Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Lumina Saga by Stephanie Amox

What inspired you to become an author?

Being an author was never really on my radar. I liked coming up with “wouldn’t it be cool if there was a book like this” ideas that I would bounce of my mom or my husband, but I never actually put pen to paper.  I studied Criminal Justice in college, but married before finishing my degree. I got heavily involved in event planning and then real estate. It wasn’t until I was faced with a forced job change that my husband insisted that I take a shot at putting my ideas on paper. I had no idea how to begin, but began typing away. A year later, Painfully Ordinary was completed and I had signed with a publisher. I’m living proof that you don’t have to major in journalism or English to write.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think I have a specific writing style. I do my best to make sure the dialog and manner of speech matches each individual character. The teenage girls sound like teenage girls, and the older characters sound more mature and tend to have proper grammar.

Do you write in different genres?

Not many people know, but I do write in different genres. I have an adult romance that I wrote under a pseudonym – S.C. Wise. I’ve also got a couple of other works in progress that are pretty dark fiction, but right now YA is my favorite genre because I can do so much with it and people can still relate to the characters and the challenges they face

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I wouldn’t say there is a specific message, but I would like the readers to realize that while Caitlin and Leah are totally committed to Talon and Jace they are happy to spend time on their own. The girls actually chafe when they aren’t able to get time away from the boys. That’s the cornerstone of ANY healthy relationship – the ability to spend time away from one another – co-dependency is not a positive trait.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Absolutely, there are several things. Emory , TX and Flower Mound, TX are exactly as they are described in the book. Goat Man’s Bridge is a real place and the center of several urban legends. Most importantly, Caitlin and Brady are real. They look and behave exactly like they are portrayed in the books. Marcus High School really exists. As a matter of fact, Caitlin is on all the covers for the series. When people learn this, we get a lot of requests for signed copies of the book to include Caitlin’s signature.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

