April 26, 2011

While You're Waiting...

I have been posting my progress with BEHOLDERS and the feedback from Mrs. Nielsen's 6th grade class. Considering the book isn't available for the public to read, this must be a bit frustrating.

I've decided that while everyone's anxiously waiting for INSIGHT's debut (I mean, seriously, you all must be experiencing the hands sweating, frothing at the mouth, I'M GOING TO DIE!!! syndromes by now, right?) I'll start sharing some other stories and samples I've written during the past few months.

So, without further delay, I introduce...

By Terron James

Gladys’ eyes flared open as her two sons, ages four and six, ran yelling into the sitting room.

“Get out of this room!” she screamed, only to ignite more pain in her aching head.

The two boys laughed innocently as they turned around and chased each other over the barricade at the top of the 5-step staircase and down into the family room, while Gladys’ 1-year-old son watched with big, curious eyes. He followed them to the barricade and pulled himself upright to look over it, squealing with delight as he watched his two older brothers chase each other around the room—over the brown leather ottoman, across the tan suede couch, through the sheer white drapes and against the glass sliding door. Over and over and over.

Gladys moaned.

Their energized playtime was finally interrupted by the sound of the opening garage. The two oldest sons bolted to quick but ineffective hiding places while the 1-year-old’s eyes widened again, searching for his two brothers that had suddenly disappeared.

Gladys stared out the front window and watched a white Camry stop at the mailbox—a long arm temporarily appearing to grab the mail—then continue into the garage. She laid her head onto the custom-made red sofa and pulled a thick pillow over her head.

I made it.

The garage closed and Gladys’ husband entered the house, glad to be away from his office, but even happier to be home. He immediately spotted his two hiding sons, but feigned ignorance as he casually strolled to place his wallet in a tiny drawer.

“Surprise!” the two boys shouted as they threw up their arms with excitement. The toddler added his own squealing to the greeting.

“Hey, you guys!” Jed laughed as he gave the two oldest sons a hug, then turned to the 1-year-old, cocking his head to the side and walking slowly toward the baby. An enthused grin grew larger on the baby’s face with every step Jed took.

“Hey, Baby,” Jed said tenderly as he picked up his youngest son and tossed him into the air. The baby’s body tensed and he giggled as his head nearly touched the white, vaulted ceiling. Jed caught him easily, then cradled him as he walked quietly into the sitting room to greet his wife.

Gladys pulled the pillow from her head and frowned at her husband. “I’m sick,” she said, nearly at the point of tears.

“I know,” Jed replied as he kissed her forehead. “Bad day?”

“They were horrible today,” she moaned as she placed a hand over her forehead.

As if on cue, the two older boys came running into the room, but stopped abruptly at their father’s roar. “Get out of this room!”

They stepped backward quietly, eyeing their father’s hand alter between a tight fist and a tense open hand until they reached the stairs, then slipped over the barricade and resumed their laps around the family room.

Jed turned back to his wife. “I’m sorry, Honey. What can I do for you?”

Gladys shrugged. “Make dinner.”

“What can I make?”

“Whatever you want.”

“Can I make ramen noodles?”

Gladys face contorted with horror, her hand flying quickly to her mouth. She shook her head twice, too afraid to speak.

Jed’s eyes softened. “What can I make?”


Jed nodded, then walked to the kitchen, placed the baby in his high chair and started making Daddy sandwiches—a combination of mayonnaise, lunch meat and sliced Swiss cheese.

“Would you like a sandwich?” he called to Gladys.


He piled the sandwiches—one for each of the boys, two for him—carefully around the edge of a white porcelain plate, then pulled a bag of nacho cheese Doritos from the pantry and filled the open space between the sandwiches. He placed the shared platter on the table and was about to sit down, but the baby started whining.

Oh, right, Jed thought as he shook his head in frustration, then grabbed a box of cheerios and poured a small pile onto the tray in front of his third son. “There you go, Baby.”

The 1-year-old clenched his fist, stuck out his index finger and thumb—his pinchers—then carefully grabbed one cheerio and placed it in his toothless mouth. He gummed it for a second, stuck his fist in his mouth to pull out the cheerio, looked at it, then placed it back in his mouth again.

