Sneak Peek at my next book!

I’m nearing the finish line editing Clifton Chase on Castle Rock and want to share the first chapter with you, including the delicious art by Debbie Waldorf Johnson.

I hope you enjoy Chapter One: Normal.

There is no way of knowing, when the day begins like any other, that something extraordinary lies on the horizon. On a normal morning in a normal town, Clifton Chase opened his eyes. He had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. No warning by woodland creature, no March wind whispering he remain vigilant on this particular day. In fact, it began in the same predictable manner as every other morning.

And Clifton was glad.

He dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that read Rainault Plumbing: Our Pipes Hit the Mark in big block letters. His stomach grumbled, a bloodhound sniffing for breakfast, and led him to the kitchen.

“Clifton,” his mother called from her bedroom. “We’re leaving for archery club in five minutes.”

“That’s today?” he called back.

“Yes, and we’re running late.”

Clifton scarfed down cereal, slurped milk, and placed his dish in the sink. Skidding in tube socks down the hardwood floor, he rushed into his bedroom. He liked his room. It was warm and comfortable with a stained oak bed, matching dresser, and end table. Over the years, he’d grown an impressive collection of medieval relics, from antique stores, estate sales, and by wealthy relatives vacationing in Europe. His two prize possessions were his lucky iron horseshoe lamp and a wooden plank with hilts and pommels screwed in for hanging his backpack and coats.

His closet door glided across the thick rug. Clifton reached for his sneakers but stopped. Beside the bookcase packed with boardgames and novels, wedged behind art supplies and science equipment, he spotted the copper feather, one that unquestionably took residence while he slept, as the space had been vacant when he tossed his sneakers in the night before.

He’d hidden the three arrows in the back of his closet, out of sight, out of mind. Beautifully crafted, the first arrow ushered him through time to 1485 England, where he’d rescued two princes from their tyrant uncle, fought in an epic battle, and witnessed his good friend, a dwarf named Dane, die before his eyes. Forced amnesia fed his denial of any adventure through time. A centuries old oil painting, depicting Clifton with the notched arrow on a battlefield, evidenced the proof that it had happened. 

He passed his fingers through the barbs of the fletching, like the feathers from nesting birds that floated to his porch in the spring. Only these gleamed in a striking copper flecked with gold, shades he’d never seen on the wings of any Florida birds. The wood shaft, he remembered, was forged from the Tree of Knowledge, where Simurgh the all-knowing bird of reason nested before Time herself existed on Earth.

He knew these things, but he wanted to forget.

Except for Pearl, the beautiful Siren who rescued him from an evil Mer King. Her memory was locked away from the rest. Why, just the thought of Pearl and the lightweight shaft heated in his hand as the Arrow of Light brightened and the fletching shimmered.

Then a pair of glowing eyes, at the rear of the closet, shone like spotlights. Clifton blinked hard and shook his head. The eyes were gone. It had to be something else. He stepped closer. Something jutted out from between his coats like a witch’s nose. He leaned in closer still. Was his jacket moving? Clifton took in a sharp breath.

Someone else was in his closet.

With all the bravery he could muster, Clifton reached a shaky hand toward the nose, relieved when he palmed the hard wood hanger instead. He smacked it and scolded himself for letting his fear paint such vivid pictures in his mind. As he stepped back, the Arrow of Light snagged on something that tugged it, nearly yanking it from his grip. Clifton twisted around and pulled hard, expecting a tug-of-war but getting no tension from whatever had held the arrow captive. His own force sent him sailing into a stack of boardgames, which toppled to the floor. Pieces flew across the rug and Clifton smacked the ground at the base of his bookshelf, now with no doubt in his mind that someone else was in his closet.

He jumped up, plunged back into darkness, and flung his clothes aside to find nothing but the wall. No escape into Narnia for Clifton. He ran his fingers through his hair. What was the matter with him? But he knew. The Arrows of Light held magic. Many beings would endure the impossible to unearth them for personal gain. No matter how desperately Clifton wished life would return to normal, as long as he possessed the arrows, it never would.

