Friday, May 24, 2013

Finding Meara by Lara Schiffbauer: Guest Post and Excerpt


What are 5 items on your bucket list?


1.      To visit Ireland and Scotland. The pictures I see of the countryside in both I countries are amazing and magical. I want to know what it feels like to be there, and experience the locations in person.

2.      Visit Italy, both the Campobosso region and Assisi. My great-grandparents emigrated from Campobosso, Italy in the late 1800’s. Stregheria, one of the Italian forms of witchcraft, has formed a lot of the magical systems I use in my stories. Finally, I’m a big fan of St. Francis of Assisi!

3.      Go to a national writer’s conference. I get so excited when I hear people talking about the major writing conferences. I really want to go and see for myself what all the hub-bub is about.

4.      Meet Matt Bomer because he’s gorgeous and the inspiration for Rodd, a character in Finding Meara. I’d also like to see if he’s as nice as he appears to be.

5.      See my little boys grow into good, responsible men. Sometimes when I look at them, I get a hint of what they’ll look like when they’re twenty+ years old. It is a very strange feeling, but exciting, too.


What are 5 weird things about you?

1.      I’ve had a phobia about grey aliens, like from the book Communion, ever since I was in my late teens. To this day (at least 20 years later) I still have nightmares surrounding those nasty creatures.

2.      I like my life pretty ordered. I’m not obsessive, but I do like to have a structure to keep everything tidy and rolling along. It’s totally normal to me, but I don’t think the rest of the world lives like I do.

3.      I still need to sleep about 10 hours a night to feel well rested. Sleeping is such a waste of time, but I can be pretty cranky if I’m tired, so I try to get in at least 8 hours of sleep regularly. I keep waiting for my sleep needs to decrease as I get older, but so far it hasn’t happened.

4.      I’m a worrier, and am teaching my children to be worriers, too!

5.      I anthropomorphize almost anything, including bugs, stuffed animals, plants – you name it, I anthropomorphize it. In my world, everything has feelings.


Lara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist.  She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh.  You can find Lara on several different social media sites, with all links listed on her website,
 Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest


To keep her safe, privileged Hazel Michelli's parents never told her she was adopted. She found out the truth when the danger her parents feared ripped apart the front door of her Denver penthouse and stole her away to the Realm, an alternative land where magic and monsters exist.

Hazel escapes back to Colorado with the help of a friendly Firecat, but not before she has a terrifying family reunion with her sadistic birth father, Lucian.  She learns Lucian must sacrifice a daughter to maintain immortality. When his planned sacrifice--Hazel's half-sister, Meara--went missing, he sent his minion to find her and got lucky when he found Hazel instead. With her blood Lucian not only maintains his immortality, but obtains unlimited power to take over the Realm. Hazel is moved to the top of the sacrificial short list.

Home once again, Hazel wants to hide until the sacrificial window closes and then reclaim her comfy life. But Meara remains in danger, and Hazel is the only one who can return to the Realm to save her. Afraid, yet compelled by her adoptive parents to protect her newfound sister, Hazel races between both worlds, searching for the little girl while attempting to stay one step ahead of Lucian.  Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Apple  |  Kobo

