Monday, April 30, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "Z" - Zealous

Zealous - this word is defined as having active interest and enthusiasm; warmly engaged.

Well, I would have to say there's some zealous-ness in the lives of those involved in NEVERLOVE.

In the midst of forbidden love, a seed plants and blossoms.
From the heart of one damaged by a warped sense of love, true love peeps forth.

For those destined for NEVERLOVE, can the binds of impossibility be broken?
Saturday, April 28, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "Y" - You and Me

So readers, we are in the same position.  Abby and Basil are at a crossroads.  Father Quanon is in serious trouble.  Drakar looks to be the victor.

What will happen?  You don't know...and until I finish the first draft that I'm starting, I don't know.

Well, the answer to a lot of your questions will be answered - okay, so my hope, prayer, desire and goal is that they will be answered in Abby and Basil's NEVERLOVE.  This story has actually taken me by surprise.  YOU all have taken me by surprise.  Your interest, your reactions, your comments touched my heart.  I never told anyone, but a few times I actually just smiled and shed a few tears.  Although I haven't published this novel as of yet, I can truly see the soulful boon from putting out a story readers WANT to read.

Because of your interest and investment in these characters, I will keep you all posted on the step by step process with NEVERLOVE.  I've got a few stories I've considered self-publishing.  This story may actually need to be self-published.  It would allow me to put this story out to you faster, but...if I do this, please know that this won't be done lightly.  I will definitely look to a few eyes to beta read, an editor to help make sure I can put out a very good product and even looking to a cover designer to do something simple but eye-catching for this.  The cover and editing may be the most costly items but well worth it to get this story out the right way.

YOU - readers, lovers of words, and seeing the impossible made possible.  NEVERLOVE is for YOU :-)
Friday, April 27, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "X" - Xenogamy

Calm down.  I know you're a bit surprised I've - ahem - impressed my will upon you so that you are here in hell with me.  I'm not detaining you for long.  Some of you will be returning on a more permanent basis anyway so get familiar with the surroundings.  And yes, I love the flames and fire.  Brimstone, not so much.

You should know that what my Harvestor and his lady love are doing is wrong.
Dead wrong.

Neither Cleansers or Harvestors are supposed to love.  Makes for bad soul collecting business.  My soul devouring suffers.  I get angry and do things.  You guys suffer, as the several people who died in that apartment fire found out.

Plus, a Cleanser and a Harvestor - ugh, I can't even say that word.  Sharing in that ridiculous "L" emotion is akin to xenogamy.  Then they'll cross pollinate with each other making little Cleanser-Harvestor offspring that I probably won't have free access to.  So you see, me breaking them apart and devouring Abby's soul is good for everyone.  You get that right?

Well, I'll take your wide-eyed stare as a sign of understanding.  You are dismissed****

I think Drakar just tried to rationalize what he is doing.  Unbelievable!!!!
Thursday, April 26, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "W" - Wants

I remember hearing a song.  Robin Thicke, I think, was the name of the musician.  The lyrics blasted from a car parked near the cathedral.  One refrain stuck in my head.  "I want everything I can't have".

If I had to pick a theme song for my life as Abigail Bishop, that would be it.

I wanted love as a child.  I got...something else.
I wanted to die, to end it all.  I lived.
I wanted to be the best Cleanser I could be.  That meant I could not have love.  No attachments.  Love equaled attachments.  I found love with Basil.  Timing sucked since emotions that caused attachments were supposed to have been trained out of me.
Now I want to save Father Quanon.  But I'm not supposed to.  I shouldn't care.  But I do.  I want him alive.  And I want Drakar buried in the deepest pits of his own hell.  Yeah, that is what I want.****

Looks like Drakar struck a nerve with Abby.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "V" - Vulnerable

What is the value of a man?
I know what Drakar really wants.
This Father Quanon is little more than a gamepiece, no more value to him than the pawn in a chess game.
But it's his game.
He's set the rules. Abby is his next snack, and nothing more.
Drakar has NO value for human life.
Now that he knows I do value it, he's made his move.
Abby may think the next move is hers, but it's mine.
He's forcing my hand to return to him, to return to collecting his souls, feeding his appetite.
And he's hit me where I'm most vulnerable.***

Will Basil return?  Or will Abby do something...dangerous?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "U" - Ultimatum

We both opened our eyes at the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat.  A man stood behind us.  Could have been handsome were it not for the lifeless eyes he exposed when he pulled the shades from his face.  Was that a maggot swaying in his empty sockets?  Mischief curled his lips.  Evil pulsed from every fiber of his being.  Only one person could hold that much vile within a thing of beauty.


I opened my mouth to speak, but my breath caught in my throat.  A silver chain dangled from his hand with a cross and the familiar custom made "Q" commissioned to Father Quanon.  The holy scriptures normally surrounding the charm had to have been broken.  The once lively ink coursing through the letter's curves swirled dull, clinging to life...much like Drakar's eyes.

