nodded. “Yes, I just…” he trailed off.

Caleb waited.

“I just don’t want to forget them…. With all the running around, getting ready for the coronation, and clearing the land of any remaining Unguls, I’ve felt like I’m losing them again… it’s like I don’t have a family.”

Caleb waited for a minute, then hesitantly said, “But you do have a family; King Richard.”

Adrian smiled. “Yes, I know. And I’m thankful for that… but it’s different. I don’t know. Does this make sense at all?”

Caleb shrugged his shoulders. “Makes sense to me. When you were growing up you had a father, a mother, several brothers… wait did you have a sister?”

Adrian laughed, “No, I did not. Serina says that’s why I have horrible table manners.”

Caleb nodded, then continued, “So you had this big family, and now you just have Richard. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Richard, but he is just one man. I think it’s understandable for you to feel like you’ve lost your family.”

Adrian nodded. “Thank you Doctor Caleb. Now what do I do about it?”

Caleb shrugged. “Not a clue. But I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

Adrian shook his head and laughed. “Thanks Caleb.”

Caleb stepped back outside, “You know everyone’s waiting on us.”

Adrian sighed as he followed his friend, “Yeah I know. I just don’t want to break a promise.”

Caleb nodded. “I understand… but it is my job to get you to the coronation and… well we are running out of time.” He climbed onto his mount and looked expectantly at Adrian.

Adrian nodded, “You’re probably right. He walked over to Midnight and prepared to hop on.

“Wait!” Alex’s voice called from down the hill.

Adrian stopped and smiled up at Caleb, “Right on time.”

Caleb rolled his eyes, “I guess we can wait a few more minutes.”

Alex soon crested the top of the hill with another boy right beside him.

Josiah suddenly stopped in his tracks.

Adrian too froze in place.

Alex glanced from one to the other with a huge smile plastered on his face. “Surprise!” he yelled.

Caleb looked on confused. “Adrian?” he said quietly.

Adrian paid no attention to Caleb’s words, “Josiah?” he said so quietly, it might have been only to himself.

Josiah blinked and rubbed his eyes, making sure what he was seeing wasn’t one of his imaginations. But when he looked again, Ben was still standing there, staring back at him. Suddenly the world melted away, and Josiah was running.

Adrian could hardly believe what he was seeing, but once Josiah began running towards him, his hesitation disappeared and he ran too.

The two collided in a massive hug, with Adrian lifting Josiah off the ground. They both held onto each other tightly, too overcome with emotion to say a word.

Caleb cleared his throat and turned to Alex, “Who is that?”

Alex giggled, “Isn’t it obvious? They’re brothers.”

Caleb looked back at the two with wonder, “But that’s impossible.”

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Another Sneak Peek

I’ve been getting on a writing kick lately for my next novel, Finding Home: The Lost Brother. I posted part of it several weeks ago. And I thought it would be fun to post another section. The last post was from a new character’s perspective, but I figured anyone who read the first book would enjoy this bit from Adrian’s perspective. So here you go, enjoy!

Finding Home
Adrian surveyed his hometown. Nothing had seemed to change since he had been here last spring with his family. He took a deep breath of the familiar smells.

“You ready to go?” asked an irritated voice.

Adrian smiled. “Really Caleb, we’re not in that big of a rush. We can at least look around for a few minutes.”

Caleb sighed audibly. “But your coronation is in three days and we need to get back.…”

Adrian held up his hand. “I know, I know. Thank you for keeping me on schedule. But… I just need to see it…. It’s been so long.”

Caleb crossed his arms. “We have seen it. Look there it is.” He gestured to the marketplace. “You said we’d only be here a little while, it was just a ‘quick stop.’ Well I don’t see any Unguls, so our job here is done and we need to go.”

Adrian ignored Caleb’s protests and gave Midnight a gentle nudge. “There’s something I have to see first.”

Caleb threw up his arms. “Royalty!”

Adrian suppressed a giggle. “Come on. I promise we can go after this.”

