NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Why you should go to the Library this Summer

It’s officially summer now and I have a bit more free time on my hands so I’ve been going to the library more regularly. I don’t know why, but for a good portion of my life I didn’t take advantage of our public library system here in Texas. But now that I’ve started, I can’t imagine not having it. So if you’re hitting those summer dog days and needing something to do, check out your local library.

Here are my three reasons why you should check it out.

1. Books! Whether it’s rereading one of your favorites or getting into a new series or even getting audio books for those long road trips, you can’t beat the library’s policy of three weeks rental for free. This summer I started reading the Guardians of Ga’hoole Series. I saw the movie years ago and always thought the series sounded interesting, but I finally got around to it with the help of my local library. And I’m currently starting John Flanagan’s Brotherband Series. I loved his Ranger’s Apprentice series and this one is starting off just as exciting.

2. Movies! Did you know you can rent movies at the library? They even have some Blu-ray movies! No download time, no fees, no quick return to the Redbox. You pick your movie for free and can keep it for 3 weeks! There’s no other place that can compete with that. I’ve been finding quite a few movies I’ve always meant to watch and never have. And since Blockbuster is out of business and Netflix has limited options, this seems like the best way to finally watch those old films. They even have newer releases. Although it might be a bit of a wait, so if you really want to see something, you might want to still use Redbox or another movie watching option. And you should always check the DVD’s before you check out, some have smudges and scratches and I’ve had trouble with a few. But for the most part, this is an excellent way to get some summer entertainment.

3. Programs! Now I don’t really get involved with these, I’d rather just get my books and movies and be gone. But libraries always have cool things going on, like Summer Reading Challenges where you can earn a free book, or events for kids and parents. So if you need some free entertainment, check it out.

And lastly, since I’m talking about libraries, I want to give a quick announcement. As many of you know, I have published 2 youth adventure books in my Finding Home Series: The Orphan’s Journey and The Lost Brother. This week La Vernia Public Library will be getting a copy of each of these books for people to check out. I hope whoever lives near La Vernia enjoys the addition to the library and gets a chance to check out the books.

Well that’s it for now, enjoy the summer and take advantage of your local library.

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NaNoWriMo 2016

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Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. This little author has gotten quite busy in the past month. One of the main reasons is that I’m attempting to join in on NaNoWriMo this year. The National Novel Writing Month is a great way for anyone to jump start their writing. And since I finally finished and published Finding Home: The Lost Brother this year, I thought it was time to start writing the third book in my Finding Home series. I’m planning on this being the last book in the trilogy. But who knows what could happen. A fourth book could end up popping into my brain at some point.

For anyone interested in what this next book will be about, just know that a lot of things still need to be worked out. I’m in the very early stages of writing. But because of NaNoWriMo, I have almost 20,000 words written so far. This book will be focusing more on Princess Serina’s perspective and the working title for now is Finding Home: The Pirate Princess. From the title it’s easy to see that there will be some swashbuckling adventure in this book. I hope any of you out there who have read the other books will check this one out when it is finished.

And if there’s any aspiring authors out there, this in the month to start! Join in with NaNoWriMo and start writing. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have a goal and a lot of other people helping you stay focused.

Sign Up For NaNoWriMo Here

I may have fewer posts for the rest of this month, due to all of the writing for NaNoWriMo. But maybe that means I can post some sneak peeks of the third book when this month is over.

Also, I’m very excited to be speaking to the students at DeZavala Elementary next week. So you can expect a post about the school’s Author Visit in the future.

Hope all of you are having a great week!

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Word Wrangler 2016

Sorry I didn’t post last week, I just got too busy with life to even think about a blog post. So now that I have some time, I thought I’d write about how my 2nd Word Wrangler Festival went. This year I went to a different school: Immanuel Lutheran School. The school has kids from Kinder through High School I believe. So instead of speaking to the whole school, I was with smaller groups of kids. I had a series of 3 talks. The first was with some delightful 4th graders who had great questions and a lot of energy. We ended up eating lunch with them in the cafeteria after the presentation, and I got to answer more fun questions, such as what’s your favorite color. I discovered that I not only shared the last name of their teacher, but also her favorite color. It’s yellow by the way. So that was fun!

