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I love painting on my pottery. I am beginning to marry my painting skills with creating my handmade pottery more and more these days. I have a particular kind of clay which is made by Laguna (MC65) stoneware that I like to use, because it is very white, almost like porcelain, but not as difficult to work with. Stoneware also has more practical applications. The white clay becomes like a canvas for me. In my latest video, I am demonstrating how I use Amaco velvet under glazes to paint on my bisque ware. Once I have completed the painting, the entire object gets dunked into a clear glaze which gives it a nice shininess and crackly finish on some pieces.
This latest piece dons a couple of happy sunflowers. Enjoy….
Oh, happy day! It's anthology time! This one from Harlequin Teen just last month, and the list of authors is shiny, award-winning, and long: Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Kimberly Derting, Myra McEntire,... Read the rest of this post
Champagne, catching up, sharing publishing news, writers, illustrators …. at The Hughenden Hotel in Sydney.
Why? To spread the news of ROOM TO READ – educating the children of the developing world.
How many kids, has Room to Read helped? 9 million children and growing!
The brilliant Jennie Orchard heads the writer ambassador program for ROOM TO READ – and writer ambassadors came – award winning author Emily McGuire, best selling children’s author Belinda Murrell, Country Saga author Pamela Cook, Sarah Davis award winning ….. Susanne Gervay …. and we were there to discuss how to reach everyone with the message of Room to Read.
Are you an aspiring writer, rgz? How about making everything just a little bit easier in the publishing pursuit with Writing Children's Books for Dummies? Author Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy cover the basics of the art, genres, editing, illustrating, publishing and promoting. There are great sections for publicity and social media. This a tool you'll reference again and again. The new 2nd edition is up-to-date and trustworthy.
I found the prompts, tips and warnings to be really helpful.
"Warning! Beware of dumping tons of background information in successive paragraphs, known as a data dump. Character development must be more subtle and oblique, not hitting the reader over the head with gobs of information all at once."
So if you are looking to write with an aim to publishing kidlit, grab this for your reference shelf. It will be a handy guide on your journey. Read, reflect, and reach out through writing, rgz!
Elementary school kids are interested in exploring the Internet to learn about the world around them. But parents and teachers need to direct kids to finding sites that are interesting, informative and accessible. Kids ages 7-10 are not ready for general searching, but they love exploring what the Web has to offer.
Time for Kids celebrates Women's History Month with a dedicated mini-site-- I'd recommend this as a good starting place for 2nd through 5th grades.
Time for Kids mini-site to celebrate Women's History Month
Kids can easily navigate through different sections, whether they start with modern professionals who might inspire them, background of the holiday, or an in-depth interview with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Kids will like the abundant photos with brief chunks of text. I really think we read online information differently than print sources. We like highly visual sites with brief chunks of text. Time for Kids keeps readers engaged, prompting them to click from one picture to the next. Here, actress Miranda Cosgrove tells about how she's been inspired by Rosa Parks:
Time For Kids also introduces different historical milestones in Women's History. For example, there's a short article on the suffragist's movement, The Fight to Vote. I like sharing this type of journalistic writing style with kids, getting them primed to read newspaper articles in middle school.
Women suffragists marched in the streets across the nation.
I can see using this site to get kids interested in a topic and ready to learn more. Is there a website you like to share with kids to get them engaged and interested in learning more?
For many aspiring writers, landing a contract with one of the Big 5 is the ultimate goal, a sign they’ve “made it.” But not all books belong with the big houses, some do better with the small ones. A small press offers substantial benefits with considerable opportunities. Rather than viewing them as a last resort, small presses should be given a first look.
Big Fish, Small Pond
A small press works on a different scale. The giant bestsellers that crowd store shelves generally belong to a large publisher. Those books grab the majority of resources—advertising dollars, catalog space, public relations. A debut author may have to swim upstream for many years before they gain notice. But in a small press environment, even a debut author can quickly become the big fish, the one who garners the notice, and the resources. A smaller catalog means more funds funneled into a debut. A significant launch for a small press may be considered mediocre at a big house—the author gets relegated to the midlist when compared to a stable of marquis authors. The small press then builds on the author’s success, garnering attention from industry insiders, readers, and peers they would never have received otherwise.
