Starting a new life is never easy, but Alyssa Doe has turned it into an art form. Abandoned by her parents at age ten, six years in foster care has taught Alyssa how to get through life the hard way.
Now sixteen and growing desperate for a stable life, Alyssa finds herself puzzled by her newest keeper, twenty-five year old Jessica Sona. A feisty woman who does not accept no for an answer, Jessica’s insistence and passion for safety, family, and unconditional love begin to break down Alyssa’s walls and bring her hope, a dangerous emotion.
Can such a thing as family and love exist for a girl whose birth name is Doe, or will Alyssa be forever left finding keepers?

Fixing broken computers, wrangling a very spirited little toddler, and creating new fantasy worlds are all parts of the average day for Kristi Strong. While she has called Virginia her home for two decades, her head has rested in two countries, three states, and far too many houses to count. She was more than happy to give up her nomadic lifestyle and settle down with her husband, daughter, cat and chinchilla.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Dream Slayer by Jill Cooper and absolutely loved it. I'm also anxiously awaiting the release of 42 Hours by Bethany Lopez later this summer.

What is the best part about being an author?
Getting to connect to the readers and touch people. Earlier this year, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with over 100 high school students about self-publishing, and it is an incredible feeling to be able to tell them that there are so many options out there and see the light in their eyes, especially when I talked about publishing fantasy books. I think it's also really important to share my stories, emotions, and demons as a way to support others who have gone through similar situations, and let them know that they aren't alone.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My biggest advice would be to find a good support group. When I was in high school, I told my teachers/friends I wanted to be a published fantasy author, and they all laughed and said that no one gets published these days (and that was over a decade ago). It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I found a great group of people who support one another and really push to make our writing professional quality, and then will gladly help with the intricacies of self-publishing.

Do you have any mottos?
"Life will always change, but only I can decide how I change" - is my biggest one at the moment, followed by, "Everything will be okay, but you must remember to breath"

Are there any authors who have interested you lately?
I am in love with the Friends and Lovers series by Bethany Lopez and can't wait until she puts out the next books in the series. I am also going through and slowly buying all of Jill Cooper's books, after reading and enjoying 15 Minutes and The Dream Slayer.

The rubber swing creaked as she swung, cold twilight air rushing against Alyssa’s face as she gave Brianna time to find the words to describe her feelings. A creak sounded from the swing beside her, and she heard Brianna take a deep breath.
“I don’t know what to do, Alli.”
“About what?” Alyssa glanced at her, noticing that her friend had dug a small hole in the dirt under the swing, and now sat with her cheek pressed against the chilled metal.
She shrugged, the herringbone pattern of her thick wool coat rising and falling with the motion. “Everything. School. Friends. Life. It’s just so damn hard, and I don’t know why. Sometimes just breathing is such a struggle.”
Alyssa remained silent a moment, pushing her swing back and forth with her feet, trying to find the right words to help.
Brianna wiped away a tear and leaned back in the swing. “You know what, it’s stupid. Just pretend I didn’t say anything. Everything is fine.”
“Hey,” Alyssa gently pulled on the chain of Brianna’s swing to bring her closer. “If it has you this upset, then it’s not stupid. Definitely not nothing, which means it’s something. And you are totally not fine right now.”
“I have no right, none at all, to talk to you about life being difficult.” She gave a bitter laugh that turned into a sob and swatted at another tear that dropped from her eye. “That’s what makes it harder though. I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and yet ...”
“Bri,” Alyssa began.
“No!” she interrupted. “I know it’s true. I have two loving parents in a committed marriage, and a big house, and pets, and a room filled with clothes, and pretty much anything I ever wanted, within reason. I’ve never had to worry about having food to eat, or clothes to wear, or boys touching me without permission. It’s not like I’m rich, and going to be driving a Benz or anything, but I know that when I get my license I’ll have a car to drive and parents who will let me drive it and be able to call it my own.”

Brianna paused, and Alyssa could see the metal chain shaking from the trembling of her friend’s body. She reached out and held out her hand, palm up, in the air next to her. Brianna reached out and took it, linking her fingers with Alyssa and holding tight, as if it were a rope ready to pull her to shore.

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