What Stan Musial Taught Me About Kindness

My baseball life isn’t something I talk about much anymore. This is funny, now, because for almost ten years, I ate, slept, and breathed it. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

I spent the summer of 1992 in Saint Louis, Missouri, working with a group that ministered to the needs of inner city residents, mostly children. 

If you know me, you know how fascinated I am by cultures that are different from mine, and how I want to know everything about everyone, and live every life, and have every experience. (Why, yes, I am a writer.) I relished almost every second I spent in Saint Louis.

What I did not relish was the part-time job I had to work so that I could actually eat while I lived there. Ahhh, Casa Gallardo. I was a hostess. I had to wear a fluffy, colorful skirt with an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse. At that point in my life, there wasn’t a lot to keep that shirt up.  It was not hot, y’all. It was not even lukewarm

One busy Sunday, a big family came in and asked for a table. I proceeded to put them on a long wait, along with all the other people in the lobby. No complaints. 

I asked the man his last name so I could put him on the list.

He said, “Musial.” 

I said, “What?”

He said, “Musial.” 

I said, “How do you spell that?” 

Forty-five minutes later, when I called the name out over the intercom, two things happened. 

The first was that half the restaurant jumped out of their seats and rushed to the Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the parking lot to buy baseballs and Sharpies. The second was that my managers came running to the hostess desk from the back of the restaurant and pulled me to the side.

“Never, never, never do that again,” one said. 

“Do what?” I asked. 

“You don’t call famous people over the intercom,” the other said. 

“Who’s famous?”

It was an innocent question. I grew up listening to University of Tennessee football, and while my town had a minor league team, I’d only ever been interested in who was the cutest in the program pictures. 

“That’s Stan Musial.” 

Me, still clueless: “Who?” 

“Have you been to the Cardinals stadium? Have you seen the statues? Did you watch Happy Days? STAN the MAN?” 

Miraculously, they didn’t fire me.

I watched a line form at Mr. Musial’s table, all those people with their freshly purchased baseballs, holding them out for the poor man to sign. So many he couldn’t even eat. I felt like CRAP. I hemmed and hawed, and debated, and finally got up the nerve to go over to his table. There was hand wringing. And probably sweat. 

“Sir,” I said, kneeling by his seat. “I am so, so sorry. I’m from Tennessee, and I don’t really know much about baseball, but I wanted to say I’m sorry for making you wait, and for calling out your name — 

He stopped me. Made me pull up a chair. Introduced me to his wife, Lil, who had on a fabulous blue pantsuit, and was accessoried like you read about, most notably with a smile. He took my hand in his, told me not to worry, and then he and Lil chatted with me for a few minutes about life in general. 

He was unfailingly gracious and kind. 

Fast forward two years, to the July 4th I met one Ethan McEntire, a minor league baseball player in the New York Mets organization. He proposed three months later.

Fast forward two more years, to the spring night I sat in a stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, where I met Mr. Musial’s son. He ran “Stan the Man.” I told him my story. He told me he thought he remembered hearing it. When he found out I was married to the left-handed pitcher on the mound, he told me that he would pass the story along to his father. He thought he would appreciate the way things ended up. (I often wonder what he would’ve thought if he’d discovered I was a general manager for the Kingsport Mets for three years.)

Since that day, I’ve never asked anyone famous for an autograph unless their express purpose at the time was giving them. Not even when I ran into Rob Pattinson outside the bathroom at Comic-Con last summer. 

Stan Musial taught me something in five minutes of interaction, and I never forgot it. He showed me how to be gracious. How to have no pride in who you are or what you’ve done, but to instead show kindness for fellow humans whenever you can. Even to a country hick nineteen year-old girl who didn’t know a change up from a slider. I do now.

Sometimes, people autograph your hearts. Stan Musial did that for me, and the memory is more valuable than anything I could ever sell on EBay. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Musial. And thank you. 

About Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Monday, December 10th, 2012

12:00 PM

I got off the phone with Excellent Editor Regina, after I told her my crazy plans for rewriting Infinityglass. You know. That book that comes out this summer. I’m shell shocked, but excited. Ready to take it on.