"Father Quanon..." slipped from my lips, just above a whisper.

Drakar's voice grated against my hearing though it may have sounded smooth to a normal person.  "Your life for his, Red Riding Hood.  Deal's only good til midnight.  Then his soul is mine."

Drakar tossed the chain.  I caught it midair.  The ink still swirled so Father Quanon was still alive.  But for how long?****

What happened with Father Quanon?  Will she take Drakar's deal?
Monday, April 23, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "T" - Temporary


That is what life is for humans.  They are but shells housing souls.  The Society knew this well.  They should, since I trained them.  Or I should say one or two remaining angels on the dais were direct reports to me back when I first found I enjoyed a different kind of appetite.

Skip memory lane.

I hungered for a soul that wasn't free game.  A little birdie warned me of Basil's distraction, a girl wearing long sleeves all the time.  This same little birdie confirmed he saw this girl going in and out of the cathedral at all hours of the night, often with a red cloak.  Not all of my ties were unbound with the Society.  We maintained a sort of give and take, mainly when it benefited them.  This girl tangling with my Harvestor wasn't smart on her part.  Especially as a Cleanser.  She was, after all, temporary to the Society, expendable.  Others could take her place.  I wanted to devour her soul.  The Society no longer had use for a disobedient Cleanser.

What a marvelous deal.  I'll end up with a delicious soul, the Society gets rid of an upstart.  I'll get my Harvestor back.***

Drakar used to be....
He wants to devour Abby's soul and they're going to let him?
I'm just...oh goodness me.
Sunday, April 22, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

A Sunday post? Why yes, yes it is :-)

Charlie Holmberg at Myself as Written and Brooke Busse at Paper Mountain tagged me with the Lucky 7 Meme.  I've done this one before with my current WiP and have dodged doing it again with other tags...however, I have another WiP or two that I can do this for.  Brooke shared snippets - GREAT snippets - from three.  So I'm ready to share from another WiP that has been on pause for a while.
My YA fantasy, AMONG DRAGONS and MEN

The Rules
  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating

My snippet:

“Do not fret!” Blathe called out in the frantic mess that was her mind.  “I won’t let us perish!”  Melody had no idea what this voice, this person, this being of her imagination could do or even try.  But his words were a comfort no less, even though they came from an unexpected source.  Her breathing slowed, becoming more measured.  The thud of her heart crammed out all fear as she felt a sense of calm overtake her.
She heard a whistle, then gasped as darkness engulfed her.  She tumbled and rolled against leathery skin.  A man cried out.  She heard, more than she felt, her rescuer crash into the ground.  Branches or bones – she didn’t know which - cracked and snapped.  Scales slid across land like a fast-breaking locomotive, until they ground to a halt.

That is a bit over the seven but I wanted to include the last of that bit.  So thank you to Charlie, Brooke and others.  It was nice breaking out this WiP and sharing something from it :-)
Saturday, April 21, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "S" - Sacrifice

He waited on the bench, the picture of calm.

Or should I say It.

I stumbled back into the shadows, too aware of my jealousy.  I hadn't the heart to tell Abby of the Society's strong demands to see her, of my postponements for the past few meetings with them when I showed up alone.  She seemed so...down.  I shouldn't have cared, but I did.  Too much.

When she cleared the church doors, her gaze fell upon him - I mean - It, and she was hopeless.  She'd say, "Father Quanon, excuse me a moment," if I walked up to her now.  Then I'd become like vapor to her, forgotten.  He - It held her captive.  But the look on her face showed something that couldn't be broken with my best chants or scriptures.  The look of love.

So I slipped away to the meeting, alone.  Again .  Perhaps another postponement could be arranged.  At least I hoped so until I noticed two chairs, my empty one and one filled by a familiar figure, someone I'd lost a number of survivors to.


He pasted a lopsided grin on his face.  My stomach roiled.  If he was here, that meant only one thing.  A deal was made.  There will need to be a sacrifice.**** how is it Drakar is sitting there with the Society anyway?  What's this deal?  If I had fingernails I'd bite them :-)
Friday, April 20, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "R" - Running

My booted footfalls echoed from cobblestone, muffled only by the grass as I stumbled my way into Harbor Park.  Attentive mothers watched their children play on slides and climb through plastic obstacle courses. I found a cherub statue and balanced myself on a corner of its pedestal.  It looked forlornly across the grass to its mate on the other side of the playground.

"I know," I said, as if the thing could hear me, "not fair at all."

I sat there, trying to understand why I ran.  But that's what I'd always done...before.

Father would find me in my room at night.  He'd leave me empty, bloodshot eyes peering at me over his shoulders, daring me to tell anyone.  So I ran away.  He would always find me, beat me and then I'd stay.  But the cycle repeated until my brother stood up to him, protected me, unlike my mother who cowered at his feet.  When my brother graduated high school and left for boot camp, the cycle began again, more vicious.  Dirty.  Filthy.  Death a much better option.

