Category Archives: young adult trilogy
THE ELF CHILD
Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book II)
The moment elf warrior Astan Hawk agrees to protect the young elf queen trouble dogs his heels. Jelani’s human upbringing clashes with clan tradition, spurring dangerous intrigues within the Circle of Elders. Soon even the motives of his father Daven come into question. With nowhere else to turn, Astan asks Jelani’s human friends for help. Hiding in shadows, an outcast elf plots revenge by seeking the help of powerful elf mages who live deep within the forest. Can Astan fulfill his promise to keep both Jelani and his child safe when the whole world seems to have turned against them?
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This was Grigor’s plan, no one else’s. He’d thought of it all on his own, after the clan had discarded him, left him alone here in the pitiless rocks and cold winds and harsh rain. He deserved the right to carry it out.
“If the elders are involved in their politicking and complaining, then now is the time to strike,” Grigor said, looking Vez straight in the eye. “We should move in and take the child now.”
“All the same, if guards are posted, while they may let us in, they will not let you pass,” Vez insisted.
“We need a distraction. Something to send anyone who’s not already involved in this discussion about the false queen out of our way,” Grigor said.
Terzon’s face lit up, an idea practically bursting from his lips. “A groundquake. That would frighten them, show them we are a force to be reckoned with!” He grinned, and Grigor knew that capability existed within his childhood friend. But so did the rest of the clan.
“They would know you had caused it, Terzon. Inherent in this plan is the ability for you and the others to continue to blend into the clan, to appear innocent, until the queen is deposed once and all. The same goes for the rest of you. Your elven powers are obvious to those who know you well.”
Silence settled around them like a heavy smoke. Grigor hadn’t thought through the details, not while trying to coordinate so many of them, and now facing the open hostility in the eyes of Vez, he struggled to be clever.
“Then we should use human powers,” Vez said.
“Humans have no powers!” Hidal cried.
“Exactly. What can we do that will call to the heart of every elf in the forest, that we can blame on humans?”
“Fire,” Fontine whispered.
“Yes,” Grigor said. “Yes, Fontine, that’s just what we need.”
Grigor knew Fontine could start a fire anywhere, just by wishing it into existence. But careless humans had destroyed hundreds of acres of elven territory over the years. The possibility was one the clan feared more than almost anything.
Yadin nodded. “Beckley said a camp of human males had been on the eastern face of the mountain for the last week, hunting for animals.”
“This was known to the clan?” Grigor asked.
“Yes,” Vez said. “I heard them talking. Here’s your chance to be a hero, my friend. And we can hold the humans accountable for all of it. Of course, this would be more believable if you showed the clan you’d put up a fight to protect them.” He eyed Grigor. “I think a blacked eye and a bloody nose ought to do it.”
AN excerpt from my post-plague novel, WINDMILLS, part of The Color Of Fear series (see above tab):
The book’s hero Xi San is debating his fate as the Enforcer, a self-made vigilante protecting his former San Francisco neighborhood.
He could have abandoned the city, like his friend
Eddie Garrick three months before. Head out to the middle of the country, where people were nicer, Eddie said. Farther from the poison’s strike zone. Friendly Midwesterners. A chicken in every pot. Fresh pies on the windowsills.
“C’mon, Sandman. There’s nothing left for us here. Never will be!”
San plopped down in the blue butterfly chair Eddie had always loved and studied the skinny young man he’d known since middle school, his unruly brown hair worn
in wild spikes although not color-tipped at the moment, as they had been over the years. Blue, green, orange—Eddie’d had them all.
He’d also had a bent for the technical. He could enslave any computer to his will, and his personal blog, of clearly liberal bent, had drawn attacks from rabid conservatives of all sorts. The more famous his critics, the more pleased he’d been.
Isn’t too bad working under a Chevy’s hood, either.
San shook his head. “There’s nothing left for anyone, anywhere, Eddie.”
It wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation, speculating what might remain of life past the San Francisco city limits, past the California borders.
“There’s gotta be someone left, some community somewhere where things are normal.”
Eddie hunched over on his bed, the tangled covers in a ball. “I want my life back! I want to be able to hit the bookstore and read three chapters of a book without buying it. You know, sit there for two hours with a hot latte and frellin’ Muzak playing. I even miss effing Muzak!”
The plaintive wail provoked San’s ironic smile. Eddie had always been partial to grunge rock. Kurt Cobain would have turned over in his nonexistent grave hearing one of his most ardent fans begging for elevator music.
“Come on, I can make my ma’s dream come true, meet a nice Jewish girl, go to temple. Hell, meet any girl.” Eddie squirmed, sheepish. “Not that I ever had much success in that area.”
“You’ve other talents. Just haven’t met the right one, Spaghetti Man.”
“But you don’t know some medical school might not still be open out East. You can be the doctor in the family, so I don’t frellin’ have to.” Brown eyes pled with San. “I’m going tomorrow. Maybe Friday. ” Eddie patted the green duffel bag on the bed beside him. “Figured I can grab a car out on the East Side. I can trip a gas station, get enough to get me started, anyway.”
