Title: Sing Sweet Nightingale
Author: Erica Cameron
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Synopsis: Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.
She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.
Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.
Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.
Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.
Dream War Saga Website: http://thedreamwarsaga.com
Dream War Saga Tumblr: http://thedreamwarsaga.tumblr.com/
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Sing-Sweet-Nightingale-Erica-Cameron/9781937053963
Author Bio and social media links:
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, ex-Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.
Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga, a four-book young adult series.
Author Social Media Links:
And there’s a giveaway! Click here to enter; here is what you could win:
First-Place Prize: Signed copy of Sing Sweet Nightingale, bracelet, two book cover pendants
Second-Place Prize: Bracelet and two pendants
Third-Place Prize:Two pendants
Here’s my deleted scene:
“Since I remember overhearing K.T. whisper about a meeting to set up the new Visual Arts Club, I have a good idea where to start looking. Luckily, the Arts Club is something I can add to my list of extracurriculars, so even if I can’t get KT to spill her guts, the afternoon won’t be a complete waste.
“I know there aren’t many of us yet, but it’s important for the school to have a club like this since our arts programs are practically nonexistent,” she’s saying as I open the door and slide into the room. Her eyes widen and then narrow as she sees me, but she nods her head toward the empty seats and continues. “My goals for the first year are to give you all a place to work if you don’t have one at home and to help you get some recognition for your art in different state sponsored contests you have to enter under the aegis of a school.”
“My parents can’t really afford any of the high-quality paints,” a girl with curly black hair sitting at the front of the class says. “Is there any way we can buy supplies as a group or through the school to save money?”
“Exactly,” KT says. She starts outlining a plan for purchasing communal supplies that will be kept in the office and distributed only to club members, but warns us the school doesn’t have much, if any, budget. “It’s all going to have to be personal contributions, donations, and fundraising.”
The meeting only lasts a few more minutes, long enough for us all to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about the kind of art we do. I’m the last to go, but when I tell them I dabble in a little bit of everything, the number of raised brows and narrow eyes tells me that proof might be required. All I have to do is unzip my backpack and pull out the sketchbook that lives there. Their eyes widen and everyone crowds around as I place the book on the desk and flip it open.
The first page is a colored pencil sketch of Horace’s house, a bright burst of color and warmth in a very gray neighborhood.
“Wow,” one of the freshman boys, Henry, says. “That’s really good. Look at the cat on the roof.”
I flip the page and there’s a watercolor of Van Sciver Lake. Another page and there’s a charcoal sketch of the two librarians I got to know well during my homeless years. I practically lived at the library from open to close back then. On the next page I glued a photo I took of Horace.
KT keeps her eyes trained on the sketchbook, but her lips are pursed and her arms locked tight across her chest. I can’t get a read on her. She could fall anywhere on the scale between confused and annoyed.
“Those really are fantastic, Hudson,” she says when I close the book. Her eyes meet mine and hold for a second before she turns to the rest of the group. “So, next week, same time same place? We’ll come up with a solid strategy for raising money and sharing supplies.”
Everyone agrees and wanders off to collect their bags before walking off in ones and twos. I pack up slowly, waiting until the room is clear before I say anything. KT beats me to the punch.
“There’s a lot more to you than meets the eye, huh?”
I look up at her and shrug. “Could say the same about you.”
She smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. It seems a little sad. “Maybe some, but this is a small town and it’s hard to keep anything to yourself for long.”
She touches that bracelet again and looks out the window. After a minute, she asks, “You wouldn’t be able to give me a ride home, would you? It’s out of the way of everything in this town, just forewarning you.”
KT stares out the window for a little while longer before nodding and moving to pick up her bag. “Thanks. I would have had to walk today otherwise.”
Curiosity almost makes me ask why, when I’d bet half her friends would have stayed, she’s left without a ride, but I don’t push my luck yet. From the sounds of it, there’s quite a drive ahead and I don’t want to piss her off too early. I rub at the spot on my chest despite knowing it won’t make the ache go away. Even touching my tiger iron pendant doesn’t ease the pinch much, not even as much as it did at lunch. We walk out to the parking lot in silence, which is only broken when she stops short at the sight of my car.
“Wow. Is that a ’69 SS?”
I glance back at her as I unlock the passenger door. “Yeah. You know cars?”
Her eyes are wide as she shakes her head. “No, just this one.” She swallows hard and takes a hesitant step forward. She places her bag gently on the floor of the front seat, but reverently runs her hand along the top of the car before climbing in. She reaches across the car to unlock my door as I walk around, so I open the door, slide in, and start the engine.
She points off to the right. “That way. And then straight for a few miles.”
We fall into silence again, but I can feel something building. It’s in the way her right thumb is rubbing the plaque on her bracelet and the way she stares around the interior of the car as though it’s a work of art.
