Tag: Fire in the Woods

EMBERS IN THE SEA is Finally Here! Sneak Peek Inside this Post

Exciting news, dear readers! The next installment in one of my favorite series by one of my Pen Sisters is finally here. I’m talking about EMBERS IN THE SEA by Jennifer M. Eaton.

I adored FIRE IN THE WOODS. You can read my review here. It was a  rollicking good time, and I don’t even like science fiction. Except for after I read book two in the series, I had to recant that claim. If I was reading these books and loving them, I obviously liked SOME science fiction books.

Now you can read the third installment in the series. I read an early version of this manuscript, and let me tell you, it goes beyond anything you could possibly imagine. David and Jess face their biggest test ever (and a crazy alien leader was trying to kill them in the last installment so…)

After you read the amazing excerpt, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the post where you can enter a giveaway to win some awesome prizes.

Embers In the Sea eBook FINAL
Title: EMBERS IN THE SEA (Fire in The Woods #3)
Author: JenniferM. Eaton
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Alien scientist David has dealt with disappointment his entire life, but failing to breathe life into the planet Mars is his greatest regret. Out of options and in need of a new home for their people, the alien Caretakers rekindle their plan to inhabit Earth. First they will have to eliminate the human race, including Jess, the only human David holds dear.

Humanity has one final chance at survival. David needs to emulate Earth’s precipitation on Mars. But the catalyst to make it rain lies in the fathomless depths of Earth’s ocean.

The clock is ticking down to humanity’s last hours as Jess and David face a world more alien than either of them can imagine. The sea hides secrets, but some secrets don’t want to be found.

Here is the Promised Sneak Peek:

Jess and her friend Matt from FIRE IN THE WOODS (Book one) are hanging out at Columbia University when a strange apparition forms in the sky. Of course, our girl starts snapping photos!

“What is that?” a man yelled.
Matt grabbed my hand and we followed the throng away from the steps, across 116th Street, past the sundial, and onto the South Lawn. A huge hole had formed in the clouds, widening into a shimmering circle of crystal blue.
I plucked my camera out of my backpack and joined the amateurs clicking away with their cell phones. I hid my amusement behind the lens of Old Reliable.
These people had no idea what a picture could be, how to focus in just the right place, how to find tone in the simplest of images, and catch the perfect light to evoke the exact mood. I hit the shutter four times as the anomaly widened, expanding past several city blocks. Nature never ceased to astound me.
A few more photography students added their lenses to the crowd. There’d be no deficit of pictures for the internet newsfeeds to choose from, that was for sure.
I snapped seven more shots. The race was on. Click. Who would take the best shot? Click. Who would be the first to get their work published?
Me. That’s who. Click. Click.
The shape shifted and elongated, swirling until it settled over the courtyard and froze as if someone pressed the pause button.
The crowd grew silent. I lowered my camera. WTF?
A ball formed in my gut as the air in the middle of the circle formed a nearly transparent, shimmering bubble. A rainbow formed across its surface; the stripes brilliant, clear, and defined. Dozens of breaths hitched as an iridescent flicker glimmered across the apparition. The form pinched and molded into a colorful, swirling tube that slowly dropped from the sky.
Oh. Crap.
Matt tightened his grip on my hand as the other spectators stepped away. Half their gazes staring up, the remainder staring at me. Some stumbled into the bushes lining the walkways.
“Friends of yours?” Matt asked.
I shivered. “No. That’s not Erescopian technology.” At least I didn’t think it was. Erescopian ships were liquid metal … shiny opal or silver. “That just looks like … ”
“Water,” Matt whispered.
Water hanging in the sky. Or more like a lake … a huge lake with a giant elevator tube dropping out of it. So. Not. Good.

This is part one of a three part reveal of the spaceship landing in chapter one of EMBERS IN THE SEA. For the next excerpt, please go check out Read Coffee and Teen on 2/7/2017 (Sorry, it was totally NOT my idea to be SUCH a tease. Really.)

About Jennifer: Jennifer-M.-Eaton-Promo-Protrait-239x300

Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her. While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)

During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.

Who knows where we’ll end up next?

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.

(1) winner will receive an Alien Charm Necklace, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Check out the Rest of the Tour

EMBERS IN THE SEA

Putting Yourself Out There

One of the hardest things about being an author is putting myself out there. It goes against every self-protective gene in my body. Not to mention coughing up a big loogey on my mother’s manners curriculum.

Today, I’m over on a fellow author’s blog. She’s someone I admire. I have fan-girled over her books on this blog.

