Category Archives: Personal Updates

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!)!

 

22

        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.”

        “Huh?”

        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! 

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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…

22.png

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.”

“What?”

“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.

“Maybe…”

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!


New Year, New Launch

A New Year... A New Launch

Goodbye 2017, hello 2018.

This can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, ’18 doesn’t exactly look like it’s going to be much better in terms of my country devolving into a Tyrannical State, but there’s something about a new year that gives hope anyway. It may not reflect reality; it may be a false sense of positive change. Yet we all need reset times to take a breath and settle ourselves.

So, to everyone out there wishing and feeling hope for a better year, you got it. I believe in you. I hope this is the reset you need to accomplish your goals and dreams, and that you are able to forge a better world, because we’re going to need you, your voice, your power.

2018 is also different and special for me because my debut novel is set to be published in Fall. It’s the first in an alternate-history fantasy, following a headstrong and a little bit broken girl as she searches for secrets and truth. (A bit more about it here.) Because of this, several things are happening.

To begin with, I’m launching a new blog series of author interviews. I’m a part of a group of those who debut this year, and we’re all trying to support and boost each other. It will be called “Debut Authors ’18 Interviews” and will detail all sorts of talented writers and fascinating stories. (By the way, know someone awesome debuting this year, particularly in my genre or age group? I would love to host them!) So you’ll be seeing a lot more posts from me with author interviews, alongside my normal posts and less-often series, Behind The Scenes of Being Published, which has been detailing my publishing journey so far.

On this first day of 2018 I also sow the seeds of another new launch. My newsletter is officially starting up. With my debut coming, it’s time I start teasing you all with exclusive first-looks at the upcoming cover, sneak-peaks into the characters and world, and extra content that doesn’t make it into the book but is too good not to share.

All of that will be accessed through my newsletter, where I will keep you all entertained with my writing and behind-the-scenes stories of my author adventures.

If you’re not familiar with my writing, you can get a taste through a few short stories I’ve posted. Here, you can find a story of yanking someone back from the brink of death. Here, you can read a story of two civilizations meeting. Both are myth and magic, and both are a little dark (all like me). My debut takes place in the same world as that first story; the main character you’ll end up meeting soon in the series as well.

SO. Like my writing, think my debut series sounds interesting, want an exclusive first-look at my upcoming cover?

 

Here is the sign-up form for my newsletter.

 

I hope your 2018 is starting off well, and I wish you all the best health, happiness, and success as the year moves forward. 


ICARUNITE; a short story

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A few weeks ago I was invited by the amazing Nicole Evans to write a short story for Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, a talented collection of writers chasing their muses and finding their voices through writing short stories inspired by prompts.

The short story that arose was published last Friday, inspired by the prompt “The Last Entry in an Explorer’s Journal.”

My first thought was to write a short story within my Obsidian Divide series, because, well, there’s a lot going on in that world and it would be fun. But in the first two days I realized that wasn’t going to work… and completely changed over to write within another series I’m working on.

This other series I’m struggling with, because it has many themes, tropes, and ideas that are pretty big concepts. Just dealing with one of the issues I address is work enough. But within the story I’m dealing environmentalism, how it intersects with race, the relationship between “developed” and “developing” civilizations, how this fits together, and what a relationship across those divides really should mean. Then add in the fact that it’s New Adult, which means the series is about a character learning how she fits into the world, which is always hard. Oh, and as stories do, other issues are appearing out of the ether, such as white saviorism, how perspectives change across generations, and what the slow build of societal change really looks like.

It’s all very complicated. Which is why, in a weird way, I was so grateful to be invited to write for Muses — beyond just the honor of being asked to write for them. Within the short story I was able to delve into a critical point of backstory, and realized that part of my frustration with this series stems from vagueness. Writing this short story forced me to ask questions I hadn’t thought to ask, bringing clarity and further structure to the world (even within issues that don’t directly come up in the short story itself).

It was a struggle to avoid typical colonialism tropes (you’ll see why), and build a story  fueled with wonder and optimism without falling into exoticism or unreality. I’m not sure I entirely accomplished it, though I’m sure everyone will have a differing opinion on the matter.

