Something I Wrote Today (SIWT)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Strange Girl Published

Strange Girl, Book 4 in The Scary Mary Series is finally published! This is amazing to me. I can't believe I'm on book 4. I dreamt of writing this series for so long and now it is a reality. It's a real series.

This book was quite the solo adventure for me. Due to my general lack of planning, I designed the cover myself, did all the proofreading, and the formatting. With past books, I've managed to at least hire someone to help with some of these, but this time, I decided it would add too much time and generally slow the process to a halt. So if you see some typos, don't like the cover, or your ereader has a meltdown trying to load the book--It's all MY FAULT. I'll be here for you to scream at. (Hope you enjoy the book!)

So, Strange Girl, what's it about? Well, here's the blurb:

*You look awesome.*

This is a typical text from Jake, the mysterious guy who saved Mary from the Shadowman. After everything had settled down, he started sending little messages to her. They brighten her day and make her feel special. She likes Jake. He's different like her. A freak. They send texts back and forth frequently, and Mary hasn’t told anyone about him. He's her secret friend.

When the TV producer Regina Smith comes to ask Gran for help, Mary pushes Gran to take her up on the opportunity. Regina wants them to go to Alabama to help a group of paranormal investigators, who are making a reality show. They've stumbled onto a real haunted house, and if no one steps in, they're going to get themselves killed. But Mary doesn't really care about that. She wants to go because Jake lives in Alabama. And she hopes to meet him. But when Gran’s kidnapped, Mary no longer hopes to meet Jake, she has to meet him. He’s her only hope of rescuing Gran. But mysteriously, he has stopped answering her texts.

To save Gran, Mary not only has to contend with two malevolent ghosts but also the paranormal investigators who will stop at nothing to capture evidence of the paranormal. If they have to, they’ll put Gran and Mary at risk. They will get the ghosts one way or another.

You know how ghosts are made, right?

The ebook is now live at the following vendors!

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Smashwords     iTunes

These vendors coming soon: Kobo

And as usual, here is the first chapter of the book as a sample. I hope you like it.

Strange Girl
Chapter 1
Dancing Around

It was finally about to happen. Mary was going to a high school dance. She’d never thought it would happen, but here she stood, with a boy no less. She mentally ticked the box beside school dance. It was on a list titled “Normal High School Things.” Also on the list were graduating, first kiss, and t.p.-ing a jerk’s house. The list was short, but then again, Mary hadn’t thought she’d do half the things listed. All but one thing was left to be marked off now.

Kyle’s hand slid warm and comforting to the small of her back.

“Hey, ready?” he asked.

She looked up at him with a smile and nodded. He handed their tickets to the person manning the door and they entered.
The dance was in full swing. Music reverberated through the air, giving everything a low hum. People were on the dance floor and sitting at tables that lined the room. The couple paused at the school gymnasium’s entrance to take in the transformation by streamers and crepe paper instilled upon it for Homecoming.

“Do you have the overwhelming urge to set off the sprinklers and watch it all melt away?”
Kyle huffed a laugh. “No, and I see I won’t be able to let you out of my sight any this evening.”

“Oh come on, just imagine it. It would all melt into blue and yellow sludge. Maybe some of it would mix into green. Green’s your favorite color.”

Kyle shook his head with a grin. “Can we have one dance before starting the mayhem?”

A shiver went down Mary’s back at the mention of dancing. She smoothed her dress nervously. She was amazed that she was actually here. She’d figured she’d have to forgo all high school dances. The notion had made her sad, but she figured that her freak status had permanently revoked her dance card. But here she was in a dress that made her feel like an alterna-princess with a date that made her feel like a normal girl. Yeah, those were two pretty different feelings, but they were both good so she didn’t question them.
Noticing her nervousness, Kyle leaned in close. “Everything okay?” he asked.

He was in a sports jacket, dress shirt, and slacks. When Mary had first seen him, she’d been surprised by the little flutter in her heart. She hadn’t known suits were something she liked. He wasn’t wearing a tie and the top button was undone on his shirt. She found the small opening of the collar very tantalizing. She was staring at it now. She swallowed uncomfortably and snapped her eyes up to his face. “Everything’s fine,” she said, but the words came out a little garbled. It sounded more like “Very fine.”

Kyle put his hand once more to the small of her back. “Come on, let’s see if we can find Rachel.”

Mary nodded and let him steer her around the room. There were a lot of second glances as they went by. Mary wasn’t sure if they were for her or her dress. The dress was a sleeveless, dark blue, with an asymmetrical hem line. It had a layer of tulle in the skirt that made it flutter around her knees. She loved the dress. Gran wouldn’t tell her where she’d gotten it. When she’d presented it to Mary, the girl had gotten misty-eyed. She’d touched it reverently. Gran had assured her that it was brand new and ghost-free. After the disaster with the Goodwill dress, Mary hadn’t tried going dress shopping again and had resolved herself to wearing her swing dancing/funeral dress to the Homecoming dance. This was so much better. The outer shell of the dress was shiny and silky. A thrill had gone through her at her first touch of the dress, but it had not been due to anything paranormal. It had been a normal teen girl’s thrill at getting something nice, and this was the nicest thing Mary had ever received.

She’d immediately tried on the dress and it fit perfectly. She hadn’t taken it off until it was time to go to bed. She couldn’t stop going by mirrors to look at herself. She’d made excuses to go back and forth from the kitchen to the living room so that she’d pass the large mirror that hung on the wall. She’d slow down and look at herself as she went by marveling at how the material moved and hung on her. Gran had laughed at her, but it was obvious that she was very pleased that Mary liked the dress so much. Not as pleased as Mary. But close.

