She hid the letter in her thick sock and through the evening, when she moved her leg, the paper’s edge would scratch her leg. Annie hadn’t shared what she discovered with Cham yet, there were still too many questions. In her silence, he knew something was bothering her; it made him overly attentive, and patient as he held up the conversation, and in that, she felt guilty and anxious. All Annie wanted to do was pull out the folder and dig into its secrets.
Even her exhaustion couldn’t contain her thoughts and let her sleep. She sat on the window seat beside the bed and watched the moon travel across the sky. It didn’t calm her or help her quiet the thoughts; instead she broke down and snuck through the dark house retrieving the folder from her locked cabinet. She held her breath; it burned in her lungs as she opened the folder. Well organized, the folder was broken into sections, separated by a sheet of colored construction paper. Each section contained a different aspect of the case; a stack of photos in one section, case notes in another. She slowly let out the air from her lungs and took a deep breath as she peered into one more section. Stapled to the folder was a plastic bag containing a small cassette tape.
What the hell?
She forced herself to breathe, in and out, in and out as she unclipped the binder clip that held a large stack of photos together. Her jaw dropped violently, her heart hammered; the pictures slipped to the table.
“No. No. No. That…” her voice cracked.
“Annie what’s wrong?” she had been so lost in the first picture, she hadn’t heard Cham entered the kitchen.
“It can’t be,” she murmured.
“Annie?” she hadn’t acknowledged him; he sat beside her and grabbed the first picture. His jaw went slack. “This is… ”
What did Annie find in her father's last case file? Read the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.Continue reading
I'm very proud to announce my third book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles series, Wizard War.
After spending the last year deep in edits, working with beta readers, and sending out books to ARC readers, I'm so excited to share this new adventure with Annie Pearce, Cham Chamsky and the rest of the Wizard Guards as they traipse through Europe in search of a vampire on a murderous streak.
Eight months ago, Annie Pearce, closed the murder investigation of Princess Amelie of Amborix and put her killer in prison. So receiving a newspaper article with a picture of the princess alive and well, walking the streets of Paris, left Annie shocked and confused.
Who sent the picture?
With the threat of exposure hanging over her, Annie and her wizard guard partner, Spencer Ray chase the wily, young, vampire across Europe attempting to stop her murderous streak. When finding the vampire seems nearly impossible, Annie seeks out an old nemesis, Sturtagaard the vampire, to help them kill the demon princess.
But all is not as it seems. As Annie traipses across the jurisdiction of other wizard guard units, who blame her for the situation, tensions rise. A vulnerable Annie, must push aside her self-doubt and focus her energy on stopping the vampire. If she’s not careful, all her plans can lead to a wizard war, one that only she can stop.
Life is hard. We work full-time. We have children, friends, family, hobbies if we're lucky. We need to eat well, exercise daily. I have an adult child with severe anxiety, ADD and OCD. My youngest is a transgender male.
There's sleepless nights worrying about the extraordinary and sometimes I only have time to worry about the ordinary. You have to pick your battles.
I've always wanted to be a writer. I was seven when I started the Nancy Drew Mysteries. From that moment I not only wanted to read her adventures, I wanted to create and write my own adventures.
As life pulled me in difficult directions, writing became something more for me than just a means to make money doing something I was fairly good at. It became an escape from increasingly difficult and out of the ordinary situations. It was my inspiration.
Mystery novels have always been my first love. Taking a problem and digging one layer at a time to discover the truth. I also love the urban fantasy, epic fantasy realm. Hiding in the make-believe. It's there that I find equality lives, women can be strong leaders, justice most often prevails.
This is why I imagined Annie Pearce. Young, smart, beautiful, seemingly perfect but when you dig deeper, when you get to know her, she's flawed, she's vulnerable, she's real. She works in a highly male field as a Wizard Guard. A magical police officer who fights demons, vampires and evil wizards. She falls in love with her best friend and partner at work, Bobby “Cham” Chamsky and had to deal with the new emotions while investigating the biggest case of their careers.
Annie Pearce makes mistakes, some are small and easy to fix. Other mistakes can risk exposure or cause a wizard war. But she perseveres because that is her make up. She wants justice for the downtrodden, for the victims of crimes. Though she is young, she can be an inspiration.
I wrote Annie to be the woman I wanted to be. A strong survivor who can and will find her way through a difficult and often scary world. Joss Whedon's Buffy Summers was one of my inspirations for putting together a relatable woman.
While I stumble through my life with increasingly difficult situations that make me want to cry or hide in the sand or simply run away, I remember the alter ego that I created. I suck it in and imagine the confidence and take one step in front of the other. This is what I want and for now, Annie is my own fairy godmother and inspiration as I make my way through the world of writing to become the author I want to be.Continue reading
Reboots are all the rage. I've watched very few of them. Successful reboots invite you back into the family fold, pick up years later so that the fan can catch up with our favorites. Think Gilmore Girls. Other shows reboot the show's description but create new characters and maybe, just maybe bring back some of the original favorites (I didn't watch Beverly Hills 90210, but I read stuff.)
I'm a fan of a reboot though under very specific circumstances.
I enjoyed the Gilmore Girls reboot because I got to catch up with old friends. However, I'm not expecting that from the Charmed reboot. Here's why I won't be watching. I invested seven years with Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and Paige; these strong, powerful, vulnerable ladies. Their journey was my journey. They laughed I laughed. They worried, I worried with them.