I love the colors of this cover
I love the colors of this cover

Because of that, she’s asked me to read the next book in her young adult science fiction series and it’s a pulse-pounder. I’ve also been privy to a book she’s begun marketing that’s written for adults.

I’m happy to give her partial credit for my acceptance in the anthology she’s helping me promote today. She read the first chapter and shredded it.

When I sent her the rewritten scene, she praised it. Talk about making a writer feel pretty good.

“An amazing author in this genre thinks this is great.” *dancing around the room*

But I’m getting off the topic. There’s two ways that putting myself out there is most difficult.

Putting Stories from my Heart in Harm’s Way

Some of the stories I write are turned out in days for a specific reason. Although there is an element of “me” in them, my heart isn’t fully vested.

A novel that has taken months to write, rewrite, revise and edit? There’s a huge investment of my heart, soul and mind on those pages.

And then the agent rejects them.

The publisher criticizes the story line.

Readers rip on the characters in a review.

Or worse…people read it and then *crickets*

And I don’t want to ask, “What did you think of my book?”

Because if they aren’t bubbling over about it, the words that will answer that inquiry will wound me. Even if they’re spoken kindly.

Bragging about my Books so People Buy Them

Isn't she lovely? And on sale until the end of the year.
Isn’t she lovely? And on sale until the end of the year.

Okay, I don’t think I really ever brag about my books.

But I do post links on social media so people can buy them. I run ads. I carry boxes in my car.

I’m eager to make a sale.

And not for the money.

But so I can return to the position mentioned under number one. Because I want my story to burrow into the hearts and minds of readers.

If I had a dozen real fans (meaning they aren’t related to me and probably have never met me in person), I would hyperventilate. A dozen?

That’s how pathetic I am. Because all the big indie book marketers know you need 1000 readers to have a “successful” book.

And your inner circle of dedicated fans should be at least 100 so they will make your next book release amazing. After all, hitting high rankings on Amazon is what it’s all about, right?

Wrong.

And that’s why putting myself out there still feels like walking naked on the stage at high school graduation (not that I KNOW how that feels).

Cold. Embarrassing. Terrifying.

So, if you can give Jennifer a little love today by clicking through and leaving a comment on her blog, that would be like dropping a robe over my shoulders.

If you shared this post with your group of friends on Facebook or Google, this writer couldn’t get more fully clothed.

Have you ever put yourself out there? What was hardest about it?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one of more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

	

The Cover for the Next Installment in FIRE IN THE WOODS

 
I am SO EXCITED for you to read this next installment in the FIRE IN THE WOODS series by my writing friend, Jennifer M. Eaton. (Yes, that means I have already read an early edition. And it’s a story worth waiting for, believe me!)
Today Jennifer M. Eaton and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for EMBERS IN THE SEA, the third book in the FIRE IN THE WOODS series which releases January 31, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:

Fire in the Woods has been an incredible journey for me. In book one, Jess and David raced through the woods of New Jersey. In book two, they raced through space, and spent some time on an alien planet. For book three, I needed a brand new frontier, and Earth’s vast oceans seemed the perfect setting for a new alien adventure. I really hope everyone enjoys Jess and David’s race through the sea, because the ocean has secrets, and some secrets don’t want to be found.

On to the reveal!

 
Title: EMBERSIN THE SEA (Fire in The Woods #3)
Author: JenniferM. Eaton
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | TBD
Alien scientist David has dealt with disappointment his entire life, but failing to breathe life into the planet Mars is his greatest regret. Out of options and in need of a new home for their people, the alien Caretakers rekindle their plan to inhabit Earth. First they
will have to eliminate the human race, including Jess, the only human David holds dear.
Humanity has one final chance at survival. David needs to emulate Earth’s precipitation on Mars. But the catalyst to make it rain lies in the fathomless depths of Earth’s ocean.
The clock is ticking down to humanity’s last hours as Jess and David face a world more alien than either of them can imagine. The sea hides secrets, but some secrets don’t want to be found.

 

Excerpt

1Homework Sucked.

I tucked back the dark bang that flew in my face, shifted my seating, and balanced Philosophers of the Pre-modern World on my crossed legs.

Squinting in the morning sunshine, I forced my eyes to read the passage from Colton’s Lacon one more time:

“Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past, even while we attempt to define it.”

I closed the textbook and tossed it on the grass. “Why should I even care about what some old cleric guy said two hundred years ago?”

“Because he’s a famous old cleric guy.” Matt plucked the book from the lawn and dusted a few stray grass clippings from the cover.

“I came to college to study photography, not to be confused beyond reason by dead philosophers.”

Matt handed my book back as we stood. “Philosophy is supposed to broaden your mind.”