Right now, I’m trying to stay focused on writing the fourth book in the series. Right now it’s titled Rushing Calm. I keep telling myself that it will be the final book in the series, but then again – Painfully Ordinary was originally just one book and it grew as I wrote. Who knows if I will be able to wrap up all the loose ends in one book or if it will spill over into a 5th. I’m also getting a lot of feedback from fans of my adult romance who would like to see it turn into a series.  There are also two additional works in progress, but they will be single books and are quite a bit darker than my other works.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Keep in mind – this is still a rough draft, but I’m happy to share the first chapter. This is the first time it’s ever been seen:
I crept into the kitchen, still exhausted even though several days had passed since our final altercation with Egan. I tried not to show anyone else how tired I really felt by pushing myself to smile and act normal. It was moments like this, early in the morning when I could let my guard down. I reached for the coffee pot and silently thanked whoever had been responsible for inventing the ability to auto brew. I poured a cup and cradled it in my hands inhaling deeply. Sliding around the breakfast bar, I lowered myself onto one of the barstools and allowed my shoulders to slump as I sipped at my coffee in solitude.
“Ves’tacha.” Talon’s voice rose barely above a whisper, but startled me enough to slosh coffee onto the counter. He had entered the room without a sound.
“Sorry.” I mumbled. “I tried to be really quiet. I hope I didn’t wake you up.” I grabbed a napkin from the holder and wiped at the counter.
“My love, don’t apologize. Your very presence calls out to me it’s not something you can control.”
I smiled and leaned my head against his arm.
“So, how long did you think you were going to be able to hide how utterly exhausted you are? I was willing to let it slide for a day or two since you have been through so much. However, this has gone on for far too long. Is there something wrong? I mean other than just being tired.” He stroked my hair.
I sighed. I always seemed to forget how in-tune Talon was to my emotions. I should’ve known he would see through my act, even when no one else did.
“No, I feel fine other than being really tired.  We’ve been hit with one crisis after another for so long – I think it’s finally caught up with me. It would be great if we could manage a real vacation for once. You know, be able to go somewhere and actually relax without having to look over our shoulder?”
There was way more to it than that, but I wasn’t ready to deal with those particular feelings quite yet.
Talon gathered me into his arms and pressed a kiss on the top of my head.
“Funny you should say that, my child.” Aeval sauntered into the kitchen.
I jumped in Talon’s arms. I hadn’t even heard her enter the room. I was becoming incredibly unobservant.
“What do you have up your sleeve, Aeval?” Talon chuckled.
“He’s got you figured out already.” Lyrr laughed and wrapped his arms around Aeval. “I like him more and more every day.”
I couldn’t help but notice a change in my grandfather when she was around. It was clear that the powerful king was wrapped around the tiny woman’s fingers and he liked it that way.
“Oh hush.” She waved at him before returning her attention to Talon and me. “Once everyone is awake and had breakfast I have an announcement to make. We’re all about to get some much needed rest and relaxation.”
My eyebrows shot skyward.
“Grandmother, call me cautiously optimistic since every so-called vacation we’ve had so far has resulted in some sort of catastrophe.”
“Not this time, my child, I can promise you.” Lyrr assured me.
“Grandfather, I’m going to hold you to that.” I caught his gaze and held it. I so desperately wanted to believe it.
He released my grandmother and put his hands on either side of my face before kissing my forehead.
“Not to worry, I think you are really going to like what your grandmother has to say. Now, if we can just get everyone to get out of bed.”
I shrugged one shoulder.  “I’m really in no hurry – it’s so nice and quiet.”
We sat together and simply enjoyed each other’s company while we waited for the others; we didn’t have to do a lot of talking, which was just fine with me. I was too worn out to try to make a lot of polite conversation.
Once breakfast was done and we had everything cleaned up, the entire family moved outside to gather around the perimeter of the fire pit. It seemed all the important family announcements were made that way. We all settled in to hear what my grandmother, Aeval, had to say. Everyone was sitting around the circle with the exception of my mother, Johr, Ciro and Renetta – who stood at Aeval’s side. I glanced to my right at Leah and raised one eyebrow.
What were they up to? My curiosity quickly replaced my hesitance.
Aeval held up her arms to get everyone’s attention.
“Quiet down, let’s get started.  You are all probably wondering why you’ve been called here.”
“What did Caitlin do this time?” Todd quipped.
“Don’t make me get up and come over there.  I promise you are going to hate it.” I winked at him.
Scott snickered at the verbal banter between the two of us.
“Don’t you two start.” Pops warned.