Monday, December 10th, 2012  through Thursday, January 10, 2013

6:30 PM

Cry, plot, eat, write, delete, write, cry, pretend I’m not plotting at Christmas dinner, forgo any New Year’s activities to write, shut down the Twitter so I can concentrate fully on the book, cry, delete, laugh hysterically, eat, eat, and cry. Also, write.

6:31 PM 

My back goes out. It does this when too many hours at my desk chair make it angry. 

9:00 PM

Flat on my back with a tens unit applied to offending muscles. Decide to Read Something. Have my phone with my Kindle app in my hand. See HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover with a bajillion amazing reviews. One click ordering. BOOM. Read the first few chapters. Adore the voice. Remember why reading while revising is always a good idea. Fall deeper in love with the voice AND the writing. Pain pills kick in, so I go to bed.


Friday, January 11, 2013

9:30 AM

Sit down to work. Am tempted by the Kindle app on my MacBook Pro. I SUCCUMB.

11:48 AM

Get a phone call from Stephanie Perkins, my writing accountability partner and dear, sweet friend. Cannot make words because of the crying. Make tear and snot induced noises and promise to call back the second I’m done. 

11:49 AM

Husband brings home lunch. Keep reading. 

1:01 PM

“The End.” Realize the whole front of my “Bunnies Will F*cking Kill You” t-shirt is completely soaking wet from All the Crying Ever in the Whole Universe. 

(This book will help people. Change people. This is why books with pure, authentic emotion will win every time over writing style. However, the writing style is so, so strong and amazing. The VOICE. The whole thing is amazing. I want Colleen Hoover to move into my house and tell me stories every day. Her family will be FINE. I will feed her cupcakes and buy her a pony – this is how much I love this woman’s skills. Y’all, this book. I can’t even. I’ve not written a review in years, even for my besties. BUY IT. ALSO BUY TISSUE, OR WEAR AN ABSORBENT T-SHIRT. Also, heads up, it is a very sexy book that deals with some very serious issues. Also also, HOLY CRAP, HOLDER. Or as my neighbor said, “SMOLDER HOLDER.”) 

1:14 PM

See my lunch is still on the table.

1:31 PM


1:32 PM

Put on (dry) Doctor Who t-shirt and get back to work. 


Remember lunch.

Merry Christmas 2012!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Nominations and a Treat!

1) HOURGLASS sold three years ago today! That’s crazy, especially since I just scrapped the draft of the third book in the series — out June 25th in a bookstore near you, ALLEGEDLY — and started over. Because I am crazy. I blame Kristen Cashore. 

2) TIMEPIECE has been nominated for the Hypable Award for the Best Book of the Year! My competition includes J.K. Rowling. It’s an honor to be nominated. No seriously, because Hypable is awesome, and my name is on a list with J.K. Rowling’s. I’m jazzed. Not Jasper Hale jazzed. Just generally jazzed.

3) TIMEPIECE has been nominated for two YABC Choice Awards! YABC is a great site that reviews young adult books, and it’s a safe place for teachers/parents to send kids to make their own choices about what to read because it’s profanity free! 

UPDATE! 4) I just heard from my editor that TIMEPIECE has been nominated for Best YA Novel over at MTV Hollywood Crush!

I need to mention that I don’t look at these lists when I see the links go up because they make my stomach hurt. AND, there’s a spectacular level of awesome when there’s No Freaking Way you’ll win, because then you just get to enjoy the process! 

And not at all profanity free, IN CELEBRATION of the NOMINATIONS, I’m sharing a deleted scene from TIMEPIECE! This scene is the perfect example of how you sometimes write something that isn’t wrong, but isn’t quite right for the final draft, either. Fun note: a high school friend of mine, Josh Green, owns a bar called Doc Holliday’s in downtown Nashville, and this seemed like the perfect place to put Kaleb to get into trouble. In the final draft, he goes to a bar in downtown Memphis instead. (Plot purposes. Sorry Josh.) For all you fans of the show NASHVILLE, when you’re compelled to come this way, you should visit Doc Holliday’s! It’s right next to the Wild Horse! (And the bar is called Billy the Kid in the scene because of permissions and what not.) 