But I couldn't even die right.

Father Quanon showed up and I didn't have to run anymore.  I could end the cycle.  I could do more, be more, just had to accept that I could not love.

Then Basil.  Now love.  Running didn't help before.  Won't help now.  Basil lied, true enough, but I hadn't exactly been honest either.  His "I love you" meant everything good and wonderful that my father's never did.  Basil's touch comforted me.  I'd finally found what I needed in my enemy, loving him, Harvestor and all.  Running hadn't changed that.


I looked around and saw him striding, purposeful, all my stuff in his hands.  He knelt before me.  "Where you run, I'll follow."  Truth of his words flooded my soul.

I leaned toward him, pressed my lips to his.  No bolt of lightning to break us apart.  No shattering earth to tear him away from me.  Soft.  Gentle.  Wanting.  Tingling erupted setting my nerves on edge.  He brought a hand to my face, cupped my cheek as my lips parted, opening to his desire.  Fierce heat stirred my core.  A breeze cooled my tingles, and nothing more perfect could have happened.

Until someone, very loudly, cleared their throat.******

Awww, Abby has dealt with a lot.  To finally find love when she isn't allowed...?  And who interrupted their first kiss?
Thursday, April 19, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "Q" - Questions

Time stood still.  Midnight sky eyes snared my attention.  The pained expression he held upon seeing my tattoos, it's now replaced by a look of...peace?

I fought my feet's glee to run and throw myself into an embrace I knew he'd openly give to me.  Each stutter-step brought me closer.  Closer.  Apples.  My stomach pretzeled into a knot, a hunger no food could satisfy.  We haven't even kissed...just his presence fills me with everything beautiful.  Damn it!  I'm supposed to be done with him, angered by him...and my body betrays me.  My heart flutters traitorously.  It's all maddening, confusing...and exciting.  Because he came back.

His lips curved ever so slightly.  His fingers twitched.  Nervous, maybe fighting his own desire to reach out for me and hold me close.

I stopped a foot from him or I wouldn't be able to speak.  "What do you want?"  What the heck was that weak, whimpering sound?  Where was the conviction in my tone???

"You."  A one word answer, his voice husky.

Tears burned the back of my eyes.  Something wet defied my will and trickled down my cheek.  If my heart galloped any faster it would bolt right out my chest.  "Why did you walk away like that?  How could you?"  Ridiculous!  Even with the strength of fire flowing through my veins, pulsing beneath my marks, covered by my cloak, my Cleanser training crumbled, leaving me...just a girl.

"I was stunned.  It was unfair."  He undid the top three buttons of his shirt, pulling fabric aside, exposing a horizontal infinity mark with a shadowy butterfly trapped in the middle.

I gasped and stepped back.  "You!  A Harvestor?"  Time sped up and slammed into my senses.  I stumbled forward into his arms.  The pained expression from showing him my tattoos made sense.  I looked up into his face.  So at peace.  "You know what I am."  A statement, not a question.

His sweet breath warmed by cheeks as he said, "Yes."  He shivered, fixing his gaze with mine.  "I love you, Abby."

A lump blocked my throat.  I couldn't breathe, think, nothing.  So...I dropped everything...

And ran.*****

Whaaaat??  Now I have a million more questions.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "P" - Patience

Patience is a virtue most Harvestors lack.  Probably the reason I excelled as the best of Drakar's soul collectors.  After doling my soul over to him for a quick fix to my ego issue only to have my life snuffed from me too soon, I realized the importance of patience.

So I sat outside the cathedral, resting on a bench.  Scriptures, invisible to the human eye, wove around and about the building and nearby cobblestones like a force field against my kind, keeping me from coming any closer.

Abby was a Cleanser.  But she was MY Abby.  My heart craved her.

Just a short walk across the stones stood the coffee shop.  This church had to be her base of operation.  I needed to see her.  I just had to be patient.

As it often did, my patience paid off.  She stepped through the double-doors, halting my heart.  Instead of the cleansing blue robes worn by other Cleansers, she chose cleansing fire, a scarlet robe.  The same worn by the Cleanser who'd stolen my twenty souls from me.  Most of us nicknamed this Cleanser Red Riding Hood, except she didn't fall victim to the wolves of hell, she vanquished them with earnest.  I chuckled at the irony.  I would fall in love with the very best Cleanser.*****

Now that he's found her, what will Basil do?  How will Abby react to seeing him?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Update for A to Z bloggy lovers

So I've been ever so touched by the comments and encouragement from everyone who's had a chance to follow along on this blog opera and drama with Abby and Basil.  This started as just my theme for the A to Z blogging challenge.  It has grown into something I really enjoy, characters I love, particularly one I love to hate, and a story that - per Raelyn - needs to be in novel format and available like...yesterday :-)

I'm so humbled and yes, I intend to move forward with transforming these letters into a novel, or at least a novella.

