Today I have the pleasure of spotlighting Author Kai Strand's YA Novella, WORTH THE EFFORT-ELLA'S STORY.
Isn't this cover beautiful? It tells so much about the story too.
About the novella:
Ella Jones is a coward. There is a teen boy living in the alley behind her work and she is terrified of him.
Desperate to leave behind the stereotypical and judgmental world she was raised in, Ella forces herself to make a true connection with seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth. As their friendship grows Ayden’s quiet, gentle ways teach her true courage.
But there’s more to Ayden’s story than Ella knows. When their worlds collide in the most unexpected place, Ella feels betrayed. Will she find the courage to learn who Ayden really is, or will she determine he’s not worth the effort?
His homelessness doesn’t scare me anymore. Well, not as much, at least.
It has been about two weeks, or so, of finding him in the alley behind my work. The more mornings that pass without incident, the more I trust he won’t come at me with a knife. Maybe I don’t really expect him to become violent, but my initial fear of him has decreased to a strange mix of caution and paranoia. It springs up inside me every morning the shadows move. My watchfulness is hanging around longer than I’m happy to admit. He’s a human being, not a starved mountain lion.
The first time I saw him, I’d bopped around the corner into the alley, all ignorance and innocence. It was 4:00 A.M. and still dark as pitch outside. The only light behind the tall downtown buildings was the single dim bulb over the door to the café I work in. In the two years I’ve worked at Read Between the Beans, I’ve never felt vulnerable. Because of school, I request the opening shift. It allows me to get four hours of work in before most people even think to start their day. Not once have I looked over my shoulder, or spooked at a noise, or realized how utterly alone I am.
Until that one morning.
As I slid the key into the lock movement, just beyond the splay of light cast by the grimy fixture above my head, caught my attention. The unexpected presence made me jerk my hand back. The key fell to the ground and bounced away. Fear of knowing I wasn’t alone in the alley, realizing what an easy target I made, and always had, froze my mind. I didn’t know if I should look for the intruder or find the key. Run away or try to get inside the restaurant.
“You dropped something,” he croaked. More shifting in the shadows.
My heart accelerated to a terrifying pace as my unwanted visitor stepped into the light—rumpled, dirty clothing, shaggy hair, head down, concentrating on the ground. As he approached, I still couldn’t move. I don’t know if it was some misplaced politeness—that I didn’t want to cause him embarrassment by showing my petrifying fear of him—or if I was afraid my fleeing would kick start a predator instinct, inciting him to give chase. I’m still bothered by the fact that I couldn’t make myself run away.
He bent, picked up my key, stepped forward, and handed it to me.
Our eyes met as I took it from him, and I gasped. He was young, maybe my age. Were there really homeless seventeen-year-olds? I gulped.
I remember feeling so bad about the gasp and the gulp.
He shuffled back to his spot near the dumpster.
“Thanks,” I said.
About the author:
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.
Alex J. Cavanaugh. His awesome co-hosts for the May 7 posting of the IWSG will be Mark Koopmans, Joylene Nowell Butler, Elsie, and Lisa Buie-Collard!
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Has anyone ever told you "Never give up?" Yeah, I thought so, but it's true. As writers we wait and wait and wait, until sometimes we feel like giving up. We wait for edits. We wait for artwork. We wait for a book to come out. We wait for someone to read our books. We wait for reviews. And on and on. Sometimes we may even question why we thought we were writers. What ever gave us such a silly idea? Never give up, huh? Easy to say, but tempting.
And then, one glorious day, the editor sends her/his notes and advice and we shout "Awesome!" and start editing. Or the artist has the most gorgeous cover for our precious story and we cry because she/he got it just right. Or someone actually buys a copy of our baby and reads it. And the review brings a huge smile to our faces.
Now, aren't you glad you Never Gave Up?