Embrace Agility, Reject Rigidity
A large house books their publishing catalog years in advance, coordinating schedules with multiple departments, resulting in a rigid timetable. A small press is more flexible and can often make room for a new project, especially one with a second or third book waiting in the wings. While a rigorous editorial process still follows and certain processes must remain, the fluidity of a small press team can get a book to market swiftly without sacrificing a project’s integrity. In the time it may take a large house to get a single book on shelves, a small press may release two or three in a series, thereby propelling an author’s career in half the time. Further, a small press has the capability to shift marketing and publicity strategies mid-campaign if something isn’t working. At a bigger publisher, there are policies, procedures and budgets that make shifting efforts next to impossible.
Multiple Strategies, Singular Focus
A small press is usually just that: small. They don’t utilize numerous committees and bureaucratic layers which allows for streamlined decision-making. Small press authors work closely with the entire team, receiving personal attention from high-ranking staff members. Members they know, members they trust, and members who can make immediate decisions. Authors needn’t worry their book has been sent up the chain to a committee they’ve never met, that their fate, from contract to cover art, will be handled by strangers not personally invested in the project.
More Cultivation, Less Pressure
A large house expects a quicker ascent to success. And justifiably so. With a substantial investment in advances, print runs, marketing, and distribution, they require a more immediate return on investment. Without it, an author may find the threat of being dropped hanging over their head like an anvil dangling from a frayed rope. Earn out or get out. Most small presses utilize a reduced cost production model which gives an author room to debut. The slow and steady approach provides opportunities for growth and sustainability, a solid foundation on which to build their career. A small press invests in the author, not just their book. They’re in it for the long haul.
When deciding where to submit, consider every option, large and small. A solid small press with an innovative strategy and measurable growth could one day become something bigger. In the end, choosing the right small press may be a better fit than the wrong large one.
Kendel Lynn is an editor with Henery Press (logo right), an award-winning publisher in the mystery/suspense genre. You can learn more at www.henerypress.com.
The wound is the place where the light enters you – Rumi
I’ve had many wounds. That’s why I was so excited when I found out Cheryl would allow me to do a guest post here on her blog. I figured anyone who’s written a book called SCARS understands about wounds, light and what comes after. There are many of us, and we form a sisterhood of sorts, crisscrossing ourselves and the world in search of light we can learn to stand.
I grew up illegal. Illegal isn’t the “correct” word for it anymore, but it’s the word that describes how I felt. I snuck across the Mexican border with my mother at the age of eight. That’s the word my parents would use when I’d hear them whispering about it in the other room. “Somos ilegales,” they would say, as a preface to some other things that bound us. “We’re illegal so we can’t buy a house.” “We’re illegal so she can’t go to public school.” It was a stain, an identity. It was what I was. And I was ashamed.
I didn’t do anything to earn this brand, but I didn’t know that at eight years old. I didn’t know it at fifteen either. I didn’t know it until well past thirty, after I’d spent a third of my life hiding, measuring myself against others and coming up short. The thing that branded me was something that had been decided for me way before I had reached the age of consent or even understanding. But still it made me so desperately wrong. It was my darkest secret, one that not even my best friend knew. Then I got my papers through an amnesty when I was eighteen years old. I did everything I could do bury that part of my past.
But the light is wily. It found me one day as I drove my late-model German sedan on my way from one part of my shiny, put-on life to another. It came in the form of a hate-spewing talk radio guy saying that if we let “these immigrants” stay, they will destroy our country. He made me so furious, talking about “the fact” that immigrants bring diseases and live off the government. In that moment I realized that by keeping quiet I was aiding and abetting him in making his case.
So I began to speak. And write. I had spent a lifetime wishing to be a writer but hadn’t been able to connect somehow. Stories had gotten rejected. Agents had passed on my work. It was because I hadn’t been writing as my whole self, I realized. When I wrote my novel, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY, about an undocumented immigrant high school senior, I got the first agent I queried, who sold my book in the first round of submissions with multiple offers. The irony was sweet. My broken places had let the light I had most wanted into my life.
So we are scarred, all of us. And we are still wounded, sometimes, still afraid. But when we speak with voices clear and true, we heal a little, and turn our faces to the light. And we shine.
Celtic (Irish) legend that says fairies descended from the Tuatha De Danaan (an ancient people driven to another world by a wave of invaders).
Some of the legends say this "Otherworld" (which is what I call it in my story) is called Tir Na Noog (Tír na nÓg ), and that there, time stands still.
