Caged Cover Reveal

IT’S TIME!!!!

Let’s be honest. What writer doesn’t dream of the day they get to see a PROFESSIONAL cover for their own book? I’ve been waiting for this day to come quite literally for as long as I can remember. And while I had to take my own route, there’s nothing wrong with this road I’m on. I’m beyond excited to show you my cover.

DRUMROLL, PLEASE!

I’m in a The Office mood today, I guess. Haha!

Thanks to the brilliant, Rebeca-Ira on Fiverr! Need a cover? I HIGHLY recommend her.

Ignore the watermark; I swear I own it. LOL. It’s still being edited for one small typo.

What do you guys think? Leave me a comment below!!!

xoxo

Meet the Cast of CAGED (part 2)

In true Young Adult novel fashion, Eden’s parents left this world years before our story takes place. Their sudden, and quite gruesome death (sorry, not sorry), serves as a motivation for Eden. But their fate also affects another person.

You see, in Eden’s mind, she didn’t just need a best friend/sidekick. Eden also needed a partner-in-crime. That’s where Cyrus comes in.

Older than Eden by a few years, Cyrus was his parent’s golden child. Quite simply put, he wasn’t Eden. First borns are always better, aren’t they? (Amy says as a first born child and definitely not biased at all.) Calm and level-headed, he liked to be in charge and organize things. He gladly took his father’s place on the council of elders upon his death.

Yet, what Eden loved most about her big brother Cyrus wasn’t his bossy personality. It was his sense of humor. Cyrus was a beacon of light in their eternally dark life. From ice skating and snowball fights to picture books and late-night storytelling, Cyrus was sure to make sure his little sister was happy. Truly happy.

To quote Eden:

“I look back up at my brother, taking in the mud of his eyes. I see years of digging through dry dirt and repotting pathetic vegetables. I see the precise slices of his blade through tomatoes and his dirty fingernails as he turns the page of his Holland book. His laughter as he slides across the frozen river, his smile when I return safely from another mission, and his comforting embrace when I begin to panic in the overwhelming small of the Underground flit through my mind like a flip book of images. 

If anyone deserves to live, it’s him. Not me.”

Within the walls of the Anthropological Park, a human-zoo for the machines, Eden meets someone new. A boy born behind the glass of the exhibits with soft hands and a gentle heart. Her angelic exhibit mate, Knox, has never known freedom, never known another human, never felt emotional pain and loss. But when he sings, Eden’s pain melts away and she forgets her demons for a moment to become lost in his world.

Without Knox, Eden has no hope of escaping the Anthros. He knows the machines and the hallways. If only he wanted to help her….

Eden clings to Knox when she needs him the most. But remember what I said about her ability to love blindly? It’s not always a strength.

Random, but true: You gotta watch out for those boys with “K” names. They’re the worst.

Meet the Cast of CAGED (part 1)

Hey, guys!

One of my favorite things about writing is getting to know my characters. To me, the characters in my story are real. They do things of their own will; they write their own story. I craft the person, and they design their fate.

… except those times where I take control and ruin things for them. That’s always fun!

Evil Laugh GIF - Evil Laugh Plotting - Discover & Share GIFs

Caged really started with an individual. She came to me on a particularly hot day while camping with my husband. Sitting in a camp chair, praying that God would just turn down the thermostat just a little, an image popped in my head: a girl who wouldn’t stand for this kind of injustice, who would find whoever was making her this uncomfortable and verbally assault them until it changed. It was a ridiculous picture. Who in the world fights someone about the temperature outside? But Eden, whose name wasn’t revealed to me until much later, grew from this. Eden– who would fight anyone and anything to protect her family. Eden– who knew no mountain too high to be scaled. Eden– who fearlessly faced a world intent on seeing her dead and was obsessed with stories and languages.

But also, Eden– who loved with every ounce of her person and trusted too quickly. Every character has their flaw. For her, it was that protectiveness she felt for her family. You see, Eden fought blindly sometimes for them, sometimes missing the smaller details in front of her.

With Eden’s personality came her looks. Her best friend describes her to me as this: short for her age with somewhat ugly, pale skin (Good grief, she lives in an underground tunnel, what did you expect, LINUX?), but the most gorgeous electric blue eyes under her mess of knotted jet black hair.

Eden needed a sidekick. Every hero does! And so, Linux was created.

A smart boy, he proved to be everything Eden wasn’t, in both good ways and bad. Linux could be cowardly and careful, reserved and still. Where his best friend never stopped, Linux found himself often lost in thought, in coding, in watching, or in waiting.

Eden calls him “gangly” more often than anything. With broken glasses half-hanging off his face and a messy mop of dark hair, it’s obvious the boy lives in darkness.

