Free short story collection!
In A Strange Companion, a lot of peculiar things happen around Kat. Another character in another story might have chalked up all these signs as coincidence, and then maybe I’d be writing a romance novel about a girl who falls for a guy who bakes a wicked chocolate hazelnut marble cake (*see below for more about this). But that’s not this story. This story is full of strange coincidences that may or may not prove that Gabe is back.
A while back, I wrote a post about some of the weird things that happen when you’re dealing with grief. If you’ve ever lost someone you love, you’ll know that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility as you try to come to terms with someone being gone.
There’s always a danger of crossing a line in fiction and making coincidences unbelievable. I mean really, what are the odds of Mai calling Kat by the pet name Gabe gave her, or having a birthmark in the exact same spot as his? But while I was editing the book, I got a sign of my own that weird coincidences happen in real life, not just in fiction.
On my office wall, I have Plot Planner, a long sheet of brown paper where I keep track of my novel and its various storylines. I like to gather pictures as I write, images of how I see the characters and some of the settings. It helps to get the story clear in my head.
I found the perfect picture of Mai, cut it out, and stuck it on my story board. It wasn’t until weeks later that I took a close look at the picture and realized that the dress the little girl is wearing is made from identical fabric to my living room curtains!
* Owen’s chocolate hazelnut marble cake was a big hit with Kat and it was an equally big hit with Mr. Fab when I tried it out on him. If you’d like to get the recipe to make your own, plus recipes for five other dishes mention in A Strange Companion (including Kat’s mother’s prawn cocktail and Jon’s blackberry lavender scones) I’ll send you a free recipe book (plus a collection of short stories) when you sign up for my newsletter.
If you haven’t snagged yourself a copy of The Smallest Thing yet, now’s your chance.
This week only, it’s on super duper wahoo sale. Yup, you can download a copy for less than the cost of a convenience store Styrofoam cup of artificial pumpkin-flavored coffee. I mean, really, which would you rather have?
So, click on your bookseller of choice, make yourself a proper cup of coffee (or tea) and settle in for a juicy read.
Still not convinced? Here are what reviewers have to say:
“Lisa Manterfield’s richly detailed novel…is graced with themes of self-sacrifice, the power of human touch, and the need to act in the face of horror.”
~ Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless
“It grabbed my attention from the start and held it to the end. The detail in this story is simply chilling.”
“Tense thriller. Transcends the YA genre.”
“Lisa Manterfield is one brilliant author. The Smallest Thing will stay with me for many years to come.”
And I swear, none of these reviews were written by my mum!
So, linger no longer. The offer is only good for a week.
If you love discovering new authors, you won’t want to miss the YA Scavenger Hunt.
In case you’ve never heard of it, the hunt showcases 140 new and upcoming YA releases. There are tons of prizes, including individual giveaways and seven Grand Prizes, plus each author will release special bonus material, only for hunt participants. Sound interesting?
This fall the hunt features seven teams of twenty. I’ll be participating on the Orange Team.
The blog hop begins Tuesday, Oct 3rd and runs through Sunday, Oct 8th. It’s easy to play. All you have to do is either check in here on October 3rd, or head directly over to the YASH website. There you’ll find a list of all the authors participating as well as an answer sheet you can print off to gather the info you’re hunting for and to keep track of any bonus contests you may have entered.
I’ll have all the details here next week, but for now, here are all the books featured this season, so you can start looking for your favorites:
Over the past couple of weeks, the threat of tragedy has set many people on edge. First Harvey swept into Texas, then Irma battered the Caribbean and headed for Florida. Meanwhile, Jose and Katia built, bringing more uncertainty of what they would become or where they would go.
People in the direct path of the storm faced the very real possibility of tragedy. They stood to lose their homes, livelihoods, pets, and even their lives. Many were called upon to tap into reserves of strength and courage to get through a situation for which they had little time to prepare.
Meanwhile, many of us outside the danger zone could only watch and wait. Although I didn’t have anyone close to me directly affected by the storms, my social media feeds were full of posts from friends who did have loved ones in danger. Lots of people were afraid of what might happen, but felt powerless to do anything about it. That kind of stress can have a huge emotional toll.
I thought a lot about the effects of powerlessness while writing The Smallest Thing. On the pages of the main story, Em finds herself stuck in the middle of an unimaginable tragedy that she is completely unprepared to handle. She does what any of us would do, which is to figure out how to survive. She doesn’t always make the best choices, especially at first. She has no role models or experience to call upon, but she does what she has to, and then she does what she needs to do. She finds her inner strength and a side of herself she never knew existed. And while she thinks she is powerless, she finds ways to take action.
Meanwhile, in the fictional world beyond the book, Em’s mother and little sister Alice experience the powerlessness that many of us felt last week as Hurricane Irma barreled towards our loved ones. Although their story isn’t told in the book, I’ve imagined them watching helplessly as Em and her father fought for survival.
I imagined that Em’s mother, like many us last week, would carry enormous guilt that she had gone to visit her sister and so had avoided being swept up in the quarantine. She’d feel helpless because there would be nothing she could do to protect her loved ones. She’d be terrified and probably frustrated that she didn’t know, at every second of the day, what was happening to them. She’d have moments of fury when others judged her actions or those of her loved ones, without full knowledge of the situation (hello, social media haters) and perhaps relief when one kind person asked how her family was doing and how she was holding up.
In fiction, and in our real-world tragedies, the stories of the supporting characters aren’t generally the ones that keep us riveted. But if you were a supporting character in the recent news headlines, you know, like Em’s mother, that you have your own story, too.