January 23, 2018

FREE #Book Alert: BECOMING by Raine Thomas is Free Until 2/14!

Hello, my friends!

Please allow me to wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Weekend. Whether you’re snuggling with your sweetheart or spending time with friends and family, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

As a gift to all of you readers out there, I’m offering a FREE book from now until 2/14. That’s right…my award-winning YA fantasy romance, Becoming (Daughters of Saraqael #1), is FREE right now! Grab your copy while you can:

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DOWNLOAD BECOMING FOR FREE NOW!

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon CAN

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Book #Sale: Entire Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy for 99-cents thru 5/12!


Synopsis

**Optioned for movie rights by multiple-award winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions.**

This complete set includes all three books in the award-winning Daughters of Saraqael trilogy (Becoming, Central and Foretold). Follow three half-human sisters through fantastic adventures, enchanting romances and an epic battle to save their race…not the human one.

BECOMING
Ancient gods, avenging angels and other beings of myth and legend all have one thing in common: they exist. They’re called Estilorians. Amber Hopkins is one of them…well, half of one, anyway. If only she knew it.

CENTRAL
Life on the Estilorian plane proves stimulating to scholar Olivia Murdoch. But then, she isn’t aware of the dark plans brewing with her at their center…

FORETOLD
Centuries after The Great Foretelling, Skye Tomaganuk dreams of a fairytale romance. But the evil Mercesti have their own plans, and the foretold battle to come stands in the way of her happily ever after. 



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About the Author


Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.


Author Links 

Website | Twitter  
| Facebook  
| Goodreads 

Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy Optioned by Back Fence Productions… Next Stop, Hollywood!

Hollywood or Bust!

Three years ago, I finalized the edits on what would become the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy. Having lost my job in December of 2008, I’d found myself with time on my hands and a number of stories in my head. The first complete book I wrote during that period of unemployment will likely never see the light of day. The next three books, however, launched my career as an author.

Since I first published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy in July of 2011, two of my Estilorian books, Becoming and Defy, have won awards. My books have hit multiple bestseller lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, including breaking the Amazon Top 100. I’ve published a follow-up Estilorian trilogy (the Firstborn Trilogy) and two New Adult Contemporary Romances, For Everly and Meant for Her. My next release, coming in February, 2014, is a New Adult Paranormal Sci-Fi Romance titled Return of the Ascendant.

I say all of this to encourage other writers not to give up. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve great things!

I’ve loved writing all of these different characters and genres, but the Daughters of Saraqael will always hold a special place in my heart. That’s why I’m particularly excited (okay, giddy!) to announce that the trilogy has been optioned by multiple award-winning producer, Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions. Mr. Chenowith has film credits that include work with Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Alec Baldwin, Dan Ackroyd, Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and James Denton, among others. His films have won 11 Best Picture Awards and 29 total awards. I know the Daughters are in great hands!

To celebrate the Daughters of Saraqael taking their first huge step on the path to Hollywood and the big screen, I’m hosting a giveaway. Here’s what you could win:

~ Signed paperbacks of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy

~ Three bracelets inspired by the books

~ One $10 Amazon gift card

~ YOUR NAME IN THE NEXT ESTILORIAN NOVEL

Pay special attention to that last one. There will be a seventh book in the Estilorian series releasing in 2014. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the books, now’s the time to get started! The first book in the series, Becoming, is on sale for just 99-cents until December 27th. If you want to read the entire trilogy at once, the three-book bundle is only $4.99 during that time. Find out why the Estilorians have been such a big hit with thousands of readers, and please help me celebrate the big news!

Take Advantage of the Big Book Sale!!!

Amazon

BECOMING ~ DAUGHTERS OF SARAQAEL TRILOGY BUNDLE

Barnes and Noble

BECOMING ~ DAUGHTERS OF SARAQAEL TRILOGY BUNDLE

Enter the Giveaway

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Celebrate Surviving the Apocalypse: 99 Authors, 99 Books at 99 Cents & $990 in Prizes!

The world hasn’t come to an end…isn’t that worth celebrating?

Join me and 98 other authors in one day of sales mania and enter for a chance to win $990 in prizes! Becoming will be 99 cents today only.