Things soured a little when Mary chose her footwear. Gran had planned to take her out to find dress shoes, but Mary hated dress shoes. She had a pair of lace up, knee high boots she wanted to wear. Gran had been adamantly opposed to her fashion choice. It had ruined the joy of the dress a little. At the end, Mary had offered to let Gran do her makeup if she could wear the boots. Gran had quickly accepted this, and the matter was settled. Having makeup control was a big deal. Mary had been known to draw scrollwork on half her face with eyeliner. Mary thought it looked cool, but Gran never wanted to go out in public with her like that.

So instead of a swirls coming out from the corner of her eyes, Mary’s face was adorned conventionally with a light layer of smoky eye shadow, some pale lip gloss, a smidge of blush, and eyeliner that was only around her eyes. Mary, of course, didn’t tell Gran, but she’d had no intention of drawing all over her face. But letting Gran do her makeup meant she had on her boots, and she thought they rocked with the dress.

Kyle hadn’t seemed to mind the boots either. When he’d come by to pick her up, his mouth had hung open for a minute. She’d waited for him to say something. When he didn’t, she’d begun to worry.
“Having second thoughts?” she’d asked, beginning to fidget. Maybe Gran had been right and she should’ve gotten some heels. Or he’d finally come to his senses and realized he was about to be seen at one of the biggest social events of the school with the class freak.

Kyle shook his head. “What? No. You look great.”

“Don’t sound so shocked,” she said dryly.

He blinked. “Are you having second thoughts?” he asked uncertainly.

Mary blew out a breath. “No, I’m nervous. Are you sure about this?”

“Pictures! I need pictures!” Gran announced, coming into the room holding a disposable point and click. She took a moment to look over Kyle and gave him an approving nod. “You look very nice, Kyle.”

He smiled at Gran. “Thanks, Mrs. Dubont. Mary looks fantastic.”

Gran hmmed as she checked the camera. “Yes, I suppose even the boots are nice.”

Mary rolled her eyes.

Gran motioned for them to stand together. Mary moved over to him, and he put his hand on her back. “You do look great. I always thought you were pretty, but I’ve never seen you like this,” he murmured into her ear.

“Smile!” Gran said.

Mary put on a smile, but she really wanted to look at Kyle. His hand ran up and down her back. It made her shiver. Gran clicked the camera a few more times. “Okay, I guess that’s enough. Have fun tonight you two.”

“We will, Mrs. Dubont. Thanks,” Kyle said as he ushered Mary out.

When the door had closed behind them, Mary had known there was no going back. She was on her way to the Homecoming Dance. But first there was dinner. They went to Amici’s. The place had been packed with other Homecoming-goers. Everyone noticed Kyle and Mary, but no one messed with them. Mary knew it was probably because of Kyle. He was well-liked and formidable. She happily used him as a social shield. Thus dinner had been good.

And now they were at the dance.

“I see them,” Kyle said and led her through the crowd. She stayed close to him, holding onto his arm, using him as a physical shield now. As they crossed the gym, guys brushed past Kyle, giving him friendly greetings and slaps on the shoulder. Kyle returned all of them with ease. She gave nods and shy smiles to his friends and their dates, but they weren’t people Mary knew.

Kyle kept going with confidence and ease. Mary really admired that about him. She never wanted to be popular, but she had to admit that it seemed to make some people glow with happiness. Kyle practically had a golden halo by the time they crossed the gym.

Rachel and Taryn were sitting at a corner table. Rachel hadn’t gotten her wish exactly. Instead of being asked to Homecoming by someone she liked, she’d done the asking. Mary was so glad that Taryn had said yes. Rachel was dressed in a sexy lady suit while Taryn wore a beaded flapper dress. They looked awesome together.

Rachel hadn’t seen Mary’s dress before the dance. She blew a loud wolf whistle at the sight of her. Mary did a little twirl in response.

“Wow, Mary. Where’d you get that?”

Mary shrugged her shoulders. “Gran got it. She won’t say.”

“Well, I, obviously need to go shopping with her.”

“You both look great,” Mary told the two girls.

Rachel slung her arm around Taryn’s neck. “We know.”

“You look great, too, Kyle,” Taryn said.

Kyle gently grabbed Mary’s waist from behind and stepped in close. “Thanks, but I know I wouldn’t look half as good on my own.”

Mary could feel her cheeks heating up.

Rachel hopped up. “Well, now that we’re all here. Let’s dance!” She turned and offered her arm to Taryn who regally took it.
Kyle gave Mary’s waist a gently squeeze. “Well?” he asked. His breath tickled her ear. Goosebumps went up her arms.

A fast song was playing, and the dance floor was only half full with other couples. There were several groups of only girls dancing as their dates leaned against the walls watching. Mary liked to dance, though she only had with Rachel. She took Kyle’s hand and led him onto the dance floor. They started dancing with Taryn and Rachel beside them. Soon they were laughing and joking while they danced, and Mary’s cheeks hurt from all of the smiling. It was amazing.

After another upbeat song, a slow song started. Kyle raised an eyebrow as he moved in closer. “Okay?” he asked as he put him hands on her waist.

Mary stepped in close and put her arms around his neck. She put her head on his shoulder. They began to sway. She sighed as her heart rate slowed and she calmed down.

“Still want to set off the sprinklers?” Kyle asked quietly.

“Evening’s gotta end at some point,” she said.

He chuckled and rested his head against hers. Mary relaxed and let him lead. The dance floor had filled up as all of the couples crowded on. It was a sea of swaying teens. Mary’s eyes drifted over them. It wasn’t often she was part of the crowd. Too often, she was on the sidelines looking on at everyone else. Being among them was an unusual treat.

As she looked around, she recognized another swaying couple. Cy and Vicky were dancing a few yards away. Mary idly watched them, curiosity keeping her attention on them. She’d never seen them doing couple-y things. Sure, she’d seen them together, but not holding hands or hugging or anything. They looked comfortable together and seemed to fit. Mary could admit they looked good. As the pair made a slow turn, Vicky spotted her. The cheerleader raised a silent eyebrow. Mary gave her a slight nod of acknowledgment before turning her gaze away.

