Monday, February 25, 2013

Blue Sky by Melissa Lemon

In the new novel, Blue Sky, by Melissa Lemon, a young woman finds a man in her basement. After the initial shock and terror of coming face to face with a stranger, she discovers he has been living on the streets for three years and only sought refuge in her basement from a winter storm. She decides to try and help the young man and, eventually they fall in love. However, their different backgrounds put a wall between them and they are going to have to find away around or they will lose each other forever.

Now, for my first confession…I have not read a romance novel in 14 years—not since my oldest child starting bring home YA novels and I realized not all YA books were appropriate for youth. (That’s when I started the daunting task of reading ahead of all my book-loving tweens to check out every book they brought home--Whew! That is also when I started writing YA novels that I wouldn’t mind my own kids reading.) So I was a bit curious about how much I would enjoy my step back into the romance genre.

Because of Melissa Lemon’s characters and plotting I have another confession to make…I absolutely loved my journey back into romance.

In Blue Sky, Sunny is dealing with the loss of both of her parents to a car accident when she discovers Lewis in her basement. Their first encounter is dramatic and, with the storm outside, Sunny realizes she has just been taken hostage in her own home.

In his own way, Lewis is also a hostage—held prisoner by a past he lets rob him of his future. As the storm outside dissipates, their relationship grows and Sunny makes a decision to help Lewis. Over time she becomes fearful of losing someone else she cares about so she carefully avoids developing a friendship with him beyond her efforts to help. Lewis, on the other hand, is fearful that his past will prevent him from having a future with Sunny. Through a series of misunderstandings, the pair separate and Sunny realizes that, to find a homeless man she is going to have to walk a similar path—including the ironic twist of living a hidden life in a stranger’s home.

Blue Sky was a clean and tender romance filled with characters I quickly cared about…so much so that, at just over 400 pages, the book was too short! I wanted to read more about them.

Melissa Lemon also uses Blue Sky to enter the world of homelessness and take a poignant look at family dysfunction and the hidden pain it causes.

I enjoyed both Sunny and Lewis’ characters and the way Melissa lets us look into their inner emotions. Through the personal loss both characters experienced, each felt alone in the world yet they guarded that hurt and loneliness in very different ways. When Lewis tells Sunny the worst part about being homeless it caused an audible reaction in me because it was a perfect response. And when Lewis finally comes clean about his past the entire scene was so well written, including the body language, that I half suspect the author has sat with someone who has struggled to share painful memories.

In fact, some of the descriptions in the book were so well written that, as a writer myself, I went back and reread them a second and even a third time to analyze how she crafted the scene and study the word choices she used. (I especially loved the kiss where Sunny pulls away and Lewis isn’t ready to let her go and tries to reclaim her.)

Now for one more confession…I liked the character of Lewis’ brother, Jack…a lot! Often people do deal with difficult problems by using humor and that made Jack’s almost cocky comments both sad and endearing. His willingness to stand in front of family problems and 'take it on the chin' for them was very believable. In fact, I would love to see a spin-off book that moves Jack forward as a main protagonist…or at least places him along side his brother, Lewis. So, how about Melissa? If you’re up for a sequel, I’m up for another great read!

If you want to learn more about Melissa Lemon and her writing, check out her home page Melissa Lemon

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lair of the Serpent: Hint Number One...

This last week I was going through an edit of my third book, Lair of the Serpent. I was able to work with a great editor at Cedar Fort, Justin Kelly. He made some wonderful observations and suggestions and I was thrilled for his input. It's always nice to have another pair of eyes and, in truth, I am glad they were male eyes! Men notice different things and react to stories differently than women do. Since my protagonists are teenage boys, his male viewpoint was very valuable to me...and to you.

In my new book, I throw Jonathon and Severino into the jungles of Cambodia where they face the most difficult physical and emotional challenges of their lives.

So why are an American and a Peruvian in Cambodia in the first place? Well, a lot of it has to do with Severino's sister...

I will be letting out hints in the coming weeks and that was your first one: they are there for Delia. Then I will give away an early, signed copy of my book to someone who has been following my hints, so be looking for them!

Lair of the Serpent is filled with action and, like Tombs of Terror and The Lost Curse, it blends truth with fiction. Once again, the places are very real, the history is accurate and the dangers are current and eye opening. Even the Cambodian legends in this book will make you wonder about what is or isn't possible.