“You would fill up your tummy a lot faster if you just ate your food,” Jed said in a sweet voice, then called his two older sons to dinner. They came screaming up the stairs.

“Stop!” Jed bellowed as he sat down. “How do you act in Mommy’s kitchen?”

“Quiet,” the 6-year-old replied, then the two of them leaped over the barricade and sat at the table.

Gladys appeared, but only momentarily as she walked up a separate staircase to hide in her master bedroom.

Jed watched her with concern. “You know, Boys, Mommy told me you were pretty naughty today.”

“Yeah,” the 4-year-old replied as he grabbed a sandwich from the platter and took a big bite.

“Let’s talk for a minute,” Jed continued. “Why is Mommy sick?”

“Because she has a baby growing in her tummy,” the 6-year-old answered.

“When you guys are naughty, you make her more sick. Do you want Mommy to be even sicker?”

“No,” they answered in unison.

“Then how can you help her?”

“To not to,” the 4-year-old answered.

“To not to what?”

“Be good,” the 6-year-old chimed in.

Jed furrowed his eyebrows in over-exaggerated confusion and sucked his upper lip into his mouth. “To not to be good?”

His two older sons giggled. “No! We should be good always!”

Jed smiled. “Good idea.”

April 25, 2011


These are snippets from a conversation I had today with Mrs. Nielsen, specifically about her 6th grade class' response to BEHOLDERS: INSIGHT.

"Some of my students go to a computer class. One of them begged me not to read while they were gone. I had to rearrange my schedule so I could read while he was there. I have been reading the blog posts to them, too. They really are loving it!"

"I know a few kids have gotten on the blog and checked it out because they talk about it in class."

"They keep asking me to read an hour a day!"

My personal favorite:

"My students were asking me if you sent your book to Scholastic or any other publishers because how can this not be published yet????"

I asked Mrs. Nielsen if she has finished reading the book herself. This was her response:

"I have just been reading it with them. I don't want to bring it home and then forget to take it back. I might get lunch thrown at me!"

I'm glad to hear it's such a hit! I am officially scheduled to visit their class on May 19. I can't wait to meet them!

April 18, 2011

Rose Springs Elementary School - Take 4 (Final)

My fourth and final wave of Q&A from the students of Mrs. Nielsen's 6th grade class at Rose Springs Elementary School (after reading through chapter 7 of INSIGHT). You guys are fantastic! I'll see you in a month!

"How did you come up with the book?" -Chans

This is a really important question, one that stumps most people who want to write something, but don't know where to start.

I decided I wanted to write a fantasy novel because I've been irritated with how authors typically use magic in their literature. Even in The Lord of the Rings books (which I absolutely LOVE, enough that I have maps of Middle-earth covering the walls in my garage), Tolkien never gives a clear explanation of what a wizard or elf can or can't do with their magic. While many readers openly accept the ambiguities of magic, I wanted to create a type of magic where a reader would never have to ask why or how something was accomplished.

So, my first order of business was to come up with my own version of magic, which you now know to be True Sight. In regard to the use of magic in fantasy novels, I've heard some authors like to start by asking the question, "What does the magic cost?" I personally started with the question, "What are the limitations of True Sight? What CAN'T they do with magic?" After that, I just had to fill in the blanks. Who uses True Sight? Where do they live? For what purposes do they use their magic? The rest of the story took shape rather quickly after I figured out the magic.

While developing a new storyline, one of my greatest helps was knowing people I could trust. I had many conversations with family and close friends, bouncing ideas off them and brainstorming solutions. I never could have finished without them.

"Where do you get these names?" -Chad
"Are the characters related to you or any of your family? If so, how?" -Chelsea
"Where did you get the names for everyone? I really like them." -Matt
"I like their names, espcially Mellai. Oh, and Kaylen. Where do you get all the names?" -Unknown 1

Many of the names and places in my book are a variation of someone I know or a creation from words in the dictionary. For example, Appernysia is a combination of the words Apperception (which is the purposeful act of perceiving or understanding something) and Dionysia (which is the worship of Dionysus, the god of fertility, wine, and drama). Another example would be Lon and Mellai's names. They were created from my brother and sister, Lonnie and Melanee. Another fun one is Allegna, Lon and Mellai's grandmother. If you remove one of the l's in Allegna and spell it backwards, it will spell Angela (my other sister). I have also included all of my wife's brothers and sisters in my book, as well as our parents, nieces and nephews.