Her eyes immediately picked out another familiar person. Mr. Landa stood by the wall, watching the dance floor. Ms. Myers stood beside him. They were shoulder to shoulder actually. Mary’s eyes bounced back and forth between them. They seemed pretty comfortable together. She wondered if there was some gossip there. Again, she stared too long and Mr. Landa spotted her staring. She gave him a small wave and he raised his punch glass to her. She wondered what he thought of her attendance. Maybe he’d put a check mark in her file.

Kyle laughed at something he saw from his side of the dance floor.

“What?” she asked, lifting her head.

“Rachel,” he murmured.

He swung them around so Mary faced that direction, and she caught the tail-end of the deep dip Rachel had performed with Taryn.

“Don’t do that with me,” Mary said.

“But we can’t let them be the better dancers,” he countered.

“Yes, we can,” she shot back.

He took her hand and firmed up his grip on her waist.

“Don’t you dare, Kyle,” she said, freezing up.

“I promise I won’t drop you.”

“Well, I promise to twist my ankle if you try.”

He laughed, and luckily, the music faded out before he could attempt anything. Mary slipped out of his arms and gave him a distrustful look. He grinned at her unrepentantly. He reached out and pulled her back to his side. She let herself be pulled and bumped into him good-naturedly. Everyone turned towards the stage as Principal Hoke climbed the steps with a microphone.

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” she said.

The gymnasium went quiet. She held up an envelope. “It’s time to announce the Homecoming Court.”

Mary noticed several of Kyle’s buddies turned and gave him enthusiastic thumbs up. He groaned and covered his eyes.

“What’s that about?” she whispered.

Kyle sighed. “They thought it would be funny to nominate me.”

“What?”

Mary hadn’t known this. The seniors voted on who would be picked for Homecoming king and queen while the lower classmen chose a prince and princess for their respective classes. She hadn’t wondered who was nominated among the seniors since she didn’t know many. Vicky and Cy had been on the ballot for the junior class. Mary had voted for them, but only because they were the only familiar names on the ballot.

Principal Hoke opened the envelope. She announced the prince and princess for the freshmen. Mary had no idea who they were. They went up the stage and accepted crowns and sashes to polite applause. Next were the sophomores. Again, Mary didn’t know who they were.
“The junior prince and princess are Cyrus Asher and Vicky Nelson.”

There was general applause for the couple as they went up to the stage. Mary wasn’t surprised that they won. It seemed inevitable really. Cy escorted Vicky up, and they received their crowns and sashes with general grace and nonchalance. This was just another feather in Vicky’s overstuffed cap.

“Jesus, of course, he won,” Kyle said under his breath, sounding unhappy.

Mary slipped her hand into Kyle’s and gave it a squeeze. She knew the brothers had a bit of friction. Kyle felt Cy was handed things to him while he had to work to earn everything. She didn’t think that was entirely true, but she could sympathize.

“Now allow me to present your homecoming king and queen Kyle Asher and Hilary Easton!”

The room erupted in cheers. There were loud hoots and wolf whistles. Stomping feet and energetic clapping filled the air as well. The sudden enthusiasm made Mary jump. Kyle shook his head and gave Mary a kiss on the cheek before heading to the stage. As he went, guys swarmed him to congratulate him. He gave them all rueful thanks and oaths of revenge. Mary watched his back recede in disbelief. She was dating the homecoming king? That couldn’t be right.

Rachel and Taryn came up and stood on either side of Mary. “Whoa, did not expect this turn of events,” Rachel said.

“I don’t know. Kyle does seem to be really popular,” Taryn commented.

“I can’t believe this,” Mary said.

Kyle accepted his crown, sash, and scepter. He waved the scepter at the crowd to general uproar. Hilary, a girl Mary only recognized vaguely, smiled hugely and put her arm around Kyle’s as they took position at the center of the assembled court. Mary remembered that Hilary did the beauty pageant circuit. Her picture had been in the paper when she’d won something. She looked natural in crown and sash. The room lit up with flash bulbs.

Mary once again felt like she was on the sidelines looking in. Even if most of the room was with her on the sidelines, it still twisted her gut a little. What was she doing here? Who was she kidding?

To her right, she heard one of Kyle’s buddies say to another, “Aw man, it’s so great that Kyle won.”

“I know, man. He totally tried to campaign against it.”

“I know. He threatened to send his girlfriend after us if we went through with it.”

“Yeah, but no matter what, it was worth it.”

“Totally.”

Mary glanced over at the two jocks. Nominating Kyle and getting him crowned homecoming king seemed like an odd joke to pull on someone. The fact that Kyle hadn’t wanted it was also a little odd. Wasn’t this what popular kids wanted? Vicky certainly looked like she’d cut anyone who tried to take her crown away.

Kyle and Hilary looked good together. She was only an inch shorter than him in her heels. Her arm fit perfectly around his. Mary wondered if they shared any classes. If they talked. If they were friends. What was Mary doing with him?

“Tell Kyle I went to the restroom,” Mary said to Rachel. Her friend gave her a questioning look, but nodded her head.

She left the gym and went to the bathroom. She stood at a sink and checked her makeup. Nothing was smudged. Her hair was a little tangled from dancing. She took out her brush and began to smooth it out.

From her purse, her phone beeped, indicating a new text message. She pulled it out to take a look.

*You look really nice tonight.*

She smiled. It was Jake, the mysterious guy who’d helped save her from the Shadowman. He’d always known when she was in trouble and who to call to get her help. He may not have been physically there to help her, but he’d earned the MVP award during that whole ordeal and her eternal goodwill.

