Author Archives: R. K. Brainerd

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. My characters are pretty much always clamoring for attention, and if I don't listen, they plague me with insane dreams and nightmares until I start writing. I also raise dairy goats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. My debut novel -- an alternate-history fantasy -- it set to come out in 2018, probably Fall time. Welcome to the adventure.

Why Writing is Like Playing With A Cat

why writing

So this will be a funny post. But since my brain likes to draw parallels between seemingly unrelated things, we’re going to go with it.

The other day I was playing with Solstice Kitty, otherwise known as Solara, the adopted furry-white monstrosity that I ended up taking on in a sort of rescue situation. She’s pretty amazing but also a terror that likes to wake people up at 2 in the morning demanding attention, but I digress.


Majestic murder-floof


We’ve been getting new toys for her (as we both work full time at the moment and she ends up bored and alone a lot of the day), and we found one that has really seemed to stick. It’s basically just a furry thing attached to a string attached to a stick that I hold and flick around/race across the room with.

My coming-home-from-work routine has become: get home, throw off annoying clothes and put on comfy ones, start a fire, starting playing with cat. Keep playing with cat, in between bouts of writing and making dinner and whatever else.

A few days in to this new routine, I was struck by an odd comparison: writing fiction is like using a toy to play with a cat.

And here’s why.

Writing professionally is a partnership. It’s an interaction between writer and reader.

So you dangle something in front of them. The reader (or the cat) has to be interested in whatever it looks like, first off. But if they are interested… that’s when the fun begins.

You can use this cat toy (book), and do the same movement, over and over. You can flick it around in the same pattern, the same way. But at some point you’re going to lose kitty-cat interest.


Are you going to move it or what?

So you have to change it up. Move in circles, and then diagonal, and then figure-eights, whatever. Toss the toy in their lap, and then tease it away. Stand still for a second — and then jerk it away.

Maybe even run across the room. Make them chase you. Make them work for it. But if you do that all the time (constant, face-paced, always work), kitty cat loses interest because they can’t keep up, or no longer want to because it’s the same (and becomes boring). You might need to slow down at parts.


Stop running away. I have it. IT’S MINE.

At the same time, letting them have the toy [answers] all the time just becomes… meh. Why bother? You’ll need to keep the toy [answers] away from said kitty (reader). At the same time, if that’s all you do, it’s frustrating and they’ll probably walk away.

It’s a balance, this kitty-playing and writing thing. Let them chew on it a bit. Maybe stop moving all together. Let them think they’ve won. Before racing away again!


Nom nom nom nom nom

Obstacles are also a great way to spice things up. In fact, it’s highly recommended to use the actual environment of the book to create said obstacles. As for your feline friend, making them jump over couches, boxes, and chairs, or dive under couches, can be fantastically fun. It’s very exciting that way, you know.

IMG_6353 2

BUT, this is where the comparison falls apart a little. While you’re writing, you don’t actually directly have a reader to play with as the words flow (Well, I suppose you could…) It’s a solitary activity really.

So maybe the better comparison is more along the lines of programming a robot to go through a set of actions with a cat toy. And then watching as the cat plays to see if they continue to be entertained.

And then continually revising the programming. Because there are always a few moments that could be better…


Last one I swear

Okay, so, I realize there are a lot of reasons why this parallel doesn’t actually work, starting with things like writing style (well, which could be the type of toy…), character development, and world building (though that could be the physical obstacles in the room…), but this is all just for fun anyway.

I hope you enjoyed my silly analogy session. Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

I would like to note that I wrote this post while Solstice Kitty herself stared at me and attempted to intervene in all matters requiring fingers to be away from playing with her.


Pondering the “Author Lifestyle”

Author Lifestyle.png

I read an interesting article the other day about how writers view our careers. Now I can’t find the article, which is annoying, but the author of the article spoke about our skewed vision of what our lives look like with successful career.

She wrote that we live with this whimsical idea ‘a real writer’s life’: living in a small apartment overlooking a city scape with mountains of books along the walls. We head to coffee shops to write, our days and nights are spent laboring over words and concepts, and we never keep a regular sleep schedule.

Or maybe we live in a cabin in the woods, or on land — either which way, some sort of solitary space where we stare out of the window for hours and as the world moves slowly past.

Recognize that visual?

She brought up an interesting point: this writing-life ‘ideal’ is straight from the era of writers who we consider classics (addendum from me: classical white male writers, anyway). The most prominent of these writers lived these kinds of lifestyles that pop up often when someone thinks of Author Life. But — and this is a big but — she mentions that these authors did so by living in countries that were post-revolution, post-war, or post some other crisis, where living expenses were cheap and aesthetics were set to ‘elegant grunge.’

She continued her point by saying that this kind of lifestyle and way of living no longer really exists. Nowadays, most writers have day jobs: some other means of support as writing isn’t, or isn’t yet, enough.

Writing is not a terribly profitable career. It’s not necessarily steady or high-paying, and it takes an enormous amount of energy and creative blood. We do it anyway, for a variety of reasons including the inability to stop writing really. But in order to live in a capitalist society without personal patrons to sponsor the arts and the like, it takes years for us to be able to survive on just writing (if ever at all). And often, there’s a partner involved.

(Well, actually, that could be said for most careers — it’s very difficult to realistically live in a single-income household, so maybe that’s a moot point.)

So her point was that the ideal of Author Life needs to shift, that we need to incorporate and give room for reality that includes working another job, always or until writing becomes profitable.

Even before reading this article I’d been noticing something, but it clicked into place especially after I read the piece. It seems that a large percentage of the women writers I know and love tend to be stay at home moms. (Which is a job, mind you.)

The point is, they have financial support from their partners, work a job raising the next generation, and it (often but not always) allows the flexibility of sneaking in writing time around managing the household.

Now I’m not saying this is what people need to do. And I’m probably overestimating what percentage of writers are stay-at-home parents. I’m just saying that there’s often a kind of flexibility in that path that more readily allows for a writing career.

That is not to say that there aren’t other ways or that writers don’t juggle two careers. It’s pretty common for successful writers to have two careers, or be a writer after a different career. Hell, I know a lot of writers who love both of their careers. So maybe this article is aimed a little more towards those who really only get satisfaction from writing.

Me, for example: I find little real satisfaction in my ‘career’ outside of writing. But I think that has more to do with being in the wrong field than anything else. I actually want to do something other than writing, even while I know writing will be with me till the end.

At the same time, when I’m working full time it’s so difficult to make any sort of writing happen. But again, I find that most often with jobs that are draining, uninspiring, and frustrating. So I’m wondering if the nuance being teased out here is less about “other job or no other job” and more about what kind of job. How much is flexibility key in helping make a writing career possible?

And there’s another factor that adds into this. I’ve heard often, and have recognized in myself, that if all you do is write, you often run out of creative energy. So to another point, how important is it that writers do have other careers or big influences in their lives to feed creativity/prevent creative exhaustion?

I know, it’s not necessarily what any full-time-writer-hopeful wants to hear. You have to expend more energy, take time away from writing, to actually write? The more I think about this, the most intrigued I am by the history behind this Ideal Author Lifestyle that resonates through a lot of writers.

Why do we have this image of the reclusive, kept-to-theirself writer as the hallmark standard? Don’t we, as writers, write to pinpoint some aspect of the human condition, or seek or entertain through some window of the human soul? Why do we think that being cut off from society is the way to do this?

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’m definitely an introvert, as most of those plagued by the writing bug tends towards. And I know, the introverted and introspective tend to think deeper and harder about things in general, so it’s not like we have to be plugged into society at all times in order to observe and try to understand.

We writers need to be in the world, for financial reasons or at least creative ones. That isn’t to say that we don’t need introvert times, as writing is intrinsically a very solitary endeavor. But we still need to have some part in it.

Isn’t it interesting, that a lot of those who write about the human condition kinda often don’t really want to engage in it? Or we do, but in a way that we can retreat from when we need.

Anyway. Where I’m trying to go with this meandering stream of thoughts is that maybe the above-mentioned article right, that our image of what Ideal Author Lifestyle looks like needs to be challenged. There were quite a few Author Life whimsy depictions in the article that resonated with me (though many that didn’t as well); I hadn’t realized how much of that idea I’d internalized from a bygone era.

It seems that maybe this misleading ‘ideal’ may be to blame for some of the frustration that a lot of writers seem to feel about how their lives look now. There are so many paths to making a successful writing career, and so many ways it can look.

