Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Blast + #Giveaway: The Clock Flower by Barbara Casey @GoddessFish

The Clock Flower
by Barbara Casey
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense


Mackenzie Yarborough, one of the three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—finds herself facing a terrifying death of an ancient evil dragon while in China working on a secret research project and trying to discover the truth of her birth parents.


Leaving behind someone or something—being separated from the familiar—had never been easy for Mackenzie Yarborough.  As a young child living in an orphanage in upstate New York, when it was time to put them away, she would say good-bye to her toys—most of which had been donated to the orphanage and passed down to her when other orphans had outgrown them or simply gotten tired of playing with them. She would also say good-bye to her clothes whenever they were taken to be washed, or to a room that she was leaving, or the day as it disappeared into the night.

Or to the numbers that constantly filled her thoughts—especially the numbers—she would tell them good-bye before she went to sleep. Good-bye, cofactor matrix. Good-bye, antipodal points. Good-bye, 3. The simple, natural number 3 was her favorite for some unknown reason. She agreed with the Greek mathematician Pythagoras that it was the noblest of all numbers. She liked its simplicity and the fact that it was the only number written as three lines in Roman and Chinese numerals, as well as the Brahmin Indian and the Gupta, although the Gupta made their lines more curved. Perhaps it was her favorite, however, because it made her think of a father, mother, and child. It was the trinity, the troika. It was the family she had never known.

When she got older, and after it had been a particularly challenging day, she included complicated calculus, algebra, trigonometry, algorithms, geometry, and numerical codes on the list of things she needed to say good-bye to at bed time, which kept her awake deep into the night, long after all of the other orphans had fallen asleep. Even now as an eighteen year old and recently graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women, she still on occasion said good bye to the things she cared for on her list, especially if she felt fearful about something and couldn’t sleep—which happened quite often.

For as long as Mackenzie could remember, she had been afraid.  At first, when she was aware of such things—with a child’s understanding of failure that so often was confused with disappointment—she had been afraid that by not living up to someone else's expectations—it didn't matter whose they were—she wouldn't be adopted.  Also, she had always been slightly overweight, which made her self-conscious. And, because she had a tendency to lisp and mispronounce words whenever she got nervous or excited, she was afraid of being laughed at if she talked.

So she focused on those things she enjoyed the most that caused the least amount of criticism. Things that wouldn’t draw attention and that she could do alone—quietly, without having to say anything.  Even at a very young age, that focus was on numbers.  She loved them—playing with them like they were her friends, seeing how many unusual ways she could make them relate to each other and relate to her. 

It quickly became apparent that she had exceptional mathematical skills, and when she turned seven, it was recommended that she be transferred from the only home she had ever known to Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she could receive more personalized and advanced instruction. It was there that another seven-year-old child with exceptional abilities had recently been admitted.  Dara Roux, Mackenzie soon learned, was the "other" gifted orphan, and she had the unique gift of understanding foreign and obscure as well as obsolete languages.

The two became inseparable, each sensing the other's needs as only one with brilliance could.  However, Mackenzie's old fear of failure was replaced by a new fear when the two girls turned nine years old, the age when the possibility for adoption drops by 85 percent.  This was the fear of always being an outsider and not fitting in, even with the other girls at Wood Rose who also had not been chosen to live with a forever family.  Dara wasn't afraid of anything, and when she learned of Mackenzie's new fear, she was quick to console her.  "Anyway, who wants to be put in a family with all those rules?" reasoned Dara.  "You wouldn't be able to do anything—not like we can here."

Of course, Mackenzie had already calculated that being one kid out of thirty-eight under the watchful eye of ten Wood Rose faculty members and twenty-five members of the staff and administration didn't increase the odds in her favor that much of being able to do whatever she wanted.  But, as the years passed, and with Dara as her best friend always there to guide her and offer advice, this fear diminished, and her lisp only became noticeable in situations that caused extreme anxiety.

