Thursday, November 16, 2017

Have you ever...

Looked at a deep lake and wondered if there were creatures at the bottom?

Maybe that's just me.

That's what led me to write my fantasy YA fiction, Underwater. Check out an excerpt here:

When I called my sister’s name into the darkness, my mother didn’t even peer through the kitchen window. She was too focused on being mad at my dad to concentrate on anything else. Besides, in her mind I was a thoughtless brat—which I was—and how would she know that there was a mermaid with a vendetta running around outside.
Except for the moonlight flickering on the choppy waves of the bay, the night was pitch black. I scanned the darkness, trying desperately to see something. Anything. The swish of Evey’s ponytail. The bright white of her softball practice shirt. The silvery glimmer of Isolde’s skin as she bolted through the trees. Surely I’d spot some of that…she had to be naked if she was in human form. Oh, great. This night just got better and better.
“Stay here,” Saxon said when we hit the bottom of the ramp.
“As if.” I yanked my gloves out of my pocket and jerked them on. “Is she going to hurt my sister? Be honest with me.”
He pulled his face into a grim scowl, and a small vertical line appeared between his eyebrows. He shook his head and lowered his voice. “I don’t know.”
“Then don’t tell me to wait here.” I rolled toward the tree line at the head of the trail. “Evey! If you’re out there, answer me!”
The sound of a twig breaking up the path halted my breath. Saxon was behind my chair in an instant. We sat motionless and perfectly quiet for one second, then two, then three, then…
A streak of silvery nakedness—all arms, legs, and a cape of long wavy hair—leapt from the brush and took off down the trail. Isolde’s voice filled my head, and by the way Saxon grit his teeth, he heard it too.
You’d better find her before I do.
Gasping, I shoved my wheels with every ounce of strength I had. I must have been running on adrenaline, because I hit the root in the ground with a slam and bounced right over it as if it were little more than a toothpick in the dirt. My wheels caught momentum quickly, thanks to the downward slope of the trail, and I was able to keep sight of Isolde’s hair flying out behind her running body.
Saxon’s voice screamed through my head. Luna, no! Wait!
“Evey, where are you!?” I shrieked, grunting as I pushed my wheels. I was about ten feet behind Isolde, and could see her silvery skin through the trees. My heart throbbed in my chest so hard, I was pretty sure my clavicle would splinter, but I didn’t stop to catch my breath. I just assaulted my wheels again and again, pushing myself further down the trail.
Evey. My sister was out in the woods because I’d run my mouth and embarrassed her, and now she had a lot more to worry about than a bruised ego. Letting my guilt propel me, I bound around a massive pine tree and made a grab for the end of Isolde’s hair.
“Dammit!” I hissed to myself when I missed, terrified tears stinging the insides of my eyelids. It was one thing to mess with me, to try to drown me, but threatening to hurt my sister? Now Isolde and I had a real problem. I was going to throttle her myself.
With a crunch and a rustle, Isolde jumped off of the trail and into the brush.
“Come back here and face me!” My voice came out rough and jagged. My lungs burned as I pushed forward, but I didn’t slow down. “Evey! This isn’t funny anymore! Where are you?”
“Geez, what?” Evey stepped out from behind a thick-trunked cedar tree. She was wiping tears off her face, and my already strained heart gave a squeeze. She turned in the direction of Isolde tearing through the bushes. “Who’s that?”
I’ll get her! Stay with your sister! Saxon jetted past me and sprinted into the dark thicket.
“OK!” I rolled to a stop at Evey’s feet and hunched over in my chair. My arms burned, and my fingers were stuck in their clenched position.
“What’s OK? What’s wrong? Where’s Saxon going? Was that Declan in the woods? Are you OK?” Evey’s questions were coming out like bullets, and I had to hold up one of my cramped hands to stop her.
“Mom…and Dad…are at…home.” I wheezed in between gulps of air. “I’m…so glad…I…found you.”
“Of course you found me. I wasn’t hiding from you.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “Well, maybe I was.”
“You need to go home.” I swallowed another pull of air and pushed my sweaty bangs back from my face. “It’s dangerous out here.”
She ignored me and peered into the trees. “Seriously, who was it? They weren’t wearing a shirt.” I saw slivers of Evey’s scandalized frown in the moonlight that cut through the trees. “Apparently people get naked a lot in Pend Oreille. Who knew?”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Still wondering whether or not to grab your copy...