What I would have loved to see, was a continuation of their story. Get a glimpse into their future or if anything visit with their children: Chris, Wyatt, Phoebe's three daughters and Paige's twins and son Henry Jr. Why? Because I loved the original women, and was given a glimpse into their future during the series finale. I saw that their future was good and that I'd watch.
While I'm all for the diversity that comes with the new cast, I'm in for a retelling of the story of three sisters who learn as adults that they are witches who must fight evil. For me as a fan of the original series, this seems like nothing more than a copy and no matter how well the story is told and how well the actresses are plunged into the world, I'm just not interested in investing any time to this new Charmed.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been talked about for a reboot. Again, seven years I sat alongside Buffy as she fought demons, and grew from a reluctant hero to one willing to die to save her family and friends. I watched her come back and struggle with life outside of heaven. I watched Buffy take down the First and close on of the gates of hell.
I will always admit that Buffy was the model I used when creating my own strong female, lead Annie Pearce. She was a blue print as to what a female superhero should be: strong, smart, beautiful, vulnerable. A complete package of a woman, her ups and downs. But if they retold Buffy's story, I shall also say no to that as well.
In the series finale, we had a clear understanding that the slayer was no longer alone. All potential slayers were now given the same powers as Buffy. She now had an army to work with her.
If the Vampire Slayer storyline was rebooted, an all new focus on one of the army, I'd be there anxiously watching how this new slayer would handle the pitfalls and accomplishments of her calling because it is a continuation of the original story. To retell Buffy's story seems like a copy I would choose not to see.
We fan are of Science Fiction/Fantasy are a loyal band of geeky nerds. We love our heroes and are loyal to them. If you give us copies we will be angry. If you further the story (think Star Wars Episodes 4, 5 and 6), we will be forever loyal and grateful and will watch hungrily. I promise you this.
Jack Ramsey is just an ordinary guy. Well, he is as ordinary as a guy can be who is a high-ranking member of the FBI. Jack has seen things – things that most of us will never see. Murder, mayhem, a dark and dangerous world. Jack joined the FBI to make the world a better place, a role he takes very seriously. And he believes he has seen it all. Until he meets Annie Pearce.
Death in a back alley is just a day in the office for Jack. But this time, something is different. This time, he comes face-to-face with a woman who would rock the very foundation beneath his feet.
“Meet me at the morgue at midnight,” she says to him. And before he knows it, he is watching Annie stake vampires and seeing bodies bursting into flames.
Thus begins a unique relationship between the magical and non-magical in The Day of the First Sun. Annie realizes that she needs an individual on the inside of law enforcement to help her with her magical cases. Taking a calculated risk, she brings Jack in on her biggest secret – the existence of magic. As for Jack, he takes in this new information with a great deal of shock but yet composed. He believes her or so he tries. And, because it is part of his nature, he ultimately jumps in and fights alongside of Annie and her colleagues.
You are used to people who are evil. You are used to those for whom taking a life means nothing. But there is nothing to prepare you for the things that go bump in the night. Yet here you are, after an unimaginable night of killing vampires, knowing things that you cannot un-know, seeing things that you cannot un-see.
Would you have the ability to set aside the reality you have always known? Do you believe in fairy-tales? And, after finding out that everything you knew is shattered, would you have the strength to jump in and fight monsters?
Here is what I wonder – how do we know that this world doesn’t actually exist now? Jack was blind to it for most of his life. Could we also be blind? Is it happening before our eyes and we don’t see it? And if we came face-to-face with mind-boggling, unthinkable truths — could we immediately accept them and shift our reality to include them?
That is what I love about writing paranormal stories. It’s about making the unimaginable a little closer to reality. And maybe it encourages us to look beyond the obvious, to try to break the seal between our perceptions and potential realities. At the very least, these stories help us to open up our minds and dream big.Continue reading
One of my favorite television series is Supernatural. Do you watch it? On that show, two brothers, Sam and Dean, spend their days keeping the world safe from demons and other supernatural beings from the beyond. A recurring theme throughout the series is legacy and destiny. See, Sam and Dean were born into a “hunting” family. Hunters devote their lives to fighting the bad things that go bump in the night – vampires, sirens, spirits, and demons. Raised by their father, they travelled from town to town, staying in lousy motels until the evil de jour was gone—only to move on to the next town and the next threat.
At the beginning of the series, Sam has found a way out of this calling. He enrolls as a law student in California. That is until Dean knocks on this door and begs for his help to find their missing father. And with that, Sam is sucked back into the hunting game. Sam finally understands that he cannot escape his legacy. He is a hunter, by training and by family destiny. No matter how many times he attempts to carve out his own path, he is still hunting 13 seasons later. Ultimately he realizes that this is his role in life – to keep saving the world.
Another one of my favorite television characters is Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She too is led by her destiny. Unlike Sam, Buffy has no idea that true evil exists before assuming her slayer powers as a teenager. Her learning (and accepting) curve is much steeper than the other protagonists who have never known life without demons. She laments that her simple high school life is gone and tries to embrace her new skill set and her destiny. As the series comes to a close, she is still committed to combating evil even though the journey has been physically and emotionally exhausting.
Our Wizard Hall heroine, Annie Pearce, also has her own legacy – one that has been passed down from her father (like Sam) and one that involves inheriting powers (like Buffy). Annie’s father worked as a Wizard Guard and now she is following in his footsteps. She was born into the magical world and has had her powers since birth. Unlike Buffy and Sam, Annie has never questioned her path.
