Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fight Song Chapter 18

Hey'a, everyone! Ready for another chapter of Fight Song? Last week, Callie, Jonathan, and Uhjin made plans to finally confront Welsh. This week, they continue working on those plans and Callie hits the streets again— but this time, she's got a mask. As always, comments, questions, critiques, and suggestions are welcome! Thanks for reading!

Chapter 18: Songbird

The next week was a rush of activity. I spent several evenings scouting the city for a location where I could tell Welsh to meet me, somewhere public, but not too public, where Uhjin and Jonathan could have relatively safe hiding spots. Eventually, I settled on a small side street between one of the city’s sketchier motels and a line of stores and businesses, half of which had boards over the windows. It seemed as good as anywhere— better than most, since the motel advertised free WiFi.

That piece of my plan now in place, I loaded several CDs and one USB drive with copies of the information Jonathan and I had collected— testimonies, records, camera feeds, everything— along with a letter I’d typed up myself, explaining my plan. I handed off one CD to Uhjin, instructing her to make her own copies and give them to whoever she chose. Another I sent to my grandfather back home with a handwritten copy of the letter— he’d like that, I knew— and instructions for what to do with the CD if anything happened to me. I included other letters with that one too, notes to the rest of my family. Hopefully, they’d never see those letters, but only God knew for sure.

I dropped off the third CD in my pastor’s office Tuesday evening after work, along with a request for prayer and instructions not to look at the CD unless something happened to me in the next two weeks. I spent the next two days half-expecting an email from him up asking if I was all right, what was going on, all that, but nothing appeared. Either he’d lost my message— not exactly unheard of— or he trusted that I knew what I was doing. Who knew which.

Yet even with information in the hands of two people who I trusted to act as best they could, along with whoever Uhjin and Jonathan passed their copies onto, I wasn’t satisfied. I needed others: people who wouldn’t be immediately connected with me, and people who’d be better positioned to act if necessary.

So, Wednesday, at the end of lunch break at the craft store, I pulled Rebecca aside— of all my coworkers at either business, she was the one I trusted most. Granted, there wouldn’t be much she could do herself with the information, but no one, Welsh included, would expect her to have it. Why would they? And maybe, just maybe, she’d be clever enough to figure out where to take what I gave her if worst came to worst.

Of course, I didn’t say any of that, just asked: “Can you keep this for me?” and handed her the stiff cardboard envelope containing the CD. “Just for a couple weeks? And don’t open it unless something happens to me? I can’t really tell you why right now, but there’s a note in there that will explain it all.”

Rebecca took the CD with one hand, but grasped my arm with the other, searching my face with her big green eyes. “Yes, but— are you ok, Callie? Is something wrong? Are you in trouble of some kind?”

“I’m fine. Not in any trouble. Don’t worry. It’s just . . .” I searched for the words to make sense of what was going on without giving everything away. “I have something that I need to do, and I’m concerned that things will go wrong. And if they do, someone needs to know what happened to me. Ok?”

“Ok.” To my surprise, Rebecca wrapped me up in a hug, squeezing me tight as if she were my sister. “If you ever need help, any help at all, you can tell me, ok? I know that you like to keep things to yourself and that you have other friends than just me, but if I can do anything, just let me know. Really. And, whatever you’re doing, be careful, please? I’d miss you if you were gone.”

I tentatively returned the hug with a brief squeeze back. “I’ll be careful.” Well, sort of. I had a plan; that counted as being careful, right? “And thank you. But for now, the best help you can give me is to keep that CD safe.”

“I will.” Rebecca didn’t let go until after I did. “And I’ll pray for you, if that’s ok?”
“That’d be nice. Really nice.” I took a step back. “Well— thanks. Really, thank you. I’ll see you later?”

“Yeah. Don’t forget, if you need anything, just ask.” Holding the CD tight, Rebecca headed towards the staff lockers, probably to put it away.

I waved and set off back to work. Three copies down. Just one left. But that last would be the hardest one of all— and there was one thing I had left to do before I could deliver it.

When I wasn’t at work or sorting out plans with Jonathan over phone and text or handing important information to people for safekeeping or trying to practice the anti­–Death Song as best I could without the actual Death Song to compare it to, I scoured one thrift shop after another in search of— well, I wasn’t really sure what. All I knew was that Starlight had been right and that I’d made my choice. But even I knew: it would take more than a mask to keep my identity safe.

