Nevermore

The other day I was in the middle of getting my hair cut when suddenly I was gripped by a strange feeling. Like somewhere nearby, something big was going down. Little did I know that a few blocks away, an epic battle was taking place in my apartment. The dispute was over who would be the guardian of my house.

This status had been held for the last three years by Poe, my beloved stuffed raven, bought in honor of his namesake in my After the End series.

 

poe1

 

But it was about to be challenged by Obi, my new Labrador puppy.

 

IMG_9778

Obi was the newcomer, with only four months under his belt. But he had an advantage. He was alive.

The battle began with a stare-down.

“I haven’t noticed you here before,” Obi commented after eight seconds, irked that he had lost the blinking contest so quickly.

“It’s because Amy puts me on a high shelf when she leaves you home alone,” Poe replied. His beak didn’t move when he spoke.  Obi found that unnerving.

“Oh yeah? Then why didn’t she today?” he asked.

“Probably because she closed the door between my room and your room.”

“What door?”

“The one you just rammed open by throwing your body against it for the last half hour.”

Obi looked over his shoulder at the broken lock. “Oh. That door.” He looked back at the bird. “So, how are we going to settle this thing?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The guardianship of Amy’s house.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re a spazzed-out puppy and I’m a wise old bird. I’ve been on the job here longer than you’ve been alive.”

Obi had been trying to keep his attention trained on the raven, but something was itching right…down… He twisted around and frantically gnawed at the base of his tail. When he finished, he looked back up at the bird. “There can be only one.” His voice was weirdly high-pitched, and he spoke with a strange accent.

“What?”

Obi cleared the phlegm from his throat and repeated, “There can be only one.”

“I heard you the first time, dog. But that’s stupid. There’s plenty of room for both of us.”

“No, it’s true. It’s from a movie. And movies are always true.”

“Highlander is not the source of all wisdom. Do you take your advice from a French guy with a sword and bad hair extensions?”

Obi had no idea what the bird was talking about, but he wasn’t going to let confusion get in the way of his mission. “It’s not from Highlander,” he retorted. “It’s from Star Wars. I should know, I’m named after the guy who said it.”

The bird trained its glass eye on him. Obi flinched. The bird spoke. “First of all, your name is short for Oberon, king of fairies, not Obi Wan Kenobi, Jedi master. Amy just told her kids that so they would agree to the name. And secondly, Jedi Obi never said that.”

“Did too.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.” Obi’s voice trailed off. The more the bird stared at him, the more unsure he felt.

“Listen,” the bird said with a sigh. “If you said, ‘There is another,’ or ‘There is still good in him,’ or ‘That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time,’ THAT would be Obi Wan. But ‘There can be only one’ is Highlander.”

“How would you know?”

“Amy watched Star Wars IV, V and VI a million times. I could recite the scripts by heart. I, II and III, however aren’t worth the film they’re printed on. Or would that be chips they’re digitized on? I’m not good with technology.”

Obi was starting to feel like he was in over his head. He scratched his haunch with his hind paw and said the first thing that came into his mind. “Well, I’m bigger than you, and I say there can be only one.”

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

Obi froze and stared at Poe. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know. I just like to say it.”

“Well, don’t.”

“Nevermore.”

“I said don’t say that.”

“Never…”

“You’ve pushed me too far, bird.” Obi, growled, and made a leap for the mantle.

This was all that was left of Poe when I got home.

IMG_0632

That, and some weird feathery chunks Obi threw up in the corner of the living room. I cleaned it all up, heart in my throat and tears in my eyes. A mighty battle had been fought, and poor Poe had suffered the indignity of yet another death. I said a little prayer to that Great Raven in the Tree and threw his remains in the big green non-recyclable bin.

I went to bed that night, thinking it was all over. There was no one left for Obi to fight. He had already taken out the beaver skull and the crocodile head from Florida the week before. But I was wrong. It wasn’t over…yet.