These prices are only available on Amazon.com.

For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!

UtopYACon2012: the Authors, the Awards, the Awesomeness

For those of you who don’t know, the first annual UtopYA Conference took place from July 6-8th this year in Nashville, TN. The conference was designed to honor the female writers of YA paranormal/fantasy fiction, and included informative panels, book signings and an awards ceremony. I had the pleasure of attending as an author and panel participant.

So, how did it all go?

In a word? Awesome.

Being the first of its kind, the conference was on the small and “personal” side rather than having thousands of attendees. As a result, I got to actually meet many of the authors I’d only interacted with online. Authors like Chelsea Fine, Angeline Kace, Heather Hildebrand, K.C. Neal, Quinn Loftis, Amy Bartol, Amanda Havard, L.M. Preston  and many others. Sitting on a panel beside Myra McEntire just about had me going fan-girl. I also got to spend more time with Tiffany King and C.A. Kunz, awesome authors who live here in the Orlando area. Much love, y’all!

Adding to the awesomeness were the readers, bloggers and PR reps who attended. I loved meeting every one of them! Heather with Supa Gurl Books, KP Simmon with Ink Slinger PR and Delphina from Delphina Reads Too Much are simply amazing individuals. Go meet them. Now.

I also won a couple of awards. In fact, I won the first ever UtopYA Award! It was for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel (Becoming). I cried during my acceptance speech and was a hot mess for photos afterwards. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s a pic of the award:

I also won an award for best trailer for Defy. The trailer was produced by Matt Landis of Flat-line Films. I made sure to mention Matt and his company several times in my acceptance speech (but I didn’t cry like an infant this time!). Here’s the pic of award #2:

Truly, I can’t say enough about the conference and the people who put it all together. Janet Wallace pioneered and developed the concept for the event, and she had the help of Jamie Anderson (whose book I hope is available soon!), April Robbins, and Susan Burdorf. This team of individuals helped make the conference feel like a family gathering of sorts. I’m sure there will be great things to come for UtopYACon 2013!

If you’d like to buy tickets for next year’s conference, you can do so here for just $30. They’re only selling 100 tickets at that price, so don’t miss out!

The best thing I’ve taken away from this event is a bevy of friendships. The writers and readers who attended generated such warmth and support, and I drove away feeling renewed and energized. Aside from that, I learned a few tips that I’d like to share:

1.  You don’t have to be on every social media site, but be sure you have a strong presence on those sites you do use.

2.  At any event where you might meet readers, PR reps and other authors, always come armed with swag and business cards.

3.  Amanda Havard is an amazing musician and singer. Also, authors should create playlists for their books and use them to creatively market their books.

4.  Blog tours are practically a must when releasing a book, but you don’t only have to do one on launch day. Consider tours for back-lists, too.

5.  I tend to snort when I cry and then try to talk. This is not attractive.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t very helpful to any of you. I’ll probably do a follow-up post that shares more of the tidbits I learned at this conference once I’ve had a chance to process it all. For now, happy reading and writing…I hope to see you at UtopYA 2013!

Don’t Miss the DEFY Trailer and a Chance for Great Swag!

Ahh, swag. Just the word has my imagination leaping! Bringing to mind strapping, swashbuckling pirates stowing their ill-gotten loot in mysterious lairs, swag was simply a must-have once I became a published author.

Of course, swag costs money. Most authors just starting out don’t have hundreds (or more) dollars to dole out on promotional items, and I was no exception. Fortunately, with a few book sales now under my sword-bearing belt (okay, not really–but it could be), I can now present some lovely swag to my Estilorian fans!

With Defy‘s release just days away, I wanted to do something to capture the interest of my existing fans, and hopefully entice a few new ones. What I’d like to do is offer a giveaway. This giveaway will include some swag, some of which includes the following items:

(Did you notice the “I Want My Own Gloresti” buttons)?? I’ve also got some super-cool magnets. The other part of the giveaway is the winner’s choice of a signed paperback of Becoming or the entire Daughters of Saraqael trilogy in eBook format. If you already happen to have the entire trilogy in eBook format AND a signed copy of Becoming, I’ll offer you a signed copy of Defy instead. Read on to find out how to enter!

