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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Meet an author: Vanessa Barger - Super Freak

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

About the author:

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing. 

Describe yourself in three words.
Weird Writing Nerd

Describe your book in three words.
Geeky Puzzle Solver

Tell us about your day job.
In my day job, I’m a high school Technology Education teacher. Which means I do nothing with writing, except run a writer’s club once a month or so. I teach 9-12 graders practical physics (which sounds like an oxymoron, but itsn’t really), engineering, robotics, work skills, 3D modeling, architecture, drafting, and computer stuff. Depending on the year and what classes I have, anyway. I also run a gardening club and we play in the dirt sometimes. J

Which writers inspire you?
There are so many! Shakespeare and Austen are always at the top of my list. Tolkien is up there too. In the YA/MG world, I love the way that Lisa Ann Sandell’s words just flow, and I love Rick Riordan’s imagination. And…well, let’s just stop there. I love so many!

What is your writing process like?
My writing process is in flux. I am making “office” hours for myself after work, but in a general sense, I keep a writing journal with me all the time. I write notes to myself about things I’m working on or thinking about. When I have enough of an idea that I feel like I can start writing, I try to make sure and sit down and write out the main points. It’s a really basic outline that I go back and add to until its fully fleshed out. But I’m not married to it. If I write and end up somewhere else, I just adapt the outline to work. When I finish a draft, I go through and the first things I do for edits is a search through the document for words I know I use too many (that, just, etc) and then I sit down and try to read it through, looking for mistakes. Once I’ve got it as good as I think it can be, I send it to critters and see what they say. Then I start again!

What are you reading right now?
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Do you have an author crush?
Neil Gaiman.

Quick questions:

Physical books or eBooks?
Physical Books, though I love my ereader too.
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke! Really, root beer, cause I don’t drink caffeine anymore.
Twitter or Facebook?
Both for different things? I like the immediate gratification of Twitter, but I like FB too!
Song you can’t get out of your head right now?
Well, I was doing fine until you asked that. Now Steampunk Revolution by Abney Park is back in my brain. Grrrr.
Sweet or salty?
Sweet.
Coffee or tea?
TEA.
Write on computer or notebook paper?
Blank. Even though I can’t write in a straight line


Description:

Publication Date: October 13th, 2015

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.

To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.

Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.

EXCERPT



Chapter One

Twenty-five feet into town. That’s as far as we got before the first disaster happened. Dad turned onto Main Street, and just as we pulled up next to Greywolfe’s Spells and Supplies, a huge puff of smoke and flame burst from the front doors. Shattered glass and a large, hairy man shot into the path of our over-packed SUV. 

Dad slammed his foot down on the brakes and jerked the wheel to the left, throwing us around the inside of the car. In the back, I covered my head, expecting the piles of wedged boxes to topple over, burying me in an avalanche of dishes and teddy bears. 

“Caroline! Are you all right?” Mom reached into the back seat, her horn-rimmed glasses dangling from one ear. 

“I’m good. Did we hit him?” I craned my neck, looking to see out the front window. Dad unbuckled and leapt from the car to help the man who had flown in the road to his feet. 

“I think he’s fine. You’d think he’d at least have the decency to let out a warning before coming out like that. He could have been killed! We could have been hurt! Dishes might have fallen on you and broken!” 

I rolled my eyes. The dishes would be a high priority. 

Mom shook her head, letting loose a shower of tiny green leaves. It always happened when she was stressed. Dryads weren’t really known for their calm temperaments. You’d think, being tree spirits, they’d have that stoic thing going for them. Maybe it was because Mom was a weeping willow, but calm wasn’t really part of her vocabulary. Dad on the other hand, was solid as an oak. 

Because he was an oak. After unhooking my seatbelt, I slid from the car. Mom followed suit. Her lips compressed into a tight line and she shed another couple handfuls of leaves, but for the moment, she contained herself. 

Dad stood, tall and wiry, one arm hooked around a large, barrel-chested man with more facial hair than I’d seen in my life. Had to be a werewolf. He pulled away from my dad and brushed at the gravel and purple residue covering his gray suit. 

“Thank you, Mr. …” The stranger held out one hand to my dad. 

“George Bennings,” Dad said, shaking the stranger’s hand. “And this is my wife, Grace, and our daughter, Caroline. We just moved here from Lost Creek.” 

“My name is William Grouseman. I’m thrilled you’ve come to town, but glad you didn’t pull in a few moments sooner.” 

