Guest Post and Excerpt Dead Land by J.E. Byrne

Caught up in the rave of the ultimate high school party, eighteen-year-old Sarah Cain finds herself outside at 3:10am with her high school crush. Together they witness a violent explosion that tears through the sky. Knocked unconscious, Sarah awakens to a world she no longer recognizes.

The sun does not rise, there is no moon or stars, and black rain falls heavily on her shoulders.

Forced into survival, Sarah is frequented with strange words and dreams that mystically draw her toward a mountain promising life, even amidst her dying world. Setting out on foot to follow this vision, Sarah meets up with other survivors and discovers that some of them have shared her same dream. Together the group sets off to find The Mountain.

Tempted by good and evil at every turn, survivors must decide which path to take.

J.E Byrnes Shares Her Favorite Lines from Dead Land
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
These are the famous last words of Sydney Carton as he makes his way to the guillotine, ready to end one life and begin another. This is one of my favorite lines from fiction. Not only does it make reaching the end of a challenging novel quite rewarding, but the words offer the beauty of a fallen character redeemed. I get goose bumps each time I read them. Imagine how thrilled I was when I heard this very line read by Commissioner Gordon at the end of The Dark Knight Rises Again. Great lines should be celluloid heroes.
On December 3, 2013 my first novel, Dead Land, was released. The novel is a YA post-apocalyptic thriller featuring gut-wrenching suspense, unimaginable danger, moving romance, and heart-breaking betrayal…I took that right off the book jacket! Writing Dead Land was an incredible physical and spiritual journey. Often, words would flow on the keypad so quickly that I could barely keep up. Some even gave me those Sydney Carton goose bumps, because ultimately, Dead Land (the first of a trilogy) marks the beginning of a redemptive journey. I am honored to share some of my favorite lines from Dead Land.
The sunlight highlighted the banks of the swollen Brandywine River. I could see a mother duck, belly puffed-up with promise, cutting a serpentine trail behind her in the water. Wild daffodils sprouted up in random bouquets, staring into the mirrored water like Narcissus. Small birds were nestled in the sturdy oaks and maples shading the river, their cover disturbed by Alex’s car as it whizzed by, kicking up rebellion.
I could hear footsteps behind me. They were heavy and strong and getting closer. I ran faster. Strange words of encouragement filled my lungs, “Run with endurance the race that has been set before you.” But there was something blocking my view of the finish line. I couldn’t see beyond it. It was weighing me down. I think that it was something inside of me.
He believed he was there to protect us, all of us, probably. I could feel tears running down my face. I wasn’t sad, I was deeply moved. I had never felt this type of love before. It had nothing to do with desire; it was even more intimate than that.
As I followed my fated path, I walked with a symphony of lament on my imaginary iPod. It told me that there were certain things in life that I could not change. I wished that David could hear the music. Then he would know the helplessness I felt as I entered my time in the wilderness. I was the lost sheep.
Some ‘before the apocalypse’ lines that make me lol:
The room’s white walls, carpets, and lounge sofas were peppered with teenagers dressed in black. My white poet’s blouse was a genius choice. If things didn’t go well with Derek I could always come back to this room and disappear into the decor.
Looking up at us with a sexy half-smile was the host for the evening. He was wearing a faded pink polo shirt and jeans. Good God, he was Jay Gatsby.
I remembered the time that we drove all the way to Florida in our old and smelly SUV. It was spring break. Ben was just six. The four of us celebrated each time we crossed a state line by eating a chocolate chip cookie and singing “Born to Run.” My dad was a huge Springsteen fan.
And now, in an attempt to bookend the redemptive theme:
I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”  Read by Commissioner Gordon at Bruce Wayne’s funeral, The Dark Knight Rises
I still had gnawing doubts in my decision to leave, but felt certainty in not wanting to be a burden to the others. I wanted them to make it, I really did. It didn’t matter for him or for me; he did not believe, and I did not merit.” Sarah Cain, Dead Land

J.E. Byrne Bio
As an undergraduate Journalism student at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Jodi took the advice of one of her professors and changed her major to English, specifically focusing on the art of writing. This decision laid the foundation for a career in technical writing, teaching, and eventually fiction writer. Her debut novel, Dead Land, is set to be released by Take Two Publishing on December 3, 2013.
Dead Land follows the life of eighteen year-old Sarah Cain as she struggles to survive the pressures and temptations of high school, relationships, self-discovery…and the end of the world. The novel combines Jodi’s love of fiction, appreciation for young adults and the many challenges they face, and a passion for the spiritual components in life.
Jodi resides in Pennsylvania where she’s working on the second installment of the Dead Land series as well as running her online book club blog.

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