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  • Wildcat Fireflies
  • Written by Amber Kizer
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  • Wildcat Fireflies
  • Written by Amber Kizer
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375898242
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Wildcat Fireflies

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A Meridian Novel

Written by Amber KizerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Amber Kizer

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: July 12, 2011
Pages: 528 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89824-2
Published by : Delacorte Press RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra—the half-human, half-angel link between the living and the dead. She has the dark responsibility of helping souls transition safely into the afterlife. If people die without the help of a Fenestra, their souls are left vulnerable to be stolen by the Aternocti, a dark band of forces who disrupt the balance of good and evil in the world and cause chaos.

Having recently lost her beloved Auntie—the woman who showed her what it meant to be a Fenestra—Meridian has hit the road with Tens, her love and sworn protector, in hopes of finding another Fenestra. Their search leads them to Indiana, where Juliet, a responsible and loving teenager, works tirelessly in the nursing home where she and several other foster kids are housed. Surrounded by death, Juliet struggles to make a loving home for the younger kids, and to protect them from the violent whims of their foster mother. But she is struggling against forces she can't understand . . . and even as she feels a pull toward the dying, their sickness seems to infect her, weighing her down. . . .

Will Meri and Tens find Juliet in time to save her from a life of misery and illness? And will Meri and Tens' own romance weather the storms of new discoveries?


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

“Pulloverpulloverpullover!” I screeched as we approached the outskirts of another small town.

One more bump, one more pothole sitting in this beater truck, and I was going to lose my mind. Tens and I were just past three weeks from leaving the wreckage of Revelation, Colorado, on our Divine-tasked quest to find other Fenestra. More people, girls, like me. More Protectors like Tens. Supposedly, there was one, somewhere in the state of Indiana, who needed our help.

“Pleasepleaseplease!” Now at the tail end of January, it had been nearly a month since Jasper’s granddaughter brought us the newspaper article about a cat who predicted deaths and a girl called the Grim Reaper.

It was impossible to think in the bouncing, flouncing truck. I refused to inhale any more hay dust, mud particles, and springs of decades past, not for another second. I heard my brain rolling in circles around the inside of my skull like a Super Ball. “We’ve been driving for lifetimes, Tens. Pull over!” I shouted.

Unflappable as always, Tens didn’t take his eyes off the road. “Meridian, we’re almost there. It hasn’t been that long today. You’re exagger--”

I cut him off. “Long enough. I need to stretch. Just for a minute. Here’s good.” I reached for the door handle as we passed a sign proclaiming Welcome to Carmel, Indiana.

“Here?” He slowed, but didn’t stop the truck.

I needed out.

Right.

Now.

“Here.” I leapt out. As Tens parked the truck along the curb, I breathed in warm pre-spring air, huffing and puffing like I’d been running instead of sitting.

Custos sprang out of the truck bed, disappearing into the shadows. If I glanced around, I knew I’d see her. But knowing she was watching from the periphery was enough for the moment. I hadn’t truly figured out whether she was more than dog, more than wolf. But I suspected.

Tens unfolded and walked around to the front of the cab, waiting for me like one of the Queen’s guards. I knew that expression. All patience, calm, and deliberation. He used it with wild animals in traps.

I closed my eyes against the irritation with him I felt bubbling up. “I have a feeling about this place.” I knew it as truth, as soon as the words left my mouth.

Tens brushed the area with his glance, taking in every detail, assessing our safety in a blink. “Good or bad?”

Frustrated, I blew out a snort and rubbed my palms on my thighs. Our third day on the road, the newspaper article had mysteriously gone blank, the ink disappearing. Now all we had left was flimsy newsprint and our memories to guide us. I kept expecting another sign. Something I recognized, something that told me we were on the right path. Only nothing presented itself. Each day flowed into the next and failure frayed my edges.

Where was she? This mysterious girl like me, hunted by the Nocti, needed by the good, by everything that was light, clean and pure. What was she thinking? Was she wishing someone would fall from the sky and tell her she wasn’t a freak? Or did she understand her destiny and feel confident in herself?

“Meridian? Good or bad feeling?” Tens loped toward me, carefully keeping his distance. I didn’t bite, but I’d been cranky enough lately that I understood his reticence.

“I don’t know yet.” I turned away, trying to puzzle out the gut feeling twisting me up. “Why don’t you sense it, too? Why can’t you sense her? What good is your gift if we can’t count on it? What if we don’t find her? Are we supposed to drive every road in the state, and the next state, and then . . . what? Canada? Mexico? I can’t believe we’re supposed to drive around for the rest of our lives eating burgers and sleeping in crappy motels.” We had plenty of money, thanks to Auntie. What we didn’t want to do was grab the interest of authorities--the last thing we needed was a Good Samaritan wanting to rescue a minor from life on the road. Although sixteen and old enough to drop out of high school, I still resembled a barely pubescent girl. I didn’t look a day over fourteen, and Tens’s intimidating nature screamed criminal. Not a good combination for keeping a low profile.

