A Search For Family

I don’t usually post the same blog to my sites, but today is an exception because I’m looking for someone – family I didn’t know about until yesterday. So forgive me, please, this one time as I share a very personal experience …

I am an aunt!
It’s a strange feeling to discover, at age 65, that you have a niece you’ve never known about.
It happened yesterday – Sunday – when I did an online search for my brother, James Aubrey Hulsey, who died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in April 1970.
His photo and basic information are posted on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site, and you can leave comments in remembrance.
Among the comments was one headed “He was my father” – left by someone named Kay Howard.
I’m starting a search for her.
James Aubrey and I had a strange childhood. When I was two weeks old, our parents gave me over to our maternal grandparents to raise. Maybe it was because I was what they called (back then) a “sickly” baby. My birth parents moved around a lot, so maybe they figured I wouldn’t handle it well.
James Aubrey stayed with our birth parents. I had a feeling his life was pretty unstable. By the time he was in third grade, he’d already attended three or four different schools in that many different towns. He had to have been a pretty smart kid. Despite all that moving around, he managed to keep up with other kids at his grade level.
For a while – I think I was maybe 3 or 4, James Aubrey 15 months younger – our two sets of parents lived together in a little house on Nettles Drive in Tyler. Then our birth parents went on the road again, and he and I saw each other around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and occasionally (not always) on my birthday.
When I was 12, our birth mother disappeared. Our father’s story was that he came home from work (James Aubrey from school), and she was gone. None of her clothes (except what she presumably wore) were missing, nor were her purse, the little jewelry she had, nor any other of her personal belongings. After a time, our birth father moved to another town, and James Aubrey went with him. I lost contact with them both.
The last time I saw my brother was when I was home from college, and he came to visit us. I was 20 then, he was 18 … a good-looking young man already inches taller than me. We enjoyed a too-brief visit, then he went home. I returned to college.
Mother (our grandmother) called me a while after that to tell me that James Aubrey had contacted her – he’d voluntarily joined the Army and was heading to ‘Nam. I prayed for his safety, but it wasn’t to be. One April evening, Mother called my dorm, and when I got on the phone …
“Don’t get upset,” she said – which was always the flag that meant she had bad news. Then, “But James Aubrey is dead.”
We stayed on the phone quite a while. I know she gave me the details of how he died – but they didn’t stay with me. All I really heard – besides “dead” – was “helicopter” and “crash.” It was years later before I learned more about the crash, and when and where it happened.
It also took me a few years to stop being angry with him for voluntarily going to Vietnam, for putting himself in harm’s way … to realize he probably would have been drafted sooner or later … that he was, at 21, just one among too many young men whose lives ended much too soon, who never had a chance to start families, or left families that never had a chance to know them …
I hope to find Kay Howard, this niece I never knew about. But even if I don’t, I’m comforted by knowing that she’s out there, my brother’s legacy to a world he left much, much too soon.

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When the Silence Ends

Once again this week, it’s my pleasure to host author Jade Kerrion – today for her terrific YA novel When the Silence Ends. Stick around for my review of the book at the end of this post, but for now …

Meet (or renew the acquaintance of) Author Jade Kerrion.

The Power of Sibling Relationships 

One of the most underrated yet important relationships in our lives is the sibling relationship. In the typical course of life, most of us will expect to outlive our parents by several decades, and we usually only meet our spouses as adults. Our siblings, however, torment (or are tormented by) us in our childhoods, embarrass us in our teenaged years, and then miraculously, when they become adults, usually become halfway decent people. The point is siblings are our livelong, built-in relationship, yet we often take the relationship for granted.

My novel, a Young Adult spinoff of my award-winning Double Helix series explores the life-transforming power of sibling relationships. When the Silence Ends is the story of Dee and Dum, paternal twins who possess far more differences than they have similarities. In a futuristic Earth, one transformed by the Genetic Revolution, Dee and Dum find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum. Dee is human (and boringly normal, or so she says), and Dum is a mutant. Dee is a chatterbox, and Dum hasn’t spoken since the age of five when a tragedy ripped their family apart. All they have left is each other.

Like many sibling relationships, Dee and Dum’s relationship is faceted. Dee frequently rolls her eyes at Dum’s obliviousness, but she isn’t afraid to jolt the both of them out of their comfort zone if she believes it will help him speak again. Dum rarely notices anything outside of his private world of music, but he will expend the full range of his mutant abilities in order to save her life. Between his silence and her lack thereof, Dum and Dee will find it in themselves to change their world, and the world around them for the better—just by wanting the best for the other.