I've had some beta readers tell me this book is the best of the three! With Justin's help this past week, the story became even better.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Interview with Melissa Lemon, author of Blue Sky

I had the chance to visit with Melissa Lemon about her latest book, Blue Sky. Here is what she had to say...

You are having a blog tour for Blue Sky. What is a blog tour and how can people participate? A blog tour is a way for lots of people to learn about a book, usually about the time it is released. Different blogs host your book on a certain day during the tour. Tours usually run for two to three weeks. If you would like to host blog tours, begin building a following on your blog, reviewing books, and building a network of other authors and reviewers.

How do some of your book ideas come to you?
Well, I spend a lot of time in my imagination. Really, they just come. Sometimes from a dream or a life experience, but much of the time it seems like they come out of thin air.

How did you get the initial idea for Blue Sky? Growing up, my sister and I wondered at times if somebody was living in our unfinished basement. In the end, we decided it was haunted, but that is really where the idea came from. I wondered why somebody would be secretly living in a stranger's basement. Would it be because they were bad, or could they possible be a protagonist?

Blue Sky is coming out only a few weeks after the release of your novel, Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem. Those releases are very close together. When did you start and finish each book? I wrote Blue Sky in the spring and summer of 2008. It was my first novel and needed LOTS of editing. I wrote Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem early 2012.

Can you share a similarity you have to one of your characters in Blue Sky? I think I'm kind of bossy like Meg.

What is a similarity you share with a character in Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem? I can be pretty snarky, which shows up in Jasper (the one telling the story) as well as several of the dwarfs.

You are a busy writer with books to promote. You also run #authorchat on Twitter every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., and take care of a growing family. How do you carve out time to write? Good question. Anybody want to answer that for me? I haven't written much lately. :)

What are your daily and weekly writing goals? Right now I'm working on a book launch so I'm not writing new material. In March, that will change. I don't set hourly goals because I'm kind of a free spirit and tend to rebel against such things. I'm more spontaneous with my writing.

When do you prefer to write? When I'm alone and really feeling a story.

Knowing that ideas often come when authors are away from their computer, what is the strangest thing you have ever written on to record a sudden idea, conversation snippet, or description for a book you were writing? Napkins and receipts are pretty common when I'm in my car. I've probably jotted things on my hand as well. I wish I had something really odd to share, but that's all I can think of.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received? It's not really advice, but this poem really helped me through all the rejections.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
--William Ernest Henley

What do you do to get through writing slumps? Take a break. Whether it's an hour, a day, a week, or a month, it always does the trick.

If you could swap one chore in your life for more writing time (and only one chore), what would be the chore you would give up first? Laundry. Oh wait, I already gave that up. Okay, making dinner.

Thank you, Melissa! It is always fun to learn about our favorite writers. Be sure and come back on February 25, when I post my review of her new book, Blue Sky!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There is a growing number of satisfied readers and reviewers of Melissa Lemon's new book, Blue Sky. If you want to see the different reviews, check out this list of where they are at. I will be posting my own review right here, on February 25! In fact, it may go up a little bit early, so check back...:)
Melissa Lemon's Blog Tour

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Who do you write like?

A few years back, a writing friend of mine connected me with a fun site called “I Write Like...”

It is a simple site with a simple purpose. It lets you paste or type in an excerpt of your own writing and then the site tells you, in seconds, the name of a famous author who shares your writing style. It is fun and fast. Best of all, there is nothing to buy and no information required. If you try the site, I would recommend doing it with several different excerpts from your writing until you find a pattern emerging.

For my pattern, I found myself writing like men-in particular, Dan Brown. Now, I don't mind writing like a man since I enjoy hanging out with men at family reunions and social events and becuase most of the main characters in the books I write are men. I also don't mind writing like Dan Brown. He is a master at action-suspense and his ability to weave fact with fiction--two things I love in the books I read and write--will be talked about for generations.

But Dan Brown writes for adults and I am writing for the YA fiction market.

Now, as a reader of YA books, I enjoy Anthony Horowitz. He knows how to keep action flowing across the pages in YA novels.

Yet, no matter what action-packed passages I had the site analyze, it never said I wrote like Anthony Horowitz.