“Sorry.” Todd mumbled.
I giggled. I wasn’t about to apologize – since I wasn’t remotely sorry and would do it again in a heartbeat.
“Anyways” Aeval continued. “We have a couple of big announcements that are going to affect you all.”
“Affect us how?” Leah surprised me by piping up.  I guess she’d had enough surprises – I know I certainly had.
“Well for starts, it’s going to provide everyone with a real vacation.” Johr replied.
“Go on, you have my full attention now.” I grinned.
Talon rubbed my back with a shaky hand and I could tell he was holding back laughter.
“I think you’re really going to like this.” Johr smiled at me.
Aeval stepped forward.
“We are happy to announce the Joining of Marne and Johr and Ciro and Renetta.  We will have a double-Joining ceremony in just a few short days.”
The group burst into cheers and applause and I felt a warm tear slide down my cheek. I was so incredibly happy for the two couples – finally together after so many years. Brady jumped up from the circle and threw himself at our parents.
“Woo hoo! Finally, you will be around all the time. We don’t have to schedule our Xbox time anymore, we can play any time we want.”
“I’m all yours, bud.” Johr said hugging him tightly.
I wasn’t sure if Dad had realized it, but there had never been a time when he didn’t belong to Brady. I caught my father’s gaze and touched my fingers to my lips. They deserved to be happy after so many lost years.
“It’s about time.” Pops declared. “So, where will this double ceremony be held?”
“Well, that’s where you guys come into all this.” Mom smiled. “We wanted to get your thoughts on where we should have the ceremony since we’re going to extend the stay and have a large family vacation.
I glanced quickly at Talon and he nodded in response. He knew exactly what I was going to do.  I stepped forward and raised one hand.
“I’ve got the perfect place.” I faced my mother and father. “There is only one place that would be adequate for such a special wedding and will provide us all with the rest and relaxation we so desperately need.”
“My ears are open little one.” Lyrr responded.
 “Well child, don’t keep us in suspense. What do you have in mind?” Ciro asked.
Leah bounced in her seat and clapped her hands together. I strongly suspected she knew exactly what I was going to say.
“I think you should let Leah and I create a portal and the whole family should head straight for Maui. We should go back to the Grand Wailea and have the Joining there. The suites are amazing and it’s impossible not to relax while you are there. Everyone would be able to have their own areas for privacy but the family could stay pretty close together.” I grinned and let my gaze travel around the circle gauging their reactions.
Todd leapt to his feet, picked me up and swung me in a wide circle.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” He crowed.
I staggered as he set me back on my feet. My equilibrium was still off; I was beginning to wonder if it would ever return to normal. Talon reached out with one hand to steady me. He made it look so easy. I hadn’t gained any weight since we had learned of our “little spark”, but I certainly felt thicker.
“You look beautiful ‘tacha.” Talon assured me.
I grimaced. He would say that no matter what; he was a little biased when it came to me.
Ciro clapped his hands together with a bang.
“Caiti, if you are talking about the same place where Cairos originally found you – then Renetta and I are in. It looked beautiful.”
Cairos glanced at Talon sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders. I could tell he hated to be reminded of the things he did while under the control of the Noita, although no one held it against him.
The Noita. I sighed. Each and every time I thought of them, the image of little Rahm’s face as Lyllyth dragged her son away blossomed full in my mind’s eye. He had been devastated to leave his father, even though his father hardly gave him the time of day. I couldn’t imagine how he must’ve taken the news of his father’s death – assuming he even knew. My protective spell had left behind nothing but a pile of charred ash. There wasn’t even enough to identify.
“Caiti, stop beating yourself up.” Leah’s voice rang clear in my head.
I turned to smile at her. She knew me all too well but I knew myself well enough to know it would probably always haunt me.
“All right. All right. Everyone settle down.” Lyrr commanded. He surveyed the perimeter of the circle. “Do I really even need to take a vote on this? Something tells me the decision has already been made.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Here we go; who is for holding the ceremony in Maui?”
Thunderous applause erupted throughout the clearing.
“Ok.” He chuckled. “Anyone opposed?”
The silence was deafening.
“Well ladies.” Lyrr gestured to Marne and Renetta. “It looks like you have some planning to do. Make sure you reserve enough rooms for everyone and I’ll take care of the bill.”
His statement earned another round of applause and some wild cheering.
Mom had already dug her phone out of her pocket and was studying the screen intently.
“There are so many hotels. Caiti, which one was it?” Mom asked never looking up from her phone.
“The Grand Wailea.” Talon, Jace, Leah and I said in unison.
