by A. Bin Juran(Out of Sync #1)
Publication date: October 23rd 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
I’m a magical misfit I won’t let it define me
A bolt-zapping disaster magnet But at least I’m still trying
The guy I like asked me out I hoped my luck was changing
Then my coven trials began …they’re harder than I expected
Now my life hangs in the balance I don’t know what I’m doing
But I do know this:
I’m not going down without a fight.
‘Out of Sync’ is a YA paranormal romance about a magical misfit who faces her perilous coven trials, falls in love and nearly dies more times than seems polite to mention.
Low grumbles emanated from the creatures circling me, grimly advertising their intent.
The sweltering desert heat clung to me like a second skin, causing beads of sweat to trickle into my eyes.
I squinted, inadvertently blurring my vision, which posed a problem given that my newly adopted life plan had just been reduced to not ending up as dog food—or whatever you would call the equivalent for wolves.
“Nice wolfies . . .” I stammered, the bitter aftertaste of adrenaline lacing the back of my throat.
Pointed brown-stained teeth snapped at my feet as another wolf lunged closer, its acrid breath filling my airways. I gagged. “You really should have yourself checked; I’ve smelled doggy breath before, but this is taking it to a whole other level,” I ventured, trying my hand at nurturing some rapport as my eyes darted, searching for an escape route.
Yellow eyes trailed my movements as drool began to accumulate in anticipation.
“Eating me will not improve that smell,” I tried again, jerking my thumb at the breather. Was this really my pitch? I wouldn’t add to your dental value?
“I’m not that nutritious, either! Really, I eat a lot of junk,” I lied. I didn’t actually get to do much snacking—though I would have been happy to if anyone ever bothered to send some to my dorm room.
One of the wolves slunk closer, grazing my knee with his dry nose.
My voice caught as I continued trying to reason with the mongrels. “I’m not all that chewable, either . . . . I’m bonier than I look.” Then I remembered how fond canines were of bones and shut up, shaking my head with disbelief at what was coming out of my mouth just in time to miss a set of snarling jaws hurtling at my throat.
Being eaten by a pack of hungry mutts was definitively not the way I wanted to go. I could feel the panic crackle through me, swiftly building up inside me.
I tried to regulate my breathing as my fingers itched with electricity.
Deciding it was time to take what action I could, I jerked my hands forward, and a bolt of lightning erupted from my hands and into the pack. Yes, it worked! Not only had I managed not to set myself on fire, the bolt had actually landed in the general vicinity of what I’d aimed at! Most of my thunderbolt throwing thus far had been limited to uncontrolled spasms from nerves or anger, so this was quite a feat. But there was no time for an awkward victory dance.
The wolves recoiled momentarily from the sudden attack, giving me the opening I had been waiting for. I lunged forward, hurtling my body toward the gap, hoping the light show would afford me enough time to reach safety.
I scrambled, gathering whatever energy I had left and ran.
After a few minutes of frantic chase, I perceived a discoloration in the distance. I set my sights on reaching that goal as the wolves shadowed my movements, gnashing their ravenous jaws all around me.
As I gained ground, I could make out more detail in the bleak colors. The discoloration was a cave.
The wolves were behind me, but I was closer. I would make it, I told myself; I had to.
Hope spread, infecting my mind and expanding my lungs, blinding me. Reality, however, sank its filthy teeth into me.
I yelped in agony as the pain shot through me. My legs buckled beneath me, and I collapsed
into the desert sand, a hair’s breadth from snarling, snapping teeth.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed that I had been perched upright in a hallway across from one of the purification pods. A disembodied voice congratulated me on completing my second trial, somehow aware that I had regained consciousness.
My throat went dry as my eyes searched for cameras, paranoia surging throughout my system. These people were crazy; there was no other explanation for what I had just been through.
I swerved away from the pods; sure, it would be nice to be clean, but that’s how they got you— with the pristine, warm showers and scented soap. Before you knew what was going on, they would try to kill you again. In the back of my mind I wondered why they needed to clean you in between the attempts on your life, but I wasn’t about to try to understand their crazy.
I just wanted out. Once I found my way out into the open air, I saw the hooded figures had reconvened.
One of them was speaking, and I could hear him clearly, as if he was standing right beside me, drowning out my thoughts. “Your next testing phase will commence within the next few days.”
