Happy Saturday, peaches!
So many beautiful things in the works now. I'm feeling very blessed and super glad to be doing all these new things and still be able to bring you all wonderful new reads.
You're all so fantastic! I don't tell you guys that enough!
Enjoy this new write by author B.N. Mauldin, "Belligerent" as well as her GUEST POST, featured after the excerpts.
Get your reading gear on!
Author: B.N. Mauldin
Genre: YA Dystopian
In a dystopian future the populace is segregated into castes. Belligerents, the lowest of status, are comprised of criminals and outcasts. Content as a faceless Commoner, Ryan has made a life for himself on the streets as a car thief. While the work isn’t the most noble, he’s known as one of the best despite his young age.
Ryan’s skills catch the eye of a flagrant Owner, bent on winning the virtual competition: Vicara. Newly branded as a Belligerent, Ryan struggles for freedom and acceptance at an academy specialized in training teams for Vicara. Ryan’s place on the team is shaky as he learns the truth and tragedy behind the person he replaces.
Join the Belligerents as we get our first look into the world of Vicara!
Writing since she was “old enough to hold a crayon”, B.N. Mauldin resides in Lexington, North Carolina with her two cats. Her parents, Bill, Bobby, Shirley, and Mary have always been great sources of encouragement, as well as her two younger brothers, Matthew and Donovan, whose imaginations inspire her writing. A vital element of Mauldin’s mentality involves looking at something ordinary while contemplating what else it could be.
A tea addict and “Slytherin” at heart Mauldin also gets a spark of creativity through considerable reading of “some of the greatest works ever written.”
To read more about B.N., follow her blog: http://ofinksandteas.tumblr.com/
Mauldin’s first novel, Belligerent, is now available for pleasurable reading through Fable Press: www.fablepress.com.
Belligerent is available now through Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions and wherever books are sold.
Amazon.com (US): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CNSY6B6
Amazon.co.uk (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Belligerent-Vicara-ebook/dp/B00CNSY6B6
Amazon.ca (Canada): http://www.amazon.ca/Belligerent-Vicara-ebook/dp/B00CNSY6B6
Book Excerpt #1
“Delivery,” the disciplinary squad member announced as if she were a postal worker and Ryan was some package to be delivered.
The man spun around in his chair. “Who do we have here?” he asked with a surprisingly friendly smile.
“Candidate for Shifter's team,” she replied. The man grabbed for a tablet and after glancing at it for a few moments, addressed them again.
“Yeah,” he replied with a nod, nerves creeping into overdrive as he noticed all the medical devices placed around the room. Despite his best efforts, sweat formed on his brow.
“I'm Dr. March. Looks like you're here for a first time band.”
Ryan didn't reply. He clasped his right wrist with his left hand to keep his arms from shaking. A band? No. No, no, no.
To his surprise, Dr. March addressed the disciplinary squad member next. “You can leave now.”
The guard stepped out of the room but not before flashing a look of warning. The unspoken threat was as clear as it had been his entire stay: try to run and we will take you down.
“Okay, Ryan, let's get started.”
It wasn't so terrible at first. Ryan was weighed and measured. His eye color and hair color were marked down on a chart. His finger was pricked and a small sample of his blood was taken. Dr. March whistled an unknown tune between each test as he reached for instruments or his tablet. Just as his nerves began to settle, things unraveled when the doctor pulled out a tray of syringes.
“First, we're going to test you for any allergies.”
“I don't have any,” Ryan quickly assured.
“You may have an allergy to something you've never been exposed to before,” the doctor said as he lifted one of the larger syringes filled with a thick substance. “Left arm, please.”
Ryan hesitated, and the doctor's grin faded. “Please don't make me call in reinforcements. It's far easier if you cooperate, son.”
Ryan's eyes flickered to the door then back to the doctor before he slowly held out his arm. “Will it hurt?”
“Just a little,” he replied before injecting the serum. It pinched, but it didn't really hurt. After several long moments, Dr. March placed the shot in a bio-hazard container.
“Now, we wait a few minutes before proceeding.” He resumed his soft whistling.
“How will you know if I'm allergic to anything?” Ryan asked, staring down at the small red dot forming on his skin. The edges of the puncture began to turn an unsettling shade of purple.
“That's how,” the doctor replied taking Ryan's arm in his grasp to study it. “Not too bad. You seem to have a mild lactose intolerance, but otherwise you're not showing any other allergies.”
“You got that from a color?”
“And the size of the ring it formed,” Dr. March replied. “Best medical breakthrough yet, that shot is. Can test for every allergy in mere minutes with only one prick. Saves a lot of time and pain. You know, a Belligerent came up with it.” He reached for the next shot on the tray. “Now for the vaccines.”
“Are those all-in-one too?” Ryan asked hopefully.
Dr. March chuckled. “Don't be silly. Of course they're not! Luckily, you've only got about six of those to endure.” Ryan blanched, but Dr. March placed a wrinkled hand on his shoulder, giving him a reassuring squeeze. “Don't look so scared. You can't be afraid of needles when you'll soon be facing swords!”
The next six shots were painful but not excruciating and left behind sore spots on his skin that made Ryan think he should play connect the dots.
After another part of the whistled tune, the doctor said, “We've got butterflies, polka dots, cupcakes, race cars and jungle animals.”
Dr. March held up a pack of bandages. “Those are your choices.”
“You don't have any normal ones?”
“My job is to treat Betas for their academy enrollment,” Dr. March said flatly. “Almost all my patients are ten years old.”
Ryan grunted. “Race cars.”
Book Excerpt #2
Ryan stopped in one last car park. He headed to the top level and was shocked at what he found.