Enjoy this DELETED TIMEPIECE (and completely unedited!) scene, and please do not repost, but feel free to link here!


Screw yardwork.

I knew exactly where I was going, and exactly why I shouldn’t be.

I parked in an overnight garage, prepaid, and left my keys with Dave, the usual parking attendant.

“You sure, dude?” He lifted his white visor to scratch his forehead and peer up into my eyes. “The cops are really coming down hard lately, with all the new Vandy freshman.”

“Which is why I’m not driving.”

He nodded. “Take it easy, bro.”

“I’m taking it, but not easy.” My words echoed off the cement walls of the garage as I hooked a right onto Second Avenue.

It was still early. I went straight to Billy the Kid’s so I could get in without using my fake ID, and tucked myself into a four-seater in a corner. I ordered chili cheese fries with extra jalapenos, put my back against the wall, and watched the Saturday afternoon humanity flow in and out. Kids wearing the cheap cowboy hats sold in the gift shop, tourists fresh from the Grand Ole’ Opry, shoppers carrying bags from Hard Rock Cafe. A microcosm of country music fandom.

I tried to relax and let all the emotions flow over me, coasting the way I usually did in groups, waiting for Ben to show so I could get my drink on.

Just after eight, he stretched his hand out in front of me.

I slid him the parking garage claim receipt and he tucked it into his back pocket. A Southern Comfort and Coke appeared on the scratched vinyl tabletop. I downed it in three gulps.

“I’ll open a tab.” Ben was tall and slender, a cross country runner, he’d told me. He signaled to the girl behind the bar to bring another drink over. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

I wondered if he really knew how old I was. I’d shown him my I.D. once. He’d never asked to see it again, but he always required the claim ticket for my car before he served me. I didn’t like lying to him, even by default.

Ben was one of the few ‘civilians’ who knew about my ability, and the revelation had happened purely by accident. I’d touched him on the day he’d buried his wife. Considering I was already three drinks deep, I hadn’t stopped myself from asking him why he was tending bar when he was so full of grief.

His pain had been so bad I’d taken a little. Only a little. Just enough to make him coherent. In hindsight, granting coherency to someone I’d taken emotion from wasn’t such a good idea, but he had reminded me so much of my dad grieving for my mom that I couldn’t help myself. 

That had been eight months ago. He kept me in whiskey, and saved the sofa in the back for me to crash on when he didn’t think I should drive. I didn’t have to explain why I was there.

To forget. Just forget.

The drinking part of the evening’s plan was well under way when I saw her. Dark hair, short skirt. Ready for a good time and nothing else, according to the emotion I could pick up from across the room. Exactly the way I preferred them. All it took was a single smile. Two drinks later her hand was on my thigh. Ten minutes after that we stumbled to the back and found ourselves up against a wall.

She was tall and curvy, but not as curvy as Lily. Her hair didn’t smell like citrus and vanilla.

Lily. Why the hell was I thinking of her? 

I slid one hand under the girl’s shirt, trailing my fingers up her spine to the clasp of her bra. She hooked her thumbs in my front belt loops, and her lips found their way from neck to my earlobe.

“What are you waiting for?” she whispered.

The words were wet, or maybe that was just her tongue in my ear. I flattened my palms against her back. She slid her hands into my jean pockets and rose up on her tiptoes.

She was hot enough and I was drunk enough. But suddenly the thought of kissing her, or doing anything else with her, turned my stomach.

My mind flooded with images. Dad, tears still on his cheeks from crying over my mom. Emerson and Michael on the overstuffed orange chair, they way they always seemed to be together, yet separate at the same time.

Lily, pressed against me for that brief moment at the masquerade. The apron strings wrapped around her waist.

Images bled into emotions. Lily’s freedom on the dance floor. The joy that permeated the pool water when she dove in. Michael’s fear for Emerson. Ava’s relief for my kindness toward her.

