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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden!‏

Release Date: 09/10/13

Summary from Goodreads:
In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meets The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be.

Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?

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Excerpt 1:
“What?” Jennie followed the line of Liza’s gaze. They passed out of the treed area, and it came into view. Silver, round, and glossy, just as the news said it would be. It shifted in and out like a mirage. She blinked hard at it, while Liza pulled the car over to the shoulder. 
“I can’t believe it.” The tremor in Liza’s voice betrayed her nerves.
Jennie nodded but didn’t say a thing. The moment reminded her of her first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, as they drove by it, headed for upstate New York. From the highway, the statue had looked like a toy on the horizon. Her heart had leapt in her chest then, just as it did now. It’s one thing to be told about something, and even see pictures of it on TV, but it was quite another to take it in with your own eyes.
She tore her gaze away from the strange, floating metal disk and saw that Liza’s was the last in a long line of cars that had pulled over on the shoulder. Some people had even stepped out of their cars to take pictures with their camera phones. Liza hopped out, and Jennie gave a grumbled response to the closing door. Even though fear gripped her insides, she unbuckled and jumped out after her friend.
Liza clicked away with her camera phone, standing in awe with the others. The look of the disk rotating in the sky, blocking out the half-lit sun, was enough to make Jennie want to scream and hide under her bed covers. She could understand, now, why so many were running for the hills. Shivers ran up her spine and gooseflesh popped up her arms.
“Liza, what are you doing here?” a man asked. The sun glinted off the golden highlights in his brown hair. He looked vaguely familiar.
“Mr. Harris.”  A blush rose to Liza's cheeks.
Jennie blinked and studied the man. Yep. Hot Mr. Harris, the Bio teacher and every senior girl’s crush. Her friend, Terra, had taken the class with him last year. Jennie shoved her hands into her pockets and averted her gaze from the thrumming metal disk less than a half mile away.
“You girls shouldn’t be here, you know. It’s not safe, and I’m sure your parents wouldn’t approve,” Mr. Harris admonished but gave them a half smile. 
Was that a dimple? Had she ever seen him smile before? Ridiculous. Of course not. Her eyes returned to the disk, and its vibration continued in her chest. Panic rose up in her throat again.
“Do you think you could take a picture of us? Then we’ll leave. Promise.” Liza handed Mr. Harris her phone and yanked Jennie toward the metal fence line.
She dragged her feet and shook her head. The last thing Jennie wanted to do was get closer.
Mr. Harris eyed her, his brows furrowed. “Did I teach you last year? No, wait—Terra’s friend, right?”
Jennie half nodded.
Liza adjusted Jennie’s shoulders and wrapped her arm around them, turning her so that her back was to the ship. Jennie stiffened. The thrumming of the machine sent vibrations through her core. She could hardly stand still. Prickling fear ran across her back, as if she were being watched...or as if she was vulnerable to an attack. She longed for the safety of the car.
Mr. Harris frowned, his worried, sympathetic eyes fixed on Jennie’s.
“The picture, Mr. Harris?” Liza reminded him.
“Oh, yeah.” He lifted the camera phone and snapped it.
The minute the flash ended, Jennie darted for the car, fumbling with the handle, and dizzy from hyperventilating.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Harris called after her.
“She’s fine, and thanks for the pict—”
With a door slam, Jennie cut off the last word and the dreadful hum of the alien ship’s constant rotation. She slumped into the seat. The pit of her stomach still quivered, and she felt faint. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see or hear any more.
A moment later, the car door opened, and Liza spoke. “Wasn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?”
Jennie broke into a cold sweat. “Whatever. Let’s just go home, okay?”
“Chicken.” Liza made a few bock-bocks and flapped her elbows like wings.
Jennie smacked Liza's elbow when it threatened to pop her in the chin. “Okay, whatever. Let’s just go.”
With a shrug, Liza pulled the Volkswagen Beetle back onto the highway. She made her way to the next exit, where she turned around. “Well, at least I’ve got a picture of the two of us for a keepsake.”
Jennie groaned.
“And we got to see ‘Hot Mr. Harris.’” She giggled.
Jennie rolled her eyes. What did her friends see in him?  He was so much older than they were—at least in his mid-twenties.
As they passed the ship again, on Liza’s side, Jennie turned her head away and looked out her window at the abandoned houses in those neighborhoods. If she didn’t see the ship, it was easier to deny it hovered there. As far as she was concerned, she’d never seen it.
Excerpt 2:
Jennie filled the glass and set it on the counter. She needed an ibuprofen.
As she reached up to the top shelf in the pantry, a vibration started in her chest. Holding the white bottle in her hand, she turned around confused.
Like a jet when it flew too low, the rumble increased in intensity as it approached. Jennie watched the glass tremble on the counter top for a moment before fear clenched her stomach. “MOM!?”