Starting this Monday, April 30th (Defy‘s release date) and running until May 12th, there’s going to be a big Defy blog tour hosted by YA Bound that will involve lots of other great prizes and giveaways. Tune back into my blog on Monday for more details on that.

If you haven’t already seen the amazing Defy book trailer created by FLATLINE FILMS, I hope you’ll check it out now:

Isn’t it awesome? And now…how to enter the swag-and-free-book giveaway! The only thing you have to do to qualify is comment on this blog post with the reason you want to win. Do you love the Estilorians? What do you love about them? Have you never read my books but find yourself interested in doing so? What captured your interest?

For extra entries in the giveaway, you can review Becoming, Central and/or Foretold on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble (assuming you’ve read them, of course) and let me know that you did so. Each (hopefully positive!) review will count as a separate entry in the giveaway. I’ll select the winner on Monday the 30th.

Thanks so much to everyone for the unbelievable support! I’m so excited about Defy‘s launch, and I can’t tell my fans often enough how much your encouragement means to me. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Valentine’s #TeaserTuesday: Five Times the Estilorian Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I sit here admiring the flowers that my husband probably paid waaay too much for and eagerly anticipating enjoying a caramel-filled chocolate or two (okay, five), it occurred to me that I needed to put up a Valentine’s Day blog. Say what you want about this being a “Hallmark Holiday,” as a YA romance author, I couldn’t let February 14th go without a post and a set of romantic teasers for my readers!

I’ll also mention that Becoming is presently on sale for 99 cents as a Valentine’s promotion. If you have a “valentine” with an e-reader, you can hook them up with some romance in the form of a book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever e-books are sold!

For your reading pleasure today, I’ve decided to include excerpts of a romantic nature from Becoming, Central, Foretold, Defy and Shift.  I thought this would offer something fun for new and existing Estilorian fans alike. I hope you enjoy them…let me know if you have a favorite!

Without another thought, she leaned forward while using her hand to guide him toward her lips. She sensed his hesitation, knew she had caught him off-guard and his brain was trying to catch up, but she didn’t let it deter her. As though they had practiced it a hundred times, her mouth found his.

His response astounded her. There wasn’t so much a spark as a lightning strike when they connected. If she had thought the feeling of his hands on her back earlier that day had been amazing, the touch of his lips against hers now had rockets firing in her synapses. He kissed her with such intensity she wondered how she could stand it.

In that moment, she knew all that he held in his heart for her and wondered how he had kept it from her all this time. Even more, she understood her own heart in glorious, almost painful clarity.

She moved her lips against his, teaching him without words what he needed to know. Ever the ardent student, he lifted his hands to cradle her face, slowly moving his mouth against hers. Once. Twice. Then again, and yet again, varying the positions and the amount of pressure exerted.

When she opened her mouth beneath his, he followed her lead without a thought. Somehow, although he probably should have found it at least mildly shocking, he was unsurprised when she gently touched her tongue to his. It just seemed to him as though that was a perfectly logical transition for this amazing experience, and he responded in kind.

He savored the taste of her. It absolutely defied description. She made soft sounds indicating her pleasure as her hands caressed his back and shoulders. His body felt as though it was going to erupt in a rapturous flare of pleasure.

He had been prepared for the entire experience to be awkward. He had even been prepared for it to be mildly repulsive.

He had not been prepared for it to feel so good.

Everywhere she touched started tingling. Pulsing sensation coursed through him at the touch of her fingers as well as where he felt her warm breath against the side of his neck. He felt her body pressed against him, felt the heat from her skin warming him through their clothes, and instinctively reached up to hold her at her waist, enjoying the feel of the feminine curves of her hips beneath his hands.

Then he felt her lips move along the outer edge of his ear, taking his sensitive earlobe gently between her teeth for one teasing, incredible moment before she slowly rained tender kisses along the side of his neck and jaw. He realized when his brain finally kicked in that her particular position exposed the slender line of her neck to him. He didn’t have to move at all to breathe in the scent of her. He registered that she smelled like jasmine, sweet and bit mysterious.

Of course she did.