So what is it that we really need to be looking for out of our professional lives?


What do you think? Do you have notions of what a writer’s life looks like that you want to strive for? What’s your Ideal Author Life?

Author ’18 Interviews: Clarissa Harwood

Alrighty, hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Clarissa Harwood’s debut — Impossible Saints — just hit the world on January 2nd. It’s historical fiction, involving all sorts of themes that tickle my interest. You’ll see why below!

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Author Name: Clarissa Harwood

Book Title: Impossible Saints

Book Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Publisher: Pegasus Books


The setting is 1907 England. Lilia Brooke, an agnostic militant suffragette, believes marriage to a clergyman is a fate worse than death. Paul Harris, a quiet, intellectual Anglican priest, is well aware that falling in love with Lilia is incompatible with his ambition to become the next cathedral dean. Lilia and Paul must decide which compromises they’re willing to make and whether their love is worth fighting for.


Book Teaser:

“How well do you know Whitechapel?” she asked.

He hesitated.

“Have you ever been there?”

“No,” he admitted, “but I don’t need to go to Hell to know I don’t want to spend time there.”

She laughed. “That’s a terrible analogy.”

“Don’t you think you could better achieve your ends by adding a little prudence to your fearlessness?”

“You sound like my mother.” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Why is it that men’s courage is called bravery but women’s courage is called recklessness—or, even worse, foolishness? If I were a man, would you urge me to be prudent?”

“I certainly would,” he said firmly. “Not everything is a question of sex.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. Everything is a question of sex, but because you’re a man, you don’t see it.”


Where did you get the idea?

The genesis of the novel was a scene that popped into my head about twenty years ago: it was as vivid and detailed as if I were watching a movie. I saw a confrontation in a meadow between a studious boy who didn’t know how to play, and a fiery girl pretending to be Jeanne d’Arc, leading her army of brothers. That scene haunted me for many years before I finally gave in and started writing Paul and Lilia’s story. The scene doesn’t appear in the finished novel, but both Paul and Lilia refer to it and remember it as their first meeting.

What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.) 

The original title was Marching as to War, but by the time I signed with my agent I had changed it to A Battle Worth Fighting. I was quite attached to the latter title because it’s a direct quotation from the novel, but my editor rightly pointed out that it sounded more like nonfiction than fiction. The final title, Impossible Saints, was the result of a fun brainstorming session with my editor and my agent. While the others enjoyed my contribution of The Suffragette with a Priest on a Train, it didn’t make the cut!


No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket

My protagonists’ choice of heroes says a lot about them. Paul’s hero is the Victorian founder of the Oxford Movement (and ultimately Anglo-Catholicism), John Henry Newman. Lilia’s hero is early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.


Tell us about your favourite character.

It’s tough to choose a favourite because I love Paul and Lilia equally. I used to tell people that Paul is who I am, and Lilia is who I want to be. This isn’t really true, though, and my husband keeps telling me that I’m Lilia, even though I don’t see her qualities in myself. The novel is told from the points of view of both Lilia and Paul. Because this was the first novel I wrote that includes the point of view of a male character, I was nervous about expressing a man’s attitude and thoughts convincingly, so I deliberately gave Paul my personality (INFJ, for Myers-Briggs fans). Over the course of multiple revisions, he changed and became his own person, but I still identify with many of his strengths and weaknesses. Lilia is much braver and more outspoken than I am. She’s also an extrovert and has much more energy for people than I do. But I admire her and her convictions!


If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? (P.S. Please keep it to PG-13)

I’d be happy to spend a day with either Lilia or Paul, but Paul is harder to get to know and I could see myself becoming frustrated with his reserved nature. The two of us might just sit in opposite corners of a room reading books! It would be more interesting to follow Lilia around, hearing her speeches and watching the effect she has on the people around her: she’s very charismatic and passionate about women’s rights. Maybe she’d let me be her personal assistant!

Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

The only real person who makes an appearance in Impossible Saints is Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the best-known British militant women’s suffrage organization in the early 20th century. I’ve already mentioned that I based Paul’s personality on my own, and I do rely quite a bit on the Myers-Briggs personality typology when I create characters. If I’m struggling to understand a character’s motivations, I’ll often ask someone with a personality similar to my character’s for help.


How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

The novel took about twenty years from conception to publication. The first draft took me a little over a year, but I’ve written so many drafts since then that I’ve lost count. I gave up on it several times and wrote other books, but I kept coming back to it. You can read more about the timeline, including signing with my agent and getting the book deal in this blog post.


What kind of research did you do for this book?

As a doctoral student and later an English professor, I specialized in nineteenth-century British literature, so the poetry and fiction of that era always sparks my research and leads me to primary sources. An early influence on Paul’s development as an Anglican priest was Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, with its delightful melodrama surrounding the lives and loves of cathedral clergy. Poets associated with Anglo-Catholicism inspired Paul’s story too, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Christina Rossetti. First-person accounts of the suffragettes’ destruction of property, hunger strikes in prison, and the brutal force-feeding they endured, especially Emmeline Pankhurst’s My Own Story and Constance Lytton’s Prison and Prisoners, were especially influential in shaping Lilia’s experiences.


What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

Deciding what to include and what to exclude is always difficult, but I’m fortunate to have people with great editorial eyes looking at my work—critique partners, beta readers, my agent, and my editor at Pegasus.  I’ll admit I was dismayed when Laura, my agent, first suggested killing off a fairly major character in Impossible Saints, but Laura has an uncanny ability to detect which elements of a story should be left in and which should be left out, so I knew I could trust her judgment. I was also disappointed when I realized on my own that I had to kill off my only Canadian character and put a New Zealander in his place! It’s obvious to me now that both “murders” improved the novel.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

My natural tendency is to be a plotter, but I’m trying to let my inner pantser come out more often! I never plot a novel in great detail, though. Before I start writing a novel, I usually write a brief synopsis. Writing a synopsis for a finished novel is painful, but writing one early in the process is a helpful exercise to work out what the important turning points and key scenes will be. Of course, the synopsis I write at the beginning bears little relation to the one I write at the end, but that’s as it should be!

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

I love revisions, whether I’m doing them on my own after having written several drafts, or whether I’m doing them based on my agent’s or editor’s feedback. There is no “terror of the blank page,” so I don’t experience writer’s block when I’m doing revisions. I already know the story and the characters, so I don’t have to create anything from scratch. Instead, I’m adding layers and depth, polishing something that is already a solid story.


What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

The first draft! How I hate the first draft! I hate not knowing my characters. They aren’t my friends yet, and I miss my old friends from the previous novel. The characters in a first draft are people who’ve dropped out of the sky and are ordering me to tell a story I don’t know.

Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

I’m very fortunate to have flexible hours in my day job (I teach online courses at my local university), so I can work at home most days and organize my time the way I want to. Mornings are my sacred writing time: I try to write for at least an hour or two every morning. But my writing routine is quite different depending on whether I’m writing an early draft or a later one. I give myself a minimum time period when I’m working on a first draft (only ten minutes if I’m really struggling). When I’m working on a later draft or revisions, I give myself a maximum time period: otherwise I miss appointments, meals, and sleep because all I want to do is write!

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

Yes, usually when I’m working on a first draft or if I’ve been away from the manuscript too long. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so my first step is usually just reminding myself that it’s ok to “write crap.” In fact, this is how I wrote my entire dissertation! When my writer’s block is really severe, I use the ten-minute minimum time period I mentioned before and let myself make point-form notes if I can’t form complete sentences. Another trick I use for severe writer’s block is stolen from the movie The King’s Speech: to work on the king’s stutter, his speech therapist had him shout out swear words to loosen him up. I do this with writing if I’m really stuck: I just write long lists of swear words!


How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I wrote two novels as a teenager that were awful. I rewrote one of them in my twenties, but it was still pretty awful. I’ll call those my three practice novels. Then I signed with my agent based on a finished novel that didn’t sell, and I recently finished a sort of sequel to Impossible Saints. That’s two finished unpublished novels. I also have two unfinished first drafts of new novels.

Do you have any writing quirks?

Ha! Is there a writer who doesn’t have writing quirks? I look like a maniac when I’m revising a novel because I often talk to myself loudly and gesticulate wildly. Fortunately I’m usually alone at home when I do this, but not always. I also do my best writing when I’m “inside the purr machine,” which is on my sofa with one cat on either side of me and another behind my head.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love reading, watching movies, going for long walks, traveling, and making snow women.


Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I’ve done my share of academic writing as an English professor, but these days most of my academic writing is making comments on student papers. My comments are usually pretty dull, but occasionally I feel inspired to write things such as “Your essay is like a garden with some lovely flowers but far too many weeds.”


Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

Songs by the 70’s Swedish pop group ABBA are the soundtrack to my life.



What are you working on right now?

A historical novel about a Victorian woman mountain climber.


What’s your favourite writing advice?

Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes after you start writing, not before. The best writing advice I’ve heard for writer’s block is “butt in chair” and “lower your expectations.”


The book you’re currently reading

I always have several books on the go. This week they are a nonfiction book about scandalous Victorian court cases, Peter Pan because I’m teaching it this week in my Children’s Literature course, and Song of a Captive Bird, a novel about the 1960’s Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad that I’m reviewing for the Historical Novel Society.


Give us a short pitch of your novel

England, 1907. Lilia Brooke bursts into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.

Give one or two of your favourite blurbs.

“The perspective is refreshing in that the church is not the villain, nor are all the suffragettes cardboard cutouts. One interesting aspect is the novel’s exploration of the contrast in ideologies between the more conservative, peaceful suffrage groups and the militant, property-destroying Women’s Social and Political Union. This parallels the spectrum in today’s protest-heavy atmosphere, lending the novel contemporary social relevance in addition to its romantic plotline.” – Booklist

“Harwood brings us vividly and convincingly into the past, as we see the whirlwind of social changes in early twentieth century England through the lives of two passionate and authentic characters.” – Jessica Brockmole, internationally bestselling author of ‘Letters from Skye’



Barnes & Noble:

Chapters Indigo:


Clarissa_Harwood Authors18

Photo credit: Anita Watkins Photography


Clarissa Harwood holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. She lives in London, Ontario.

Social media:

Facebook: @ClarissaHarwoodAuthor
Twitter: @clarissaharwood
Goodreads: Clarissa Harwood


Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD


Omens of the Moon — FINAL CHAPTER of the StorySwap Adventure with KristaLyn A. Vetovich!

Fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich and I have been embarking on a story swap journey lately, both of us alternating writing sections of the same story each week. It’s been a riot, playing off of each other’s segments as we built towards the ultimate conclusion.

This idea was inspired by the full moon on January 31st: as a full moon, a blue moon, a supermoon, and a lunar eclipse, we decided our imaginations couldn’t handle all the delight. We had to write a story about it.

Now, today, we’ve finally reached the conclusion. We both decided that it would be the most fun if we each wrote our own sections — concluding this journey in our own ways and getting to see what the other envisioned in it!

If you’ve missed the previous segments, please catch up on them right here:

Part One: Gasp! The beginning! The start! The liftoff!

Part Two: Intrigue begins… mwahahahah. (Also, annoying siblings.)

Part Three: Should we believe it? Can we believe it? Do we want to believe it?

Part Four: There’s… a party? And women doctors everywhere? A blood-red moon?

And now, here, you’ll find the conclusion — but only the one I wrote. You’ll have to jump to Kristalyn’s blog to be able to see her alternate ending (I’m so excited to read it oh my god!)!



        Trevor woke up and managed to peel back his eyelids to stare at the ceiling. The sun shone through the window he’d forgotten to shut last night; it looked to be pretty late in the morning already.

        There was a thunk, followed by muttering voices. That’s what had woken him, he thought.

        He squeezed the bridge of his nose, trying to release the tension behind his eyelids. He wasn’t hungover, but he’d slept like crap. Vivid dreams he could barely remember.

        Last night, they’d watched the eclipse, seen the moon turn red… then it’d slowly started turning white again. There was a pretty sizeable chunk of white visible by the time people started heading home or crashing on Sophia’s small living room floor. Trevor didn’t really remember going to bed. He’d been pretty exhausted.

        Outside the small guest room he heard the front door open and close, then soft padding feet back to Sophia’s room – probably his sister herself.

        He felt funny. Desperately needing water, for one.

        With a groan, he rolled out of the bed and grimaced through a dizzy spell. Maybe he had drank too much…?

        He cracked open the door and stared down the hall. There was some rustling. Nervous about accidentally stumbling upon someone trying to change clothes or something, he headed to the bathroom instead and drank from the faucet.

        Wow, he was really thirsty. It seemed to take forever, and he only stopped because he wasn’t sure he could swallow more without becoming ill.

        After rinsing his face in the sink, he looked into the mirror and paused.

        His face looked different… gaunt, or something. Shaking his head, he left the bathroom, glancing down to see Sophia’s bedroom door open. He could see the bed through opening; his sister was lying on her back, arm thrown over her face.

        He padded down the hallway. “You okay?”

        “Yeah. Just feel like shit. You?”

        Sophia lifted her arm and looked at him. She frowned, just as Trevor did the same, alarmed — her cheeks seemed sunken, the dark circles under eyes stark. Just like he did, in the mirror…

        “We look like crap.”

        Sophia nodded minutely. Something passed between them; a tingle that spread down Trevor’s spine. Something was wrong.

        The feeling of wrongness only increased as time crept into afternoon. Sophia’s friends who’d slept at her place had left back to their own homes. All looking sick and much too tired. Trevor and Sophia spent the morning cleaning again, almost silently, finally collapsing on the couch.

         “Netflix?” Trevor asked.

        Sophia pursed her lips, then nodded. It took a few moments for Trevor to convince his legs to work and find the controller to start up Netflix on his sister’s PS3. It was his old one; all she really did on it was binge Netflix and maybe replay epic fantasy games she never finished.

        It was hard to concentrate. Which was bizarre, because his brain felt like mush and it should’ve been easy. Instead he kept getting up from the couch with no idea why… pacing randomly… and then sitting down again.

        It didn’t help Sophia was doing the same thing.

        “You don’t have work today?”

        “No, not till tomorrow.”

        Trevor attempted to stop drumming his fingers against the armrest. “I’m going to get my phone,” he muttered.

        “Oh, get mine too.”

        Sighing loudly, he did as she asked, bringing back both devices. Sophia’s was fully charged, but Trevor had forgotten to plug his in last night and it was completely dead. He frowned at that. He was pretty sure he’d been at least half-charge before he’d gone to sleep.

        “Think my phone is going shot.”

        Sophia was frowning at hers. “Look at this…”

        Trevor leaned over to see Sophia’s phone had dozens of messages on them.

        “Popular.” He rolled his eyes.

        “No, look.” She stabbed her finger on the date at the top of the phone.

        It took a second for Trevor to comprehend what she was going on about. March 2nd, the phone read. Her messages were from her friends, alerting her of that fact.

        “Isn’t it February 1st? What’s wrong with your phone?”

        Trevor’s buzzed, alerting him it was turning back on. He waited patiently, unable to help but glance at the date on his phone too.

        March 2nd

        “It must be a cell tower screw up.”

        Sophia didn’t answer. She was scrolling through her messages. The furrow between her brows deepened as she scrolled.

        “Has something happened?”

        Sophia pulled up her news app, and clicked on the latest broadcast. Trevor’s eyebrows went up at the title: “A month passes while we sleep.”


        The news broadcaster’s voice erupted out of Sophia’s phone: “Scientists across the globe are now confirming that the planet has shifted forward an entire month’s time, leaving us all to wonder: what happened while we slept?”

        Trevor snorted. “Wow, the news has really gone downhill.”

        A new face appeared on screen, with astronomer’s credentials scrolling underneath his head: “We all noticed that the sun rose earlier and the weather seemed different, but we didn’t really put together what was going on until we noticed the stars. Their positions were completely off from the night before. We started looking at data, trying to figure out what happened… and it doesn’t make sense, but our telescopes have catalogued an entire month’s worth of data in a night.”

        The news broadcaster appeared back on screen. Trevor noticed, with a shiver down his spine, that he looked a bit haggard too, even under all that makeup. “Astronomers aren’t the only ones noticing this phenomenon. Computer programmers and modelers at MIT left their machines on last night, and came back this morning to find an entire month’s worth of data had been processed and completed.”

        “What the crap…” Trevor muttered.

        Sophia abruptly locked her phone and set it down. She stared at the opposite wall while Trevor watched, seemingly without moving. Then she took a breath and seemed to relax.