Somehow Annie seems to be able to carry this load without losing herself to the shadows that lurk underneath. Maybe it is because Annie has the best of both worlds—the powers needed to succeed and the history to accept this responsibility. Maybe it is because Annie is a part of a greater magical community with a whole infrastructure behind her while Buffy and Sam have to fight their battles with only a few cohorts by their side. Or maybe there is something in Annie that just makes her more innately suited for the job.
Regardless, these characters constantly succeed and beat the malevolent forces they encounter. They are all fierce fighters because of who they are and because it is their legacy. I find them each inspiring in their own way. Share some of your favorite characters with me on my Facebook page.Continue reading
Okay – I want to make a bet with you. Say you are reading some sort of fictional book set in some sort of supernatural world. How long do you think it would take before the author introduces elves? These creatures may look very different and have different purposes in their respective stories, but they have become a favorite microcosm of the paranormal. These creatures seem to make their worlds a better place. Harry Potter had his Dobby. The members of the Fellowship of the Ring had their Legolas. My Annie Pearce has her Bitherby.
In looks, demeanor and in his lot in life, Bitherby is probably closer to Dobby than the tall, blond and glamorous Orlando Bloom (oops – I mean Legolas…) But despite being condemned to an existence of forced labor, Bitherby shows that he is made of the same loyalty and bravery as shown by both of his elf role models. Recognizing the horrors that have taken over the Black Market, Bitherby repeatedly risks his own life to save Annie and her friends, as well as all of magic and humankind. His actions – just like Dobby’s and Legolas’ — make his world a better place.
I think his devotion to everyone but himself is best demonstrated by the following section of my second book, Black Market. Bitherby risks his life to go find Annie’s childhood fairy, who has been kidnapped by evil forces. Even as his best friend Huxley warns him that his quest is doomed, Bitherby knows he has to do it. As with Dobby and Legolas, Bitherby continues the tradition of selfless elves who put the needs of others before their own.
“Bitherby’s fingers grazed the beds as he passed. He sniffed and recognized the scent that Huxley carried. The elf held his hand over his friend’s mouth, startling the sleeping creature. Unable to scream, he bolted upright and heard a soothing “Ssshh,” beside him. “Huxley, it’s me.”
Huxley removed Bitherby’s hand. “What are you doing here? They see ya and you’re dead.” Huxley’s eyes darted around the room as if the humans lurked in the shadows.
“I need your help,” Bitherby ordered. Huxley’s bruised eyes grew wide with fear, his swollen lip trembled, and his green skin turned ashen white and glowed in the darkness.
“You can’t be here. They find you and kill you.” He quivered in his bed, which vibrated against the stone floor. Bitherby placed a hand on his friend to calm the nervous elf.
“Shhh. You wake everyone. I need help. The wizard guard protects me; she’ll protect you too.”
“Why you come back?” Huxley asked.
“Her Aloja fairy is in the dungeon,” Bitherby whispered angrily.
“You risk your life for her fairy?” Huxley spat.
“Hafta. I need your help. Wizard Guard don’t know the market. Will never find her.” Bitherby wrung his hands and glanced around at his former mates, expecting them to wake and turn him in. They were all still asleep.
Huxley climbed off the bed so he was eye level with his friend. “You stupid elf.”
Bitherby let out the stale air from his lungs.
“They still looking for the girl. And you,” Huxley protested.
“I gotta,” Bitherby said.
“You gotta. You gotta be stupid,” Huxley said and led his friend from the basement.”
As a writer and as an avid reader of the supernatural, I often dream of what our world would be like if these paranormal creatures existed in our reality. I can’t help but think that if elves were real, our planet would be a better place. Take a peek at Black Market and see if Bitherby doesn’t work his way into your heart.Continue reading
Defining my life fell into two separate and distinct periods of time; life before my daughter was born with a terminal disease and the path life took after. The single defining moment for me, was that second, that single moment before she was born (via C-section) and that long moment when I realized she wasn't crying, that something was very wrong.
It sticks with you, these defining moments. Sometimes you can find yourself as a victim of the moment and let it drag you under, or you can use the moment to step forward and redefine your life and your dreams.
I fell somewhere in between. I found a way to move on, to raise my other daughter, have another child. While moving on, I seemingly found myself a victim of my circumstance, stagnating and letting that single moment define who I was.
I read Harry Potter. I loved Harry Potter. It did more than entertain; it woke up a passion in me that I hadn't realized was there.
That, coupled with a meeting of a former classmate at a twentieth class reunion, forced me to look at my life and the choices I made and something inside of me changed. I no longer wanted to let life and the bad things define how I lived my life. It was time for me to take control.
I remembered for the first time in years, that I had a dream. One that I cultivated since I was seven years old. I wanted to be a writer.
I tried over the years to write a book. I stopped at chapter 1 or paragraph 1, never completely understanding how to craft that story. Never really understanding what it was that I even wanted to say.
But this time, the jealously that my classmate was a published author and my sadness that had accumulated over a lifetime, forced me to open the book and really think about what story I wanted to tell.
It wasn't very good or very long and it took many attempts to reach the published versions I have online. I look back at the first time I typed “The End” on that very first draft and I can't help but be proud, I can't help but realize my life is no longer defined by one single event.
Now I'm a writer, who is a mother, one who lost a child. I write about the loss and how it affects me, but not as a single defining moment. It happened and it makes me sad and it always will. But it won't always make a victim of that circumstance. I finally found the confidence to truly move on and I now weave those emotions and memories into my writing to give it depth and meaning. I'm no longer defined by it, I define how I use it to motivate and move on.
