Wednesday, January 26, 2011


 YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).  
His steel-toed work boots thud against the hallway. She turns her face toward the window, the waning moon casts a sliver of light onto the floor. The stale scent of cigarettes and Jack Daniels hangs in the air.
My throat constricts against the residual smell of him.

“Sade, are you okay?” Detective Brown asks.

I nod and unscrew the top of my water bottle. The cool liquid sooths my choking.

“What did you see?” The girl’s mom sits opposite me, clinging to the red t-shirt. Her hair hangs loose, silver veins catching the light of the meditation room.

My gaze flicks to the detective, his dark eyes focus on mine. The twitch of his jaw tells me I shouldn’t say. I look back at the mom.

“Please.” Her knuckles are white as she strangles the shirt.

“It’s been a long time, Ms. Sanfrey. Sade can’t always get a read,” he says to her.

“Thanks Zach.” I turn to her once more. “What Detective Brown is saying is sometimes I’m not able to get enough of an impression when so much time has passed.”

Tears make muddy lines in her heavy make-up. “Please, you’re my last hope.”

“It’s been fifteen years.” Zach covers her fisted hands, and she relaxes her grip.

She shakes her head. “I know she’s not alive, that’s not what I’m asking for.”

The truth is, I don’t want to see the horrors that befell this girl. I don’t want to be in her head. The people, like Ms. Sanfrey, don’t know the cost of seeing such things. But when I look at this crumpled woman, perhaps I don’t know the cost of what she’s lost.

“Okay.” I sniff. “I’ll try again.”

“Sade, you don’t—"

“I know, Zach. But she deserves to know what happened. And if you can catch the asshole in the process, it’s worth it. Right?” My hand slides across the table; she wastes no time in giving me the shirt.


The girl’s heart falls in time with his footfalls, beating slower, disengaging. I try to open her eyes, see the room and the man that is most certainly coming this way, but she blocks me. Her spirit is strong and I feel her hand slip down between the covers. The rough cotton string of sweatpants burns against her, my, stomach as she cinches them.

I pray my body isn’t acting this out in front of Zach and Ms. Sanfrey.

He’s closer, his labored breathing is familiar to her and sends whirls of nausea through her gut. The creak of the door echoes through the room.

Open your eyes, let me see him.

He stands beside her bed, but she keeps her eyes sealed tight. Hope rises in her chest, maybe he’s too wasted. Maybe the string will hold.

His boots thump one by one as they come off. The chill of night air touches her skin as he throws off the quilt.

Come on, Sal. Open your eyes!

The springs of the bed echo her inner hate and shame as they wail against the weight of him.

The string does not hold.


I wake in the meditation room, face wet from tears and gasping for air.

“You saw. Where is she?” Ms. Sanfrey snags the shirt, though I gladly relinquish it.

My heart beats out a wild rhythm against my rib cage.

“Sade, did you?”

“No. I… She wouldn’t open her eyes.” There’s no sense in telling anyone. Like all the horrors I’ve seen and felt in the last year, they’re scars I bear alone. Well, almost. Somewhere, Ms. Sanfrey’s daughter bore it.

She shoves the shirt back at me. “Try again.”

“I can’t control where I go. I’m sorry.”

Zach leans in. “Sometimes, with this much time and an item that is less personal—”

“No! She saw something, I know you did.” Her nails scratch the table. “Look again.”

Tension is thick in the small space and I glance at Zach. He shakes his head. So many cases we’ve worked together, so many late nights, he knows better than any that what I see can’t be taken back. Sometimes I think he’s like a father to me, but he’s too young for that.

“Do it,” she screams as Zach begins to pull her to her feet.

“Come on Ms. Sanfrey, she tried. I’m sorry. Very sorry.”

Before I have a chance to say my apology, she throws a yellow bouncy ball at me. The moment I catch it, I’m pulled back. Back into Sal.


It’s cold. Oh God, so cold. I’m, she’s wet, hands tied behind her.

Look Sal. Look.

Her eyes pop open and for the first time I can see. It’s green. Green trees through the window, green car. It’s stopped, and as soon as his shadow darkens her view, she shuts him out.

No. Look. Open them. Please open them.

He mumbles something and the sound of the door opening has her holding her breath.

 The pressure of his weight constricts her lungs even more, but nothing dulls out the sting of the rope pressed against her throat. She kicks but doesn’t fight much, he’s kept her weak.

Her spirit lets go. Slipping out of her, me along with it.

Open your eyes, damn it.

