The winner of Tricia Mills's Heartbreak River
is...ddurance! Deirdre, I don't have a way to reach you, so please send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com in the next week. Congrats!
Today's Blogtoberguest is, uh, me. I scheduled myself toward the end of the month because:
a) I'm a procrastinator.
b) I hoped by this point I'd have cover art for Shade
As you can see, I have cover art! It's not final--they'll add a tagline and a cover quote--but this is the basic image. If you want to see Aura's face, check out the full wrap-around hardcover jacket near the end of this post. I love all my covers, but I am rabidly excited about this one. Aura looks like Aura and everything!
I'm still waiting for a trailer and back-cover copy, so I'll tell you about Shade
in my own, non-marketing-professional words:
16-year-old Aura can see ghosts. Then again, so can everyone around the world who was born after her. In fact, they have a word for the moment of her birth: the Shift. Aura suspects that the Shift might be connected to her missing mystery dad and an event that happened at Newgrange tomb in Ireland a year before her birth.
Ghosts can be annoying at their best. At their worst, as dark, powerful "shades," they can be deadly. So Aura's major goal in life is to undo the Shift and make the ghosts go away.
And then, her boyfriend dies and becomes a ghost.Release date: May 4, 2010, from Simon Pulse
So you'd think that because I write the spooky, I'd do a Halloween post. But Aura mentions in Shade
that she and Logan went to Chiapparelli's
before the Homecoming dance a few weeks before he died, so I decided to find out what happened on their last big date:
* * * *
SHADE prequel scene (not an excerpt from the book), in honor of Blogtoberfest
“I got us a ghost-free table,” Logan said. “At least, I hope I did.”
The hostess led us through the restaurant’s candlelit foyer, past the autographed photos of Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, into the brighter back room.
“If they're here, at least I won't be able to see them. Much.” I shivered as Logan peeled off my coat, his fingers brushing my bare shoulders and the wisps of dark brown hair cascading from my up-do.
He gave the gawking couple at the next table a muted version of his magnetic smile. They looked away with matching grimaces. Maybe they worried their two little boys would grow up to pierce their own brows, or dye their own hair bleached blond with black streaks.
As soon as the hostess left, Logan’s animated blue eyes peeped at me over the top of his menu. “Then again,” he said, “your dress could scare off every ghost in Baltimore.”
My face warmed—okay, not just my face. The way he looked at me brought up thoughts of Thursday and the thing we weren’t talking about.
As for the dress, I always wore a lot of red—ghosts hated the color—but never to any place important. No one born before me could see ghosts, including Logan, who was two months and three days older. So a red outfit was like a neon sign reading, “Hey, I’m only sixteen!” But when I saw the Faviana cocktail dress (new-with-tags) on eBay for $45.99, I knew it was destiny.
Red didn’t always deter ghosts. The only foolproof spirit stopper was the expensive BlackBox technology, where charged obsidian was built into the walls. Only the big chain restaurants could afford it, and we were not about to waste Homecoming night on a lame-ass piece of Generica.
Logan gave the menu a quick glance, then tossed it aside. “Penne vodka.”
“The alcohol burns off when they cook the sauce,” I told him.
After a brief pause, he said, “I knew that.” But he picked up the menu again.
When we ordered, the waiter nodded approvingly at my pronunciation of manicotti (mani-GOT
, as taught by my Italian grandmom) and winced at Logan’s mangling of “Spaghetti Bolognese.”
“How was rehearsal today?” I asked Logan, before he could wonder out loud why the menu didn’t just say “Spaghetti and Meat Sauce.”
He brightened at the sound of his favorite topic. “It was awesome. Mickey and I worked out Siobhan’s fiddle part on ‘Ghost in Green.’ The transposition was a bitch, but by the next gig the song’ll be perfect.”
My gut tightened with sympathy nerves at the thought of their big show on Logan’s seventeenth birthday. “It’ll be perfect if Brian can stay sober.”
“Yeah. Pretty big if.” Logan stirred the ice in his soda glass. “I know I get pretty wasted sometimes, but I never let it affect the band.”
True. Unlike their drummer, Logan saved his binges for after the gigs.
He grew still as he focused on the bubbly brown depths of his soda. “So. About what happened Thursday.”
I looked down at my hands and fought the usual urge to pick at the ebony nail polish. “You mean what didn’t
happen. I’m sorry I chickened out.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s my fault.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I felt suddenly cold, so I wrapped my black pashmina shawl over my bare shoulders, covering the top of my dress.
“Instead, let’s just try it again.” I dropped my voice to a whisper. “No, I mean—not try. Do.” Great, now I sounded like Yoda. “Tonight.”