“Yeah, well, I’m broad enough.” I could sense a witty retort forming on his lips. “Don’t say it.”

He held up his hands. “I wouldn’t think of it.”

A group of people pointed at us from across the courtyard, and my fingers twined around my necklace, pressing the charm into my palm.

Here we go again.

When I first came to Columbia University, this was one of my favorite places to relax. The grass was like a hug from home, despite the New York skyline looming just over the trees. But each semester I had to dodge more and more Jess-watchers. Why they were still interested in me after all this time, I didn’t know.

It had been nearly two years since David left Earth to help his people populate Mars, and there’d been no impromptu spaceship sightings yet. But alien chasers still flocked to Columbia University thinking today might be the lucky day.

“How about we go this way.” Matt tugged me away from the wide-eyed group. Several of them raised camera phones, then looked at the sky.

It was always the same, as if just because Jessica Martinez walked outside, a spaceship would magically pop out of nowhere and whisk her away.

“You know, it wouldn’t hurt you to smile once in a while.” Matt waved at a guy holding a late model Nikon camera with a cheap lens attached to the front. “You always look ticked on the tabloid covers.”

I left the walkway and stomped across the grass. “These aren’t paparazzi. They’re just gawkers, and they’re driving me crazy. I wish they’d just let it go.”

Matt laughed. “Let it go? You’re Jess Martinez: the girl who saved the world from Armageddon. Twice. I think you need to cut people some slack.”

I stopped by the oak trees beside the library and watched a bird hop back and forth from the grass to the cement walkway. “I just want to be normal again. I want people to stop staring at me all the time.”

“Then you better stop wearing those tight jeans because, damn, girl, I’d snap a few pictures too if I thought I could get away with it.”

I smacked his shoulder, like I always did when he complimented me in his own, Matt-like way. It felt like we were back in New Jersey, back when I was “just Jess” and friendships weren’t so much a luxury.

“So, when is your cancer conference over?” I asked.

“It’s a symposium, and I’ll be here for a few more days.”

A few more days. It wasn’t enough. “Thanks for coming to see me. I missed you.”

Red stained his cheeks. “Yeah, I missed you too.” His gaze drifted to the tree. “Bobby says hi, by the way.”

I cringed and tried to hide my sneer. “I can’t believe you guys ended up friends after what he did to you in high school. He’s such a jerk.”

“Yeah, but he’s a connected jerk.”

“You don’t need him, Matt. You’re brilliant.”

He shrugged. “Brilliant only gets you so far. Bobby has the charm and means to get my work noticed.”

“And in return, you get him good grades?”

“I can’t take his exams for him, but yeah, I help with the other stuff.” We walked to the library steps, where he reclined against the marble. “He quit McGuire for you, you know?”

“That doesn’t change anything. He and I are never getting back together.”

“He’s trying to get back in your good graces … change the world so you see him differently.”

I eased down beside him. “Did he ask you to say that?”

Matt’s eyes opened like saucers. “Am I that transparent?”

“I can’t believe he’s pretending to care about cancer research just to impress me. When will he learn to take no for an answer?”

“So, you’re serious? You’re really not into him anymore?”

“Not. At. All. Not if he were the last guy on the planet.”

A smile spread across Matt’s face. “Good. You can do better. He’s a weasel.” He cleared his throat. “Just don’t tell him I said that. He’s still bigger than me.”

I mustered half a grin when three people jumped in front of the steps and tried to pretend they weren’t taking pictures of me.

“Wow,” Matt said. “They really don’t let up, do they?”

“Not too much, no.”

He stood and helped me to my feet. “How about we go inside somewhere? Is there anywhere around here we can catch an early lunch?”

I folded my arms. “Seriously? We’re in New York City. Name your poison.”

His grin made me forget about the roving photographers. “Anywhere quiet, where we can kinda be alone.”

I straightened. “Alone?”

He slipped his cold fingers around mine. “I meant it when I said I missed you.”

Whoa. I slid my hand away. “Weren’t you just rooting for team Bobby?”

“Yeah, well, I figure if the referee has banned Bobby from the game permanently, that kinda makes room for team Matt to swoop in and maybe win one for the eggheads of the world.”

A flash of seventeen-year-old Matt, bruised and bleeding on the sidewalk after Bobby beat him up for taking me to a movie flashed through my mind, before my vision refocused on the brilliant med student Matt had become. I’d saved the world from aliens, but Matt was going to save the world from cancer. He believed it. I believed it. Matt was one of those guys who could do anything.

As long as he could avoid getting beat up again.

And with me at his side, he would get beat up again. Going to college hadn’t changed Bobby that much, even if Bobby was riding on Matt’s gravy train.