When she does, I’m, we’re standing behind him and he pushes himself onto her further. He doesn’t know she’s gone.

The sound of ripping splits the air and I’m not with her anymore. I look around the car and the woods. She’s not here.

Two hard knots, or fists maybe, thrust me forward and I fall through the man and back into Sal.

I can’t feel her pain, but at last, I open her eyes.
(c) 2011, MB
Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo:
Vanessa Barger
Rebekah Purdy
Traci Kenworth

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Literary Assistant, Two Debut Authors, and One Hell of a Contest

Writing the dreaded query? Do you look like this:
If you're an author who has already, or is about to shop your MS to agents, there are seven (read again SEVEN) chances to win a critique of your query over at Fiction Groupie.  Seirously, awesomeness happess on that blog. And even if you don't win, you should be reading it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Real

All my hard work, sweat and tears has gone into a blog over at Totally4YA today.  Check out my candid interview with Jared, a fourteen-year-old high school freshman who is both an old soul and a spirited teen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

YAFF MUSE: The Trouble with Poetry

YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).

Photo credit: earl35 from

Sitting at my desk, I grip my head. The kickback of a stolen bottle of liquid courage pounds around like an angry upstairs neighbor as I remember last night. The beat of my heart quickens and I open my laptop. Please say I didn’t do what I think I did. Please.

Stasha groans, her perfect manicured toes poking out from beneath the covers. Too bad she’s got vomit in her hair.

“Stash. Hey. Wake up.”

She rubs her eyes then opens one. “It’s too early. Back to sleep.”

The lazy laptop flickers. “It’s after… Oh my God.”

She bounds out of bed and runs up, her grip on the chair shaking me. “Holy shit, Jayne.”

In the blinding light of the screen is the proof. I, Jayne Arbor, posted a poem on Rhys – Prince of Stampfer High – Adler’s Facebook page. And it’s not even good poetry.

Stasha giggles. “Jay, you are such a turbo-nerd.”

“I’m deleting it. Besides, no one saw it, right?”

“There’s like two-hundred comments already.”

The arrow hovers over the “x” in the corner.


I let the music drown Mom’s voice out. It’s only five, dinner can wait. But soon, her heavy footfalls stop outside my door. “Jayne. I’ve been calling you. There’s a Mr. Adler on the phone for you.”

I knew I should’ve deleted it. Wasn’t it bad enough that for the past week the entire school chanted, ‘In a hot air balloon, I’ll have you undressed soon’? Now, Mr. Adler, Rhys’ dad wants to talk to me.

Mom’s brows rise into near perfect arrows above her eyes. “Dinner soon, Jayne. Don’t be too long.”

I grab the phone from her. “Thanks Mom.”

She lingers, but I shut the door.


The line is dead.


Still nothing.

“I’m hanging up.”


My heart jumps into my throat. It’s not Rhys’ dad. “If you’re calling to harass me, don’t waist your breath.”

“I’m not, I swear.”

“Then what?” Acid creeps into my tone.

“I was wondering if you’d like to have lunch with me on Saturday.”

No freakin’ way.

“Come off it. I’ve seen the movies. This is a trick.”

“It’s not.”


He’s late.

I sit at my desk, forced into a skirt and make-up by Stasha. With a sigh I flick on my laptop. If he’s going to stand me up, I’m gonna post something real nasty on his page. We’ll see who laughs then.

I go right to Facebook and to my surprise, there is a post from Rhys.

I’ve had a crush on you
Since we’ve been in grade schoo’

I know I’m late

For our important date

But grab your keys
And I’ll show you something no one else sees

Drive out to Millers’ Field
Because your interest is what I hope to yield

And I thought my poetry was bad.

“Dad? Can I have the car keys?” I ask, out of breath, as I bolt downstairs.

“Sure sugar-pie. I thought you had a date?”

“I did, er, I do. I’m going to meet him instead.” Please don’t be a hoax.

I grab the keys from the basket and head outside and into the car. The Subaru purrs, beneath the calming sounds of The Decemberists, as I head out to Millers’ Field.

A brightly colored hot air balloon sits at the center of a sea of green. Rhys stands by the basket, waiting.

I rush to his side. “I thought you were tricking me.”

He laughs, his blue eyes sparkle in the afternoon light. “I thought you wouldn’t come.”

“I almost didn’t.”

The wind kicks up his black hair whipping it around his face. He grabs my hand as the pilot opens the basket. We step on and he turns to me, “Thanks for the poem.”