Then an unlady-like thought crossed my mind (probably because I do tend to hang out with men at family reunions and social events). I decided to see what would happen if I typed in an excerpt from an Anthony Horowitz novel. Would it say he writes like Anthony Horowitz?

So, I typed in two pages from his YA novel, The Skeleton Key.

Guess what? The site says he writes like--Rudyard Kipling!

If you want to have some fun and maybe a name or two to brag about with your writing style, just go to I Write Like

And if one of you writes like Dan Brown, Anthony Horowitz or Rudyard Kipling, you probably have a fast adventure style I would like.


Friday, February 8, 2013

I'm excited about this...I will be starting a page for book reviews and previews of books written by other authors. I will also be starting a new page for interviews with authors. Find out facts about them and their books that few know.

And, today, check out the first book preview, Where the River Once Flowed, by Jennie Hansen. Just click on the top tab, Books by Others.

Most important of all, if you have any books you would like me to review or authors you would like to have me interview, please contact me...even if you are the author yourself! You can contact me at iwritzz at yahoo dot com. I'd love to hear from you and help me get this new part of my site rolling!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Runaway meatballs!

Years ago my children were watching a Sesame Street special. In the show a giant meatball rolls off of a table. Snuffalaffugus runs after the meatball yelling “Runaway Meatball!” as a warning to all in its path.

A scene or two later, Snuffalaffugus returns to the screen. This time he is being chased by the rolling meatball and is yelling, “Run away! Meatball!”

I was charmed by the way the writers were able to change the entire meaning using the same words. It made me wonder about writing and how what we write can often mean two totally different things, depending on how we place our words on the paper.

Occasionally, as a newspaper writer, I will bump into silly typos or headlines that change the entire meaning--such as "Student cooks serve parents".

But stuff like that never happens in books, right?

Hopefully not. Hopefully all the mistakes will be caught at some point in the editing process.

Yet, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, some mistakes will pass into print. Why is that?

Well, it has been proevn taht, if the fisrt and last lettrs of a wrod are in the rihgt positoin, the eye will fix the rest.

So that can explain most typos in print. Even the best eyes will fix a misspelling now and then.

But this is about changing the meaning of things, not misspelling a few words...

So, I do have a confession about what almost made it into my second book…

In the first chapter of The Lost Curse readers find this description: “Zippers sounded as passengers placed items back inside their carry-ons, seatbelts unclicked for last minute trips to the bathroom.”

Do you want to know how it almost read?

“Seatbelts unclicked and zippers sounded as passengers made last minute trips to the bathroom and put items back inside their carry-ons.”

Yeah, glad we caught that! It that would have produced some interesting visual imagery!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Lost Curse -- first chapter

Prologue: Gunfire exploded through the remote canyon, filling the air with a thunderclap of gunpowder, bullet, and primer. Even as the sound bounced and echoed its way across the cliffs, a single brass casing ejected from the pistol. Still hot, it spun through the air, flashing in the setting sun. The light ricocheted off its metal jacket like ball lightening.

Birds, startled from their evening roosts, erupted with disapproval. Their protesting wings beat the cooling air as they lifted out of the canyon, cackling their alarm. But the bullet did not pursue any of them. It has already found its target.

When the projectile penetrated him, the young Paiute Indian stiffened in protest. The man crumpled to the ground, his face and torso landing in the cold water of a thin stream.

From across the creek, a young dog heard the sound and saw the outcome. Fury at the attack drove the dog, without hesitation, through the water and toward the shooter. Teeth bared and hackles bristled to their fullest, the animal rushed to defend his slain master.

A second bullet pierced through the dog’s face and neck, exiting out its shoulder and stopping the dog just short of its target. Seventy pounds of remains crumpled to the stone-strewn earth in a heap.

As the second casing fell to the earth, three men remained standing. Two stood, shocked at the sudden turn of events. The other, stilled by hatred, breathed deep and waited a few moments. Then, not wanting even the animals in the canyon to find the man’s body, he ordered the frightened pair to lift the corpse and carry it deep into a crevice in the side of a cliff.

The dog they left for the scavengers and maggots.

Chapter One: Shooting through the sky at 510 miles per hour, the A320 cut through the icy atmosphere and left a contrail dissipating behind them. Somewhere below, a child or adult saw the white line spreading across the blue expanse between Los Angles and Salt Lake City. They didn’t see the killer on board the plane.