As soon as she’d gotten her prepaid phone working again, he’d started texting her. They never talked on the phone, but practically everyday, he sent her simple text messages like *Your hair looks nice,* or *Good luck on that test.* She hadn’t told anyone that he was texting her. She liked having a secret friend. She’d learned a few things about him, like he had a younger sister and that he hated math. Mary hadn’t needed to tell him much of anything about herself because he could just see it. His gift was called remote viewing. She hadn’t known what that was and had to look it up. It was a really odd but cool ability. The CIA and the KGB had actually studied it and tried to train operatives to use it. Mary didn’t understand how Jake’s ability worked. One website had described it as dowsing the universe. To Mary, dowsing meant using a Y-shaped stick to find stuff buried in the ground. She’d asked Jake about it, and he’d said he didn’t use anything. He just needed to think about what he wanted to see and an image would form in his mind. That was how he’d always known where she was and who to call when the Shadowman possessed her. When she’d asked him how he’d happened to think of her, he’d simply texted back that he’d wanted to know someone who was like him--Different. When he’d closed his eyes, there she was. For once her ability to talk to ghosts hadn’t alienated her to someone. It linked them. She liked that. And she liked Jake.

*Thanks. Did you see Kyle win Homecoming King?*

*Yeah, he seems really popular.*

Mary sighed at this. She had to face facts. Kyle was really popular, in spite of her. *I know. I can’t believe he’s dating me.*

*I can.*

That little statement made Mary’s heart flutter again. She smiled at her phone’s screen. Someone else came into the restroom. Mary looked up. It was Vicky, still in her crown and sash. Vicky’s eyes fell on Mary’s phone. She raised an eyebrow and gave Mary a knowing look.

“What?” Mary asked. She slipped the phone back into her purse.

Vicky went to a sink and looked at herself in the mirror. “Nothing. I just wondered who you could be texting since everyone you know is here tonight.”

“It’s none of your business.”

Vicky didn’t seem to agree. She checked her makeup and adjusted her crown. Mary waited, not sure why she didn’t leave. Once Vicky was satisfied with her appearance, she turned back to her. “So did you ever find out who that freak was that was calling all of us while you were possessed?”

Mary bristled at the casual insult directed at Jake. “He’s not a freak.”

“Uh-huh. Well, I’m going back to my date. Kyle’s waiting for you outside.”

Vicky gave herself one last look in the mirror and exited. Had Vicky come in just to harass her? Mary wondered dourly. She glanced at herself in the mirror, but couldn’t meet her own gaze. Her eyes dropped to her clutch purse and then darted away. She exited to find Kyle waiting right outside for her.

“Did you send in Vicky to look for me?” she asked dourly.

Kyle’s eyes widened a fraction. “Yeah, sorry? I wasn’t sure if you were in there and she was close by.”

“Well, don’t do that again. It just annoys both of us.”

Kyle dropped his head sheepishly. He still had on his sash and crown. She wondered what he’d done with the scepter.
“Homecoming king, congrats man!” A jock yelled into Kyle’s ear while giving him a friendly shake. Kyle shrugged the guy off with a friendly shove. His friend laughed and kept going. Once he was gone, Mary crossed her arms and leaned against the wall.

“So I’m dating the homecoming king,” she said dryly.

Kyle’s good humor turned to embarrassment. “Yeah, I know it’s stupid.”

Seeing his discomfort and knowing that she’d caused it made Mary blanch. She pushed off the wall and stepped up to Kyle. She dropped her eyes and twisted from side-to-side shyly. It was only half an act. “Would the homecoming king like to dance with me?”

Kyle held out his hand. She raised her eyes to meet his. He smiled down at her. “I’d like nothing better.”

They went back to the dance floor. Kyle’s arms felt familiar now going around her. She rested her cheek against his shoulder and sighed.

“Having fun?” he asked.

Mary nodded against his shoulder. “Yeah, I’m really glad we came.”

“Me too,” he said as he slowly twirled them around.

They slow danced for several more songs. Mary only checked the clock when she needed to yawn. It was almost eleven. “It’s getting late,” she said.

Kyle hmmed but didn’t loosen his hold on her. Mary gently pushed him off with a smile. “Come on, take me home before I turn into a pumpkin.”

“I like pumpkins,” Kyle said, pulling her back. “One more dance,” he murmured.

Mary sighed and put her arms back around him. “Okay, homecoming king. One more dance.”

“It’s good to be the king,” he said. Mary had to chuckle at that.

* * * * *

Mary snuggled into Kyle’s jacket as they walked to her back porch. When they’d left, he’d slipped it onto her shoulders before she even realized how much it had cooled down. She’d have to give it back to him in a minute, but she wanted to eke out a few more moments of enjoyment from it. She had to admit there was something inherently romantic about the guy giving the girl his coat. Maybe it was the fact that it was still warm from his body. It was like getting a sartorial hug.

Mary went up the step and turned to face Kyle. She was a few inches taller than him for the moment. The reversal in height made her smile as she tilted her head down to kiss him. She’d been feeling pretty content and a little bit sleepy so was startled when Kyle grabbed her by the waist and jerked her against his body. His tongue pushed into her mouth with a force that startled her. Overwhelmed by his sudden passion, she just tried to stay upright and not fall back onto the porch. Kyle broke off the kiss as quickly as he started it. He rested his forehead against hers while they both panted.

“What was that for?” she asked.

“For being the greatest girlfriend in the world.”

“If you think I’m the greatest, you don’t get out much. I’m sure there’s a girl in Zimbabwe better than me.”

Kyle shook his head. His forehead rolled against hers. “Nope, not for me. No offense to the chick in Zimbabwe.”

Mary smiled shyly. She shifted her head to give him a peck on the cheek. “Have fun at the game tomorrow.”

“You sure you don’t want to go?”

She shook her head. “I’ll let the guys have you to themselves, after all, you are their king.”

Kyle huffed at the reminder. “I still can’t believe they did this to me.”

Mary finally got to ask why that bothered him. “But why aren’t you happy about it? I thought people liked this sort of thing.”
“Would you want to be homecoming queen?”