“You’re tired.” He said this like it explained everything, including my volatile attitude.

Pissed, I hissed up at him, “Don’t patronize me.” Of course I was tired. We never ceased driving, not for more than a few hours at a time. We’d been to every retirement and nursing home from the southern Indiana border to the middle of the state. I walked in circles, kicking the truck’s tires.

I craved a bit of balance, stillness for my soul. Direction wasn’t enough on this quest; I wanted a clear purpose. What was the point of sending us out in blind ignorance? Not for the first time I wished for a conversation with the Creators--the rule makers. I wanted one of those comment cards. Fenestras shouldn’t have to operate alone and vastly outmatched by the community of Nocti, who had each other and leaders and clear mandates to destroy and bring suffering. Me--my team? We simply had journeys and lessons and growth. Yee-haw for the good guys.

Tens sighed and leaned over the hood of the truck. “Fine, you’re not tired. You’re thinking clearly and you’re not wailing like a toddler who didn’t get the lollipop. Tantrum much?” He rested his face in his hand, huffed a breath, and straightened toward me.

My mouth gaped. Then I choked back an utterly bitchy retort. He was right. He was always right. “Wow. Harsh.”

“Yeah, sorry. No excuse.” He softly brushed hair off my neck and kneaded the muscles knotted in my shoulders, successfully turning my claws into purrs. “I’m hungry. You have to be hungry. Let’s go in there.” He kissed the top of my head and turned me gently toward the restaurant behind us. He patted my butt flirtatiously, shocking a giggle from my throat.



 


From the Hardcover edition.
Amber Kizer

About Amber Kizer

Amber Kizer - Wildcat Fireflies
Have you ever played a game called Three Truths? Basically, it’s like a multiple choice test except you have four choices and one of them is a total lie–the others are true…The point of the game is to figure out which one is a total lie . . . what’s that? You wish you could play right now? Well, goody because I think that’s much more fun than a dry bio–plus you could win big prizes (that’s a lie), but you’ll have the invigorating experience of being right. And really when it comes down to it, how can a new car beat being right?

We’ll start off easy to get you warmed up. First set: 1) Amber Kizer is my real name; 2) I live on an island; 3) I have a rooster named Fabio; 4) I have parakeets named Chirp and Pecker

Think you know which one is false? Say it out loud, no cheating! Ready? I do not have a penname, which means Amber Kizer is, in fact, my real name (although, I have considered writing under the name J.K. Rowling, just because it has such a catchy ring to it). I do live on an island. Unfortunately, it’s not a gorgeous tropical island. It’s in the Pacific Northwest where gray skies and green trees (thanks to the rain!) are the most popular colors. I do have a rooster named Fabio. He is named after a very famous cover model for romance novels–the human Fabio is beefy, doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond hair he swings around seductively. The chicken Fabio isn’t beefy (tastes like chicken), doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond feathers, which he does indeed throw around like he’s in front of a wind machine. I do not have parakeets because I don’t like cages and in my mind having parakeets is one step away from wearing housecoats, lycra in public, and owning 50 cats, all named Sweetie.

It’s going to get harder . . . 1) I make wedding cakes for fun; 2) I love reality TV–especially dating shows; 3) I have four kids and am married; 4) I don’t miss a minute of March Madness basketball if I can help it.

Think you know? I do make wedding cakes for fun, and birthday cakes, and I love you cakes, and cakes of all kinds. I love to bake. If you want to see photos of cakes I’ve made just visit my Web site at AmberKizer.com. I do love reality TV–and especially dating shows, the raunchier it is, the funnier and the better it is. Please don’t hold this against me, I’m in therapy to break the addiction! I adore college hoops and try not to miss any of the tournaments–men’s and women’s. I’m not married and don’t have kids–I’m young and, while I do hope those things are in my future somewhere way down the line, they’re on the wish list rather than in the cart. I am, however, in stock and ready to ship.

All right, I’m done being nice to you. Here’s a hard one: 1) I read 15—20 books concurrently; 2) I quilt; 3) Roses are my favorite flower; 4) I collect amber jewelry when I travel.

