. . . other than being very young. When mother finally peeled the bandage off, she turned my wrist this way and that, clucking her tongue.
“Now that’s a proper scar,” she’d said, as if the twisted, red knot of flesh were a prize. A badge of honor—even though I was too slow to avoid being wounded.
As if I could find some pride in being weak.
In TRAVELER, Jessa learns that her dreams – the source of most of her imaginative writing – haven’t all been fantasy. In fact, they’ve been a window into all the alternate realities she is capable of traveling to. She’s still not sure at this moment if she really believes it, though, and she decides to dig a little deeper . . .
I’m hit with sudden inspiration and open up my dream journal, reading back over the entries there. It’s not surprising but definitely unsettling. I may not have known Finn’s name, but reading my notes brings the memories of the dreams back, and I connect the fragments easily into a picture of him. Or, more accurately, of us.
I’ve detailed walks in the park, trips to the beach, quiet meetings in coffee shops, and bizarre memories of swimming with dolphins, eating fruit the size of my head, even dancing someplace with palm trees in the background.
And if he’s telling the truth, I’ve lived every bit of it.
In this tidbit from DREAMER, we see Jessa fine-tuning a story she’s written for a scholarship contest, and second-guessing herself, as usual. Finn’s having none of that, of course . . .
“What are you working on now?” he asks, taking off his headphones and moving the DVD player off his lap.
“It’s another story,” I say. “I’m thinking about entering it in a Flash Fiction scholarship contest.”
I can already see the question forming so I answer it before he can ask. “Flash Fiction is a short story that’s usually 500 words or less. You have to tell a lot in very few words.”
“And you could win a scholarship with that?”
“Yeah. It’s for Connecticut College. They’re a private school, and not very big, but their writing program is one of the best around. If I win the scholarship, it’s almost a guarantee that I’ll be offered admission, as long as I keep my grades up.”
“That sounds like a fine idea,” he says. “May I?” He gestures down to my journal and my hand covers it reflexively.
“It’s not very good yet…” Continue reading
In this scene from DREAMER (the upcoming sequel to TRAVELER), Jessa has just had an argument with her mother, and a certain reality-traveling pirate tries to give her a dose of perspective . . .
“Don’t fault your mother for being concerned when you aren’t yourself,” Finn says.
“You don’t understand.”
“I do. But I think you’re inflating things a bit.”
“Inflating!” I pull away from him, raising my arms and slapping them down at my sides in frustration. “Look you don’t have a mother like that, so you can’t really understand–”
“No, I don’t have a mother like that,” he snaps, and I can see the hurt in his eyes. “I grew up without any mother at all, but I believe I can still offer some insight.” Continue reading
One of the admittedly fair criticisms I’ve sometimes heard about TRAVELER is the complete lack of female friends for Jessa. That’s actually by design in the first book – Jessa is an incredible introvert, choosing to live in her stories until Ben becomes a steady buddy and a potential love rival for Finn. I won’t apologize for my love triangle. I love love triangles and mine is not your usual sort of love triangle.
Anyway, I seeded a female friend for Jessa into book one, but she really blooms in DREAMER. So here’s your re-introduction to Olivia, in one of Jessa’s many alternate realities. . .
Olivia finally releases her death grip on my hand and gives me an enormous shove from behind, as an older guy hands me a microphone. A spotlight hits me right in the face and I squint as my eyes adjust. I finally notice the crowd, and they’re all staring at me.
The pieces begin to fall into place.
Oh my God. I’m singing karaoke. In front of people. A lot of people.
I don’t sing.
I mean, I really, really don’t sing. Continue reading
In TRAVELER, we meet many versions of Jessa and Finn as we slide in and out of alternate realities. In this scene, Finn is newly arrived at Jessa’s school, and her Creative Writing teacher has set an assignment – make up a story about the new guy.
She puts the marker to the whiteboard and writes Finn’s Story.
“So,” she says. “Finn’s story. Begin!”
I look over at him conspiratorially, wondering just which Finn he’s going to pick to be. He gives me a sly look, and then so I can’t see what he’s doing. I shoot him a mean look in return, and I write. Continue reading
In my YA novel, TRAVELER, Jessa has just learned she has the ability to travel through mirrors into other realities, where she steps into other versions of herself. In this scene, Finn – a fellow Traveler – has taken her through the mirror to an excessively sparkling reality for her first taste of Glitter Mousse. Jessa does her best to pry into his mysterious past . . .
“So you’re not from here?”
“Here?” Finn glances around at the shining chrome and sparkling chandeliers of glittery Mugsy’s.
“There,” I qualify. “Back where I’m from. You’re not from my reality.”
“No.” He looks uncomfortable.
“Do you know me, where you’re from?”
“I did.” Continue reading
[When your family has been hunted by evil for centuries, you learn a few tricks. This is an excerpt from my free read short story, “Found.”]
She had just finished loading the dishwasher when she felt it.
Just the slightest trickling of unease. Barely there. Nothing, really. Silly.
She wiped the counter tops down with the sponge, squeezing out the remaining suds and putting it back in the dish near the sink. She glanced at the clock – 11:45. She really should get to bed. Marcus would have her head if she was late to the briefing. Thank God the nanny agreed to come at 6am. An early meeting was a necessity, since they had to conference with their counterparts in Sydney. Things were getting out of hand.
11:50. She really needed to get some sleep.
She turned out the kitchen light, heading into the sitting room where toys and pillows still lay scattered. She bent to pick up a stray paper that had fallen off the end table, and found herself frozen by the image on the paper. Incongruously colored in crayola, the landscape was terrifying. Stark trees, and a littering of bones on the ground. A man, half in shadows, behind the trees. The picture was vivid – too vivid for a seven year old.
There it was again.
Silly. It’s just the picture putting you off. That’s all.
That wasn’t all.
She raised up slowly, glancing at the windows, her heart in her throat.
Nothing. Just the usual evening fog.
She would have let out a relieved breath, if she’d felt relieved. She didn’t. She’d learned long ago to trust her instincts, and they were screaming at her.
Want to know what’s next? Read the rest of the story here.
I had a really hard time delivering on my promise to share a piece of Dreamer, book 2 of the Traveler series. Just about 98% of it is a total spoiler for things that happen in book 1. It’s a no-win scenario, but I did manage to find this little bit set between Ben and Jessa early in the book. Ben hasn’t gotten as much attention as Finn in my shout-outs and tidbits, and I really need to remedy that. Ben steps up his game in book 2, and I assure you, hearts will flutter… Continue reading
In this scene from my debut YA novel, Traveler, we’ll get an inkling of Jessa’s very special talent…
When I was four, my family visited the aquarium. My parents were, as usual, chasing after my six-year-old brother, who had no interest in fish but did have a strong obsession with running up and down the handicap ramps by each set of stairs.
He took off at one point, knocking into a stroller and nearly tipping it over. My mother ran over to make sure the baby inside was all right and apologize to the parents, and my father took off after Danny.
I wandered over to the dolphin display, watching the light behind the giant wall of glass filter through the water, daydreaming about swimming with my dolphin friends in an underwater dolphin kingdom, when something odd happened. Continue reading