Mar. 9th, 2019

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#saturdayscenes #samanthascenes I worked on Thursday's Children, my young adult dystopian novel this week. Here's a bit of what I wrote. Poor Malcolm is having a bit of a crisis.
Malcolm climbed into the car, tossing his bag into the back seat. Coach took off before he had even finished fastening his seatbelt. “You’ve got to be smarter than this,” he said, turning a hard left out of the parking lot and gunning the engine to stay ahead of the pickup truck that loomed too close in the rearview mirror. “This is no time to fall apart. There’s too much at stake.”

Trees seemed to blur into a sheet of green alongside the road. Malcolm couldn’t think of anything to say, so he stayed quiet. Coach took a sudden right turn onto a dirt road, throwing Malcolm against the door. He scrambled for the hand-hold. He had barely righted himself when Coach threw the SUV into park, got out of the car and started walking.

Malcolm hurried to follow him. It was an awkward slow speed chase for a few minutes, down a wooded path to a wide creek. Tackett didn’t look back to see if Malcolm followed, but just walked at a steady clip, faster than his usual gait. Malcolm wondered if the man’s limp was real either.

He lost track of Tackett when the path took a bend, but spotted him squatting beside the creek, looking down into the water. He crossed the remaining terrain in a few strides and sat down on the ground next to the man he’d always thought was his enemy, waiting.

“I get that this is confusing for you.”

Malcolm laughed. “You think?” 

Coach shot him a withering look. “We couldn’t just tell you. You were just a kid. We couldn’t be sure you could keep the secret.”

Malcolm opened his mouth to argue, but Coach put up a hand. “Every kid thinks they’re special, but the EBC is no joke. If they took you in and you knew the whole story? They’d get it out of you.”

Hot tears gathered in Malcolm’s eyes and he looked up at the sky willing them to absorb back into their ducts and not embarrass him by falling onto his cheeks in front of Coach Tackett. “So, I was just an errand boy?”

Coach sighed loudly. “You were always more than that. You were—you are our future.”

“But Sheila.”

“Sheila didn’t lie to you. She just didn’t tell you everything she knew. We had to protect you, protect the mission.”

Malcolm stood and walked downstream, watching the water bubble over the creek rocks on its way to the river and eventually to the sea. He wondered if this creek connected with the ones in the mountain pass, if Jason might, even now, be walking alongside this same water.

He’d felt so powerful and sure when he’d sent Jason out there, ready to take the bulls by the horns. Knowing one of the bulls was fighting for the same side he was left him deflated. He hadn’t been getting away with anything, stealing documents for Sheila and ferreting them out of the Center. Tackett hadn’t been trying to stop him. It undercut everything he’d done in the past few years, left him sinking in the quicksand of doubt just when he needed to climb the next peak.

Hurling a rock into the stream, Malcolm turned to walk back to where he’d left the man he’d always believed was his enemy. The riverbank was empty, but Tackett was sitting at the top of the hill, on a wide tree stump. Malcolm trudged over and sat beside him.

“Feel better?” Tackett asked.

Malcolm shrugged. “I guess.”

“Listen, son.”

“Don’t call me son. I’ve always hated it.” If it was time to be honest, then he might as well stop all the games.

Tackett looked surprised and thoughtful. “All right. This doesn’t change anything. Not in the scheme of things.”

“What? This changes everything.”

Tackett shook his head. “No. Your job is still the same. Pass information. Stay one step ahead. Don’t get caught.”

“You don’t get it, Coach. If you’ve been protecting me all this time, then nothing I’ve done counts. I didn’t actually do it.”

Tackett laughed. “You think that’s what’s going on? Jesus Christ, boy. I didn’t know you were the mole until last night. Sheila called me only because she didn’t know how else to save you from your own bullheadedness.”

Malcolm’s skepticism must have shown because Tackett tried again.
“Seriously. It was brilliant thinking on her part, using you to steal documents. I already trusted you enough to let you work in my office. If you ever got caught, I’d have had plenty of room to be shocked and dismayed at the betrayal by a boy I’d known nearly all his life. Beautiful. Nobody can weave a web like Sheila.”

Malcolm considered it. He wanted to believe Tackett, but the very fact that he wanted to believe it triggered doubt. So many confusing emotions were bubbling in his guts that he began to feel like he might throw up. “Gah!” He threw up his hands and shouted at the sky. A flock of dark birds ejected from the tree leaning over the river, their cries angry and threatening.
Thanks for reading! You can learn more about me and my writing at or follow My Saturday Scenes collection here: ; There's also a collection for ALL the Saturday Scenes by ALL the participating authors here:
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Fated Sky book cover#bookeveryweek The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal.

It's a testament to how much I enjoyed book one of this series [book:The Calculating Stars|33080122] because I jumped right into reading the second book and finished in less than a week, despite having an insanely busy week with very little reading time available. I may perhaps have avoided some things I should have been doing in favor of finding out what was happening on the mission to Mars.

If you're going to read this one, you're going to want to read the first book first. The emotional impact of a lot of moments is much stronger if you know the events and characters of the first book.

One thing I enjoyed in both books is how complex the characters are. Antagonists have admirable qualities alongside their problematic characteristics and our protagonist is realistically flawed. Characterization is even stronger in book two. Everyone feels real. Some sad things happen in this book. I won't tell you what, so I don't spoil it for you, but I will compliment the writing of those emotional moments. I teared up more than once in the reading. I cried for a character I never would have expected to come to care about, too.

I'm often not a fan of "hard science fiction" because the world building can swallow the characters and story elements, and story and character are what I showed up for. If I want to read a science text, then I'll go to the nonfiction section, thanks. This book (and its predecessor) beautifully meld the science with character and story and kept me engaged.

I'm sad there's not another book in this series out there ready for me to read yet. I'm not done lingering with this story.
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art supplies#smileaday Scrap Exchange.

If you've never been to Scrap Exchange, it can be hard to understand what it is. Part recycling center, part thrift store, part artist's refuge, it's a store in Durham, North Carolina, USA. It's both chaotic and well organized. You never know what you're going to find there. Disparate objects are in bins and barrels and you sort through to find what you want to buy.

I was there with my daughters today, which is a triple delight: awesome store + two awesome daughters. The eldest needed some supplies for a project for her Interior Design class, things like fabric swatches, buttons, paint samples, etc. The youngest just loves to be there. A fourth bonus is that *both* my daughters love this place. It can be really hard to find one thing to do that genuinely pleases both an 11 year old and a 19 year old. But we could all wander the aisles digging through fascinating objects and letting our imaginations run wild for days.


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Samantha J Bryant

March 2019

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