Most of the hundred and thirty passengers inside the plane’s cabin—oblivious of the contrail, the killer, or the people watching them from below—read, slept, or stared out the windows. None of them knew of the deadly cat-and-mouse game taking place.

Halfway back in the plane, vivid blue eyes watched a tiny cell phone screen. A special app tracked every keystroke and recorded every word that passed through the “mouse’s” cell phone a few rows ahead. Still, the cat didn’t want to miss a thing.

Sitting in the business section, Cole Matthews didn’t know he sat so close to the claws of a hungry cat that tracked his electronic moves. Instead, he remained focused on a valuable chunk of cheese waiting for him in Utah.

Dressed in a Valentino business suit and Berluti shoes, Cole worked his smartphone. A large gold ring, with a tiger’s-eye stone, encircled his left thumb. The ring only fit his thumb, but he liked it that way. It reminded him of a business deal that went bad a decade earlier. That’s when he discovered, the hard way, that everyone has a different motive for working, and sometimes their reasons interfered with his plans. Now, every time he hired a new employee, he let the ring remind him to be cautious.

Cole’s thumb pressed the keys of his phone. I’ll be on the ground in twenty minutes. The ringed thumb pushed Send.

A minute later, the response came back. I’m waiting at the baggage claim.

The plane slowed its airspeed and descended half a mile in the atmosphere. Though no cabin lights indicated their descent, the passengers felt the shift and knew it signaled the end of their two-hour flight. Zippers sounded as passengers placed items back inside their carry-ons; seatbelts unclicked for last-minute trips to the bathroom.

Next to Cole, a handsome Hispanic teen straightened and glanced at the overhead indicator lights with deep brown eyes. For Cole, who spent his time more worried about making money than making conversation, the teenager had been a perfect seat companion. The youth had spent the entire flight watching the landscape out the window. Now, however, the teen’s movement distracted Cole from his phone. Looking at the change in cabin activity, Cole glanced back down and sent one final text. No mistakes this time. I have several buyers waiting.

A few rows back, in the economy seats, Ryan Polson intercepted a copy of the final text and then saw that Cole had shut off his cell phone. Punching in a few commands, Ryan closed his own phone and slipped the still-active devise into an inside suit pocket. His jaw worked a piece of gum while he finger-combed his blonde hair. Intense blue eyes tracked the stewardess making her final walk through the aisle. If she asked to see his phone, it would appear turned off even though ti still recorded everything the “mouse” did electronically. As soon as Cole Matthews reactivated his phone when they landed, Ryan would know.

The plane slowed and descended further until individual buildings came into view, sitting like gray and brown cubes on the landscape. Flaps lowered on the plane’s wings. The aluminum bird rocked gently on the air currents as it came closer to the earth. Through the window, cars came into view on I-15.

Now the man-made bird lowered its landing gear, the hydraulic system humming through its belly and locking into place with a deep, powerful sound. Trees came into focus and the flight attendants took their seats. A few horses appeared in the fields. The runway came into view and the plane swept in, one hundred feet above the ground, fifty, twenty. Lights and signs appeared on the runway, whisking by at one-hundred and thirty miles an hour.
On the runway, the rear wheels touched ground, followed by the nose wheel as the plane settled to earth.

Resting from its flight, the airplane exited the straight runway and rolled toward its numbered gate. Across the cabin, the sound of seat belts unlocking filled the air in staccato announcements. A few impatient passengers stood up to retrieve their bags from the overhead bins even before the plane stopped.

Once the covered walkway had been extended to the cabin door and the secure portal released, passengers left their seats, threaded together, and moved up the narrow aisle toward the Salt Lake International Airport.

Lifting a backpack to one shoulder, eighteen-year-old Severino stood, anxious to be finished with sky travel for a while. It had been a long journey of airplanes and airports since he’d left Cusco, Peru, almost twenty hours earlier.

Bent under the overhead compartment, Severino waited for his older seatmate to rise form his seat and, again, noted the tiger’s-eye ring on the man’s thumb. Tiger’s-eye stones increased focus and promoted balance. To hide a smile, the teen looked away. Even though the man stayed focused during the two-hour flight out of Los Angles, anyone who spent that much time texting had to be out of balance. Someone needed to tell him the ring wasn’t working.