Even though Mom and Dad no longer live in the same house or even the same state, they still can’t communicate with each other. Mom screams through the phone; her shrill voice vibrates through the vents. I don’t know if she realizes that even as she hides herself in the bathroom, cocooned by the shower and the walls and the doors, we can still hear her half of their latest argument. I can only imagine what Dad’s voice sounds like through the phone.
I take a deep breath and text my best friend, Molly Malone, even though it’s 10:30 p.m.
Dad must be mad and shouting back at Mom, because now I hear her sobbing. Screaming and sobbing. It’s not so different than when they were married. Only now we hear the one side, and the aftermath is cold and lonely.
When Mom and Dad divorced, Dad took a job in another state, found a new girlfriend, and moved in with her and her kids, leaving us behind to deal with his mess. I know it’s hard for Mom to raise us by herself; she’s often too exhausted to deal with us, with me. Much of her time she spends hiding in her room.
I hate when they do this.
Molly texts me back.
I’m so sorry sweetie, she writes.
My ten-year-old sister, Shay, is huddled in her room, rocking herself on her bed. The squeaky coils on her mattress are loud. I should go and see her, but I have my own way of dealing with Mom and Dad’s fights. And right now, I’m hiding under my covers behind my closed door, wishing the fight would just stop.
You can call me if you want, Molly writes without waiting for me to reply. I can barely speak; this fight is one of my parents’ most intense. At least it seems to be going on longer than normal.
Though these arguments and the tension never seem to bother my brother Jake, he’s up. Maybe he’s listening to music to drown out the phone call. I hear the pleather of his beanbag chair squish when he adjusts himself in his seat. He normally appears as though he can easily slip inside his oasis of dirty socks and wadded up garbage that never seems to make the waste basket when he takes a shot. He never seems to emerge from his room tired or even affected at all by the fight or the rant or a punishment.
I click on Molly’s phone number and listen to the phone ring and ring.
Maybe she fell asleep.
Whatever they were fighting about is nothing more than hiccoughs, sighs, and whispers through the wall right now. Anxious, I wait for the other shoe to fall. The finale of their fight always comes, and Mom is always frustrated in the morning, yelling at us as if this is our fault.
It probably is.
It comes in waves, the arguments they have. Mom complains and whines about something; Dad makes quips that piss her off. They push each other’s buttons. I have no idea why they even married or what drew them to each other in the first place. I can barely remember what it was like before the fighting.
“Hi,” Molly says when she finally answers the phone.
She’s groggy, I just woke her up, and now I feel guilty for bothering her.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have called,” I whisper.
Mom is quiet before the big finale, and my stomach roils in pain at the stress of it. I pull the covers up around my head. It’s hot and stuffy under the blankets, but at least I hear only whispers of the argument.
“No, Gracie. You can always call. I’m so sorry.”
Molly Malone, my best friend since second grade, always finds a way to be there, even when we should be sleeping. Sometimes her overbearing personality is annoying, but sometimes, I just need to reach out to her because she cares—and it sometimes feels that no one else does.
“Are you okay?” she yawns into the phone.
I shouldn’t have called.
“They’re fighting again.” I sniffle and choke. I didn’t want to cry in front of her. I can’t help it. This time is just too much, and lately this seems to be the only thing I can talk about.
Molly must hate when I bring it up.
A new wave of the argument starts. Mom is loud, confident, angry.
“I’m so sorry they do this to you. Doesn’t she know you can hear it when she hides in the bathroom? They’re not being good . . .” Molly’s now awake and indignant, but she refrains from finishing that sentence.
They’re not good parents.
She doesn’t want to say it, to make me feel worse then I already do. I can always count on her to be on my side.
“I should just tell her we hear everything.” I cry out. Across the hallway, Shay climbs off her bed.
“You need to speak up for yourself. Parents just don’t get it,” Molly says. I find it funny because Molly and her mom are close and always have been. Molly sometimes doesn’t get it. Tonight I don’t care.
“I try, but they don’t hear me. I have to do all this stuff, and they don’t listen. It’s not fair. I’m only fourteen. I shouldn’t have to do the dishes, cook dinner, do my homework—and when I’m trying to sleep, I get this!” My voice is whiny. I’m so tired. I’m so angry.
“Gracie. I’m so sorry. This really sucks,” she says. “We need to do a sleepover. You need to get out of there.” Molly’s voice is reassuring. Before the divorce, when it was still tense in the house, I would hide at her house whenever I could. Whenever I didn’t have to babysit. It was safe at Molly’s house.
My bedroom door squeaks open. I poke my head out of the blankets; my bedroom light blinds me. Moving over, I hold the blankets up and make room for my sister, who snuggles in beside me.
“Thanks, Molly, but I’ve gotta go. It’s late, and I’m so sorry for calling.”
“Call me any time. And get out of there. Come over this weekend.”
When we hang up, I toss my phone on the bedside table, switch off the light, and let Shay sleep beside me.
Sometimes I wish I were her age so I had someone that I could nestle up to when it got really bad. And I feel badly for her because all she has is me.
“Why do they fight?” Shay asks in her little-girl voice.
“They don’t live together anymore and don’t see each other, so I don’t know why,” I say because I really don’t have an answer. I used to think Dad hated Mom so much and that it was why he abandoned us. I never really connected with Mom.