The Faery Magick spell words in Faery Swap are based on the four original cities of the Tuatha De Danaan, which also represent four magical items: Finias (spear), Gorias (sword), Falias (stone), murias (cauldron).
Spriggans (the rock like sprites in Faery Swap) are real (mythical) creatures from Cornish (English) faery lore.
The “anam cara” or soul bond in Faery Swap is a real ancient Irish word that means “soul friend” – “When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at the most sacred place: home.” – John O’Donahue, poet and priest
Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: Check out the Virtual Author visit video and Common-Core-Aligned Teacher's Guide for Faery Swap here.
2 minute book trailer
Blog Tour Giveaway$25 Amazon Gift CardSigned Paperback of Faery SwapTwo Faery Wands ENTER TO WIN
Susan Kaye Quinnis the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction.Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.
Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life. As the adopted daughter of VisionCrest's patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. The other Ministry teens must see her as a paragon of integrity. The world must see her as a future leader. Despite the constant scrutiny, Harlow has managed to keep a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control...
Could you describe both your pre-and-post contract revision process? What did you learn along the way? How did you feel at each stage? What advice do you have for other writers on the subject of revision?
The Violet Hour was the second novel I attempted to write, so I wasn't completely naive. I knew that a first draft was just the beginning of a very long process, but woah mama...did this book ever have it in for me!
In the beginning stages, I didn't really know what the book was about. I had this amazing main character (Harlow Wintergreen), this iconic cult-like religion (VisionCrest), and this edgy, pop-culture altiverse in which it all existed. But I didn't have a story just yet - details shmeetails.
At that time I never wrote with an outline so I meandered about the manuscript, surprised and delighted by every crazy left turn Harlow took. I've since learned my lesson on that front, but as I once said in an early draft of The Violet Hour to explain away a plot that made no sense, that is a story for another day. I would throw in wacky details because they sounded cool or seemed spooky - a mysterious necklace! a sinister voice! a Cambodian temple!
But then when I had to tie it all up with a bow at the end, I realized I had created a monster.
That puppy was going to require major revision....like, 10 drafts' worth before it went out for sale.
It was a process. One that could have been significantly shortened by a little bit of pre-planning. But I'm a hard-way learner, what can I say?
During the time that it was out on submission, I came to realize that the last third of the book just didn't feel right. At that point I had stripped the story down to the studs multiple times, torn it into shreds and put it back together until my fingers bled and my eyes crossed (okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic).
I was exhausted. I didn't even want to look at it anymore, much less tear it apart again. But once it sold (oh happy, happy day!) I knew I owed it to myself and my future readers to make the story the absolute best it could be.
So, I ripped it apart once again, this time with the expert guidance of my editor. I took things out, added new stuff in, and fixed all the things that I knew didn't work but hadn't wanted to admit before. And then I revised it, and revised it, and revised it some more.
I lost count, but I was finally finished around draft 17. And I was really proud of it. The story I wanted to tell was finally on the page, and I didn't give up before I got there.
So what did I learn from this and what advice would I give to other writers around revision?
Here it is:
Do a little pre-work. You don't have to have a detailed outline, if that doesn't work for you (it doesn't for me). But a one-page synopsis can help you think the story all the way through before you throw in a magical necklace that has no business being there.
Take breaks between drafts. My rule of thumb is at least two weeks, but more is better. Renew. Refresh. Get some perspective. Then dive back in.
If you have a lot to fix, break it down into bite-sized pieces. Do a pass through for a certain element (say, fixing a specific plot thread). Consider that a draft. Then, after a break, come back for something else. Thinking about it as a whole can be daunting - just take it one step at a time.
Give yourself the gift of time. This isn't a race. There's no prize for finishing fast, but there might be one for finishing strong.
Hang in there! Persevere! Commiserate! Most writers will tell you that revision is a big part of their process, and some will tell you they've even come to enjoy it.
Enjoy it. Seeing your manuscript improve, become even better than you imagined it could be, is one of the most gratifying parts of the process. The journey is the reward!
As a horror writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?
I didn't think about this consciously, like "I'm going to make this specific issue my real world parallel because that's what a horror book must do." That said, there are many social, political, and cultural parallels in the book - things that really intrigue me.
For example, I am curious about belief in all its forms. Religions. Cults. Science. Politics. The process of deciding that a certain thing or person holds the answers to the unanswerable is one I'll never tire of exploring.