ANYWAY. Without further ado, go check out what I wrote. And hey, if you feel up to it, let me know what you think…

P.S. Also, thank you to Jared for helping me figure out the name of ‘The Mineral’ 😉


Death and Decay

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One of my goats, Beltaine, died last Wednesday. It was pretty sudden, and the circumstances are a little bizarre. The vet has sent off tissue samples to get more answers and information. But needless to say I’ve been hurting, and struggling a lot. My goats are my babies; I help them come into the world, and it’s my responsibility to care for them and keep them safe. When one dies… it shatters a piece of me.

That’s not to say I don’t heal or get better, but that doesn’t take away from the fact.

Now, usually, in heartbreak, I can’t write. I’ve never really been able to write in the depths of depression or hurt. If I need to escape, I spend that time reading or watching TV.

Something different happened last Wednesday as I dug a grave for Beltaine. I was thrown into a scene, a picture that had been vague for a while suddenly crystal clear. It was vivid in an undeniable way.

Two things, actually, came from digging her grave. One of them is for another blog post and will take some time. But the second, I wanted to share with you. Because the minute I came home from burying Beltaine I started to write.

I never write when I’m hurting.

I started writing about decay and yanking someone back from the brink of death. I wrote about what I couldn’t do in real life: saving a loved one when all hope was lost. The segment below is actually part of a bigger series, the series debuting next year.

I apologize for it’s unpolished nature; it’s a little jolting, the voice isn’t where I want it, and it’s pretty raw. The star of this scene won’t be present until Book One, after the prequel, so maybe this is a little premature.

But he talked as I unearthed the final resting place for one of my beloved kids, and I wanted to share.

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

Humans can smell the decay of a body a few hours after death. It’s sweet and repugnant all at once, candy-sticky and gorge-inspiring. This sense of smell works a little differently for my family: we can smell the decay of a dying person before actual death. See, the human body is equipped with everything it needs to live and die when it’s born – including the bacteria that that takes over at death, turning body to fertilizer. In a human lifetime there’s a constant battle between bacteria trying to keep the body alive, and the bacteria trying to decompose the body. It jumps at any chance to try. And when someone is dying, the bacteria begins its process. We can smell it.

So when the smell of death hit me, as my brother and I frantically bound the gaping holes on the neck, thigh, wrist of the girl bleeding out on the cold concrete floor – panic seized my chest.

Panic. What a funny thing. A sensation I hadn’t felt in years, perhaps decades. It froze me where I crouched, my movements stopped in denial. It flooded my head and made me stupid.

Her heartbeat – it changed. Stuttering. The tune of death’s march. The blood loss was critical, dangerous even in normal circumstances, with access to healing or medical care.

It was 20 minutes to the nearest hospital. This abandoned building was far from any civilization. Even with my speed, it was too far. I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could make it with her injuries. Panic opened its jaws wider.

There was nothing here. I had no blood, no medicine, no doctors, in the middle of nowhere. All I knew was how to kill. I’d gotten to her, and it was too late. She was going to die. I’d seen this so many times. They all died so easily… they all just died.

Twin spikes of grief drove up through my chest and my brother’s and rolled over us like a black wave. Our minds, ever connected, amplified it until I felt like I was drowning. It was inevitable: they all died, ripping from the world, bright lights extinguished I barely had the chance to see.

My eyes burned.

Her end was going to break me. She wasn’t just a bright life in the world; she was an incandescent sun that made the world less weary, that made the centuries feel lighter. She made me feel like living, instead of decaying in my own mind as death was a gift I would never experience. I’d barely had the chance to know her, I’d barely scratched the surface of who she was, and she was being taken from me.

She stopped breathing. Silence stretched. Pain ripped my chest open; my brother’s weary acceptance felt like a hit –

NO. NO. NO, DAMN IT.

Rage gave me breath, gave me clarity. I lunged onto my knees and hovered over her, tilting her head back as I covered her mouth with mine and breathed into her lungs. Her chest expanded with what I’d forced into it. Her heart was still beating; I could supply the oxygen.

I didn’t have the ability to speak so I ordered my brother through our link: Get Druindar. If you can’t find him, anyone who knows what to do. And blood. As much as you can.

Brother… he began.

I violently shook off his hand when he placed it on my shoulder. I was one of the most powerful creatures on the planet goddamn it – I was going to save this girl’s life. She was mine to protect, she was mine. It was going to be different this time. I was changing the story. I would not live without her. I refused.

I lifted my head to suck in air, immediately forcing it into her lungs. What could I use in this building? – this stinking lair of the strigoi. There was nothing here I knew, and no one I could ask, because I’d already killed them all in my pursuit of getting to her. She needed a transfusion. And more than that; her body needed more than just blood. My brother had to be fast, and I had to keep her alive.