        “Yeah. There’s no way a month has passed, because we’d all be dead: the body cannot survive without food or water for that long. And our muscles would have started to atrophy.”

        “You weren’t actually considering…”

        “This is like some War of the Worlds crap. It’s a hoax.”

        Trevor rolled his eyes. “Trust you to reference a ‘30s radio broadcast.”

        Sophia smirked.

        “But what are we really thinkin’? Fairies?” Trevor made a dramatic show of leaning back against the couch and staring at his sister as if he was serious. But her expression didn’t change, and Trevor felt a pit grow in his stomach.

        “What did you see at the ocean yesterday?”

        Sophia was apparently reading his mind, now.

        “Something,” he hedged. She scowled at him.

        “It was like… a finned… humanoid… fish-person.”

        Her eyebrows rose. “Like a mermaid?”

        He winced. “Yeah, but kinda scary, and no red hair or seashell bras.”

        “So, like a water fae.” His sister’s voice was flat.

        “That’s… not… no.” Trevor shook his head, smacking his fist down on the couch. “We’ve got to stop this, this is how the witch hunts began – because people just didn’t know the science behind what they thought was magical.”

        “And because politics,” Sophia muttered.

        They both sat there in silence. Trevor made himself stop drumming his fingers when he realized that he was mimicking his sister – even her posture.

         “Let’s get dressed and go to the ocean,” Trevor said.

        “Yeah.” By her tone, she paralleling what he was thinking, too. “Let’s go.”


        The ocean looked like it did every day. Maybe a little grey, as it was drizzling on this… March… day.

        Sophia had almost her entire face tucked in her coat, her eyes scanning the ocean and piers as they slowly walked. It was almost entirely vacant today; Trevor only saw a group of high schoolers out here kicking at rocks. Apparently school was out.  

        They went back to the pier… the pier. Trevor stared down at the water, seeing shadows in the water and the waves. They were quiet for a long while, until Trevor swallowed any sense of embarrassment and crouched down.

        “Hey,” he said to the water. “We’re here again. Can you talk?”

        Sophia snickered. He shot her a look. After howling at the moon last night she had no room to talk.  

        Sophia suddenly jolted, and Trevor almost had a panic attack.

        “Phone is ringing,” she muttered as she pulled it out of her pocket. “Crap, it’s the hospital.”

        What followed was a conversation Trevor had heard many times before: Sophia was needed at the hospital.

        “Come on,” she muttered.

        “I might stay. It’s not a far walk back to your apartment.”

        She frowned at him.

        “I need the air,” he said.

        He could tell Sophia didn’t want to leave him, but she finally did. More because she had to leave more than actually acquiescing to his desire. He watched her little car pull away, and then turned back to the water.

        “Okay, she’s gone. Now will you come out?”

        Trevor half expected something to happen. He waited fifteen minutes, staring down at the place he’d seen the… sea-creature, before, just to prove it to himself. Nothing showed up.

        Satisfied, his shoulders finally relaxing, he took a deep breath. And smiled a little.

        He had no idea what just happened with the moon and a month passing in a night and all the rest; he should have been more freaked by this. Something was badly wrong, even his gut was telling him so. But maybe he’d try to figure it out. Maybe he’d become a scientist, or an astronomer, or a climatologist…

        Trevor almost leapt out of his skin as someone walked right next to him. It was a young man, probably same age as him, and stood uncomfortably close. He stood and stared down at the water too. Trevor felt the trepidation crawl into his stomach again.

        “Uh, hi?”

        The boy – maybe he was younger than Trevor – flashed him a shy smile. “Hi. I’ve seen you here before.”

        What the hell? “Oh?”

        Another, shyer, smile. But the vivid green and blue eyes of the boy met Trevor’s for a second, and it jolted from his head to his stomach… and lower.

        “Maybe I shouldn’t say. I’m not good at etiquette yet. I’m not sure what offends… or comes across as bad.”

        There was something so incredibly earnest and vulnerable in everything about this boy that it almost cancelled out of the alarm blaring in the back of Trevor’s head. Almost.

        “Who are you?”

        “Tim… moth… ee? Yes, Tim-moth-ee That’s my name.”

        It took Trevor a second. “Timothy?”

        The boy’s face lit up. “Yes. That one. Thank you for the correct pronunciation.”

        Good Christ. Trevor needed to get out of here.

        “Okay, well. It’s great to meet you but I’ve got to go, uh. Goodbye.” He started backwards.

        The boy’s face fell. “I have frightened you. I am sorry.” He hunched, stared back down at the water, the picture of dejection.

        Trevor hesitated. Damn it, he should just leave. He felt a little better, now that he was a few steps away and the boy – Timothy – wasn’t in his personal space.

        “How did you see me here before, uh… you live around here?”

        A shy nod. “Yes, though… recently moved a little closer.”

        Alright, new kid. That might explain some of it. Maybe he just didn’t know ‘social norms’ like everybody else yet. Trevor started feeling bad. He stepped back up to the end of the pier next to him, ignoring the alien-ness that seemed to be wafting out of the boy. I’m a jerk, he thought. Just because he seemed a little different…  

        “So, what school are you attending then?” Wow, awkward conversation starter of the year goes to…

        “Oh, none yet.” The words spilled out of him, Timothy. “I need to be better at… fitting in, first.”

        Trevor’s gut cramped. “Alright, I get that. I don’t fit well myself.” What on earth possessed him to say that? Sure, he was the loner of his high school, but he just blurted it out.

        “I know. It’s why I… it’s why I wanted to talk to you.” It was spoken soften, like in a confessional. “Maybe you’d… talk to me back.”

        Okay, he didn’t know how Timothy knew that, and it was a bit creepy. Instead he just shrugged.

        “Well, here I am.”

        Timothy seemed to shake himself, or straighten – it was hard to tell really out of the corner of Trevor’s sight.

        “Will you take me places? I mean – can we be friends? I’d like to learn… I need to learn how to fit in better, and you’re talking to me. I-I’ll repay you how I can, I mean.”

        Trevor turned and looked at Timothy, trying to gauge the kid. “You don’t have to repay me. I don’t know how well I’ll help you fit in though.”

        ‘Smile’ wasn’t the right word to describe what overtook Timothy’s face – it was more like every part of him lit up.

        “I may ask silly questions. I’m bound to, really.”

        Trevor shrugged again. “Okay.”

        “Can you… promise me something?”

        Trevor frowned. “Uh, well. Tell me it first.”

        Timothy stepped closer again – uncomfortably close, again.

        “Can you promise me that if I do or say something weird you’ll tell me? And explain why?”

        Trevor opened his mouth to response flippantly but made himself stop. He thought about it seriously for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, I can do that.”

        Timothy wrinkled his nose and practically squirmed in place. It was… cute. “Thank you. You don’t know how happy that makes me.”

        “Okay, well. What do you want to do first?”

        “Explain to me how to express gratitude.”

        Okay, Trevor understood how he got there, but still… “Uhm.”

        Timothy smiled widely, almost obscenely so. Before Trevor could really react, Timothy leaned forward and kissed him fully on the mouth, his lips soft but firm before he pulled away. Trevor could have sworn he was straight… but that half-second kissing this strange boy made him doubt it.

        Timothy settled back down onto his heels, his green-blue eyes bright as he continued to grin. “Can we see the town first maybe? I haven’t had time to really look around.”   

        “Uh. Sure…wait. What?” Trevor’s head began to spin and he could feel color rising in his face. “Did… did you just… ”

        The obscene smile made a reappearance on Timothy’s face, a little less wide this time. The smile slowly faded into worry as Trevor’s blank look held the awkward silence.

        “That was not gratitude, was it?”

        Trevor exhaled, fully realizing the harsh heat that had taken over his face.

        “It was. I mean, is. I mean…” he stopped. The quizzical, almost crushed look in the face looking at him was…

Trevor had to explain. Somehow.

        “Just don’t do that to strangers. Only people you’re really really close to. Like, not someone you just met on the beach.”

        Timothy nodded, very seriously.

        God, Trevor wasn’t sure he was up to this. “I can… show you — the town, I mean. The town.” What was he getting himself into?

        Timothy practically bounced in place. “Where to first?”

        Trevor tried to think about what to actually do around here, feeling woefully inadequate. “There’s not much to do… ”

        Small beach town… beside tourist crap stuff, it was mostly what you made of it.