The older man, with silver streaking his dark hair and business deals filling his mind, didn’t know or care about the teenager’s thoughts. He rose from his seat without looking at the youth and pushed his way into the line of people shuffling toward the exit.

Without moving, Severino watched him leave and then turned his attention back to the still-crowded aisle. People moved by, shoulders hoisting luggage, bags jostling other people. One passenger smiled and waited, creating a slot for the teenager. Severino nodded his gratitude and entered the aisle. Mimicking the short steps of those in front of him, he moved with the crowd toward the door. Passengers moved out of the crowded warm plane and entered the ramp’s cool interior.

Ahead of him, the line of people moved up the ramp and spilled into the openness of the terminal, breaking apart—wanting more distance between them than normal. Their actions were a common response to the confines of the airplane and Severino felt the desire for more space wash over him. As he moved from the passenger seating area into the large corridor, he rolled his shoulders in appreciation of the reclaimed freedom.

He followed the crowd ahead of him, knowing they would lead him to the baggage claim area where, he hoped, the Bradfords would be waiting for him. In Los Angeles, Spanish had been as prevalent as English, but here, in the center of the United States, he doubted he would hear much Spanish and not a word of Quechua.

Coming down the escalators, his dark eyes searched the sea of faces below him. Then he made a visual connection and smiled.

On seeing the Peruvian descend the escalators, Jonathon Bradford returned the smile and stepped forward. The last time he’d seen Severino had been at midnight beside a river in the Andes Mountains while terrorists searched the jungled slopes for him. Severino saved his life that night and Jonathon hopes, in some small way, to be able to repay him.

Still, he wasn’t sure how to greet the teen.

Jonathon’s mother answered the question for him. She surged passed Jonathon and swallowed Severino in a full hug as soon as he stepped off the moving stairs. “Mi hijito precioso,” she breathed, “my precious son—you are finally here.”

At the emotional welcome, the backpack slid from Severino’s shoulder and he hugged the woman he had never met, holding her tight. For a full minute they embraced, Rosa murmuring her gratitude over and over, and Severino whispering that she did not need to thank him. He would do it all over again.

The words and the scene filled Jonathon and his father with their own sense of emotion and they waited, respecting the union and not wanting to intrude.

When Rosa stepped back she wiped the tears from her eyes, speaking in fluent Spanish. “Es increible to finally have you here.”

A smile emerged from the Peruvian. “Si, it is incredible. I can’t believe it. Thank you so much.”

A hand to the shoulder and a grin became Jonathon’s greeting to Severino. “Well, believe it, hermano. You’re here in the U.S. You made it.”

The group spoke in Spanish, the language flowing from all of them like water. The luggage carousel began to turn, a metal whirlpool that pulled everyone toward its slow, circular current. Though Jonathon’s parents still chatted with Severino, they drifted with the others toward the carousel’s pull. In the slow human current, Severino moved with them, nodding quiet replies, his answers polite.

This hesitant side of Severino intrigued Jonathon. In Peru, Severino held a rifle with ease and risked death by the Shining Path terrorist to free Jonathon from their grasp. Now the Peruvian stood on foreign soil for the first time in his life; holding a backpack instead of a gun, his gaze downcast instead of elevated with fury.

Through light brown eyes, Jonathon watched Severino, withholding his own questions. There would be time later to get to know him. For now, Jonathon would let his parents claim Severino’s attention. He understood their need and the instant bond they felt. Twice last year, the eighteen-year-old saved Jonathon’s life in Peru—once by getting him out of the sacred tunnels of the Incas and, a second time by helping Jonathon escape form the terrorists. That made Severino an instant and cherished member of their family.

As an expression of gratitude, his parents paid for Severino’s visit to America. For the next month, they wanted to get to know the Peruvian and let him experience a world different form his own. Jonathon also knew his parents hoped that if Severino saw opportunities beyond his impoverished mountain home, then he would accept their offer to pay for a college education. So far, Severino refused to go to school.

They extended the same offer to Severino’s sister, Delia, who nursed Jonathon back to health after finding him in the tunnels. It took a while for the shy sixteen-year-old to accept their offer, but she now lived with her mother in Lima and attended a private high school. Through emails and Skype calls, they saw her adjusting and growing in confidence and ability, adapting to life in a metropolitan area. Most important, she no longer lived in fear of the Shining Path terrorists.