I wanted to warn him that sarcasm was lost on my parents, but he seemed to get the message when they didn’t share in his chuckle. They exchanged a confused glance and smiled blankly at him. 

He offered his hand to me and I shook it. “Nice to meet you, sir.” 

He frowned, looking between my parents and then back at me. 

Mom’s arm curved around my shoulder, nudging me forward. She sniffed. “She’s just a late bloomer. We’ve got great hopes for her future.” 

I sighed. She meant well, but it never failed. Supernatural people could sense the paranormal on each other. But when they got to me there was nothing. A void. A great, empty space where everyone expected some sort of natural magic. 

The supernatural had been the normal since 1978 when an explorer by the name of Albert Merriweather stumbled into a cave in Greece and found Pandora’s Box, and then opened it. Apparently the myths about the box were off a little. Instead of holding all the evils of the world, it held all the magic that had been pulled out of it. Releasing magic out into the world, well, now every person was a little bit paranormal. It didn’t mean everyone could cast a spell or levitate. But everyone had something. Kids were tested in elementary school. 

The ones with lots of magic were usually the popular crowd. The rest of the population lived with it, picking up what they could, where they could. You could ask to be retested anytime. Sometimes people really did make progress. 

Except me. I hadn’t just tested low, I’d flunked. So badly they brought in national analysts to make sure there wasn’t someone tampering with the tests. It was a relief really. I mean, my parents were powerful. Who wants to try and beat that? 

My lack of powers drove my parents batty. Most people figured I was adopted. Two dryads–tree spirits who could change shape, manipulate the natural world, and talk to trees–produced a normal child? Impossible.

My parents were convinced I would show signs as I matured. I didn’t have the heart to tell them differently, but I really didn’t think it would ever happen. And that was fine by me. Magic was great–when it worked. 

Maybe when I turned forty my parents would figure it out. Until then, I’d smile and nod when they gave me their speech about reaching my potential and discovering hidden talents. 

I met Mr. Grouseman’s chocolate eyes and gave him a weak smile before he turned to my parents. 

“Ah, well, it happens sometimes. If anyone can draw out her gift, it’s our teaching staff at the school. I’m the principal at Stein Middle School.” His eyes moved from them to me. I wished I were small and hidden under a rock. “You look like you’re about middle-school age. What grade will you be in?” 

I swallowed. This was not how I planned to meet the school principal. “I’m supposed to start eighth this year.” 

“I thought so. You’ll love the school. Excellent courses and teachers, and the students are some of the best.” 

Just like every other school I’d been to. They always said that. It must be in a rulebook principals get when they start their jobs. Luckily, that was the end of his conversation with me. He told my parents where the school was, and what the summer office hours were, then waved at us as he headed back into the shop. 

Mom raised a tentative finger and cleared her throat. “Are you certain it’s safe to go back in?” 

Mr. Grouseman loosed a deep peal of laughter. “Of course! My nephew runs the store. What you saw was an accident when a new display tipped over. Have a great day!” 

I didn’t buy his story, and I didn’t think Mom and Dad did either. But clearly he wasn’t going to share family quarrels with the new people in town. With a shrug, I climbed back into the car, put my cryptogram book away, and watched the town unfold outside my windows. The buildings wound around a central park with huge old-growth trees and the county buildings were the same as they’d been when the town was founded in the seventeenth century. My Dad gave me tidbits about the history of Hecate Bay for the last two weeks, trying to pump up my anticipation. History was one passion Dad and I shared. 

Spell suppliers, voodoo parlors, psychic readers, and magical bookstores rubbed elbows with Food Lion, florists, and churches. The human and the paranormal had merged and become just like the country–an inseparable mix. 

We headed for our new house. As we turned away from town, the library caught my attention. A huge stone building that, based on the size, I knew held thousands of books. I started to drool at the prospect. As I watched the people wandering down the street, and we passed another spell shop and magical supply store, my excitement began to fade. I thought about what I’d seen so far, the encounter with my new principal, and the new school year approaching, and my stomach churned with dread. I knew that no matter what, Hecate Bay wasn’t the restful small town my parents told me about. I’d hoped for one of those rare towns populated with only a few magical creatures and big magical talents. This place, well, I could practically taste the magic in the air. 

I was doomed.

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1 comment:

Esperanza Garcia said...

Sounds like a fascinating read that I would love for my homeschool!