She grew up pretty and popular, a cheerleader and good student. I’m just me, with no special interests or skills; we really have nothing in common. Dad always understood me, and he would talk to me. But now he’s no longer interested or he’s too busy with his new family. I no longer blame Mom.
“He doesn’t love us anymore,” she sighs. I wish I could tell her that isn’t true.
When I look up, Jake leans against my doorway, his shadow accentuated by the streetlamp outside my bedroom window. This time the fight affects him greatly; he too doesn’t want to be alone.
“You can sit here with us,” I say to him. I feel his skinny little thirteen-year-old-boy frame sit beside us; the mattress barely moves. All three of us haven’t been close in a very long time, but tonight we are equally paralyzed, sad, unable to do anything to make this fight stop. I recognize the look in his eyes. They’re the same as mine and as Shay’s. We do nothing more than stare at each other as the last of the fight rolls through the house.
EH . . . EH . . . EH . . .
The alarm clock buzzes, cutting through the darkness; I tremble from the intrusive noise waking me from a dream. My fist slams the off button, and I stay under the covers enjoying the last bit of silence before I realize that Shay must have left my room long ago.
Her footsteps pound down the hallway and the stairs, through the kitchen until I hear whistles blowing from the television in the den. The nautical tune wafts up to my bedroom through the air ducts—and just like that, Shay has started her day as if nothing had happened the night before.
Like clockwork, Mom enters her bathroom, and within minutes, the shower springs to life. Water crackles softly against the stone floor like a spring rain does against the roof. My eyes flutter closed. I have to force them awake as the shower shuts off.
Knowing that I’m running late now, I throw off my blankets. Cold morning air nips at my exposed skin. Once I click on my bedside lamp, I jolt awake before I hide myself back under the covers and pretend this day hasn’t started yet.
I shuffle to my dresser and pull on the fake crystal handle, which comes off in my hand, when it pulls apart from the screw. Not in the mood to deal with the fourth broken handle this month, I toss the plastic bauble on my bed and shove my hand into the completely filled drawer.
I need to clean this out!
I tug and pull, loosening the items in the drawer and whipping them out until half of my belongings are strewn across the floor and bed. The jeans I want aren’t here.
They must be in the laundry!
I glance at the clock and panic. Running out of time, I throw on the next clean pair of jeans, a skinny pair that slips down around my hips. As I see myself in the mirror, I sigh. I hate this body. It’s too thin and bony, though according to Molly that’s a good problem to have, and I should be a model.
In another drawer, I find a clean yet slightly wrinkled T-shirt and stretch it over my head. My eye spies a stray thread, and of course I yank on it until most of the hem is gone.
“Crap!” I toss the string on the dresser, grab my favorite hoodie, and run to the bathroom.
My hand shakes as I pull the brush through my frizzy, unmanageable hair and frown at my pale, make-up-less face wishing I knew how to fix myself up. Even if I did, there’s no time this morning. Barely brushing my teeth, I find myself with just enough time to pull my mop into a ponytail. I grimace in my mirror; overnight, a new pimple broke out on the tip of my nose, and my hair is still a mess.
A model, right . . .
I sprint down the stairs.
“Hurry up!” Mom shouts from the kitchen, probably impatient from her lack of sleep. Sliding across the wood floor, I grab the breakfast bar she holds for me. She grimaces and sighs. The dark circles under her eyes make me think she didn’t sleep at all last night.
When her phone rings Mom glances at it and runs off to take the call. Her response is terse, the conversation quick. It’s probably the boss she hates, or maybe Dad is calling for a second round.
With breakfast hanging between my lips, I thrust books and last night’s homework into my backpack and zip it shut.
“I’m going to be late tonight,” Mom prattles on behind me. “You’ll need to make dinner.”
I always do! I scream in my head as Jake saunters in, his hair mussed perfectly, his white shirt untucked and slightly wrinkled, looking casual and easy.
“Why are you wearing that?” Mom asks.
“It’s clean.” He shrugs as the bus honks.
“Gracie, don’t forget dinner!” Mom calls after me as the three Madison children run for the school buses.
“Here.” Molly hands me a muffin. It’s misshapen, not like the ones you get at the grocery store all nice and packaged. This is homemade.
“Thanks,” I say and place it neatly in my backpack. We’re not allowed to eat in class. Molly sits beside me. Her mouth is tightly shut, and her jaw is clenched.
As Mrs. Fowler, our math teacher, writes out a new formula for us to remember and soon forget, Molly turns to me.
“Can you come tonight for dinner?” she whispers before she pulls away to take notes.
“I have to make dinner,” I say. I start to copy the new formula, but it’s confusing and fuzzy, so I take to doodling pictures instead.
She starts to say something. I know she wants to say, “What, again?” but she doesn’t because Mrs. Fowler turns around to watch the class—as if by studying our faces she can tell if we understand what she just said. Molly means well by offering support. She just doesn’t understand because her parents are married, and her mom works part time. I sigh and force my attention on Mrs. Fowler whose eyes meet mine. They warn me to pay attention. This material is important and on the test. When she turns back to the board, I glance at Molly. Her worry is palpable, especially around her mouth, which purses shut. I offer a wan smile before digging into the newest math.
Normally Molly and I eat lunch together, but today as I leave math class, Mrs. Fowler hands me a note strongly recommending I see her at lunch. My math grade is so bad that I’m not even failing math. I have something lower than an “F”—a “G,” maybe?
Starving, I munch on a candy bar and open the door to the math department office, a smallish space shared by six math teachers. Their desks, three in a row, face each other. It lacks privacy, it lacks intimacy, it’s a little depressing.