Matt just put himself way out on a limb. But did I want to go out on that skinny little branch with him?

A smile burst across my face. Maybe I did. “How about something a little more casual, like ice cream.”

He held up his hands. “Whoa there. I don’t know. Ice cream sparks of commitment. We’ve only known each other for what, eight years? I think you’re moving a little fast for me. I thought I was pushing it with lunch.”

I punched him in the arm.

He punched me back. I loved that. No airs. No games. No attitude. Just Matt.

Maybe, just maybe, I could get my life back. Maybe I could be happy again.

A startled cry echoed through the courtyard.

“What is that?” a man yelled.

Matt grabbed my hand and we followed the throng away from the steps and onto the South Lawn. A huge hole had formed in the clouds, widening into a shimmering circle of crystal blue.

I plucked my camera out of my backpack and joined the amateurs clicking away with their cell phones. I hid my amusement behind the lens of Old Reliable.

These people had no idea what a picture could be, how to focus in just the right place, how to find tone in the simplest of images, and catch the perfect light to evoke the exact mood. I hit the shutter four times as the anomaly widened, expanding past several city blocks. Nature never ceased to astound me.

A few more photography students added their lenses to the crowd. There’d be no deficit of pictures for the papers to choose from, that was for sure.

I snapped seven more shots. The race was on. Click. Who would take the best shot? Click. Who would be the first to get their work into the papers?

Me. That’s who. Click. Click.

The shape shifted and elongated, swirling until it settled over the courtyard and froze as if someone pressed the pause button.

The crowd grew silent. I lowered my camera. WTF?

The air in the middle of the circle formed a nearly transparent, shimmering bubble. A rainbow formed across its surface; the stripes brilliant, clear, and defined. Dozens of breaths hitched as an iridescent flicker blasted across the apparition. The form pinched and molded into a colorful, swirling tube that slowly dropped from the sky.

Oh. Crap.

Matt tightened his grip on my hand as the other spectators stepped away. Half their gazes staring up, the remainder staring at me.

“Friends of yours?” Matt asked.

I shivered. “No. That’s not Erescopian technology.” At least I didn’t think it was. Erescopian ships were liquid metal … shiny opal or silver. “That just looks like … ”

“Water,” Matt whispered.

Water hanging in the sky. Or more like a lake … a huge lake with a giant elevator tube dropping out of it. So. Not. Good.

The cylinder fell in short, billowing waves before settling on the middle of the South Lawn. It was there, but it also wasn’t—like it took a picture of what was on the other side and played it like a video, hiding the tube like a chameleon. Wicked cool—if I wasn’t standing so close to it.

Matt inched back, glanced at me, then returned to my side. If I wasn’t riveted to my little patch of grass, I wonder if he’d have run.

Camera shutters triggered like crazy. Everyone gawked at me, like I was supposed to know what to do.

Yeah, cause Jess Martinez knows all there is to know about spaceships.

A whoosh echoed through the open area, like the Jolly Green Giant had blown out a candle, but without the wind. The people on the other side of the cylinder lit up as if a hundred suns flooded them. They stepped back, shielding their eyes.

My fingers tightened on the strap of my camera. I’d seen that light before, on the tarmac two years ago, as hundreds of Erescopian soldiers left their liquescent spaceships and stepped on Earth for the first time.

A siren blaring from behind the buildings broke my frozen stance. I raised Old Reliable, clicking off shots that probably would amount to nothing, until a human form materialized within the cylinder’s hazy brilliance.

 

Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet
Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her.

While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)
 
During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes
in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.
 
Who knows where we’ll end up next?

 

 
3 winners will receive eBooks of FIRE IN THE WOODS, ASHES IN THE SKY, and an eGalley of EMBERS IN THE SEA, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NEW: Ashes in the Sky

Fire-in-the-Woods-CoverIf you’re new to the Fire in the Woods series, stop reading. Click here to read my review of the first book, then go pick up a copy and read it first. You won’t be sorry. I promise.

Fire in the Woods can stand alone. It tied everything up in a neat package. But there’s a sequel (or three).

Why would anyone want to read on? Isn’t a series supposed to leave loose threads to guarantee readers keep buying the books?

If you’ve read many of my reviews, you’ll know I ding books that don’t have a clear problem that is solved by the last page.

And even though there is another book about Jess and David after Ashes in the Sky, Eaton ties up this story in a satisfying package. Just like the first one.

My Summary

AshesInTheSky.v6-Book2-Final.v3.BNAfter a summer of army interrogations and media appearances, Jess wants life to get back to normal. It’s her senior year. She’s got college applications that need submitting.

