By Georgia McBride
Publication date: May 21, 2013Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway...After having been missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help. Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup and her family from worry over her safety.Authorities believe that Grace is ill, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, an ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth. Grace’s claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace’s story actually be true?Praefatio is Grace’s account of weeks on the run, falling in love and losing everything but her faith. When it’s sister against brother, light versus darkness, corrupt police officers, eager doctors and accusing journalists, against one girl with nothing but her word as proof: who do you believe?
“Once the most beautiful, talented and favored of all the Angels, I wanted for nothing. Privilege was mine. I knew only a life of luxury, leisure, and song. His plans were of no consequence to me. That is, until the sixth day.”
“We retired to bed as humans do when the moon reigns supremely over their sky. I learned to sleep because it made my wife uneasy when she woke to find me sharpening knives. She knew not what I was, the truth of my origins. Instead, I embraced my humanity and prayed she would never have to know.”
EXCERPT - PARTIAL
Officer Sarah Bladen sighed heavily.
“When you’re ready to talk, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll go see if your mom’s here.” She threw the newspaper she’d been holding on the table in front of me and left the room. I grabbed it before it hit the tabletop microphone. I flipped the paper around to find Gavin’s photo under the headline: ROCK STAR ARRESTED IN DISAPPEARANCE OF MISSING PEAK GIRL
Gavin Vault, lead singer of Venus Unearthed, was arrested on Christmas Day for the kidnapping and attempted assault of Grace Miller, daughter of Broadway actress Vivienne Miller. Miss Miller, seventeen, was reported as a runaway two months ago by her legal guardians, Victoria and Kenneth Larson, with whom she’d been living since her father, Gabriel Miller, died in a motor vehicular accident. Mr. Vault is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Miss Miller’s brother, Remiel, fifteen, and the Larson’s daughter, Jennifer, also fifteen. The two teens were reported missing three weeks ago. At the time of Mr. Vault’s arrest, Miss Miller was found on the Vault estate in questionable physical condition. She is believed to be suffering from a condition similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
Something in the article triggered a flood of coherent thoughts and memories. When I tell them, when I finally answer their questions, it’s not gonna be good. They thought I was protecting Gavin; that I was his victim somehow. What were they going to say when I told them what really happened? What was Mom going to think?
My stomach churned as I took the last sip of the liquid they proudly called “coffee.” The door to the interrogation room swung open. I stood to throw the coffee cup away, and saw Gavin leaning against the wall in the hallway across from me. My stomach churned again, and a great sadness followed.
Every bit the rock star and not a hair out of place, he looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Gavin laughed with the same officers who’d arrested him, and I noticed he was in the clothes he’d been wearing when they took him away in handcuffs. I wish I’d told him how good he looked earlier. I wish I’d done so many things differently.
Can you hear me? I tried speaking to him telepathically. He didn’t answer or even acknowledge that I’d spoken, so, I opened my mouth to call to him.
Our eyes met, and my mouth clamped shut. I was suddenly at a loss for words. One of the officers began leading him down the hall. I wanted to run to him, but my legs were jerked back into place by what felt like shackles, though there weren’t any on me. I tried again, but could only move about a foot from where I stood before being yanked back into place.
“Gavin!” I yelled. My voice echoed off the walls of the interrogation room and out into the hall, making me sound way more desperate than I’d intended.
Gavin lowered his head as if the sight was too much for him. Hot tears streamed down my face, stinging my skin. “Please, Gavin, wait!” He kept walking. as if Gavin didn’t know me at all.
Officer Bladen reentered the room and closed the door.
Still, I heard them laughing and talking outside; it surprised me that I could hear them through the walls. Or was I just hearing voices again?
“You really make a lasting impression, huh, Vault?” One of the cops joked, followed by laughter from the others. By his tone, they seemed like they could have been old high school buddies.
Rage and humiliation got the best of me. I lunged forward, only to be pulled backward by the invisible shackles around my feet.
My landing wasn’t as graceful as I would have liked. Refusing help from a rather amused Officer Bladen, I stood, dusted off my knees and took a seat.
We sat in silence, occasionally staring at one another, listening for anything at all. The only interruptions were Officer Bladen’s rubbing of her arm at seemingly timed intervals and the dings of her cell phone. The fly was gone. He caught the flight out when Bladen opened the door. Smart fly. I found myself missing his flitting and buzzing.***
A knock on the doorframe brought us both out of our bored trances. I think I was actually counting Officer Bladen’s arm hairs at the time.