Eventually, after searching what seemed like every thrift shop and clearance rack in the city, raiding both my and Uhjin’s closets, and borrowing a sewing machine off a friend at the craft shop, I managed to pull something together. I picked dark, fitted jeans as a base, paired with black high-top sneakers— I’d considered other options, but I needed something practical, durable, and easily replaceable if I was going to do this long term. Of course, the red-violet top I paired them with, long-sleeved and vaguely Asian-looking, didn’t quite fit that bill, but it was comfortable and added a little excitement to the outfit. Over the top, I wore a sort of short jacket-cape thing that I’d made from a longer jacket. It wasn’t as dramatic as a full cape like Starlight’s, but it had a hood and, trimmed with fabric the same red-violet as my shirt, it looked quite nice. Anyway, unlike Starlight, I couldn’t turn a cape immaterial if it got caught on something.

I finished up the outfit with thin fingerless gloves that I dyed blue using Kool-Aid and, of course, a mask covered in the fabric I’d used for trim. Looking at myself in the mirror with the whole ensemble on, I couldn’t say that I looked a whole lot like the supers I’d seen on TV. But I didn’t exactly look like me either, and that was all that mattered. Now all I had to do was test it.

Hitting the streets in search of trouble again the night after I handed off Rebecca’s CD felt oddly good. It wasn’t the yes, this is what I’m meant to do and everything makes sense here type of good that I felt when I was onstage with my violin, but more of a reckless satisfaction, as if, after hesitating to act for so long, my soul exalted at finally having made a decision, whether or not it was the right one. As I walked down the darkened streets, violin bouncing at my side, I had to resist the urge to sing every song I heard just to announce to the world that I’d made my decision and here I was.

Thankfully, I ran into trouble— not literally— before the desire grew too strong. The pair of muggers who I spotted in an alleyway didn’t even realize I was behind them until it was too late and my song pulled the air from their lungs. They both spun around, allowing the man they were attacking to pull away.

As soon as they were facing me, I switched songs. The pair seemed to regain their courage as soon as they could breathe again, and they showed it by spitting a curse and a threat my way as they started towards me. But their next steps put their feet in three inches of suddenly-soft asphalt. I grinned, shifting the song again, and the asphalt hardened around their feet, leaving them stuck in place.
They cursed at me, but I ignored them, instead calling to their victim: “You all right?”

“Yeah.” He picked up his cell phone and wallet from the ground where the muggers had dropped them. “Who are you?”

I hesitated a moment. A name was the one thing I hadn’t settled on. But he was waiting for an answer, and I had to say something. “Songbird. I’m Songbird.” Before he could ask more, I added, “I suggest you call the police and let them know these two are here, then head home. Have a nice evening, sir.” With that, I hurried away, wishing I had some way to make my departures a little more subtle. Maybe if I could figure out some kind of illusion . . .

I continued through the streets more calmly, having expended some of my excited energy. But save for the mugging I’d already run into, the night seemed unusually quiet. It was as if every rogue and reprobate except for those two had unanimously decided to take the evening off. Finally, I gave up and headed home— but only for the night. The next evening and the evening after, I set out once again. But those nights, trouble wasn’t the only thing I was looking for.

No. I needed Starlight.

For two nights, I searched, roaming the streets for hours after dark. Neither night was as quiet as that first, though there were still hours with no excitement at all. But though I found trouble enough, there was no sign of Starlight. I hoped that she’d hear of me somehow; that she’d learn that another super, masked and costumed, had appeared in her territory and that she would come investigate. But she didn’t appear.

On the third day, I couldn’t wait any longer. So, on my way home from work, I detoured by the library and commandeered a computer that didn’t require a library card. Setting up a fake email account only took a couple minutes, but that just left me more time to type and erase and type again and then stare at the blinking cursor as I tried to think of the right words. How did one challenge a supervillain–serial killer without sounding like one was trying to blackmail him anyway?

Finally, after multiple false starts, I had something that seemed safe enough. Still, I paused before hitting Send and reread the message.

Mr. Welsh,
Though you may believe otherwise, your activities have not gone unnoticed. You have killed and killed again and thought that you could escape justice, but you cannot. Proof has been gathered against you; one small piece of it is attached to this message. All of this will be released to the authorities unless you meet me personally in the street beside the Motel 6 on Carren Lane at 11:00 Monday night. 

Satisfied with the text, I double-checked that the grainy still—inexpertly cut from one of the security videos and transferred from the USB drive I still carried— was attached. Yes, there it was. And the email address was correct too; Jonathan had found it and said that it was Welsh’s personal account. How Jonathan knew that, I had no clue, but I hoped he was right.

I hit Send and watched the message disappear. That’s that. No turning back now, even if I wanted to. Then again, I think I hit the point of no return a long time ago.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Song of Leira Blog Tour: Interview with Gillian Bronte Adams!