The worry in my dad’s voice when he’d told me about Chronos.

I’d come here to forget, and all I could do was remember.

I wanted the crushing sadness I felt to go away, especially when I realized it was coming from me.

The girl didn’t wait any longer for me to kiss her. Her lips tasted like fake cherries. “We can go to your car. Or here will be fine.”

I looked into her eyes and realized I didn’t know her name. 

“Hey,” I stopped and gently pushed her away. “I’m drunk. You’re drunk. This is … stupid.”

“You didn’t think so five seconds ago.” Pride.

“It’s me. You’re obviously a really sweet girl, and I never should’ve … forgive me?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking.” She smoothed down her skirt. “You’re really hot. I guess that was it.”

“Do you have a ride home? Besides your car? You’ve had a few -“

“I can walk to my apartment from here. Thanks.” She pulled a lipstick out of her cleavage and reapplied before wobbling her way back out to the bar.

Bullet. Dodged.

Once she’d gotten a fresh drink and rejoined her friends, I took a seat on a barstool directly in front of Ben to watch him mix up a gin and tonic. He jerked his head in the direction of the girl.

“Changed your mind?”

“Came to my senses.” I scooped a handful of wasabi peas out of a bowl and tried not to think about how many germs I was about to ingest. My blood alcohol level would probably kill them anyway. “Realized she was a person instead of a thing. Can I ask you a question?”

He took a plastic swizzle stick loaded with lime slices, stuck it in the G&T, and slid it to the end of the bar. He wiped his hands on a towel before leaning over to listen. “Go for it.”

“Women.” If I felt any pain from him at all, I’d turn my question into teasing. Ask about his preference of real versus fake or something equally lame. But he was fine, so I went ahead. “How do you know when you’ve found something … someone … who could be special?”

“I hate to go with the standard here, son, but it’s true. You just know.” He picked up a stray drink menu, scratching at a splash of what looked like dried salsa. “Do you think you’ve found someone?”


I felt a tinge of sadness from him, but it quickly changed to melancholy. He looked up at me and grinned. I noticed the shots of silver in his black hair. They had to be new. “Do you need another drink?”

“How about a plain Coke?”

“Oh. This is serious.” He scooped ice into a glass, added some grenadine, and a couple of cherries. “I have a deep-seated need to actually mix a drink if I’m going to give advice.”

I laughed and settled in for a cherry Coke and a counseling session.

“What’s different this time?”

I took a long drink and chased a piece of ice with my tongue. It was the rabbit pellet kind. Excellent for crunching. “I wish I could tell you exactly. I’m going to sound like a total chick, but it’s like there’s … sunshine in her soul.” I groaned. “Thinking about her makes me happy, which is stupid because she hates me, and because I don’t really know her.”

“Are you sure she hates you?”

“I grabbed her ass at a party. In public. Without her permission.”

“Ooof.” He winced. “What did she do?”

“Smacked me across the face and called me a douchebag.”

“Was it worth it?”

“Totally.” I fished around in the glass for one of the cherries. “Not copping the feel. Being called out when I deserved to be. Meeting someone that strong.”

“You’ve never felt this way about a girl before? And call them girls, not chicks. Especially if you’re trying to see them as ‘people’ over ‘things.’ Hold on.” He nodded at someone behind me and grabbed a frosted beer mug from the cooler. He placed it under the tap and gestured for me to keep going.

“I’ve sort of felt this way before. Unfortunately the girl was Lily’s best friend. Who is now one of my best friends.”

Ben took the mug and passed it to a guy behind me in exchange for a ten-dollar bill. “What does she have to say about it?”

“She doesn’t know. Em sees the attraction. But I’m not sure she thinks I’m capable of a relationship. That hurts a little bit.” It felt so damn good to be honest with someone who wouldn’t judge me for telling the truth. “I’m not sure I am. But I don’t think taking random girls to the back hallway of a bar is going to cut it anymore.”

Not since I’d seen and felt the way things were between Michael and Emerson. How it could be with someone you cared about.