Mary shook her head. Not even taking a moment to consider the idea. “The only way that would happen is if I was immediately drenched in pig’s blood.”

“But if there was no pig’s blood, would you want it?”

Now Mary didn’t know. She looked away and felt a little afraid. She wanted to be normal. Popularity was a part of normality. She knew, though, that she’d never have it. She’d hear ghosts and never be a happy, shiny person.

“You’re my homecoming queen.”

Mary’s eyes went back to Kyle. He was smiling softly at her. She pulled his mouth back to hers for another kiss. This one under her initiation. It was slower and less frantic, but seemed more intense than the previous kiss. Mary’s body molded to Kyle’s as they both tightened their arms around each other. She only broke away finally when she started becoming light-headed. They both panted against each other’s cheeks. Kyle’s hands kneaded her back. Mary pulled back and slipped his jacket off her shoulders.

“Night, Kyle,” she said softly.

He wordlessly nodded back still panting. He turned and stumbled like he was drunk. He quickly caught himself and made his way back to his truck. Mary watched him pull away before going into the house.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!


It’s 8pm on 11/30/14, and I have just validated my novel on Nanowrimo.org. I’ve watched the “Congratulations!” video and downloaded my winner badge. I feel accomplished, but a little bit guilty. A sense of guilt has vaguely troubled me all of November. I wrote A LOT this month, but not a word of it was for Scary Mary 4 – Strange Girl. I shelved that project for November because I was burnt out. I’d been editing it for over a month, and I was beginning to hate the story. I became discouraged. Then around the last week of October, I began getting messages from the regional ML’s detailing the planned get-togethers for write-ins.

I’ve participated in Nano in years past and always enjoyed the community that popped up around it. And I’ve been itching to just WRITE. I was tired of editing. I didn’t want to read and think. I wanted to just write. That may sound a little paradoxical, the idea of writing and not thinking, but it’s something that happens when committing to Nano. And there had been a project brewing in the back my brain that was singing a siren’s song to me. I considered other projects, ones that I’d started and needed to finish. I even worked on one of them on the first day of November, but this other project kept pulsating in my head, enticing me to dive into the world and characters. It was something I’d started writing on the fly months before. Barely starting before saving and closing, less than 1300 words written, but for some reason, it started pestering me in November to the point that the project I’d thought I’d work on to give myself a break from SM4 became unappealing. This other story needed to be written.

So during the first week of Nano, I switched gears and started working on it. (I didn’t discard the words that I’d written for the other project. I’m not that much of a purist when it comes to Nano. Any words I wrote for any story are counted, which was about 3k before the switch, so technically speaking, I only have 47k for this project written, but it’ll be 50k soon enough. I’m nowhere near done.) The words came swiftly. I for once in my life kept up with the goals. Or roughly at least. I started designing a cover. I picked a title that I really like, and dammit, this is gonna be a thing.

Tomorrow, on Dec. 1st, I’m going to open the files for Strange Girl again, and recommit to it. I feel reenergized. I’m shooting for a pub date still of Dec. 15. I will work tirelessly on it for the next two weeks and click publish finally. But tonight, I’d like to share with you the beginning of this other project. It is another high school based story, but it has no paranormal or fantastical elements, at least not the standard ones. The filthy rich, though, seem like mythical beings to me. It has been lightly edited tonight before posting. This is not unedited, raw writing by moi. I wouldn't inflict that on you.


My Demon

Day 1
Monday

Today was my first day at the most elite academy in the world where only the richest and most powerful kids go. I was neither of those. I was enrolled here because my family couldn't afford to send me anywhere else. If that wasn’t irony, then I’d get that question wrong on the SATs. I was admitted as special compensation. I was not here on any merit or athletic scholarship. I was here because my father fixed the toilets, and my mother cooked the meals. They were servants. No, excuse me that wasn’t PC anymore. They were in service. Too bad everyone still treated them like servants. I would have rather enrolled somewhere else. Anywhere else, but there just wasn't anywhere else I could go. So here I was starting my first day at Noble Academy.

I knew the campus by heart. I'd been wandering through it my whole life. But it was always as a shadow. The Academy was the only home I'd ever known, but I'd never felt like I belonged. Now I was wearing one of the uniforms, and I felt like a stranger in my own skin. The collar of my shirt was too tight, and I thought they’d given me the wrong-sized shoes, but I tried to ignore these small discomforts as I slipped into my very first class. Most of the other students were already there, though they haven't taken their seats. The seat in the far corner looked unclaimed. I slipped into it and stowed my books. No one greeted me or made eye contact. They all knew each other. Had known each other since birth probably. I was a stranger. Someone to close ranks against. That was fine. I just wanted to be left alone.

Prof. Edwards arrived a minute after me. He had taught at the school for twenty years now. He liked red wine. Lots of red wine. I'd helped collect the empty bottles from his room's doorstep a number of times. He started making noises for everyone to settle down without actually asking anyone to take their seats. I saw him see me in the back, but he didn’t appear to recognize me. I wondered if he would recognize my parents. A shadow fell across me. I looked up at a guy, who wass frowning down at me.

"You're in my seat."

He hadn't been in the room when I came in. From the looks of him, he appeared to have just arrived. Like literally. He wasn't even wearing a school uniform yet. He was dressed all in black with silver studs in his ears and a Rolex watch on his wrist.

"There's no assigned seats," I said. I didn't want to give up my seat just because he told me to.

The smile that curls his lips put me on edge. It was condescending and self-assured. Ever notice how assured had to be spelled with ass+u+r?

"I think you're mistaken. You see whatever seat I want is mine. So this seat is mine. If you want, you can sit on my lap."

Was this guy for real? I scanned the rest of the room. Great. All the other seats have been taken. Where was I supposed to sit? His lap was not an option.

"No," I said.

"What?"

People were beginning to notice us while Prof. Edwards took attendance.