Linux was the brains and caution; Eden was the strength and risk. They found comfort in each other’s haunted past and leaned on each other to fill in the gaps of their personality. Eden gave Linux the assurance that he’d survive another day. Linux gave Eden someone worth coming home to, someone worth fighting to see again when things in her life got worse.

But the most important part is this… To quote Linux exactly:

“Like a right and left arm, neither one of us can do our job without the other.”

An Excerpt from CAGED

Morning, everyone! Today’s post is going to be an excerpt from my pride and joy Caged. I don’t want to tell you too much, so without further ado….

CAGED. (Excerpt taken from chapter 4, “Cornered”)

I brace for impact, holding my head high. [The cybernetic] does exactly what I expect, throwing her entire body into tackling me against the wall. I step right. She crashes into the brick, sparks flying. My hand meets the back of her head and I entangle my fingers into her hair, rearing back and slamming her head into the wall a few more times. 

When I pull it away, there’s nothing but steaming metal and drips of plastic left of her face. The glass of her eyes is shattered, spiderweb trails scattering across the surface. I throw her to the ground, kneeling down beside her and digging my hand into the soft skin of her exposed back. 

Finding the familiar panel, I grip it and yank, the suction of her skin attempting to hold me back. When the wires snap like string, the cyber falls limp under me, steam curling out of her deformed body. 

“Hey, Linux, I got it!” I say, standing and turning around to face the boy. 

Instead of his broad, goofy smile, I am greeted by a ghost’s face, panicked and horrified. 

Standing beside him with a paralyzer aimed at his head is a cyber unlike any I’ve ever seen before. 

He’s monstrously tall, towering over even Linux. His outfit is a black suit and tie, finished with black shoes that reflect the sunlight overhead. His hair is short, spiked up in the front. I would’ve thought he was human, had half his face not been translucent, showing the machinery beneath. One eye is human, emerald green, and the other is mechanical, red as it stares me down. 

Scarier still is the emotion on his face, a mixture of joy and rage. 

“Oh my, what a catch we have today,” he whispers, picking up Linux by the back of his neck. Linux turns whiter still, his hands trembling at his side. “Zwei, there’s two of them.”

A female comes around the corner, dressed in a matching black suit. She’s as tall as he is, yet leaner. Her blonde hair curls at the top, framing electric blue eyes that put mine to shame. Like him, she looks entirely human. Yet, there’s a huge piece of skin on her face missing, a gaping hole that cuts from her hairline to her collarbone. As I stare at her, feeling my heart racing in my ears, the mechanics in her face shift, giving her a sinister half-smile. 

“Eins, she’s adorable,” the female says. Neither of them have the cybernetic accent. They have no accent at all, as far as I can tell. The female takes a giant step towards me. “Sorry, cutie. You’re going to have to come with us.”

I shake my head violently, taking a shaky step backwards. Stumbling over the body of the cybernetic on the ground, I hit the wall, knocking what air remains in my lungs out of me. 

“Eins, can I just shoot her?” the female asks, taking aim for me. The gun in her hand isn’t a paralyzer. In the barrel are actual metal bullets, not the electrified blue ones. 

“No,” the male says, shaking Linux at her. My eyes dart between him and the female. 

I promised him. I have to protect him. 

“Why not? Do you see anything valuable about her? She’s painfully average.”

I say a quick prayer of thanks to God for making me normal. 

“No, she’s not,” the male says. “Look at those eyes. Almost as lovely as yours, except natural. Our ‘Eyes’ exhibit has been needing a second occupant.”

My heart stops in that moment, crushed by the thousand-pound weight of his words. I can’t go to the Anthros. I won’t. My body kicks into overdrive, and I dive for the limp cyber just as the female switches weapons and begins to fire. 

Using the dead cyber as a shield, I inch backwards towards the end of the alley. There is nothing but a brick wall behind me, but there’s a ladder. Maybe I can climb out. 

The female, Zwei, continues to fire her paralyzer, electrified bullets flying like bees in the air. Through my personal shield, the electricity tickles my hands, spreading goosebumps up my arms. The hair covering my body stands on end. The metal of the cyber is a good enough conductor; yet, the strength behind the bullets dies out before it reaches me. 

My teeth chatter as I struggle to hold up the weight of the cyber, bending almost backwards. 

The computer panel in my hand is destroyed, fried by a stray bullet. 

“Eden!” Linux screams. “Please don’t leave me.”

I take a chance and glance at him, where he’s still being dangled in the air. 

Leaving Linux isn’t an option. What was I thinking? I couldn’t leave him even if I tried. He means too much to me. And to Cyrus.

I let out a long, determined breath.

Even if I don’t make it out of this alley alive, Linux has to. 

“Oh, don’t fight me, little Mensch,” Zwei says, throwing her arms in the air. There’s a sick smile painted on her face, still, even as she waves the paralyzer at me. “Just come willingly, and we won’t kill either of you. We will find a place for your boring companion.”