“The choices you made tonight are a pretty good indication of where you stand. Things seem to be changing.” Ben put the money in the register and leaned on the bar. “If you feel this strongly, it’s foolish not to pursue her, don’t you think?” 

“I don’t know. It’s probably foolish to even consider it.” I sighed. “Ben? You can’t serve me alcohol anymore. I’m not exactly legal.”

His mouth formed a thin, angry line. “Do you know how much trouble you could’ve gotten us both in?” 

“I’m sorry. I really am.” I stared down at the scarred bar top. “I just figure if things are changing, I might as well be honest.” 

“Do you still have the ID that says you’re twenty-one?” he asked. 

“I do.” 

“Are you going to hand it over?” 

I put my hand on the pocket that held my wallet. “Not yet.”


Hope you liked! Let me know in the comments! 

YA Scavenger Hunt!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to see MY personal giveaway!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all for a chance to win a whole different set of twenty-five signed books! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a blue team! Amazing – 2 teams! 

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

Directions: You’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in this post (look up!). Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!). 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by December 2, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
 Today, I am hosting Michelle Gagnon on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Can I be her when I grow up?
Michelle is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, personal trainer, freelance journalist, model, and Russian supper club performer. Her bestselling thrillers have been described as, “utterly gripping…addictively readable thrillers,” by the Chicago Tribune. Her series for adults includes THE TUNNELS, BONEYARD, THE GATEKEEPER, and KIDNAP & RANSOM; over 500,000 copies sold worldwide. In fall 2012, Harper Teen released DON’T TURN AROUND, the first book in her PERSEF0NE trilogy. She splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Cody paced the small space between his futon and the door, the worn floorboards creaking in protest beneath his boots. He didn’t know what the hell to do. He’d returned home from the hospital expecting to find Noa and Peter waiting for him. But his apartment was empty, just a leftover mess from breakfast that morning. They weren’t answering when he called the numbers for their new TracFones. And neither of them had left a message on his cell, he’d been compulsively looking every few minutes.

He had a bad feeling that they’d run off and done something insanely stupid. Like trying to check out one of those places where they might be keeping other kids. Cody kept dialing 911, but not pressing the button to complete the call. Because what would he even tell them? Where would he send them? Of course, it hadn’t occurred to him to ask Peter for the addresses–why would he, when they were all supposed to come up with a plan together? And whatever research they’d been doing was on Noa’s computer, because there was nothing in his desktop’s search history; he’d already checked.

Cody collapsed on the futon, his head in his hands, and then got back to his feet. He couldn’t stay still. He should have known better, he chastised himself. Should have recognized the look in Peter’s eyes. It was the same one Jeremy used to get before pranking someone. 

At the thought of Jeremy, he nearly lost it. He’d promised that he would look after Peter, do his best to fill in for the big brother who wouldn’t be there anymore. And he’d failed. 

A knock on his front door. Cody raced to answer it, turning all three dead bolts in rapid succession. As he yanked it open he said, “Thank God—”

And stopped. Because instead of Peter and Noa, three total strangers stood there. In the middle was a guy in an immaculate three-piece suit and wool overcoat. He looked like an investment banker. Flanking him were two huge men dressed all in black. They were crowded together on his landing.

The guy in the suit smiled thinly at him. “Mr. Ellis?”

“Yeah?” Cody asked. His hand had frozen on the knob, and dread filled the pit of his stomach. “Can I help you?”

“Did you drop off a blood sample at Boston Medical today?” the man asked.

Cody shrugged, fighting to keep his voice nonchalant. “I’m a med student there. They have me running around a lot of blood samples.”

“Not like this one,” the man said. “My name is Mason. It’s in your best interest to invite me in.”