Jonathon lowered his gaze at the discomforting thought. Though he hadn’t told his parents, he knew Severino refused to go to school because of his association with the Shining Path terrorists. Severino had not given up his quest to find his father’s killer, and Jonathon doubted he ever would. By posing as a terrorist, Severino planned to discover the man responsible for killing his father and bring him to justice. Whether that justice would be legal, Jonathon honestly didn’t know.

A drinking fountain became Jonathon’s temporary oasis, and he moved there to distract himself and give his parents more time to visit. The steel bar responded to his push, and cold water hummed out of the belly of the machine, arcing over the drain. Several mouthfuls of water moved down his throat before Jonathon straightened and turned, colliding with a man engaged in a quiet cell phone conversation.

“If you’re sure he’s found a real Spanish turtle, I want a photo now…”

Startled and apologetic, Jonathon stepped back, out of the man’s path. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t see you.”

Anger at the unexpected collision lifted the man’s face. Beneath a crown of blond hair, the man’s vivid blue eyes displayed fury. The man’s expression pushed Jonathon back even more. He saw enraged muscles work along the man’s jaw and Jonathon braced for a verbal barrage; then the voice on the other end of the cell phone reclaimed the man’s attention. Returning to the conversation, the man cursed the jostling, pressed the phone tighter to his ear, and walked away.

Uncomfortable with the entire moment, Jonathon watched him go.

“Type A personally,” a quiet voice commented. Startled, Jonathon turned to find Severino standing beside him. The Peruvian nodded, motioning toward the man walking away. “I saw you bump into him.”

“It was an accident.”

“I know. You okay?”


“He chew you out for it?”

“I think he wanted to, but he went back to his phone conversation instead. Something about a Spanish turtle. Do you know what that is?”

Unfamiliar with the term, Severino frowned and shook his head. “A turtle that speaks Spanish, I suppose. He probably won’t find too many of those around here.”

The remark brought a smile to Jonathon’s face. “Well, apparently someone has. The guy said he wanted to see a photo of it now.”

Classic Type A personality—very impatient. They make great terrorists but rotten friends.” With his last comment hanging in the air, Severino bent and got a drink form the foundation.

Next to him, Jonathon’s gaze followed the Peruvian, thoughts spilling through his mind like water. Would a month with Severino prove the youth to be more of a friend or a terrorist?

Jonathon didn’t know, but for his family’s sake, he hoped Severino would be more of a friend.
If Severino knew the thoughts his comment provoked, he didn’t show it. Finished with his drink, he nodded toward the carousel. “They might pick the wrong bags if I don’t help.”

At the baggage claim, the pair joined Jonathon’s family and watched the luggage drop out of the square portal and onto the convey belt. Backpacks, duffel bags, garments bags, soft-sided and hard-sided suitcases of all colors circled n front of the flight’s passengers. Hands emerged from the crowd and claimed each piece.

A press against his shoulder turned Jonathon’s attention. Severino stood close, his eyes on the carousel. “There’s your angry friend. He is more interested in his phone right now, not the luggage. Maybe the photo of his Spanish turtle is coming soon.”

Though Severino did not point, Jonathon knew where to look,. The blond man stood next to the baggage clam, watching the baggage but holding his phone in his hand.

A duffel bag fell out of the portal and landed on the silver conveyor belt. It would pass in front of the blond man before it reached them. Severino nodded. “There’s my bag.”

“Want me to go get it?” Jonathon asked.

“No. I’ll get it. Maybe I can spot what a Spanish turtle looks like while I’m there,” he grinned.

Before Jonathon could protest, Severino moved through the crowd, working his way between people until he stood on the opposite side of the man. Positioned next to him, Severino pretended to watch the passing luggage but Jonathon saw his focus stay on the phone. Bags passed in front of them, including Severino’s duffel. Checking the tab, Severino let it move on by and waited for the next duffel. When it passed he checked the tag. The man glanced at his phone then back that the conveyor belt. More luggage passed, more duffel bags, Severino’s bag began to come around again

Through the sounds of a busy airport, Severino heard the quite hum of a phone on vibrate. The blond-haired man turned his hand over and checked the phone. Wanting a bit more privacy, the man shifted away from the Peruvian and opened his phone. He worked a few buttons and an image uploaded on the screen. As it did, the man’s blue eyes scanned the image and the muscles in his face went slack. Stunned, the man looked up, trying to process what he had just viewed.