For those interested in reading each A to Z post from the beginning, I've set up a page with the links to each story, all in one place.  I'll keep it up to date as each letter publishes.

Thanks again everyone.  In case you want the link to the page as well, here it is:

Letter "O" - Off Course

Drakar stood next to the bedside table, his fingertips swirling ashes, the only remains left by Nevermore after Basil's choice to abandon his path.  Leaving the soul collecting journal there caused it to spontaneously combust.  He gripped a handful, angered he couldn't reclaim the souls freed when it happened, souls he would have devoured had Basil come directly to him after pouring them into the book.

His true form pulsed beneath human skin cloying at the seams.  Camouflaging was not Drakar's strong suit, but it met his needs.  It was how he so easily recruited.

"This is unexpected," he whispered to the emptiness as he settled on the unkempt bed, tossed and twisted blankets a testament to Basil's haste.  "My best Harvestor, gone."

A smirk curved his lips in the devilish manner he perfected during Time's timelessness.  "He can't know the truth. No one ever figured it out.  Surely no other Harvestor told him the truth about the soul quota, not after my with them."  The air could do no more than listen.  So it could not respond.

"He's just strayed off course.  I'll have to correct it for him."  He stood, back straight, head held high.  He inhaled deeply then blew out a breath of flames, setting the room ablaze.  He forced his energy through the apartment complex, dampening fire alarm batteries.  Surely someone was home, a soul the fire could free so one of his Harvestors could bring it to him.

With his appetite for chaos briefly sated, he strutted from the apartment, his thoughts on bringing Basil back into the fold.  And he knew just how.*****

Okay, so now I don't just want to punch Drakar in the face.  Anybody else want to mob him?
Monday, April 16, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "N" - Nevermore

I wanted to hate her for the lies.  But I couldn't.  I was no better.  At least she was helping souls. I breathed the tormented things into me, bled them out on Nevermore then handed the pages over to Drakar.

I was hateworthy!

And I was so tired of everything being all about me.  That's what got me here in the first place.  Me and my ego. I'd had twenty four whole hours to enjoy my new ranking at the seminary when, of all things, a drunk driver hopped the curb and ended my life.  How freak-accident is that?  Having made a deal with the devil, I suppose it was my just desserts.

Nevermore sat on my bedside table, untouched since the day I walked away from Abby.
Nevermore, my link to Hell.  Not a day passed by without it in my hands at some point.
Nevermore, my short leash to Drakar, a choking reminder of being a Harvestor.  He would reach out again.  The excuse of something ill plaguing my human form wouldn't work much longer.

I slipped from bed, showered and dressed, then headed toward the door to find Abby.  It was time I found out what I could be without Nevermore.*******

Looks like Basil has chosen love.  Stay tuned for what may come.  The suspense is thrilling me :-)
Saturday, April 14, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "M" - Mistaken

Code words exchanged.  Confession almost over.

"By the way, Father Quanon.  You were right.  There was no boy."  After showing him my tattoos, Basil turned and left without a word.  The following day, he didn't show up.  That was hint enough for me.  He was always too clean cut anyway.  I should have known better.


"Don't sound so surprised."  My voice cracked.  A twisting, branching fissure folded my heart in on itself each time I remembered the pained expression on Basil's face before he pivoted out of my life.  Fitting, as I continued, "I was mistaken.  Cleansers aren't meant for love.  Right?  Anyway, any special orders from the Society?  I'd like to start looking into my transfer option."  I couldn't handle seeing Basil.  Not like this.

"Nothing.  No.  You're, you can, I guess I would just miss you," he said, stumbling over his words more than I'd ever heard.

"No attachments," I answered, giggling, forcing the joke.  He chuckled then sighed.  That felt better.  I left the confession booth, letting the door muffle close behind me.


Father Quanon hadn't the heart to tell Abby the truth.  He'd followed her two more times.  Two more times the Elders plucked his memory.  Three times disobedience.  Too late she'd ended things.  He still sat in the confession booth an hour later, staring at the Society's orders to present Abby to them.  An inquisition had been called.  His heart ached at having made the biggest mistake of all.  Not because she'd cared for the boy, but because he realized how much he'd grown to care for her, too.****

Uh oh.  Now who's admitting to forbidden emotions?
Friday, April 13, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "L" - Laying Bare the Truth

Her soul called to me as I opened the coffee shop door.  She sat in the same spot as always.  Laptop open.  Sparkling smile. Beautiful face.  Only now did I realize she's always worn long sleeves.

"Why?" I asked, standing beside her chair.  Not hey, hello, how are you.

Her smile faltered.  "Uh, I missed you yesterday."

