Hot Off The Presses, Author A. B. Harms’ New Book: Bewildered

Hello and thank you for having me as a guest, Southern Tablet! I’m A. B. Harms, author of Bewildered, my debut novel and the first in the Bewilderness Tales series. I’m so excited to introduce myself and the world where Bewildered takes place: Bewilderness!

Bewildered is a middle-grade adventure tale. If you like Alice in Wonderland, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, or the legendary Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, then you may enjoy Bewildered too!
Bewildered cover with seal

Our story starts when way-too-serious-and-a-bit-OCD, Prudence Parks, get the news that her father has died in a sandstorm. Prudence is shocked. Her father? Gone. Her schedule? A complete disaster. And Prudence is lost without them. Horrible, right? Without a moment’s debate, her nanny shuttles her away to an orphanage—lucky for us, she doesn’t make it. Instead, while at the train station, she winds up boarding a magical train and embarks upon a wild adventure.

Rather than take the road most traveled, our unwilling hero takes the window seat—which she falls out of—and gets to see more of Bewilderness than your typical tourist. In fact, one must wonder if perhaps she sees more than she’s supposed to—more than even most Bewilderish creatures know about.

She tumbles through the dark abyss of The Nothingness, meets a mangy crew of sand-ship pirates in The Corridor, and—just in the nick of time—escapes to Bewilderness proper where she can finally take the train back home… right?

Wrong.

Bewilderness has more in store for her than a classic “I-took-a-wrong-turn-in-Albuquerque ” experience. She’s chased, scrutinized, and tossed in a dungeon, all for claiming to be human—but the Match King has other plans. He needs Prudence’s help to do what he could never manage—find the Paper Heart. If she finds it, he’ll help her get home. But is the Match King a simple treasure hunter, or are his ambitions more sinister?

Bewilderness is a place where dreams come true, literally—it’s a world created from human imagination, but not everyone is a happy resident. The reclusive Match King stows away in his iron-clad castle and cryptically explains why he needs Prudence’s help. Eventually we find out what he really wants—to end Bewilderness’ existence altogether.

Bewilderness is a land of constant change, where the map shifts and mountains can hike up their foothills and dance away. It’s where hidden passages hide ancient treasure, a place where anything can, and does, happen.  But there is more to Bewilderness than we see in this story…places where things from nightmares exist, but that is a place we will visit in a future Bewilderness Tale. For now, we will busy ourselves with the Key Lime Sea’s creamy waters, outwit the UnNavigatable Forest’s beastly tricks, and seek refuge inside The Fabrikator’s Wandering Shack when things become too much.

Join me on a fantastic adventure in BEWILDERED, A Bewilderness Tale, Book One—AVAILABLE NOW in eBook and print!

ABHarms Author Photo

-A.B. Harms  

http://abharmsbooks.blogspot.com/

For those dedicated readers, click here to win a copy of Amanda’s new book.
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About the Author

A. B. Harms was born a writer. From a young age, she made her own picture books with crayons and a stapler. As a teenager, she won essay contests. Yet, when she began her career, being an author was the last thing she considered. Finally, after working every job imaginable from waitress to social worker and earning her degree in Psychology, she realized what she was always meant to do–write! A. B. is from Missouri, has gone around the world and back again, and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family, a pet sloth, who resembles a Great Dane, and a black cat, who moonlights as an assassin. No matter where she hangs her hat, she finds herself at home down the rabbit hole.

I Am A Bag Lady

I am a bag lady. I love bags and I must have at least a hundred of them. I have hand bags, totes, photographer bags, artist bags, needlepoint bags, beach bags, and luggage of various sizes. I even have bags inside bags.

I have two bags next to my chair that contain knitting projects. The first bag is a sweater I’m knitting for my sister. Inside that one I have a zip-lock baggie that contains the small scissors, stitch markers, point protectors, blunt yarn sewing needle, crochet hooks, and measuring tape. The second bag contains two plastic grocery bags. Each bag has in it the instruction, equipment, and finished product for the knitting classes I teach at the local hobby store.