Chapter 1 of Finding Meara:
The beautiful fall day gave no hint of the unbelievable mess my life would become.
My best-friend, Tavi, and I were jogging back toward my apartment building after an impromptu, late-morning run on the greenway. Sunlight dappled the concrete path and warmed my head. Desperate for air, I sucked in the crisp aroma of the changing leaves. Only a couple blocks to go. I could make it.
The stabbing pain in my ribcage changed my mind.
“Wait.” I broke stride and started walking. “My side hurts.”
“At least you made it to end of the run this time.” Tavi ducked her head to fiddle with her ponytail, missing the mock dirty look I gave her. My stamina had been increasing at a steady pace, albeit a slow one. Really.
She flipped the blonde swatch of hair over her shoulder. “Want to do lunch?”
“Nope. There’s a race in a couple of hours I have to bet on. The coffers are getting a little low, and I’ve got a good feeling for Seven’s Lucky Day.”
We stopped beside Tavi’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee. She unlocked the driver’s side door. “When are you going to tell your parents you make your living by gambling?”
“That’s need-to-know information, and they don’t need to know.”
“They’ll find out sooner or later.”
“So far, it’s been later. I plan to keep it that way.”
“Your choice, I guess.” Tavi climbed behind the wheel and shut the door. I waved her off and went inside.
My mother wouldn’t understand my peculiar talent for picking winners. I loved it, though. The easy money paved the way into Denver’s affluent neighborhood. All sorts of interesting people invited me to all sorts of interesting places, all because of my unusual ability.
“Hey, Hazel. How was the run?” Don, the building’s doorman, asked from his post beside the elevators. He pushed the button to call the elevator for me.
“Not too shabby. I’ll like it better when each run doesn’t end in pain, though.” The elevator doors opened. “I’ll see you later.”
Once inside my apartment, I brought my laptop to the couch and logged in to my favorite horse racing website. A few minutes later, the pop-up window announced my bet was approved. I set the laptop on the coffee table, picked up my cell phone, and scrolled through my contact list. A good workout demanded pizza.
I tapped the speed dial for Frank’s Pizzeria when a huge Crack! lacerated the stillness. The room reverberated as the front door shattered, sending shards of wood flying. I covered my face with my arms and dropped to the floor behind the couch.
Silence, heavy and suffocating, filled the room.
I peeked over the cushions and my heart skittered in my chest. A gigantic man loomed in the doorway. A fedora, pulled low, concealed his face; a black leather trench coat covered the rest of him.
“Who?” This couldn’t be real. “No! I’m Hazel.”
He stalked up to the couch, and with an effortless shove, sent it flying several feet to his right.
I knew it then. I was going to die.
Scrambling to my feet, I sprinted away from the man, heading deeper into the apartment. The decorative rug at the mouth of the hall skated beneath my feet and snagged my tennis shoes in the bunched-up folds. I crashed to the ground with a bounce that made my teeth hurt. The phone tumbled from my fingers and slid along the hard wood floor.
Phone or bathroom? Indecision rendered me motionless.
His footsteps clomped closer as he made his way through the living room.
The guy made matchsticks out of my front door. A flimsy bathroom door would be no protection.
I lunged for the phone, but his hand wrapped around my ankle like an iron shackle. He flipped me on my back and pulled me toward the French doors on the other side of the living room.
Oh, God. He was going to drop me off the balcony.
Adrenaline lit my body on fire. I scrabbled along the floor, scratching at the wood. Tears flowed down my cheeks. I didn’t want to die. Not now. Not like this.
I seized the leg of a wingback chair. For a moment, I hung suspended between the chair and the intruder.
He grunted with annoyance and gave my leg a violent shake. I lost my grip and fell to the floor, knocking my head.
Stars exploded before my eyes. The chair slid away. Our progression toward the balcony restarted.
Sweat trickled down my neck. I snatched for the coffee table, but missed. Now what? No other furniture was in reach. I shoved myself into a sitting position and hammered my free heel into the man’s hand. He flicked his wrist, and in a blink, I lay at his feet.
The whole room skidded sideways.
The man’s hat had fallen off. The skin on his bald head was grayish-green with the waxy sheen of day old death. Bulky knots protruded from above his shoulder blades, and his arms reached to his knees.
He wasn’t a man at all.
I screamed, a long, full-throated howl people driving on the interstate should have heard. I clawed at his hand, the floor, whatever I could.
With a snort, the creature yanked me even with him and wrapped his arms around me. His legs felt like tree trunks against my back. A horrible stench of fungus and earth assaulted my nostrils. I gagged, bile hot in my throat.
He used his elbow to smash through one of the glass doors that led to the balcony and leapt onto the balcony rail. We teetered on the edge. My lungs seized at the sight of the ground five stories below my dangling feet.
His body shifted behind me, a two-second warning before he leapt off the balcony.
“Oh my God,” I shrieked as the ground rushed toward me.
Our free fall stopped with a sudden jerk. My whole body trembled. I twisted my head against the beast’s shoulder, trying to see what slowed our descent. He must have used a parachute. Would the cops come if someone reported a base-jumper?
But no parachute ballooned overhead. Leathery wings, reminiscent of the pictures of pterodactyls I’d seen in books as a child, extended wider than his arm length on either side. Each forceful downstroke pulled us higher into the sky.
Closing my eyes, I shook my head.
I’ve gone crazy.
The simple thought explained so much.
I didn’t feel insane. But then, I didn’t imagine most insane people feel crazy. Wasn’t it called it a psychotic break, or maybe disassociation, when your mind shuts off under stress?
That must be what happened.
The man entered my apartment, and I went bye-bye. Ran and hid between the synapses and electrical impulses in my brain. The thought I could return to my old life after the attack was over comforted me. Assuming, of course, I was still alive.
The creature circled and caught an upward draft. As we ascended, the cars on the interstate became ants, and the buildings shifted into toy blocks.
We soared with amazing speed westward, toward the Rocky Mountains.  We flew high enough above the earth that the air turned icy, cutting through my running pants and long sleeved knit shirt. I shivered like I’d been dunked in a frozen lake. What if I died from hypothermia before we got to wherever the creature was taking me?
Young Woman Falls Frozen from Sky. Shatters on Impact.
I could be an X-File.
An uncomfortable sensation prickled at the bottom of my stomach. If this wasn’t real, why was the experience so vivid?
I knew what the answer was, but slammed the door on it. That would be crazy.
The patchwork quilt of fields transitioned back to the urban grid of concrete, asphalt, and buildings. Beyond the city boundaries, foothills rose up, heralding the edge of the Rocky Mountains. Exhaustion and cold dulled my mind. I couldn’t recognize any landmarks.
At the connecting point between the city and a canyon on the edge of the hills, the creature dove toward the earth. We spiraled like a chicken hawk hunting a mouse. Reddish rocks blurred together into a ruddy smear. Darkness crowded the edges of my vision. Just when I thought I would throw up, consciousness deserted me.



Lara Schiffbauer said...

Thank you, Laurie, for featuring me on your blog! The header is beautiful!

D. D. Falvo said...

I anthropomorphize too! But I didn't know that was the word for it. As I kid I apologized to the table if I bumped it. lol. Well, I mean I said sorry out loud, which is still kind of weird. And I always think about what our animals would say and give everything a personality. I so want to go to Scotland one day--the castles, the wild moors, the green land. Sigh. Loved learning these new things about you, Lara. The excerpt is one of my favorite scenes of your delicious fantasy. A must read. <3

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Hi, Denise! Thanks for visiting and reading! I totally understand about the table. :)