Hey'a, everyone! The Lightporter tour is over, so we now return to Song of Leira! For today's post, I got to interview Gillian, which was super fun. But before we get to that, let's recap some info about the book and author.

About the Book:  

 The Song bids her rise to battle.
Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged.
Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie's aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair's sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran's schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army - singers who can shake the earth and master the sea - and monsters rampage across the land.
As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer.









About the Author:

Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, wander-loving fantasy author, rarely found without a coffee in hand and rumored to pack books before clothes when she hits the road. Working in youth ministry left her with a passion for journeying alongside children and teens. (It also enhanced her love of coffee.) Now, she writes novels that follow outcast characters down broken roads, through epic battles, and onward to adventure. And at the end of a long day of typing, she can be found saddling her wild thing and riding off into the sunset, seeking adventures of her own (and more coffee).

She loves to connect with fellow readers and wanderers online through her blog, Facebook page, newsletter, and Instagram.





Interview with Gillian:

Hello, Gillian! To start out, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who you are, your favorite books (besides your own), hobbies, anything else you want to share?

Sure thing! I am a writer, wanderer, and wordsmith. I would love to live out of a backpack, provided it was a magical backpack that could fit my bookcase, power my laptop, and run my coffee maker. (That’s not asking too much, is it?)

Some of my favorite books are The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

In addition to reading, I love riding my wild thing (a high-spirited quarter horse named Ariat), hiking, kayaking, and road trips.

Anyone reading the Songkeeper Chronicles can probably tell that you were influenced by Tolkien's works, but what are some of the other books and authors that have shaped either the trilogy or Song of Leira specifically? 

Yes, I would say that I have definitely been influenced by Tolkien the most. His books were the first novels I ever read, and I read them over and over again over a span of several years, falling ever more deeply in love with the characters and storylines. Of course, Tolkien’s mythology also included a creation song and one of my favorite moments in the Silmarillion was when Sauron and Felagund strove with songs of power against one another. That idea of powerful music seeped into my head and eventually appeared in The Songkeeper Chronicles.

I don’t know if there are any other books or authors that shaped this trilogy specifically, but there are definitely books and authors whose works I have loved and that I have learned from over the years. I love Brandon Sanderson’s worlds and his characters. I love the way C.S. Lewis weaves truth into his tales in such deep and yet simple ways and the feeling of wonder and hope that his stories evoke.

So, I hope to continue learning from other excellent authors as I continue to write. That’s the beauty of being a writer. You never stop learning and growing and being shaped by the books you read!

One of the things I love about your books is the way you weave in deep, inspiring themes without making them seem preachy or unnatural. Generally speaking, do you set out in the beginning to write a story with a particular theme? Or do the themes appear as you write?

Oh, thank you! Themes usually appear as I write. I approach my writing through prayer and it is often deeply influenced by the Scriptures I am reading and studying at the moment. As I figure out my characters and the issues they are struggling with, as well as the events they will face and the choices they will make throughout the book, the themes tend to grow organically out of and around that.
Once the theme has made itself clear, I often give the story another passthrough to see if there are ways that I can strengthen and foreshadow that theme in the story. It’s kind of a working backward and then forward process.

What was the hardest part of writing Song of Leira? The best part?

Because Song of Leira is the last book in The Songkeeper Chronicles, weaving together all of the threads (some of which had been set in place all the way back in Orphan’s Song) was one of the most fun and most challenging parts of the process. There were so many characters to deal with as well as world-changing events to set in motion and wrap up, so the writing process took me a long time.

And it definitely had some moments where I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish or if the story would ever seem cohesive. But seeing how all of the threads finally came together at the end was the best and most satisfying part of writing the book.

Song of Leira is the third book in the Songkeeper Chronicles and your fourth book total. What are some of the things you've learned in your publishing journey so far?

Fear is the enemy of creativity. For a fair portion of my writing career, I have allowed fear to hold me back and to limit my dreams. Fear of what readers will say. Fear of not achieving what other writers achieve. Fear of somehow not measuring up.

But fear completely stymies creativity and can stop you from writing before you’ve even gotten started! Learning to write from an attitude of freedom instead of an attitude of fear has had one of the biggest impacts on my writing and publishing journey. And I know that is just “one thing” and it might even seem obvious to others, but it can have far-reaching effects!

Finally, do you have any plans for new books now that you've finished with the Songkeeper Chronicles?

Yes, I have been working on a new “top secret” project for the past several months. It’s another epic fantasy series, and this one is bigger and broader than anything I’ve ever attempted before, so nailing it down has been challenging. But I am loving every minute of the writing process, and I am very excited about this story and can’t wait until I can share it with people.