"Why isn't Kaylen's dad very happy about Kaylen marrying Lon?" -Ashley

Scut isn't necessarily unhappy about Lon courting Kaylen, but I'm not surprised you got this impression. You have to remember Kaylen is Scut's only child. It wouldn't matter who Kaylen wanted to marry. Scut would always be protective of her.

"How come Mellai doesn't have a husband yet?" - Ashley

For two main reasons.

First, she isn't interested in finding one at this point in her life. She is angry at her parents for moving away from her family and friends in Roseiri. She is hesitant to make any new friends, so finding a boyfriend is at the very bottom of her to-do list.

Second, because Mellai is so angry, she is mean and rude to everyone she meets. All the boys in Pree are scared to even look her, let alone attempt to court her!

"Why is there so much gross romance stuff?" -Matt
"You sure do have a lot of mushy gushy stuff [it's good :)]." -Ashley

I understand your question, Matt. I love a good action-packed story, but as you can see from Ashley's comment, girls like mushy gushy stuff. I wanted this book to be a good story for guys and girls, so I crammed it full of both mushy gushy stuff AND action. Keep reading! There is plenty of violence coming later in the book, I promise! :)

"Why do you call their parents by their names in the book?" -Ashley

I did so to differentiate between all the dads and moms. For example, if Aron and Scut didn't have names, it would be very confusing for a reader to know which dad Kaylen and Lon are talking about in a conversation.

"How does Lon's family make money?" -Matt

In small villages like Pree, they don't use money. They barter (trade) for things instead. If you and I lived in Pree and I wanted your help with my farm for a day, I might offer you a warm blanket or a snazzy wood carving.

"Why was there a horse in a white house? This could be confusing." -Chad

I was a little confused by this question, but I'll give my best answer. If you are asking about the horse that Shalán was keeping sedated in her greenhouse, she had to keep him hidden from the rest of her village. Only Rayders, Appernysian soldiers and rich nobles ride horses, so if anyone in Pree saw or heard a horse, they would be very curious who was visiting (and probably terrified it was a Rayder). Did you know a horse's neigh can travel over a half-mile? It's very loud, so Shalán had to be extra careful!

"You call beer, mead. What? I didn't know what that was until my neighbor told me." -Chelsea

Mead is like beer, but it's made with honey so it tastes a little sweeter. Mead was a popular drink in Appernysia (as with most other high fantasy worlds).

"I like the little humor in this book." -Ashley

Thanks! I understand you just read the part when Lon "drew his sword." I still laugh when I read his father's response!

"I like the way you introduce each character and set a certain background for each character." -Brianna

Thank you! It's important to me that readers understand how my characters think and feel.

"What will the 2nd book be called?" -Chad

I have come up with names for all four books in The Beholders Series. In order, they are INSIGHT, TRUE SIGHT, HINDSIGHT, and FORESIGHT.

"What is the 2nd book going to be about?" -Chelsea

You are going to hate me for this answer, Chelsea, but I can't tell you yet. Sorry! I am planning to come visit with your class when you finish reading it. I promise I'll tell you then!

"In the next book you write continuing this one, you should make a dreamy hot guy and Mellai and him fall in love. He gives her a promise ring to marry her when they are older and it is romance between them and make it interesting (their love)." -Katrina

Keep reading! Maybe Mellai will find a great guy and fall in love in this book. :)

"When does the second book come out?" -Chans

I'm flattered by this question, but I still need to get my first book published. You are part of a special crowd that I'm letting have a sneak peek of INSIGHT before it goes on sale.

April 15, 2011

Two Fantastic Updates!

I have two quick updates from Mrs. Nielsen, a 6th grade teacher at Rose Springs Elementary School. It is her class that has been reading my unpublished YA fantasy novel, Beholders: Insight.