With the arrival of Jennifer Torres a few years later, a volatile, unpredictable sixteen-year-old with exceptional talent in music and art whose parents had been killed in a tragic automobile accident, the strong union between Mackenzie and Dara was stretched to include this strange girl who was either poised for battle or locked away in her own silent world of musical notes strewn across eight-stave paper and art canvasses painted in oils and acrylics by the strokes of her brush, usually created in the middle of the night. 

It had been only Dara and Mackenzie for so long.  But even as different and sometimes difficult as Jennifer was, they could each relate to the other; after all, they were all experiencing the same thing.  They shared the common goal of trying to survive in an environment where they were considered odd and different, because they were.  They knew what it was like to try to communicate on a level where others would understand, but not succeed.  To want desperately to be like everyone else, but knowing that was impossible—because they weren't. And deep down wanting to be included, but feeling resentful because they never were even though, as Dara often reminded them, what difference did it make?  Jennifer immediately fit in as a FIG.  Therefore, within a short time, Jennifer also became Mackenzie's and Dara’s friend.

It was the summer just before their final year at Wood Rose that Carolina Lovel was hired to mentor these three Females of Intellectual Genius. “Keep them on a short leash!” Headmaster Thurgood Harcourt had instructed Carolina, upset because the FIGs had managed in the middle of the night to prune his prized, massive Photinia frasen into a perfect phallic symbol. Peni erecti, the FIGs named the red-tipped bush, proud of their creative expression. “It was too overgrown—it needed a good pruning,” Dara had explained when Carolina asked about it.

Of course, that was only the latest in a long list of creative expressions they had inflicted on Wood Rose, Carolina soon discovered, the scope and imagination of which she personally found awe-inspiring and utterly amazing, but which kept the other Wood Rose residents in a state of turmoil and confusion, and placed terror into the hearts of faculty and staff alike.

Even though Carolina wasn’t a genius, she was smart, caring, and broad-minded when it came to “her girls,” as she affectionately called them—and especially forgiving when they caused disturbances, interruptions, and distractions on the Wood Rose campus. She understood what it felt like to be different and needing to be intellectually challenged and stimulated; therefore, the FIGs loved her and accepted her. After all, she was now one of them.

 AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history.  In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service.  In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books where she is involved in acquisitions and day-to-day operations and oversees book production.
Ms. Casey's two middle-grade/young adult novels, Leilani Zan and Grandma Jock and Christabelle (James C. Winston Publishing Co., Trade Division) were both nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award.  Shyla's Initiative (Crossquarter Publishing Group), a contemporary adult novel (occult romance/mystery), received a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and also an award of special literary recognition by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.  The Coach's Wife (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a novel for adults (contemporary/mystery), was semi-finalist for the 2005 Dana Award for Outstanding Novel and listed on the Publisher’s Best Seller List.  The House of Kane (ArcheBooks Publishing), released in 2007, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination.  Another contemporary novel for adults, Just Like Family, was released at Christmas 2009 when it received “Special Recognition from the 7-Eleven Corporation,” and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary novel written for adults, received a 2013 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction.

The Cadence of Gypsies, a novel written for young/new adults, was released in 2011 and was reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute for its List of Most Notable Books.  In 2012, The Cadence of Gypsies was expanded into a four-book mystery series called THE FIG MYSTERIES: The Wish Rider (2016), The Clock Flower (2018), and The Nightjar’s Promise (to be released in 2019).

Ms. Casey also writes book-length nonfiction for adults. Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly was released in 2016 and has been optioned for a major movie. In 2018 her book Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave was released and it has been signed for a major movie.

Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies.  Ms. Casey's essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation). Other award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story.  A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.

Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist.  She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003.  She is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences around the country including the SCBWI Regional Conference, the Harriett Austin Writers Conference in Athens, SIBA (Southeastern Independent Book Sellers Association), Florida Writers Association, and the University of Auburn, Montgomery. 

In 2018, Ms. Casey received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and Benton, a hound mix who adopted her.


$20 Amazon/BN GC


Barbara Casey said...

Nancy, thank you for taking the time to host me and for your interest in THE CLOCK FLOWER. This is the third book in the FIG Mystery Series, and it recently received the Book Excellence Award.

All my best to you and your bloggers.