I’d hate to work here.
Mrs. Fowler sees me and smiles—not too big, not too small, just enough for me to see her perfectly white teeth. It’s a nice smile, and I’m less nervous when I sit down beside her.
“Hi, Gracie. Thanks for heeding my message. Is everything all right?” she asks when I place my bag at my feet.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine. Why?”
I know my teachers know about my parents’ divorce, whether they heard from me or my mom. I’ve never been asked about it before, though.
“I know it’s been hard, since . . . well, you know. I just want you to know we’re here for you. The teachers. We want to make sure you have what you need to succeed.” She pulls out the file—the real reason I’m here. I see my grade sheet. I was wrong. I have more than an “F,” but still, a “D” isn’t great either. She hands me the report. “Gracie, I know things have been rough at home. And sometimes freshman year is tough. So I recommend you come for tutoring. There’s still plenty of time to get your grade up. Sometimes it’s hard when things at home aren’t great. But you are smart. I’ve seen your other grades. They’re good grades. I know together we can do this!”
No we can’t! It sucks at home. I hate math! I don’t want to be here anymore!
I say nothing but nod my head as if I agree. I can’t handle the condescension, the pity. Parents get divorced all the time.
Isn’t it hard on all of us kids?
“I’ll study more,” I murmur and avert my eyes and I review the grade sheet. It hurts my head; my stomach tightens up.
“If you don’t, I will recommend summer school,” she says, matter of fact as if she hadn’t been so caring just five minutes ago. “You’re excused,” she finally finishes.
I trudge away, tired and hungry as I head out for my next class.
“I missed you at lunch. What did Mrs. Fowler want?” Molly asks over the phone when I am back at my house. I hear the paper wrapper of her Pop Tarts crinkle as she opens it up. Her mom bakes all the time, so I find it funny she likes the store-bought stuff. But that’s her act of rebellion, and it makes me chuckle.
“Summer school if I don’t get my grades up,” I reply and punch the temperature on the oven. At least Mom made it easy; all I have to do is heat dinner tonight.
“If you need help, get a tutor. You know, Adam’s really good at math,” she says. I hear her bite the tart, and my mouth waters. I’d love one right now.
“Ew. Ick. No,” I say. Molly and I might be best friends, but I don’t like Adam Striker. They’ve been friends longer than I’ve known Molly. We’ve been to her birthday parties together, and I’ve sulked through lunch with him, but I have never liked him. If you ask me why, I can only remember he said something to my brother Jake when Jake was six. It was just stupid, nothing that a seven-year-old should be so angry about. But it simmered and stewed for so long. Ever since that incident, all we manage to do is spar like it’s a sport. Either way, being tutored by Adam is just . . . Not. An. Option!
“Suit yourself. Summer’s school’s only six weeks long. That’s not much time.”
I grimace and shove in dinner, a frozen dish from the grocery store. “You’re very funny,” I say and close the door.
“Are you okay?” Molly asks when I sit down to start my homework.
I sigh because I’m sick of the question. It’s just easier to lie and ignore my feelings rather than to admit that I’m mad my parents are divorced and my dad doesn’t live here anymore.
“No, but I will be when I pass math,” I say. At least with Molly I can be glib. She really knows that I’m not okay. I push the math homework aside and opt for English because it’s my best subject and doesn’t hurt my head when I complete my assignment. “Call Adam,” she persists.
“No. I gotta go. We’re breaking up . . .” I pretend to make that warbled sound as if we’re driving through a tunnel. Molly starts laughing. I think that’s the only thing I offer to this friendship. Sometimes I’m funny.
“Call me. If you need to . . . you know, talk,” she offers one last time before hanging up.
I begin to read Shakespeare but stop short and glance at my math book before returning to Romeo and Juliet for some tragic fun.
I'm not superstitious and yet when I say something that could, you know, jinx my favorite sports team, or bring myself bad luck, I knock on wood.
So what makes a great curse? Start with a truly engaging story of a stolen artifact or an innocuous act that results in death and destruction or in some cases, 108 years without a win.
But as my daughter has told me on several occasions, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern never said he was cursing the Cubs so that they would never win again.
Okay, so the curse never really happened and yet as a Cubs fan, we can't get that thing out of the back of our minds, the idea that the curse is real because why else would the Cubs lose over and over and over and over again for 108 years?
The stories behind them are fascinating, and the fallout of owing a cursed object or breaking into a cursed tomb is interesting in itself. That's why the curse of the Hope Diamond and the curse of King Tut's tomb have lived on for as long as they have.
I wish I could say I wasn't superstitious but I kinda am. I refused to write this blog post until the Cubs actually won and I refused to wear my favorite Cubs shirt during the playoffs because I wore it during the first two losses of the World Series. What I did do was, wash the shirt and hide it in my closet.
You see, the curse gives us order and a reason for why something happens and hope that if we can only reverse that curse all will be well.
So as I hung out in Grant Park with 5 million of my closest friends at the Cubs rally, after they won the World Series, I just sat back and smiled in relief; THEY FINALLY BROKE THE CURSE!. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were the best team in the MLB with the best record. Nah, it couldn't have been that.Continue reading
I speak of a journey. Whether it's the one we take from the minute we're born to the day we die or the smaller journeys in the in between. The stuff that makes up our life, our legacy. The journey with an end goal, working toward an accomplishment of a dream.