You’re not moving, I snarled at him.

“Nothing will be here in time.”

My mouth broke from hers for a second. “I’ll keep her alive!”

Druindar was a goddamn magic healer – I should have made him come with me. I should have forced him to come to this place where I knew she was being sucked on. I wasn’t used to interacting this closely with humans, their fragility. I was a fool. I had to prepare better; no more fucking around.

Regan was dialing someone on his phone: he was helping. Grudgingly, afraid he was buying into my desperation and just delaying the inevitable, he was helping me. Good.

She needed blood and medical attention.

Blood and magic, if at all possible.

Blood and magic.

Blood magic.

I froze for a second. No. It would never be that easy. It couldn’t. My teeth clenched. In all probability it wouldn’t even work; at the very least it wouldn’t work how it was supposed to. But the idea was burrowing into my brain like a parasite. There was no way my shitty existence would make it that simple, but intent, intent changed all kinds of magic –

Her heart skipped… stuttered… all thoughts wiped from my head.

BAM. Her heart slammed hard, then raced, frantically trying to keep her flesh alive when it didn’t have the liquid nor the oxygen to provide. The relief her heart hadn’t stopped tasted like bile.

No more options. This was it.

Blood magic.

I had her in my arms in a second, her body limp weight in my arms, tucking her head between my shoulder and my cheek. She smelled like death and decay and her. Haste was necessary; I couldn’t breathe for her while I held her, and I wasn’t risking brain damage. Regan startled, staring at me. I’d shut down our link without realizing it; he didn’t have access to my head as I raced down the dark concrete hall. That was probably good, because my idea was reckless and irresponsible and born of panic, and he’d try to talk me out of it.

I’d seen a blood collection room when we’d stormed this godforsaken hole, it should have what I needed.

My family – we had a lot of magic. An insane amount of magic. The only problem was we couldn’t actually use it. We can only use it as physical fuel. To do things like make us strong, or fast, or indestructible. But we can’t wield magic.

But there was a lot of magic in our blood.

There — the room. The door was hanging off the one hinge, almost obliterated from when I’d come through it the first time. Regan was on my heels as I shouldered open the remains of the door, lying her on the metal table in the center of the room. It was the worst kind of blasphemy that I laid her on a place where countless people had been drained of their life. But I had no time for sentiment. I held her jaw and felt her chest expand as I breathed for her again. 76 seconds she’d been without. Within safe limits.

“You’re not turning her into a strigoi, are you?” my brother asked with cautious humor. He was being deliberately calm. I could hear him assessing my mental state, trying to figure out how far gone I was.

His statement didn’t deserve the dignity of a response.

Find a blood collection unit.

He stiffened as he realized my intent. Or maybe he’d read it off of me. Arguments brewed in his head – all the ones I’d been thinking already; what we were, what it meant, that it could just kill her – and then they fell away as he was ripping open doors of cabinets, throwing things off counters as he searched. He thought I was delusional and was going to suffer even more at the end of all of this; I didn’t give a rat’s magical butt hair about his opinion.

He barked out a laugh.

Her heart stuttered…

We both froze. My hearing amplified as I listened, turning the small sounds in the room nearly deafening.

THWUP… thwup-thwup… THWUP… thwup …

Death was here.

REGAN!

He blurred as he moved, abruptly at my side. Our thoughts were in tandem; I tilted my head back as he jabbed smoothly, the needle sliding into my jugular. He didn’t need to be careful; dragon curses knew it wouldn’t hurt me. He’d found one with a giant syringe, meant to draw out a lot of blood at once.

Fucking bloodsuckers.

I caught glimpses of images from Regan: my blood sliding into the clear tube thickly, gleaming red. It’d seen a lot of blood. I’d seen a lot of my own blood. I’d never cared so much about it before.

Anxiety hit in waves. This could kill her. She could have an allergic reaction and her body could fight to kill itself. For all intents and purposes my brother and I had O- blood, not that our blood could really be put into a human category. From studying ourselves we knew it was bizarrely without markers or distinguishing traits, exceptionally ‘clean.’ And filled with magic. Magic that could turn on her. Or simply decay in her veins.

