Beckett, the moment before.

Leveling: Season One: Episodes 1-7 by H.D. Knightley myBook.to/LevelingSeason1

Character: Beckett Stanford. Army. 22 years old.

I volunteered. I had signed up to sling sandbags against the always encroaching water, biding my time for the end of my six years of duty, when I heard the Government of the Unified Mainland wanted someone to man an Outpost, to sit out in the middle of the godforsaken ocean and warn the Nomads to head east. The water is coming. Go east fast. And me, stupid as always, volunteered without planning to, without thinking, without considering the implications. I hate the water. Every climbing, sucking, deep ass bit of it.

But now I’m here. The rooftop of a building that used to soar into the sky at some 120 floors, and now looks to be two stories, floating on top, but not, not floating at all, instead: Still Standing. Despite the water, the rust, the structural impossiblities, the currents, and storms: Still Standing—but for how long? The water is coming, this building could collapse from under me. Any day.

 

So I wait. I wait for Nomad families to paddle up and ask for food. I read the edict and tell them to head east, or else. I wait for my duties to be over, for the helicopter to come and pull me off, finally. But really, I’m waiting for that moment when the water will be one drop too many and with a creak, a crumble and a roar, the whole building will slide away and disappear carrying me with it. That’s what happens when a stupid, not thinking person volunteers.

 

To bide my time I watch the marks carved onto the port window of the 118th floor. I try to check them once a day but can’t stop checking them all the time, climbing down through the stairwell and noting that the water keeps getting deeper. Deeper and deeper unrelenting and always the same.

 

Until today. I was checking the marks, worrying about deepnesses, not paying attention to the empty endless terrifying horizon, when a young woman on a paddleboard, soft-paddling in a lazy circle, alone, a few feet away, asked, “Where’s Sam?”

 

And startled me so much I just about lost my footing.

 

But that’s the thing about finding someone in the middle of the endless ocean, it could be a near disaster with a splash, but it also might be a beginning; if the water doesn’t collapse us first.

Read the Book Now

Texts, Some Love, and Questions Answered

My new book (coming soon) Sid and Teddy has a lot of texted dialogue. I think there’s something kind of fun about adding this way of communicating to a novel, like adding diaries or letters back When that was how we communicated.

The other day I was texting a friend, from whom I’m seperated by distance, and they were excited about my new books and I thought the exchange was fun, so I’m adding it here. (Not screenshots, transposed and edited because: writer;o)

She had just finished Leveling 1 and texted me:

Friend: All I can say is OMG!!!!When will you be done with part two???

Me: Hee hee, it’s done! Already published! I’m so glad you liked it!

Leveling 2

Me: And I started writing Leveling 3!

Friend: Did you ever read “The Green Mile” by Stephen King? When it was first published it was a serial, sold in chunks. I loved Leveling 1, I’m buying part 2 today. So excited!! Picked up Violet’s Mountain to read next.

Me: I used to read a lot of Stephen King but somehow missed that one and had no idea it was a serial, cool that I’m in good company. Thank you for loving the books, it makes me super happy.

Also, I can’t decide who I love more, Edmund (Violet’s Mountain) or Beckett (Leveling)

Friend: At the Moment, Beckett.

Me: He is super hot. I’m impressed with myself that I could make a scaredy cat that is so hot. (I used that party horn emoji)

Friend: Lol, I’m a super fan of back tats and sleeves.

Me: Have you checked out my Pinterest boards? My daughters send me photos that remind them of characters :o) User name: hdknightley

Friend: I was sort of visualizing Luna to look a bit like Moana, but with short hair, and you know, not a cartoon. Lol.

Me: Man, wasn’t Moana awesome? And yes, exactly.

Friend: So are the Hawkes brothers (Violet’s Mountain) sort of the Hemsworth brothers?

Me: Yes. Sheepish grin. I joke that all my characters are based on Liam Hemsworth’s smile.

Friend: Look what came!!!!!

And then a few hours later: Oh my god! Book three comes out when??