Meanwhile, there are a couple other story ideas percolating at the back of my mind, but they’ll need some additional simmering before I’m ready to actually start writing them. All in all, I hope to keep sharing stories with y’all for years to come!

Thanks, Gillian, for allowing me to interview you, and thanks to all of you for reading! Please tell me in the comments: have you read Song of Leira yet? Are you curious about Gillian's top-secret project? Also, don't forget to submit your photos of your adventures with the book to the Take Your Book on an Adventure contest! Winners will be announced during the Facebook  party on June 22.
Have a great day!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lightporter Release Tour & Hero's Perspective: Blaze!

Hello, and welcome back to the Lightporter release tour and to the second episode of Hero's Perspective, a relatively new feature in which I interview the heroes and heroines of various speculative fiction. (See? I told Jarek that this wouldn't be a one-off thing.) For this episode, we have a very special guest: Blaze, one of the heroes of Lightporter

Now, usually, I would be the one interviewing our hero. However, when one of my own characters, Rebecca from the Teenaged Superhero Society, found out who our guest was, she begged to take my place. I may or may not have let her read the IDIA books, and she may or may not have become a bit of a Blaze fangirl as a result. Anyway, she made a very convincing argument, so . . . take it away, Rebecca.

Rebecca: Thanks, Sarah! I guess now we just have to wait for Blaze to arrive . . .

Blaze: *teleports in* 

Rebecca: Oh! Hi! You must be Blaze! It's so cool to meet you; I'm a really big fan of yours. Oh, I'm Rebecca, by the way; I'm going to be interviewing you for Dreams and Dragons. Thanks so much for agreeing to this!

Blaze: *shakes hand with Rebecca* It's very nice to meet you, Rebecca! It's my pleasure to do this. As my friends usually point out, I enjoy talking about myself. *sits and makes himself comfortable* 

Rebecca: *giggles and sits down in the other chair* Ok, so you should enjoy this first question. I know about you, but not everyone who reads the blog does. Can you share a little about who you are and what you do and a random fact or two, just to kind of introduce yourself?

Blaze: *grins* Of course. Blaze isn't my real name, obviously. It's my superhero code name. I work for a superhero agency called IDIA, and I like to call myself a lightporter. Basically I can manipulate light, and that allows me to teleport. For a random fact... well, I do like to travel, which makes teleportation helpful. I also really like donuts.

Rebecca: Oooh, teleporting! I have a friend who c— who knows someone who says she can teleport and does the same thing, using it to travel. That's really cool! What do you think is your favorite place that you've visited in your travels?

Blaze: *quirks an eyebrow* Interesting. *leans back* Well, I really like most of the places I've visited, although I prefer the ones that aren't infested with tourists. But I'd have to say that one of my favorites is Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It's very beautiful.

Rebecca: I've actually never heard of that. It sounds nice, though. *glances down at notebook* So, I'm supposed to ask you now about your adventure that C.B. wrote about in Lightporter, how you feel about it and what you wish you could change and that sort of thing. So . . . how do you feel about all that? Was there anything you enjoyed, or anything that was especially hard?

Blaze: Hmm. Well, it's hard to say a lot about it without spoiling it, or what happened afterwards, but... well, most of it was unpleasant, but kind of necessary. I will say that meeting a certain person caught me off guard, a lot. Overall, I feel like the experience taught me a lot.

Rebecca: Ok. *nods slowly* That makes sense. Buuuut since you're an IDIA agent and an actual superhero, I bet you've had a lot of adventures besides the ones actually in the books, right? Can you tell me about one of those? Or are they all classified?

Blaze: Oh, definitely. I've been an IDIA agent for quite a while now. Most of the really exciting missions are classified, but one time I was on a mission with Push and Finch--Finch can morph into birds--and Finch transformed into an ostrich, and Push and I got to ride him. That was a lot of fun. Not very incognito, but fun. That's still the only nice ostrich I've ever met. 

Rebecca: *laughs* Ok, I wasn't really sure what you'd say, but I wasn't expecting that. I guess the why of that situation probably falls in the classified category?

Blaze: Yeah, it does. It was a fun mission, though! Maybe someday.

Rebecca: Aw, ok. So, you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but can you tell me how you ended up with IDIA? You said you've been with them a long time.

Blaze: I actually can answer this one. I was lucky enough to have parents who have powers, and Data approached the three of us about joining IDIA once she found out about our powers. My parents didn't want to be active, but I went ahead and joined. My family was actually one of the first that Data and her mentor asked to join when they started IDIA.     
Rebecca: Oh wow, I didn't think I'd get an answer on that one! You're lucky to have parents who have powers too, even if they're not active superheroes. A lot of supers don't, after all. 

