Thursday Thoughts, that Giveaway, and apparently an Excerpt

So, today. . .it’s raining. And we’re in for a deluge here after a week of rain which followed an April Fool’s snowstorm. I’m not posting the picture. It’s too depressing.

FBHopWhat else? Hmmmm, oh Giveaway. Here, I’ll load the picture. Okay, not sure why it is not next to my text, but there it is. I’ve got to figure out this whole picture thing a whole lot better.

Anyway, I am personally giving away a set of ebooks–The Liars and The Children of Liberty, along with a $20 Amazon gift card. Go to my facebook page to register. You can get the link to the $200 amazon card there or just click on this. It’s running to 4/9/17. Whether or not it’s through the day on 4/9, I’m not sure, so you might want to register right now.

What else? I started work on The Sacrifice or Sacrifice. Not sure which yet, or even if that’ll be the title, but it is for now. To be honest, I had already started work on it. I don’t write in order. I had a clear picture of some scenes later in the book, so I wrote them. It helps me to keep in mind what I’m working toward.

Anyway, the new words I wrote include a description of one of Neri’s meditations. I really like it. I’ll put some more words in today.

The song I have going on in the background is I Found by Amber Run. (I’m giving you the lyrics link, because when I use songs to write by, I don’t want the original video–I interpret the lyrics in relation to my story). The lines I love so much, that feel so appropriate for the series is “I found love where it wasn’t supposed to be, right in front of me.” That is true for all three of the people in the love triangle. Evan “found love” with a girl headed for The Temple, which he hates because of his mother’s death. Jarvis “found love” with a married woman. A woman married to his ultimate employer and the most powerful man in the country, Grayson Starling. Neri found like with Evan when she was a teenager–the son of a dissident, which would destroy her chances of becoming a priestess. She found love with Jarvis after she was married. And, outside of this triangle, she found love with Grayson, a brutal leader whom she believe she could change–and then was betrayed. The lyrics in this song–I’ll use you as a warning sign–could be interpreted to mean Grayson. But they also explain how all three of them feel. “I’ll use you as a focal point, so I don’t lose sight of what I want” really applies to how Evan and Jarvis feel about Neri, at least in the beginning of The Liars.

So check it out! I love this song. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

What else? Well we re-learned this week that Assad is a monster, didn’t we? And by re-learning that we also re-learn how difficult the situation in Syria is. It’s a horror story for the ones caught in the crossfire, the refugees fleeing with their families. But what the world does about it, what it should do, is hard to fathom. If we (the U.S. and/or the world) were to step in, which side do we work with? If we fight against Assad, does ISIS take over? The idea is horrific. On the other hand, Assad is no better. He’s gassed his own people twice now at least. Neither of these is a solution and a third solution–helping Syrians find and establish a good leader–gets into nation building. That can go very wrong, and requires steady, sustained work and $$$ from the world, a world that does not seem particularly magnanimous right now.

All right, this is depressing. How about an excerpt? Let me see if I can find something. I’ll come back.

Okay, I’m back. This is from The Children of Liberty. Early in the second book in the trilogy, Neri meets two new characters. Two young women living in the Rocky Mountains. This is one of the early scenes between them, which also gives a description of Neri’s Temple tattoo. I really love Maya and Tansy. Also, at some point, I need to give you all the recipe for the raspberry sauce.

***

“This is heavenly,” I say after the first forkful of Tansy’s roast duck with raspberry sauce. “I’ve never had anything this good in Temple City. Or Central City for that matter.”

Two pretty red circles rise in Tansy’s cheeks. She beams at me. “Really?”

“Really,” I answer. We’re sitting in the dining area of their two-room log cabin. This furniture is handmade as well. A huge stone fireplace heats the entire room—dining room, kitchen and living area.

“Tansy’s a very inventive cook,” Maya says. Her voice is cool and even, but nobody could mistake the pride in it. “No matter how short we are of supplies, she always comes up with something delicious.”

Tansy offers me some bread. “You’re lucky. Yesterday was baking day. We only have enough flour for one loaf a week.”

I’m a fugitive from the law and my life isn’t worth the chair I’m sitting on. That’s hardly lucky, but I try to keep my usual cynicism out of my voice. “I’ve always had good fortune when it comes to running from bears and falling down cliffs.”

Maya raises her eyebrows. Oh well, at least I tried.

Tansy laughs. “If you’re going to make it a habit, do it on baking day.”

“How about I forget the falling part, and just arrive on baking day?”

“You are welcome any day, High Priestess,” Tansy says warmly. Then, for the third time since we sat down, her eyes rest on my Temple tattoo.