        Timothy nodded eagerly. “Whatever you think is best, yes.”

        Trevor awkwardly turned, thinking about what Sophia might have to say about this… but started walking anyway, Timothy practically tripping on his heels. He watched the strange boy out of the corner of his eye, who skipped really more than walked.

        Trevor turned looked at him fully. Timothy turned as well, the movement seeming more like instinct than intent, and a gleam of gold seemed to wash over his eyes, disappearing into the blue-green. Trevor swallowed, hard. He didn’t even have to think about it: how close that color was to the eyes of the creature he’d seen in the ocean. That gold color was the exact same as the creature he’d seen in the water.

        Trevor turned away and stared ahead, sightlessly. He wasn’t even surprised, he realized. He’d known. He knew.

        “I’m not going to find myself stuck in some time warp, am I?” he asked, half-terrified and half-joking, thinking about fairy hills and the myths of being stuck dancing for centuries.

        “Oh, no. I won’t do that to you. You’re being so kind. Besides, that part is over. It was only meant to make sure we had time to get settled.”

        Trevor shut his eyes, longer than a blink. “Oh.” His voice was strangled. “Just that then.”

“Yes, just that,” Timothy said, relieved-sounding. “We just needed time. We have to help, you know. To start teaching you… to save all of us.”

        Trevor met the green-blue-gold eyes of figure who walked beside him, feeling like he couldn’t really breathe. They were serious, those eyes.

        “You see me, yes? I knew you would.” 

Trevor swallowed, hard.

“We’re all going to help each other. You’ll see. I want to show you. You’ll see.” Timothy sounded so earnest, so worried.

The sound of their footsteps changed as they moved from pier onto the asphalt of the road leading into town, muffled against the different material. Timothy just kept watching him with wide eyes that were so very, very vivid.

Trevor had never seen eyes the color of the boy walking beside him.

Even then, with stark clarity, Trevor knew he had no idea what he was getting into. It didn’t slow down how headlong he fell into everything that came after.


Well then… there we are. I really hope you enjoyed this journey with KristaLyn and I! It was a lot of fun to write, to be honest. And I’m already thinking about how I might include Trevor and Sophia in future writing journeys. 

Please head over to KristaLyn’s blog and show her some love!

And if you liked any of our writing, we both have novels coming out this Fall through Glass House Press! You can best keep up with my updates through my newsletter here, and KristaLyn has a fantastic newsletter as well. 

Thank you again for reading our moon-magic adventure! 

Debut ’18 Author Interviews: Anna Quinn

Welcome to my new blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Anne Quinn is coming out with a Psychological/Literary Fiction titled THE NIGHT CHILD which is coming out tomorrow. I was intrigued by all of it — the premise, the concept, and the cover. It’s definitely something I need to get my hands on.

cover final The Night  Child_finished cover.jpg


– Author Name: Anna Quinn

– Book Title: The Night Child

– Book Genre: Psychological/Literary Fiction

– Release Date: January 30th, 2018

– Publisher: Blackstone Publishing


Please describe what the book is about.

The Night Child is the story of Nora Brown, a young mother and high-school English teacher, whose unremembered childhood trauma returns to threaten her sanity in the form of a child named Margaret. This exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate novel examines the fragile line between past and present—it is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds.
– Share a teaser from your book.

“Her past—a malevolent undertow she cannot escape from simply by swimming parallel to and waiting for release; no, this is a force demanding a surrender she cannot allow.”

Where did you get the idea?

The Night Child was born from my memoir. When I finished writing the memoir, deeply cathartic as it was, it still wasn’t the story I most wanted to write, but I wasn’t able to articulate why. Weeks later another story began to push up, a story with similar themes to the memoir (identity, power imbalance, betrayal, resilience, hope) a story that wanted to go beyond my singular experience—beyond the way I’d been telling it. I realized the problem was in the form—the memoir wanted to breathe, break free, it wanted to be a novel.

What’s the story behind the title?

The original title was SPLIT, but in 2016 a movie came out with the same title and similar themes to my book. And to make it worse, the film perpetuated harmful stereotypes of mental illness instead of countering them. I was devastated. I told my publisher I wanted to change the title and they agreed. The new title, The Night Child, came to me in a dream soon after, and it encapsulates one of the primary characters, a child named Margaret—who only appeared at night. The good news is I love the new title even more than the old one.

– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Literature shaped Nora’s identity as a feminist, teacher and mother.

The following books are mentioned in The Night Child:

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Crabapple Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker
  • The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton
  • Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
  • Lord of The Flies by William Golding
  • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton


Tell us about your favorite character.

I love Margaret. She is a fierce six-year old who attempts to save the protagonist, Nora, and her daughter, Fiona, from a terrible danger. Margaret’s courageousness both gutted and inspired me beyond measure.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

I would love to spend time with Margaret—I’d take her out for strawberry ice cream, the local bookstore, buy her a beautiful red coat and maybe the kid version of Doc Martens.
Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?

As with almost any work of fiction, the characters are composites of people I’ve met in my life, deepened and expanded by my imagination.



How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

I wrote The Night Child in only a year, but that’s because I used a great deal of content from my previously written memoir. It took another year to edit The Night Child, and yet another year to call up the courage to submit it. I queried twenty-four agents and within a month, received nine requests for partial manuscripts and three requests for full manuscripts. Soon after, two agents expressed interest in representation—one NY agent, and Gordon Warnock from Fuse Literary in San Francisco. The NY agent wanted significant developmental changes that involved sensationalizing certain scenes for commercial purposes, and Gordon loved the book enthusiastically as it was, so I accepted his offer. Nine months later he called to say Blackstone Publishing had offered a fabulous contract. After an additional three months of editing with Blackstone, my book was ready for publication and will be released Jan. 30th, 2018.


What kind of research did you do for this book?

I used notes from my own personal history of dissociation, and spent hundreds of hours reading about psychiatric therapies, and interviewing psychiatrists and people who had experienced, or were experiencing dissociation.


What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I’m a fairly spare writer (my poet husband calls me a haikuist novelist) and I often need to elaborate rather than cut. However, the editing exercise that helps most regarding cutting words is to read the entire manuscript aloud underlining all the places that cause me to falter or lose attention. Later, I go back and either cut those sentences or rewrite the passages. I also used Microsoft’s Word Usage and Frequency add-in, to find repeated words. The words “actually”, “shrugged” and “sometimes” were my top three most overused words. I also removed an excerpt of Hemingway’s, Clean Well-Lighted place because my publisher and I agreed it would be too much effort to secure the copyright from Hemingway Estates as they are known to be a pretty tough crowd.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 One of the most exhilarating things about writing is the mystery and complexity of it, so while I have a sense of big what if questions when I begin, I allow my imagination free rein during the first draft— I become a combination of interviewer, recorder and witness. I observe my characters, follow them around, ask them things along the way like: What do you want? Why does this matter so much to you? What are you looking for? What’s standing in your way? What are you afraid of? and What next? Over time they lead me into scenes, into answers, and a story emerges—the structure revealing itself as I write.
What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Revision thrills me—re-visioning a draft from a critical perspective, listening to the sounds of language, playing with rhythm sentence by sentence, magnifying the abstract for an  unambiguous detail, cutting irrelevancies (even if it means pages and pages) adding complications, and creating metaphor completely absorbs me. The first few drafts allow me to discover the story—what it’s really about, where the vulnerability of being human lives. Revision allows me to clarify and deepen the emotional truth of it.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Finishing a piece. But really, is any story ever finished?
Can you share your writing routine?

Now that my boys are grown and I run my own business, I’m fortunate that I can create my own schedule. I’ve designated Mondays and Tuesdays as sacred writing days and I sequester myself in my writing studio—a little tugboat with horrible internet access. I write from 7 a.m. until midnight each day, only stopping to take an occasional walk, eat something, or shoo away the gulls who like to crack clams open on the boat roof. The rest of the week I write at home for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.


Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

Ha, I decided long ago to reframe writer’s block. When the words don’t come I tell myself  I’m in a receptive phase. I’m not saying I don’t sometimes panic (I do!) but it definitely takes the pressure off to trust that my words and ideas just need time to sort themselves out. Sometimes it’s realizing that I’ve been asking my characters the wrong questions. Taking long walks, taking photographs, practicing yoga, listening to music or reading, eventually opens up spaces within me where words once again find their way to the page.
– If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write whatever you want and write it without apology—there are no forbidden, unspeakable, illicit, feelings or experiences in writing.
– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have an unpublished memoir that will stay that way, half of a poetry chapbook, a rough draft of a book called “Book Stories” about strange/cool/funny things that happen at the bookstore, one almost completed first draft of a new novel and three pages of a third novel.

– Do you have any writing quirks?

I have to write the first draft of anything in long hand with a Uniball 207 pen.



– Tell us about yourself.

I’m an introverted extrovert—I can be sociable, but it seems for every hour I socialize I need hours of solitude to recover. Running a bookstore is like attending an all-day bookish cocktail party, and though I love placing great books into new hands, I do limit my time at the desk. I also teach workshops, so I pace myself there too, keeping my teaching time to a couple of hours, a few days of the week. I’m married to a poet who understands me, and gives me plenty of space and support. I also have three grown boys I love to hang out with whenever I can.

– How did you get into writing?

My mother taught me to write when I was four. She taught me words create worlds and that imagination is everything, and I believed her then, and still do today. I was fortunate also, to have teachers along the way who encouraged me to keep writing. One particular teacher taught me that if I didn’t like the story I was in, then I should write myself into a new one—her words pretty much saved my life.


– Which book influenced you the most?

Ach, there are so many. My top ten books of all time are:

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Look At Me by Anita Brookner

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

Oranges are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

The Bone People by Keri Hulme




– What are you working on right now? I’m working on a novel set in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s all I can say for now.

– What’s your favourite writing advice?

Write what you want without apology.

Participate mightily in your writing community.

Be extraordinarily gentle with yourself, always.


– The book you’re currently reading:

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tennant. Achingly dark and beautiful.

– How do you feel about The Night Child being compared to the Bell Jar?

Completely honored. Both stories are about a woman’s descent into mental illness, her breakdown, and attempts toward recovery. Both protagonists, Esther in the Bell Jar, and Nora in The Night Child, had achieved academic success and were raised in a typical middle-class family and yet things weren’t as they seemed—both have a disordered identity. Both Esther and Nora offer raw perspectives about the experience of a breakdown. The Bell Jar opened up conversations about mental illness and I hope my book does the same.

Give one or two of your favorite blurbs!

”A powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel…’Must-read’ is not a phrase I use often; I am using it now: you must read this book!” –Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Packed with riveting detail and radical emotional honesty, motored by a powerful (what I think of as a “life depends upon it”) authorial voice, this book does at least fifteen things novels are not supposed to be able to do.  I won’t name them, but I will tell you that it will stand you up against yourself in all the best ways possible. You will love this night child, and she will remind you to love the night child inside you. I can’t remember a novel in which I have been more deeply emotionally invested. “-Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted

And now… buy links!


anna author picture .jpg

Anna Quinn is a writer, teacher, and the owner of The Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Books in Port Townsend, WA. She has thirty years of experience teaching and leading writing workshops across the country. Her writing has appeared in various literary journals and texts, including Literature Circles and Response, Practical Aspects of Authentic Assessment, Instructor, Tidepools, IS Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, Lit-Fest Anthology, 2016, and Washington 129 Anthology. Anna’s first novel, “The Night Child”, was acquired in a world right’s deal by Blackstone Publishing, and will be published Jan. 30th, 2018.




Twitter: @annaquinn55

Instagram: annaquinnpt

Pinterest: annaquinn5480



And there we are. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Anna Quinn and her debut coming out (tomorrow!)!

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler

Omens of the Moon – Part 4: “End of the World Party

So you might have noticed that fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich have been embarking on a story swap journey, where each of us alternate writing a section of a story each week.

We were originally inspired because of what’s happening with the moon on January 31st of this year: it’ll be a full moon, a blue moon, a supermoon, and a lunar eclipse. Well, KristaLyn’s and my imaginations couldn’t handle all the delight. We had to write a story about it.

We’ve been building off of each other’s pieces this whole month, and — wow, time has flown! — we’ll each write our own endings on the 31st of January… just in time for you to have your own moon adventure.

If you’ve missed the previous segments, go catch up on them right here:

Part One: Gasp! The beginning! The start! The liftoff!

Part Two: Intrigue begins… mwahahahah. (Also, annoying siblings.)

Part Three: Should we believe it? Can we believe it? Do we want to believe it?

… and here we are! Part Four:




“Boy, I am teaching you how to clean after this,” Sophia declared at 1:30 in the morning, stumbling through the door after her shift at the hospital. Trevor came to his feet, the only thing in his head what had happened at the dock.

“You said clean it, not how well,” he answered hurriedly. Passive-aggressive sarcasm was his default mode.

“Don’t be a dick.”

He felt a faint twinge of guilt, pulled into the present as he realized how exhausted she looked.

“All right, well,” she said, throwing her purse and coat across the couch, which was probably once black, but was now more of a grey. “We’ve got half an hour until people arrive.”


“Party. Friends. Fellow interns. Didn’t I tell you they were coming over?” She batted her eyelashes.

“Uhm, no.” Trevor felt a little hostile, shrinking in on himself at the idea of having to face people after the day he’d had. He wasn’t about to tell a room full of people what he’d seen in the water.

“Well, they are. And they’re cooking since I’m hosting, which is fabulous, because Maria makes effing amazing carnitas.”

“What is the occasion?”

Sophia snorted, pulling bleach out of a cupboard Trevor didn’t even realize existed. “The end of the world, of course.”

Oh. Right. The eclipse. His mouth dried a little. He’d managed to forget that phenomenon in the face of the water… creature.

They couldn’t be connected. No, they weren’t. These were two separate things –

“You. Here’s the mop. Floor. It’s sticky, and I have no idea why, so it needs to not be sticky anymore.”

Trevor had a mop and two different large bottles of something promptly tossed in his direction, half of which he dropped. Thankfully, nothing broke. Trevor juggled the items and stared at them for a minute.

“Do you need a lesson in mopping?” Sophia put her hands on her hips.

Trevor clenched his teeth for a minute before he made them unclench. “Yesssss.”

Sophia was silent for a long minute, until her lips twitched and then she broke out in one of her signature grins. “Little bro, I am going to teach you so much.”


His sister became a whirlwind when cleaning, which made it impossible to interject anything outside of what she was doing. Trevor beat down impatience. His stomach felt like it had a boulder in it, taking an enormous amount of effort to force it up his throat into words.

“Why are there so many damn cleaning products?” he muttered instead.

“Because germs are naughty,” she responded from across the room, somehow hearing him.

She was currently balancing on a chair dusting something up high. Who the hell cared if there was dust up there?

She finally became quiet, after barfing up everything that had happened at the ER that day. It had been a madhouse, like usual on the full moon, but Trevor had started sweating when she’d told him there had been a much higher rate of water related injuries.

Maybe she was quiet because she was thinking about what they’d seen last night, too.

“I went to the dock today,” Trevor blurted.

“Oh! God, I’m an awful sister, I forgot to ask: How was your day? Besides not cleaning.”

The boulder in his gut got stuck in his esophagus and made his voice weird. “I saw something.”

Out of his periphery, he saw his sister turn to look at him.

“What kind of something?”

“Like the thing with fins we saw last night – ”

There was a knock on the door. Sophia’s attention snapped to the door and back to him, expression serious. “Let me get her set up and we’ll talk, okay?”

Swallowing hard, he nodded.

Sophia danced to the door and jerked it open. “Woman! You’re early. I’m still in my scrubs.”

“And you’re damn cute in ‘em!”

“Fawnia! You’re here too!”

Trevor scrambled to try to shove cleaning products away as two women – both stocky, one brunette and the other black-haired and Hispanic-looking – dressed in sweaters and leggings came into the small kitchen, one carrying a bag and the other carrying a crock pot. They were talking a mile a minute as Sophia trailed behind them – how the hell did they have this energy at almost 2 in the morning? – but both stopped as they saw him.

“You didn’t tell us the brother would be here!”

Both women deposited their items on the counter and offered him their hands, beaming.



“… Trevor.”

“We’ve heard so much about you – I know, very cliché – but it’s wonderful to finally meet you!” Fawnia exclaimed.

Sophia smirked, leaning in the doorway to the kitchen behind them. Great. She’d been talking about him. And knowing her, they probably knew horribly sordid little details about him, too. Sophia didn’t view things with the same level of embarrassment as he did.