“Make me,” I whisper. 

“Make you?” She lets out a dry laugh. “Okay, but you asked for it.”

She lunges at me, grabs the body of the cyber with both hands, and lifts me off of the ground. My feet dangle under me until I am eye to eye with her. 

“The fear in your eyes is hilarious,” she whispers at me. 

I hold onto the cyber for dear life, frozen. 

No, no, no; this isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. 

The image of my parents flashes before my eyes. These two machines aren’t Artificials. They’re something much worse. Why am I scared of them? They have to have a weakness. 

Desperate, I kick out at Zwei, my foot landing square in the middle of her chest. She takes a deep breath, losing her grip on me in surprise. 

“Ooh, feisty,” she squeals, grabbing my ankle as I crawl away. 

Now, I’m upside down. 

I look around for a weapon as she carries me by one leg toward Linux and her partner. With the blood rushing to my head, my vision blurs. The heat in my face is unbearable, and my heartbeat pounds in my ears. 

We pass my backpack, where my grenade sits. Why couldn’t Cyrus have given me a gun? Just once? Screw the limited resources and needing to protect the other Luddites with the guns. If I just had a long range weapon, I could…

My eyes fall on the gun in Zwei’s pocket. The hilt is exposed by her open suit jacket, flashing silver in the streetlights. It doesn’t have the blue tint of a paralyzer. Mustering up all the strength I have left in my upper body, I grab for the gun, aiming towards Linux and Eins. 

“Zwei, you Dummkopf!” Eins snaps, pointing with his free hand at me. 

He is a second too late, though. The bullet hits its target, the joint of his shoulder. He swears loudly as the arm dislodges, sending Linux tumbling to the ground. 

“Run, Lin!” I scream, tossing the gun at him. 

For a moment, confusion passes over his face. Then, he takes off at a sprint, disappearing from my sight. 

“You let him get away,” Zwei whines, throwing me onto the ground. I slam head-first into the pavement. Pain radiates through my head and back, and warm liquid runs down my forehead. 

“She better be worth this,” she continues. 

I pry my eyes open, the misty form of Eins’ face uncomfortably close to mine. His single red eye bores through mine, making my head hurt worse. He smells faintly of motor oil and plastic, and his teeth are slightly yellow. 

“She will prove her worth. If nothing, we will breed her. She’s a strong candidate.” He puts the cold barrel of a gun on my temple. The blue of it appears like lightning in my peripheral. 

“Kill me,” I mutter. “Harvest me, please.”

Eins laughs, reminding me of the sound trains make when they scrape on their brakes. The paralyzer hums in my ear. 

“See you behind the glass,” he says, and I enter the lightning, thrown into a sea of excruciating pain. 

For the next week, you can find CAGED on Wattpad! It won’t be there much longer though. So, if you want to read it for free, you’d better hop on that! See you next time!

About Me!

First of all, thank you so much for dropping by my brand new blog/website. It really means a lot to me as a budding author. I’ve been around social media for a very long time (20-ish years, to be honest), but I’m also incredibly anti-social. Oof.

I thought I would start off by doing a little get-to-know-me article. A character sheet just for me. I am the main character of my own story, aren’t I?

My name is Amy Johnson, and I’m a 27 year-old Reading teacher from the once-itty-bitty town of Dunlap, Tennessee. I’ve been here all my life and have no intention of moving anywhere else. You see, Dunlap is a valley. On each side are these small, flowing mountains, covered in brilliant green. In the fall, one can see every shade of red, orange, and yellow possible. The real view is from the mountain, though. When you look down, the patchwork fields of hundreds of farms smile up at you and embrace you in the warmth that a rural life brings. Cows, horses, chickens, sheep, goats… And my favorite smell in the whole wide world: freshly-cut hay.

I absolutely LOVE reading. I always have! My mother can tell you all about how I couldn’t keep my nose out of books during school. Pretty sure I read my middle school library clean. I enjoy all genres, but science fiction holds a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite authors are John Green, Scott Westerfeld, SJ Kincaid, Lynsay Sands (for the more adult audience), Marissa Meyer, and Richelle Mead.

If I’m not reading or working, I’m usually playing Pokemon. But, Amy, Pokemon is for kiiiiiids. Well, I was a kid once. A kid who played Red/Blue/Yellow for hours on end on the Game Boy Advance with absolutely no screen light. Lord, the headaches. Nowadays, my husband and I prefer a good Pokemon Go run and Sword/Shield, but the first generation of pocket monsters will always be our true loves.

What you can look forward to by following my blog: excerpts from my edited, clean manuscripts, fun Pokemon snippets, reading updates, and general bits of fun! Maybe even a rant or two. 😉

Goodnight, y’all.

Xoxo,

Amy.