When the photographic opportunity of a lifetime comes her way, Jess leaves normal behind. Again. This time, she’ll be shooting aboard an alien spaceship.

Much to her delight, she also gets to see David. But things are different when he’s not wearing the false human skin she knows so well.

Different isn’t a bad thing, but try convincing a hard-headed alien of that. When Jess’ camera catches sight of something she was never meant to see, she and David have to run again.

This time, it’s an alien in pursuit. And rather than fleeing on foot, they’re in a spaceship. And the alien who’s after them is not afraid to eliminate anyone who stands in his way.

My Review

The book started out with Jess, her snarky voice hadn’t been shredded by her awful summer under scrutiny. She and her dad have become closer, and he’s in over-protective mode from page one.

Which causes conflict. And creates irony when he ends up being the one who needs rescuing.

We move deeper into the father-daughter issues but then they get tossed into the back seat while Jess hops aboard a spaceship. By the end, though, this relationship moves beyond one of its stumbling blocks.

The central issue of whether Jess and David can have a future together sprouts in the reader’s mind. More and more roadblocks are revealed. A strange connection goes unexplained (but there’s another book or two).

Once again, the character issues are wrapped into a life-or-death race against time. Although there were some boggy moments in the first half of the book, the story escalated to incredible heights. The bottom dropped out a few times. Things look even bleaker for Jess than in the first book.

Jess doesn’t need rescuing. She actively finds a way to confront the bad guys. This is one of the reasons I adore her so much.

As in the first book, the theme of inter-species interaction gets center billing. For a teenager (like Jess), it’s all about the feels. Unfortunately, there are plenty of grown ups who have more authority and influence over her choices at the moment.

This is the question that remains unanswered. It’s a deep question and an easy resolution would cheapen its significance. I’m ready to read on and find out how Jess can change David’s mind, when all the facts seem to be on his side.

My Recommendation

This book series is for romance lovers. Yes, Ashes reads like science fiction, much more so than the first book. However, the author does an excellent job of dropping in just enough description to ground and interest the reader, without deadening the frontal lobe with too much scientific mumbo-jumbo.

If you like alien stories and cool space technology, you’ll adore this book, too. Even though the relationships are central, there is an excellent adventure element to Ashes in the Sky. Adrenaline junkies won’t be disappointed.

If you haven’t done it already, buy Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky. You won’t be able to get enough of Jess and David.

Like me, you’ll be drumming your fingers and demanding, “When is the next book coming out?”

Some things are worth waiting for. That was true of Ashes in the Sky, and I’m sure the third book will prove to be, as well.

It’s finally Coming! The Sequel to Fire in the Woods

I am beyond excited about this announcement and thrilled to be able to reveal this cover on my blog.

I read and reviewed the first book in this series Fire in the Woods months and months ago. I’ll obviously be re-reading it about March 10th, in preparation for the second book (there are at least THREE in the series.
Along with Jennifer M. Eaton and Month9Books, I’m happy to give you a sneak peak at the first chapter for ASHES IN THE SKY, which releases March 15, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
 
A quick note from the author:
Hello alien fans!Jennifer-M.-Eaton-Promo-Protrait-239x300

I have to admit that Fire in the Woods was meant to be a stand-alone. When approached to write a second novel, I really had to scratch my head. I mean, the story was
over, right?

Well, apparently I “left them screaming for more” as everyone always says. 
I really didn’t want to deal with the direct aftermath of book one, so I decided to fast forward a few months: to a time when things should be settling down for poor, exhausted Jess. All she wants to
do is get her life back to normal again, and to do that, she needs to get back to school.

Unfortunately for Jess (and maybe fortunately for us) it will be a little while before our girl has anything close to a normal life again. So enjoy Jess’s first day back at school after saving the world. Here is chapter one of Ashes in the Sky: book two of Fire in the Woods.

Alien Kisses!
Jennifer M. Eaton


Title: ASHES IN THE SKY
Author: Jennifer M. Eaton
Pub. Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N Goodreads
After inadvertently saving the world,
eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.
 
Though when she’s offered an opportunity
to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?
 
Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.
ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.

 Exclusive Excerpt

1
Dad’s brow creased. “You don’t have to do this, Jess. We can turn around now and go home.”

His fingers rapped on the limousine’s armrest as we pulled up to the entrance of my normally quiet school. Outside, police officers and several uniformed security guards held advancing reporters and camera crews on the sidewalks.

“Relax, Major,” Elaine said, across from me. She pulled out a compact and touched up her lipstick. “Two months after single-handedly saving the world from an alien invasion, Earth’s teenage savior returns to finish high school.” She snapped the case shut. “This is the public interest story of the year.”