"Please answer my question."  The doubts nagged at me like a thousand needles stabbing at my heart.

"Fine," she said, hands up in surrender.  "Why what?"

"The sleeves.  All the time.  No matter how it feels outside.  Long.  Why?"

Her eyes narrowed, smile completely gone.  A fierce blush flooded her cheeks.  "I - well - I just like long sleeves is all."

"Can I see them?  Your arms, I mean."  I had to know what Drakar meant.  What truth will her arms bare?

Sweat beaded her forehead.  She sucked her bottom lip in.  Nervous.  What is it?  With trembling fingers, she slowly slid her sleeves up.  "Tattoos," she said.  "Most people tend to judge me because they don't understand them."

I knew that ink work alright.  The marks of a Cleanser.  My heart belonged to my enemy.

Now that he's discovered the truth, what will Basil do?
Thursday, April 12, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "K" - Killing Me Softly

No one looks Drakar directly in the eyes.  Not out of reverence.  It's flat out fear.  Emptiness, death and decay fill his eye sockets.  Yet he can see so much.

Too much.

"There are mumblings among the ranks," he said, gesturing me forward.  He's called me to his relaxation room before to congratulate me.  None of those times started with these words.  Seated in a pool of flames covering his demonic form up to his chest, bat-like wings half-stretched, he is evil incarnate.

"What might those be, master?"  Not that I wanted to know.

"You are distracted.  Barely making quota.  And it's because of a girl."

"I wouldn't allow such a thing to happen, not behind some human.  This is just a poor soul season.  I will return to my splendor, milord."  How the hell did he know?

"She is not what you think.  Her arms 'bare' the truth."  He sneered at his own little private joke, continuing, "Now fall to the second circle of Hell.  The pits await you for your incompetence."  He waved his taloned hand dismissively.

I settle on a stone, the pits worse than ever, his words killing me softly, doubt gnawing at the little bit of humanity that remains, doubts about my Abby.*****

I still want to punch Drakar.  I know, I know.  Violence is not always the answer...but boy would it sure feel good :-)
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "J" - Journal

Dear Diary...Journal...Thing,

Sorry, not sure how I'm supposed to address you.  I didn't have one of you before.  Basil has inspired me, carrying his around faithfully, always writing in it.  Seems to calm him, releases his tension, freeing his beautiful smile to me.

Lately, I haven't felt I could be as honest as I should be with Father Quanon.  Just last week he warned me of an inquisition if I display disobedience two more times.  I don't know how they know, but somehow, my feelings are known.  Perhaps the very existence of emotions within a Cleanser sends a ripple through the ether, telling on myself to those in charge.


I fear the inquisition.  Not as much as I fear missing Basil's smile, the feel of his arm draped on my shoulders as we rest together on the couch.  The warmth of his breath against my neck when he leans down to hug me.  The scent of apples so intoxicating it sends my heart racing.

I must attend confession soon, visit Father Quanon, put on a facade.  Perhaps it will give me a day or two more with Basil.  Or the Elders may demand my presence immediately.  Either way, I can do now what I could not do when I tried to take my own life, accept my fate in peace.  If I am to die, so be it.  My feelings are wrong to the Society.  But not to my heart.  That is all that matters.

Thank you, journal, for listening.  I see a beautiful smile beaming at me.  Basil is here.  The coffee shop is warmer.  With what looms ahead, every moment is precious.

Even with a warning, Abby continued to disobey the ways of the Society.  What will become of her?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "I" - If

Out of life come two letters so small, it's no wonder they have such a terrible effect.


If I had accepted my fate, understood I wasn't meant to be number one in everything,
If I hadn't made a deal with the devil,
If I had known the price was far steeper than I was truly willing to pay,
If I hadn't walked in this coffee shop,
If Abby weren't here,
Would I be questioning my role in Drakar's plans?
Would I be feeling - emotions - things a Harvestor is meant to shun and despise?
If I tell Abby even a tenth of the truth, will she shun and despise me?

With the sweet smell of her soul wafting beneath my nostrils, "if" becomes too dangerous a word.  I must remain a student in her eyes, a youth in college, though those years have been behind me for some time.  I must do what I can to keep her sweet smell near for as long as I can.

A Harvestor falling in love.  Can Basil handle this change within himself?
Monday, April 9, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "H" - Handler

Three hundred years have I done this, recruited the talent, molded it to the will of the Society, led it on its course of Cleansing, of guiding the lost and distraught souls to The Gates.  I've been lucky to work with wonderful Cleansers, none quite as successful as Abby.

Elders steepled their hands before me. seated in their high backed chairs, robes and hoods to hide their faces while I sat ten feet below the dais, held prisoner to their scrutiny.  I'd never felt this way before.  A prisoner.  Scrutinized.  I'd always opened my mind so that Cleanser confessions could be recorded for the Society's records.