Me: I’m beaming, I’m so excited, you liked?

Friend: Loved it! I’m almost done with Violet’s Mountain too. I’m at the point when Lala visits Edmund near the end of the book. Loving it as well.

Such a great idea for a story, makes me think about the stuff we hang onto as a culture. What we see as important. Also Emily being the exact opposite, so minimalist.

(The Emily character of Violet’s Mountain is based on Marie Kondo of The Art of Tidying Up.)

Me: You’re at my favorite part. When I was writing that novel I was surprised that Lala showed up.

Friend: I love hearing authors say that. Like the novel just uses them as a medium to get itself out in the world.

Me: It so does. When I started writing that book I thought Benjamin was going to win Violet, but guess what? Hee hee.

Stephen King said authors are like archeologists digging up a story, I kind of love that.

(Stephen King actually said, “I’ve never seen novels as built things. I have a tendency to see them as found things. I always feel a little bit like an archeologist who’s working to get some fragile fossil out of the ground. The more you get out unbroken, the better you succeed.”

Friend: That is a cool image and I finished Violet’s Mountain! Next I’m going to start on the three Bright novels! Apparently you will be a big chunk of my reading for the year.

Me: Did you like the ending? And I’m honored that my books are so high on your list.

Friend: I did. I love when I finish a book and want more of the day to day life of the characters. Life without the drama. Like what happens now that everything is calm. I want to know…what happens.

Me: I happen to have a glimpse on my site: Paperweights (tiny story three) This is Christmas with Violet and Edmund.

Friend: I love it.

Friend (later): I’ve been ruminated about Violet’s Mountain…I really liked that Ben and Lala didn’t get together. I liked that they could have a close loving relationship without dating.

Me: I’m really proud of that theme, finding family and making it your own and that Benjamin and Lala can have a happy ending that’s different from the normal boy meets girl falls in love happily ever after. That they found each other and became sister and brother. Also, that the mountain is not just the literal physical ‘mountain,’ the mountain was Edmund. And perhaps less noticable, the mountain that kept them all safe was actually Benjamin. He’s the true hero.

Friend: Yes!!

Me: That’s why it’s one of my favorite stories. My others are more straightforward but I wanted things about Violet’s Mountain to be more complicated and hidden and special. For instance, Benjamin and what he did for his older brother, isn’t the main point of the book, but he held the people together while Edmund climbed the mountain and solved the problem. It has so much about family and friendship behind the scenes of the love story.

Friend: You do a good job of describing your characters without over explaining them, which I think can be challenging. You’ve got a little JK Rowling going on, just enough info but leaving it open for the reader to see them in their own head.

Me: Thank you, you’re awesome.

___________________

If you like this behind the scenes glimpse, you’d probably also like what I’m doing over on Wattpad. I have a new story, Sid and Teddy,  that I’m writing now, and I’m posting a chapter every few days. You can leave comments and tell me what you think as I go. My handle is @hdknightley  See you there!

 

Being Prolific

It has been noted in my hearing that I am writing a lot. Which is true. I published my first book in January of 2014 and now there are 6. If you blinked you might have missed a few book releases recently.

The cool part is that the books are still there, waiting for you here.

I have two  three that I’m working on, Leveling 2 (it’s in final edits), Leveling 3 (It’s in first draft, one scene down) and a new one that’s hard to describe.

It’s a love story. Two best friends attempting to navigate becoming lovers, when they are interrupted by the death of a mom. And, it is contemporary Los Angeles. Plus there is a lot of Mary Queen of Scots. Also, they both surf. In addition, there is a love triangle. Bonus! There is a hottie musician. Lots of stuff happens.

I’m 35,000 words in and like every book, it’s my best ever. Which is a tall order, because have you seen my reviews? They’re awesome.

This book, Belief, was published last month. If you haven’t read it yet, but you’ve been following Estelle’s story, you’ll want to. She becomes so much more.

Belief-best-cover-smallest

Buy it here.