“Ms. Miller,” intoned a cop who poked his head in from the hallway. Leaning in slightly and holding onto the doorframe as if the room were contaminated, he continued, “Your mother’s arrived and is right outside. I suspect you’ll want to start with your videotaped statement now.” He crooked a long index finger and motioned for Officer Bladen to follow him out into the hall. And then she was gone, leaving the lingering smell of her perfume.
A voice came from somewhere on the other side of the two-way mirror.
“Hi, Honey. Go ahead with your statement. Everything’s going to be just fine.”
A red light on the video camera above the mirror came on. I hadn’t noticed it until now.
“Mom?” I stood, ready to leave with her.
“Sit down, Grace,” Mom’s voice ordered. “Just give your statement and this will all be over with.”
“Mom…you’re not coming in?” My voice was small, almost mousey. The sound of the metal chair scraping along the concrete floor echoed in my ears as I sank back down.
“No, honey, just please give them your statement so we can be done with this whole mess,” Mom had not come to get me at all.
“Miss Miller, please. Look into the camera, state your name for the record, and start with your earliest recollections leading up to when we found you tonight, how you met Mr. Vault, came to be on his property, anything he may have said about your brother, Remiel, or Jennifer Larson from as far back as you can remember. Just take your time, Grace. If you need a break, let me know,” Sergeant Mullane’s voice boomed through the overhead speakers.
I squirmed, took a deep breath, cleared my throat and spoke into the microphone, “Archangel Grace Ann Miller.” My voice was barely above a whisper. I could still take it back.
“I’m sorry, Grace. Can you repeat? Not sure we caught that,” Sergeant Mullane requested.
I know what I am. I know what I saw.
“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I repeated, only slightly louder.
“Did she say what I think she said?” It was Officer Bladen’s unmistakably snarky voice.
“Grace, I’m sorry. Can you please repeat your name and speak directly into the microphone in front of you?” Sergeant Mullane instructed.
“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I stated as loud as I could without yelling.
I didn’t hear anything after that.
ABOUT GEORGIA MCBRIDE:Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of Month9Books, YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not blasting really loud music or reading. She lives in North Carolina with four dogs, a frog, a parrot, 2 kids, parents and a husband. PRAEFATIO is her first novel.
Welcome, Georgia! We're excited to speak with you today about the growth of Month9Books! Can you tell us a little about the motivation behind its inception?
After a few years of consulting with publishers, freelance editing, vetting submissions for agents, and running writing contests for folks like St. Martin’s Press and Sourcebooks, I was disappointed by how many good books were getting rejected by big publishers who had grown tired of paranormal and fantasy, or wouldn’t touch science fiction for teens.
So, I approached a few writer friends like Michelle Zink, Lisa Matchev, Nancy Holder and others about doing an anthology containing dark retelling of Mother Goose Rhymes. That experience left me with a taste for something more and an affirmation that readers STILL want to read this very material. It was a trial by fire of negotiations with seventeen different literary agents, editing twenty-two stories, finding distribution for the work, and getting it to market. And then, the anthology was optioned for TV, which to me, was further proof of concept. Writers and agents took notice and from that, Month9Books was born.
That was in 2012. What does Month9Books look like today?
Month9Books has grown in ways I never would have imagined. We have 46 titles in print and approximately 40 more coming through 2016. Month9Books is now part of Georgia McBride Media Group, a company that is home to two other publishing brands, Swoon Romance, a digital romance line and Tantrum Books, a middle grade whimsical fantasy line. Through Georgia McBride Media Group, I originate content, package books, and develop and sell content into the film and TV markets. Month9Books titles have been optioned for TV/film, including Dead Jed: Adventures of a Middle School Zombie, Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes, Nameless, and The Undertakers. We are distributed by the oldest and second largest distributor in the country, IPG, and are represented in foreign markets by Susan Schulman Literary Agency. Our works are available in audiobook and throughout the world in the English language.
What titles are you most proud of or excited about?
I am proud of all my authors and their books. But there are some titles that are highly anticipated this year, so I will mention those.
The Artisans by Julie A. Reece is an amazing, rich and emotive fantasy with all the feels and a smoking hot book boyfriend to die for. We tried something atypical with its cover and hope readers will connect with this amazing story.
The Artisans on Goodreads
Hunted is the follow up to Abi Ketner and Missy Kaliciki’s bestselling book Branded, which spent four months at Number 1 in Amazon’s Dystopian category and also in its Top 20 Teen Dystopian category, getting as high as No 9. For those four months, it was the only title in the Teen Dystopian category’s Top 20 that is not a TV show or film. Previously self-published in 2013, Branded, which has sold more than 35,000 units to date, and is poised to continue its successful run in 2015! Hunted on Amazon
Traitor is book 3 in the bestselling Dragonrider Chronicles series from Nicole Conway. Both Fledging and Avian were Amazon No 1 in Children’s Fantasy and also in Dragon Stories. The series has sold roughly 40,000 units to date.