~ DEFY ~

“When you want to kiss someone,” he said, making her realize she had been speaking her thoughts again, “do not talk it to damn death.”

And then he pulled her against him and captured her mouth with his.

He didn’t kiss her. No, that was far too sedate a term for it. He claimed her.

This was no gentle brushing of lips against lips. This was an undiluted assault of the senses. This was lips and tongue and heat and urgent, roaming hands. This was erratic breathing, bodies pressed together, skin touching skin, bursts of unbelievable and unexpected pleasure. This was beyond her wildest imaginings.

~ SHIFT ~

At first, he stiffened in shock. But he quickly sank into the kiss, making her realize just how little she knew about this particular activity.

His warm lips moved tenderly against hers, telling her that her urgent pressing of her mouth against his wasn’t quite right. She deliberately relaxed, focusing on every sensation as his hands moved to cradle her, one hand against the small of her back and the other at the base of her neck beneath her hair. Every touch sent waves of heady sensation pouring through her. It was even more potent than the charge of energy she experienced when she shifted.

A soft moan built in her throat as his lips moved against hers. She felt his hand move from around her neck to the side of her jaw. When he traced the delicate skin there, it sent another shiver through her.

Six Sentence Sunday: #Becoming

A new year, a new blog. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Well, in my case, that’s what I decided at the end of 2011. I went into blogging last summer without a clue, knowing only that it was another forum in which I could promote my work and discuss a few select events and topics that I felt would matter to my readers. What I’ve learned since then is that between writing my books, participating in author interviews and crafting guest posts for other blogs (on top of my other full-time job and everyday life), my own blog has been a tad neglected.

My goal is to change that this year. I’ve been chatting with fellow authors to request guest posts and interviews from them. I’m hoping to do some special features for other writers and perhaps even encourage a few book bloggers to share their viewpoints with you. I’m excited about the idea of helping to promote the work of others while giving my readers some literary options to consider!

On that note, I’d like to present my first effort at a Six Sentence Sunday post (hopefully one of many). I hope you enjoy this scene from Becoming: Book One of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy!

Becoming - Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy Book One- a young adult fantasy romance novel by Raine Thomas They stared at each other for what felt like a full minute. He opened his mouth to speak, his eyes intense. Her breath caught in her throat.

Then he swallowed hard and looked away. “Sure. Sounds good,” he said.

And she suddenly knew with a great deal of surprise and certainty as he turned and walked out that there was much more that he wanted to say, and that it wasn’t at all along the lines of him thinking of her as a freak.

Like the excerpt? Download a sample or buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel, iBookstore or Kobo today!

 

Teaser Tuesday: Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy

This has been a crazy (and exciting) year. On top of building a new house, moving into that house, and my daughter starting Kindergarten, I also published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. For anyone who thinks that publishing a book is the last stage in the world of writing, though, that’s far from true!

Since the trilogy was published at the end of July, my writing time–which was already sparse because of my full-time wedding planning career–has greatly diminished due to the time I now spend marketing the books. Before publication, I didn’t have an author presence to nurture. There wasn’t a Raine Thomas Facebook page, Twitter account or blog. I wasn’t participating in author interviews and guest posts. I wasn’t befriending wonderful authors whose books I want to read and review.

In short, when I wasn’t coordinating a wedding or spending time with my family, I was writing.

Well, things change…and I’m delighted with how things have changed over the past four months. This is everything I’ve been striving for and more (sleep deprivation aside). Despite my other obligations, I have been writing. Book one of the Firstborn trilogy is done and in the beta-reading stage, and I’m outlining book two. I’m still on track to have the entire trilogy released by early-to-mid 2012 (fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that).

In the meantime, to celebrate completing my latest round of edits, I’m doing two things: having a sale for Becoming, which is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for just 99 cents, and posting this excerpt from book one of the Firstborn trilogy. If you missed my first teaser from the book (the prologue), please check it out here.

As always, thanks so much for your support…and I look forward to your feedback!
 

Chapter 1 ~ Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy

KynzestiBeing seventeen absolutely sucked.

Tate crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the grassy ground beneath her booted feet. The response to her request had been exactly what she’d expected, but that didn’t make her any less annoyed. She would be eighteen in about a month, for all holy sake. What difference did a few weeks make?