"I said no. I'm sitting here so ipso facto the seat is mine.”

“Is that so?” He grabbed the desk and flung it across the room.

It landed with a crash and all of my books spilled out of it.

“What’s going on?” Prof. Edwards shouted.

I turned to the guy, and I was petrified.

“Get up.”

I shook my head. I could’t get up now even if I wanted to. My knees are knocking against each other. He loomed over me. I was ashamed to admit it, but I was cowering before him.

He leaned down and grabs me by my jacket lapels and dragged me up.

“Now, see here. I will have no fighting in my classroom,” Prof. Edwards said.

The guy turned and flashed a smile at the professor. From my vantage point of hanging from his fists, I got a good look at his canines. They were pearly white and very sharp. “Sorry, professor. There appears to be a shortage of seating, and I was discussing with my friend here the best way to rectify that.”

“I don’t believe I called your name, young man.”

“Oh yeah, that may be part of the problem. My parents only registered me this morning. I’m Damien West.”

My eyes widened at his words, as well as everyone else’s. Among the richie rich, the Wests were the richest. They were also the biggest donors to Noble. Every other building bore the name West. It made giving directions difficult.

Damien turned back to me and gave me an appraising look. “I don’t believe you called my friend’s name either.”

“I skipped Sara’s name since I could see she was here.”

So the old wino did recognize me.

“Well, Sara needs a seat.”

“Yes, Sara, please go see about getting one out of storage, will you?”

I didn’t protest the injustice of having to get a desk and chair when I clearly had one. Damien let me go, but he had to lay it on thick by smoothing out my lapels and giving me a malignant smile. I backed away from him and out of the room. I was afraid to turn my back on him like he was a wild animal who would attack me if I took my eyes off him. Once I was out the door, I heard Prof. Edwards begin his lesson. He wasn’t going to hold class for me. I would have to hurry if I didn’t want to miss too much. I knew where spare desks and chairs were kept. I went down the hall, listening to the muted voices of teachers from other classrooms.

So Damien West was in my class and he was psychotic. Lovely. It shouldn’t surprise me. I had long ago observed that oodles of money seemed to give people license to lose all common sense and disregard decorum. The more money someone had; the less human they were.

Damien West was rich enough to be demonic. I wondered if that had informed his parents’ choice of name.

“Hey, kiddo. Playing hookey already?”

I turned and saw an eye looking out from a crack in the door of a utility closet. I recognized the eye. “Naw, Scruffy. I need to get a desk and chair. We ran out in my class.” I decided not to go into the whole desk hurling and threat of bodily harm that coincided with it.

Scruffy was a handyman like my father. He’d been who hired my dad decades ago. He was like family. A regular guest for dinner and always included in holiday celebrations. For the past few years, he’d claimed to be on the verge of retirement, but never set a date.

One of his eyebrows rose. “Well, can’t have that.” He opened the door and stepped out. He was wearing faded blue overalls with and a massive ring of keys strained his right belt loop. He locked the utility closet and led the way to a nearby storage room. He unlocked the door and held it open for me. I went in and immediately started sneezing.

The storage room was full of dust. Scruffy lifted a sheet to reveal a battered desk and chair. “Here we go. Grab the chair and we’ll be on our way.”

I picked up the chair and wondered if Scruffy would have called for my dad if I’d been another student looking for a desk and chair. I couldn’t imagine any of the other students willingly assisting with such a menial task. Of course, I couldn’t protest and ask for my father to do this instead. I might wear the uniform but that didn’t mean I was one of them.

We went back to Prof. Edwards classroom. I almost knock but jerked my hand back as I realized what I was about to do. The act was so ingrained from my parents, but I had every right to be going into this room. I didn’t need to knock for permission to enter.

Prof. Edwards paused mid-sentence as I came in carrying my chair. Scruffy carried in the desk. He set it in back for me. I nod my thanks. He doffed his cap with a wink and slipped out of the room. I take my new seat and looked around for my books. They were no where in sight. Though I didn’t want to, I looked over at Damien. He had his feet propped up my previous desk, leaning back in the chair, flipping through one of my text books. My satchel still hung off the back of the seat. I doubted he’d want to keep my bag. It was lavender with butterflies embroidered on it.

Without any of my school supplies, all I could do was listen to Prof. Edwards’ lecture. He was giving an overview of England’s early history: The various invasions, tribal wars, and living conditions of the early Britons. I listened and hoped to retain some of it without any proper written notes to refer to after the class.

I couldn’t help glancing over at Damien West. He still had his feet propped up on the desk. He wasn’t taking notes. He didn’t appear to be paying attention at all. He’d dropped my text book to the floor where it had fallen open facedownn. I hoped the pages weren’t badly bent. He had a shiny smartphone out and was tapping away at it. Sure, he could have been taking notes that way, but somehow, I highly doubted it. I wondered what I was to do if I have to share more classes with this person. Since we were in History together, the likelihood of us being together in other core classes was very likely. Good God, we could even share all of our core classes. The admissions people sometimes did that. They grouped people they thought would work best together. I hoped they hadn’t had some collective bout of dementia and thought I would be good with him.

When class ended, I moved slowly, hoping for Damien to rise and abandon my belongings. He didn’t budge from his seat. He was going to make me late for my next class, which was English.

I screwed up my courage and went over to him. “May I have my things?” I asked finally. I kept my voice as even and as pleasant as possible.

He didn’t look up from his device. “I don’t know you,” he said.

“You wouldn’t. My name’s Sarah. I’m no one special.” I figure debasing myself would be the swiftest way to reclaiming my things.

“You’re right about that. But I’ve never seen you before. What’s your last name?”

The room was filling with the next class. Prof. Edwards had disappeared when the bell rang. He probably went to take a quick nip from his flask. The new students were staying clear of us, but they watched us with curiosity.

I took a deep breath and clenched my fists. I just wanted to go to my next class. “Smith,” I tell him.