A chill passed through me.
I steeled myself. No. Nope. Not gonna happen, buddy, I decided. “The third trial is set by the coven which has shown interest in you, based on your scores, rank and lineage.
If you pass, the elemental trials will follow throughout the next few months, according to the full moon . . . .”
My ears buzzed as the announcer’s voice began chanting from inside my skull. My body was still shaking off the numbness in my muscles and the contrasting heat in my limbs.
I had to find a way out of here. The cold air was biting, sinking into my skin, clawing at me from beneath my clothes.
The announcer’s voice joined the crowd in chant, and the magic began to swell around me.
o Bree Flint’s hands have a tendency to spark electricity when she’s nervous or agitated.Random facts about the characters of ‘Out of Sync’
o Bree’s first brush with magic came at the age of eight, when she accidentally turned her teacher into a toad. Her grandmother, Miranda, has promised the school board that such incidents won’t happen again.
o We’ve received word that Bree Flint has been dubbed ‘the girl most likely to end up in a black hole of her own making.’ Monroe School does not condone the use of such language, though we couldn’t in good conscience ask you to sit next to her during Spells class.
o Annabelle Foster, the “makeover specialist,” can work wonders with hair and make-up charms. References and testimonials can be found on her site, as well as ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.
o Charlie Cast’s esoteric theories regarding the walking of dogs do not, as rumored, require canine participation.
o Sophia Lucas’s eye color fluctuates according to her mood. We apologize, but this feature isn’t available in potion or spell form, she was just born that way. And no, her gorgeous golden hair did not come from a bottle either, we asked.
o Reactions to Nate Harper include (but are not limited to) shortness of breath, fluctuation in heartbeat, a sudden (though fleeting) weakness in the knees, and, in one unfortunate case, foot-in-mouth syndrome. Yes, he’s handsome; get over it.
o Lee, the vampire, is an unabashed flirt. He’s not above using his dancing abilities to recruit donors.
o When manifesting garments, be advised that these types of spells usually last three hours. Please allow for a change of clothes. Just to remind you, their pleasant rosy after-scent will dissipate as well, and is not a substitute for deodorant.Here are some clips from the unofficial Monroe Private School for the Study of Witchcraft newsletter:
o The introduction of the fire-breathing dragon into the curriculum has been proven to accelerate running speeds during P.E. classes, as well as aid in the development of new and innovative self-defense techniques. We stress that no permanent harm has been caused to neither dragon, nor students; faculty notwithstanding.
o The ghosts that visit the school are our guests; please treat them as such. Note that it is not polite to ask them personal questions outside of class.
o While we neither admit nor deny allegations regarding the existence of vampires, genies and/or goblins, we still reserve the right to refuse them entry onto school grounds.
o The use of potions and spells on your fellow students outside of class is strictly forbidden. We have safeties in place to assure that they will almost never work as expected anyway, so we suggest you refrain from them altogether. If, despite this warning, you’ve been exposed to either, please do not panic. The effects are temporary and shall pass.
o It has come to our attention that some garments have been afflicted with spontaneous staining. So far, this issue seems to be limited to white shirts. Your complaints have been registered and will be attended to in due time; we are currently dealing with more pressing concerns, since it appears someone forgot to send the dragon back home.
When not immersed in books - be it writing or reading them - Ainat can usually be found nestling a cup of coffee in the company of her husband and twins. A former fast-food employee, T-shirt seller, and glorified secretary, Ainat eventually found herself with Bachelor's and LL.M. degrees and working as a lawyer. A few years later, listening to a catchy pop song about dream fulfillment, Ainat decided to buy a clunky little laptop and get to work. Ten novels and a much better laptop later, she came to the realization that hitting the double-digit mark meant it was time to publish and start consuming coffee (though not necessarily in that order).
When she isn't writing, editing, or mothering, Ainat enjoys reading promiscuously (which, to her, means she's reading several novels at a time while committing to none), watching political dramas and sci-fi series, and taking embarrassing memos-to-self complete with accents and dramatic pauses that should never be unleashed, ever.
A. Bin Juran's Interview
If you would compare your book to a similar one, which would it be?
A witch who attends magic school, desperately trying to withstand her perilous coven trials; hmmm, let me think … Harry Potter does The Hunger Games?
