A first look at my Aguane. I still need some changes made, but I thought Topsy and her sisters were looking good. What do you think?
A first look at my Aguane. I still need some changes made, but I thought Topsy and her sisters were looking good. What do you think?
A coming soon excerpt from #Verity’s little sister, Jewel.
The newest notch on my bedpost in my campaign to clean up the New York City streets was still trying to make me shake in my boots as he jabbed randomly with his faux weapon. He began to advance, which made me sigh. I was actually going to have to stop leaning against this wall and swing my arm. He really wasn’t worth the effort. However, I swore that even without Haven I could still make a difference and lending a hand in gang violence problem seemed like an appropriate place to start. If I had known how boring it was going to be, I probably would have passed.
Crap. My boyfriend’s back, and there’s gonna be a bloodbath. Also, the one in actual danger is probably me.
I managed to catch sight of a few light bursts, heard some dull thuds and groans, and down went my future morgue resident.
“Didn’t I tell you to go straight home?”
“Took a wrong turn.” I tried to bat my lashes engagingly.
All I got for my efforts was a glower and a growl.
“Is something wrong with your eyes?”
Someone’s in a bad mood. “No.”
“Then stop looking like you’re having an epileptic fit.” He stomped over to me and yanked me into his arms. Hot. His arms ran swiftly over my arms and back, “You aren’t hurt, right?”
“Shiny as usual,” I assured him, resting my head against his chest.
“Good. We are going to discuss your willful attitude that you can jeopardize your life on a consistent basis and not have any repercussions.” His hands grasped my shoulders, and he shook me to punctuate his words. “You have responsibilities, damn it. I realize you’re still hurting since that run-in with those idiotic Norse. Even worse, the crap with your family. No matter what, I am not dealing with your fucking male harem back at the lair or that bitch you call a best friend.”
“Willow’s a witch,” I slipped back into his arms.
“Willow’s a bitch.”
“To-may-to … to-mah-to.”
He brushed his cheek against my hair and wrapped his arms around my back. Bending his knees, he sent us into the air, his wings creating a pleasing cloud of smoky spice around us. I closed my eyes determined to enjoy the ride, knowing the lecture was sure to continue as soon as we returned to our current digs. It was the one rule he insisted on. No fighting while in transit. He thought he needed all of his senses to keep us safe.
I never bothered to explain to him that I could keep an entire city block safe while singing a song without missing a note.
Male pride. It really is a delicate thing.
I don’t know if I remember it, or my Mother told me the story so often it was embedded in my brain. Either way, it goes something like this.
There was silence. Blessed peaceful silence. It wrapped around you like a comfy blanket, softening the hard pointy bits that seemed to hurl from people’s mouths to hurt you. I understood the silence. When I reached out past it, there were smiles, gentle melodic tones, and hugs. But there was also the silence to retreat to. Then one day, something changed.
I knew he was the man. The head of the family. He brought home something big and square, with shiny surfaces that didn’t really reflect anything. The first night, he took out a large circular dark item and placed it on the part that spins. He put these things I thought were tiny cushions on his ears, and his lips moved …
He sang. The music was coming from the towering boxes but also from him. It wrapped around me like the silence but brought colors. The tones brought happiness. And most of all peace. This was how the edges were softened. This was what I’d been looking for all of my four years on earth and never knew I needed. I remember toddling over to him, reaching out my shaking hands, and placed one palm against his jaw and the other to his throat. I could feel the words seep into my soul, and make it easier to breathe. To even meet his eyes. Music. I understood this was special. This was the path out of the silence without losing the comfort I found within it.
After that I was no longer silent. I tried to be what the female head wanted. I would repeat her words. I would meet her eyes. I would no longer stay in the silence. We would have Mommy and daughter time, where she would teach me to find other kinds of music. In return, each night, Daddy (as I was told to call him) would sit down at the stereo and sing a song. I was so blessed. My parents loved music of all kinds. I would keep my hands on his throat and jaw, experiencing Miriam Makeba, the Beatles, Elvis, steel drums, Ella Fitzgerald, Motown, opera from around the world, and every show tune album he could find. The more music the more I became part of this world.
This was the late 60s to 70s. Autism was a diagnosis to fear. It meant retardation to most parents at the time. And my genius amazing parents, with their superboy oldest child, were determined they would keep me far from that silent world and thoroughly entrenched in this one.
And I did. As long as they kept playing the music.
The story was such a staple in my life I didn’t even know until they died that I’d never asked for the song. What was my father playing when he unlocked my silence and, in a way, orchestrated my second birth? Through an almost supernatural course of events, I ended up with tickets to Porgy and Bess. As soon as those first notes hit I knew.
It wasn’t just a story.
It was no family myth.