I'm drawn to stories about these journey's to find oneself because I undertook one of those when I finally decided to honor my seven-year old self and write my first book.
And luckily one of my most favorite epic fantasy journey's has been featured on-line, in Facebook, and I just finished watching it.
I was nine years old and I still remember my dad asking if we wanted to see a movie called “Star Awards”. It was so new, I had no idea what he was talking about.
It was one of those experiences that from the minute the opening scrolled across the screen with the musical background, that a smile grew across my face. One that didn't leave, long after the final credits.
Star Wars just happens to be one of those movies that I can watch and re-watch, always entertained, always amazed by this simple epic fantasy.
I will always contend the story is an epic fantasy, that just because the story is filled with blasters, light sabers, the X-wing fighters, it's so much more than Science Fiction. It is at its core, a story about a boy who unbeknownst to himself, is about to take a life changing journey. And just like every epic fantasy, he will learn of his royal heritage, he will become the reluctant hero and he will discover his true self and what he is capable of. All this accomplished in a strange new world, with characters and creatures unlike our own, in a place with rules that are unfamiliar to life as we know it.
It's much like my own life, my own journey. From the moment I opened my first document and wrote Chapter 1, and let the words pour from my head to my fingers, as I typed variations of twenty-six letters that became 100,000 words, I to find myself in an unfamiliar world, discovering jus what I am made of .
Star Wars, a simple, elegant story, rough and primitive, that is almost as old as I am. The nine-year old in me still watches with a smile on my face, simple joy at a story worth re-telling. And in honor of May the 4th be with you, may you all find yourself and your own journey.
In an effort to teach my teenage daughters how to love and except themselves, I really try not to complain about my body or my weight as I desperately try to impart years of trial and error type of wisdom on to them. One thing I always tell them “Everything in Moderation.” Basically, don't be afraid to eat the cookie, just don't eat six of them.
I'm always intrigued by the idea of moderation. Sometimes its a bad thing when you work so hard for mediocrity, to find yourself stuck in the middle of the pack but oftentimes, moderation, the idea of not too much of anything, allows you to experience a wider variety of foods, or travel destinations, people or a host of other rewarding experiences.
Or it's a great idea for a story. I wanted to write a book about the lost library at Alexandria and wrote a story around finding the answers to the problem at this library. And yes, I know the original library was destroyed, still its, fantasy and in my story it still exists. Anyway, not the point. So I came up the idea based on Pandora's Box and the Seven Deadly Sins, that questions the idea, of fixing the ills of society, (the sins), with magical boxes were filled with love, diligence, charity etc. And what happens if those magical spells imbuing society with good things, backfire? Too much of the goodness will lead to something bad. Think of it this way, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
As I was doing research on ancient locales I happened across the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. I had heard of it before and of the Oracle Pythia who got her gift of prophesy from breathing in the gases coming from the chasm nearby. Curious, I read more about the former temple and it's ruins and learned that carved into the temple were three sayings, “Know Thyself”, “Make a Pledge and Mischief is Nigh” and lastly, the one that got my attention, “Nothing in Excess”. Huh? I thought. Excited, I threw out the idea of the answers at the library. I was going to Greece.
These sayings were attributed to some or all of The Seven Sages, seven wise men, scholars, politicians, philosophers of the ancient world. They preached these ideas, carved them into stone to make their point. And though I fully agree with Everything in Moderation, I haven't yet decided for certain the fate of the Seven Sages. They may be evil, misguided or good and saintly characters, but for now, I find them intriguing and worth a look at, because their advice is sound. The idea of making the time to do all the things that I want to do so that there are no regrets. I've been attempting to live my life like that consistently for the last four years. At least for now, its how I eat, exercise and work. I just need to add the fun.
The Monday Monster isn't so much a monster as it is an idea, a way to live. Work but give yourself time to enjoy the results of your labors, play but don't spend all your earnings in one place, assist and pay it forward but not to the cost of everything else. We can do it all, maybe not all at once and not everyday, but if we branch out we can experience and enjoy and that makes it all worthwhile.
My children like all things supernatural,bizarre, impossible. In a weird sort of way, they challenge traditional thinking by believing anything is possible. My oldest enjoys aliens, ghosts and Big Foot and spends a lot of time watching documentaries discussing the possibility these things truely exist. One of her favorite shows is Finding Bigfoot. The premise of the show is a group of investigators travel to various locations searching for evidence that Big Foot exists. While most of the team believes wihtout a doubt that Big Foot is real, the lone biologist spends most of her down debunking whatever evidence they discover.
The quest to prove the existence of the Yeti, Abominable Snowman or Big Foot has been a part of Western cultural since the 19th century but because of the lack of conclusive evidence proving an apelike homenid lives in the mountains, the scientific community regards these creatures at mythical or legends.
With all that we know, with every piece of modern technology that researchers have at their disposal, is it really possible in the year 2013 to not have discovered a large humanlike creature roaming through mountain ranges and forests across the world? Yes because think of the massive amount of acreage you would need to trek through. And no, you need to have more than one creature to reproduce. How can nature hide so many? For me that's what it always comes down to. There has to be more than one for the entire creature population to survive. How can we not find a tribe, a flock, a village?