“You know why I’m saying no, Tate,” her father, Caleb, said in his level tone. “You’re not yet eighteen. Leaving the area of protection around our home would be very unsafe. You can’t bring forth your wings yet.”

She looked up at him, fighting against the instinctive pout that she knew wouldn’t help her cause. “Only because you won’t let me try,” she countered.

He gave her The Look. It was one he had mastered over the years, and she felt her shoulders hunching against it. Huffing out a sigh, she rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, fine. So I’ve tried. But that doesn’t mean I’d be helpless out there. I’d be with Quincy and Sophia, and they won’t be very far outside the area of protection. Don’t you trust Quincy?”

Her father gave her another look, this one telling her that she was losing her touch. “I certainly do trust Quincy. He brought you into this world and he would protect you to his death. Is that what you want?”

She pursed her lips in frustration. He knew she wasn’t going to say yes to that. Refusing to give up, she said, “What I want is for you to trust my ability to defend myself. I’ve been trained to do so since I was old enough to hold a weapon. I know very well that mom only trained for a few months after she transitioned to this plane before she helped you defeat Grolkinei. So I’m curious as to just when you’re going to consider me ready.”

Now, her father’s dark blue eyes seemed to take her measure. Then he acknowledged, “Well played.”

“Thank you.”

“But it doesn’t change my mind.”

“But, Dad—”

“No, Tate. My answer is final.” He reached out and tugged on one of her many corkscrew curls—curls that resembled his outside of their varied colors. “You offered a sound argument. But my concern for your safety won’t ease until you’re eighteen, and even then, I’m your father. I love you and I’ll always worry about you.”

Her frown softened at the words, but the disappointment was still hard to swallow. She knew that she was ready to experience more of the world. How could he not feel the same? “You’re going to have to learn to trust my abilities at some point, Dad.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You’ve lived a much more sheltered life than your mother and your aunts did, Tate. You don’t understand it yet, but you’re a much younger seventeen than they were.” His lips curved into a smile that eased the sting of his words. “When you’re really ready to leave the area of protection, you’ll understand what I’m saying. The bottom line is that you might be the oldest of all your siblings by five minutes, but you’re not the oldest of your cousins. Clara Kate and Sophia will experience certain things before you do. But that won’t make those experiences any less special for you when it’s your turn. Before you know it, we’ll be taking you and Tiege out for your first attempt at flying.”

At the mention of her twin brother, she shifted her gaze to the training paddock. Located within equal walking distance of the home she shared with her parents and her seven siblings, her Aunt Olivia and Uncle James’ home, and her Aunt Amber and Uncle Gabriel’s home, the paddock was used by all three families. Tiege was even now training with Uncle James in the use of the blessed kamas he had been given by the elders. The sickle-like weapons gleamed white in the sun as he worked through his weapon forms under their uncle’s careful eye. A number of their older siblings and cousins were also in various stages of training with her Uncle Gabriel and Aunt Amber. The younger children would be in the classroom with Aunt Olivia at this time of day.

When she opened her mouth as a thought struck her, her father said, “And no, I won’t let you go even if Tiege is with you.”

Deflated, she now did allow her face to fall into a pout. “Fine,” she huffed. She turned to stride down the slope leading to the paddock, figuring she’d work off her irritation in a contest with her brother.

“Tate.”

She stopped and glanced back at her father. Even if he hadn’t been standing higher on the slope than she was, he was a very tall being. His sculpted Gloresti musculature combined with that height made him a very imposing figure. She had always found that comforting, however. And when he now gave her a knowing look and waved her back up the slope, she felt a layer of her irritation slide away.

Giving up, she walked over to him and allowed him to draw her into a consoling hug. He had never allowed one of his children to walk away on a harsh or angry word. Since she knew she pressed him more than any of her siblings did, she could only appreciate that.

Even if she did think he was being ridiculous and overprotective.

“I’m eager for you to find your wings, too,” he said, the sound of the words a rumble in her ear where it rested against his chest. “You’re my firstborn. I can’t wait for you to experience what it is to fly…to achieve another milestone of your existence. But it’s only a few more weeks.”