Blaze: I know, it's definitely been a blessing. Less lying, for one thing. I don't have to keep my powers a secret, and I didn't go through the initial confusion many supers do when they first get powers. Although as a teleporter, I was definitely a problem child. 

Rebecca: *laughs* Oh, I bet. I can just see you teleporting into the weirdest places and using your powers to sneak cookies. But, moving on . . . *mischievous look* I said earlier that I'm a big fan of yours, but I'm not the only one. How do you feel about having so many fangirls?

Blaze: *grins and his face reddens slightly* It's definitely flattering. It would be pretty cool to meet everyone, of course, but I might also regret that. But in all honesty, it's cool, but also really weird, if that makes any sense.

Rebecca: Mmm, yeah, I think so. 'Cause we all know stuff about you even though most of us have never met you; I can see how that would be weird. *glances at notepad again* Ok, last question. Do you have any advice you could give to other young supers trying to find their place, especially those who might not have something like IDIA to lean on?

Blaze: Good question! I would definitely suggest that any supers, especially younger ones, should have at least one person that knows about their powers who can help them, and that they know they can trust. Whether it's a parent or a sibling, a friend, an older mentor, a super or someone without powers, we all need someone else to help us out and sometimes give us advice. So find that person (or people) you can lean on. It will make everything so much easier. And don't be afraid to test the limits of your powers or try to find new uses for them  It can really help you out if you go into crime fighting. 

Rebecca: *nods* That's good advice. I'll remember that. Quick side question, if you don't mind— do you think all supers should go into crime fighting? Or not necessarily?

Blaze: I think it's a personal choice. I don't think that crimefighting is for everyone. Pop, for example, tends to stay at headquarters, and I know Data has several agents that work clean up after missions, who aren't exactly fighting crime. So I really think it's up to the person with the powers.

Rebecca: Ok, that makes sense. Well, thanks again for letting me interview you; I really enjoyed our conversation! Good luck with your future IDIA adventures!

Blaze: Thanks for having me! It's always fun to spend time with fans. Hopefully I'll get to come back to visit. See ya around! *teleports*

Rebecca: And that's it! I hope you all enjoyed meeting Blaze as much as I did! Don't forget, if you want to read more about his adventures, Twinepathy and Lightporter are both $0.99 on Amazon this week!

Thanks, Rebecca. I'll take it from here.

Rebecca: Ok. Bye, everyone! 

Thanks for reading, everyone. As Rebecca said, you can still get the IDIA books for only a dollar on Amazon. And don't forget to check out the rest of today's tour stops! (List below.) 
Have an awesome day!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Tour Stops for Saturday, June 16th (Release day!)

Marlene Simonette – Lightporter Review and Book Spotlight
Dreams and Dragons – Character Interview
Elven Padawan – Lightporter Review

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fight Song Chapter 17

Hey'a, everyone! After a two-week hiatus, Fight Song is back— with good news: I've finished editing the novella! Now all that remains is to post it all on here. Last time, Callie and Jonathan tested Callie's theory that she could interfere with the Death Song, or at least with Welsh's version, by singing its opposite. This week, Callie and her friends make plans and enjoy food. Because food is important.

As always, comments, critiques, suggestions, and questions are welcome. I'd love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading!

Chapter 17: Challenging Plans

Baskin and Robins was so crowded that the line stretched out the door, despite the fact that the sky had turned from blue to indigo and the streetlights would turn on any minute. Jonathan seemed ready to brave the crowds anyway until I convinced him to instead hit up the corner store for a pint of rocky road, along with bowls and spoons to eat it with. We headed to the park and found ourselves a bench, then divvied up the ice cream.

While we ate, Jonathan gave me another piece of good news: he finally found someone who had video of one of Welsh’s attacks. “It’s not good footage—” he shrugged and scooped up another spoonful of ice cream— “but it’ll work. It’s from a small hotel in Ohio, not the one you worked at, but probably a similar situation. An older couple owns it, and they seemed more confused than anything about why I wanted a copy of their security camera feeds from a particular date. Then I told them that I was a reporter tracking down a murderer who had slipped past the cops, and . . .” He shrugged. “I guess they’re mystery fans, because they said they’d send it over.”

“Thank God.” I meant it too. “At least now we have two videos besides whatever we take ourselves. When they send it, can you forward it to me, please? Like, as soon as you get it?”

“Of course.” Jonathan started to take another spoonful of ice cream, then paused with the spoon halfway to his mouth. “Why the rush? Are you . . . Callie, how soon are you planning to confront Welsh?”