“All right, I’ll get you guys set up and then we both need to change and fresh up,” Sophia said, giving Trevor a meaningful look.

His gut cramped. He stuffed his hands into his jeans and tried not to squirm with impatience as Sophia tried to extract herself from her doctor friends. She finally did, glancing at him as she headed down the short hallway towards her bedroom.

There was another knock on the front door. Sophia looked at Trevor with resignation and went to open it.


Friend after friend arrived, until the small apartment was filled with bodies, heat, and the smell of good food. Also: alcohol. That came out, which was more than a little interesting to Trevor.

When Sophia did manage to get away to change her clothes, two of her friends followed, talking, so she wasn’t alone and Trevor couldn’t talk to her.

Trevor also had his own issues extracting himself from her friends: as the new addition to the obviously close group, and apparently his sister’s favorite thing to gossip about, he was the center of attention.

He was uncomfortable. But he was also the center of attention of a group of very intelligent, driven, and compassionate women – and they weren’t hard on the eyes. So being straight and, well, you know, interested, he decided a little discomfort was okay. He knew nothing would happen with any of them, but that didn’t stop the pleasure of having so much female attention.

“Are you interested in pharmacy? My dad is head of the one a few hours south of here – I bet I could get you behind the scenes,” one of them said – Carmen? He thought? She had light brown hair and was cute as hell – and towered over him at 6 feet tall.

“I don’t know… that’s the problem, I have no idea…” How could he decide what to put all his energy into when he didn’t even know what he cared about?

“You need to explore! Make your mark! Figure shit out!” Maria pushed another glass in his hand, the second Spanish Coffee she’d handed him. His eyes darted around for Sophia, but she was currently miming something while the two women around her were in stitches of laughter. He had no idea what was happening: she looked ridiculous.

They were mixing all their drinks with caffeine, as some of them were going on 24 hours awake. He downed half of the scalding liquid quickly: it was making the boulder in his stomach go away, and he was damn okay with that.

“It’s starting, it’s starting!” someone bellowed.

Trevor almost dumped hot liquid all over his lap.

Everyone crowded over to the sliding doors that opened to the balcony. This building was freaking archaic, with terrible water pressure and sometimes cockroaches and a hot water heater that went out at times, but Sophia loved this apartment because of the huge balcony and view.

There was about a mile of quaint ocean town between Sophia’s place and the ocean that stretched out like a giant, dark blanket. Above the dark waters, the full moon hung; along its edge, a sliver of rust was forming.

Which god is swallowing the moon? Trevor wondered, before he mentally shook himself. He’d been listened to too much folklore podcasts today. Er. Yesterday, since it was technically the wee-hours of the next day.

He swayed a little where he stood. Haaaa, he needed to eat.

“Okay, that’s cool, this is going to take a while. Food time!” Maria clapped her hands together.

Trevor startled at the abrupt return of conversation that filled the apartment, not realizing how quiet it had been a second before.


It turns out, the eclipse takes hours to occur. While the eclipse technically started at almost 3 in the morning (their time anyway), the moon wouldn’t be at full eclipse until almost five. He hadn’t stayed up this late in a while, but between the conversation and the coffee, he wasn’t having too much of a problem. He perched on the armrest of the couch and stuffed his face with food (and another Spanish Coffee – why the hell were these things so good?), pretending he wasn’t nervous as his leg bounced up and down erratically.

Then, somehow, it was almost five in the morning. Sweat broke out on Trevor’s back as he stood on the balcony and stared up at the ruddy monstrosity in the sky. Did the moon seem bigger? It seemed bigger. Technically, a casual observer couldn’t tell that Supermoons were closer, the difference was so minimal. It shouldn’t seem bigger.

Ridiculous name. ‘Supermoon.’

The crimson crept, inching… inching… inching towards completion. He felt his heart race, the silence around him deafening as every eye in the room was riveted. It was so slow – was the moon completely red now? Now? Now? Every time he thought it was, he refocused and saw another tiny sliver of white.

What was going to happen when it was completely red?

In horror, Trevor realized he actually thought something was going to happen. Nothing is going to happen! It was just animals in the water and conspiracy theories and –

An ear-splitting noise exploded in the room.

Trevor yelped, bumping into the railing of the balcony as he jumped. He wasn’t the only one: Sophia’s friends jerked, a few swearing.

It took him a second to realize that his darling sister Sophia had her head bent backwards and she was howling up at the sky.

“What the f – ”

“We have to scare it away!” Sophia cackled. “We have to scare away whatever is swallowing the moon!”

She lifted her face to the sky again and howled at the top of her lungs.

“Jesus Christ,” Trevor muttered, his heart trying to declare mutiny in his chest. Laughter bubbled around him. He wondered how long his sister was going to keep this up –

Maria cupped her hands around her mouth and bellowed at the moon.

“Oh for – ”

Fawnia and Carmen immediately joined in.

“Oh god.”

Trevor covered his eyes with his hand as Sophia and all her friends began to howl, raising a racket the likes of which would probably wake the neighborhood. He shook his head, not able to believe this was happening right now.

His lips started switching. Hilarity bubbled up before he could stop it, and his shoulders quivered with laughter.

Sophia wacked him on the shoulder without saying a word.

“Aaaaooooooo,” he said half-heartedly.

Maria bumped him with her shoulder, repeatedly, with surprisingly violent nudges.

“All right, all right!” Trevor cupped his hands around his mouth, lifted his head, and howled at the moon at the top of his lungs.

Laughter broke out around him, followed by a cacophony of sound that made him laugh so hard he couldn’t breathe. Shivers raced over his skin, down his spine, elation filling his stomach until he felt light-headed.

Trevor howled until he threatened to make himself pass out, leaning against the railing and gasping for oxygen.

They all began to fall silent, one by one. Only breathing and occasional giggles broke the quiet. Sophia was next him, her eyes riveted to the sky; as he watched, her expression melted, turned serious. Trevor felt his skin prickle, something shivering down his spine.

He looked up… just as moon turned blood red.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Hope you enjoyed this segment! Man, it’s been really fun to watch these characters fumble around. Tune in next Wednesday as KristaLyn and I both write our conclusions to the mystery (it’s going to be so fun to see where we both end up!). 

Oh! And in case you’re interested, we both have novels coming out Fall of this year. You might want to hang around and see what they’re all about. (The best way to keep updated on me is to follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter here; you get goodies and exclusive sneak peaks!) You should definitely head over to KristaLyn’s place to see what she’s up to… 

Omens of the Moon – A Story Swap with KristaLyn A. Vetovich – Part 2: “26 Hours Until”

As I mentioned last Wednesday, fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich and I have decided to engage upon a storyswap! We were inspired by the moon on the 31st of this month — it’s not only a full moon and a blue moon, but a super moon and a lunar eclipse as well. Our imaginations went a little wild and we decided it was a little too good to pass up as a story.

The lovely KristaLyn was so kind as to start us out on this writing adventure, the first segment of which can be found here. I’ve taken inspiration from her beginning and continued below…


Trevor stood on the boardwalk, throwing bits of lint from his pocket into the water, long after his fingers and toes turned numb with cold. Most everyone else had cleared out of the biting weather, with nothing much of interest out here besides the creaking metal and rhythmic waves. Trevor looked up again into the gaze of the waxing moon, deceptively full-looking, until another set of clouds shifted and covered the view. He took a deep breath of the biting air —

And saw her a second before she spoke, barely managing not to jump out of his skin.

“I still don’t know why you come out here.”

Trevor rolled his eyes to cover up the adrenaline surge, refusing to show she got the jump on him. “I still don’t know why you follow me out here.”

“I didn’t follow. I made an educated guess.”

Trevor’s big sister slowly came into view, bundled in a green coat over her bright pink scrubs from work. Their parents continually insisted that she’d been taken more seriously as a doctor if she wore blue scrubs like everyone else, to which she always wrinkled her nose and with eyes like steel said, ‘They’ll only make that mistaken once, not taking me seriously because of a color.’ Her hair was a mess and she looked exhausted, but she grinned when he looked at her.

“You look like crap,” he muttered. “How was the hospital?”

“The usual approaching a full moon. The ER is swamped. They sent all the interns home so we can be fresh for tomorrow, when it’ll be worse.” She reached him, gazing up into the sky like he had been. “Did you know that’s where the word ‘lunatic’ came from? Luna-tic, moon-crazy. The full moon has been making people erratic since forever.”