When the opportunity to view the picture appeared for that split second, Severino reached in front of the man and apologized. “Con permiso.” Checking the tag, Severino locked his hand around the duffel’s straps, lifted the bag from the belt and pulled it across, in front of the man. “Discúlpame.”

Annoyed, the man stepped away, glanced again at the picture on his phone, and exhaled under his breath at the image. Though only a whisper of sound, Severino heard it and knew the photo had a powerful impact on the man.

With his duffel bag in hand, Severino turned and threaded his way back through the crowd to the Bradfords.

“Is that it?” David Bradford reached for the duffel.

Sí, es todo,” Severino confirmed.

“Great, then we can head home. We have three other children waiting at home who are very excited to meet you,” he said and smiled. Holding the duffel in his left hand, David slipped his right arm around his wife and led the way to the exit.

Jonathon hung back. “Pretty slick move. Did you see the photo?”

“I saw something, but it didn’t look like a turtle to me. It looked like a rock.”

“A rock?”

“Si, a very big rock.” Severino shouldered his backpack, his eyes scanning the crowd, his voice conveying disappointment. “And I had been hoping a Spanish turtle was an American term for a really cute girl.”

He brought his gaze back to Jonathon’s and smiled.

For that brief moment, Jonathon saw a typical teenager, not a terrorist, in Severino’s dark brown eyes. Relief and surprise brought laughter form him. “Oh, don’t worry. You’ll meet plenty of American girls this summer, I promise.”

“If they look like rocks, I’m not interested,” the Peruvian teased.

“Hey, all the girls I run with look like models.”

Dark eyes canted sideways, and the Peruvian looked at Jonathon. “Did I tell you all terrorists can spot a liar?”

The comment froze Jonathon’s smile even as the doors opened and they stepped out of the terminal into the hot, dry air of a Utah summer.

The Lost Curse is the exciting sequel to Tombs of Terror. Read what others are saying about The Lost Curse:

"The Lost Curse is every bit as fun, exciting, and eerily creepy as its prequel, Tombs of Terror."

"Fantastic! Amazing! I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for fast-paced adventure, humor, and an entirely enjoyable read."

"If you are looking for adventure and excitement, this is the book for you. There were so many twists and turns my head was spinning."

"I read both books in two days."

"One of the best things about both The Lost Curse and its predecessor, Tombs of Terror, is their broad appeal."

"Seriously, your book ruined my work week. I stayed up late two nights in a row reading it because I couldn't put it down."

"Each of Adams' books have totally creeped me out...yet I want to keep reading more!"

"Indiana Jones meets The Mummy!"

Friday, February 1, 2013

Peruvian Recipe

On page 122 of my first book, Tombs of Terror, Jonathon is given a drink by his captors...

"Grey steam curled and floated up from the mug in Severino's hands, swirling in front of his face. "I brought you something to drink." Severino took a deep swallow of the steaming liquid before passing the mug to Jonathon's tied hands. His actions were deliberate--the drink had not been poisoned.
Despite the ropes binding his wrists, Jonathon managed to cup his hands around the heated mug. The warmth of its sides felt good. In the chilled storeroom, his entire body shook with cold. Peering down at the thick drink, he felt the warm steam encircle his face. The scent of chocolate and oatmeal drifted up into his senses, and Jonathon's stomach growled."

So what is that thick, warm chocolatey drink he had? It is kwahker and it is simple to make and perfect for sipping on a cold winter day. Here's the recipe.

1/2 c. oatmeal
3 c. milk*
cocoa powder and sugar to taste

*(I combine 2 c. of milk, 1/2 c. water and one 12 oz. can of evaporated milk but you can use straight milk if you prefer)

In a pot combine all the ingredients, including the cocoa powder and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the drink thickens...about 20 minutes. Serve with a cinnamon stick for stirring, if desired.

Some people will like the oatmeal in the drink. Others will not. If you don't like the oatmeal but still want the thick chocolate drink, simple pour it through a strainer and into your mug.

When I make presentations about my books, I often share this drink with the audience. They enjoy tasting something they only read about.