GUEST POST AND EXCERPTS: The One Apart by Justine Avery

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What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, originally published in 1974. It’s a sci-fi space opera, which one both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and it’s themes and messages, capturing the essence of the times during the Vietnam War, are still very much applicable today. Haldeman’s writing style is straightforward, casual, and easy—very enjoyable, and I’m really looking forward to all the profound ideas in store as the story develops that I’ve heard so much about.
How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was about 7 years old when my second-grade English teacher required all her students to write a new story every week. All my stories were true then, based on some childhood adventure I had over the summer or the weekend, and I remember the teacher praising them. I also remember her forcing me to stand up in front of the class to read some of them—I was so shy!—and that made me want to start writing boring stories. Years later, when I was still a kid, I started my first novel, handwritten in a spiral-bound notebook with a bright yellow cover. It was essentially a retelling of the Cinderella story with a main character named Ella that—SURPRISE!—would be revealed as a secret Cinderella. It’s a good thing I never finished it! After that, I believed the folks that told me that writing is more of a dream and not really a career, so I only wrote sporadically when I was really moved to live my biggest dream, only for life and that “real career” to get in the way. Finally, the urge to write, the feeling that you’re supposed to write, took over, and I finally gave my writing “dream” the priority it deserves.

TheOneApart - coverThe One Apart by Justine Avery –

Excerpt 1

Tres felt his body abruptly drop around him with overbearing weight, encapsulating him once again.
The mental images, the overpowering memories, finally faded. Only an ominous stillness remained.
Every cell within him began to twitch, infusing with energy—even as he felt immobile. Every joint, tendon, and bone ached under the pressure of being alive.
A deep sadness engulfed him. He pondered possible reasons. And, just as quickly, he was distracted by the presence of his own simple thoughts.
Thoughts. He realized his own thinking.
This mind—certain of its own newness—desired to explore, feel, do, be. Tres opened his eyes—tried to open his eyes. He found his eyelids fused shut.
He opened his mouth. Thick, warm syrup seeped inside his swallow. Intense fear washed over him, even as he knew exactly where—and how—he was.
Oh, no.
Tres was aware, more aware than any had ever been. In this moment, he knew everything—and yet, nothing.
He was beginning again.

Excerpt 2

A casual knock pre-empted the arrival of an attending nurse. Sancha heard the sounds of a metal cart rolled in, its wheels locked in place at her bedside. She took a quick puff of air and released it as the knuckles of her fists began to turn white.
She heard a rustling of linens, then Maria leaning toward her from her chair on the opposite side of the bed.
Something heavy and warm was laid against Sancha’s arm.
“Sancha…” Maria pleaded this time. “Please.”
Sancha squirmed against the uncomfortable pressure on her arm.
“I can’t let you live the rest of your life,” Maria whispered, “knowing you never even saw him.”
Sancha swallowed. Her breathing quickened. She rolled her lips between her teeth. And she opened her eyes—as slowly as humanly possible.
The brightest pair of crystalline blue eyes stared back at her.
They blinked tenderly, giving away how new to blinking they actually were. Their steady gaze pierced straight through to something rooted within Sancha.
The eyes blinked again, temporarily cutting off the intense connection before opening again to resume it. Sancha rested on her bed in silence, mesmerized by the novice rhythm of blinking resembling Morse code.
Every muscle in her body relaxed. Her mouth began to form an unthinkable smile. She couldn’t help herself.
The baby—her baby—beamed at her with his big, round eyes and flooded her with the total contentment and perfect peace that wafts only from brand-new life.

Excerpt 3

“He needs a name,” Maria said, pouring scrambled eggs onto the plate decorated with a face of bacon strips.
Sancha stared at her plate. “He has one,” she said.
The hot iron skillet slipped from Maria’s hand; she sighed her relief as it landing safely on the stove burner. “What… did you decide?”
“I didn’t.” Sancha prodded at her eggs, recovering her bacon art one eye at a time.
“I thought you—”
“He has one already. I just don’t know what it is.”
Maria’s subconscious almost recognized the truth in the statement before it was buried by her conscious again. “Don’t be silly. Did you choose a name? If not, I will have—”
“No, you will not,” Sancha ended the conversation.

* * *

In the fenced back yard Maria referred to as “the garden,” sat a rusting swing set for two: Sancha’s favorite spot in the whole world. Swinging there—in and out of the shade of the broad-reaching maple tree—seemed to slow time and shoo away all teenage troubles.
“I have to name you,” she called out to her bright-eyed baby resting in a basket nestled in the grass below her. She swung her pale legs to propel herself higher into the morning sunlight, her glittering hair swirling around her. “But you won’t tell me what yours is,” she pouted.
Her polka-dotted summer dress fluttered in the breeze as her legs scooped up another pocket of air. “I guess you can’t,” she concluded on a downswing. “Yet,” she shouted into the air.

 

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