“Well ok then.” Mom giggled and her focus returned to her phone. “Oh Renetta look at this.” She squealed. “They have a resort within the resort.”
Renetta rushed to her side. “What do you mean ‘a resort within a resort’?”
“Look. They have a section of luxury villas. Some of them are even three bedrooms, which is perfect for those of us who will be travelling with kiddos. They have enough villas for all of us. We need to call and see if we can reserve them all.”
“Actually, the four of us would prefer to stay at the main hotel. Can we get a couple of deluxe ocean-view suites that connect? Call me sentimental, but it’s where we stayed before.” I pleaded.
“Well, if you are sure.” Mom’s voice sounded very hesitant as she and Renetta headed inside.
There was no way I was going to let her talk me into staying with the rest of the group. I had been promised real vacation and I intended to take advantage of every single moment.
Talon nodded his approval and gestured for me to sit at his side where he proceeded to massage the tension from my shoulders. By the time Mom and Renetta rejoined the group I was more than relaxed than I had been in a very long time.
“Everything is all set and ready to go. I thought we would leave tonight after the girls have a chance to take a long nap. Creating a portal large enough for a group this size will take a tremendous amount of energy. Everyone is set up in a villa except for Caiti and Leah. You ladies have connecting suites like you asked.”
“Ocean-view?” My voice rose an octave.
“Yes, ocean-view.” She assured me.
A slow smile spread across Leah’s face. I knew exactly how she felt. I would enjoy the time spent with my family in such beautiful surroundings but instinctively knew it would get overwhelming after a little while – so staying at the main building was a blessing. I was really looking forward to being able to lounge around and relax.
Talon leaned over and whispered into my ear.
“I promise I’ll reserve the ocean-side lounges as soon as we get there.”
Jace put an arm around Talon’s shoulder.
“I’m going to hold you to that promise too.”
I couldn’t help but giggle.
Jace and his super-sensitive hearing. It was almost impossible to keep anything from him.
Half of the time I didn’t know whether to love him or smack him. Somehow I suspected he’d be ok with it either way.
I sighed contentedly. Just knowing I was headed back to Maui made me happy. We no longer had to worry about the Triada or the Accendersi, so we could truly relax. I might even find the courage to go back to the spa. It was such a spectacular place – I didn’t want the memory of my almost-abduction to ruin it for me permanently. Remembering our time in Maui brought everything flooding back.
It seemed like a million years had passed since we had attended high school like normal 17 year olds. Normal was such a relative term. Leah and I weren’t normal – we were Feydall, and royal at that. Talon was Varyo and older than I cared to remember while Jace was Lykaios and could shift into any number of animals. Like I said – normal was totally in the eye of the beholder. I can’t say that I missed our old life. For one, I no longer had to worry about my high-school nemesis, Tami, and her little band of Alley Cats – not to mention Ryan, the worst ex-boyfriend ever. We also didn’t have to deal with the tedium of homework and standardized tests. Our previous life now seemed so trivial and shallow. On the flip side, we frequently seemed to be in mortal danger from some sort of creature or entity that we hadn’t previously known existed.
Things had definitely changed. Now we were Joined with Talon and Jace. It was like being married but a whole lot more permanent. We had complicated things even further now that Leah and I were carrying children of our own. I referred to mine as my little spark. Each time I thought of the baby, that is what I saw in my mind’s eye. Thankfully things worked very differently with a Feydall pregnancy. Just by looking at us you would have no idea, since we weren’t showing at all. We had only recently learned of our condition, and it had been a bit of a shock. The main sign, if you wanted to call it that, that alerted you to a Feydall pregnancy was a sequence of three dreams featuring a blooming flower.  Each flower was unique and a reflection of the two people who had created it. That was about all we knew. Leah and I had no idea how long it would take or if it was even remotely like a human pregnancy. We had faced one catastrophe after another so we hadn’t had a chance to ask any of the women of our family what we could expect. I was going to have to use the trip to Maui to find a way to get all the women together in one place so Leah and I could get the answers to all of our questions. Believe me I had a lot of them. The whole idea of having to endure the pain I had heard so many women describe scared the hell out of me. I had to face the fact that I simply wasn’t a child or even a teenager. In the world of my people, I was a grown adult and would be treated as such.
I glanced around at the ring of familiar faces.  They had all waged war to ensure my safe return home, the least they deserved was a few days in paradise. I shook my head and chuckled. I wasn’t sure that the Grand Wailea would ever be the same after this crew of misfits. Who knew what antics Pops and his crew would pull and the women of our family were not the most demure. We tended to say what was on our mind and were just as likely to get into trouble as the men.