“I’m not being erratic,” Trevor muttered.

His sister side-eyed him. “I wasn’t saying you were. Though nice defensiveness there.”

Trevor drug a hand through his hair with a jerk. He couldn’t tell by looking at her how much she’d heard from their parent. She was always so good at being impossibly, always, upbeat. Which was misleading, really, because she also had the most perverse sense of humor of anyone he’d known.

Sophia turned back to the sky; some of the clouds had shifted a little and a part of the moon was visible again. “I asked the nurses if the super moon will be worse than a normal full moon, but I got varying answers on that.” She glanced at him, and he stayed mute. She continued: “I also found out today that a true blue moon isn’t actually a second moon in a month; that’s more common than a traditional blue moon, which is the fourth moon in a season. Which is a lot rarer.”

Trevor sighed reluctantly. At least she wasn’t asking about what had happened a few hours ago. “So is this a true blue moon or not?”

“I don’t think it is.”

Trevor smirked. Ha, he thought. It wasn’t even a real blue moon. The ‘doomsday-ers’ were even more wrong.

Sophia walked out onto the pier that was closest to them, and with a groan of effort, sat down with her feet dangling over the water. He made a face and followed.

“Isn’t that cold?”

“Better than standing. My feet are dying.”

“Don’t you have a car you could be sitting in?”

Sophia paused for a beat before shifting back on her hands and staring up into the sky again. “So, traditionally, the full moon was the time that the ‘good people’ came out to enact revenge on us mortals. What mischief do you think they’ll enact tomorrow?”

Trevor huffed. “’Good people’?”

Sophia grinned wickedly. “Fairies. That’s how you don’t offend them, you know. Call them ‘good people.’”

Trevor rolled his eyes again. “You’re ridiculous.”

She suddenly brightened. “Or, maybe the full moon will kidnap someone.”


“Supposedly she’s done that before, to people who displease her.”

Trevor wracked his brain, trying to remember any folklore he’d heard about that, but came up empty. The only thing he could remember about the full moon was stuff about werewolves.

“Then again, tomorrow is an eclipse, which is a whole new barrel of fish. Gods will battle, the moon will be swallowed, and we’ll have to scare the monsters away by being as loud as we can.”

Trevor submitted to defeat, sighing heavily as he dropped next to her. Damn, the wood was freezing. And the water licked at his boots, as his legs were longer than hers. It seemed more turbulent than usual right underneath them both, breaking against the wooden legs of the pier in violent crashes. The moon did pull harder on the tides during a super moon…

Sophia smiled sweetly at him when he sat, and Trevor scowled.

“For someone into science, you sure know a lot about ‘magic,’” he quipped.

“I’m multi-faceted, what can I say.”

Trevor hunched against the cold, shivering again. “You didn’t have to come out here.”

Sophia leaned her head against his shoulder. “Yeah I did.”

“You should go.”

She let out a yawn, snuggling up against his side. “I’m good.”

Trevor stared down at the churning water, feeling guilty. He should go home, apologize, make up with his parents, smooth everything over. Sophia wouldn’t go home until he did. She was 8 years older than him, in the middle of her intern year, and swamped with work. But she was always by his side at the drop of a hat.

Trevor’s throat swelled. He kissed the top of her head before he knew what he was doing, and Sophia’s head turned, her eyes wide.

“Did I just get affection out of you?”

“Shut up.”

“You did! I’m so proud of you!” She practically squealed, her arms suddenly around him like a vice.

“Jesus Christ, get off…” Trevor half-heartedly shoved at her, turning his face away to hide the smile.

Before they could react, the water bulged upwards with a rush, soaking them to their knees and nearly spilling onto the pier itself.

Trevor and Sophia bolted to their feet with shrieks. Trevor looked up and down the boardwalk: all along the shore, the water was retreating back from the sudden surge. Panting, his skin prickled, his legs frozen into icicles.

“What the…”

“Good god that’s cold…”

The waves were perfectly calm now, lapping idly around the pier. The legs of Sophia’s pink scrubs were dark, almost maroon, sticking to her legs. Trevor stepped forward a few steps, scanning the water and now shaking with cold.

“Do you think – ”

Sophia’s words stopped with a gasp; Trevor lurched backwards: something moved around the legs of the pier. A long, sheer fin broke the surface, weaved between the pier posts, before disappearing below again.

“What was that?” she breathed, and crouched to peer down into the depths. “An eel? Was that an – holy crap, I think that’s a jellyfish!”

Trevor didn’t know how he’d missed it before — a gigantic jellyfish floated just beyond the reach of the pier, almost glowing faintly in the darkness. Its head was almost as big as a dinner plate, dozens of tentacles disappearing downwards, it’s body a myriad of white, blue, pink, and clear. His mouth almost dropped open. He’d never seen one so big and alive before. He moved forward instinctively, grasping Sophia’s shoulder, ready to pull her back.

The water shuddered … ripples fanned outwards from the bank… across the water, and disappearing against the usual incoming waves. Trevor’s breath froze in his lungs as a series of glowing shapes pulsed in the dark depths, like a response.

Trevor jerked Sophia back, the hair on his body standing on end. “We should go.”

“Yeah, humans who mess with fairies don’t usually end up on the right side of history,” Sophia said, her voice shaking.

“That’s not funny.”

They backed up slowly, holding onto each other, staring out in the dark. Once they reached the edge of pier, off the boardwalk, with land solidly beneath their feet, they both collectively stopped. Both Trevor and Sophia’s breathing was quiet as they stared out, gazes flicking over the dark waves.

Trevor felt his shoulders slowly relax a little as time ticked by. The ocean’s normal grace had returned: saltwater roar, rhythmic ebbing and flowing of the waves.

“There’s marine life that glows,” Sophia muttered, breaking the quiet. “But this close to the shore?”

“Is there supposed to be a storm? Pushing anything inland?” Bizarre things washed up on shore sometimes, but that was usually after a storm.


Trevor and Sophia slowly let go of each other. Sophia looked up at him, solemn now. “We should go home.”

The heaviness from the fight with his parents returned with a crash. Trevor clenched his teeth and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I don’t know if I can – ”

“Come home with me. You can sleep on my couch.”

Trevor’s head came up, his heart leaping with relief for a second. “I couldn’t ask you that.”

Sophia glanced towards the ocean, and trepidation prickled up Trevor’s spine again. Sophia took his arm, pulling him towards the parking lot. Her little car was parked not far away.

“You haven’t heard my conditions yet.”

Trevor narrowed his eyes.

Sophia smiled a little evilly. “I never have time to do anything around my apartment, so this is perfect. In trade for staying, you clean my place from top to bottom. I want it spotless when I get home tomorrow. You’ll have the whole day, because I probably won’t get home until the wee morning hours.”

Trevor groaned, dragging his feet.

She made a little skipping movement. “It’ll be perfect! I’ll get back in time for us to watch the eclipse together! We can both be sleep deprived for the end of the world.”

Trevor made a sound that couldn’t decide if it was a laugh or a snort.

“And, if the world doesn’t end, we’ll work something out until you get your feet under you. You can stay as long as you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting a free ride.”

“Mom and dad – ”

“Can deal. You turned 18, you didn’t suddenly develop adulting superpowers.” There was steel in her voice, but Trevor didn’t really think it was directed at him. “You’re allowed to not know what you’re doing, but you can’t just do nothing.”

They reached her car, and Trevor slipped into her car and away from the ocean wind in relief. Sophia was quiet as she started up the engine, her gaze scanning across the water in front of them before she twisted to watch as she backed up.

Trevor was quiet too, stuffing down a different relief that he didn’t have to go ‘home’ tonight. Sophia’s little car picked up speed down the road, and he gazed out the window, eyes drawn to the water. It dawned on him then that the ocean was in sight the entire way to her apartment. It suddenly seemed ominous.

He mentally shook himself. The ridiculous newspaper and far-fetched theories had obviously gotten to him; there was a perfectly rational explanation for what had just happened. Trevor just needed to figure out what it was. His eyes remained fixed to the ocean, annoyed yet unable to stop watching for those glowing lights.


… enjoy this segment, curious to see what happens next? Head over to KristaLyn’s blog and give ‘er a follow for the next part this coming Wednesday!