Caleb nodded glumly. “Yes your majesty.” He nudged his own horse and followed Adrian into the crowded streets.

Adrian smiled broadly and waved to a few surprised people that he recognized. After making it through the crowded market, Adrian turned towards a steep hill overlooking the sea.

A worn house, that was really more of a shack, sat atop the hill. It was leaning slightly, as if the years of gusty ocean squalls had finally worn it down.

Adrian slipped off of Midnight’s back and approached the small structure. He stopped and stared silently for several minutes.

Caleb began tapping his foot impatiently.

Suddenly a loud thump from within the house broke the silence.

Curious, Adrian stepped closer and called out “Hello, anyone here?”

A young boy, with flat brown hair atop his head popped out of the door. He looked at Adrian inquisitively then his eyes lit up. “Ben!” he screamed. He pushed the door roughly and ran out to greet his old friend.

Adrian wrapped the boy in a hug and held him tightly. “Alex! My how you’ve grown! How are you?”

Alex grinned, “I’m fine. Where have you been? I thought you were dead!”

Adrian laughed. “Well that’s a long story. I’ve been pretty much everywhere….”

Suddenly Alex shrieked, “Oh you haven’t seen… I can’t believe this! I have to tell him!”

“Slow down Alex,” Adrian said calmly. “What are you talking about?”

Alex grinned with a twinkle in his eye, “It’s a surprise. Just stay here and I’ll bring it to you.”

Adrian laughed, “Alright Alex, I’ll play your game.”

“So you’ll stay here?”

“Yes.”

“Promise?” Alex asked, his face suddenly turning serious.

“I promise,” Adrian agreed.

“Just don’t take too long kid,” Caleb called as Alex sprinted down the hillside.

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A Sneak Peek

So I’ve been working on a sequel to my first novel Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey. And I’m still in the editing phase of the book. But for the few of you out there who have read my first book, I thought you’d appreciate a sample of the next one in the series. This book will be titled Finding Home: The Lost Brother and I hope you enjoy this little sample from Chapter 1. Who knows, I may post a few more sneak peeks before I publish this next book.

Finding Home

Josiah stepped into the weather-beaten barn. The small lantern in his hand illuminated a damp structure with several stalls where quiet animals stood staring back at him. It was more unnerving in the dark than it ever was when he had to feed the animals in the light of day. Josiah clung to the thick blanket in his other hand and took a deep breath. “Alright, nothing to be afraid of in here,” he tried to reassure himself.

The wooden panels creaked as a sharp gust of wind came in from the sea. Little streams of air whistled through the cracks in the siding.

Josiah gulped and took another step inside. He jumped as the wind slammed the door shut behind him. “Calm down,” he said quietly. “It’s just wind, it can’t hurt me. He settled down on the damp hay of an empty stall and snuggled in his thick blanket. Josiah wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall asleep in the dark barn, but he tried to get comfortable all the same. It’s nothing like sleeping on the hard ground, and I’ve done that plenty of times….

* * * * *

“Josiah? Come on, we’re moving on, you can’t sleep anymore.”

Josiah saw his father leaning over him. He yawned and wiped his eyes, “Where’d our roof go?” He asked confusedly.

His father laughed, “We don’t have a roof out here. We’re not at our house, remember?”

Josiah stared up at the trees, “Oh yeah. When will we get to go back?”

“Soon, very soon…. Come on now, up you go.”

Josiah sat up and looked around at his brothers also stirring out of their slumbers. He tried to focus on their faces, but they all looked fuzzy, and the harder he looked, the more blurred they became. Soon everything around him was nothing but a haze of colors.

* * * * *

Josiah opened his eyes, everything was dark. “Father?” he whispered.

Something stirred next to him.

Josiah turned and his eyes adjusted to find a chicken snuggled up next to him. “Ah!” he yelped as he jumped up.

The chicken clucked and flapped away.

Josiah sat back down with a sigh, “It was just a dream.”

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