Damian’s eyes flicked over me before dropping back to his device. “Of the Trinidad Smiths?”

“No.” I’d never heard of them. But Smith was a very common name. I had no rich relative, though.

The bell for second period rang. I was now officially late. Prof. Edwards came back in. “All right everyone, take your sea—Mr. West, Ms. Smith, you need to go to your next class,” he said.

I cast him a dour look. He had to see Damien was holding my belongings hostage. Damien stretched and pocketed his phone. Without comment, he rose and left the room nonchalantly. I quickly scuttled to collect my bag and books. My gaze met Prof. Edwards’ as I exited. His eyes dropped away with a touch of shame. I felt briefly sorry for him. He was harmless and generally kept to himself, but he should’ve helped me. I headed toward my next class, hoping to be excused for being tardy, but it seemed I was destined to be super tardy. Someone grabbed my arm as I went down the hall and halted my rush.

“Walk with me,” Damien said.

His hand had jerked me to a stop. I turned to him in disbelief. He didn’t let go of my arm.

“I have to get to class,” I said and winced at the touch of whine that was in my voice.

“God, don’t tell me you’re really that boring.”

I breathed out through my nose. “Yes, yes, I am. Please let go of my arm.”

His hold tightened instead. It hurt.

“Let go,” I repeated, futilely trying to pull free.

“Let’s have some fun,” he said. I heard the snickt of a blade. My eyes darted to his other hand. He had a switch blade. He held it up and placed the blade against the front of my blouse, right over my breasts. He cut off the button with a flip of his wrist. The button pinged off the ground.

This was too much. I screamed. “Help!”

To my surprise, the first person to come to my aid was my father. He came running from around a corner. He took in the sight and gasped. He must have seen Damien’s knife “Let her go!” he yelled and charged at us.

Strangely, Damien moved in front of me, blocking my father, instead of putting me between them. Damien brandished his knife, but Father had a mop and he’d used one longer than Damien had been alive, plus it had a much longer reach. He swung it at Damien and hit him square in the chest. Damien let me go and stumbled back into the wall. The mop was wet. His black sweater was smeared with smelly, dirty water. I ran to Father and hide behind him.

Damien pinched and pulled his soggy sweater away from his body. His nose curled in disgust at the smell of the dirty water. “You’re dead, old man.” He lunged with his knife.

“Dad!” I screamed.

My father raised the mop and hit Damien across the face with it. He went crashing to the ground. “Sarah, get help,” he shouted, but there was no need. Security was already in the hall running toward us. They had guns. They had to. With all of the high profile children that attended the academy, we had practically a small standing army.

They fanned out and encircled us. I realized a moment later that all of their guns were pointed at Father. “What are you doing? He attacked us,” I said, moving closer to Father.

“David Smith, put down the mop and come with us,” Capt. Timmons said. Security and maintenance were never that close, but they’d always had a bit of respect for one another. None of that was in the captain’s eyes as he pointed a gun at my father.

“He didn’t do anything wrong. It was Damien West. He pulled a knife on me,” I said.

Father laid the mop down and put his hands up.

“Sarah, it’s going to be all right. You should get to class,” he said.

“Are you joking?” I tried to block the guards as they moved in to take Father by the arms, but they shovd me aside. I fell and watched in horror as they escorted him away.
Capt. Timmons was still there. He knelt in front of Damien West and held out a handkerchief. Damian grabbed the piece of cloth and wiped his face with angry swipes. “I want him shot,” he said.

My eyes went wide and I launched myself at him. I wasn’t thinking and I didn’t care. I managed to slap him once before Capt. Timmons hauled me back. “Let me go!” I shouted, struggling like a wild animal in the captain’s grasp.

“Sarah Smith, calm down,” he said.

Damien West had gotten up. Exhaustion more than any sense of returning calm had my struggles lesson. The boy leaned into my face with a smirk. “That was your father?” he asked.

I spat into his face.

“Sarah!” Capt. Timmons shouted and turned me away.

“Let her go,” Damien said.

“Sir?” Capt. Timmons asked.

“You heard me.”

“I’m sorry, sir. But she is clearly a danger to your well-being. I will have to escort her to the cells.”

My mind was a swirl of incomprehension. That psycho had pulled a knife on me. He was still holding the knife! Yet I was the one in trouble? My father, who’d only meant to protect me, was in trouble?

“Let her go!” Damien screamed.

Capt. Timmons immediately released me. I turned and stared at both of them. I didn’t know what to say. This was all insanity.

Damien picked up my bag and threw it into my stomach. “Let’s go to class,” he said.

I clutched my bag like a shield and stepped back from both of them.

Damien held out his hand, beckoning me. “You heard your father. Let’s go to class.”

Go to class? He was insane. I turned and ran. I had to get to Mother to tell her what had happened, to save Father.

As I ran, I heard Capt. Timmons say to Damien, “Sir, if you please, I would like to get a statement from you about what happened. You’ll, of course, be excused from class.”

I thought I heard Damien sigh, but I was slamming through the doors into the courtyard, headed to the cafeteria. I didn’t hear his reply.

I ran as fast as possible to the kitchen. Mother would be helping prepare the lunch. A bevy of chiefs, cooks, and underlings would be working. I burst into the den of bustle and yelled, “Mom!”

Everyone turned from their tasks to look at me. Mother immediately left her station to come to me. “Sarah, what are you doing here? You should be in class.”

“Security took Dad!”

Mother dropped the towel she’d been holding. “What? Why?”

All action stopped as everyone turned to stare at me in shock. “A student attacked me, and Dad hit him with a mop to get him off me and then security took Dad into custody. What should we do?”

The swinging doors opened behind me. A pair of security guards entered. “Sarah Smith, please come with us.”

I turned to stare at them. “What?”

They flanked me and each grabbed an arm. “We need a statement.”