I’ve eaten enough that I can stand putting down my fork. Turning my right arm over, I push back my sleeve to show it to her. It’s a gold facetted circle, cut into ten pie pieces to represent each of the Temple’s sects, which are the governmental departments of the Order. Each pie piece is colored with a corresponding sect’s color: 1st, the Guard, is royal blue, the 2nd, Arts and Education is rose pink, and so on. All Temple members have a tattoo of the circle, with the sect they belong to colored in. Only the Prophet, High Priestess and Apprentice—the next in line for Prophet—have all of the pieces colored.

Tansy gasps. “Oh, it sparkles!”

“It’s the kind of ink they use,” I say. I move my wrist for effect and watch it sparkle in the light, courtesy of solar panels on the roof. The tattoo really is gorgeous. Or would be if it didn’t represent oppression, cruelty, and my six years of living in fear. “Go ahead, you can touch it.”

She runs her fingers over it, and then smiles shyly at me. When she’s done, I dig into my dinner again. “So, Maya,” I start casually, “you said Temple City is three days away. How often do you visit?” And who do you visit, my worried brain adds. Friends on the High Council? Inquisitors?

“It’s three days by horse,” Maya says. “You’ll want a couple days to mend first, so that’s five days.” She peers at me. “Will the Prophet be worried about you?”

Very much. But not in the way she thinks.

I need a good answer, though, one that will satisfy curiosity, not inflame it. My head is still so foggy. A minute goes by. A minute and a half. What do I say?

“Maybe Priestess—” Maya starts just as a thought hits me.

“He thinks I’m in SouthMid.”

She starts, then frowns. “Why does he think that?”

Why indeed? And why was I running for my life from a mother bear in the middle of the wilderness? I need a good lie. The best are based in reality. There was a train accident, and I ended up here.

There’s no reality in that, and trains don’t run near the mountains.

I was on a camping trip and got lost.

Closer to reality, but who was I with? The High Priestess would never camp alone. Honestly, the High Priestess, or at least this High Priestess, would never camp, period.

I was on a picnic—

“Try the truth,” Maya says. She speaks coolly, as if she isn’t calling me a liar. I should respond with indignation; the High Priestess is not to be questioned.

Except by Grayson. And the Inquisitors.

I’m not indignant, and I am no longer the High Priestess. At best I’m a dissident, which is just a nice word for traitor. “I ran away.”

Maya raises her brows.

“What?” Tansy asks, perplexed. “But why?”

“I needed some time . . . alone. To think.”

Tansy blinks. Socials, even in terrible situations, would run to other people, not to the wilderness.

Maya puts down her fork with careful precision. “They must be searching for you.”

“I told the Prophet I was going to SouthMid.” That lie works now, and I’m vaguely pleased with myself. Given enough time I can weave lies as soft as silk.

“I’m sure they’ve discovered you aren’t there.”

“Possibly,” I say with a wave of my hand, “but they’d never think to look for me here.”

“So you pretended to board a train,” Maya says in clipped tones, “but instead borrowed a horse. Then rode out into the wilderness with no provisions to speak of. No tent, no lighting. No food. Because you wanted to think?

“When you say it like that it sounds stupid.”

“I don’t know how I’d say it so it wouldn’t sound stupid.”

Maya,” Tansy hisses. “She’s the High Priestess.”

“I don’t care if she’s God herself. She’s lying.”

Damn. Now what? She’s not buying my lies, silken or otherwise. “I did run away,” I insist. “And they aren’t looking for me here.” Because nobody in their right mind would do what I did. But I am not in my right mind and Maya is realizing that. She continues to stare at me with that penetrating gaze. She’s waiting for an answer, a truthful one. She reminds me of Jarvis, whom I trusted with my life. Maybe I can trust her too.

At any rate, I’m out of options.

I shove aside the pain that thoughts of Jarvis always bring and hold Maya’s gaze. “I’m a fugitive. The Temple suspects me of spying on the Prophet. I escaped before the Inquisitors could take me in for questioning.”

“Oh,” Tansy breathes. “Pa told us horror stories about the Inquisitors. But surely . . . surely they would treat the High Priestess with reverence? Follow every clue until they discover who is really responsible.”

Neither Maya nor I break our gazes. After a few seconds, her eyes flicker. “She wasn’t set up,” Maya says. “She did it.”

“No,” Tansy says doubtfully.

I just shrug.

Maya sits back and I watch as the tension in her muscles drains away. With it goes the unnatural aging of anxiety, leaving behind a woman who’s probably five or six years my junior. “Well I’ll show you the way back, but you’re welcome to stay with us if you’d rather.”

You’re welcome to die here. That’s what she really means.

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