For once, I didn't want them to hear Abby's words, her tone of voice when she referred to the boy.  I didn't want them to see me skulking like a rat to spy on my Cleanser.

A handler...spying on their Cleanser.  Pathetic.

What I saw made things worse.  In the coffee shop, she sat beside something.  It was no more a normal boy than any I'd ever seen.  He wore the shell but more lurked beneath the skin.  Abby - she was too far gone on things she was NOT supposed to feel to notice. I clinched my jaw as this last memory replicated and the reproduction slithered out my mouth like glittering vapor in the darkened room.

"Father Quanon," a soft female voice called from the dais, "this is most disturbing.  Do you know what this means?"

"Yes."  I nodded, despite the fact my verbal response was all they needed.

"Two more times, Handler.  Two more instances where we can record a moment of such disobedience to our ways and there will be an inquiry."  Her voice remained soft, gentle even, but the implications of her words were not lost on me.

A shudder shook my body.  I coughed to mask it.  If only I had been able to mask that memory.

Elders?  A Society?  Memories that can be claimed?  Sure hope Father Quanon can make sure Abby doesn't reach disobedience number three.
Saturday, April 7, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "G" - Greetings

What started with a blush grew to a desire forbidden.  I am a Cleanser.  Love was not mine to have.

And yet, I longed for it.

The person I thought of constantly hadn't shown for a few days.  Warmth seeped from my heart each day he did not show.  I had no way to reach out to him.  Not even a name.

Until today.

He entered the coffee shop, leather bound book clutched against his chest.  His normal calm radiated with more solemn quietude.  The midnight eyes that held me bound practically called out to me as he leveled his gaze at me in passing.  He slouched onto the couch.  Tired.  So much like a lost soul.  The pull was too much.

"Hi."  I found myself leaning against the arm of the couch, wondering when I'd gotten up in the first place.

He turned to me.  There were those eyes again, brightening as he looked at me.  The corner of his lips lifted ever so slightly, as though he fought a smile.  "Hey to you, too.  Been meaning to say something to you.  But you're so pretty and all."  A tinge grazed his cheeks as his smile blossomed.  Beautiful teeth and deep dimples.

My hair could have caught on fire at that moment and I wouldn't have known.  He thought I was pretty.  Of course, he couldn't see the sleeves of tattoos, scores of battle scars or my Cleanser's mark.  Long sleeve shirts did wonders to hide a girl's secrets.  Again, my lips moved before my mind could check the words.  "I'm so plain looking."  As usual, the first to down myself.  But I followed with, "You're very sweet to say that, though."  My turn for blood to flood my face and warm my cheeks as I smiled and looked away from him.

The furniture rustled.  From the corner of my eye, I noticed he placed the book by his side and stood up, his hand out to me.  Half a foot taller than me.  Broad shoulders.  The scent of apples called.  My heart stutter-stepped.  But I managed to put my hand in his.

"I'm Basil.  You're Abby, right?"

My grip tightened.  His smile faltered.  So did mine.  "How do you know my name?"  Training kicked in and I was ready to pounce.

"I noticed your name on your cup as I came in."

I could have kicked myself.  I stuffed my paranoia aside and let myself be something I didn't know how to be before I tried to take my own life.  A simple girl.

"Sorry, about the hand thing.  You know, can't be too careful."  I loosened my grip but he brought his other hand up to mine.  Soft.  Gentle.

"No apologies needed.  I'd be concerned if someone just knew my name as well.  Would you mind joining me on the couch?  It's what I've wanted to ask you since I first saw you.  Just hadn't worked up the nerves, until now."

I slid down beside him, leaving my things where they were.  No one would bother them anyway.  He held my hand as we talked.  Topics from music to movies.  It was the longest I'd ever stayed at Starbucks.  And I loved every moment.

A Cleanser and a Harvestor.  Maybe they can work?
Friday, April 6, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "F" - Fledgling

For weeks, Death whispered the sweetest nothings in my ear:
End it all.  End the pain.
You're father can't hurt you anymore.
You won't have to watch your mother cower in fear.
No one understands you wear long sleeves to hide the bruises and the Goth look blends the black and blue into something trendy.
End it.  Now.

Slitting my wrists was the easy part.  Staying dead turned out to be harder than I thought.  There I was smiling.  My soul separating stitch by stitch, releasing the pain as Death promised.  Except my mom came home early from work.  She never came home early for work.  Ever.  To the hospital I went, considered dead for sixty minutes.  Then a beep.  More beeps.  Heart rhythm.  Unwanted life.

Father's visit pained me.  He stared down at me with bloodshot eyes, buttons of his shirt all wrong, a sneer on his lips.  I willed my heart to stop.  It beat stronger than ever before.  That's when Father Quanon showed up.  Surviving suicide is one thing.  Returning from death after an hour, well, that warranted a chance at a new life, which my father was all to eager to sign off on.  My mother, though she wanted to keep me, obeyed as usual.