“Is she under arrest?” my mother demanded.

“No, ma’am. We just need to speak to her.”

“Then take your hands off her!”

The guards seemed to realize that they had an audience. A large audience, who all had knives. They let go of my arms.

Mother put an arm around me and drew me away from the guards. “We will follow you,” she said.

The guards exchanged uncertain looks and turned. Mother turned to say something to Gustav, the head chef. He’d moved to the front of the crowd of onlookers. He held up a hand “Just go. But we will want all the details when you return,” he said with a glint of a smile.

I didn’t know what there was to smile about. It felt like my world was crashing down.

Mother ushered me out of the kitchen. The guards had waited for us just outside. They moved in close to escort us, but they didn’t reach out to take hold of me again.

Security’s HQ was in the central courtyard like the cafeteria. It was a squat, featureless building that looked out of place among the rose gardens and fountains. We were escorted directly to Capt. Timmons office. When we entered, I saw that Damien West lounged in an arm chair across from Capt. Timmons. He was in a school uniform now. He must have had to change due to the mop water. Mother and I weren’t offered seats. Damien looked over his shoulder at us and smirked as his eyes went over my mother’s apron and cap. I found myself stepping in front of her to shield her from him, but she put her hands on my shoulders and moved me out of the way.

“Capt. Timmons, what is going on? Sarah tells me you took my husband into custody.”

The captain nodded toward Damien. “He assaulted this student.”

“It was a misunderstanding,” Damien said.

Mother crossed her arms. “Is that so?” she said, giving Damien a hard glare.

Her expression seemed to amuse Damien, who smiled widely back at her.

Capt. Timmons coughed. “Yes, Mr. West assures me that your husband merely over-reacted at seeing his daughter being hit on by him.”

“What? That’s not what—“ I started to protest.

Capt. Timmons continued over me. “And thus, he’s willing to drop all charges if Mr. Smith will simply apologize.”

“No! What about the knife? He was threatening—“

“Have you informed my husband?” my mother asked.

Why were they speaking over me? Why weren’t they listening?

“Mother!” I shouted.

Mother gave me a hard look and shook her head.

“He’s being brought up now,” the captain said.

Mother gave a clipped nod and looked away.

I turned and glared at Damien West. His eyes were already on me. He smiled and I saw his canines again. I had to look away or be in danger of attacking him once more.

There was a knock at the door. “Enter,” Capt. Timmons called.

Father shuffled into the room. He was in shackles. I gasped in horror. The guards held Father by the biceps. His legs folded under him and he knelt down. I couldn’t tell if the guards were forcing him to kneel or helping him as he got down on his knees. Damien rose and went to stand over him.

“Well?” he asked with a smirk.

“I’m sorry for striking you with a mop. Please forgive me,” Father said, his face pointed at the floor.

I wanted to protest, but my jaw was locked.

Damien turned to look at me. His smile widened. I couldn’t look at him. My eyes dropped to my father, bowed on the floor. Tears, finally, began to burn my eyes.

With an irritated sigh, Damien waved his hand. “Fine. You can let him go.”

“Are you sure, sir?” Capt. Timmons asked. I turned incredulous eyes to him.

“Do I have to repeat myself?” Damien said, with an edge of steel to his voice.

“No, sir.”

The guards pulled Father up and turned him to leave. “Where are you taking him?” I protested.

“We have to process him out. Mrs. Smith, you may go with them.”

Mother nodded. I moved to follow, but she stopped me. “Go back to class, dear. Everything’s okay.”

Nothing was okay.

Damien lightly coughed beside me.

I turned and my eyes widened, finding him so close. I hadn’t noticed him move closer. I stepped back in fear.

“Sarah, could you show Damien to his classroom?” Capt. Timmons asked.

“Can’t one of the guards?” I protested.

Mother and Father were gone. With the way Capt. Timmons differed to Damien, I was practically alone with him. We were in the security office, but I feared that even if he pulled his knife on me again, no one would lift a finger to stop him. They might even hold me still for him.

“Come on, gorgeous. I promise I won’t bite.” Damien flashed his teeth at me again. They were all pearly white and looked sharper than ever.


***So there you have it. The first four thousand words of My Demon. Please let me know what you think. Would you keep reading? Thanks!***

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nanowrimo!

Once again it's November and you know what that means! No, I'm not going to grow a mustache, though Movember is a worth cause. I'm gonna try writing 50k this month for National Novel Writing Month. Don't know how well this will go since I have the fourth Scary Mary to work on, but I'm gonna participate as much as possible. I went to the kick-off event tonight for my region and wrote 2k on a project, but this will not be the norm as SM4 takes precedence.

If you're participating, I wish you luck. If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, go check out Nano's website. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

SIWT - Something I Wrote Today

Hey all,

So I'd like to try something new. I'd like to start sharing a line from whatever I've written for the day. Since a line wouldn't really be enough for a full blog post, I'd only put them up on Facebook and Twitter. I'll have a feed on the blog of the lines.

The reason I'd like to do this is so I can share something. I feel like I go silent for long stretches and it's because I'm just writing. I don't have anything earth shattering to share. But I want to share stuff and show I'm still alive, so I'm thinking maybe I'll try doing this.

And I've just spent the last two hours trying to figure you the easiest setup for this. I can post the snippets to Twitter, which will feed them to Facebook, and from Facebook, I get an RSS to this blog. Trying to figure out a way to do Twitter to blog is impossible. Banged my head against that brick wall way too long.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Author Facebook Takeover

So I was asked to join the the Authorfest on Bookies' Facebook page. I'll be hanging out there for three hours on Oct. 9th answering questions and interacting with readers. Please stop by and say hi! I believe anyone may reply to the page. I'll be given permission the day of to post to the page. This is something new for me so I'm still not sure how it'll go, but luckily some authors have gone ahead of me so I can watch them to figure out what exactly I'm in for. Thanks!