Starting a new life is never easy, but Alyssa Doe has turned it into an art form. Abandoned by her parents at age twelve, four 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 on 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?
“None of us stand a chance,” Alyssa mumbled as she pushed her eggs around. Jessica looked up from her plate, but remained silent, giving Alyssa time to process her thoughts. “The rules made sense,” Alyssa said, glancing up at Jessica, the lack of surprise on the woman’s face confirming that some of the memories had fallen from Alyssa’s lips as she relived the past, along with her reading Alyssa’s records. “I get it, especially now. The alarms were to make sure no-one snuck over to the other bedrooms, or tried to run away. A couple of the teenagers tried, because they were lonely, I guess. They didn’t even realize when Jenna did it, because she disabled the alarm, until they found the pregnancy test she stole from the pharmacy and questioned the boys … The obsession with cleanliness and order a necessity, because with eight children in a house, things would become chaotic so quickly.” She felt a tear trickle down her cheek and rubbed it away angrily. “But I was just fourteen. I wasn’t trying to be bad when I set off the alarm. I just had a nightmare and was so scared. They didn’t believe me though, and so they sent me away the first chance they got.” “Do you still have nightmares?” Jessica’s voice was soft, low, her gaze on Alyssa’s hand holding the fork, the trembling causing the fork to vibrate the eggs where it rested. Alyssa nodded. “Every night. The police car comes for me, and … ” The words were strangled, as if her heart was pushing them out, while her head was forcing them back in. Confessions were dangerous, ammunition to use against you in group therapy, proof that you were not right in the head and needed more intensive care, institutionalized care. “Alli,” Jessica’s hand slipped over Alyssa’s where it lay on the table, trembling like a leaf. “My door is always open, no matter if it is day or night. You don’t have to be alone in the darkness anymore. I’m here now, and forever.”
While Finding Keepers is her first Contemporary Young Adult novel, she also has three books currently published in her New Adult Fantasy series, the Land of Kaldalangra.
The Lady of Steinbrekka (The featured fantasy book in the 2014-2015 LCPS Battle of the Books competition) Rhea Aralia lived an uneventful life in Virginia, until the fateful night of her kidnapping. Taken to a strange realm of destruction, despair, and mysterious people with dark secrets, the young woman must learn a new way of life to survive. With the help of her new companions, Rhea discovers the courage to defy the tyrant King Verikhan and his heir, the cleverness to deceive the court, and the power within herself to transform this world of darkness into one of beauty and hope. Will Rhea triumph over those who seek her destruction, or will she be forever lost in the darkness known as Kaldalangra?
It has been two years since the reign of the tyrannical King Verikhan has ended, and the realm of Kaldalangra flourishes. Nyssa has taken her place as Queen of the realm, with her secret love, Sebast, now openly at her side. She rules with a fair hand, striving for justice and prosperity for all of her people. Rowan and Rhea travel the realm, spreading peace and healing wherever they go. In Kylassame, they have formed a strong bond with friends and spread deep roots in the community. The people of Kaldalangra are joyful, and life in their world is better than ever before. But a string of tragedies has the ability to bring Rhea to her knees, and with her, the entire realm. While Rowan struggles to recover the village of Kylassame from a devastating crime, Rhea’s faith in her own strength weakens, with dire consequences. Re-enter the world of Kaldalangra, and join the adventure as Rhea and Rowan endeavor to continue upon their chosen destiny.
Sabina de Nespa has known a life of freedom and peace, thanks to the actions of her heroic parents. As a child of royalty, she has kept her intentions pure and her heart guarded, always aware that the crown of the realm may one day rest upon her brow.
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.