Is there really a difference between the Yetis, Abdominable Snowmen, Big Foot or Sasquatch? Not really. They are all said to be humanlike ape creatures, all spotted by indigenous people in varying regions. The Yeti, are said to reside in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. The term Abominable Snowman was created in 1921 by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury who led a journey up Mount Everest. After discovering unique footprints in the snow, (he believed were the grey wolf), the sherpa guides suggested the footprints actually belonged to The Wild Man of the Snows called metoh (man bear) kangmi (snowman). Henry Newman, a contributor to the The Statesman in Calcutta coined the term Abdominable Snowman when he mistranslated the word “metoh” as “filthy”, substituting the term “abominable.” And lastly, Big Foot or Sasquatch are similar ape like hominids inhabiting the Pacific Northwest region of North America.
I love the mythical creature. Whether I believe they exist or not, they add a little fun to any story especially when in the created made up world, they are actually real creatures. Since it would be awfully crowded to have every creature in every book, I can glance over it by giving Dave Smith, Annie and Cham's best friend the love of mythical creatures, so much so I gave him a job at the Wizard Zoological Society as a field researcher. He is sent to Colorado to investigate a new Yeti colony recently discovered. It's on the fringe of the story has no real value to the story but to add richness and history to the character. But it's there as a building block to the world I created. If you can suspend your disbelief that is.
Whether or not they do exist, I have no issue with the desire to find out. I am curious and a part of me would love to know for sure. What is your favorite mythical, mystical creature?
You don't have to battle a demon, vampire or monster for them to have a role within a story. Sometimes they appear for another reason, their purpose merely to prove a point like scaring a character into understanding the world they've just found themselves in. In The Day of First Sun I threw Annie into the world of the non magical, similar to what she's dealt with before and yet different because she's never worked so closely with the FBI. Making things worse for Annie, is the fact she has to investigate the crime with the eyes of the world watching. She understands the ramifications of keeping her secret from the world, but what about the FBI agent who drags her into the case. He's never dealt with a magical crime before.
That's where I bring in the magical creature. Curious, Jack Ramsey finds himself in The Snake Head Letters, the all wizarding book store in which the proprietor illegally sells him a Book of Shadows, the witch or wizard's heirloom passed on from generation to generation, the book which details the experience of the witch throughout their lifetime. However, the unscrupulous shop keeper, sells a book about the darker side of magic, with fearsome creatures that open the FBI agent's eyes to a world he never knew existed.
This is Jack's true introduction into the entire magical world, exposing the worst that can be experienced and as he reads the book, he comes across the Aicha Kandida. I chose to introduce this being because in my basic research, it's a creature that singles out lonely men and Jack is just that, single and lonely, working late into the night, not even remembering the last time he found himself in the company of a woman.
The monster was perfect. A predatory water demon who appears in the form of a beautiful young woman, killing their prey by luring men to their death. The curious victim seeing the beautiful woman by the water's edge, the victim saunters over and once within reach, they are dragged into the water and consumed by the creature.
As Jack read the book searching for information pertaining to the mystical Orb of Eridu, he became engrossed by the animated picture of the beautiful woman and horrified when it changed into its true form, murdering the victim in front of him. I didn't need to bring the monster to life, it was simply an entry in The Book of Shadows, one little glimpse into the magical world and yet it shakes Jack to the core and he's forever changed by the experience.
Maybe one day I'll bring the demon to life, but only for a larger purpose. For now it will remain a distant, disturbing memory, reminding Jack to why he must keep their secret. Who would believe him anyway?
What's your most creepy monsters? Vampires, werewolves, ghosts? Mine is the Weeping Angels. Whovians know what I mean.
So why are we so interested in the supernatural, shows and books like Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Witches of East End, Harry Potter? The ability to think a thought and move an object, think of a place and be there in seconds, wave your palm and conjure an object.
I was intrigued by the idea that we only use 10% of our brains and wonder if that means we might all be psychic if we knew how to tap into it? Maybe, or maybe it's all make-believe.
Since I so enjoy the supernatural and was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, it was only natural that I would eventually write my own Urban Fantasy about witches and wizards, creating stories that utilize their ability to move objects, teleport, create potions or find missing people.
It's fun to create the character, give them only the skills that I wish them to have. I gave my characters the ability to divine for the location of people. Annie accomplishes this be using a crystal and something that belongs to the missing person. Her magic is channeled through the crystal and which must obey that magic until the missing is found.
So if you could have any ability wouldn't you like to teleport. Moving from location to location within seconds. This psychic ability is the primary form of transportation for my characters. Though my characters are entrenched in the non magical world and most have cars, they still prefer to move from place to place in seconds. Wouldn't you.
When Annie and Cham conjure and summon objects, they're using telekinesis, the ability to manipulate objects with their mind. Though in my world the magic in controlled through the hands. With a wave they can manipulate, move, make disappear, change something about an object all by thinking of whatever it is they wish to do.
They create potions and spells, powerful magical tools that allow them to heal themselves and others, ward off evil spirits, create magnificent light to assist them in the darkness, create magical tracking devices to instantly find Sturtagaard. I can list more but there are so many ways that I can use magic that will assist Annie and Cham in their investigations.
In the future I expect that Annie as a result of future events may end up with other psychic abilities that she doesn't have yet. In the world of fantasy there are so many ways that you can add the unexpected, because with magic, anything becomes possible.
There are so many more forms of psychic ability, giving the person the ability to see the future, percieve past events, be in two locations at the same time. If you had your choice, what magic power would you possess? I'd like telekinesis. The ability to move objects, conjure objects in order to complete tasks is appealing to me, though honestly, the ability to teleport and miss out on the long commutes in the Chicagoland area, might be far more useful.
Happy Wednesday!Continue reading