Only one review so far, but it says this:

5.0 out of 5 stars Magical
This entire series is perfect. Zany and fun and heartwarming and deep. I’m in love with the characters. Please say there will be more stories to come!!!
Thank you to everyone for reading my books and enjoying the stories and reviewing them kindly and asking for more. I’m literally writing as fast as I can ;o)

Finishing a Series

I’m working on the second edit of Belief (Book three of The Estelle Series) There’s at least one more edit to go (mostly typos) before the book heads to the beta readers. I love that phase, beta readers tune in to so many more issues than I can see.

Case in point, when I was writing Fly:

The kingdom is suffering a terrible drought. So much so that people are becoming sick. Hank is worried. He fills bottles with lake water to take home. He is invited to a big party and to get ready he takes a shower. A shower.

I read and edited the book three times, but it was a beta reader that noticed Hank takes a shower. So I’m grateful for all the extra eyes.

Speaking of which, the e-book of Fly is free today on Amazon.

Head on over and download a copy!

 

fly-meme-moonlightBelief is cool. I think you’ll like the final book. Very much. Estelle has to rise above her fear and do something that turns her into a true hero.

Not a superhero. There’s no hidden power or talent or skill that she calls upon.

Just an ordinary girl who courageously takes responsibility for what is wrong.

Anyway, thanks for being a reader. I’m working hard to get it finished.

And even if you already have a copy of Fly, maybe you need another one. Possibly?

xox,

H.

 

 

500 words for #RomanceWeek16

image
Visit Violet’s Moutain page on Goodreads.com

The sky was high crisp clear, arced overhead, limitless, like the highway I was driving down, empty for Los Angeles, six lanes in front and behind, few cars. I loosened my grip on the wheel, relaxing and punching buttons to find a better song. Blink 182, heard too often, but fine. I tapped the wheel along to the beat, arm positioned to accentuate my tattoo, feeling almost sexy, when—

Vroooooooooooooom, a motorcycle, small, chromed, roared up behind. Roar might not be the right word, somewhere between roar and buzz, but not quite. The sound a shivering female giant might make, high-pitched, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. More like that.

I glanced in the rearview mirror, as the cycle pulled from behind my van and passed me on the left. Oooh, hotness. That guy. Helmeted, masked, not the kind of helmet that looks too big, too cautious, and not too small either, necessary, self-assured. A casual color, not angry or dramatic. Then again, I couldn’t even see the color, honestly, because: shoulders, arms, that muscle that connects shoulders to side rib across back. Literally lending all the support one might need for leaning, sheltering, climbing. His arms looked strong, lean but strong, tanned, sleeve of his light blue t-shirt, flapping, Check this out! Rippling fabric over tight muscle, jeans the perfect fade, and that back! As the motorcycle pulled in front, back in a perfect—

Wait. On that back, was a young woman. Lithe, her helmet a little too large for her thin neck, borrowed, but that was okay, she kept it tucked against the inside of that back’s perfect V. Ear to spine. Arms around, tight, hugging. Her thin frame wore light cotton shorts connected to a small sleeveless shirt, all the color of the sky. (What is that even called, a onesie? A beach coverup?) The flimsy fabric waved in the off-draft of her boyfriend’s perfect shoulders. Long legs jutted, gracefully—Does grace jut? Hmmmm. Possibly, if grace must be mixed with cycles, and straddling. The skin on her legs was perfect, tanned, exposed.

Wasn’t she cold? And then, What if they fell? Crash, burn slide. Oh. No.

I inhaled.

I tightened my grip on the wheel, concentrating on the back wheel of the bike, willing it to remain righted, straight thrust forward. Please don’t fall, Mr. Hotness. Not with young pretty on the—

Slowly he took both hands off the handlebar and wrapped them behind, his hand catching momentarily on her shorts, pulling them higher, briefly. He patted her outer hips.

Her head came up from it’s curl. Chin on his shoulder, she rubbed up his sides, pulling his t-shirt up, exposing skin. Her hands met his just under his shoulders and then stroked down his biceps and together they unfurled, entwining to the side, holding hands, faces to the sky.

