Teaser Tuesday: Will Meets His Match

Happy book

Greetings Monster Hunters — how about a little “Teaser Tuesday?”  MA3 is coming to an eBookstore near you this summer, but I thought I’d drop a little sneak peek on the old blog today! Will finally meets his match (only very mild spoilers if you haven’t finished Blade’s Edge):

 

*****

 

On Monday morning, I stared glumly into my locker, looking for the motivation to go to English. We were studying The Scarlet Letter and I couldn’t think of anything less interesting than a bunch of colonists blathering about a woman who got knocked up. My bad mood was intensified by Mamie’s departure back to Helena. Already feeling hollow and discouraged at facing another week at school, I packed my books into my backpack without enthusiasm and closed my locker door.

Will met me, wearing the predatory smile I’d come to recognize as “that’s my next girlfriend, bro.” He pointed down the hall. “Who’s the new girl?”

I turned to catch a glimpse of a tiny girl with curly golden-brown hair and the most gorgeous brown eyes I’d ever seen. Seriously, her eyes rivaled Ella’s and I couldn’t give higher praise than that. Except where Ella was tall, slim, and strong, this girl looked like a living, breathing china doll.

I turned to Will, frowning. “Dude, really? She’s barely five feet tall, and if she weighs more than ninety pounds soaking wet, I’d be shocked. You’d break her inside of two minutes.”

“Maybe she needs a big, strong guy to protect her,” he said, standing taller. “Watch and learn.”

I dropped my face into my hands, but couldn’t make myself look away, so I peeked between my fingers to see how this went down.

Will sauntered up to the girl. “Hey. I’m Will, head of the new student welcome association. Need some help finding your next class?”

The girl craned her neck to look up at him. “Good Lord, they make ‘em big in Billings.”

My best friend, being a jackass of the first order, flexed his biceps by crossing his arms across his wide chest. “In more ways than one.”

Pixie-girl rolled her eyes skyward. “Well, that’s good to know.” She started to walk away, but Will trailed along behind, which elicited a very annoyed sigh. “Look, big guy, I don’t take in strays, so stop trying to follow me home.”

That did it; I cracked up. If I had any cash on me, I’d lay twenty that Will was about to crash and burn for the very first time.

She stopped right in front of me. “You got a problem, too?”

I choked back another laugh. “No…I’m just enjoying watching my best friend make a fool of himself.”

“You belong with this one?”

I glanced at Will, who looked pretty shocked by her reaction to his charms. “Unfortunately.”

She nodded. “Figures…you’re ginormous, too. Well, y’all can move along. I’m competent enough to find my class without a guard dog.”

“Wait,” Will said as she made her way down the hall. “I didn’t get your name.”

Without glancing back, she said, “Just so long as you promise not to follow me…it’s Penn. Penn Stoyer.”

Will followed her a few steps. “Penn? That’s unusual.”

“It’s short for Penelope.” Penn paused and turned to point a finger at him. “But if you ever call me Penelope, you’re dead to me.”

She started down the hall again and made it about ten yards before Will called, “At least tell me where you’re from? I can’t place that accent.”

Penn threw her hands up. “Oklahoma. Now, Giant-Will-from-Billings, please excuse me. I’d hate to be late on my first day.”

Then she disappeared into the crowd.

Will stood stunned, his jaw slack, and I grinned. “Dude, that was awesome. I’ve never seen a girl shoot you down like that.”

“Listen close,” he said, his voice reverent. “I’m swearing off all other girls until Penn agrees to go out with me. As Tom Brady is my witness, that girl is my Everest.”

“I know you like a challenge, but you might be getting ahead of yourself. People die trying to climb Everest,” I said. “Besides, you don’t even know her. What if she’s not actually worth the effort?”

“Oh, she’s worth it. I can just tell.” He grinned at me. “How long do you think it’ll take for me to convince her to say yes?”

“Last time I checked, a woman has to like you enough to talk to you as a pre-requisite to scoring a date. Come on, we need to go,” I said. When he didn’t move, I punched his arm. “You’re going to be late, Mr. Romance.”

I steered him toward his chemistry class, then I went on to English thinking Penn Stoyer might be the very best thing ever to happen to Will.

Super-power failures were character building.