“Um . . . Soon?” I shrugged, hoping that my nervousness didn’t show in my smile. “I just don’t want to wait longer than I have to, you know? Now that I know my plan will work, and now that we have video to back up our claim, I just don’t see a point in putting it off. And I’m worried that if I do hold off, I’ll chicken out.”

“I can’t imagine you chickening out of anything, Callie.” Jonathan contemplated his ice cream for a few minutes before adding, “Are you sure that acting this soon is wise?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “It won’t be this soon by the time I actually compile everything and convince Welsh to actually face me and all that. And . . . I guess I’m just wondering, is it wise to wait at this point? I know what I’m doing about as well as I ever will.”

“What are you doing, then?” Jonathan set down his ice cream on the bench between us and leaned forward. “I know about once you’re facing Welsh. But before then?”

“You’re going to send me the video feed you got and copies of any other information that I don’t already have. That’s the first thing. And I’m going to compile everything we know along with a letter of some kind explaining what happened to me and what I’m going to do, and I’m going to give copies of that to people who I trust, just in case.” I paused. “You should probably do that too. And after that, I’ll contact Welsh somehow— that’s the one thing I haven’t figured out how to do, especially without giving him a way to trace me— and send him a still from one of the video feeds and a warning that if he doesn’t meet me at a particular place and time, I’ll release everything to the police.”

“Maybe we should do that anyway. Try one last time.” Jonathan rested one arm on the back of the bench, watching me. “Maybe the video feeds will be enough.”

“Maybe.” But I didn’t think so, and my voice said as much. “If you want to, you can try. I still don’t think they’d believe us, though. Anyway, once I contact him, and he responds, it’s just a matter of meeting him and getting video of him trying to kill me.”

“That sounds terribly safe.” Jonathan’s tone was drier than Death Valley itself. “Just so you know, I’m calling the police as soon as it looks like Welsh is going to make a move. It’ll take them time to get wherever we are, and I don’t want you to have to deal with him longer than you need to.”

“Call away. I don’t want to have to deal with him longer than I need to either.” I paused, staring off into the treetops as I thought. “We should probably try to have more than one camera going. I have a little point and shoot that can be controlled by remote, and it’s got pretty good battery life. We can set that up somewhere and hope it doesn’t turn itself off by the time Welsh gets here. Your fancy camera takes video too, right?”

Jonathan gave me a mock-offended look. “My camera is a Canon 5D Mark III. Until the Mark IV came out last year, it was one of the best cameras on the market, and it honestly might still be. Its predecessor was used to shoot parts of The Avengers, among other things. Yes, it takes video too.

“Oh, give me a break. I know instruments, not cameras.” I shoved his shoulder lightly. “Anyway, that’s good. Any chance that your best-camera-on-the-market will automatically upload your video to some kind of non-local device?”

Jonathan hesitated, then shook his head. “Er, no. The developers haven’t gotten to that yet. My phone takes decent video too, and that does automatically upload, but only if you have a WiFi connection.”
“I guess that’s better than nothing.” I wouldn’t count on WiFi, though. While I didn’t know where I’d tell Welsh to meet me, I doubted it would offer an internet connection. “We’ll just work with what we have.”

Jonathan and I stayed long enough to finish our ice cream, then I headed home. As I walked, I texted Uhjin to let her know I needed to talk to her tonight or tomorrow. She texted back within a few minutes: K. Tomorrow. Not ideal, but at least that would give me time to think about what I’d say and how much to reveal.

And that’s exactly what I did— all night. My thoughts kept me awake late into the night, late enough to hear Uhjin sneak in well past midnight and stumble into her bed. I finally dropped off, only to wake to my alarm what seemed like mere moments later. I groaned and rolled out of bed. Darn it, why’s worship band practice got to be so early?

By the time Uhjin and I headed home after church that afternoon, though, I knew what to say. And once we sat down to our lunch of sandwiches and apples and peanut butter, I couldn’t wait any longer. “I tested my theory of how to counter Welsh’s ability. It works.”

Uhjin looked up from her sandwich so quickly that her fancy hairdo nearly fell over. “What? Really? So does that mean you’re going to make a move soon? Did you and Jonathan make up yesterday?”
“Yes to all three. Jonathan was able to get ahold of a second video source besides yours, so we’ll have both of those and then what we capture.” Once again, I explained the plan I’d outlined to Jonathan, though Uhjin already knew some of it. “And there’s one last thing you should probably know.”

Jonathan already knows, after all. And if I’m going to take the step I plan to take, I want Uhjin in on it too. I can trust her, I know. Uhjin knows how to keep secrets. “See, I . . . How do I say this .  . . I’m not exactly normal. Maybe it’s better to just show you.” I sang a brief series of notes. The water in my glass flowed upwards in a twisting column, started to burst out in a fountain, and just as quickly backtracked the way it had come.

