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Silverwood by Betsy Streeter
Publication date: March 15th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
A story of finding where you belong, even if it involves time travel, shape shifting, and hacking.
Helen Silverwood, fourteen, is sick of life on the run with her mom and her younger brother. Nothing makes sense. She doesn’t understand why she has recurring dreams of shape-shifting creatures, why her mother is always disappearing, and how her brother can draw things that haven’t happened yet. Most of all, Helen longs to know what happened to her dad—is he imprisoned, a fugitive, or gone forever?
When someone blows up the apartment where Helen lives, the stories of the ancient Silverwood clan—and her role in it—begin to unravel. All Helen wants is to feel like there’s someplace she belongs—but getting there will prove very, very complicated.
SILVERWOOD EXCERPT III: BROKENECK, CALIFORNIA
Mrs. Woods sweeps the wooden steps in front of the Brokeneck Hotel in Brokeneck, California when a black-cloaked man in a wide-brimmed black hat appears in the street, sun-baked gravel crunching beneath his boots. She looks up, leans her broom on the railing, wipes her hands and turns to go inside while untying her apron. A moment later she reappears and walks out to the middle of the street where her visitor waits for her. She squints and puts her hand up to shield her eyes as she steps out into the sun.
In Brokeneck it is customary to conduct your conversations in the middle of the street, because no one drives there. Savvy residents will have a look up and down every so often to keep informed. That is, unless it gets too hot, in which case everybody retreats to the covered porches of the gold-rush era buildings and watches from there.
“Ma'am,” the man says, removing his hat. “I'm bound to make a delivery to you, courtesy of the Council. You are Eleanor Woods, are you not?”
“I am indeed, sir,” Mrs. Woods replies. “What do you have for me?”
The man reaches into his pocket and fishes out a small coin-like object with a hole in the center. “It is my understanding, ma'am, that you desire a field free of Tromindox. Is that correct?”
“I do,” Mrs. Woods says. “I have lodgers arriving soon who will require protection.”
The man holds out the portal and Mrs. Woods takes it. “That there is a rarity, ma'am. A reversible field, capable of covering a wide distance. Wide enough to encompass your establishment here,” he nods toward the hotel, “if that is what you aim for.”
“It is indeed,” Mrs. Woods says. “I thank you, sir. Please take these as payment.” She reaches out her fist, and the man places his hand out flat beneath it. She lets five coins fall into his palm. They are portals, but not the kind strong enough to create a field – those are special order. Since Mrs. Woods has to secure the hotel, she is happy to trade a few coins to make the deal, even if it means revealing a bit of information to the Council. They have other things to worry about, she trusts. She hears they have Tromindox showing up at their headquarters these days, brazenly demanding things and taking what they want. The Council have their hands full.
“Won't you stay for a glass of lemonade?” Mrs. Woods asks. “It's not even eleven yet and already hot.”
“I'm much obliged to you,” the man says, placing his hat back on his head. “I'm afraid I have business elsewhere and must be going. However, before I depart I am obligated to read to you the disclaimer that accompanies this very specialized piece of equipment that I am delivering to you.”
“Go ahead,” Mrs. Woods says.
The man reaches into his breast pocket, and pulls out a rolled up piece of thick paper. He unrolls it and holds it out in front of him, adjusting the angle to better read in the bright sunlight.
“The Council of Portals hereby certifies that this is a fully-functioning Field-Generating Portal of the Secondary Order, and as such transfers all responsibility for its use to its user. Deployment of this portal may result in effects including but not limited to the prevention of breach by Tromindox and other projected or time-traveling creatures, headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, and a persistent high-pitched whining noise. In certain rare cases the field generated by the portal may collapse, resulting in damage to property or persons. The user hereby accepts full responsibility for all actions and effects resulting from the use of the aforementioned portal, and in no way holds the Council or its affiliates responsible for any effects, ill or otherwise, resulting from the use thereof.”
Mrs. Woods waits a beat to be sure the man is finished reading. Then she adds, “Perhaps if the Council spent as much time tending to their own business as they spend writing legal mumbo jumbo, I wouldn't be requiring such a field in the first place.”
“I'm inclined to agree with you, ma'am, however in my capacity as the deliverer of the portal I am sworn to read the little paper, be that as it may. I endeavor only to protect the Council from any misunderstandings.”
“I hope that you will convey to the Chairman my deepest gratitude, and remind him that there is one more delivery to make.”
“Yes ma’am, I will do that. Good afternoon.”
With that the man touches the brim of his hat, hands the paper to Mrs. Woods, turns and walks away down the middle of the street. The crunching sound of his boots fades until there is nothing left but a bit of dust trailing his footsteps.
Across the street, behind the dirty windowpanes of the Brokeneck Bookstore, a figure stirs.
Mrs. Woods looks down at her new acquisition, then turns and walks back into the hotel. A moment later she is back on the porch, sweeping with her apron on.
Betsy Streeter grew up on a steady diet of Star Trek, The Muppet Show, Atari, and musical rehearsals in her family's living room. Her habits of making up stories and drawing and painting on everything within reach eventually led to degrees in art and communication from Stanford University. She has worked in film and video production, design, and video games, and has served as president of a community theatre. She and her family are voracious consumers of books, music, movies, art, action figures, and musical instruments, resulting in inadequate storage space. Betsy has published single-panel cartoons, comics, art, and short fiction in paper, digital, graffiti, and tattoo form. She lives in Northern California with her husband, son, daughter, two peculiar and disruptive cats, and a mellow but hungry tarantula.
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Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
- Concept sketches that the author has done, one of a Tromindox and one representing the Guild. These are originals and she can sign them to the winner (images attached).
- 5 iBooks copies of Silverwood
- 3 signed copies of Silverwood