Under my desk is my laptop bag. It sometimes holds my laptop but it always has a notebook, and a memory stick. There is a tote that used to go with me to school when I was teaching. It used to carry the essays and short stories of my students. Now it holds the binders with my novel and its multiple revisions.

Upstairs in what will someday be my “craft” room I have a bags that hold yarn, string for lace, extra knitting needles and crochet hooks. I have a bag that holds the wool for the needlepoint tapestry I’m making. There’s another bag with the floss and hoops for my embroidery project.

My closet houses my hand bags. I have one for every day that I use, well, every day. The others I use when I’m going out somewhere nice. Each of these bags has their own special wallet which is not a bag but it is a container of sorts.

I like bags. They help to keep me organized, compartmentalized. When I’m in a hurry I can just grab the right bag and head out the door knowing that everything I need for that task or project will be in that bag. When we go on trips I can grab a larger bag and stuff it with smaller bags so I can knit or crochet in the car, write when we get to our destination, and be able to brush my teeth before bed.

The bags contain more than just projects. They contain the thoughts, stories, hopes, prayers and relationships associated with their contents. Each day I spend a little time in each bag. I will knit a few rows on this, crochet a few rows on that, write a few words here, revise a few words there, weave a few stiches and stitch a few patterns. And with each project I visit with the people and purposes. I am never bored and never lonely.

I am a bag lady.

Cabin Fever

I grew up in Rhode Island. It snowed there. Sometimes it snowed a lot to the point of getting snowed in; even if it was just a matter of a few hours, or a day, until the plows got around to our neighborhood and my brother and I could shovel the driveway. Still, the roads would be nasty and treacherous and it wasn’t advisable to go out unless absolutely necessary. I remember my father pacing the house and saying he had cabin fever. Now, I live in Georgia. It doesn’t snow here. Well, sometimes. Regardless, it does rain and it seems to be raining a lot this year. My husband paces around the house saying he has cabin fever.

Physically, I don’t get cabin fever since I don’t have the urge to go outside much anyway. Going outside usually means there will be some sort of work to do like yard work, or garden work, or exercise which is just work. In fact, there have been few times when I’ve actually wanted to go outside. One of those times was on a cruise to Cozumel. The deck bar was outside. Fortunately, it was in the shade. Aside from the work issue, there is the temperature issue. I don’t like the heat and I’m not too fond of the cold for that matter. Inside suits me just fine – it’s dry, temperature controlled and no bugs.

This does NOT mean I don’t understand cabin fever. I do. I just experience it in different ways. For me cabin fever is the feeling of stagnation. Like when I’m hungry but there is nothing in the house I want to eat, there’s nothing to watch on TV, or I’m tired of knitting on the same project and want to cast-off already even though it isn’t finished yet. It’s when the magic is gone, the excitement has worn off and it’s just time to move on already.

I remember when we’d get snowed in we made our own fun. We’d play Backgammon or chess or my brother and I would have rubber-band fights or we’d read. That’s the key, to be able to make your own fun, make your own magic and excitement. For me, that usually means slipping into a good book, or writing a good story. What do you do to make your own fun? Let us know.

LeeAnn

The Final Chapter?

They ran for what seemed like only a few seconds, behind them came an earth quaking shake which they felt but didn’t hear and then they were momentarily pulled into the air like marionettes and let back down faces first. Junie didn’t know what a safe distance away was and she looked up and judged by the number of limbs groping upward that at least everyone was still alive. The world was silent, and her head throbbing. Had she gone deaf from the explosion? She tilted her head, and saw that nearby were Lilith and Adam, laying in a jumbled heap. Junie felt faint and sat up to give herself a moment to get her bearings. Maxwell was gone. Allen gone. Kellie and Walter. All gone. Had anyone not been shot, they most certainly would have died in the explosion. The facility was a mass of burning metal shards and black smoke. She felt sick, and expelled what little she had in her stomach onto the ground and staggered over to Lilith and Adam.