Then an eerie feeling, as if on cue, struck him, and he worried someone was tip-toeing behind him. Clifton jumped around half-expecting to catch the glowing-eyed monster, but instead found his mom in the doorway.

“What are you doing? It’s time to go. Never mind, just…grab Grandpa Samuel’s archery set if you want. You can try it out today on the field.”

“Do I have to?”

Mom scoffed. “Seriously? I figured you’d be dying to shoot those arrows. Is something wrong with them? You haven’t shot them once since Dad and I gave them to you.”

“I know,” Clifton said. “I just don’t think I’m ready yet. They’re really old, Mom.”

“That’s kind of the point,” Mom’s voice trailed. “We’re late. Let’s go!” He was about to stash the arrow in the back of his closet with the other two, when he decided he’d place them all in his backpack for safekeeping. Just in case someone really was after them. He threw on shoes without tying the laces and deserted the room, blind to the creature in his closet, whose closed eyes eclipsed the monster in total darkness.

To Be Continued….

If you love it already and want to preorder your signed copy, click HERE. (Scheduled release 10/31/2020)

An Interview with Jaimie Engle: Kirkus Magazine

Fifteen-year-old Mahlorie Moore didn’t even want to go to the party at the beginning of Metal Mouth, but she lets her best friend, Shai, drag her along. She isn’t really a party girl anyway, and after getting her braces tightened, she’s not remotely in the mood to be social. Overwhelmed, she takes a break in an empty guest room only to have a boy find her there and kiss her against her will. She gives him a good knee to the crotch and storms out of the party into, well, a thunderstorm:

“I scream as lightning splits the air, so close the static raises my hair, thunder so instantaneous it’s hard to separate the two. The sky lights up in a brilliant white that bleaches the world around me. I gasp, breathless, as my body goes limp and I roll into the retention ditch and out of sight from the main road. I can’t move my muscles. Am I dead? Unable to catch my breath, water pricks my skin and puddles around me. My heart thunders in my ears. The storm continues its relentless assault as my senses shut down and I begin to lose consciousness.”

Mahlorie is lucky to be alive after her brush with lightning, but she soon learns that the strike left her with a strange, psychic connection to a boy named Dyson. According to Kirkus Reviews, prolific author Jaimie Engle’s latest “presents troubled adolescence and romance through the eyes of a remarkable teen protagonist.” It is currently under consideration for the Sunshine State Young Readers Awards Book List, an annual compilation by librarians in Florida.

Engle, like Mahlorie, lives in Melbourne, Florida, where she somehow finds time to run writers conferences, advocate for young and inexperienced authors trying to break into publishing, work against bullying in schools, and speak to kids about her stories while also writing acclaimed books for kids ranging from middle grade to YA. Many of Engle’s books are fantasy thrillers because she “[doesn’t] like real life as much as [she] likes pretend.” Engle describes her writing as “entertaining fiction that questions reality” and where “everyday kids become heroes.” All her books have some kind of educational component, and while psychic powers may be a bit of fictional fun, Engle’s depiction of a lightning strike and how Mahlorie might get caught in one is all fact.

But the fantastical element in this book, Mahlorie’s telepathic connection with Dyson, doesn’t make her feel like a superhero; it just makes her feel seen. Mahlorie is something of an introvert, and when she starts hearing Dyson’s voice in her head, it takes some getting used to. Once they win each other’s trust, their relationship develops into something even more special than psychic powers. But when they try to find each other in real life, Mahlorie learns that as much as Dyson means to her, finding her own voice is even more important. 

“Why does the universe bring people into your life?” asks Engle, who says that what Dyson does for Mahlorie is help her face her flaws. Mahlorie is really based on Engle when she was in high school, and the story is full of all the things Engle needed help with when she was young. “Life is not a video game; you get one chance. Most of my audience is 9- [to] 12-year-old kids. I have kids of my own, and they have so many things going on. I want to be able to leave [them] with a message, and in Mahlorie’s case it’s that there are consequences to your actions. I really hope the lesson is to find your voice, which is really hard to do when you’re young.”