She rushed to the sink and looked out the window, but her mother wasn’t in the garden any more. Jennie barreled through the kitchen, the vibrations in her chest like bass on a stereo. “MOM?”
When Jennie reached the back door, she saw them. Four large dog-like creatures with pinched faces like bulldogs and lion-like manes. They snarled, and one of them leapt at the window on the top half of the door when it saw her. Jennie jumped back and fell hard on the cold tile floor. The bottle of painkiller bounced across the kitchen tiles. The creature slammed against the window a second time, cracking it. She blinked hard. Her heart sunk, and the hairs on her arms stood on end. A horrendous gargling howl rent the air, causing a shiver down her spine. She held her breath and waited for the creature to slam into the door again.
“What on earth?” she whispered to herself.
When the third attempt never came, she scrambled toward the door. Blinking hard, she used the door knob to help herself stand. Out the cracked window, her mother was still out of sight, but the last of the dogs headed across the field behind her backyard.
“MOM?” Jennie called out.
The rumbling faded, and the vibrations in her chest receded with the dogs. She pulled open the door and rushed onto their back deck. “Mom, where are you?”
When she reached the banister, she looked over the side. Her mom lay sprawled with one hand on the lattice. Blood gushed from Mom’s leg and her opposite arm. Jennie’s ears rang and flooded with every beat of her heart.
Jennie didn’t know how she got to the second floor of her house, but she found herself shaking her sleeping father. How had he slept through the rumbling? “Outside, it’s Mom…”
Her father leapt from the bed. Mickey, her little brother, lay asleep and undisturbed. Dad ran down the stairs and outside in his flannel pajama bottoms and white t-shirt. He scooped Mom up to his chest and carried her inside. Blood stained his shirt in crimson.
“Jennie, call 911!”  Her father had said it at least three times before it finally registered in her brain.
She pulled the cell phone from her pocket, but it refused to connect. With a groan, she grabbed the cordless from the wall receiver, glad her heart stopped pounding in her head so she could hear.
“All operators are busy at this time,” a mechanical voice deadpanned, “Please stay on the line, and the next available operator will take your call.”
“They have me on hold, Dad. Should I hang up and try again?” She held the phone in both hands away from her face.
“No, just stay on the line.” Her father lifted the shredded jeans from Mom’s leg. “It looks like a shark bite. What on earth happened?”
Jennie took in the damage through tear-filled eyes. A huge chunk was taken from her mother’s calf, exposing the fibrous tendons that covered the bone in her leg. A bloodstain grew on the beige couch. Was she going to die? Panic rose up.
“What happened, Jennie?”
“I...I...They looked like lions, or dogs, or something. The rumbling shook the whole house…I tried to go outside to get Mom, but—” A sob blocked her throat.
Her father grabbed a throw pillow and held it against the leg. Mom’s exposed forearm laid across her chest in much the same condition as her calf.
“Grab me the duct tape.”
Jennie suddenly remembered the phone, put it back to her ear, and headed to the hall closet. She reached for the shelf above the jackets and grabbed the junk basket next to the toolbox.
“Please stay on the line. An operator will be with you shortly.”
She shoved the phone in the crook of her neck and fished through the box.  Half the contents dropped around her feet. Who cares? When her fingers wrapped around the silver duct tape, a short-lived relief sent prickles down her arms. But the urgency gripped her chest in less than a heart beat, and she threw the junk basket on the ground with the rest of the items.
“Hurry, Jennie!” her father called from the living room. “And turn on the TV. Maybe they’ll have something about what’s going on.”
She handed her father the tape and turned toward the TV. The mechanical voice on the phone came through again, followed by more easy listening.
When she clicked on the TV, the shouting and wailing began before the picture warmed up on the screen. A sideways picture of New York City broke through, with the shaky voice of the newscaster voicing over.
“What we are watching now – I can’t believe it – is live footage of Times Square,” the newscaster’s voice paused for a deep breath. “We’ve lost our man on the scene and his camera man to what appears to be some kind of new alien creature. Just a short half-hour ago, the doors to the ship that hovered above Central Park opened and these dog-like creatures flooded out.”

Jennie couldn’t pull her eyes from the screen. She straightened and dropped the phone on the hardwood. The battery popped out and skidded across the floor.

About the Author

In simple language, Pauline Creeden creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been a #1 Bestseller in Christian Fantasy and been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine. Her debut novel, Sanctuary is scheduled for release September 30, 2013, and has already been nominated for two awards in YA Science Fiction.

One of Pauline's short stories has won the CCW Short Story contest. Other short stories have been published in Fear & Trembling Magazine, Obsidian River and Avenir Eclectia. An urban fantasy short will appear in The Book of Sylvari: An Anthology of Elves from Port Yonder Press, and a vampire short will appear in Monsters! from Diminished Media Group. 

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