My father played “Summertime” and brought my soul home. As I stood outside the theater crying my eyes out, I really wished I could have told him how much I appreciated it. Life outside the silence is scary, but it has music, and the possibilities that are endless.
So thank you Daddy.
“This is Topsy.”
Cassandra saying her name caused the girl’s wings to explode from her back. She squeaked, tried to look back at the Goddess’s blessing, and in the process, promptly fell over. “Sorry.” She tried to pull herself up, stumbled into Cassandra, and stuttered. “Sorry.”
“Aguane do not apologize.”
The girl’s face colored bright red, which was the same shade as her unfortunate hair, and her dark green eyes grew wet with tears. “Sorry,” she whispered.
Ryu groaned at how annoying that was. “No speaking, you. Cassandra,” she relished using the name that was most likely to give the Haven’s leader, or usurper depending on how you looked at it, a migraine. “What the hell do you mean she’s Aguane? We haven’t had any new members for a century. I like it that way, we all do.” A series of grunts sounded indicating her squad’s agreement.
“And yet, based on this creature’s wings, we both know she’s Aguane. So the question is, what will the queen of the Aguane do about it?”
Cassandra was wise enough to use her magic to make herself disappear at that moment. The twang of the arrow striking the ground was the only sound after she was gone. The so called, “new member” was left, standing next to it, staring with eyes that were even more round at the arrow, which would have been a kill shot if Cass hadn’t poofed out. Ryu looked at Xia and scowled. “You missed.”
“You never told me to kill her. I just made sure she’d leave.” Xia slung her weapon over her shoulder.
“What do you expect me to say about that?”
“A thank you would be nice.”
“When the hell have I ever been nice?”
It’s time for girls to #RISEUP.
Stop sitting in the back of the class. Stop caring about what boys think. Stop hiding the awesomeness that is you.
Yes, being a kid sucks. Yes, there are all kinds of injustices you suffer every day. But if girls stood together and fought against people telling you NO or YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH or LOOK WHAT A ________ YOU ARE, many of those injustices disappear. You can’t do it alone, you need your girls. You need sisterhood. You deserve sisterhood. Together, you can do it all. Together, you can make that mountain not only move, but dance. Together, you can do it all.
And you’re going to have to, because women aren’t setting a good example, so it’s time to start leading the adults. You’re our only hope.
I think my Wednesday Wisdom this week is to know when I have none. I’m all out. Empty. A wasteland. I feel like my muse took a vacation, and I’m stuck at home checking out her instagram feed and sitting like this …
So to show my infinte wisdom, I believe I’ll go with, “This blog will have a new entry as soon as the writer gets some inspiration.”
As long as you do.
Out of all the things my parents did right, nothing was more powerful than this statement. “I don’t care what you read, as long as you do.” I had it easy, my Grandma was a librarian who’s superpower was teaching kids how to read. It was the equivalent of being raised by this woman …
It didn’t take her long before I was …
When I was in fourth grade, I was dragged to the principal’s office, because on of the books on my desk was considered “porn.” It was by the amazing Judy Blume, and at the time it was horrific to think a mother had let me go to school with such filth. I explained it wasn’t my Mom who gave it to me, it was my Gram. Both of them came at the call by the principal with the wrath of true Mother Lions in full force. After forty-five minutes of words like slut shaming, ignorance, book banning, and have you checked you resume floating out from the closed door, I was summoned within to be informed by the principal she was very sorry, she misunderstood the situation.
If I’m lucky enough to talk to a school or group of kids, I always touch upon some of Grams’ main points about the power of reading. When you read, the power is in your hands. You get the information you need about a situation and can make up your own mind. When you’re a reader, it doesn’t matter where you go to school or how far you go in school, you’ll always be self-educated. When you’re a reader, you get to go anywhere you wish to in the world in any time period.
Who doesn’t want that?
My parents were right. It didn’t matter what I read. It mattered that I did. So I’m going to go now, get my book, and enjoy the time machine I find within those pages.
Have a great weekend!
Covers … covers … I get teased all the time about the changing of my book covers. Just as I don’t like wearing the same outfit every day, why should I have the same book cover? It’s not like I’m changing the name of the book. When my publisher says we have this great idea, arguing seems like a truly stupid plan. So yes, our beloved covers are going to be changed …
in honor of this image’s retirement, I thought it would be fun to do a blog entry bidding it a tearful adieu.
This is from the second diary in our Haven series, Helm Abomination. Verity went from the frying pan … straight into a nuclear reactor. Enjoy!
Eric, Maddox, Crane, and Talon landed and drew their weapons. For these guys all to be this uneasy we had to be on the trail of something bad. I pulled my own sword and braced my stance. Eric flanked me, “We think there’s a Snee Ne-Iq here.”