Even a seasoned author like Engle found an opportunity for some firsts while writing Metal Mouth: her first time writing from a girl’s perspective, her first time writing in the first person, and her first story in present tense. It was a change of pace that worked out for Engle; her readers loved Metal Mouth so much that she’s now working on a sequel. Metal Head will be from Dyson’s point of view, exploring how his relationship with Mahlorie challenged and changed him.

As if another book in the Metal Mouth series plus all her outreach to kids and fellow authors plus raising her own kids weren’t enough, Engle has two more works in progress on her plate. Pets of Elsewhere: Haunted St. Augustine is about a 12-year-old boy who realizes he’s being haunted by the ghosts of animals and races to help them move on before they hurt his family. Engle says it’s more of a spooky story than a dark one, perfect for young readers not ready for truly scary stuff.

Her second work in progress, Exposure: Secrets of Woodbridge, is a touch darker and perfect for fans of Stranger Things, the graphic novel by Jody Houser. Exposure is about a group of kids trapped in an alternate dimension who have to solve a mystery to escape a time loop.

If it seems like Engle is bursting with ideas and creativity, that’s because she embraces her childlike curiosity and love of adventure. “I like to create stories that take readers out of this world and into new places,” she says. “When you’re dealing with children, their problems are more raw and instinctive.” Engle was inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis and Shel Silverstein as well as classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. As an adult, she still loves fantasy stories about and for kids, books like those of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. “There’s something beautiful about being at an age where the world still holds hope that you can do anything and become anything. I just want to live in magic!”

Whether you’re looking for stories your kids or students will love, hoping to learn the secrets of storytelling from a professional, or searching for a little magic in your own reading life, Engle is here to help. She hosts a podcast for aspiring authors called Write a Book That Doesn’t Suck, which corresponds to her book of the same title, and speaks at schools and writers conferences online and across the country. Her backlist of fantasy novels, including Metal Mouth, is available now.

Chelsea Ennen is a writer living in Brooklyn.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/news-and-features/articles/an-interview-with-jaimie-engle/

Author’s new book receives a warm literary welcome

For immediate release:

Readers’ Favorite announces the review of the Young Adult – Coming of Age book “Metal Mouth” by Jaimie Engle, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1732878609.

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

“Reviewed By Kayla Cook for Readers’ Favorite

Metal Mouth by Jaimie Engle explores themes of love, acceptance, and friendship in this captivating coming-of-age tale about a fifteen-year-old girl named Mahlorie Moore. To Mahlorie’s parents, appearance is everything. Mahlorie doesn’t care about looks, but that doesn’t stop her parents from making her wear braces. While she can’t stand her braces, she never expected they could turn her into a human lightning rod. Walking home one night, Mahlorie is caught up in a storm that nearly takes her life. Next thing she knows, she’s in the hospital with some boy’s voice in her head. The more she and the boy communicate, the closer they become. She may even be falling in love with him, but who is this boy, how is their communication possible, and how long will their connection last?

Metal Mouth is a brilliantly original tale that explores many concerns countless people deal with every day, such as self-discovery, peer pressure, and social acceptance. While Metal Mouth is geared toward young adults, other age groups can relate to Mahlorie as she struggles to find her place in life. While she occasionally comes off as petulant, she is a very engaging and humorous character who responds believably to the situations she faces. Jaimie Engle did an excellent job of bringing the other characters to life as well. I couldn’t wait to read Mahlorie’s next conversation with the philosophical boy in her head. There were several times Metal Mouth caused me to laugh out loud, and other times I wanted to cry. Jaimie Engle’s Metal Mouth is a gripping story that fans of young adult literature are sure to enjoy.”

You can learn more about Jaimie Engle and “Metal Mouth” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/metal-mouth where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.