Baking Therapy

Greetings, and welcome to this edition of  Friday Rambles. Did everyone have a great holiday?  Mine was quieter than expected due to snow and ice; we stayed home instead of driving out of state to visit family. Given how busy my life’s been the last six months, that was an unanticipated slice of heaven. I sat in front of the fire most of the day and wrote (I’m working on Matt Archer 3 at the moment, in addition to thinking through a serial novel I plan to launch in the second half of the year). After weeks of stress prepping for Christmas while in the midst of my busiest time at work, a day with nothing on the docket was just what I needed.

But what if those little moments of rest don’t come? How can you maintain your sanity in a society that is perpetually getting busier, faster and more complex? For me, I go old school.

My grandmother always said she was a terrible cook, evidenced by the fact that the rest of us fought over the last piece of fried chicken or spoonful of black-eyed peas like a band of ravening wolves. Modesty was her motto, and even if we argued the dinner was magnificent, she’d find some flaw to point out. See, Grandma was a perfectionist (gee, wonder where I got that personality trait), and did all of her cooking by hand. For big holiday meals, she’d spend twenty minutes chopping up five onions at the kitchen table. She didn’t know the trick about how to slice the onion into strips and dice it quickly, and no food processor was going to invade her kitchen. No, she carefully cut those onions up, one section at a time, into uniform pieces no matter how long it took.

This is also how she made pies.

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, she’d mix and roll out her pie crust from scratch, make the chocolate pie filling…from scratch…and whip the meringue (she cheated here, using an electric hand mixer instead of stirring, thank goodness). Grandma would bake pecan pies and caramel pies and cobbler, too, all of it from the basic ingredients. I didn’t even know what canned pie-filling was until I saw it in the baking aisle at the grocery store when I was in high school.

Thanksgiving Pie

A Chocolate Meringue Pie I made for Christmas Eve dinner.

Grandma taught me to bake, and once I got the hang of it, I never looked at boxed mixes again. There’s something so therapeutic about working flour and Crisco into dough that’s still dry enough to be flaky without falling apart, fighting to roll it out so that it doesn’t crumble and carefully transferring it from the baking parchment to the pie dish. Baking is chemistry, artistry and magic. Whether it’s cookies or a double-crust apple tart, you have to  work with your dough, through trial and error, to figure out the little quirks that will make it perfect. And there’s gratification in the end-result–a well-made pie doesn’t last very long.

Books are like that, too. It takes an author a lot of time (and some chemistry, artistry and magic) to create a novel, and the end result–if the story is done right–is devoured quickly, but with great enjoyment.

What about you? Do you love baking? Hate it? Any other holiday stress relievers to share?

Reading Addiction Blog Tour: October 29 through November 26

Matt Archer is on the road again, this time with the Reading Addiction Blog Tour. I’m really excited about this tour because a number of the bloggers have taken the time to read Monster Hunter and write reviews. There’s also an awesome giveaway–you’ll have plenty of chances to enter to win a Nook and other great prizes. See you on tour!

October 29 – Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
October 30 Whoopeeyoo! – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
October 31 – The Adventures Within – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 1 – Winged Reviews – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 2 – Wonderland Reviews – Review/Interview
November 3 – My Seryniti – Review/Interview/Excerpt/Giveaway
November 4 – My Escape – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 5 – Zone Out Mode – Review/Giveaway
November 6 – My Chaotic Ramblings – Excerpt/PROMO
November 6 – Debbie Jean’s Blog – Review/Excerpt/Giveaway
November 7 – The Solitary Bookworm – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 8 – Little Red Reads – Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 9 – Dedicated Readers Only – Review/Giveaway
November 9 – Kinx Book Nook – Review/Excerpt
November 10 – My Cozie Corner – Review/Giveaway
November 11 – How I See It – Review/Giveaway
November 12 – Kimmie’s Bookshelf – Review/Excerpt
November 13 – Words I Write Crazy – Review/Excerpt
November 14 – Book Lover’s Hideaway – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 15 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 16 – Sweet Southern Home – Review/Giveaway
November 17 – Books and Beyond Review/Giveaway
November 18 – Waiting on Sunday to Drown – Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 19 – Jenn Renee Read – Review/Giveaway
November 20 – Known to Read – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 21 – Moosubi Reviews – Review/Interview/Giveaway
November 22 – Turning the Pages – Review/Excerpt
November 23 – One Page at a Time – Review/Excerpt
November 24 – My Reading Addiction – Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 25 – Crazy Four Books – Review/Interview/Giveaway
November 26 – Unabridged Ana – Review/Giveaway