Father Quanon took me under his wing, taught me the ways of the Cleansers, helped me to bury the pain into a deep dark recess never to return.  This also meant every other emotion had to be done away with as well, including love.

It's hard not to think about midnight sky eyes, especially with him missing for some days now.  I try to relax in the solace that I'm no longer a fledgling Cleanser.  Probation period over.  Being the best for the past two years gives me top seed to decide if or where I want to transfer to.  But I don't know if I want to.

I like it here.  I love my routine.

And those midnight sky eyes.

Abby's really falling for a guy she's not supposed to interact with anymore.  What will happen next?
Thursday, April 5, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "E" - Ego

Drakar tossed me into the pits without a second glance.  Basil, his most faithful servant.  The first night I didn't make my quota.  Some Cleanser, covered from head to toe in a scarlet cloak, vanquished my hellhounds and took away my score of souls.  A score!  Have you any idea what it takes to round up twenty souls in one night?  Isn't as easy as you think, let me tell you.  But I've been the best for the past month.  The best, I tell you!  But once again, my ego got the better of me.  Hell, my ego is why I'm here in the first place.  I always had to be the best.  Number one in track and field in high school.  Valedictorian of my class.  What my parents wanted most, I tried to oblige, so I went to seminary school.  I struggled.  Miserably.  I wasn't number one anymore.  Ate me up inside.  Until...

Doesn't matter anymore.  For the purpose of satisfying my ego, I made a choice.  A bad one I've regretted for a decade.  As an immortal Harvestor, I have an eternity to torture myself with regret.  Only sane thought I have is that girl.  Vente white chocolate mocha, extra shot.  When I get out of here, I think I'll ask for her name.

Wait.  Stop it!  I've got to get my head right.  I'm not supposed to, ugh...feel.  What's wrong with me?  Why can't I get her off my mind?

I better.  If Drakar finds out...

I don't even want to think about what would happen if he finds out.

Poor Basil.  Choices do have consequences.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "D" - Devil May Care Not

***Here's a taste of Drakar

Souls.  That is what I deal in.  I do not care for the joys of Midterra, that land pathetic humans call Earth.  They walk about, day in, day out, damning their enemies to hell.  In turn, their enemies damn them to hell right back.  Personally, I don't discriminate.  All of you are welcome to fill my darkest pits.  Especially, if you work for the Other Side.

Don't make me puke with your self-righteousness.

I'm sure I can make a deal with you, too.  How else do you think I have a legion of Harvestors doing my bidding, sending my hellhounds to round up souls?  Most of them were you.  Just.  Like.  You.  I see you, sitting perfectly unaware of how close you are to my grasp.  Don't worry, I won't have to come to you.  You'll come to me, Drakar of the Underworld.  The most resistant ones always do.  They turn out to be my best Harvestors, just like Basil.

Anybody else fell like punching Drakar in the face?  Or is it just me?
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "C" - Cover Reveal!!! To Ride a Puca by Heather McCorkle and a Confession

Please check out something that is quite the beauty, especially if you love horses.  Before we dive into another episode of A to Z blogging, I've invited Heather over to share the cover for her latest YA writerly masterpiece of fantasy and magic.  Take it away Heather :-)

Heather: I'm so excited to share the cover of my young adult historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Púca, with you. I've been waiting for so long to reveal the news and the cover that it's been driving me crazy! This novel is special to me, as many of you know, because it felt like my heart and soul has gone into it. It isn't a part of the channeler series, though it is a tie-in novel as it's about one of Eren's ancestors. This is a stand alone of a very different flavor and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Here is a bit about it:

Invaders are coming to take what isn't theirs, again.

Neala wants to stand and fight for her homeland, but as one of the last druids, she may be standing alone.

Persecuted, hunted down, forced to live in obscurity, the druids have all but given up. Can the determination of a girl who has barely come into her power bring them together? Or, just when she finally finds her place among her kind, will they end up losing a homeland their very magic is tied to?

This novel is intended for mature teens and adults as it contains some difficult subject matter. 

I had to throw that warning in because I had one person who was disturbed by some of the subject matter in The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. To Ride A Púca is a much darker novel than Spruce Knoll and will certainly not be appropriate for some readers. Slavery, oppression, and violent situations are within this novel. It certainly falls under the dark YA catagory. But it is also about hope, love, and belonging. It releases this May! To add this novel to your Goodreads lists click here. To pre-order a signed hardback (to ship at the end of May), click here.

****Thank you so much Heather for allowing me the pleasure of sharing this cover reveal with everyone.  It is very beautiful and quite breath taking.

And now, here is Abigail in Confession:

I make my way across the cobblestone walkway, my mini laptop sliding about in the side satchel hanging diagonally across my body.

It is time.