His dark gaze slid down the navy blue bed sheet to the four .38 caliber revolvers he had laid carefully next to each other, along with four boxes of bullets.
“Got enough ammo to last a while. We can take care of ourselves, San.” His voice tightened. “I don’t want to go alone.”
San resisted the urge to choke up along with his friend. “I have to do things here, Eddie.”
“Bullshit. There’s nothing more for you here, either. Our parents are dead, our friends are dead, this city is dead! Why do you want to effing waste your life walking
around these empty streets till some gangbanger offs you?”
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from WINDMILLS, the first book in my post-apocalyptic trilogy THE COLOR OF FEAR. This piece gives us insight into Valery Paz, and a glimpse into her history.
Before she stepped over the threshold, Valery Paz patted her two front pockets. The left one held the book she was currently reading, a fantasy story about a modern-day barista and a glass slipper, the right a fully loaded pistol she wasn’t afraid to use.
Yep, Uncle Dave, you’d be proud of this little Latina. Self-defense: Never leave home without it.
Wary of the street after hearing about Kwan’s encounter with the gang, she set off at a swift pace, spurred on by the damp chill in the air, her well-worn sneakers making hardly a sound. Twenty blocks along Broadway, then a right turn, then up to the attic of a small house just past Jackson Square, and she’d be home. She could sit by her tiny window and look out over the bay near the Embarcadero.
If she was lucky, and the fog held off, she might catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate.
The bridge still seemed more like another fantasy to her than reality, even though she’d seen it in clear weather, swathed in fog, and in dozens of different states in between.
She hadn’t lived in the city before the Second Holocaust. Then, she’d been the nearest thing to a Valley Girl at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco, her daily language peppered with southern California slang. She’d been slated to graduate salutatorian of her class, bound for Stanford. The Second Holocaust ended the school year early.
Then it ended a lot of things early.
Her younger brother had died first, but in the twelve months afer the SH, she’d lost her mother and “Uncle” Dave too. Her parents had broken up years before, but her dad had always stopped in when his sales job brought him within shouting distance. It had been maybe a month before the SH when he stopped in before heading to southern California. She hadn’t seen him again.
She’d buried her mother and Dave, then packed a duffel bag with her dearest possessions and those her family had treasured as well. She had to go somewhere,
People came through town, heading to Colorado or New Mexico, and said San Francisco was at least providing some services to residents. Valery had some very
fond memories of the city by the bay, one visit in particular when she’d gone shopping with her mother as a young adolescent. They’d had warm sourdough bread and
shrimp cocktail from a cart on Fisherman’s Wharf and toured Chinatown, just the two of them. Her mother had bought her a new pair of shoes and a tiny cable car ornament
for their Christmas tree. A magical day.
That’s what made up her mind.
Six months now since she’d moved here, and she still sought real direction. When she was younger, she’d wanted to be a fashion model. She was tall enough, and when she only let herself eat lettuce—for a week or so—she could be skinny enough. It wasn’t like modeling scouts came through Salinas, though. And Mama wouldn’t take me to the city to try out. Not till I was eighteen.
She muttered, “Well. Now I’m eighteen, Mama. Look at me. Sneaking around the streets after dark like some matón.”
Kwan said the Enforcer had rescued her from the gang. A tendril of wistful thought wound itself around Valery’s heart. When will I have a white knight riding out to save me, huh?
Even as she wished for that person who might be waiting out there, somewhere, she shoved that idea aside.
That’s why I’m better off. I don’t need saving.
Besides, she didn’t intend to stay in San Francisco all her life.
She reached her house without incident and ran up the steps, scanning the street before she opened the door. Once she was safe inside, she triple-locked it and headed
upstairs to her room, locking the door to the attic as well. She tossed her pea jacket onto her bed, a mattress on the floor she’d dragged up the narrow steps, then lit several
candles. When everything was arranged to her liking, she rummaged through her “pantry,” a cardboard carton of cans and boxes of food she’d collected over the
last few weeks. One can called for her attention, and she took it out, cradling it in her hand. The brilliant orange of the mangoes on the Goya juice can reminded her of the
ambrosial juice awaiting her inside. She could almost taste the sweet tartness on her tongue.
She popped open the top and took a small sip, letting it roll around her mouth like the finest wine. Amazing.
She leaned down to glance out the window before settling in, disappointed that the cool, wet air had brought along a flood of fog that covered the waters of the bay. No bridge-gazing tonight. What else to do?
She plopped down on the worn blue beanbag chair she’d wrestled up the steps the first week she’d arrived. It was just like the one her brother Jimmy’d had, back in the
The loneliness was starting to get to her. She should leave. Comparing the number of survivors in the site of the SH attack, San Diego, and San Francisco, she could extrapolate
the differences between San Francisco and other parts of the country. The farther east you went, the better the chances there would be a healthier population.
