Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Twisted" by Holly Hook

ON SALE for $0.99
(Deathwind Trilogy Book 1)
by Holly Hook

Author Holly Hook joins me today to share an excerpt from Twisted, the first book in the Deathwind Trilogy. Twisted is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 7 August, so grab your copy at this bargain price while you can. Also available: Torn and the newly-released Unleashed.

When 16 year old Allie goes on the trip of her life - storm chasing - she gets more than she ever bargained for. A supernatural experience leaves her changed forever, and when she gets home, she learns that she now bears a horrible curse. Every time a thunderstorm arrives where she's at, she turns into a tornado. Unable to control her actions and unable to hold the transformations back, she must find a way to get rid of her new affliction before she ends up killing someone - and that could end up being her parents, her neighbors, or her best friend, Tommy.
Allie must return to the plains to find those who did this to her and to find a cure. She enters a world she never knew existed, where others share her curse. Unfortunately, it turns out Allie has some unique abilities of her own that others are willing to use for their own evil purposes, and soon she finds herself caught up in a struggle for the lives of hundreds. Allie's quest to save herself is only the start of her adventure.

Chapter One
My very first tornado shreds the grass of the plains.
I stand next to the van, mouth dropping open, heart pounding.  It's the moment I've been waiting for.  I’ve saved the money for years and begged my uncle to book us for the Wild Weather Storm Chasing Tours.
Uncle Cassius gasps next to me, equally in awe.  It barely cuts over the wind rushing towards the distant funnel.  Waves of grass bow down to the twister, whipped down by the surrounding air flying in to feed it.  The perfect white cone stands out against the coal sky, slim and graceful.  A skirt of dust spins around its base, signaling its dance through a field a few miles away.  The wind snaps against my jeans, pulling at my new Wild Weather Tours T-shirt.
"Beautiful!"  Kyle, our storm chaser guide, snaps a photo for his website.  He steals a glance at me and smiles.  The wind ruffles his ash-blond hair.  Wrinkles form around his eyes.  He's all enthusiasm, joy that we've found our prey. "Don't worry.  We're safe.  It's heading to the east.  It'll pass no closer than a couple of miles to our north."
I want his job someday.
"I'm not scared," I said, but my shaky voice betrays me.  Who am I kidding?  Kyle's an experienced chaser--twenty years--but this is a real tornado.  In person.  Live.  I never realized it would be this intense, this breathtaking.  A hollow feeling fills my stomach like I'm plunging down the first hill of a roller coaster.  It is scary…but fun.
My parents would murder me and Uncle Cassius both for sneaking away on this trip.  If they find out we’re not really in Disney World being bored to death by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, well, it’ll be way scarier than this storm. 
The tornado curves, almost like it's leaning to the side for a better look at something.  At us?  It's a weird thought, one that makes me laugh.  The thunderstorm spins slowly above it, low and menacing.  Thunder claps.  It's enough to remind me that the storm in front of me isn't just beautiful.  It's a predator, entrancing like a cobra and ready to strike.
Good thing there's no houses or buildings in its way.  Only farmland stretches from horizon to horizon. 
"Allie.  Forget your camera?"  Uncle Cassius points to my pocket and smiles.  It’s a tense smile.  So I'm not the only one with some nerves going.
Yes.  Duh.
I pull it out of my pocket and fumble with the slim case, fingers hunting for the button.  The camera zings to life.  Behind it, the tornado looms a bit larger, gaining strength and racing across the ground.  More dust kicks up around the perfect white of the twister. 
"Now I can really prove to everyone at school how crazy I am."  I give Uncle Cassius a nervous chuckle.  The camera trembles in my hands as I catch the tornado in my view, click, and seal it in my memory forever.
I'm having the most insane summer vacation of my entire high school.  I can’t wait to share this with Tommy and Bethany.  Bethany’s going to beg for all the details.  Tommy will tell me that I’m the bravest, most awesome girl he knows. 
I’ve got to get me and the tornado in the same picture and send it to them tonight.  I dig in my other pocket and hand my phone to Uncle Cassius.  “Photo.” 
He takes my phone.  “Stand back.”
I do.  Now the wind blows my hair back like it’s trying to pull me away, but I stand there, moving to the side so Uncle Cassius can get the whole picture.  I force myself to look at my phone in his hand.  It’s not easy when there’s a twister just a mile or two behind me, ripping up the earth.
“Got it!”  Uncle Cassius waves me back. 
I join him and glance at the phone for just a second.  I’m on the screen, dark hair wild and flying.  The tornado looms large behind me like it’s looking over my shoulder.  It’s the most awesome picture ever.  Tommy’s going to love it. 
I lift my camera for another shot, backing up to squeeze the tornado into the viewport.  I click another picture and lower the camera again for another look.
My heart jumps.
The tornado looms larger, taller.  Kyle holds his hand up to his face, squinting for a better view.  Even Uncle Cassius goes quiet, stiffening and taking a step back towards the tour van.
All at once I understand.
The tornado has changed course.
Kyle turns.  Real fear widens his features. 
"Get in the van," he shouts.
I turn and grab the door, yanking it open.  Uncle Cassius pushes me from behind, making me vault into the van.  “Get in, Allie!”
The roar behind me builds, like boulders rushing down a mountain towards me.  The wind whips my hair back, trying to pull me back out of the van.  It feels like the twister's right behind me already, coming down for the kill.
I slam the door on it.  Uncle Cassius moves out of my view, running around the van to the other door.  The funnel's much bigger behind the window, so close that I can't see the top of it anymore. 
Uncle Cassius jumps in through the opposite door and snaps on his seat belt next to me.  Kyle starts the van up, punches the gas, and gets us back on the road to nowhere.
I put my camera on the seat.  My hands fumble with the seat belt.  The van speeds up and the inertia makes me sink into my seat.  Uncle Cassius says something else, but it’s lost on me.  The specter of the tornado closes in, whipping across the field towards us.  I've heard of tornadoes making sudden turns like this but I never realized it could happen this fast. 
It rips across the field.  My heart beats on a runaway course.  My mind locks into overdrive.  I feel like that news crew they always have on tornado shows, that one that survived by hiding under that overpass.  Will Kyle make us get out and climb under one?  They're actually bad places to hide.  That news crew got off lucky.  Kyle knows better.  He's been chasing storms longer than I’ve been alive.
Only green and yellow fields spread out ahead.  There’s no shelter for miles.  The storm radar on Kyle's laptop is covered in ugly red and orange blotches like Nebraska has sores. 
A hole of panic opens up inside me and for the first time, I regret coming on this vacation.
"Can't you go faster?"  Uncle Cassius leans forward in his seat, gaze hard, arms trembling.  His glasses are coming down his nose, ready to fall off.  His normally neat Yoda T-shirt is sweaty and sticking to him so much I can see his ribs.
Uncle Cassius never loses his cool.
Not even when I crawled into the dinosaur display at the museum when I was six and climbed up the back of the Stegosaurus.  Not even when I tried to stand on his porch when I was eleven and watch hail the size of tennis balls rain from the sky.
Outside, the tornado grows so close that I can only see the bottom half of the funnel.  The van bounces along every speed bump on the highway, every uneven spot.  My stomach heaves.  I'm going to be sick right here.  It's my stupid fault we're in this mess. 
"I don't understand."  Kyle punches the gas harder, making the van jump.  He turns his head like a guy possessed by a demon, eyes widening.  "The tornado should not be moving this way."
He's right.  It shouldn't.  For the tornado to turn and come right at us, it would have to drag the whole storm with it.  But it’s still coming.  It makes no sense.
The funnel reaches the road behind us, twisting harder, kicking up earth higher and higher.  We've gotten out in front of it.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Kyle and Uncle Cassius do the same.  It'll cross the road and forget all about us. 
Kyle lets off the gas a little and the whine of the engine calms some.  "We're safe now.  That was highly unusual.  I've never seen a tornado turn like that in my career."  There's a hint of an apology in his voice.
"Well, that was a close one, wasn't it, Allie?"  Uncle Cassius hugs me from the side. 
"Yeah," I say, willing my heart to slow down.  At least I can think straight now.  Can I even do another two days of this? 
Wow, what a dumb idea this was.
But I still can't resist another look at the storm.  I turn as far as my seat belt allows.
My guts fall out of me all over again.
The tornado's still on the road, bigger than ever.  It can't be. 
The twister has turned again.  It's coming right up behind us.  Rolling earth eats the entire highway.  There's tornado taking up the whole view of the back window.  Dust rips to the sides.  The bottom of its funnel spins with fury, big enough to swallow a house whole.  Its roar screams against the outside of the vehicle, shaking the seat, pushing the whole van to the side. 
It's no longer beautiful.
"Ohmigod," I say, sucking in a breath.  "Um…Kyle?  Um…”
"I know!" he snaps.  His knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.  The van lurches again but he maintains control. 
"Allie, get down!"  Uncle Cassius pulls me towards him.  The seat belt cuts into my shoulder. 
What good is it going to do?  If the tornado lifts the car--
I'm going to die.
I begged to go on this trip and now Uncle Cassius is going to die too. 
The windows shatter with a deafening boom and the wind screams in my ears.  AllieAllieAllieAllie…
I can't breathe. 
We're floating.
Uncle Cassius shouts something.  Kyle yells.  If I'm screaming, I can't tell.  The storm's sucking it right out of me.  Windy hands seize my arms, my legs. 
They pull.
My safety belt snaps open, whipping against my leg.  I scream with the sting.  The seat disappears under me and the van door rips open.
I'm flying.
The tornado's ripping me right out of the van.
The world turns to a white and brown roar.  The van's gone.  I have no time to cry out to Uncle Cassius before the world snaps to black and silence swallows me.