"I just had a student come in and tell me you inspired him. He wants to write his own book and started last night."

"I have to tell you what happened today. We read our usually 30 minutes and stopped right where [a person] was kidnapped. I shut the book and they started screaming, NOOOOOO, you have to read more! I said I can't, time is up. One student (a boy, mind you) said, I will start crying if you stop! So we read another chapter for another 30 minutes. Don't take offense, but when the creature came and saved [a person], my students thought the creature was a werewolf. Ha ha! So I said, IT'S JACOB!!!! It was hilarious! We were having a lot of fun with it today. They are really enjoying it!"

I have since discovered that the student who decided to start a book was Howie. I'm very excited for you, Howie! I'll be looking for you when I come visit your school next month!

I won't lie. Agency rejections are tough, but they are NOTHING compared to the satisfaction of receiving feedback like this (even with references to Jacob *snicker*). As I told Mrs. Nielsen, mission accomplished! I can die happy. Seriously.

April 11, 2011

Rose Springs Elementary School - Take 3

This is the third wave of my Q/A from the students of Mrs. Nielsen's 6th grade class at Rose Springs Elementary School. This post will focus on Jaeds and Braedr. I've said this before, but I just can't get over how impressed I am with this class! Great questions!

"What is a Jade?" -Chelsea
"What exacly is a Jade?" -Katrina & Matt

Alas, this is a very difficult question--not because I don't know the answer, but because you are not supposed to know the answer yet. I will post a segment of Insight here to show what you should know about Jaeds so far. This is from chapter 5, when the Marcs and Kaylen were discussing Stick-Stack.


“Beholders have always been male,” Shalán answered, “and for good reasons. One man could repopulate an entire village if there were enough women to supply the need. The Jaeds are very wise. They wouldn’t sentence Appernysia to extinction by sending our women into battle.”

“Your mother and I disagree on this one point,” Aron said. “Although I don’t argue with her opinion about women fighting in wars, I don’t think the Jaeds are concerned with that fact.”

“Beholders, True Sight, Jaeds. I can’t keep track of all of these names,” Mellai said impatiently. “What in the world is a Jaed?”

“I had the same question,” Lon inserted.

“Nobody knows for sure,” Aron answered, “although some people have formed their own opinions about them. The only thing everyone agrees on is that Jaeds regulate the use of the energies that Beholders wield—and that only Beholders can see them. The Rayders also have historical accounts of Jaeds intervening when Beholders got too overzealous with their powers.”

“How come I haven’t heard of a Jaed before now?” Kaylen asked. “It makes sense that Lon and Mellai haven’t because you’ve protected them from certain parts of the Rayder history, but I’m surprised I haven’t.”

“Because Jaeds are usually only known to the Rayders,” Aron answered. “When the Rayders were exiled and the Beholders were killed, the knowledge of Jaeds passed out of existence in Appernysia. However, the Rayders maintain knowledge of them in hopes that a Jaed will supply the Rayders with another Beholder someday.”

“I know about the Jaeds because I know your father,” Shalán continued, sensing the question burning in her children’s minds."


This is all the Marcs know and it drives Lon crazy that, as a Beholder, he hasn't seen a Jaed yet. Sorry, but this is all I can tell you right now. You just might find more answers as you get closer to the end of this book. ;)

"If Lon is a Beholder, does that mean that Mellai is something? Perhaps a Jaed?" -Brianna
"I'm wondering if Mellai is a Beholder or even a Jade." -Matt
"Is Mellai a Jade?" -Katlyne & Katrina

I assume you ask these questions because Lon and Mellai are twins. You are obviously paying attention to the more subtle details of the book! Great job!

To answer your question, I will address what the Marcs know at the end of Chapter 7. According to Aron, Jaeds can only be seen by Beholders. If that is true, everyone must be a Beholder because everyone can see Mellai. If Aron's statement is not true, then I suppose Mellai could be a Jaed. That's all I can say, sorry!