Talon’s hand covered mine and gently squeezed. Were my thoughts that obvious? He had been very protective since we learned of our little spark, more so than normal. I could only hope he would be able to relax and enjoy some time with the boys. I didn’t want him to feel like he was required to sit by my side and wait on me hand and foot the entire time we were there. However, I did have every intention on spending some quality time with him, Leah and Jace. I was dying to take another trip up to Hana.
I leaned in closer to Talon.
“What are the chances that we might be able to get a Jeep again? I’d really like to take another drive to Hana and actually spend some time up there instead of having to run away. You know? I want to do the whole tourist thing – get out of the car and go look at all the waterfalls.”
He raised my hand to his lips and kissed just beneath my rings.
“Of course you can have a Jeep and we will spend as much time there as you want. Just let me know when you girls want to go once we get there.”
Leah pivoted in her seat.
“Did I just hear my Caiti score us a Jeep for the trip? Heck yes! I’m with you I’d like to see a little bit of the island this time – maybe even the sunrise over Haleakala. You know, since we aren’t running for our lives this time.” She giggled.
Jace threw an arm around her shoulders and squeezed until she squealed.
“You make it sound like we aren’t capable of protecting you two. My feelings are hurt.” His face was crestfallen.
Leah studied his face seriously before realizing he was messing with her and she dissolved into laughter.
“Somehow I think you are going to survive.” She grinned.
“I don’t know.” He pouted. “I may need even more attention than normal.”
I shook my head.
“Jace, how is that even possible?” I threw my hands in the air before gesturing toward Talon and him. “How could either one of you get any more attention than normal? You have our undivided attention almost all the time.”
“Almost?” Talon’s eyebrow rose.
“Yes, the rest of the time we are hyper-focused on the women who are desperately trying to get your attention or touch you. I seriously think that Leah and I need to start carrying a baseball bat with us everywhere we go – especially the places where you two might feel the need to remove your shirts. You practically start a riot every single time that happens.”
“We do not.” Jace said indignantly.
We might’ve thought he was serious except for the slight twitching around his mouth.
“Do we need to remind you of the last time we were in Maui and the blondes in bikinis who jumped into our lounges with you as soon as Caitlin and I went to the bathroom? They were like a couple of velociraptors – just waiting in the wings looking for their chance to strike.” Leah crossed her arms over her chest.
I erupted into laughter. Only Leah could make a comparison like that.
Talon wrapped one finger around a strand of my hair.
“Well we never had anyone fall at our feet in the middle of the lobby and beg us to spend time with them.” Talon’s eyes pulsed at the memory.
Leah exhaled quickly in surprise. I wondered how she was going to top that one.
“Oh yeah? Well we never made someone pee their pants in public.” Her chin stuck out defiantly.
We all burst into laughter at the memory. I could still picture Jace holding the guy several inches off the ground while the dark stain spread across the front of his swim trunks. It was the first time I had seen Talon really angry and it had scared me.
I pulled out of my daydream with fingers snapping in my face.
“Hel-lo Caitlin?” Mom was waving her hands to get my attention.
“What?”  It was difficult for me to keep the irritation out of my voice. She knew I hated it when she did that.
“We need to leave in about 3-4 hours. You girls seriously need to take a nap.”
“A nap? What, are we 4 years old?” I rolled my eyes at her.
“You’re acting like it.” She shot back.
“You’re not the boss of me anymore, be nice to me or I’ll portal everyone else to Maui and leave you here.” I winked.
“Talon, I know Johr and I can trust you to make sure she gets some rest. Someone else depends on her being in good health now.” She stared pointedly at my midsection, patted his shoulder and returned to my father’s side.
“Ohhh, that was a cheap shot, Mom.” I called.
“She’s right though. You and Leah need to get some rest.  I won’t have you endangering your health or that of our little spark.” He grinned. “Anyway, it would be really sad if we got to Maui and you and Leah were so tired you had to head straight to bed and go to sleep. I guess Jace and I could go down the beach and surf so that we wouldn’t disturb you while you rested.”
“Over my dead body.” Leah and I said in unison through clenched teeth.
“The minute you two do that, I swear I’m going to look for the skimpiest bikini I can find and then I’m going to strut down the beach.” I challenged.
I was immediately staring into twin points of sapphire light. Perhaps that was a pretty reckless challenge to issue. All too often my mouth worked faster than my brain.
Talon pulled me into his arms and kissed me hard before releasing me.
Jace raised an eyebrow before chuckling.
“Well that will show her, huh?”