As human beings, we are often willing to believe the most outlandish, unseeable things and simultaneously incapable of believing the clear and obvious (if there is any such thing).
What makes us think our perception is the only reality? What creates certainty in the absence of evidence? What happens when those things occur? These are the things that were always present in The Violet Hour, and became honed over the lengthy process of revision.
At a certain point I had to ask myself: okay, this is a cool story but what am I trying to say? That's when I really got down to the meat of it.
I hope the result is a rich subtext that both fascinates and frightens.
The Book Report with JJK is about to undergo a transformation. Instead of a once-a-week 5-8 minute show, the interviews will now be broken down to 1 minute segments that will air throughout programming! And I'll be calling in every Tuesday morning to recommend a new book and let folks know what's going on in the world of kidlit.
As always, Kids Place Live airs on channel 78 on SiriusXM!
(The full interviews will still be archived on my website: http://www.studiojjk.com/thebookreport.html)
It was the 1980s and the Small Press had a hero for that age of Thatcherism and bleakness. Amongst the three million unemployed was a man. An athlete. A street-fighter. A man who would not stand by while crime spread. DENIZEN ARK...Unemployed crime-fighter. But whatever happened to him?
Read the further adventures of Denizen by one of the most under rated comic artists in the UK -JOHN ERASMUS!
Superb black and white artwork that will make any wannabe comic creator weep.
Happy St. Patty's Day (on Monday)!!! Don't forget to wear green! And remind your students/kids/readers, the treasure isn't gold - the treasure is in BOOKS!!!! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!) Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially... my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more! When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most. **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
Stephanie Smallwood is an Early Literacy Specialist Librarian (and an awesome co-worker of mine!)
Middle grade literature is the equivalent to getting a driver's license to young readers. So much practice for so long leads up to the freedom of finally being able to sit down with a book ALONE and read it. This is a critical moment for children, so much can go wrong at this point: the books can be too hard, too easy, too boring, too far from their comfort zone, too close to their comfort zone, they can fall in love with a book that a friend doesn't like, and so on. Some kids love the freedom, others are overwhelmed and unsure how to choose. So much pressure! What's a librarian/teacher/parent/caring individual to do? Exactly what we've been doing here, talking about different books so when the child that needs that book is in front of us we have something in our head to put in their hands. So, here are a few books that have been important to me, a couple that I remember from my youth, and three that are new.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: I read this in fourth grade and remember the story sitting with me for weeks. I had already been reading lots of historical fiction, but this was the first book I read about World War II. Prior to this book, bad and scary things happened to people 'a long time ago,' but this was set in 1943, my mother was alive while events similar to these were taking place. That fact mixed with Lowry's frank style made this book a real eye-opener for me, it was the point where I began to understand that there was much more to the world than I realized and scary things didn't just happen in books.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: I remember the exact moment I put my hands on this book, I had just started seventh grade and was learning to use the 'big' library for the junior high and high school. I still didn't know my way around it and wasn't finding much I loved, but a paperback of the Westing Game was on display. I thought it looked strange, and the description didn't really sound like something I would like, but I checked it out anyway. And loved it. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading this book with a flashlight and when I finished promptly started over. I thought the mystery and the puzzles were so smart, but looking back I think it was the character of Turtle that really resonated with my 12 year-old self. Turtle wasn't perfect, her family didn't get her and she was a bit rude at times, but she still had value, and not just because she could solve a mystery. I needed Turtle that year, and I've sometimes wondered if that high school librarian didn't somehow know that and put this book in front of me.
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes: This book is perfect in it's simplicity. Nothing huge, nothing overwhelming, but lots of things that kids this age think about. Is there something wrong with me? Is my teacher mad at me? Why is that other kid so mean? Henkes nails the average fears of children entering the big world of school and gives them the respect they deserve.
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series) by Maryrose Wood: I have been telling nearly everyone I know that they need to read these books. I haven't quite gotten to the point of putting them in people's hands and standing over them tapping my foot while they read them, but close. Full of smart wit, these books are generally described as a cross between Jane Eyre and Lemony Snicket, but I think they are in a class by themselves. Icing on the cake? 'Incorrigible' is just the beginning of the interesting vocabulary.
Wildwood by Colin Meloy -- Oh how I wish Wildwood had existed when I was ten and desperate to devour longer and more complicated books that were at my interest level! This is a story that a child can completely lose themselves in, the world-building is incredibly detailed and the illustrations (by Carson Ellis) lend just enough. This book is certainly not for everyone, it is long and slowly paced, but is ideal for the reader that wants to really get in to a fantasy.
WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ AMBER HOUSE, IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT YOU WILL FIND NEVERWAS VERY CONFUSING.
I just clicked through to GoodReads to find evidence supporting the above statement, and promptly fell into a rabbitholeofDRAMA.
Which is why I don't spend a whole lot of time at the Thunderdome we call GoodReads.
I wrote the above right before I took my break from the interwebz. I was so disheartened by the GoodReads stuff—that A) there seemed to be so much deliberate misunderstanding going on, which B) suggested that people were using an understandable misstep on the author's part to put on their Furious Righteousness Faces rather than exercising some empathy, and worst of all, C) that the whole brouhaha was not remotely an uncommon occurrence—it was the rotten cherry on the top of my Winter Malaise sundae.
Anyway. So. Neverwas.
At the end of Amber House, heroine Sarah Parsons used the magic of the house and of her family to tweak time, saving her little brother and her long-lost aunt in the process.
But clearly, somewhere along the way, something went wrong... because history is completely different: it's the present day, but segregation is still the name of the game. Make sense?
Here's the wrinkle that'll make it especially tough for new readers: since Sarah changed history, she doesn't remember the adventure in Amber House: because for THIS version of Sarah, it never happened. And so this world, there is an American Confederacy of States, and that doesn't seem strange to her.
Some people might see this as a Con, but big, big points to the authors for having enough confidence in their readers to avoid over-explaining. Sarah works with the information that she has—which isn't always accurate—and she doesn't magically Know That Something Is Wrong. She has moments of unease and she has some dreams, both of which are exacerbated by the fact that she's finding weird messages that seem to not only be connected, but meant specifically for her. In addition to working at solving a mystery that she doesn't even know exists, she has to fight against a lifetime of memories, as well as a lifetime of social conditioning: that's a lot of balls to keep in the air.
Points for the subtle changes in the cast of characters: they're the same people, with the same core personalities, but they've lived their entire lives in a completely different world than in the first book. So of COURSE their worldviews will be different, as will their reactions to various stimuli. This was the aspect I appreciated the most, I think, because so often in stories like this, it's only the clothes or the slang that we see change. In Neverwas, we get the whole package.
We get more of Nanga, and so she moves away from being purely a personification of the Magical Negro trope. Which was much appreciated.
Relatedly, the Autism Makes You Magical thread is still here, but it's laid out in a way that I felt comfortable with: A) Sammy and Maggie were connected to the house in a much more direct way than Sarah has ever been, and B) they process things differently than Sarah does, so... pass? I'm still semi-undecided, though.
The worldbuilding was thoughtful and complex, in that we see Big Obvious Changes as well as more subtle ones, and said changes don't exist in a vacuum: the political landscape of the entire world is different.
Evangeline lived a long fulfilling life. Loving mother and wife, she had everything she could wish for…until a tragic car accident took it all away from her.
Awakening in a new world with the body of a young woman, Evangeline doesn’t remember anything about her life, not even her own name. Luckily she has godparents to help guide her in this new society of the dead. As she struggles to fit in, deep inside, she can sense something is missing, a part of her that she can’t recall. When a mysterious man claims he can help get her memory back if she agrees to keep their nocturnal meetings a secret, she can’t refuse. Everything about him screams trouble, but she can’t seem to stay away. Every moment spent with him makes her feel alive again.
Is she really prepared to unveil her past completely, from beginning to end? Everything is not as it seems in her new found home, and her new life may also end in tragedy.
Rest in fear, Evangeline.
I think this is the most beautifully written story I’ve ever read. Not some quick read, fluffy paranormal romance, this is a book you can settle down and not only enjoy the story, but the lovely way it is written. A new and interesting take on what happens after you die, For Better or For Worse is a captivating tale of loss and love. Don’t miss out on this one!
Ingrid is a 23-year-old French girl, college student, and dreamer. She currently resides in Paris, where she spends most of her time going to museums and the movies. Despite the romantic atmosphere in Montmartre, or even the fancy cafés in the Champs Elysées, she would easily trade it all for a nice walk in the woods with her schnauzer, Golden. She is always craving adventures, and finds that books are the cheapest way to travel to far-away lands. She is inwardly convinced that words have the power to heal the worst blisters on our hearts, or at least can make us forget about them for a little while. And sometimes, it is just enough to face another crazy day.