...of Here's to Campfires and S'mores?

Check out this excerpt to wet your whistle...

I looked closely at my friends’ face. “Everything okay, Ape?”
            She smiled, but the joy didn’t quite make it to her eyes. “It’s been a long time since anyone’s called me that. Remember that summer? The one where we tried to come up with nicknames for each other?”
            “I do remember. That was the summer I met him.”
            April winced. “Gross. I hope he doesn’t come to dinner. I don’t know what to say to him.”
            “Hello is a nice place to start,” I offered wryly. “Maybe followed by how are you?”
            She giggled. “Followed quickly by you broke one of my best friend’s hearts, prepare to die?”
            “Not bad. Maybe follow it up with, I hope you suffer from erectile dysfunction for the rest of your days.”
            “Classic.” April snorted. “Is he dating again?” When I nodded, she added, “How about this? I wish you a painful itch in a private place, good sir.”
            I guffawed. “I think it’s the good sir that really drives it home.”
            April and I both jumped as soon as Jamie’s voice rang out. Looking over our shoulders, we discovered that he and Graham had approached behind us on the trail. Graham was carrying a ladder with a bemused smile on his face, and Jamie held a tool box with a deep-set scowl.
            “Oh, hey there, Jamie. Long time no see.” April’s pale face pinked and her eyebrows rose high on her forehead. She’d never been one for confrontation, and usually counteracted any nervousness with verbal vomit. “The kids and I just got here. They’re in the cabin. They’ll be out soon. Owen’s in there with them. He told them about the bear. I think they’re pretty freaked out. But they’ll be okay. That’s city kids for you. Afraid of a little nature.”
            When she stopped jabbering, we all stood staring at each other in a painfully awkward showdown. After about seven seconds of silence, Graham cleared his throat. “Owen told you about Joe?”
            April blinked at him. “Are you Joe?”
            He laughed. “No, I’m Graham, the maintenance man.”
            She held out her hand. “I’m April Salisbury. Who is Joe?”
            “Joe’s the bear.” Graham took her hand and held it for a beat longer than necessary. I watched them curiously. “He’s a black bear, I’m assuming around two or three years old. He visits the campsite down the road, and some of the cabins just beyond Chimalis’ border. People don’t appreciate him much because he makes a mess of their trash. But I kind of like him.”
            “I see.” April smiled demurely, then realized she was still holding Graham’s hand. She pulled it away. “Well, I’m not sure if I agree with you about Joe. I’ll have to let you know later.”
            Graham grinned. “Fair enough.”
            “You know sound carries really well in these woods,” Jamie pointed out, shifting the tool box between hands. April looked down at the ground. “And sorry to disappoint you, April, but my privates don’t itch.”
            She bit back a smirk. “Well, that’s a relief.”
            “Right.” With a frustrated grunt, he stalked past us toward the restrooms. “See you both at dinner.”
            “Uh… nice to meet you.” With a nod, Graham followed him, leaving April and I standing in shock.
            “Well…” I took a deep breath and leaned against my friend. “That didn’t go as planned.”
            “It sure didn’t.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Because I have been given much, I too must give.

Last year, my son traveled with his classmates to the Kimuka Primary School in Kenya, and it changed his life. Despite doing tremendous things for the students there--with an emphasis on the liberating and empowering the female students--my son came out of that experience saying it'd changed him for the better. 

This year, my daughter will be traveling to the Kimuka Primary school to continue the work. But she needs help. She is asking for donations to purchase sewing supplies, as she has set a goal of hand seeing sixty carrying cases for the female student's personal feminine hygiene products. This is a tremendous goal my daughter has set, and I've no doubt she'll reach it with the kindness and help of each of you! 

If you can donate--however much--we thank you. If you cannot donate, please like and share. If you can do both, then we are indebted to each of you. Thanks in advance, and God bless.