“If you think I’m undressing you here or anywhere, you’re mistaken.”

His lips curve into a wicked smile. “Enjoy the view, Jayne.” He wraps his arms around me and I turn, pressing my back against his chest as we watch the town slip away beneath us.

(c) 2011, MB
Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo:
Joey Nichols

Traci Kenworth

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

YAFF MUSE: The Escape

YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).  

Photo Credit: Raygun by Wintersixfour

“Madness runs in the family. Erin, you know that,” Aunt Celia says.

Mom wipes her eyes, stained red with hours of tears. Her gray cardigan hangs loose around a too-thin frame. “I know.” She looks and me and tries the ‘I’m going to buck up’ smile, but it’s not reassuring.

The woman behind the desk gives a very unconvincing turn as a bored secretary. She hasn’t turned the page of her magazine in the last thirty minutes we’ve been here.  The guard at my back grunts then shifts his weight.

Aunt Celia continues to coo at Mom, giving nervous glances in my direction. Like because Angus and I are twins, we share the crazy gene.

The door flies open and a guard escorts my brother from the shrink’s office, shackled, and sporting a garish shade of orange jumper.

“Iggy, they know.” His words aren’t said aloud, but through our psychic connection.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” My heart races and I catch his wild stare.

“Run!” he shouts and my ears ring from the inside out.

“Ingrid? What’s going on?” Mom asks her gaze slides between Angus and I.

The shrink stands behind Angus. “Ms. Templeton, could I see you a moment?”

“It’s a trap,” Angus says. “Disappear, Iggy. Don’t ever come back.”

“What about you?”

“Ms. Templeton. A word, please.” The shrink waves a hand and the guards drag Angus out of the way.

“Ingrid, go with the doctor,” Aunt Celia says.

“Disappear, Iggy. The Others are almost here.”

Fear coils in my stomach and I look at mom through watery eyes then glance at the shrink. Swallowing hard, I begin to fade.

Mom’s screams are distant as my atoms separate and flit out of the room. Away from my family, away from the shrink, away from The Others with their mind seizing guns, and away from my brother.

When I materialize I send a message to him. “I’m home A. Tell mom I love her.”

“No matter what you hear, don't come back,” he says. “And remember, never stop running, Iggy.”

Cold shock fills my system and for the first time in my life I feel alone. Really, alone. “Angus?”


I grab my escape bag, and bolt into Angus’ room and grab his. “I’ll get your mind back, brother.”

(c) 2011, MB

Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo:
Rachel Marie Pratt
Rebekah L. Purdy
Traci Kenworth
Vanessa Barger

Monday, January 3, 2011

Five Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2011

I have to admit that this last year I was kinda lax on reading. Mostly because I was writing and it's harder for me to read when I'm head-full into writing. Oh, and I had grad school reading to do to boot. Which is always extra fun. I've decided to list the five books I'm most looking forward to reading this year. Also, this is for paper-published books, look for a post coming soon all about the eBooks I'm looking forward to (several from my crit group!).

#1 The Wise Man' Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - Expected Release Date: March 1, 2011
This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind (a book that blew my fantasy-lovin' mind in 2009) and I've been waiting for it for a long time. (Side note - if you get a chance to Check out Patrick Rothfuss' blog, do. It's awesome.)

# 2 Wither by Lauren DeStefano - Expected Release Date: March 22, 2011
With a logline like "What if you knew exactly when you would die?" how can this not be one of the most anticipated books of the year? Not to mention the gorgeous cover.

#3 City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare - Expected Release Date: April 3, 2011
I admit it. I've been sucked in to Clary & Jace's world. Even if I didn't especially care for The Clockwork Angel. But I'm almost vibrating with excitement to see Clary's story continue.

#4 The Republic of Theives by Scott Lynch - Expected Release Date: February 22, 2011
This is the third book in the Gentleman Bastard Series. (In order, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies) The only way I can describe Lynch's genius is an even better and more brilliant version of Ocean's 11 meets the Renaissance. They are long books, but more than worth the read (if you're like my friend Jared, you'll read it 15 times or more!).

#5 Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore - Expected Release Date: April 1, 2011 (maybe??)
I loved Graceling, but was disappointed with Fire. However, I'm really looking forward to Bitterblue, as I liked the glimse into her character in Graceling. Not to mention I'm looking forward to more Katsa and Po.
Sadly there is no picture yet... which leads me to believe the release date may not be correct, but we will see! I'll be looking forward to it, no matter when it comes out.

Which books are you looking forward to in the New Year?