YAY! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, hosted by Victoria Strauss, and more! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the RED team and you’ll have all the secret codes to enter for the grand prize!
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Gina Damico!
NOW, for MY giveaway! All you need to do to enter is comment below, and tell me which memory in the past you’d like to travel back and experience again! Make sure to leave an email or contact info in case you win!
To get extra entries:
c) link to your review on a blog/at B&N/at Amazon of Hourglass  (+1 for each place) or Timepiece (+1 for each place)! 
Add up your points and tell me in the comments, and don’t forget to leave your Twitter handle if you follow! 
Note: To be eligible to win you also need to submit a valid entry to the YA Scavenger Hunt grand prize!
Winners will receive a signed hardcover of TIMEPIECE:  
A signed copy of HOURGLASS (paperback):
THANK YOU SO MUCH for participating in the hunt! Good luck!

Winter YASH Deleted Scene from Timepiece

(Set Up: In the original version of TIMEPIECE, Kaleb and Lily did some recon while on a fancy tourist steamboat. While there, they ended up booking a dinner cruise to do more snooping. Then, they had to acquire the proper attire for the “date.” There are some other nuances and references from the original version that I won’t explain, but feel free to ask! Even though the scene was deleted, some of the dialogue will be familiar to TIMEPIECE readers!)


“Where am I supposed to come up with a tux in three hours on a Thursday afternoon?”

“That’s what rental places are for,” Michael opened his laptop and pulled up a search engine, typed in “tuxedo rental Memphis” and waited for results. “Here we go. You can order online and pick up in less than an hour, according to availability.”

“You sound like an infomercial.”

“What are you, 34” length?”


Lily had asked the concierge for shopping suggestions on our way in, and he’d mentioned a “funky fashionista boutique that specialized in vintage evening wear” located one block off Union. I wanted to pull his Man Card for saying half those words out loud, but she’d stepped on my toes with her wedge heel and dragged me to the elevator.

“I’m not going dress shopping without you,” Lily was saying to Emerson now, who was sitting next to Nate on the couch, looking slightly perkier after an entire pot of room service coffee and food delivery. She’d been very understanding about the espresso, if pouty. “It’s half a block away. You can’t stay in this room for the rest of the trip.”

“Actually, I can. They bring you sustenance and everything.” She settled back on the couch with a plate of waffles as big as she was and clicked on the television. “And look. Cable. They have four ESPN channels. Four.”

“It’s not baseball season,” Lily said, wrestling the remote away from Em and turning off the television. “It’s football season. You don’t know the difference between a first down and a defensive end.”

“I know one of them is a person.” Em wrinkled her nose. “I’m pretty sure, anyway.”

“I’ll school you, Em,” Nate said, taking the remote from Lily.

Michael handed me his laptop so I could note the number and address of the tux shop and went to sit on the other side of Em. “I think you should go. Kaleb and I can come, too. But we’ll stand outside.”


Michael tried to steal a strawberry off her plate and Em made a stabbing motion with her fork. After he pulled his hand away, she speared the fruit and offered to him. He smiled at her and took it. She smiled back.

It was one of those playful moments between them that usually made my heart ache a little.

Not today.

Today I was just happy Em was smiling.

“You know I have a limited budget,” Lily pleaded, “and I need your help to figure out the best dress for my money. Surely Dru has rubbed off on you a little?”

“No, but that’s why they created camera phones and text messaging. I’ll give you her number.”

“I don’t want you to give me her number. I want you to come with me.”

Michael gently tucked Em’s hair behind one ear. “Please?”

“Remember what you said to Ava the other day?” I asked. “‘Don’t give Jack the power.’ By staying in this room, refusing to face the world, you are.”

Em stared down at her waffles for a few seconds before passing them over to Nate, exhaling deeply, and going find the shoe she’d thrown at us earlier.


“I looked through the copies of the files while you two were gone. I confirmed that all the names and addresses were blacked out,” Michael said as we waited for Em and Lily outside the Sweet Flamingo. I had no idea what could possibly be sweet about a flamingo. “I thought all of the abilities were circled but some of them are blacked out, too. It makes me think Jack could have a lead on another possible traveler.”

He’d already burned through my mom, and Em had made it pretty clear where she stood on helping him. “Maybe.”

“Is that a possibility?” Michael asked. “Has your dad ever said anything about more travelers? They are his files.”