When I woke up the next morning, there was a note on the mantle in the exact spot where Poe used to stand guard.

IMG_0637

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kiss the Girl (A Short Story)

Back in January, I was invited to write a short story for the awesome author-run site The Hanging Garden. I and 8 other YA authors were given 6 gif prompts to choose from. I chose a close-up of waves, and wrote a story about…

Actually, I won’t spoil. But I will say that when I read it to my kids, my daughter ran to her bedroom crying, and my son said, “Mom, that story isn’t for children.” So on that note…enjoy!

KISS THE GIRL

tumblr_oagj4xvltM1tntn9qo1_500

 

And be sure to check out the other stories by

Zoraida Córdova, author of LABYRINTH LOST cc: @zlikeinzorro
Lamar Giles, author of ENDANGERED cc: @lrgiles
Rachel Hartman, author of SHADOW SCALE cc: @_rachelhartman
Kirsten Hubbard, author of LIKE MANDARIN cc: @kirstenhubbard
Justina Ireland, author of PROMISE OF SHADOWS cc: @justinaireland
Alethea Kontis, author of the BOOKS OF ARILLAND series cc: @aletheakontis
Mari Mancusi, author of the SCORCHED series cc: @marimancusi
Myra McEntire, author of the HOURGLASS trilogy cc: @myramcentire
Chris McKitterick, author of TRANSCENDENCE cc: @mckitterick
Gretchen McNeil, author of RELIC cc: @gretchenmcneil
Sara Raasch, author of ICE LIKE FIRE cc: @seesarawrite
Jessica Spotswood, author of WILD SWANS cc: @jessica_shea
Shveta Thakrar, author of “Krishna Blue” in Kaleidoscope and “She Sleeps Beneath the Sea” in issue 31 of Faerie magazine cc: @shvetathakrar

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Signum Bardia Fan Art

You’ll never guess what I received from a Die For Me reader last week.

IMG_9784

Yes, it’s a bona fide signum bardia, brought to life from the pages of UNTIL I DIE and IF I SHOULD DIE! Die For Me superfan Lisa Vespasiano actually taught herself to do all of the craftwork necessary and spent a heck of a lot of time sourcing the perfect materials before sending the finished product all of the way from Canada to France! I love it that she sent me a photo of the process:

Hw1ba9hQ

From Lisa: “Of course I made myself one also, they are so pretty and I am glad that all my online global searching for the right pieces paid off, whew!”

6i3ThWPw.jpg_large

For those of you who don’t know what the signum bardia is, here is the entry from INSIDE THE WORLD OF DIE FOR ME:

Creating the Signum Bardia

In Until I Die, I wanted Vincent to give Kate something to show she was under the protection of the revenants. As Vincent explained it in Chapter 23, “It’s a…signal to revenants that you are attached to us. That you know what we are and can be trusted.”


Kate’s signum came in handy when she met Gwenhaël, of course, and Bran and Kate both needed their signums to pass Theodore Gold’s security test when they arrived in New York.


So what is a signum bardia? The Latin word “signum” means: “sign, seal, mark, token.” So a signum bardia is the mark of the bardia—their token.


Once I had come up with term I needed, I had to decide what symbolism the object should hold. I decided to lean on my training in art history to come up with something both meaningful and credible.

I thought of self-sacrifice, and used the medieval image of the pelican piercing its breast to feed its young with its blood. (That’s my geeky academic side showing its face.) I wish I still had my first attempt at drawing it. It looked vaguely like an epileptic swan.

The pelican was not only too hard for me to draw, but I knew it would be difficult for me to describe in a way readers could envision it, so I decided to go for something simple. I asked myself what easy shapes could communicate a message. I’ll let Vincent describe what I came up with:

“…the pyramid is supposed to mean life after death, and its three corners signify our three days of dormancy. The flames represent our aura and the only way we can be destroyed. And the circle is immortality.”