Everything is going to be okay. I should repeat it to myself like a broken record. Everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay. Why does it seem like these words have lost all their meaning?
“I promise.” He embraces my waist to push me closer to his warm chest.
“How is it going to be okay?” I shake my head, unable to restrain my tears from rolling down my burning cheeks. “How? He’s dead!”
I bury my face into his collarbone to stifle my crying, listening to nothing else but the sound of his beating heart. I feel it pounding fast and hard, matching mine. It makes me cry even more. I don’t want him to be strong for the both of us. That, too, isn’t fair.
He puts his hand on the back of my head. “I’m so sorry.”
I curl up against him and move my head slightly to glance at the dark ocean. This sandy beach is my favorite place on earth. This is where he kissed me for the first time. This is the place that always reminds me someone truly loves me, and sometimes it’s just enough to chase the hurt. This is my haven.
At least it was, until now.
I ran to meet him here as soon as my little brother released my hand in his hospital bed. I knew he wouldn’t force me to speak, and he didn’t. He just held me close. It took the time of a wave dying in the vast ocean’s arms for me to fall down in a faint, my legs quaking like an aspen leaf. His grip was so tight he fell to his knees, too, resolute not to abandon me in my rare moment of weakness.
It feels so good to be weak. I don’t care if my face is washed with tears or if I have red rims around my eyes. I need this loss of myself. I need him and my haven.
“I’m sorry, Eve. So sorry.” He sighs, clasping me tighter against him to calm me down. “I wish I could do something, anything to relieve your pain. I hate being so helpless,” he hisses between clenched teeth. “It kills me.”
I peek up at him, trying to find a light of hope, but I see nothing. Tonight, I’m more aware than anyone that love isn’t possession. It doesn’t stand still. My world can fly away in the blink of an eye, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to fight the ruthless, cold, and brutal wind that likes to come without calling.
“I…I just want…the world to disappear,” I choke out between my sobs. The thick air is getting unbearable, harder to breathe. I press my hand against my breastbone. It hurts. It hurts too much. “I can’t live anymore, I don’t want to. Not like this. Please make it stop,” I beg him. “Just make it stop. It hurts.”
He holds my face in his hands to make sure I meet his serious gaze.
“Listen to me,” he says slowly, scanning my face as he speaks. “I’m on your side. There are times when I wish I could escape this crazy world. But you know what? It’d be a terrible mistake to switch our life off if we get the chance.”
I vaguely wipe my face with the back of my hand, lowering my gaze.
“Yes, you can be hurt and awfully bruised inside,” he continues, gently tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Sometimes you get so scared to face the day you could suffocate. But I love you.”
His last words take me by surprise. I know he does. I just didn’t expect him to say them now.
“I love you,” he says again, his voice catching ever so slightly. He strokes my face once more. “I don’t want to switch my life off… because you are my life.”
I feel paralyzed for a brief moment. It doesn’t make any sense. Who am I supposed to thank for the love he’s offering me? Are they the same odds that are against me tonight? Those who first harm me to bless me next?
I desperately love him. I do. So much. He’s always been my hero, and logically speaking, a hero is supposed to be indestructible. He’ll be here, until the end of time. I have to be sure of that. I want to be sure of that.
“He’s gone.” I shrug sadly, more tears falling out of my eyes. “He’ll never be seventeen. I’ll never get the chance to see him anymore. Never again…It’s over.” I try to put together in a wrecked breath, willing for more comfort.
“No, he’s not. He’s right here,” he says, pointing at my hammering heart. “He’s probably in a better world now.”
I instinctively look up at the starry sky with a broken smile. I hope he is. He deserves to be.
“Eve.” He tips my chin down to hold my gaze. “Maybe now is the time to share what’s in your heart, too. There’s no forever.”
I quickly shake my head.
“Don’t say that.” I take a long, ragged breath. I really don’t know how to breathe anymore. “We have time.”
The disappointed light in his eyes is his only reply.
He bends down instead, and softly puts his lips close enough to touch mine. His hands travel up my cheeks and fondle my hair as he gives me a tender kiss. These are the ones I love the most. Our breath mingles together as I forget the world around us, and just like that, the ache begins to vanish little by little.
Not entirely, but just enough for the dizziness to take over so I may abandon myself in my most secured place.
He knows I want to say those three words. I just need more time.