I do read a huge, high stack of books all at the same time–it keeps it interesting. There’s too much to learn in the world to read one from start to finish. So I read a chapter, change books, read a chapter and so on, until whatever I’m reading is so compelling I have to finish the book. Pretty much any topic is game, but I stay away from math theory and computer programming because they just give me a headache. I do quilt–I love working with colors and fabrics. I don’t quilt as often as I’d like because these hands are usually wrung dry from typing, but yum, it feeds my creative soul to stitch fabrics together. Roses are a favorite, but my ultimate favorite flowers are lilies–Casablanca white ones, Stargazer pinks, any of the really fragrant lilies–the scent makes my soul smile. So that was kinda a trick one because, of course, I collect amber jewelry. I love it and it looks good with my coloring, so it’s a win win.

Now, to the super-duper difficult ones: 1) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could talk; 2) I wrote my first book at the age of five called “Wiggle Me, Tiggle Me”; 3) I only write when my muse taps me on the shoulder; 4) I don’t have to do much editing; it’s usually close to perfect the first time around.

Think you know? Ha ha, changed it up–they’re all LIES! LIES, LIES, LIES! Okay, so maybe that wasn’t fair, but it was fun. I always wanted to be a criminal prosecuting attorney and eventually a Supreme Court Justice. (Can you spell overachiever anyone?) But I played basketball fervently, and over the course of high school, I ended up with some fairly nasty injuries to my feet and legs. Those led to surgeries, which then gave room to a rare nerve disorder. I developed symptoms at age 18 and it totally and completely sucks (just telling it like it is). In the simplest of terms, the system that controls pain signals, temperature, circulation, and all that very important stuff is corrupted to the point that it’s wrong all the time–which means my legs hurt all the time and don’t always work for me when I ask them to. So this means my life has to be fairly fluid–I can not tell you how many plans I’ve had to cancel, how many shows I’ve given away tickets to, how many great ideas I’ve had to say “sorry” to. I know someone loves me when I say I’m hurting and they show up with ice cream and a video when we were supposed to go out. This also means that I can’t count on my legs to have a structured 9 to 5 job (although I’d love to do any number of things on a consistent basis), so I had to figure out a career that was flexible and that I could do on the good days, or from a horizontal position on the bad ones. A friend invited me to a workshop she was giving on how to teach writing to kids. I did all the activities, and I was hooked on storytelling. I came away from that six weeks with six pages of a story. I wanted to know the ending, so I kept writing.

Oh, and I should probably tell you that I started in adult romances. Yes, that’s right, I love romances and they’re completely a hoot to write–a hopeless romantic, I adore happy endings and who doesn’t like hot, steamy, monkey s---socks. Monkey socks. So I wrote one book, then another, then another. The whole time I was learning what I could about the craft–it’s like wanting to be a great artist you need to know the techniques and tools of the craft, and you have to practice. I also spent a great deal of time learning the business end of things–how agents work, how publishing works, what to expect, what to do right, and what to avoid doing at all costs. There’s so much to learn I’m convinced I will never know it all. But I worked my way up the scale from form letter rejections to handwritten notes to long, involved letters asking for revisions.

I was working on my fourth romance when a voice in my head started giving editorial input. “He put his hand where? That so wouldn’t happen . . . eeewww.” And on and on. Meet Gert. She had things to say and I desperately needed her to shut up, so I opened a new word document and went at it. I figured I’d let her go until she ran out of steam and then I could get back to the real writing. I guessed 20 pages tops before she ran out of things to say. That was 2005 and she’s still going. Nothing is off limits, she talks about everything–even the stuff parents hope their kids don’t know about. One Butt Cheek is the first in her series–the second From Butt to Booty comes out next fall.

I always edit. I always rewrite. And there are no such things as muses unless you use that as a synonym for discipline or perseverance.

My advice for anyone who thinks they want to be a writer is to hang glide. No, again that’s not the truth, but it sounds way more interesting than the truth, which is to . . . um . . . write. Also get good at surviving rejection because you have to. Because you have to put yourself out there all the time and learn how to shake it off and do it all over again the next day. You won’t get published if you don’t send it out. And you won’t get published if you send out crap that you haven’t perfected to the best of your ability. But it’s not easy, it’s not pain free and it’s not for the weak of spirit. It’s hard, competitive, and everyone thinks because they type out e-mails that writing a book can’t be much harder than that. Oh yeah, everyone thinks they could write the next bestseller without breaking a sweat, everyone thinks they’re a writer–just know that up front.

So here’s my advice–it’s really good practice to ask the cute boy out, call the girl who you’ve been crushing on since sixth grade, make yourself available and vulnerable. Because here’s the deal, they might say yes, they might have been enamored of you for ages, too. Because you could get the call that says, “We’ve got a contract offer on your book!” Or at the very least you’ll have some soul-wrenching real-life experience to write about and that, my friends, is the truth and nothing but the truth. So help me Gert.

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