“There were so many names. Twenty years worth. It was impossible for him to follow every lead, especially since he never showed them to anyone.”

“I wish he’d never told anyone they existed at all.”

I stuck my hands into my jean pockets and leaned my shoulder against the shop window. Lily was vamping around with a black feather boa, trying to make Em laugh. Em resisted, and then gave in wholeheartedly. It was a beautiful thing to see. “We both know how rare travelers to the past are.”

“That we do.” Michael was watching Em, too. I hated the heartbreak he couldn’t hide. At least he didn’t try. He moved his focus to me. “You keep showing up, loving her when she needs it most.”

“I do love her. But it hasn’t shaped itself the way I thought it would. At first.” I met his eyes. “I’ll never take your place.”

“I hope we never have to find out if that’s true. I feel so powerless. I hate it.”

“We both know the future is subjective. If you’d gone to the future two months ago Em wouldn’t have been part of your life. She’d still be what she was before Landers screwed with all of us. Just because you saw us together … doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. So many things would change.”

“Like this Lily thing … it’s different for you, isn’t it? Not just because you can’t stop staring at her ass. Or the rest of her.”

“I’m that obvious, huh?”

“It’s like you’ve been thunderstruck.” Michael’s words should have come off as teasing, but they didn’t. Because it was true. I broke eye contact with him and watched Lily take a garment bag from the man behind the counter. She smiled and he looked a little dazzled, and I was pretty sure she wasn’t his type. “You look at her when she talks. Weigh what she has to say. I’ve never seen you listen like that before. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Dad. Can I get a raise in my allowance?”

“You’re going to need extra for your date tonight.”

I froze. “Tonight isn’t a date. Tonight is … tonight is an investigation.”

“Tux. Dress. Dinner. That equals date, big boy.” He grinned. “The rest is extracurricular.”

I was still frozen when Em and Lily exited the shop. They were both rosy cheeked and giggly.

I felt like I might puke, and I had an excellent reason.

I’d never been on a date.


Lily opened the door to the master suite she and Em were sharing when I knocked. Half of her hair was in curlers, she was holding one in her right hand, and she was wrapped in one of the hotel’s thick white robes.

“Hey. I was just thinking about y ….” She stopped, and her cheeks burned the same bright pink as her curlers. “Thinking about tonight.”

“Tonight is … an undercover mission,” I blurted out. I heard the shower running. I was relieved – I really wanted this encounter to remain Emerson free.

“Well, I didn’t think it was a date.”

“Oh. Okay.” I shoved my hands in my pocket and considered the ground for a few seconds. “But … I do want to take you out. Sometime.”

“Oh.” Her cheeks grew a little pinker.

“But I’m not sure how to ask.”

“Why?” She laughed. “You act like you’ve never done it before.”

“I haven’t.” I sighed. “I’m not exactly what anyone would consider well-rounded.”

“You’ve never been on a date?” Disbelief.

“Not a real one.”

Hookups didn’t count.

“And you want your first date to be with me?”

I looked at her standing there in the hotel bathrobe, curlers in her hair, make up free, more confident than any glorified sex symbol, and way more beautiful. Possibly more on the inside than out. “Yes.”

“Well, maybe when we’re not investigating evil scientists we can work that out.”

“Deal.” I held out my hand.

“Deal.” Smiling, she reached out to take it, and realized she still held a roller in hers. “I have curlers in my hair, don’t I?”

I nodded.

She closed her eyes.

“My whole head?”

“Just half.”

“I’ll be ready in ten.” She blew out a sigh and shut the door without opening her eyes.


I was really glad we weren’t going on a date, because when she stepped out of her room I lost all feeling in my extremities.

“I … you.” I cleared my throat. “It … um. Hi.”

“Hi. Oh, wait, I need to get my purse.”

She turned around to pick it up, and I lost feeling everywhere else.

The dress fit like a cliched but greatly appreciated glove. Her hair was up, but not in her usual tight knot. It was wavy and loose, and made me think that pulling out the right pin would send it tumbling.


“Okay, I’m ready.” She faced me again, but looked past me instead of at me, sort of at the floor.