I do not stop to tap a finger into the Holy water or to cross myself before the crucifix way down at the altar.  I'm sure Father Quanon is here.  I slip into the small booth.  Clear my throat twice.  The small veiled, square between me and the priest on the other side slides open.  A mesh screen is all that remains of the opening.

"Shall I bless you, child, for you have sinned?" comes the familiar voice.  I follow the code.

"Blessings are for the living.  I am but a vessel."

He chuckles softly.  "You are the best vessel among the Cleansers.  How are your weapons holding up?"

I pull the billowy sleeves up both arms, eyeing my marks as best I can beneath the dim light of the booth.  Scriptures wind around and about my arms up to my shoulders.  Shield.  Bow.  Arrows.  Other combat items inked on my skin bear a dull tone.  Lots of use of late.  "I could use a touch up."

I'm normally chatty, telling my mentor of my encounters during the midnight hour when the worlds between the living and dead are most volatile, souls ripe for harvesting.  As a Cleanser, I locate the tormented and lost, place them on the path to The Gates where they can face judgement.  But sometimes, hell hounds tangle things up as they try to round up these souls for Harvestors, servants of Drakar of the underworld.

The quiet doesn't go unnoticed.  "Something is wrong.  Isn't it?"

My thoughts are heady, the scent of apples, his presence.  Should I tell Father Quanon the truth now or wait for him to find out through his own efforts?  That last option sounds like a lot of trouble for me.  Being enamored with this boy is not allowed, not as a Cleanser.  I took my own life.  Almost.  Suspended in between worlds long enough to return...unique.  This is my penance. Guider of souls to the one place I've damned myself from ever getting to.  Love, attachments, they are not for one such as me.  But I tell him.  "There is a boy - "

"Don't go any further," Father Quanon says, cutting me off.  "There is no boy and there will be no boy.  Not for you.  I'm sorry.  But you are a Cleanser.  Don't let me hear you say - or think - those words again."  The opening slams shut.  The other door creaks open and closes.  Muffled footsteps echo away.

I am left alone with my thoughts, memories of training where love should have been pushed away.  As the boy I'm not supposed to think about crosses my mind, I realize I hadn't pushed those emotions deep enough or far enough.

There is a boy.  And I don't know what to do.

Basil's not supposed to feel and she's not supposed to love.  Le sigh, what are they to do?
Monday, April 2, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Letter "B" - Basil

***Today, we meet Basil

I pondered what sweet smell could force me within the doors of a coffee chain.  Seemed so below me.  I mean, really, a Harvestor sipping on a latte?  Not hardly.

I see souls everywhere I go.  But to smell one?  Not in my lifetime.  But I haven't been around all that long.  I've got a lot to learn.

The source of my draw sat in the back corner, a table beside the window, a perfect view to the park and the cathedral across the cobblestone walkway.  Day after day I arrive, having harvested my quota of souls for the night, ready to pour them out from me as I write each memorized name in my blood, emptying their souls from my human form and into the pages of Nevermore, my collector's journal.  The pen's needlepoint, which calls my blood forth for the release, is the one thing I can't get used to.

Well, it used to be the one thing.  What am I supposed to do about vente white chocolate mocha with her extra shot?  What am I supposed to do about these...what are these things?  Feelings?  Can't be.  I'm a Harvestor.  We don't have emotions, at least, so I was taught.***

Hmmm....this can't be a good thing...or can it?
Sunday, April 1, 2012 | By: Angela Brown

Blogging from A to Z - The Letter "A"

It isn't the monster of all challenges, but it isn't one to take lightly.  Because this is blogging everyday, with certain exceptions, this month will be light on the goal delivery.  For the next 26 letters, I want to take you into the minds of a few characters, see some interactions.  Maybe things develop into...more...
***Today, you meet Abigail.

Routine is what I am.  It's what I do.  Every morning, at the exact same time, I set myself up at the same Starbuck's.  All the workers know me by name and drink:  Abby, vente white chocolate mocha with an extra shot.

I need that extra shot.  I'm not very good with sleeping through the night.

For the past couple of weeks, I've noticed I'm not the only one with a routine.

He walks in, relaxes on the sofa near my chair and the scent of ripe apples tickle my nose.  There's a book, brown leather bound, that he holds tight to his chest.  An ancient smell leaks out when he opens the pages.  He always snaps his pen ready with a wince and scribbles word after word.  I try to ignore him, but how can I?  Sometimes his eyes leave the page and wander over to me.  I steal a glance, caught in the midnight sky of his gaze, beautiful, almond shaped, piercing, situated beneath thick brows and lashes that fan the wind with a blink.  He smiles.

I melt every time and just barely manage to turn my warmed cheeks from his sight.

Ridiculous.  Me for acting like a twelve year old.  No good when I'm all of seventeen years old.  Him for being...him.***

Hmmm...I wonder what will happen next?  Come on back to find out :-)