Click the picture below to donate today!

Ever wonder.....

If the town Golden Boy has anything in common with the Social Reject Ex-Foster Kid?

You'd be surprised.

Today felt like a good day to chill there. Digging into my pockets, I fished out my ear buds and tucked them in. Time to give Etta James some of my undivided attention. I came around the corner into the back parking lot of the school, smiling to myself when I saw it sat practically empty except for a few leftover teachers’ cars. The front lot was probably filled with kids piling into cars and yelling back and forth at the bottleneck in the exit. Glad I didn’t have to walk through that madness.
“Do you think this is a joke?” a man’s voice, deep and authoritative, screamed.
“No, sir.”
I looked around to see where the voices were coming from, my finger fixed over the play button on my iPod. There, along the back fence of the lot, was a parked sedan, its driver’s side door open and engine running. Backed against the side of the car stood Drew, with Mayor Baxter standing just an inch or two from his face. His hand clenched Drew’s neck, and his snarl was so angry I felt the tension from ten yards away.
I froze, unsure what to do. They were having their little pow-wow right by the trailhead I needed to get to.
“Look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.”
From what I could see of the side of his face, Mayor Baxter’s glare exuded pure venom. Gone was the crinkly-eyed grin he wore when he kissed babies heads and cut ribbons at the few Twisted Tree events I’d been to. Now he could have been any one of the cold bastards my mom had brought home before the state yanked me.
My blood ran cold. Back when I was six or seven, I’d ticked off one of my mom’s boyfriends—Kyle, I think—in the Burger King parking lot. I’d dropped my milkshake, getting it all over his boots, and he’d pinned me up against the side of his beat up old car and yelled at me until a lady in a nearby minivan hollered at him.
Look at me when I talk to you, Kyle had yelled.
I’d finished that afternoon off with a broken collarbone.
I ducked down beside a pickup truck to avoid being seen.
Drew turned his focus from the trees behind his dad’s head to his face. His face was red, and I could see the muscle in his jaw flexing. I couldn’t tell if he was trying not to cry or trying not to punch his dad in the face. Maybe both. And who could blame him?
“Why in the hell are you pulling a D in literature, Andrew?”
Drew’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “I don’t know, sir.”
Mayor Baxter’s hand squeezed his neck. “Wanna try answering that again?”
“No…” Drew closed his eyes. “Sir.”
I held my breath. What a bully. Every time I’d ever seen Mayor Baxter in town, he was nothing but polite and charismatic. He reminded me of a game show host, the way he paraded his wife and son around. And the house they lived in? I’d walked past it at least three dozen times and marveled at the manicured lawn and curved driveway every time. Never once had I thought this kind of stuff was happening behind closed doors. I thought dads like this only existed in the low income housing my mom kept us in.
“You want to piss away your chance at a scholarship, fine by me,” Mayor Baxter growled, using his other hand to grind his finger into Drew’s chest. “But if you think for a second you’re going to get one dime of my money to pay to be a bum, you’re kidding yourself.”
            “I’m not gonna be a bum, Dad,” Drew croaked.
            Mayor Baxter grabbed Drew’s hair, and jerked his head back and forth one time. Hard. “Excuse me?”
            Drew flinched, and I swear I felt the pain on his throat myself. “Sir,” he choked.
My chest felt tight, and I rubbed at it absently. I’d been in Drew’s position so many times. So many times. With my mom’s boyfriends, with my mom, with my aunt, with my grandpa, with scattered foster parents over the years. It never got any better, even when it happened to someone else. It was scary as hell no matter what. Even from across the parking lot.
“I don’t want your money, sir,” Drew went on. “I don’t need it.”
“Like hell you don’t.” Mayor Baxter released Drew’s neck and rammed his fist into the side of his car, rocking it back and forth. “You’re just like your mother. She wouldn’t survive five minutes without my gold card. Neither would you, you spoiled little prick.”
Drew looked away from his father, his eyes scanning the parking lot.
Don’t look him in the eye, Drew, I thought, watching him. He doesn’t deserve your respect. Don’t give it to him.

His green eyes locked with mine, and I froze. Busted again.