The bow tie on the tux had barely been snug when I’d tied it, but now it was unbearably tight. I had to be doing something wrong, but I had no idea what it was. Maybe I needed to compliment her. Girls usually responded well to compliments.

“You look amazing. Amazing is an understatement. I’m not even sure there’s a word for how you look. I can’t … my tongue feels swollen. That can’t be normal.”

All the tension dissolved, ramping up into anticipation when she smiled. “I’m not sure there’s a word for how amazing you look either.”

“Oh.” I stared at her, unsure of what to do next. “Do you need a jacket or something? It could be cold on the water.”

“A jacket would mess up the lines of the dress.” She batted her eyelashes dramatically. “Sometimes a woman has to suffer for the sake of beauty.”

Definitely didn’t want to mess the lines of the dress. “I’ll give you mine if you need it.”

“You could just keep me warm.”

“That’ll work, too.” Was she flirting with me?

Nate and Michael interrupted when they came through the hotel room door holding bags of takeout barbecue.

“You get a fancy dinner cruise, we get ribs,” Michael said as he put the bags on the coffee table. “I think we win.”

“Oh.” Nate stopped when he saw us and dabbed at his eyes with the tail of his shirt. “I feel like we should take pictures. Our babies are all grown up and going to the prom.”

“If the prom included possible injury and questionable secret organizations,” Em muttered under her breath as she came out of her bedroom with a towel wrapped around her wet hair. “It’s like James Bond meets Harry Potter. Specifically Goblet of Fire. And we all know what happened at the end of that one. Edward died.”


 (TOTALLY leaving you hanging with this one! The deleted scene that follows is titled, “On A Boat, Wearing My Flippy Floppys.” If we can hit fifty comments on this post, I could be persuaded to post it next week! TELL ME what you think, and WHO you think will provide the Point of View for INFINITYGLASS!!)



A Deleted Excerpt from Timepiece

Here’s a treat! 

I did a chat with the lovely Mandy at YABC earlier this year, and I made this deleted excerpt available for a limited amount of time on that day. Since TIMEPIECE takes place in October, I thought I might post it here for a bit for y’all to enjoy. I hope you do! 

Grim Anthology: New Project Announcement!

I’m so excited to finally be able to share this news!

From Christine Johnson’s blog:

“CLAIRE DE LUNE and NOCTURNE author Christine Johnson, ed.’s GRIM, an anthology of dark fairy tale retellings, featuring stories by New York Times bestselling authors Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Julie Kagawa, and others, to Natashya Wilson at Harper Teen, in a nice deal, for publication in Winter 2014, by Caryn Wiseman at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World).” – Quick note. Natashya Wilson is at Harlequin Teen, not Harper Teen.

Here’s a list of all the contributors (including me!)

You might remember that I posted this dance a while back, mentioning that it was inspiration for something. Hmmm … wonder what!?

Upcoming Nashville Events

My deadline is two weeks away, and I look like this: 


(Who are we kidding, I’d kill to look that good.) BUT I wanted to make you aware of some upcoming events on my own stomping grounds!

BooksAMillion, Wednesday, October 24th, 6:00 PM, Spring Hill, Tennessee, with CJ Redwine (DEFIANCE, Balzer and Bray) and Shannon Messenger (KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES)
Parnassus Books, Sunday, October 28th, 2:00 PM, Nashville, Tennessee, Tricks and Treats from Six Young Adult Authors: Beth Revis (ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, A MILLION SUNS), Stephanie Perkins (ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR), Tessa Gratton (BLOOD MAGIC, THE BLOOD KEEPER), Victoria Schwab (THE NEAR WITCH), Sonia Gensler (THE REVENANT), Myra McEntire (HOURGLASS, TIMEPIECE)
I would looooooove to see you there, and I’ve been known to share tidbits of upcoming works in such intimate situations. 
I’ll have posters of the HOURGLASS and TIMEPIECE covers to give away at both events, and the authors will also be giving away a sweet gift basket at the Parnassus event!
Come on out! Please? Pretty, pretty please?