Sunday, June 24, 2012

Six Degrees of Lost

By Linda Benson

Hi Everyone! I am pleased to announce the release of my newest novel from Musa Publishing. It's called SIX DEGREES OF LOST, and it's out as an ebook right now, although I hope to have some promotional print copies soon.

Sometimes you have to take a journey to find out where you really belong.

Olive’s mother is headed to jail and her brother to join the Army, so thirteen-year-old Olive is uprooted from sunny California and dumped in Washington State like a stray. That's exactly what she feels like surrounded by her aunt’s collection of homeless dogs, cats, and horses.

Fourteen-year-old David’s future is already carved in stone. From a military family with two brothers serving overseas, he’s been pointed towards the Air Force Academy his entire life - but a rafting trip gone awry might ruin his chances.

When a runaway dog is almost hit by a car, the search for its owner leads Olive and David, two teens from entirely different backgrounds, to an unlikely bond. Will their growing attraction to each other be enough to keep Olive from a foolhardy journey to find her mother? Will David risk his family’s plans to save her?
This book was inspired by some things in my own life. First, the setting: it's set in a rural portion of the Pacific Northwest, much like the area I live in. Second: the story line about returning lost animals to their homes was inspired by a group of friends here in the country who always call each other when we spot a strange dog on the road, or a new cat, or loose livestock of any kind.
The main story of Olive and David, however, took on a life of its own once I set these characters on the page. It's told from two viewpoints, with Olive and David narrating alternating chapters, and even I was totally surprised by the turn of events when these two meet and become friends. Darn teenagers! You just never know what they might do. *grin* But for me, this is one of the joys of being a writer - watching your characters become real on the page.
As for horses - well, there are two old horses in this novel. They play background parts, I have to admit, but they are there, as well as lost dogs, abandoned puppies, homeless cats, and even an annoying peacock. These things just seem to wander into my stories, no matter what I do.
Below is a small excerpt from the book, shortly after Olive and David meet, when she shows him the horses for the first time.
 “So what’s with all those dogs barking in the back yard?”
“They’re foster dogs. My aunt takes them in when they get too crowded at the animal shelter. Some of them aren’t adoptable, and would be put to sleep otherwise.”
“Really?” I gulp.
“We’ve also got six cats in the house, plus the horses out back. Come on, I’ll show you.” The yellow dog jumps up and down, begging for the stick. Olive flings it down the driveway. I see a small shelter out back, with sagging fences. Olive is already headed that way, taking short barefoot steps on the gravel, so I follow.
A sway-backed pinto horse, with a mouth full of hay, sticks his head out from the shelter and then turns and goes back to his breakfast. It looks kind of bony. “Wow,” I say. “Skinny.”
“Yeah, that’s Paintball.” She grins. “Well, that’s what I call him. He was found wandering loose up in the National Forest. Aunt Trudy says somebody just dumped him there.”
“Why would anybody do that?”
            Olive shrugs. “I know. Hard to believe, huh? I guess they couldn’t afford to feed him, but still, that’s just mean.”
A huge brown horse wanders over to the fence. “Who’s this one?” I reach between the strands of wire and pat his head. He’s just as skinny as the first one.
“My aunt says he’s ancient, and we’ll probably never get his weight back on. They found him tied to a tree in front of the animal shelter, but they don’t really have any facilities for horses there, so he came here instead. He’s sweet, huh?”
“Yeah, he seems nice.” The old horse pushes his head underneath my hand, clearly enjoying the attention.
“I call him Shakespeare. ‘Cause he looks so noble and elegant.”
 Elegant? I think. That’s a stretch. “Can you ride them?”
“I don’t know. Aunt Trudy says we don’t really know that much about them. Anyway, it’s been too hot, and she’s always busy. She’s a clerk at the animal shelter thrift shop, and she takes turns working down at the shelter, besides feeding all these animals here at home.”
Olive talks so fast she makes my head swim. She barely takes a breath, and rattles on. “So besides the ones she takes in from the shelter, my aunt is always finding animals, too. She says there must be an invisible sign at the bottom of the driveway that says: Lost Animals Stop Here.”
“Is that how you found this dog?” I stroke the big lab’s ears, and he presses against me.
“He was standing in the middle of the road,” she says, “and almost got hit by a car.” She smiles. “Maybe he was reading the sign.”
“And Aunt Trudy says there must be another sign down there, too, that says: Dump Your Unwanted Animals Here.”
“Really?” I stare at the pattern of freckles dappling Olive’s nose. Very cute.
“Last year she found a mother cat and four kittens in a box out at the end of the driveway where someone left them.” Olive swipes a strand of hair from her face. “And three other cats have just shown up here, too. Mugsy, Stinker, and Paws. And there was a pony last year that just came trotting up the driveway, and no one ever claimed him, but Aunt Trudy found a home for that one.”
“Wow,” I say. “So what about you? How’d you get here?”
Olive ducks her head suddenly, and doesn’t answer.  Me and my big mouth. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked.
I hope this excerpt has been enough to pique your interest. If you have an ereader, this book is available right now, for $4.99 on Amazon (and also Amazon overseas), Barnes & Noble, from Musa Publishing, and will be available from all major online booksellers soon, as well as Overdrive, for libraries. Hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think!


Francesca Prescott said...

You piqued-ed mine!!! Congratulations on your new release. I'm looking forward to reading this, and will definitely recommend it to my Kindled nieces :).

xx cesca

Laura Crum said...

Sounds like a very interesting book--and one that my son might enjoy.

Linda Benson said...

Thanks so much, Cesca. I tried to pick an excerpt with lots of animals in it, because well, there are. ;-) For international readers, it's on Amazon UK, and Amazon in Germany, France, Spain, and Japan, I believe.

Laura - I bet your son would like it. It has equal parts boy and girl storyline, and there are things he might relate to, like hauling hay and barns and more.

Alison said...

Great Excerpt, Linda!
And Terrific title!
I'm ready to review it whenever . . .

Linda Benson said...

Thanks, Alison. Still waiting on paper copies. At one point, you know, you will break down and buy an ereader (or your kids will get you one for Christmas. LOL.) I was a hold-out, too, but I finally caved. ;-)

Ann Montclair said...

I have this one on my TBR. I love it when a story appeals to my son and me... He'll go first, and then we can discuss it. (BTW your cover is fantastic!)