Dad’s nose flared. “Yes, she’s supposed to be going to school, but you’ve made it a media circus. Why’d you have to schedule a press conference in the auditorium?”

She slipped her lipstick back into her designer purse. “They would have been here anyway. The best way to calm a stalking fox is to invite him in for tea.”

“Tea? I’ll give you tea.”

I held up my hand. “Dad … ” I didn’t have to finish. I never did. Their arguments were always the same. Father protects daughter, while the publicist pushes media exposure as far as she can legally get away with—and me stuck in between.

Elaine wasn’t all that bad, as far as publicists went. Not that I’d known any other publicists, but she’d been by my side since my very first press conference, and the hundred or so more over the past two months. She could be pushy, but she understood the power of a pint of Death By Chocolate ice cream at the end of a long day, which totally earned her brownie points in my book.

Dad’s gaze returned to me. “We just got back. Do you really need to do another press conference?” The deep lines around his eyes added to the weight of my own exhaustion.

I shifted in my seat, my hands clammy against the leather interior. “If we go home, they’ll just show up here again tomorrow. Let’s get this over with. Maybe then things can get back to normal.” I grabbed his hand. “I can do this.”

Dad pressed his lips together. Of course, he knew I could do it. But knowing and wanting me to answer another set of invasive questions were two different things, and I loved every stubborn inch of him for it.

Elaine fluffed my hair and adjusted the collar of my shirt. “Show time.” She knocked twice on the window, and the Secret Service agent outside opened the door for her. She glided through the crowd with a practiced grace.

Camera-palooza erupted outside. Dang, there weren’t this many photographers when I met the president.

Dad stepped out before me, an imposing figure in his combat uniform. Having an over-protective father did have its advantages. No one was getting by this bodyguard. No one.

I closed my eyes and clutched the charm on my necklace. My mother’s strength seeped into me, giving me courage. You’ll be fine, I heard her whisper. You’re my strong little girl. Always have been.

“I’ll try, Mom.” I opened my eyes and shuddered. You would think I’d be used to the feeding frenzy by now. This was the longest fifteen minutes of fame ever.

Steadying myself on the limo door, I stood.

“Jess, look over here.” Flash.

“Miss Martinez, how does it feel to be back at school?” Flash.

“Jessica, to your right.” Flash. Flash.

The faces and camera lenses blurred. My mind filled with the phantom sounds of alien weapons. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply to ward off memories of blinding lights and screaming voices.

It was over. The aliens had left, and I was alive. We were all still alive.

The Secret Service closed in around us as Dad placed his hand on my back, guiding me to the front entrance. With a well-rehearsed smile, I made my way forward, hoping to avoid a repeat of tabloid-gate when the worst-of-the-worst photos of me turned up on the cover of the National Daily.

Dad moved beside me as we stepped over the threshold. I slipped my fingers into his hand and squeezed. One more press conference. Just one more. I could do this.

We made our way through a throng of reporters, students, parents, and teachers to the auditorium. Hundreds of voices jumbled into one chaotic roar rebounding off the lockers.

A microphone appeared in front of my face. “Ms. Martinez, how did you—”

Dad pulled me to his chest as two Secret Service agents pounced on the guy. The reporter and the agents sunk back into the crowd, disappearing like a stone thrown into water.

“There will be question and answer time after the presentation,” Elaine called as we passed through the auditorium’s stage door.

I exhaled, rubbing my arms. That had to be the worst crowd ever.

Dad circled the area behind the curtains and checked the cracks and crevices backstage. The Secret Service agents had long since given up on trying to convince him that the government pre-secured all of my speaking engagements. I used to joke about their paranoia, until someone actually found a bomb. Those guys in ugly suits quickly became my best friends.

“Did you practice your speech?” Elaine asked.

I raised an eyebrow. “No.” You’d think she’d stop asking me that. I hadn’t memorized one yet. Why would I start now?

I pulled aside the curtain and scoped out the auditorium. A sea of smiling, wide-eyed faces filled the room. Camera crews and reporters intermingled with the student body.

Going back to high school was supposed to help me get my life back.

This fiasco was not getting my life back. But maybe if I answered everyone’s questions now, they wouldn’t keep asking later.

Hey, a girl could dream.

Elaine patted my shoulder before heading out past the curtains. Her heels clopped across the wooden stage as she passed a huge poster of National Geographic’s “The Night the World Stood Still: Special Edition.”

Steven Callup’s cover photo was one of those shots every aspiring photographer dreamed of catching: perfect lighting, engaging subject, active backdrop, and undeniable emotional tone. I wasn’t drooling over this masterpiece, though; because the photograph featured me.