The novel contains another sibling relationship, that is between Danyael Sabre, an alpha empath, and his formerly estranged brother, Jason Rakehell. Like Dee and Dum, a tragedy tore their family apart, and in their case it separated them for many years. As Danyael and Jason mend their relationship, always careful not to ask too much of each other, Dee shows them that there can be another way, and that is by living full out, giving and demanding the fullest that love can offer, because only then, can you change lives, and by changing lives, change the world.

When the Silence Ends is a fast-paced adventure about two young people coming into their own, but it is also unabashedly a tribute to sibling relationship. My sister who was a nuisance at best when I was growing up is now my closest friend—the one person to whom I can tell anything and everything. I am immensely blessed, and I wish you the very happiest sibling relationships too.

 
When the Silence Ends (Blurb)

What Amazon reviewers are saying: 5 stars! “Wow! When the Silence Ends is captivating! I laughed, I cried, but overall I could not put it down… Forget Harry Potter and Twilight. Every young adult should read this book!”

When you choose your friends, you also choose your enemies.

Seventeen-year old Dee wants nothing more than to help her twin brother, Dum, break free from the trauma in their childhood and speak again, but the only person who can help Dum is the alpha empath, Danyael Sabre, whom the U.S. government considers a terrorist and traitor.
 
The search for Danyael will lead Dee and Dum from the sheltered protection of the Mutant Affairs Council and into the violent, gang-controlled heart of Anacostia. Ensnared by Danyael’s complicated network of friends and enemies, Dee makes her stand in a political and social war that she is ill equipped to fight. What can one human, armed only with her wits and pepper spray, do against the super-powered mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution? 

America, nevertheless, is ripe for transformation. Exhausted by decades of belligerence between humans and their genetic derivatives—the clones, in vitros, and mutants—society is on the verge of falling apart or growing up. Dee, with her sassy attitude and smart mouth, is the unwitting pebble that starts the avalanche of change. In her quest to help her brother become normal, Dee will finally learn what it means to be extraordinary. 

When the Silence Ends is the Young Adult spinoff in the award-winning Double Helix series.
 
Buy Links (e-books) 
When the Silence Ends: Amazon / Amazon UK
 
Buy Links (paperbacks) 
When the Silence Ends: Amazon / Amazon UK
 
Author biography:
 
Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Perfection Unleashed and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, have been described as “a breakout piece of science fiction” and drawn rave reviews for their originality and vision. Her latest novel, When the Silence Ends, is a Young Adult spinoff the Double Helix series. She is also the author of Earth-Sim, a whimsical and compelling view of Earth’s history through the eyes of the two students assigned to manage our planet.

Connect with Jade Kerrion:
on her blog: http://www.jadekerrion.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JadeKerrion
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JadeKerrion

My Review (5 Stars)

YA Novel a Great Read for Any Age

Seventeen-year-old Dee and her twin brother Dum are orphans, being raised by a special council set up to deal with those like Dum – a mutant gifted with unusual powers.
Jade Kerrion’s newest novel, When the Silence Ends, deals with a time when Earth’s humans are divided in four groups: normals (as Dee seems to be), clones, in vitro, and mutants. The four groups are locked in conflict against each other – ranging from mere antipathy to full-scale violence. A “pro-human” organization killed Dee’s and Dum’s parents, leaving Dum scarred and unspeaking.
At least … He doesn’t speak with words. Dum – an empath with the power to alter the emotions of those around him – exists in a world of music that, initially, only he hears. How he uses his gift is a key part of the plot that I won’t reveal here.
Trust me … It’s good.
When the Silence Ends is, simply, a terrific book – another of those on my “to be read again” list. As Dee struggles to defend her brother against those who would hurt him – and discovers new allies and unsuspected enemies – she grows into a broader purpose. The four groups of humanity need someone to unite them, someone to remind them that, despite their divergent origins, they are all still human.
Dee realizes she must become that “someone.”
This is a great book for young adults, with an exciting plot, a message that will resonate, and a triumphant, feel-good ending.
But …
If you aren’t a young adult, don’t let that label keep you from reading this book.
When the Silence Ends is a darned good read for us not-so-young adults too!

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SPOTLIGHT ON: JADE KERRION

Today it is truly my pleasure to host author Jade Kerrion, a 5-Star master of science fiction, and her delightful book, Earth-Sim. (She’ll be back later this week to talk about When the Silence Ends – more on that well … later.) For now, meet the author, learn about her and Earth-Sim – and see my review at the end of this post.

Author: Jade Kerrion
Guest Post Title: Earth-Sim: Spoof or Serious?
 

Readers frequently ask me, “Is Earth-Sim a spoof or is it serious?”
 
My answer is, “Yes.”

Okay, I realize the answer isn’t immediately helpful. Perhaps I should explain.
 