Uhjin whooped— and I mean actually whooped, fist-pump and all. “I knew it!”

“What?” I groaned. “You too? Who’s next, Rebecca revealing that she knows all?”

“You don’t live with Rebecca, silly.” Uhjin wrinkled her nose at me. “You live with me. Even if I’m not here that much. Anyway, I did make it to most of your concerts and recitals and stuff last year, and there was that one— the lights kept being weird, and they were always the weirdest during your solo bits.”

“Yeah . . .” I winced, remembering that concert. The songs our instructor had chosen had all been dangerous ones for me, so full of power that I could barely keep it under control. “Do you think anyone else realized based on that?”

“Probably not.” Uhjin shrugged. “I knew something was up, but I only noticed because the lights in the dorm room also did weird stuff when you were practicing for the concert. And then I started looking, and I started seeing other stuff, and then you kept staying out late with your violin once we moved to the apartment, and every now and then you’d come back all beat up like you did the other night, and . . . yeah. I guess I didn’t actually know it, but I guessed. So you’re an actual legit superhero? Really?”

“I have powers. I’m not an ‘actual legit superhero’ . . . not yet, anyway. Maybe soon.” Definitely soon. But I don’t feel quite ready to say  that out loud. One step at a time. “You know you can’t tell anyone else, right?”

“Duh. That’s basically the first rule of being a superhero’s . . . what am I?” Uhjin made a face. “Oh. Ew. I’m probably basically your Jarvis or Alfred or whatever, since mostly I’ve just fed you and patched you up and listened to you plan.”

“You’re my friend is what you are. Anyway, do I look like Batman or Tony Stark or anyone like that? If we’re going to make comparisons to fictional superhero companions, you’re more of . . . um . . .” I paused, realizing that I couldn’t think of a good comparison that didn’t involve romantic connotations, the death of the companion, or both. “You’re beyond compare. Let’s go with that.”

“Oh, fine.” Uhjin pouted a moment, then bounced back up with a wicked grin. “Oooooh. Wait. You’re a superhero. Jonathan’s a reporter. Does that mean he’s your Lois Lane?”

“What the— Oh, shut up!” I flopped back in my chair and smacked my forehead with my palm. “Jonathan is my friend. Like you. Nothing else. Anyway, I’m not even remotely like Superman, and aside from the newspaper bit, he is nothing like Lois Lane.”

“I’m just saying.” Uhjin shrugged, completely unapologetic. “Anyway. So how do I fit in with your plan?”

“You . . . uh . . .” I grabbed a slice of apple and scooped up some peanut butter with it. “I figured you’d probably stay here? Where you won’t be in danger?”

“Jonathan’s going to be there, isn’t he?” Uhjin’s mischievous look suddenly hardened into determination. “I have as big a stake in this as he does. Maybe bigger.”

“Jonathan’s been helping me with the search longer than you have, though,” I pointed out, taking a bite of apple. “And he’s only there because he has a camera and I need someone to call the police when necessary.”

“I have a camera too. And a phone. And a camera on my phone.” Uhjin crossed her arms. “Welsh killed my sister, and because of that, not only did I lose my closest friend, I spent years wondering if I was crazy. I want to help you take him down.”

  “Yes, but . . .” I hesitated. “It’ll be dangerous. And you do realize that I’m not going to kill him, right? The point is to get proof and put him in custody.”

“I know. I know.” Uhjin waved her hand as if dismissing my contradiction. “And I know it’s dangerous, but I’m not scared. Or, I’m more mad than scared. If Jonathan can risk it, so can I.” She paused, leaned forward, taking on a pleading look. “Please, Callie. I don’t have to be right up there, but let me be nearby, helping you somehow. One more person to take video and call the police can’t hurt, right? Jonathan will probably be close to the action; what if something happens to him? You need a backup.”

She made a good argument, enough that my determination wavered. “Well, yes, but . . . I . . . I’ll see what I can do, ok? I still need to figure out where to tell Welsh to meet me; if there’s a location near there where you can see safely, you can come.”

“Yes!” Uhjin sat back, fist clenched in satisfaction. “You won’t regret this, Callie. Wait and see.”

“I hope not.” I smiled weakly, sending up a silent prayer. Please, God, protect Uhjin. Protect Jonathan. Don’t let me regret bringing them. And, please, protect me too.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lightporter Release Tour: Twinepathy & Lightporter Reviews!