The flames over my shoulder were in crisp focus and flawlessly mirrored in my dark hair. The mottled hues of a fresh sunrise blended perfectly with the devastation in the background. And my God, the expression on Dad’s face as we embraced … the love in his eyes.

That night would haunt me forever. Something incredible had happened, and it had nothing to do with an alien invasion. That cover immortalized the moment for the world to see: a year after my mother’s death, my father finally opened up and started to feel again.

I released the curtain, ready to face my peers, knowing that no one gave a rat’s ass about me or my dad.

They only wanted to know more about David.

I mean, I totally got it. An alien guy crash lands on Earth and has to escape before his people wipe out humanity. Heck, I’d be interested, too. But the clincher was that David changed his people’s minds because of me. I was the heroine in the story of the millennia, whether I liked it or not.

I cringed, thinking of how many people had contacted me for the movie rights. Ashes in the Sky, they wanted to call it. What kind of idiotic title was that? Ridiculous, all of it. The world almost ended right in front of me. I didn’t need to see it again on a big screen.

As Elaine announced my name, and the audience applauded, I wondered if anything would ever be as it was before David’s people arrived.

I took my place behind the microphone and squinted into the harsh auditorium lighting. I’d been in that audience dozens of times, but never on stage. The faces looking back at me were familiar, but distant. Awestruck.

This place was my school. My safe haven. Having the media here was wrong.

I gritted my teeth and gripped the sides of the lectern. This assembly would be the absolute last time I talked about what happened to me in public. Ever.

A mop of perky, blond curls caught my attention from the third row. My BFF Maggie beamed as she gave me a thumbs-up. Part of me relaxed, knowing I had a friend near.

Maggs was the only other person who’d known about David before the Army started chasing us. She even risked her own rear-end helping us escape. She’d talked her way out of a grounding from her father, the general, thank goodness. Damn, he must have been ticked when he found out what she’d done.

Taking one last breath to steady myself, I edged closer to the mic. “You’d have to be dead not to know what happened two months ago. So I’m just going to open it up to questions.”

Hundreds of hands shot into the air.

One of the moderators handed a microphone to a bubbly girl with a blond ponytail. “Is it true that the alien looked just like Jared Linden?”

And, it starts.

“Yes. David mimicked an advertisement and looked just like Jared Linden’s character in that movie Fire in the Woods.”

Okay, that was only half of it. The truth was far too embarrassing. David pulled Jared Linden’s features from my mind. He didn’t look exactly like Jared. Just the hotter parts. The rest was an amalgamation of other cute guys he’d yanked out of my brain. There was no way I would admit to that, though.

A tall kid in a black band tee stood. “So what really happened out there? They were going to annihilate us. How’d you get them to change their minds?”

I cleared my throat. A flash of David’s smile and the warmth of his touch sent a shiver down my spine. “Luck was totally in our favor. If David’s plane hadn’t crashed, we never would have met. It didn’t take long before he realized the human race was worth saving.”

A teacher handed a microphone to a girl wearing glasses. “How long will it take them to terraform Mars?”

Ugh. I tried to think of David’s new home like Seattle or Los Angeles, but it wasn’t. It was Mars. As in: not Earth. Talk about your long distance romance.

“I have no idea how long it will take them to make Mars livable. I do know that they are running short on supplies, so I’m hoping it will happen pretty quickly.”

A girl in a cheerleader uniform flagged down the lady with the microphone. “Everyone says you and the alien were doing it. Inquiring minds want to know. Was he any good?”

Camera flashes singed my eyes as a teacher tried to pull the mic away from the girl.

“No,” a reporter shouted. “Let’s hear the answer.”

The audience murmured, shifting like hyenas waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting foal. Beside the stage, Dad’s face became an unnatural shade of crimson.

Crap.

“Well?” the cheerleader asked.

I wiped the sweat from my palms, remembering the shockwave that raged through me when David’s lips covered mine. The tabloids had reduced our relationship to supermarket trash, and Rah-Rah Girl probably wouldn’t know a real emotional connection if it bit her.

David and I shared something so deeply intimate it transcended everything. No one could possibly understand. I wasn’t even sure I understood. All I knew was that I was in love, and I’d probably never see him again.

I blinked, realizing the room had gone quiet, awaiting my answer about doing it.

My hands fisted, but I forced a smile and rustled up the rote response Elaine had prepared for me. “I heard that rumor, too, but David and I were only friends.” A sickly gash sliced through my heart. The thought of living the rest of my life with him on another planet was akin to living in the desert without water.