“Lilith? Are you okay?” she said, but the words were soundless and she wasn’t sure she’d said anything at all. “Adam. Lilith.” She bent down to touch them, and thought she saw movement at the chest, and so she grabbed Adam at the waist and rolled him off. At this he made some movements with his jaw that looked like it could have been a deep moan, but Junie couldn’t tell. She was a afraid she had gone deaf, when she heard a crackling cry and the muffled sound brought her a split second of joy which quickly turned to sadness when she realized it was Lilith and that she was obviously badly hurt having taken the full force of Adam’s body during the initial compression wave.

“Lilith, Lilith!” Junie said as Adam leaned over her limp body. By now most of the others had joined them in a circle around her body.

“We need to call an ambulance,” said Leah. She didn’t need to state the obvious, which was they had abandoned everything and arrived at this location woefully unprepared, missing any items that would bring modern medicine to their aid.

Marshall felt Lilith’s neck.

“I feel a pulse,” he said. Everyone instinctively closed in around her.

“Get back, give her some air!” said Leah and she pressed her arms out to push them back. Marshall lifted her head and stroked her cheeks.

“Lilith, it’s okay. I’m here, I’m here. You have nothing to fear. I’m here Laura.”  Leah looked at Junie and Junie put her hand on his shoulder. She didn’t say anything, but he understood.

Junie and Leah, being the younger likenesses of Lilith, caressed her arms and legs, wondering if she’d lived a full life. She had a head-full of hair, but crepey wrinkles under her neck and in the creases of her eyes belied her real age. As they regarded their older likeness, Junie gave a little gasp.

“She’s awake.”

Lilith’s eyelids began to flutter and slightly opened. Her lips quavered and it seemed she wanted to say something.

“Th..fff…” she was forming consonants and aspirating but didn’t have enough breath to form a sound.

“I can’t tell what she’s saying,” said Marshal, “what’s she saying?”

The all froze while Lilith battled her own failing body and made whisping and blowing sounds, and finally, Leah said, “The vial! She said, ‘the vial’!”

Marshall reached into her coat pocket, and inside was a metal tube. He held it up, and they all stared at it dumb founded. As he did, Lilith let out a gasping force of air, and when they realized it was her last, she was already gone. Marshall slumped over her and held her head in his arms. It was like losing Laura a second time. Junie and Leah bowed their heads and Arthur and Adam respectfully waited.  After a moment had passed, Adam bent over and gently removed the vial from Marshall’s hand.

“This is Lilith’s gift to us,” he said.  They all stared at the vial and the immolation beyond, now completely engulfed in black smoke. It was an arresting scene and when sirens echoed in the distance they stirred and walked down a woodsy path towards Bobcat Ridge.

###

Junie had come up here one last time before moving to the West Coast. She would enroll in school with her newfound endowment money. She wanted to say goodbye and put the past in it’s place so it wouldn’t follow her to California. She sat on a boulder, the very one her father had taught her orienteering with a compass. In a way, this is why she had come up to Bobcat Ridge – to find her way.  She looked over the barren hills, it still winter, and she could see for miles into Bobcat Valley. It had all happened so fast, and she still wasn’t sure she believed it all. But at least she had Leah, who was as incorrigible as ever, but at least she was planting herself in a new job. And Marshall had moved to Florida to retire, he said, and to have a last chance at love. Arthur said he was going to Chicago with a research job and Adam had disappeared with the promise to keep in touch when he found right iteration of DNA. It wouldn’t be long, he had said, only a few months, and it had to be done in secret and far away, especially now that the media was picking over the facility like ants feeding on a dead beetle.

So Junie decided to go back to school, make a fresh start, and wait for Adam, or even yet, live her life as if their were no tomorrow.

Feeling better than she’d felt in months, she took one last look at the ridge and said, “Goodbye Dad. Thank you for everything.”

She took a step to jump off the boulder and as she landed, she saw the figure of a man who looked just like her father staring at her from behind a tree. When she looked again, the image was gone.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” she said. “I’ve had enough of dopplegangers, twins, and clones.” And with that she left Bobcat Ridge and promised never to return.