“My sister always wanted a car just like this one,” she says at last.
“You have a sister?” JR’s face pops into my mind and I have to force myself to concentrate on KT. “Older or younger?”
She clears her throat. “Older. Her name is Emily.”
“She in college nearby?”
After a minute of silence, I start wondering what was wrong with that question. Just before I take it back, KT takes a deep breath and says, “No. She’s in a coma.”
My hands tighten on the wheel and my heart starts racing. No. KT can’t be heading where I think she is.
“That sucks,” I say while silently telling myself to remain calm. Remain calm. Remain calm. Remain calm. She might not mean what you think. “How long?”
“Four years.” KT takes a deep breath and turns toward me, her eyes intent on my face. “She fell asleep the night of her eighteenth birthday and never woke up.”
She waits, still watching my face, but my brain has seized. Words can’t form. I’m not even sure if I’m capable of speaking anymore. What are the chances of someone falling into a coma on their eighteenth birthday who isn’t a victim of the dream demons? I haven’t really researched the statistics yet, but I’m guessing the odds aren’t good.
What is it about this town? What are the odds that two people in this tiny population attracted the attention of these demons? Not for the first time, I wonder how many of them there are scouring the planet for humans to destroy.
“Emily used to paint,” she says, finally looking away from me and out the windshield. “That’s why I decided to start a visual arts club before I graduate. Em always complained about the lack of a good support system for artists. She was really talented. Brilliant. It didn’t matter what she decided to create, she could work with anything. Paints, sculpture, photography, mixed media, even embroidery.” She hesitates, her gaze locking on my face again. I can feel its weight like a hand pressing against my skin. She takes a shuddering breath and asks, “Do you know how scary it is to watch someone you love disappear before your eyes?”
“Yes.” Just not in the way she does. I wonder though, which is worse: losing someone entirely or having to watch as years pass by without knowing if the person you love will ever recover? God. It would be like having this pinch turn into a metal rod shoved through the middle of my chest. And knowing I’d never get rid of it.
KT nods slowly as though I’ve confirmed something for her. “Only I noticed at first because it started with little things no one else paid any attention to. She was just different. Not herself.”
Yeah, I know that feeling. I remember that feeling well. They convince you they can make you better, turn you into something extraordinary if you just do what they say. They’re trying to help you, they promise. The thing is the demon actually did help me. I never felt in control of my anger until it taught me how to manage it, lock it down, and make sense of it. The more KT talks the more convinced I am her sister met the fate I missed by days.
“This was Em’s.” KT fingers the bracelet, spinning it around on her wrist. “I can still remember the morning she told me there’s another world only a few people can see. I was still pretty young, so I thought we were playing make believe. She never talked about it again, even when I tried to bring it up, but I could see it in her eyes after that, the way she looked at everything around her as though she had lost interest in it all. As if everything had lost its color.”
Everything does lose its color. They wrap you in their sickening light and you can’t see the world for what it is anymore. It’s like an addiction and only they have the drugs to keep you floating. They do everything they can to make sure you need them more desperately than you need your next breath. And they are very, very good at what they do.
How did KT know I’d believe her? I suspected she knew something about Mariella’s past, but I never would have guessed she had her own connection to the dream demons.
As though she can hear my thoughts, KT says, “I’m telling you this, because you see Mari. Actually see her instead of writing her off like everyone else.”
Just hearing her name sends shivers down my spine and sets the ache in my chest throbbing in time with my pounding heart. I’m already involved in this so much more than I want to be. And I’m only getting deeper.
“Somehow, you know she needs help,” KT says. “I think you know exactly what’s happening to her. I think you can keep what happened to Emily from happening to Mari.”
KT takes a deep breath and holds it. Willing to wait me out unless I’m going to bodily pick her up and toss her out of my car, I bet.
“Even if you are right,” I tell her after a minute, “you don’t want to know what I know. Trust me.”
This time, there’s no hesitation in her response. “I don’t want to know, but I need to know. I’ve been looking for answers for almost eight years and I’m not going to let a chance like this escape. You have those answers. I know you do. Please.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking,” I tell her. “Knowing the truth is like hanging a target around your neck. I don’t know if they can tell who knows, but I don’t sleep much anymore. When I do it’s knowing I might not live through the experience.”
KT opens her mouth, but pauses and closes it again. She sits back against the seat and looks out the window. “Take the next right.”
I take the turn and wait for her to consider all the unknown implications of this decision. At least she’s taking me seriously. Before she says anything, I know what her answer is going to be. It’s written in the squaring of her shoulders and the deliberate placement of her palms against her thighs as though willing herself to be still.
“I need to know.”
We’re in a heavily wooded area on a two-lane road, but I see a track that looks like it’s used for u-turns. I pull off and park between the two tree lines, hiding the car from view.