Avian on Amazon Avian on Barnes and Noble
Serpentine is a lush, evocative, and richly-drawn historical fantasy that takes place in the legendary Kingdom of Xia. Written by Cindy Pon, Serpentine is like no fantasy I have ever read. It releases in September.
In the Beginning is our 2015 charity anthology collection of YA dark retellings of biblical stories slated for release in October. Sales of proceeds from the first 500 units will be donated to WriteGirl, who, within a community of women writers, promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls.
Where do you see your company in five years?
I would like to continue expansion into foreign markets as well as continue to develop original titles for film and TV. I see Month9Books growing into a talent and content incubator. I want to be the go-to brand for teen and tween speculative fiction content across all media.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
I am proud of being able to develop content that has proven to be viable in other markets and formats such as film and TV and audio.
Do you accept unagented submissions?
We work with over 40 agents. Of course, we do accept unsolicited submissions as well. What kind of YA Lit community activist would I be if we didn’t? Visit month9books.submittable.com to submit.
If you could change one thing about your journey, what would it be?
I wish I had decided to start Month9Books sooner, rather than allow myself to be told not to follow my instincts by those in publishing who were supposed to have been in the know.
Where can readers and writers find you and or your books?
Our books are available at indie bookstores, larger chains like Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million, libraries across the country, and of course, online at Amazon, iBooks, etc. In April, ENDLESS, a historical time travel novel, will be featured as in-flight reading on Southwest Airlines! Around town, you will find our authors at BEA, BookCon, ALA, Teen Author Bootcamp, Dragon Con, YALLWest, and more!
What advice to do you have for anyone who might want to start their own presses?
Learn everything you can about the publishing business. You won’t know which rules to break if you don’t know the rules to begin with. Also, align yourself with people you respect and in whom you can trust. Never stop learning, adapting, and growing. Strive to obtain trade and professional memberships. Be yourself. Be fiercely competitive without making enemies. Build YOUR brand, not the recreation of someone else’s. Get a good IP attorney, business attorney, and accountant!
Words From the Author
As the effort to increase diversity in the book community grows with new initiatives such as We Need Diverse Books, Diversity in YA and of course, this very site, I am struck by how many “discussions” are being had about Diversity without anyone addressing the sweeping changes that need to happen in order for that dream to be fully realized.
Talking about the need is a fantastic first step. We have come a long way from ignoring the lack of diversity and refusing to admit there is a problem, to now to freely discussing the need for diversity and challenging those in a position of power to act upon it.
When I first started writing young adult material in 2008, I took a lot of heat from people for a statement I made on Twitter about being afraid my book would be stocked in the back of the bookstore because it is written by an African American writer and features a diverse cast of characters.Many shouted from behind their screens about how if the book was “good enough,” it would certainly receive the same placement as any other book of its kind. It was a heated discussion that ensued and one that I will never forget. I wondered whether those same folks were naïve, blind, ignorant or just plain crazy. Where they living in the same publishing world I was living in?
I started writing around the time a major publisher took a hit for putting a white teen girl on the cover of a book about a black girl. Shortly thereafter, readers of the Hunger Games went crazy over the possibility that Katniss Everdeen may be cast as other than a white in the film adaptation, despite the author’s own description of the character as having olive-toned skin. Readers, fans and others took to social media to voice their concern, and some even said they would boycott the film if Katniss was not cast as white. Even the author refused to officially define the character’s ethnicity.
Flash forward to today. It’s 2015, and we have only just begun to accept the need for diversity in books for young readers. This is a major step in the right direction, but we need to do more. We need to make sure the images being put into the market are not the same tired stereotypes of non-white youths. We need to make sure that tokenism, in all its forms, is rejected as a response to the need for diversity, and dare I say, we need more people in a position to acquire and publish diverse books to make doing so a priority.
And finally, when we come across an amazing book with diverse characters, we need to simply call it an amazing book, not an amazing “diverse” book. Because by doing so, it is nearly the same as calling me a “black writer” or “black publisher.” After all, it’s not the color of my skin that defines me, but the content of my character. And if we want readers and trade to stop judging books by the color or ethnicity of the characters in them, we must stop calling attention to it ourselves. I would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to comment and I will do my best to respond. Thanks for allowing me to share my opinion and experience with you.
End by April 27, 2015
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Praefatio by Georgia McBride