Name three of your favorite books.
I’m something of a promiscuous reader, which to me, means that I’m usually reading (or listening to) several different novels at a time while committing to none — but once a novel grabs me, as these three have, it doesn’t let go even long after I’ve finished reading it.
My ‘must listen’ list includes
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris, narrated by Johanna Parker (romance, vampires, action and once again we find the common denominator — a healthy sense of humor and wit).
Which animal scares you the most? Why?
Cockroaches; yuck. Those spindly-legged creatures can get me off my feet faster than any exercise known to man.
When do you find yourself reading?
Being a mom, a wife and a full-time writer, free time is a very precious and rare commodity. Or in other words, I’ve learned how to utilize my coffee breaks to listen to audiobooks, and I sometimes stretch out the night with my Kindle.
When do you find yourself inspired?
Inspiration often strikes when I’m bone-tired, usually after I’ve just crawled into bed. I quickly discovered that if I don’t write it down — whatever ‘it’ might be, a snippet of conversation or a twist in a story line — it’ll slip away into oblivion, never to be heard of again.
Name a song that inspired you
Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us’ helped me find my voice when I was working on the blurb for ‘Out of Sync.’ I feel as if it captures the spirit of the book, which at its core is about a misfit learning to accept herself for who she is, and finding the people who will do the same.
When do you find yourself singing?
In the so-called privacy of my car, where I can mess up the lyrics and mumble the rest to my heart’s content; on occasion, you might even catch some shoulder-action.
If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?
I already fly in my dreams, without the dubious benefit of adding bugs to my diet. So, I would have to go with a remarkable ability I’d seen in the movie ‘Starman,’ in which an alien placed his hand above the cover of a book, and in the span of seconds, had read it in its entirety. Add to that the ability to understand the material within, and if at all possible, to remember it for later use, and it would be my ultimate superpower.
How would you describe your writing style?
Molly Harper meets Terry Pratchett — snarky fun with a side of humor and more than a pinch of suspense.
What’s next for you?
Now that ‘Out of Sync’ has hit the shelves, its sequel, ‘Out of Breath’ has (some of) my attention. It’s due to be released next year. The tagline reads: Are you sure you want to know?
I would reveal its blurb, but it contains a spoiler for ‘Out of Sync,’ and I’m pretty sure that kind of behavior will get me in trouble.
I’m also writing a paranormal novel, and I’m in the process of editing my third YA book, about an angel on her first mission. Both are unrelated to the ‘Out of Sync’ universe, and a lot of fun to write / edit.
o What were your favorite books in elementary school?
o Sweet or savory?
While my taste buds usually prefer savory (there’s a reason that lasagna appears in almost every book I’ve ever wrote), I’ll enjoy a delicious piece of chocolate cake — with a side of pickle, please.
o Early Bird or Night Owl?
Night owl masquerading as an early bird. Getting caught ‘lounging about’ in bed after ten a.m. on a Saturday was frowned upon in my parent’s house, and now I’m married to a self-proclaimed night owl who comes from a long tradition of waking up after noon and staying up late; very late.
o Phone call or E-mail?
Email, definitely. I express myself much better on page than I do live. Some people can achieve witty-comeback status on the fly, but unfortunately I’m not one of those people (despite repeated attempts to outwit my big sister, who is a natural).
o Ebook or paper?
When my eyes are too sore from a day of computer-gazing, they usually require the fonts to be blind-bat large, so that leaves me with little options.
That being said, there’s just something magical about holding a book in your hands and leafing through its pages; at least, that’s what I tell myself every time I add a few more books to my overflowing bookshelves.
o Plan or wing it?
Both; I’m a planner at heart, though writing has taught me to embrace the unexpected. I enjoy mind mapping and research (courtesy of my years as an attorney, I’m sure) but I’ve learned to give room for inspiration to strike and alter my course. You never know where an idea will lead you — sometimes it works out better than you would’ve imagined, other times it’s a total flop, so I plan but leave myself open.
o Vanilla or chocolate?
Both, melted into yummy gooiness in the microwave. Before you ‘ew’ all over yourself, please note that this trait has been passed down to the next generation (my son) without any prior influence (I caught him stirring his ice cream until it reached the right consistency) — ergo, it’s in the genes, and therefore should be exempt of any and all prejudices.
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