“I can’t be responsible for anything that happens because of this. I barely know how to protect myself, let alone someone else. I’ll give you a list of things it might be useful for you to have, just in case, but you have to know going in that I’m not gonna have the answers you want. I have absolutely no idea how to help your sister or even if she can be helped.” I hold her eyes, letting the words sink in. “Do you understand?”
She closes her eyes for a second, her hands tightening on her thighs. But then she opens her eyes and nods. “I understand.”
I tell her everything. I include every single gory, graphic, depressing, disturbing detail to make sure she really does understand what she’s up against. What Mariella is up against. After a while she gives up the pretense of control and sits crying quietly in the passenger seat, but she doesn’t stop me. I fill her in on everything except why I decided to leave Trenton. That has nothing to do with the demons and nothing to do with her sister. She doesn’t need to know.
Once I finally shut up, I realize I haven’t talked that much at one time in years. Possibly ever. I force myself to take deep breaths, focusing my mind into the calm center I learned to create. My heart slows and I can finally unwrap my fingers from the steering wheel one by one. Looking out the window in an attempt to give KT some privacy, I think about the emotional roller coaster this day has been. For someone used to the serenity of neutrality, it’s exhausting.
“How did you end up here?” KT asks, her voice soft and low. I turn toward her and try to pretend I don’t see her red-rimmed eyes and quivering lips.
“Temporary insanity.” So temporary I’m considering calling Horace, saying I changed my mind, and moving back to Trenton. Or maybe I should build myself a hut in the middle of the woods and avoid human contact entirely. After today, that is looking highly appealing. But KT disagrees.
“It’s fate,” she breathes. “You’re supposed to come here. You’re supposed to help Mari. Why else did you survive unless you’re supposed to use what you learned to stop other people from making the same mistake Emily did?”
Even though I don’t usually believe in fate, KT’s theory is actually plausible. First, my dreams, next, the momentary symptoms of alien hand syndrome that lead me to Swallow’s Grove, and then, the random coincidence of Mariella out of all possible candidates being chosen as my guide. There’s not believing in signs and then there’s ignoring the obvious, and I don’t like living in denial. Plus, what would JR think of me if he knew I saw someone on the brink of jumping off a cliff and didn’t pull them back? What would I think of myself? Walking away is the easier option, sure, but when have I ever gone for the easier option?
I take a deep breath and notice the ache in my chest has eased by half. Because I’ve decided to stay and risk my neck for a girl I dreamed about night after night before I met her? Guess it makes as much sense as anything else in my life. I almost smile.
Facing KT, I attempt to make her realize fighting this battle is going to be harder than climbing up an avalanche. “There is the very real possibility I will fail miserably.”
But KT smiles with still-shaking lips. “I’d only consider it a failure if we didn’t try.”
I was also lucky enough to get an interview:
- KT believes in fate. Do you?
The theory that everything happens for a reason is incredibly comforting sometimes, especially when life gets incredibly crappy and you can’t seem to find your way out of the hole you’ve fallen into. Holding on to the certainty that what’s happening has a purpose and a plan makes it easier to face suffering and hardship with forbearance and I certainly have done this in the past. Do I have K.T.’s faith in god or life’s grand plan? Not so much.
Several characters are in a visual arts club. Do you have any artistic ability? If not, which would you like to have?
Unfortunately, I don’t! Not in painting or sketching, at least. I do make jewelry (which I sell on my Square Market shop), but that’s as artsy as I get. Oh! Except for this one time when I hand-drew a ridiculously large, over-detailed map for a fantasy world that I may or may not ever write books in. That was fun and it turned out really well, actually. I kind of surprised myself with that one.
- What are you reading?
Sitting on my nightstand right now are Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd, and Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs. These books are my reward for when I finish the projects I’m working on and oh my wow are they tempting! I can’t wait to read them. Or reread in the case of Sarah’s book. But now I have a signed hardcover and so that deserves a second read!
- If you could make one book mandatory, what would you pick?
I don’t think that I would! Not everyone is a reader and not all books are going to be right for all readers. I do have a lot of books that I absolutely adore, though, books that have held on to a piece of my brain even years after I’ve read them though some I’ve only read once. Here are some of them (a really small portion of my list) because I am absolutely AWFUL at picking favorites. Even narrowing it down this much is difficult!
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Everything ever written by Tamora Pierce
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Color of Water by James McBride
Evil Genius and Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks
Colin Fischer by Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller
Hollow City by Dan Wells
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Other stops on the tour:
November 3 – A Backwards Story
November 4 – Kissed by Ink
November 5 – Queekie Girl Reads
November 6 – Chasm of Books
November 7 – Bumbles and Fairy-Tales
November 10 – Books Complete Me
November 11 – KellyVision
November 12 – Falling For YA
November 13 – WhoRU Blog
November 14 – A Wonderland of Reading