by Christine Manzari
Being a Sophisticate of the Program seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal: a little genetic alteration and anyone can be smarter, faster, and stronger. It’s a dream come true. All you have to give up is your freedom.
Cleo is a Sophisticate and she has a bright future in the Program. But she has a secret. When she gets upset, bad things happen. Explosive things. Things she can’t control.
When her secret is discovered, she’s sent to the Academy to train in the military branch of the Program. She’s destined to be a human weapon in the war that’s been going on since Wormwood occurred nearly 30 years ago. She soon learns that although her ability is unique, there are others like her — other Sophisticates with lethal skills and odd code names like Archerfish and Mimic Octopus.
Immersed in a dangerous game of supernatural powers and dubious motives, Cleo doesn’t know who to trust. Ozzy, the annoyingly attractive cadet who has perfect aim in weapons class and deviant lips behind closed doors, begs her not to use her powers. He’s the golden boy of the Program, but can she trust him? Or will she find herself a target, caught in his crosshairs?
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Enjoy an excerpt:
We stood quietly, looking at the monument.
“All right then. Had enough?” Sterling asked. “Time to get back to the stadium before Farnsworth comes to.”
“Are you kidding?” Arabella grabbed our hands, dragging us through the cemetery and around the back of the building. The light was starting to fade as the sky began to morph from pinks and oranges into deep purples. “Don’t you want to see his original burial spot?”
“I didn’t really want to see his current burial spot. I just wanted your player’s card,” Sterling admitted as she dragged him along.
We wove in and out of the ancient grave sites, making our way down a worn path, under trees, and to the back corner of the graveyard which was cloaked in too many shadows for my comfort. Soon, we were standing in front of a traditional looking headstone with a carving of a raven underneath words that said “Quoth the Raven Nevermore.”
Arabella stood there for what seemed like an eternity, staring at the tombstone that wasn’t even the current resting spot of the poet anymore.
“He was an orphan, just like us,” Arabella murmured.
“How did he die?” I asked.
Arabella tore her gaze from the raven. “It’s kind of a mystery. He was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and in distress. He kept calling out the name Reynolds and the last words he spoke were, ‘Lord, help my poor soul.’ All of the medical documents have been lost. Some theorists think it was murder, some suicide, some cooping.”
“What on earth is cooping?” Sterling asked, kicking at a pile of leaves at the base of the headstone.
Arabella turned to face Sterling. “Hard to explain, you’ll have to look it up. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say he was forced to do something he didn’t want to do.” Arabella turned back to the tombstone. “Just like us.”
“That’s all very fascinating, but I’m afraid story time is over,” spoke a deep, strange voice.
I whipped around just in time to see half a dozen large men emerge from the shadows. Before I could even think about struggling, one of the men had caught me in a tight grip and another was putting something across my nose and mouth. I kicked out blindly, bucking in the strong grip of the man holding me. As a sickly, sweet, cloying scent filled my mouth and nostrils, Poe’s words echoed in my thoughts. Lord, help my poor soul.
And then everything went black.
The first thing Christine does when she's getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She's addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeine-laden bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.
1. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I've always loved to read books. When I was younger, I used to try to read in the dark when I was supposed to be asleep which is probably why my vision is so bad now. The summers after 7th and 8th grades,I attended a creative writing camp at Washington, College in Chestertown, MD. It was the first time I had ever been around other kids my age who loved reading and writing as much as I did. I decided then and there I wanted to be an author. In highschool and college I wrote a lot of poetry, but never quite had the confidence to write a book. Sadly, it took me 20 years after those writing camps to finally find the courage to write those first words, but I did it and I can't imagine doing anything else that I would enjoy as much.
2. What kind of books do you read?
I read a wide variety of books, but prefer books that have at least some element of romance in it.
3. How do you deal with writer’s block?
I deal with writer's block by writing through it. Even if it's awful, I keep writing. I know I can go back and edit to make it better, but if I give in to writer's block and do nothing, then I have nothing. The longer I avoid my block, the harder it is to come back and overcome it.
4. How do you find time to write being a stay-at-home-mom?
I do most of my writing after my kids go to bed. I usually get started around 9 pm and work until 2 am. I've always been a night owl and find I work best when it's late and quiet. That being said, I do a lot of storyline plotting throughout the day so when 9 pm rolls around, I'm ready to start typing.
5. What program do you use to write?
I use Scrivener. I really like the ability to have all of my research and notes right there with my writing only a click away. I also really enjoy having the cork board feature so that I can keep character inspiraton photos on hand as well.
6. What is your writing style? Do you have everything planned out ahead of time?
I know the main direction that my story is going to go in, how it will end, and I have many of the plot points planned out — but I don't like making outlines. I like to discover the story as I go. I do like to spend a little time on character development before I write and will often write down detailed descriptions about them, but as for the story, I don't outline.
7. What’s the best thing about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is when someone tells me how much they enjoyed my book. I love writing, but knowing that someone connected with and enjoyed the random words I put together, the characters I dreamed up, and the story I imagined....that's the best part. Being a writer is an incredibly vulnerable thing because you put your heart and soul out there for judgment. It's a wonderful feeling when your creation is loved.
8. What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
My first piece of advice for aspiring writers is to read. READ A LOT. Read everything you can get your hands on. Make reading a priority. I think reading is the most important thing for successful authors. My second piece of advice is to give yourself a goal so you have motivation. Try writing 1,000 words a day. Or if that's too much, make your goal 500 a day. Whatever your goal is, stick to it. Even if what you write is crap, write. You can always go back and edit bad writing and make it better. But if you don't write at all, then you have nothing. A great way to get motivated is to join NaNoWriMo every November and try their 50,000 words in a month challenge. It's a great way to get motivated and meet author authors
THE AUTHOR WILL BE GIVING AWAY:
$25 Amazon/BN GC
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$25 Amazon/BN GC
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