Arms outstretched, love and loved, roaring ahead down an almost empty Los Angeles highway.

One of my children said, “Whoa. Did you see that?”

I exhaled.

________________________

NaNoWriMo is coming, a pep talk

I have said here before that I didn’t plan to become a writer. I won’t repeat myself (but seriously, I didn’t plan it) I simply thought of a story and, undaunted, wrote it. Then, lacking humility and self-preservation, I told people (including someone who was an editor) about it, thereby forcing the situation. Voila, writer with a finished book. That book was Bright. 

Then in 2013 I entered NaNoWriMo, which is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and banged out 30,000 words of the story Fly, The Light Princess Retold. I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, that requires 50,000 words, but I finished that book and published that book and really really like that book. Winner or not. 

Then for NaNoWriMo 2014 I wrote 50,000 words for the upcoming release—Violet’s Mountain. That book has been ready to go for months and months, but I love it so much and yeah, I’m afraid to let go. Coming soon, promise.

Now, here we are on the diving board staring into the deep end of the swimming pool, checking the sping on that board, ready to jump. The wind velocity and direction are good. November is here, NaNoWriMo is beginning. I’m ready with a book, the third in the Estelle Series. My ipad is charged up, I’m excited. That is literally all I need. Correction: All you need. 

Because maybe you have a book inside of you too? You’ve been thinking about writing it, the story is percolating, the idea is blooming and all the other overused metaphors, and that is unimportant, because what is important is sharpening yor pencil and/or charging that laptop and being ready to write. 

50,000 words in November. Maybe it sounds difficult, but it’s not. Tell the world you’re going to do it and you’d be surprised how the world conspires to help you finish. Or maybe you don’t. Worst case scenario: you don’t.  And (like me) you end up with 30,000 words that becomes a book anyway. What have you got to lose? 

Join NaNoWriMo!

I’m HD@Hdknightley.com, add me as a writing buddy and let’s do this thing!

 

Beyond (excerpts) Chapter One, Two, Three, and Four

Beyond

Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series) will be free from October 14-October 18. But we’ll go ahead and get started with some beginning parts to get you ready…

This first section was available online already, I’ll add an extra chapter:

1: Interrupting Me

My best, softest, most-loved chair was a concession to Sylvia that there simply must be comfortable places to sit on my farm. Must be. Sylvia of course meant new and beautiful chairs, but she’s grown wise enough to use the word comfortable. So I relented, because she was right.

I had jokingly told her I wanted the chair to be royal blue velvet, because the hot color right now was orange, and the hot fabric was a chiffon, light and airy. I figured it would keep her busy for a while. But in my year and a half on the farm I had forgotten how New City was good at designing, building and delivering things that are new and absolutely lovely. The chairs (because Sylvia, in her exuberance, had ordered two from Jonathon, her favorite designer) were deep blue velvet and overstuffed. The legs and arms had wooden carvings of vines running up them, and the vines turned into intricate beading along the edges. In days gone by it would have meant they were lovingly hand-crafted, but today, in New City, it meant that we had invented ways to make things beautiful. It was almost all we ever did.

So I woke up on the farm one day, and there was a truck delivering two beautiful chairs. William and I faced them toward each other, in the dirt at the edge of the kitchen garden, near our living space, yet sort of in a field, and fell into them. Sylvia said, “They’re meant to go indoors!” She was incredulous and indignant, but we just laughed and promised to take them inside when it rained. We propped our feet into each other’s seat and settled in. William and I loved those chairs.

William was my friend, my best friend, my boyfriend.

He was not the young man who had been chosen for me—instead the Governmental Oversee chose Jack Maranville. Jack was normal and steady and handsome, yet aware of it. Jack was powerful and important and not the kind of guy that should be thrown over by a girl, but I had done that. It was a testament to his obstinacy that he still came around sometimes. To visit. Or to check in. Or probably more likely to check on.
Continue reading Beyond (excerpts) Chapter One, Two, Three, and Four

Beyond…glimpses

Estelle and William, speaking in Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series):

“I hate talking at these things. The low-key ones are bad enough but with all this hoopla, yes, I’m nervous.” I took a deep breath and pulled at the middle of my dress to get more air in. An action that was futile.