“Who would be dumb enough to park a Zeus in a Darton car park?” he muttered to himself while stepping closer to the beautiful machine. Deciding not to waste time debating the matter, he quickly set about disabling the car's alarms using equipment he had bought with his last big paycheck. After finishing with the panel and underlying electronics, he and was about to climb into the driver's seat when a firm hand landed on his shoulder.
“That’s quite enough, kid.”
Ryan spun around and swung a right hook at the stranger's face managing to startle the man enough that he lost his grip. Dodging around him, Ryan took off only to be grabbed by another man.
“Not so fast.”
The first man stepped up and took hold of Ryan's other arm.
Ryan had never been caught before, but he had heard stories from the others who had. His stomach sank as he realized what might happen to him, and he thrashed to free himself of the men's hold.
“Stop struggling, kid.”
“What's going on here?” a third man asked as he approached them.
Ryan recognized him as the Owner from the day before. He was dressed in a suit as the other two were, but there was a huge difference between the tailored, sleek, grey suit the man was wearing and the generic, matching suits that the other two had thrown on.
“We caught him trying to steal your car.”
The Owner stepped forward and looked over the Zeus then down at the equipment that Ryan had dropped in the struggle.
He let out a loud guffaw, “So my plan succeeded. Some things are so predictable. How's his work?”
“Neat. There's not even a smudge. He would have succeeded if we hadn't shown up.”
“Does he have a pass?”
Passes kept people from being taken as Belligerents. It was the only thing that kept them safe. A pass was freedom. The men looked at thief, but he kept his gaze on the Owner. Of course, Ryan didn't have a pass. A minor, five year pass cost five hundred thousand credits, and that was more than the average person made in ten years.
The Owner's face lit up in delight when Ryan didn't produce any proof of freedom. “What's your name, kid? Eva wouldn't tell me.”
“It's Ryan,” he muttered.
“No last name?”
Ryan shook his head. “Not one that matters.”
“Good. That's what I like to hear. Well, Ryan, people call me Shifter.”
Ryan thought the name suited him. The man did look shifty, especially with his cold, grey eyes and his unnaturally silver hair.
“It would appear that you're just the person I need at the moment,” Shifter said. “I saw your work yesterday, and I've had some people tracking you today. I'm impressed with what I've seen and I think you'll be a great addition.”
“Addition to what?
“My team.” Shifter gave a grin that made him shudder. “I happen to have a spot open, and I would love for you to fill it.”
“Not a chance,” Ryan said through gritted teeth. One of his worst fears was playing out and his body felt as if it was rejecting every moment.
“Not your choice,” Shifter replied lightly.
Guest Post from Author
Young adult literature has gained a certain reputation, and that reputation is for presenting teenagers as sometimes confused human beings struggling to handle difficult life decisions instead of overly dramatic children making a big deal out of small issue. I happen to be a huge fan of this kind of reputation.
I read several articles the other day about how adults disapprove of the mature subjects found in the books their teenagers are reading and believe such novels should no longer be considered "young adult". There's a definite view that since they do not like to think about teenagers being exposed to certain things then by keeping it out of literature, we keep it from happening in real life. I believe the only thing that will happen if we leave these topics out of literature is that teenagers will have fewer sources to turn to when they need to seek out advice for how to handle the more difficult situations in their lives.
When I sat down to write Belligerent, which follows a fourteen year old protagonist living in a dystopian future, it never occurred to me to write within a rating or to censor the material to fit within a certain age frame.Despite being fourteen, Ryan is a car thief, and he has been ever since he was tall enough to reach the pedals. He lives in an apartment with a group of other homeless teenagers who have to do whatever it takes to get by.
When he gets caught, marked as a Belligerent, and sent to an academy, things don't get any easier for him. He find himself the eighth member of a team of teenagers being trained to be the best in their fields, and he has to not only survive the training but also figure out how to live with seven people who aren't particularly fond of him at the same time.
Having the pressures of school and a social circle are just the start of Ryan's problems. He also has a limited amount of time to make crucial decisions that will influence his entire future. While most teenagers don't beat each other to a bloody pulp in an arena for the amusement of a large audience in between thinking about life after graduation, most can relate to Ryan's other problems. Violence, sexuality, betrayals, drug use, and the pressure to succeed are issues most teenagers will have to handle well before adulthood, no matter how much we would like to imagine that the most difficult decision a teenager will make is whether their hair looks better parted on the left, right, or center.
Ryan is not a flawless character. He often makes mistakes. He fights with his teammates, and he can be horribly narcissistic at times. However, he means well, and he learns from his mistakes. His teammates are not flawless either, so when Ryan is placed onto the same team as Mackenzie, a stubborn strategist; Eva, a timid fighter; Logan, a spastic hacker; Daylan, a medic with horrible bedside manner; Kenichi, a temperamental thief; Clarisse, a chameleon of a girl who knows too much, and Aria, a perfectionist scientist, tension is inevitable. However, in order to achieve their goals, they have to learn to work together.
The realities of our world and the trials that teenagers face daily is what inspired me to have my protagonists be teenagers because like the characters in Belligerent, you will never be more pressured to discover who you are than during your young adult years. There is a also a certain ambitiousness and sense of community displayed by teenagers that often fades the older we grow, and that ambitiousness and sense of community was something I wanted to explore in my writing.
While I hope that Belligerent appeals to anyone who gives it a chance, I hope that it helps show that teenagers are brilliant and talented and deservant of much more credit than they are given, and that when it comes to writing teenage characters, a person cannot make them fit a mold as just like any other human being, teenagers each have their own experiences and maturity. I also hope that teenagers remember that their worth is not based on a scale of numbers or the expectations that others set on them.