Praise for the Book
"It didn't disappoint! It reads like a thriller, bam bam bam, action and tension that never stops." ~ NetRaptor
"Whew! That was quite a whirlwind story! I found myself rapidly perusing this book, afraid that I might get whisked away if I don't hold on to the pages. This is perhaps one of the most unique plot I've ever read." ~ Claire "Coffeholic Bookworm"
"Enjoyed it till the last and hope to read the entire series one adventure at a time." ~ Amazon Customer
" ... after reading the first few chapters, I was hooked. I'm in love with this book. Everything about this book appeals to me on so many levels. [...] The book is well written, fast-paced, easy to understand & it's an exciting read. I could literally feel my adrenaline rise and rise during some of the twister scenes." ~ Wendy
"I really enjoyed this read, it is fast paced, suspenseful and really full of twists and turns. I was drawn into the story right away and found myself flipping pages until I hit the end. I was on the edge of my seat and needed to know where the author was going to lead us to next. I was quite surprised a few times by things that I couldn't have and didn't see coming. That was one of the most thrilling things about reading this book." ~ Melissa72

About the Author
Holly Hook grew up with a strange fascination with natural disasters, especially tornadoes. She would spend her adolescent years watching storms, writing about them, and searching for young adult books that combined weather with fantasy. Frustrated that these books did not exist, she decided to write them years later. The result is the 5-book Destroyers Series, the first of which is about human hurricanes. She is also the author of the Deathwind Trilogy (a spin-off of the Destroyers Series) and the Timeless Trilogy.
Holly lives with her two cats and her twenty-four tarantulas.

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