“You’re getting better and better at speaking in public, but it hardly matters. You could stand and say turkey, turkey, turkey, and the citizens of New City would applaud and say yours was the best speech ever.”

“Aren’t we trying to win them over to our point of view?”

“True.”

William sat up straighter and turned his head and stared at me, stared so much that I grew self-conscious and then gulped and giggled. “What? Do I have something in my teeth?”

“You are absolutely beautiful. I know it doesn’t matter to you, you hardly care, but seeing you like this takes my breath away.”

“Oh,” I said, not at all capable of a response.

He took my hand in his. “You always looked like this before, when you were just a New City girl, or if not this exactly, put together, dressed, done up. You were pretty, don’t get me wrong, but you looked just like everyone else. Put together in all the same ways. Normal and the same. Now you wear your farm look, and you’re pretty then too, but this—tonight—wow.”

“Stop William, You’re making me blush.” I batted my eyes because I liked to be complimented. I remembered once, what seemed like forever ago, when I departed the farm in a dress and William hadn’t even noticed me or didn’t mention it if he did. This little speech made up for that. Definitely.

William said, “Sure. I know. I think I’m just trying to prolong some alone time with you, but I was thinking…” He paused, his familiar pause, the one where the gears turned, the one just before he said something that would end up in his writing someday. “All those days of sameness makes this night, you even more spectacular. Because it’s different. You’re different. I feel sorry for the residents out there, with their fancy clothes and their big hair. How can they get excited about all this, when they see a version of it every single day? It made me think that one of the biggest problems with New City is really a problem of sameness.

“Ever the philosopher.”

“Okay, I’m off track. I want to kiss you, but I won’t be held responsible for mussing your display.” He motioned about my face. “Suffice it to say, I want to.”

Have you nominated my book for publishing yet?

Beyond

It hasn’t been in Hot and Trending all day, I’m dyin’ over here. And tell a friend!

kindlescout.amazon.com/p/AO1R2RI3Q81X

yours,
H.D.

New book coming…

But the announcement should read more like this:

Notice anything different?
Bright for sale on Amazon

It has a new title, in the form of parenthesis, and is now, or rather in the next 45 days going to be part of a series, definitely.

Bright (Book One of the Estelle Series)

Which means of course that there will be a book two.

Will tell you more tomorrow during cover reveal!

Violet’s Mountain and Bleak, or Dark or What is it called?

I’ve got a final read through happening of Violet’s Mountain, but then it’s ready. I’ve decided to pre-order it for release on November 22. If you’re looking forward to seeing it hit the best seller list then hold on. It’s going to be hot. Seriously.

The sequel to Bright is being beta-read by my daughter and a few others. If you are interested in beta-reading (read the book and tell me what you think) contact me and I’ll send you a copy. I’ll thank you in the acknowledgments ;o)

Now, to work on the title…the working title is Bleak, but it’s just not a good word, right?

I want The Cost of a Thing it’s from Henry David Thoreau and yes, in book two Estelle learns that her farm has come at a cost.

Kids want Dark. They think that one word is the way to go. But what about The Dark Edges?

Any thoughts? I’m all ears and beginning work on the cover.

Bright just recieved another review, thank you R.Singer :

Thought-provoking, poignant, and inspiring. A powerful metaphor for our present and future.

And so did Fly, thank you T. Williamson:

My girls and I love this book. It’s a cleverly written magical fairytale. May girls are 11 & 15 years old and way past the Disney princess phase. This book is intelegently written and right up their alley Can’t wait to read Knightlys other books.

If you haven’t written a review yet, and enjoyed the books, could you please head over to Amazon and do do do? Thank you!

H.D. Knightley