"Why is Braedr a depressed weirdo? Does he have family problems?" -Matt
"How come Mellai doesn't like Braedr?" -Ashley

Before I answer your questions, let me introduce Braedr to everyone who hasn't read Insight. Braedr is the only child of the village blacksmith. He is talented, handsome, confident, and all the young women of Pree swoon over him--except for Mellai and Kaylen.

Here is a quote from chapter 1 of Insight. It explains Braedr's relationship with the Marcs and Kaylen.

"Braedr became extremely upset only a short time after the Marcs arrived in Pree. Lon had quickly stolen the heart of Kaylen, who Braedr considered to be his childhood sweetheart. As a method of retaliation, he changed his focus to Mellai. She intrigued him because she wanted nothing to do with him. Naturally, Braedr wanted the one thing he couldn’t get and made it his goal to claim Mellai as his own. It became an obsession for him, but had nothing to do with any internal affection for her. He just wanted Mellai as his prize. It had always amazed the twins that their parents didn’t recognize his negative qualities. As if to confirm Lon’s suspicions, Shalán invited Braedr over for dinner specifically to play matchmaker for Mellai."

So why does Mellai hate Braedr so much? She is a very headstrong girl and hates being the subject of anybody's project, especially when the reasons are as insincere and selfish as Braedr's.

"I really like how the main characters are twins." -Brianna
"I like how it leaves you hanging with questions so then you're even more eager to read. I also like how you solve one problem and then another one comes. It throws you through a twist." -Katrina

Thanks for the compliments! I've been told that one of the greatest strengths of Insight is the layered problems--that it keeps readers constantly on their toes. I hope it keeps you interested through the entire book!

This ends Take 3! Watch for Take 4!

April 8, 2011

Rose Springs Elementary School - Take 2

A continuation of my Q/A from the students of Mrs. Nielsen's 6th grade class at Rose Springs Elementary School. Today's theme... Rayders! These are all excellent questions!

"What is a Rayder?" -Chelsea
"Can a girl be a Rayder?" -Howie

You'll find more information about the Rayders as you continue to read, but here is a brief summary.

The term Rayders is a name for a race of people (consisting of men, women and children). In the First Age of Appernysia, the elite guard of the King consisted of men chosen from the Rayders. Every member of the elite guard was a respected example of honor and loyalty to their kingdom. Even more importantly, all Beholders came from the Rayders. Unfortunately, the Rayders became jealous of the Beholders' power and killed them all. The Rayders were banished from Appernysia for their treachery and have lived in the Exile ever since.

"What are the Rayders and what do they do?" -Chans
"Do the Rayders kill people or just animals?" -Katlyne
"What is the Rayders' purpose in life? Do they just go around killing people for no reason? Is there an even BIGGER purpose for them in the story?" -Brianna
"Do the Rayders always travel in groups of 5?" -Brianna

The Rayders eventually realized they were wrong to kill the Beholders and have been trying to find or breed one ever since. Beholders were known to be very smart, so squads of five Rayders often sneak into Appernysia to kidnap people who show signs of high intelligence, with hopes they will have a child that is a Beholder. The Rayders are very dedicated, so if anything poses a threat to their mission they will eliminate it--including people.

At the beginning of Insight, a rumor has been traveling through the kingdom that a Beholder has been born, so naturally, the Rayders send out many squads to find the Beholder.

"If the dad is a Rayder wouldn't Lon and his sister be one also?" -Chans

Yes, but only by bloodline. Remember that Aron ran away from the Rayders to marry his wife, Shalán, so neither Lon nor Mellai have been raised as Rayders. The Marcs family considers themselves Appernysians.

"What is the Rayder leader's name? How would someone become the Rayder leader?" -Matt

The Rayder Commander is Rayben Goldhawk. When a Commander dies, his replacement is chosen through a tournament. Any male Rayder can participate in the tournament and the winner is made Commander.

"I like how the Rayder was gonna kill the kid's family and he uses his Beholder powers. Well done." -Unknown 2
"I like how Lon was able to throw Mellai across the road to safety." -Katlyne

That was a very difficult scene to write because it was the first time I had to describe how a Beholder uses True Sight. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks for all the questions and comments! Keep an eye out for Take 3!