Then after lunch, I met with 2 more groups. The first was 5th and 6th graders. These kids would probably enjoy my book the most and a lot of them were engaged, had questions, and were excited about reading and writing. And finally I got to talk with the 7th and 8th graders. You can really tell a difference with the ages as kids get closer to high school. They tend to be quieter and not as enthusiastic, which is fine. I tried to adjust my talk to engage each group, and I think they all had fun and learned something.

I also had the great pleasure of sharing the time with the kids with another author, or as he liked to refer to himself, a poet. Wayne Edwards has been writing comedic poetry for several years and he reads it to kids often. It was cool to see how someone else engages with kids and gets them to laugh. I enjoyed hearing the humorous poems as much as the kids and I think it was cool for the children to learn about the different types of writing. Because Mr. Edwards read a lot of his poetry to the kids, and the principal asked if I would read some of my work, I ended up adding to my presentation and reading the first page of my first book. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so a lot of the kids were interested after I read it.

Here’s what I read:

The tension in the room was thick. Ben looked steadily at his father. “I have to ask you a question” he said determinedly.
“Alright” his father replied.
“Who am I?” Ben asked with emphasis.
“What? You know who you are. You’re Ben, my son,” Thomas said with a small chuckle.
“No I’m not,” Ben insisted. “I don’t look like anyone else in this family. If I’m your son, then why am I the only kid with blond hair?”
“Is that what this is about? Ben just because you look different doesn’t mean you’re not my son. Things like this happen sometimes; it’s one of life’s mysteries.”
Ben wasn’t convinced. “Well how come me and Joshua are the same age but have different birthdays? That isn’t a mystery of life, it’s impossible!” Ben crossed his arms and waited for an explanation.

I’m so glad there were people giving me suggestions and advice as I’ve visited more schools and book fairs. So, my day at the school was fun, but a little different than I expected. Last year I had tried to get the kids to preorder the book, so I could give it to them at the school. This made for some cool conversations as some of the kids had started reading the book when they came to visit the Public Library the next day and could tell me what they liked so far. But this year a missing email meant that the kids didn’t know they could preorder the book. So instead I printed the flyer at the school when I got there and my mom handed it out to the kids after my talk. I wasn’t sure if any of the kids would actually buy the book, but I thought it was better than nothing and I told them they could still get the discounted price if they brought the sheet to the library the next day.

K-5th was scheduled to come to the Library, so the next day I looked forward to seeing some of the kids again. The first several hours of the book fair were a little discouraging. Most of the kids visiting walked through but didn’t buy anything, and some sounded interested but didn’t have money or wanted a different book that someone else had written. I took an early lunch and while I was eating, my friend Mrs. Morris came and asked me to sign 2 books for a kid and told me another kid had also bought both books. I was so excited!

And when I got back to my table, one girl who had bought the first book last year came to my table and got the sequel! I’m so glad at least one kid wanted to read the next one. Then as kids from Immanuel started coming through I was overwhelmed with how many wanted to buy the books. It was so encouraging and I decided it might have been a better idea to have the flyer than the preorder, because then kids had met me, were excited, and immediately had a chance to buy the book. I got to see several 4th, 5th and even a few 6th graders who had to come with parents. Then at the very end of the day while I was packing up, one last lady stopped by to get the books for her granddaughter who was in 8th grade. I sold even more books than last year, probably because several kids wanted both books. It was such a great experience and I’m so thankful to the people who organize this book festival every year and for Mr. Shaefer for having me come to his school.

Here’s what he had to say about the experience:

“Lydia Hill can help inspire young authors to follow their dreams. She shares her story of assembling thoughts for adventures in an understanding, easy to follow presentation. Her pleasant demeanor and Christian conscience makes her a delight to invite for any age student to be filled with incentive to write.” – Dan Schaefer, principal, Immanuel Lutheran School, Giddings, TX

And here’s the awesome Thank you Card I got from the students:

I’m hoping to go to even more book fairs and visit more schools in the future.

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Finding Home: The Lost Brother

BookCoverPreview1

My new novel Finding Home: The Lost Brother is available on Amazon! If you’ve been interested in my writing at all, I hope you’ll check it out.

Click Here to Look at the Book

 

Cover

And if you’ve never read the original novel check it out too!

Click Here to Check Out the Original Novel

Also, I’ve been invited to return to Giddings, TX for the Word Wrangler Festival in September. I’m so excited and I just wanted to share that today.

I hope you’re having a great day too!

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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.

 

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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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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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