On the one hand, Earth-Sim deals with serious life topics. Jem Moran is a college student with a reputation to prove and a secret to protect. The prestigious world simulation program seems the answer to both her problems, but only if she can succeed in spite of her teammate, Kir Davos. The “serious” themes in this Young Adult/New Adult science fiction novel include coming to terms with our true identify in spite of the facades we display to the world. The novel highlights the value of strong cross-gender platonic friendships, and wrestles with the difficulty of maintaining them. It emphasizes the fact that we all bring something of value to the table, and celebrates the diversity of approaches in dealing with problems.

On the other hand, Earth-Sim showcases Earth’s history in a seamless blend of popular culture, science, and religion. Fact and fiction fit together into a jigsaw puzzle that explains the extinction of the dinosaurs, the ten plagues of Egypt, and the Black Death. Did you want to know the truth about the Loch Ness Monster, the city of Atlantis, and that flying boy with the red cape?

That’s in Earth-Sim too.
 
Although presented as a whimsical and often irreverent romp through the history of Earth and its connection with the universe, Earth-Sim is a treasure trove of real information. You may recognize most of the references, but if there’s something you don’t recognize that you think might actually be a historical event or a pop culture reference, you can check Google or Wikipedia, or just send me a note.
 
Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

 
Earth-Sim: The Blurb

What reviewers are saying: 5 Stars! “What a fantastic book by Jade Kerrion, it grabbed me from the very first page…Ms Kerrion’s writing is exciting and well paced to keep you wanting to know more…”

Jem Moran has a reputation to prove and a secret to protect. The prestigious world simulation program seems the answer to both her problems, but only if she can succeed in spite of her partner, Kir Davos, and the uncooperative human beings who populate her planet. From the Great Extinction to the Renaissance, from world wars to intergalactic treaties, Jem’s conflict with Kir will shape Earth’s history, and their opposing management styles will either save or doom our planet.

Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.
 
Buy Links (e-books)
Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords
 
Buy Links (paperbacks) 
Amazon / Amazon UK
 
About the author:

Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Perfection Unleashed and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, have been described as “a breakout piece of science fiction” and drawn rave reviews for their originality and vision. Her novel When the Silence Ends is a Young Adult spinoff the Double Helix series. She is also the author of Earth-SimEarth-Sim , a whimsical and compelling view of Earth’s history through the eyes of the two students assigned to manage our planet.

Connect with Jade Kerrion:

on her blog: http://www.jadekerrion.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JadeKerrion
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JadeKerrion

 
Earth-Sim, My Review:

Imagine our world – our universe – as a computer simulation designed as a project for university students.
That’s the premise of Jade Kerrion’s Earth-Sim – and a fantastic, fascinating premise it is! Jem Moran and another student at Itibar University are partners in a multiyear experiment to develop a planet into “a world worth living in.”
It’s a competition as well – Moran and her partner, Kir Davos, pitted against other students who also have been given planets to manage and … well … grow into viable entities. It just so happens that Moran and Davos are dealing with a third world out from its sun … a “wreck” of a planet thanks to a summer of neglect after the project’s start the previous year …
It’s the creation of the Earth as a classroom exercise. Kerrion condenses all of our planetary and human history into an academic year, a wild and bumpy year as Moran and Davos struggle with mass extinctions, natural and unnatural disasters – and each others’ conflicting ideas of how a planet should be managed.
Kerrion weaves geologic and Biblical history through her narrative – the evolution of dinosaurs, birds and mammals, the tweaking of promising life-forms to create humans that are very much “in the image” of the inhabitants of Moran’s and Davos’ world. Who knew that the Biblical flood was the result of a spilled drink? Or that a carelessly placed cup created crop circles?
Interwoven in all of this is the secondary mystery of Moran’s true identity – and a family tragedy as compelling as Moran’s drive to win the university competition. Earth-Sim’s ending, while entirely satisfying, still leaves some questions unanswered – a door open to the possibility of a sequel.
I certainly hope that will be the case. I want more – much more – of this story.
In the meantime, I give Earth-Sim 5 stars and a thumb’s up, and I enthusiastically recommend it!

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Portals to Magic

deathtalkerfrontNow and then, someone asks how I developed the idea for my Portals fantasy/suspense series.
It’s because I want to live in a world of magic, even if I have to invent it myself.
I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, but I truly fell in love with it when I discovered Tolkien. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings opened a world where I’d like to live.
(Well, maybe without Sauron hanging around. And with maybe a few modern-day conveniences such as indoor plumbing and microwave meals.)
But Tolkien – and others such as Dennis L. McKiernan, author of the Mithgar series – didn’t invent their elves and wizards and the other creatures that inhabit their worlds. Folklore and mythology from all over the world abounds in similar beings: literally, a world of faerie, dragons, dragon-like creatures …
So … What if these beings are real? What if they actually exist on a world parallel to ours, separated from our world by gateways (“portals”) that once were open, so our ancestors knew about them. But then the portals closed. (The retreat of elves and other magical beings from our human world was a motif in folklore before Tolkien.) So, for … say … a thousand years or so, we’ve had no contact with elves or wizards or dragons – and maybe we can be grateful for the absence of dragons.
But then … What if the portals open again? What if these creatures that we’ve long dismissed as “fairy tales” and “fantasy” start returning to our world – bringing their magic with them? That’s the world I wanted to explore – a world in which magic is real, and sometimes it’s used to commit crimes.
That’s the world I want to live in – where Magic is real, and your next-door neighbor just might be a wizard.
Or an elf …