Once I had decided on the symbolism, I had to come up with a design. I started by using this ninth ceI thought if I changed the sapphire from an oval into a triangle, it would be a good start. For the flames, I perused a few of my books on ancient jewelry (I warned you…I am a certified geek) and found a fourth century BCE Greek earring in the shape of a large round disk surrounded by a gold pellet border, a bit like my ring. But inside circle were decorative gold swirls that I thought could be shaped into flames. I imagined inlaying a triangular sapphire in the middle of the flaming gold disk and—voilà! It was perfect.

Kate describes her signum thus: “It was a gold disk the size of a dollar coin, and it was edged with two circles of tiny gold pellets, one nestled within the other. Set in the center of the disk was a dark blue triangular stone with a smooth, slightly rounded surface. And in the space between the stone and the rows of pellets were decorative gold wires curved into the shape of flames. It looked ancient, like the Greek jewelry in Papy’s gallery.”

But, for me, as beautiful and priceless as the signum itself, was Vincent’s motivation to give it to Kate:

“This isn’t just from me to you. It is from all of us to you. I saw how upset you were when Arthur said you weren’t one of us. I want you to know that you aren’t an outsider. You aren’t a revenant, but you are still one of us. This signum means that you are kindred.”

From INSIDE THE WORLD OF DIE FOR ME, Chapter 3, “Revenant Mythology”

DU03qJUn.jpg_large

Lisa warned me that if I wear her signum, I risk getting gold paint on my neck. So I won’t be wearing it, but WILL be bringing it to all of my signings from now on to accompany me and my books. Readers can see it in Edinburgh this July at my RARE books event!

I can’t even tell you all how touching it is when I receive hand-made gifts from you, expressing your love and enthusiasm for the worlds in my books and showing me a sample of your own creativity. A huge thanks to Lisa for the time and work and love she spent on this amazing, original piece. Isn’t she amazing?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Goodreads Deals 2-day promotion on DIE FOR ME! (Until June 2)

Screenshot 2016-06-01 09.18.47

Screenshot 2016-06-01 09.15.57Here are the links:

KINDLE STORE

APPLE iBOOKS

B&N NOOK

GOOGLE PLAY

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNTIL THE BEGINNING is in paperback, so…giveaway!

IMG_9389

I know this is out of focus. Just try to get a 6-month old lab puppy to sit still for a picture, and you will understand why.

My new puppy, Oberon (affectionately known as Obi) would like you to join him in wishing a happy book birthday to the paperback version of UNTIL THE BEGINNING!

As of today, it is available for $9.99 at Amazon, B&N and Indiebound.

That means you can have the entire series (After the End and Until the Beginning) for $19.98, which is not bad at all, considering you get an entirely new universe of magic (the Yara), two sparring heroes (Juneau and Miles), a messenger raven named Poe, the Alaskan wilderness, an epic road trip, crossbows, a crazy Texan billionaire cryogenics enthusiast, trickery, and maybe…just maybe…love. In a tent. Twice. For twenty bucks, I’ll say that’s a bargain. ;)

Of course, Obi’s favorite parts are about Juneau’s two huskies, Neruda and Beckett. (And yes, that is Elsa on the floor behind him, with her hands and feet chewed off. My dog obviously isn’t a Frozen fan.)

Thank you for all being a part of this amazing journey with me, through the DIE FOR ME series, and now the AFTER THE END duology.

To show my appreciation, I’m giving away 8 copies of UNTIL THE BEGINNING (one slightly chewed) to:

2 people who leave a comment below on this blog post

2 people who tweet “Happy book birthday to @amyplumohlala’s UNTIL THE BEGINNING paperback! Win a copy here: http://bit.ly/1Z6FaeQ”

2 people who comment on my Instagram photo of Obi and the books

and 2 people who comment on the Facebook post.

I will choose a winner next Monday, May 9, so get your comments and tweets in! As usual, this contest is international. And…go!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------