More composed now, she pulled away from the hug and caught his gaze. “I know, Dad. You’re just trying to look out for me. And I love you, too.”

This time, when she pulled away and headed toward the training paddock, he let her go.

* * *

“How did our babies suddenly get to be approaching their eighteenth birthdays?”

Caleb kept his gaze on his daughter’s retreating figure as his wife, Skye, walked up beside him and took his hand. He watched the sparkling, fluffy, knee-length skirt that Tate wore over her cargo-style pants spring up with every step, just as her multi-colored, beaded curls bounced in their high ponytail. She had the tall and curvy build of a grown female, but there were many things about her that were still achingly young.

In response to his wife’s question, he just shook his head and gave her hand a squeeze, having no answer. It did seem just yesterday that he was a neurotic mass of nerves awaiting the births of Tate and Tiege, and now here the twins were, mere weeks from learning to fly. The time had passed much too quickly, even for a being who didn’t physically age.

Tate, in particular, was growing up more quickly than he was ready for. As his firstborn child, she certainly held a special place in his heart. And her free, uninhibited spirit was so similar to her mother’s that he couldn’t help but love her all the more for it. But she worried him, too. Where her twin was content to follow the rules, she consistently bent them.

“I had the dream again.”

Now he looked down at Skye. Her light blue gaze was focused on the paddock. As usual, she wore her long, softly curling brown hair down, and it caught in the breeze, allowing the sunlight to reflect on its beautiful red and gold highlights. Her fitted, knee-length sundress was a rainbow of bright hues that formed a swirl centered right over her round belly. Their next set of twins was due in about three months. Unlike her sisters, Skye was prone to multiple births. This would be their third set of twins.

I know, he thought, knowing she would hear him with her mind since they were avowed. I had the same dream.

Upon assuming her powers on the Estilorian plane nineteen years ago, Skye had been able to dream of the future. Not everything she dreamed actually occurred, but she was accurate more often than not. After exchanging the eternally binding vows with her that avowed them, Caleb had inherited the same ability. He found it more a curse than a blessing.

Tate asked you if she could go with Quincy and Sophia, didn’t she? Skye thought.

He nodded.

Quincy was a long-time friend of their family and the Estilorian who had attended the births of the twenty children born to Skye and her sisters, Amber and Olivia. He was planning to take Olivia and James’ firstborn daughter, Sophia, outside the area of protection the following day. Because the levels of protection surrounding the three family homes had been strengthened over time as the families grew and the different powers of the children began to emerge, one of the resulting side effects was that wings could no longer be extended while within the enchanted area. Thus, when a child came of age, he or she had to be taken outside the area of protection to learn to fly.

Amber and Gabriel’s firstborn daughter, Clara Kate, had been able to bring forth her wings with ease after her eighteenth birthday four months ago. Caleb, Skye, James and Olivia had all been in attendance on that memorable day. It had been emotional for all of them.

Unfortunately, things hadn’t gone quite so well for Sophia.

The firstborn daughter of Olivia and James was…well, different. As a class, the Kynzesti—as the children of the daughters of Saraqael had come to be known—were tall and brunette with deep blue-green eyes and markings, tanned skin and well-defined musculature. While Sophia had the deep blue-green eyes and markings of her class, she was blonde and petite with an ivory skin tone, and was distinctly disinterested in physical exertion. Because, like her parents, she was highly intelligent and applied herself with diligence to anything required of her, she could certainly hold her own in combat if required. But she avoided it as much as possible and had to be forced to train.

So they probably shouldn’t have been surprised that her first attempt at flight went differently than Clara Kate’s. Unlike Clara Kate, who had extended her wings immediately with minimal guidance from her parents, Sophia had struggled. James and Olivia had shown their characteristic patience in trying to teach her, but Sophia just couldn’t do it. She had turned eighteen two months ago, and despite numerous ventures outside the area of protection, her flight efforts were thus far unsuccessful.

Quincy, who provided the prenatal care for Amber, Olivia and Skye whenever they were pregnant, proposed a solution to the problem. Since Skye and her sisters were all currently expecting again, Quincy was staying within the protected area in case any problems arose, so he was aware of the situation. And since he was a Corgloresti, he had particular insights into flight, something that required faith to accomplish. The Corgloresti class specialized in matters of faith.