God. Bless. You.
Why do I even have to ask at this point?
Talon guessed my frustration, “She’s a cannibal. Usually she just sleeps, but we believe she snatched a kid.”
“Otherwise we would leave her alone,” Wren finished.
Then I felt it. I whirled around to the mountain face and braced my body. The others followed suit. “Why are you guys still on the ground?”
“We’re high in the mountains in British Columbia. The air can be way too thin to keep aloft. It’ll be more effective if we don’t even try. Think you can handle fighting next to us for a change?” Wren winked.
“Definitely,” I quipped, “bring it on, bird man.”
Pop goes the weasel, or the Snee Ne-Iq in this case.
Usually, the first time I catch sight of one of these things that I was created to spot for my friends, my brain reels in a desperate attempt to process the pieces of the creature, so I don’t freeze up at the whole horrific picture.
The Snee Ne-Iq just looked like a woman.
A cave woman, but nothing so out of my realm of experience that my brain did the stop and stare. Or freeze and freak.
Her hair was in serious need of conditioner and a comb. She was wearing what looked like animal hides, sewn together by a blind guy, and she had long strips of leather braided over her legs to make some kind of crude boots. I couldn’t tell what color her skin was because it was so covered with dirt.
But she was no different from any other female.
When she reached the summit and saw us, she froze. Turning to the side, the Snee Ne-Iq pulled a short dagger from her belt. This is when I saw it. On her back she had a pannier, one of those things Robin Hood uses to carry his arrows? Well, this woman’s backpack had a kid inside.
A terrified little girl.
My anger flared, blistering me past caring of any outcome or problems. I saw a flash of red, and I charged. Who did this bitch think she was? Eating little girls? There’s a McDonald’s like every five minutes in my country. We are the fattest nation in the world. Canada couldn’t be much different. There was no justifiable reason to snack on tiny people. Kids have it tough enough as it is.
Have you seen how many books they have to carry home every day from school? Most of them use rolling suitcases because they’re so heavy.
I guess I’ve been paying more attention in my training than I realized.
The guys were beside me, and whenever they got close enough they pushed me back behind them. At least they were trying. The Snee Nee-Iq was more powerful than any of us realized, and she could move like lightning when her safety was in jeopardy. Then Talon went down.
These guys were ruthless and unstoppable in the air.
On the ground, they were out of their league.
Which was when the quicksilver movements of the Snee Nee-Iq took out Wren.
Eric and Crane moved to cover their fallen comrades.
Which left Maddox and me. Oh good. You know it’s going to be a crap day when you have to fight side-by-side to save the life of a kid you don’t know with a guy who hates your guts.
And wants to marry your fourteen year old little sister.
This can’t be my life.
It was no small shock to come to the end of my Haven series … and discover a whole new story. Technically this isn’t a WIP, since it comes out in a week, but here’s a piece from HARBOR ABSOLUTION, hope you like it.
Eric came into the farmhouse with a hesitant step. “Verity,” he swallowed hard, “we need you to come outside.”
Ignoring him seemed like the wisest choice.
“Help us. Please?”
“I am not the ruler of Helm.”
“You are all we have.”
“Sucks to be you, huh?”
“Verity,” crouching beside me I watched from a disinterested space as he laid his hand on my arm. I couldn’t feel him. I couldn’t feel anything. “Verity, there’s a situation outside, girl. A bad one. We need you to lead us.”
“The last time I tried to lead, I got half of you killed.”
“No, girl,” his sigh made my hair move. I still felt … nothing. “The war is Cass’s fault. Not yours. No one blames you.”
“I blame myself.”
“We still need you, honey. Please come outside.”
Last time I went outside the slate tile where I stood dissolved into my bare feet and slowly moved up my legs. Looking down, I was not surprised to see that I was covered with a striped pattern, marking the places where I absorbed stone. The universe will always provide when you know how to ask. My problem was that I had asked not to feel any pain anymore. Not to feel anything at all.
So its solution was to turn me to stone.
I secretly hoped that someone would put me in the garden when there was nothing left of me but a pretty Verity statue, dressed in a miniskirt and baby doll tank.
And a great pair of heels.
Girl priorities. Get used to it.
He pulled my body from the chair where I sat staring into my Grandma’s empty hearth locked in the pain of the past. I had no family any more. Parents were gone. Grandma disappeared. Sister close to death last time I saw her, probably dead by now. Brother had been gone so long I was sure he was toast as well. Isn’t there some famous quote about being a destroyer? Oh yeah. J. Robert Oppenheimer said it at the trinity test in New Mexico. Of course, he stole it from the Bhagavad Gita. I guess I get to do some theft on him. “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
That. Was. Me.