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Forget the Muse; Just Write

 More than 30 years of writing for newspapers taught me one truth: You can’t sit around waiting for the “Writer’s Muse” to show up.

Try this as an excuse with a newspaper editor: “I didn’t get anything written today. My muse didn’t show up.”

Another writer, a friend of mine, once told me, “It’s easier writing for newspapers. You know what you’re going to write about.”

Well … No. There is still a certain amount of creativity in writing news stories. Yes, you’re dealing with facts, and you can’t mess around with the truth. But …

But whether you’re writing a mystery thriller or reporting the details of last night’s city council meeting, you still have to engage your reader – and I would argue that it’s a lot easier to get most readers involved in the former than in the latter.

Here’s the point: If your goal is to be a professional writer, plant your seat in a chair and write something every day.

Set a daily goal … x number of words, x number of pages, x amount of time devoted to writing. It won’t happen every day.

It is, however, a target to aim for.

Don’t expect to turn out perfect, award-winning prose every day. Some days it will, indeed, feel as if your muse is with you, and the ideas – and words – will flow. Other days, it may be a real struggle to get anything written.

If you can’t focus on the WIP, then write something else. Jot down notes for future plot developments. Write character descriptions. Write a blog. Edit your previous day’s writing. The key is to write. Writing is a craft as much as – if not more than – an art form. As with any craft, the more you practice, the more you develop your skills.

You may also discover that, over time, writing becomes a habit. Especially if you set aside a certain time each day – an hour or so in the morning … or around lunch time … or in the evening – as that time approaches, your thoughts turn to your WIP, or the blog you want to write.

You may discover that you no longer have to wait on your muse; she’s there waiting for you.

 

You could win an ebook. Leave a comment to my blog, and you’ll be entered in an end-of-the-month drawing for a free copy of an ebook in my Portals fantasy/suspense series. Three to choose from: Shadow Path, Stormcaller and Deathtalker.

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5 Stars for The Hobbit movie

 I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Hobbit ever since I heard Peter Jackson was making it. And now it’s here … I’ve seen it … and …

It is absolutely everything I’ve hoped it would be!

I saw the 3D version – 2D was available, but I haven’t seen 3D in years. Let me tell ya, the “new” 3D is awesome, nothing like the movies I saw as a kid! I’ve heard some people say the special polarized lenses don’t work well if you wear eyeglasses, but I had no problems with mine.

And trust me, 3D is the way to see those sweeping vistas that Jackson is fond of! My only quibble … I have this phobia with heights, and some of those stunning scenes where you’re getting an eagle’s eye view of the ground, then the ground suddenly drops …

By the end of the movie, I’ve gotta admit, my stomach had taken up permanent residence in my toes.

But that’s a small price for the sheer beauty of this movie!

But it wasn’t looks alone that make this one of my “I’ve gotta go see this again!” picks for 2012. As with Lord of the Rings, Jackson is true – mostly – to Tolkien’s book in making The Hobbit. Where he has strayed is in minor changes to the book, and some additional scenes that more firmly tie The Hobbit to Tolkien’s later masterpiece.

It totally works. There’s a scene, for example, involving Gandalf and Saruman, and you catch hints of the traitor that Saruman will later prove to be … For me, Jackson’s changes improve the tale.

If you go to this movie, prepare to be sitting for a while. It’s three hours long. I’ve got to say, I was so caught up in the action that I didn’t notice the time until afterward. Also, if you haven’t heard, The Hobbit – like LOTR – is a trilogy. I don’t have a problem with this, except –

I do hate waiting for the next installment!

Here’s how much I like this movie overall – in case my 5-star rating hasn’t clued you: I’m already planning to see it again. If you’re a Tolkien fan – if you’re a fan of epic fantasy – I recommend this movie to you.

Yes, I’m in love with Peter Jackson as a director, and I thank him for giving us The Hobbit – just in time for Christmas!

 

Win an ebook! Leave a comment, and you’re entered in the end-of-the-month drawing for one of my three Portals supernatural suspense series ebooks – your choice of Shadow Path, Stormcaller or Deathtalker.

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