He had suggested that Sophia’s ties to her family were preventing her from believing in her own abilities, a core element to successful flight. After quite a bit of debate, they had all finally decided to have Quincy take Sophia by herself outside the area of enchantment to see if it would provide her the right environment to fly.

Because secrets were all but impossible within such a close-knit family, word had quickly spread about the intent. Thus, Caleb hadn’t been very surprised when Tate approached him about going along with her cousin.

“I told her no, of course,” he said now in response to Skye’s question.

“And we’ll keep an eye on her tomorrow?”

“Of course. As always.”

Such concern when expressed by other parents might have seemed overprotective, he supposed, watching Tate join Tiege’s training session. Her blessed nunchucks whirled and winked in the light as the twins sparred. But then, most parents didn’t dream of the future.

The dream he shared with Skye had been recurring more and more regularly ever since Clara Kate had transitioned to the human plane not long after her eighteenth birthday. In the dream, Tate was alone and outside the area of protection. She was taken off-guard by an unseen attacker, grasped in a brutal grip while she was disoriented, and when she finally realized what was happening, her terror was devastating.

But it was the end of the dream that caused Caleb to wake up in a cold sweat with an agonized cry in his throat. It was what had his normally positive and cheerful wife looking sad and worried. And it was why they absolutely couldn’t let Tate have her way when it came to her request to venture out with Quincy and Sophia.

For they had both foreseen their firstborn daughter’s death.

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes in our Lives

Here we are, the day after the tenth anniversary of terrible events that shook the world. I found myself wondering all weekend whether I should join others in writing something to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. Instead, I’ve decided to write about a topic that ultimately helped me and many others get through that dark time: inspiring acts of heroism.

9/11 resulted in many heroes, both sung and unsung, throughout the world. These are the stories I cling to when watching images of those towers falling and hearing stories of families torn apart. In my ongoing quest for happily ever afters in a world that so rarely provides them, it is in looking to the heroes of the world that helps me maintain my positive outlook.

I’ve met many heroes. Oh, they might not seem to fit the definition at first glance. Social workers, foster parents, youth mentors, teachers, doctors, therapists, advocates…everyone with genuine compassion who touches the lives of youth in need falls into this category, in my opinion. While a child being removed from his home due to alleged abuse might not seem like an earth-shaking event to the general public, it is to that child. And those people who help him get through that event are his heroes.

My experience lies with kids who didn’t have typical upbringings. Years of working with children and adolescents with severe emotional disturbances and behavioral challenges gave me much insight into the lives of today’s youth. And what I learned is that these particular kids require more than twice the love and attention of their “average” peers, but there isn’t always someone willing or able to give it to them. They need heroes.

One of the first kids I worked with as a placement specialist was a 17-year-old young woman who I’ll call Nicky. Nicky had been in and out of foster and group homes for most of her life. She had a file full of mental health diagnoses and was on psychotropic medication. She was eight months pregnant. And when she came across my caseload, she had just been hospitalized for attempting to take her own life.

Needless to say, Nicky’s path was a hard one. In fact, in her seventeen years, she had experienced more hardship than many people twice her age.

But the one thing Nicky had going for her was a group of people–indeed, heroes–who cared about her future. I worked with the exceptional hospital team and an invested home for pregnant teens to create an environment where Nicky could feel loved. Although, as these kids tend to do, she tested the waters, no one gave up on her. And today, Nicky and her son are both doing remarkably well.

In my writing, one of my goals is to pay homage to heroes, including youth like Nicky. Amber Hopkins, the protagonist in my novel Becoming, is a character written with this goal in mind. She represents the strength and courage it takes to make something of your life when that life has been filled with uncertainty and adversity. She also demonstrates that heroism comes in many forms.

Yesterday, we needed to recognize the important anniversary of 9/11. We needed to mourn the losses we experienced and herald the heroes who emerged in the aftermath. Today we should acknowledge how far we’ve come, and recognize the heroes in our lives who might not otherwise ever be noticed. Hats off to all of you!