“Aura, I’ve been thinking.” He set his elbows on the table and folded his hands together. “We’ve gotten really wrapped up in this do-we-or-don’t-we thing. Maybe we should take a break.”A break?
Icy fingers climbed the ladder of my rib cage. Is he ending us? On Homecoming night? We hadn't even gotten our appetizers.
“A break?” I choked out. “From each other?”
His eyes widened. “No! God, no. I meant take a break from thinking about sex.” He shifted his weight in the chair. “Okay, that’s not really possible for, like, two seconds in a row, but let’s stop obsessing about when and where. If it happens, it happens, and if not, that’s cool, too.”
I took as deep a breath as possible in the tight dress. “Really?”
“We’ll just put it away for a while.” He mimed opening a drawer and dropping something in. “We’ll have more fun together without all the pressure. Like we used to.” Logan closed the imaginary drawer.
“He’s lying,” said a voice behind me.
I turned to see the faint violet shimmer of a ghost, almost invisible under the recessed ceiling light. Her voice held a bitter, million-and-one-cigarettes edge.
“That boy’s not giving up on sex, hon,” she said. “He’s just giving up on sex with you.”
At the next table, the kid in the booster seat started to cry, his gaze fixed on the source of the voice. The baby in the high chair pointed and giggled, too young to know that ghosts were supposed to be scary (or at least annoying).
“He’ll find someone else,” the dead lady sneered. “With his looks—and did I hear right, he’s in a band?—it’ll take him about thirty seconds, if that.”
I clutched the edge of the table, refusing to react. Not that ignoring them made them go away or anything.
Logan looked at the kids, then at me. “There’s a ghost here?”
“Don’t worry about it,” I told him.
“You’re all pissed off. What’s it saying?”
“I said, don’t worry about it.”
He turned to the other table, where the mother was comforting the toddler. The father muttered, “So much for family-friendly dining. Karen, I told you we should’ve gone to the Cheesecake Factory.”
The ghost’s voice came close to my ear. “I bet he already has groupies.”
“Do you want to leave?” Logan asked.
“No,” I snapped. “This is my favorite restaurant. I’m not letting her chase me away.”
The ghost laughed. “He’ll go through those girls like a bag of potato chips. You know what they say, after all. You can’t eat just one.”
“Shut up!” I stood and whipped off my wrap, revealing the scarlet dress beneath. “Mind your own damn business!”
The ghost hissed as if she’d been burned. The little kid screamed louder, and the baby stopped giggling. Everyone else in the room just stared.
The dead woman slunk away, her slim, wispy form brightening in the shadows near the bar.
“I have no damn business,” she said in a forlorn voice. “No business at all.”
I smothered a pang of sympathy and sat down just as the waiter delivered our basket of fresh-baked bread. I reached for a slice.
“Hey.” Logan covered my hand with his. The warmth of the bread beneath my palm sent shivers up my arm. “What did it say to you?” he whispered.
I tried to tell him, tried to trust him. When he turned that gaze on me, I felt like we were the only two people in the world. But I knew that when he looked out into a screaming crowd, each person felt that same way.
Everyone said Logan would be a star before he turned eighteen. Not the kind of star I wanted to study in college—the kind that burned light-years away, glistening cold in the night sky. He’d be the kind that burned here, blazing in the eyes of those who would worship him. Who would come to possess him, piece by tiny piece, until there was nothing of him left for me.
I pulled out the bread loaf and tore off two slices. Handing one to Logan, I said, “She was in the wrong restaurant. She thought she was a walking fortune cookie.”
He took a pat of butter as I poured myself some olive oil. “You think the fortune’ll come true?” he asked.
I smiled at him around my bite of warm, soft bread, pretending my full mouth was what kept me from answering.It'll never come true
, I vowed. Not if I can help it.
* * * *
To enter to win a signed ARC of Shade
(mailing in November), leave a comment below. And remember, each comment automatically enters you in the drawing for the grand prize package: all 25 books!
For complete rules, read the introductory post
Deadline for entry: Friday, November 6, 11:59pm Eastern. NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. The winner is Leah!
Other open contests:Simone Elkeles and Perfect ChemistryMaggie Stiefvater and BalladStephanie Kuehnert and Ballads of SuburbiaCarrie Jones and an ARC of CaptivateJennifer Echols and The Ex-GamesPC Cast and Tempted
If you're wondering, Aura's dress can be found, among other places, here
(sadly, not the bargain she found on eBay). Or visit the designer's website
for more drool-worthy dresses.
Come back tomorrow for our final guest, Rachel Vincent!
Labels: Blogtoberfest, Contests, SHADE series