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

The covers all feature the “real” Caitlin. Most of the photography is done by a local photographer named Nikki Nichols (w/Sugar Snap Photography). She really does an amazing job at capturing the feeling of the books.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is don’t give up. Writing can be extremely rewarding and just as frustrating. You can’t “make” the characters do something they don’t want to do. Don’t try to force your writing into a particular style because you think that is what people will like. You will end up with your writing sounding very awkward and stilted. Write what you know, things you enjoy – and you’ll be surprised at what flows.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

Painfully Ordinary:
Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
Bodies – Drowning Pool
Pray - Disturbed
Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park
Kissing in the Rain – Toby Keith
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown
Her Eyes – Pat Monahan
You Found Me – The Fray
Given Up – Linkin Park
Hero – Chad Kroeger
You know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
I Run to You – Lady Antebellum
So Far Away – Stained
At Last – Etta James
Marry Me – Train

New Beginnings:
1.      Tell Me I’m a Wreck – Every Avenue
2.      Freak Like Me – Halestorm
3.      Too Close – Alex Clare
4.      A Warrior’s Call – Volbeat
5.      Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
6.      Don’t you Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean
7.      Come Back to Me – David Cook
8.      Ring of Fire – Social Distortion
9.      I Can’t Wait – Runner Runner
10.   Break In – Halestorm
11.   Chicken Fried – Zach Brown Band
12.   You Found Me – The Fray
13.   Home – Phillip Phillips
14.   A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Ilene Woods
15.   Once Upon A Dream – Bill Shirley
16.   So Far Away – Staind
17.   Numb – Linkin Park
18.   Given Up – Linkin Park
19.   Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
20.   At Last – Etta James

Painfully Ordinary
The Lumina Saga Book One
Stephanie Amox

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: CENA

Date of Publication: Jan 2013             
ISBN: 148194780X

Number of pages: 225
Word Count: 86,175

Cover Artist: Photography by Nikki Nichols Photography

BN   Amazon   Smashwords  

Book Description:

Two teenager's lives become not so ordinary...

Caitlin and Leah are content with the slow and steady pace in their small Texan town. They have the typical challenges of any American high school - evil girl cliques and oppressive ex-boyfriends. They see themselves as painfully ordinary...but that soon changes. The arrival of two newcomers at school sets Caitlin and Leah on an explosive path of magic, betrayal, secrets and forbidden love. The discovery of Caitlin's true identity causes tremendous upheaval in her painfully ordinary life. Caitlin must learn to embrace her birthright and trust in her friends or she risks endangering them all.

Family Secrets
The Lumina Saga Book Two
Stephanie Amox

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: CENA

Date of Publication: Jan 2013             
ISBN: 1481956841

Number of pages: 232
Word Count: 65,120

Book Description:

Wailea, Maui would be a paradise by just about anyone’s standards. Caitlin and Leah are no different. They are living like rock stars with Talon and Jace in one of the poshest hotels on the island. Just when they think things can’t possibly get any better—everything falls apart. Their short lived paradise is ripped out from under them. Once again, they are on the run.

A mysterious man appears and attempts to drive a wedge between Caitlin and Talon. He whisks her away to an ancient world where she is treated like a princess yet held completely against her will. She is shown events, consequences and affairs she never dreamed possible. Will the secrets of her family destroy her happiness, or will she rely on her instincts to find a way back to the life she found with Talon?

New Beginnings
The Lumina Saga Book Three
Stephanie Amox

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: CENA

Date of Publication: Jan 2013             
Number of pages: 312
Word Count: 83,740

Amazon   BN

Book Description:

What happens when the extraordinary fades into ordinary?

Caitlin awakens to find herself back in the normal life she shares with her best friend, Leah, in their small Texas town. Caitlin has no memory of the fantastic events of the last several months save a mystery man who haunts the shadows of her dreams. Constantly taken aback by strange occurrences: the sudden attention of the two most popular guys in school; Caitlin’s toe-to-toe showdown with Tami; and the constant coincidental run-ins with two mysterious strangers, keeps Caitlin’s nerves raw and on edge. Will she solve the mystery behind the strange events, or will the dreams be all that remains?

About the Author:

Stephanie Amox attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where she met her husband. Her life did an about-face in January 2009 and the future of her career looked bleak. Her husband encouraged her to follow her dream and finally write the story which had been buzzing around in her head for a number of years, thus The Lumina Saga was born.

These days she spends her time in Flower Mound, Texas with her husband, two children and a couple of crazy Jack Russell Terriers. When she's not writing she enjoys spending time watching her son play hockey or visiting her daughter at Oklahoma State University.