Hey'a, everyone! We're taking a little bit of a break from the Song of Leira blog tour to recognize another awesome book releasing this month: Lightporter, the second book in C.B. Cook's IDIA series! I really enjoy this fun superhero series, and I'll be reviewing both books in this post. But first, let's hear a little bit about the book and author.

About the Book

n. someone who has the ability to manipulate light and can use that ability to teleport

Albany and her twin sister, Brooklyn, have gotten more comfortable in the superhero world. But when Blaze starts acting secretive and weird monsters attack, the girls realize there is more going on that they still don’t know about. Before long, they discover that Blaze is hiding something—or someone. With FOE still hiding in the shadows, the girls must decide who they can trust… before it’s too late.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

About the Author

C.B. Cook is just a girl trying to find out where her King is guiding her, while writing the stories of the people she creates, the worlds she wants to live in, and the adventures she dreams about. Also known as a mysterious creature called an “author.” She's a Christian and a home school graduate dedicated to changing others' lives through the power of the written word.
Find her on: Amazon || Goodreads || Wordpress || Pinterest

My Reviews:


"There was an idea . . . to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if they could become something more."
Well, actually, there was an IDIA, and from that came an awesome novel about a pair of telepathic twins, a girl who lost her memories, a woman as full of mysteries as she is determination, and a serial memory murderer. And yes, you did read that last bit right.

Twinepathy is an exciting adventure that blends twists of mystery with superhero action. Yet it balances that action with a look at the normal— or semi-normal— life of a superhero and the decisions they have to make.

Probably my favorite thing about Twinepathy, though, is C.B.'s creativity in creating superpowers and superheroes. Some of the powers she comes up with are fairly unique in and of themselves— Data's, for instance, and the aforementioned serial memory murderer's. Others seem standard on the surface— telepathy, light powers— but are made unique by the way she thinks through unexpected applications of those powers. It makes for a real treat.

The characters are another thing I enjoy . . . but not entirely. To be honest, Albany annoys me, and I think she gets away with way too much. However, she has her moments, and the many side characters, major and minor, are awesome. Blaze is the best: a great guy who can be both snarky and sensitive as the situation demands. (I'd say that I'd date him if he were real, but he doesn't date.) Anvil is my second favorite, a scary guy with a bit of a soft side who's absolutely loyal to his friends. Data is intriguing and surprisingly likable for someone who keeps so many secrets. And Keller is someone to whom I can relate to in her desire for independence and care for her sister.

In conclusion: Twinepathy may not be the most amazing book in the world, but it's a fun, exciting read for superhero fans of all ages. Whether you love Marvel, DC, or just adventure and awesome powers in general, you'll enjoy this.


A good superhero novel is hard to find. Thankfully, the search ends here.

Though the second in C.B. Cook's IDIA series, Lightporter brilliantly avoids the dreaded Second Book Syndrome. This is partially due to an increase in writing quality and partially due to Albany's character development. While she still makes mistakes, she behaves with much greater maturity and much less stubbornness, which means I liked her better.

Though still told from Albany's perspective, a fair portion of the book centers around Blaze- which is just fine with me! He remains one of my favorite characters, even if he's a bit out of sorts for a while. We also learn a little more about Anvil, one of my other favorite characters, and he plays a pretty big role here. (On a side note: can I have a cookie-baking party with him and Blaze and the twins and Maddie and Jen? Because that sounds super fun, and I want to try his cinnamon chip cookies.) In addition, we encounter a few other new faces, both friendly and unfriendly, which I very much enjoyed. (One character in particular got me very excited, even if I was wrong in the end about his true identity.) Everyone, new and old, gets their moment of glory one way or another.

Plotwise, the book is pretty solid. It's not non-stop action, but things never stop happening long enough for me to get bored. FOE continues to make trouble, though it's definitely our friends the IDIA crew driving the plot. We learn more about FOE and their plans, just enough to raise the stakes and make us worried. And the ending is highly satisfying.

Lightporter is not perfect. Action scenes and transitions sometimes feel less smooth than they could. Dialogue occasionally seems a bit off. But overall, it's a fun, clean superhero adventure and a fabulous continuation of the series.

What do you think? Are you excited to try out this great IDIA? (Sorry, sorry, I'll stop . . .) If you are, now's a great time; both books are currently $0.99 on Amazon! If you're not yet convinced, well, just check out the rest of the day's stops (list below) . . . and especially make sure to stop back here on Saturday for an awesome interview with one of my favorite characters!
Thanks for stopping by!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tour Stops for Monday, June 11th
Writefury – Character Interview and Lightporter Review
Dreams and Dragons – TwinepathyandLightporter Reviews
Light and Shadows – Book Spotlight and Author Interview