Edit: I wrote and scheduled this post before the tragic events in Connecticut on Friday. My heart and my prayers go to all the families who lost someone in this awful shooting. Now more than ever, we need to be with our families and not take them for granted.

This is our most recent family photo. We’re only missing one person! My parents are on the left, and we are all their kids. Half, step, married in — we’re family! I just can’t escape them. Even in my stories, my characters tend to be driven by family ties and motivations.

Case in point. . .

Promising Light

Basically, the entire storyline revolves around a shape changing family that’s trying to break a curse the Protectors put on their bloodline. The women can’t have children, and the elders are scrambling around for a way to carry their magic and their family on. Grace is torn between her father’s desires for her life and this new, mysterious family. Dar has this dark past and he blames himself for family deaths. The prequel novellas are about people getting married and people dying and losing family members.

Here’s a fun fact about Promising Light: the word “family” or some incarnation of it (families, etc.) shows up 148 times in my 130,000 words novel!

Look, I’ll prove it:
After the show, Sierra helped with the cleanup. There was so much to take care of, almost more than before the show: the animals, the costumes, the tents. She didn’t even change out of her torn, brown dress to help Jewel unsaddle the horses. Becca called out to her as she approached the stables, “Sierra! There’s someone to see you!”

Sierra looked over her shoulder.

“Some guy’s out there,” Becca said, motioning behind him. “He looks rich.”

Dar. Sierra hesitated. “Tell him I’m not here.”

“What? Sierra, he’s really handsome, too.”

“Tell him—” Sierra cut off. Over Becca’s shoulder, she saw that Dar had come into the stables on his own, and he was staring at her. She swore and walked over to him, her heart pounding.

A few feet from him, she stopped and crossed her arms. Possible things to say flew through her mind, but each of them seemed stupid. It’d been two years since she ran, and she knew how she looked—filthy, ragged, bloody. He looked good, of course, in his noble wear. There were so many times when she’d wished to see him again, but she knew he fled to Renaul a year ago. She couldn’t risk it. Now he must be here with the prince, who worked with the Protectors.

He studied her worriedly. “Sierra. You… you’ve looked better.”

Sierra looked down at her bare feet as she curled her toes into the dirt. “Yeah, comes with being the wild child.”

“I suppose you could describe our family as tigers,” Dar said with a half-smile.

Our family. Sierra frowned. She didn’t like to think of them as her family. Not after what they’d done. She took a deep breath and met his eyes. “What are you doing here?”


Well, this one isn’t as strong. The driving aspect of the story is the friendship between Aaron and Anna (or at least they used to be friends. . .) But still, both my characters, especially Anna, have strong family ties. They even find out their parents have been hiding a huge secret from them.

Oh, and Anna’s mom is a lot like my mom. She is not allowed to be embarrassed of her!

Here’s another excerpt from Anna’s POV:
“You’re not supposed to be watching that,” I told Ginger as I walked into the kitchen, which was a small room off to the side.

Ginger huffed. “Mom is way too strict. All my friends watch this.”

“Just change it. Allie’s only eight.”

Ginger glared at me, but she changed the channel. I opened the fridge and closed it just as quickly. I wasn’t hungry. I couldn’t even think about food after what just happened. I looked at Ginger and Allie for a moment, wondering if anything odd had ever happened to them. I was eight when I met Aaron. Would Allie meet someone like him soon? Someone whose feelings she’d know even though he didn’t speak them, someone whose knowledge she gained just by standing next to him, someone she could speak French with?

Whenever Mom was home, we spoke in French instead of English. When my dad left seven years ago, Mom went through a small phase where she spoke strictly English, saying she needed to perfect it to get a better job. We eased back into French a few months later, though.

She also taught us bits and pieces of Lingala, but it’d been more than a decade since she’d spoken it since my dad only knew French and English. She hadn’t spoken to her family in years. She left before the violence started, but for a little while she was trying to raise money to bring them over from DR Congo. Her parents died in the first war when I was only two, and she lost contact with her sister a couple years ago. Nobody knew if she was alive or if she’d just been displaced.

That was why Mom was so protective over us—we were really the only family she had left.

Well. . .

Geez, these are kind of depressing! I swear it’s not all like that. Family! Sisters! Love! Trust me, okay? The families I write about might be dysfunctional and some are in desperate need of rebuilding, but I like bringing them back together. I like centering my stories around them, and I think it’s because my family is such a big part of my life.

By Emily Rapoza Posted in Excerpt

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