Who knew? Maybe they still had fashion runway shows in New York City.
Si, chica, the models, they are very skinny this year…skin and bones…well, maybe bones without the skin…
A chill ran up her back, the black humor a little too close to truth.
“Hope?” you say? From all these stories of civilization torn down, people in chaos, life destroyed?
It may seem contrary, when real life is at a frightening point. But one common thread in much of this fiction is the inherent goodness of man. For every toilet-paper hoarding idiot, there is a Stu Redman fromThe Stand. For every self-serving politician, there is a Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Even in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is about the most bleak, horrifying, hopeless story ever, in the end there is a moment of humanity.
I believe we’re starting to see it now, in the communities around the world. People are beginning to reach out to others, while observing the new rules and realities of Covid-19 times. Italians confined to their homes sing to each other to boost morale. Local restaurants in my city make sure kids have lunch while schools are closed, and surely they can least afford it, since restaurant attendance is down. People shop for their at-risk elderly neighbors who should not be out. Granted, we are early in the process, and things may become more desperate as it lingers on. But humans are best at doing human.
My own post-apocalyptic YA series THE COLOR OF FEAR is founded on that issue of hope, and the conviction that those who stick to the path of right will triumph in the end over those who espouse hate and fear.
Tzu Lin Kwan, Xi San, Valery Paz, Eddie Garrick, Marie, Arik and all the others who try their best for their fellow humans are inspirational, and some of the favorite characters I’ve created. Not only do they fight the results of a terrorist plague, but they also oppose the white supremacist cult leader Gabriel and his Angels, who take advantage of the decimated population and the fears of the remaining white men and women to try to overthrow what remains of a poorly-organized government. The first book, WINDMILLS, takes the reader from Hong Kong to San Francisco; the second, DESTINATIONS, tells what happens as the ethnic survivors band together in the face of Gabriel’s threat, and the yet-to-be-released ADVERSARIES will reveal what happens when the inevitable clash of the two occurs. Find out more at the COLOR OF FEAR tab above.
In the meantime, there are many other books that can remind you about the good that may come from tumultuous, post-apocalyptic times:
If you prefer movies, check these out: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/entertainment/contagion-and-pandemics-in-movies/index.html
A teaser for Thursdays: The opening to DESTINATIONS, the second book in the Color of Fear series. Meet villain Gabriel, the leader of the white supremacist cult:
Gabriel was God’s favorite angel.
Or so he liked to believe.
“He” being plain old Bernard Ellison, former ordained minister and woodworker, discarded by so many of his former associates and society. They’d laughed at him, reviled him and called him depraved.
Who was laughing now?
“Not a one of ‘em,” he muttered to himself.
He surveyed his current quarters, finding them lacking. The South Dakota farmhouse had been built more than a hundred years before. It creaked, its bones old and tired. Its white paint peeled and flaked away in the dusty wind like a heavy winter snow. Its chairs and thin cotton curtains smelled of mildew and mold. Dust coated the windowpanes and any surface that remained bare.
He’d been better provisioned in the survival bunker back in Great Falls, with its years’ worth of food, water and supplies to feed him and the rest of his Angels. They hid in safety, waiting out the worst of the Second Holocaust that had wiped out the majority of the white men and women in the country, then the world. Waiting till the air was clean, and he could breathe free again.
They’d done it, those crazy Ay-rab bastards. Them and the Asians that had given the terrorists the ship to bring that poison ‘cross the ocean. They’d come down on these United States of America and destroyed it all.
Six months he’d waited underground, constantly monitoring the airwaves for signs of recovery.
When news never came, he’d sent men out to test the situation. Once they started coming back alive, he’d decided it was safe.
Outside, he’d discovered vast tracts of Montana abandoned. He’d claimed it. Then, as he gathered more people, he moved them on through South Dakota, claiming more land.
Some “claiming” was easier than others. Several times, they’d found people of color—brown, red or yellow—on the land that had been given by God to white people. Gabriel had…persuaded…them to move along. Some went voluntarily; others became food for carrion birds.
So many towns and cities they found empty. Millions had died in the Second Holocaust. Millions.
But Gabriel had survived.
He knew he’d been spared for a reason.
Pausing by the window to survey his flock at work, Gabriel was pleased. They scurried about, maintaining the trucks, sorting equipment, obedient to their orders. His orders.
Daddy always said I wouldn’t amount to much.
A memory of his father—worn striped overalls, his weary gray eyes—came to mind. A small farmer living north of Atlanta, Frank Ellison had borrowed and borrowed to survive the droughts, the floods, until the bank had taken the farm. His father and mother had moved to the city, where his mother cleaned rooms at the Motel 6. Daddy just sat and stared out the window, imagining those green fields that would never be his again.
“Look how much land I have now, Daddy,” Gabriel whispered. “Are you proud of me yet? I’ll make you proud. I will.”
Thanks so much for hosting me at Romance Lives Forever, Kayelle Allen!!
And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the series trailer!