Was he out there somewhere, longing for me as much as I yearned for him?

My stomach fluttered. I hated how people’s stupid questions dredged up feelings I’d worked hard to suppress. I had to get off that podium.

A kid in the back stood. “How does it feel to know that six million people died while you were out there hugging dear old dad?” He pointed over my shoulder to the huge magazine cover behind me. “How does it feel to know the death count is still rising?”

It was? “Umm—”

“When did you know they were hostile?” someone else shouted.

My heart thumped against my ribcage. “I, uh—”

A reporter snatched the microphone. “Do you honestly believe they won’t come back and finish us off?”

The rumble of voices intensified. Cameras flashed as dozens of voices drowned one another out. So much for school being my safe haven.

Elaine gripped my shoulder and pulled me from the dais. “Thank you,” she said. “That’s all the questions we have time for today.”

She scooted me past the curtains, Dad following close behind. The volume in the auditorium escalated.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “We should’ve been ready for that. Next time—”

“There’s not going to be a next time.” I thrust my chin in the air. “That was my last public appearance. I’m already behind in school, and I need to graduate this year. I just want to get back to my classes and put this all behind me.”

She grinned in that syrupy way adults do when they are about to condescend your butt. “We’ll talk about this later, honey.”

Dad’s gaze seared through her before he offered me a nod of approval.

No, Elaine. We would definitely not be talking about this later.



 Corporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.
 
Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.
 
Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active
imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads



 
Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive an eGalley of ASHES IN THE SKY. International.

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Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton

This post marks my first time participating in a blog tour. I’m thrilled to share my review of Jennifer M. Eaton’s debut novel Fire in the Woods, a Month9Books release. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour and enter the giveaway (links at bottom of post).

Fire-in-the-Woods-CoverThe ARC (advanced review copy) came in the email on a Monday afternoon. After fighting with my Kindle to download the file ( I have to email the PDF to my Amazon account), I took my iPad outside and began reading.

I could have happily stayed in that position until I finished the book. I didn’t want to put it down. Jess Martinez crept inside my head and heart, and leaving her in the clutches of the disasters she faces felt like a betrayal. But I had to cook dinner for my family. And sleep. Life gets in the way at times!

This is the blurb provided by the publisher:

When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel.

But her father runs their house like an army barracks, and with an alien on the loose, Major Dad isn’t too keen on the idea of Jess going anywhere. Ever. So how the heck is she supposed to help the sweetest, strangest, and cutest guy she’s ever met?

Hiding him in her room probably isn’t the best idea. Especially since her Dad is in charge of the squadron searching for David. That doesn’t mean she won’t do it. It just means she can’t get caught.

Helping David get home while protecting her heart—that’s gonna be the hard part. After all, she can’t really fall for a guy who’s not exactly from here.

My review

From the first page, you’re immersed in Jess’s world. Her overprotective (need I say controlling) but distant father is introduced in the natural course of events. From the opening line, you hear Jess’s quirky voice and relate to her unique – yet relatable – circumstances. Her dreams and goals are sprinkled in between the terror of the explosions rocking her home.

Aside from the break neck pace of the adventure, Eaton creates a sweet romance. It’s the type I prefer because it doesn’t focus on hot thoughts and heart palpitations. Yes, we experience Jess’s attraction and share her inner thoughts, but it’s done with a touch of innocence that fits perfectly with what we learn about the world in which Jess survives.

In addition to the teenage romance, Fire in the Woods explores deep themes: inter-species relationships, international relations, judging others, and the morality of studying another advanced species or obliterating an inferior race.

Teens will read it for the constant action, snappy dialogue and authentic characters. Adults will ponder the deeper thematic messages for days after closing the book on the final chapter.

The best news: it is the first book in a series! My ARC included the first chapter of the next installment due to be published in 2015, which isn’t soon enough for me.

I appreciated that this first book had a complete story arc with a definitive resolution. Did I want to read on? Yes, and so will you, but it isn’t such a cliffhanger that a feeling of irritation pushes aside the satisfaction of a story well told.

You’ll be tempted to stay up late to finish it. If you’re like me, you’ll agree that a five-star rating might not be high enough.

ABOUT JENNIFER M. EATON:

Jennifer M. EatonCorporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.

Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

Find Jennifer at these links:   Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Check out the rest of the tour here.

Add the book to your Goodreads list.

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks

Giveaway Information:  Winner will be drawn October 25, 2014

  •  Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton (INT)
  • One (1) custom made necklace (used as inspiration for the necklace in Fire in the Woods).  Adjustable chain from 10 to 12 inches. (US ONLY)

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