The wait was agonizing. Her heartbeat was fading, the counting of final remaining numbers, no surety which would be the last. Nausea twisted my gut, another novel sensation I hadn’t felt in decades. It seemed to take eons for him to fill the giant syringe with dark thick liquid from my body.

Then it was full. I was over her head, breathing through her blue lips. It had been 32 seconds for her without air.

Regan took her arm. There was a large vein in the elbow that was most accessible for transfusions and often used in the field; he had to be incredibly careful not to blow the vein.

“Are you sure?” Regan murmured.

Do it, damn it.

His focus sharpened, his fingers moving along her elbow as he found and palpitated the vein. Then he lifted the needle – which suddenly looked huge, despite Regan mentally snapping that it was the right size – and gently slid it into her vein. His thumb moved to the plunger and he squeezed.

With as long as I had lived, with everything I’d experienced, most everything becomes monotonous. There were few events that really changed anything, after you experience change over the span of centuries.

But this had the potential to change everything. None of us had ever done something like this before. We’d never given bits of ourselves to another person, only inanimate things, in tests. It was unprecedented in my family.

Maybe that would be why it worked.

Regan continued to press down glacially slow. I knew it was important, so he didn’t blow out her vein, but I had to strangle panic and impatience all the same. My heart hammed inside my chest, and in bizarre echoes it seemed connected to my blood sliding into her veins. It felt like a part of my soul went with it. I was still breathing for her, hyperaware of her heartbeat, her skin, the sounds her body made as organs fought against shock.

I hadn’t spoken Gaelic in decades, yet mother’s prayer sprang so easily to mind, muttered against her lips, it was like I’d been saying it every day. I almost wanted to laugh at the childish reaction; Regan definitely did.

Despite the cheesiness… a prickle across my skin made it serious. Intention changed magic.

It had to be enough.

The first syringe was empty, into her veins. She wasn’t convulsing, her skin wasn’t reacting… her body had to be accepting it. Please, of all dragon’s mercy, let her be accepting it.

My brother stabbed me in the neck again, and we repeated the process. Heaviness filled the air, stuck to the walls, weighed down the pathetic light in the room. This had to work. My blood was powerful. I was giving it to her to save her life. Magic was all about intent. It had to work…

We did it again. And again. Regan was calculating in the back of his head, making sure we didn’t give her too much, or too fast. We fell into a rhythm, a pattern, fulfilling a set of actions that would be completed over and over without deviation from perfection. Only when something changed would our actions change; we were machines, razor focused to our tasks.

She coughed.

I reared back. She stilled again.

Silence stretched.

She coughed again, and sucked in a breath, her lungs expanding on her own, her body jerking, her face screwing up. For a horrifying second it looked like death spasms.

But her heart was beating. Beating stronger, more surely; incorporating a part of myself into her system, using it to revive her. I could hear the shifts in her body, shock still crashing through her, death battling against her body’s natural rhythms.

I’d been frozen for several seconds now, but I couldn’t seem to make myself move. I just kept measuring her breaths as they filled her chest, over and over, almost unable to believe it. Regan finished the syringe and turned to me for more blood – she still needed more – his expression blank even as I felt his cautious relief through our link. There was so much more to be done; transportation to a hospital, monitoring her for adverse reactions to my blood, getting every damn healer and doctor I knew to look over her, preventing retaliation against her for what I’d done to find her. But I’d done it. I’d yanked her back from the brink of death.

“She needs another half-pint of blood before we try to move her,” Regan said.

I nodded. My hands lifted from her head, where they’d been to hold her in the correct position for resuscitation. I hesitated, then lowered my hands to her hair, stroking it back from gently her face. She suddenly felt fragile as glass, I wasn’t sure if I should be allowed to touch her.

It took me a few moments to register, having been so focused on the mechanics of moving oxygen from my lungs to hers to really breathe or recognize air.

The smell of death no longer hung around her.

 


A Change for AwakeDragon

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All right, so this week’s post is going to be short and sweet. Because I want to highlight a change happening to AwakeDragon.

I’m adding a whole new page, which will be set as the front page, consisting of a colorful and exciting description of my upcoming New Adult alternate-history fantasy series. I’d like to have a central place where all the info for my writing can be found, and really highlight it!

Instead of my blog posts holding the place of honor, my series is going to be the first thing seen when visiting my website. Not only because it’s awesome and amazing and you should totally read it when it’s here, but because it gives a more complete picture of who I am as an author.

Sooo… go check it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts!