The Gift of the 2016 Election

FullSizeRender.jpgThis election year has been rough, to put things mildly. Our Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are less than stellar. If you’re like me, your social media pages and news outlets have been inundated with polarizing, and often angry, political rhetoric. Good freaking gracious, it’s enough to make me want to move to Canada.

Most days I try really hard not to burst into tears.

Donald Trump makes me sad. Hillary Clinton makes me sad. And like every other person in the United States today, I’ve chosen my “lesser of two evils”. Hint – I’m not down for building a wall.

But… And this is a rather large but, while the state of our society often makes me sick to my stomach, I’m seeing so much GOOD coming out of the 2016 election. I feel it’s actually a gift to our country.

Hear me out.

People are voting like never before. Eighteen-year-olds and college students and Millennials and Baby Boomers and X’ers and all the other names I’m too Millennial and self-absorbed to learn. We’re starting, for the first time in a long time, to actually BE a Democracy. Meaning, we’re realizing we have power. I see young people and old people talking heatedly about politics. I see church-y peeps and atheists discussing morality and ethics and feminism and abortion. I see Muslims discoursing with Jews and Christians about religion. I see blacks and whites and multi-ethnic people lobbying for racial equality.

This is amazing! This is what our country needs. We need our people to realize the power of their voice, no matter who turns out to be president. All of us have the ability to affect change in the world, but that change starts with us. It’s starts on an individual level. It starts with our passions, with our views and — most importantly – with the ability to LISTEN AND RESPECTFULLY CONVERSE with those who disagree.

I grew up in a religious tradition that preached the power of darkness over light. A tiny little candle can banish the terror of the night. But you know what else light does? IT ILLUMINATES ALL THE SHADES OF GRAY. Light literally “sheds light” on the spectrum of shades between black and white.

The gift of the 2016 election is this light. It’s the slow, hard won realization that perhaps we have things to learn from one another. Perhaps the world can’t so easily be divided into black and white, right and wrong. Perhaps to affect change, we must first see all the shades of gray. We must truly listen to one another, hear different points of view. We must realize we have much to learn.

I love seeing women stand up for fair treatment because of Trump. It’s awesome to raise awareness about sexual abuse, work for better laws for abuse victims and try to educate men about the reality of being a woman.

I love seeing black people school us ignorant whites on systemic racism, police brutality and racial profiling. We need to hear this stuff. We need to hear the pain, we need to listen and talk and figure out solutions together.

I love seeing my neighbors and friends get riled up about Hilary’s foreign policies and moral failings. It means more and more people are paying attention to how the U.S. operates in the world. More people are discussing morality and issues like codes of conduct and honor.

America is in sticky spot, there’s no denying it. So, so much needs to change.
I want to give in, see the world as evil, the candidates as impossible and despicable.

But I can’t let that depressive outlook win. I’m holding on to the light. I’m holding on to the belief that we’re GOOD. That people are good and that no matter what happens in the election, talking and caring and listening and compromise will start to be a more integral part of our society.

Change starts with us. Change starts with you.

Rogue : Spec Script : Work In Progress

*Disclaimer – This is a work in progress, there will definitely be typos. Constructive criticism is both encouraged and welcomed in the comments section, but don’t bother with typos. Those I’ll fix on my own ;)

If anyone is interested further, please feel free to contact me via the contact form on my website.

Happy screenplay reading! More to come soon.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-5-00-25-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-5-01-08-amScreen Shot 2016-10-05 at 5.16.47 AM.pngscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-5-17-55-amScreen Shot 2016-10-05 at 5.18.09 AM.pngscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-5-36-38-am

Thanks for reading! Your feedback and criticism is welcomed. – M. Kircher




M. Kircher

Criss-crossed the sands pull me down
Around the ankles I fell
But you pulled me up again, then around
Oh how you hold me so well
Said the beaches and the swell
Mountains of molehills
Under the blue plunging
Oh how you hold me so well

And under it all
The tide pulls us down
Sinking so fast, go up, then around
We tried to swim fast acres of lace
White, tumbling over and all in your face
Catch the green as it rolls into blue
Catch the current as it falls under you

Sandpiper feel of the sand in your toes
Cast away shores
Come see up and then roll
Can you feel the deep, rolling swell?
Oh how can I hold you so well?

Sea white the iris of capturing dawn
Sea folds around me
Can you see where I’ve gone?
Isle of lapis she sees in the swell
When I come up again
How you hold me so well


I Run to be Healthy – Not Skinny


A little over a year and a half ago I weighed one hundred and five pounds and I was starving.

I wasn’t starving because of a lack of food, but because bacteria had infected my body via dirty water and it had destroyed my gut.  This is called malabsorption and it’s terrifying. I ate normally, but my intestines didn’t absorb nutrients for a long time.

While I healed/starved, I weighed 105-ish. I’m 5 foot 7 and this was not a healthy weight.

Yet everyone told me I looked great.

I’m not kidding, I got more compliments about my appearance than I’ve ever gotten in my life. “You look soooo skinny!” “I wish I had a waist like yours.” “Your thighs are so slim, what diet are you on?” “You look amazing.”

I also happen to live in a weird-ass place.  The land of the rich and successful. Wall Street and Stepford Wives. Skinny is god here.

I was starving, but people told me I looked beautiful. How’s that for a mind-fuck? And as I got healthy again, I naturally gained about 25 pounds. I had to allow my body to add health. Those pounds were healing, they were muscle, they were nutrients, they were curves. I looked like a woman again, instead of skeleton.


When it was a bit more chilly.

I went for a run today. I love running and I love that I have energy to run. But as I watched the way-too-thin women running around me, some with their way-too-thin daughters running alongside, it hit me – I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be healthy. I don’t run to be skinny, I run to be healthy.

I run because I love to run. I run because it connects me with my soul. I’m not fast and I don’t run far, I sweat and I stink and I say swear words. I pray while I run. I listen to angry rap music sometimes and pound out my emotions. I run to keep my body strong – all one hundred and thirty pounds of it. I run to be surrounded by nature. I run to feel the wind on my face and the sun on my shoulders. I run to feel like me.

Overcoming illness taught me that I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be healthy – a whole being kind of health that encompasses my mind, body, soul, and emotions.

Skinny is a messed-up goal.

I hope that in this land of thin and perfect I can impart the joy of imperfection to my daughter as she grows up. I hope she runs with me, or jogs or walks or scuba dives. I want her to discover the exercise she loves, not so she can fit into her jeans, but so her body will be strong, along with her mind, spirit and emotions.

Because being a strong, healthy, centered presence in the world is far more alluring than squeezing into size 2 pants.

Just sayin’.

The Introverted Parent

It’s 3:40 pm on a Saturday, the absolute end of my energy. I’m tired of the inner dialogue, the evaluating. Judging myself so harshly. Does the parenting I’ve done the rest of the week qualify me to take a break?

Every moment alone comes at a cost these days. The cost is energy, marriage time, babysitting money, the (perceived) broken hearts of my kids when I leave them. Tiny, teardrop eyes somehow become bigger, more soulful as I exit the chaos of family life. Tiny hands pull on mine, begging me to come sit and read the hundredth story, to snuggle for the thousandth hour. The feeling of warm skin sliding as I free myself from the hand, just to have a second or two to think.

Guilt invades as soon as I’m alone — because it’s absolute heaven. All of a sudden I feel like myself again.  Energy wells up almost instantly. Breaths of release and regret tangle together.

It’s hard being an introverted parent.

I like people, enjoy social situations to some degree, love when I get to know someone deeply. I’m an outgoing introvert, but my batteries deplete easily. I need to be alone a lot. Like a lot, a lot.

No one seem to talk about being an introverted parent much. There’s lots of resources about how to parent an introverted child, but not much on how to be a parent and an introvert. Two things that seem to be opposite.

Because guess what? Kids count as people. Why don’t pregnancy books warn us about this? There should be a whole chapter in every pregnancy and parenting book devoted to the fact that you’re going to birth a person. A person who will eventually walk and talk and demand things of you and challenge you and zap every ounce of your energy if you’re an introvert.

IMG_2987Family life does not lend itself to us loners. It’s people all day, all night, for all the days and all the nights. And on top of the energy it takes to be around children and spouses 24-7, my gosh, the mental exertion! We literally feel the pain of each and every bad thing that could possibly happen to our kids. We’re attuned to their whiplash emotions. We think through everything.

Good lord, it’s exhausting.

And then there’s the other parents. The normal ones who seem to have it all together, who attend every birthday party, every mom’s night, every playdate. They host spring flings, throw elaborate bashes for pre-schoolers. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. I mean gosh, if they didn’t, then I’d have to.

But nobody seems to value the introverted parents who don’t like to host, who enjoy staying at home, being quiet. We take our kids for long walks in the woods. We sit silently at the park, not chatting with other parents, simply being and enjoying the sunshine, the air and the sound of our children playing. We don’t have tons and tons of friends or pack our calendars full. But we have really deep friendships, rich and warm and comforting like hot chocolate.

It’s hard being different.

But it’s also really good.

We introvert parents bring a unique vibe to the world. We slow things down, we go deep, we’re in touch with our emotions, we have rich inner lives. We make up stories, we’re creative, we teach our kids to think, we teach them how to be alone, we ignite their imaginations, we help them to connect with their souls. We 11425631_1456908924603643_1477703914_nshow our children how to have lasting friendships, how to empathize, how to say no.

We point out the colors of the afternoon sky. We take tiny hands and help our children to still, to feel the wind whipping through the trees.

An introvert parent connects, with the fleeting beauty of the moment, with themselves, with God, and with others. This connection is valuable. It’s necessary. It’s an integral part of being human.

Our families need us hide behind locked bathroom doors. They need us to take walks and read and find that quiet space to be alone. They need us to be ourselves.

They need us to be introverts.

The Freedom To Be Curious

IMG_4784It’s finally done! Happy dance, happy dance.

The completion of this particular painting is huge for me, mostly because it’s the first piece of art since childhood (as far as I can remember) that I’ve done just because. I painted it because it needed to be created. The muse hit and I listened and I didn’t put any pressure or constraints on the work. And now I have something to look and say, “Wow, that’s me. That’s exactly what I wanted to express. That’s the story, the process, the places curiosity took me.”

A wonderful thing, the freedom to be curious.

No buyer, no show, no professor to please, no commissioner to satisfy, no competition to submit to, no paying attention to the  voices in my head telling me all the reasons why not to paint it.

What fun, what hard work. But totally freeing.

This piece is called “Doctrine”…whew, weighty title much? I sketched it this summer at a conference in California put on by a Mr. Rob Bell (whew, controversy much?) about expanding consciousness called “Keep Going.”

I sketched during a part of the conference that was firing up my insides (and also I was super tired and introverted-y). It was about the experience of God. Much of it was a history lesson in the early church. And then the speakers started discussing the truth we find everywhere, in every religion, in all experiences, in the world around us, science, nature, breath, emotions….gah!


My brain took this mind-burst and made it tangible: a sun surrounded by half-suns, stars, globes and light—all connected, all intersecting, all working together to create the whole. The sun is truth, it represents my core belief in Jesus as the son of God. The other elements represent truth throughout the ages and truth in all the ways we experience it as an ongoing, ever-changing entity.

I was sketching expanding consciousness even as my brain was beginning to process the concept for the first time.

I’ve been painting this piece all while digging into Rumi, Carl Jung, Brene Brown, Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert, the Bible, Oprah, Deepak Chopra (which sounds like “deeper Oprah” doesn’t it?), Joseph Campbell, Ed Catmull…etc.

My mind has broadened as the painting  unfolded, but none of this new knowledge erased my core faith. Instead, my faith is more solid than ever, it simply feels much more informed, more energized. More awake to the light.

The freedom to be curious about the world, art, my inner life, the divine spark is a very new thing for me. But I have a feeling that my artwork from now on will have something that’s been missing for many years…me! Me in all my curious, struggling, joyful, wrestling, messy, orderly glory.



Hidden Gems


Just for giggles…

I love finding good stories in unexpected places, hidden gems, if you will.  Lately, I’ve taken to reading romance novels before bed. Trash. Smut. The underbelly of the literary world. I decided to do this for a very simple reason, romance novels always have happy endings and a promised happy ending puts me to sleep.

Any other kind of book or TV show or movie gets my neurons firing. I’m involved and ensnared and totally not sleepy. But a love story shuts down my storytelling brain and gets me some z’s.

That is, until I discovered that a lot of romance novels are really great! Like, seriously well-written and full of dimension and depth. Surprised? I was.

One novel had hardly any of the juicy stuff we all expect from the romance genre, instead, get this, the sex was bad! I’m not kidding. The lovers got married, got it on and found out that gasp, making love involves emotions, effort, connection and intimacy, and that sometimes it takes a lot of practice. So what did they do? They spent the next 300 pages working on their relationship. I kid you not. It was better than some non-fiction marriage books I’ve read.

And check out this paragraph from the last gem I read about a deaf, mute girl finding her place in historic England. (And finding love, too. Duh.)

“Idleness was so often despised. And yet it was in idleness, she knew, that one touched meaning and peace. Sometimes she put the name God to what it was she touched, but the name was too evocative of rules and restrictions and sin and guilt. In the Bible, which she tried to read since Luke taught her how, she had noted with interest how the great meaning and peace behind everything had instructed Moses not to name it. It had called itself merely the I AM. Emily liked that. It was in idleness that one came face-to-face with the I AM. With simple, elemental Being.” – pg. 64 Silent Melody, Mary Balogh

God? The I AM? Was this a religious romance you ask? It was not. Twenty pages later there was some serious steaminess.

It delights my soul to no end to discover when I’m crazy wrong about something. And I was crazy wrong about romance novels, many of them are not smut. They’re great stories about love, family, connection and relationships and I, for one, am jazzed to discover these hidden gems of great writing.

Though now I have to find something else to put me to sleep. Darn it.




Writing Breaks, Clean Water & New Chapters

Charity-Water1Hello friends, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. It’s been a while since writing has been any more than a desperate attempt to rally energy and creativity. The good news is that new chapters are always on the horizon and I’m glad to be moving into a time of rhythm and stillness and intentional health.

I’d like to share with you all what happened to our family a little over a year ago, as a way of explaining the break from writing and art and why I’m diving back into creativity now with gusto and joy.

In April of 2014 my son Sean jumped into a cold, yucky pond. He was two and we were at the park with some friends. My kid is fast, wicked fast. And I had baby Nora in my arms. Before I could stop him he splashed into the water and ingested a good bit of it. Thankfully, he didn’t drown, it was only in the shallow part of the pond and I fetched him right out. But unfortunately, there was a bacteria, a parasite, in the pond water. CharityWaterPic3

For about four months we couldn’t figure out what was happening. Jake, myself, Sean and Nora would all get sick for periods of time and then get better. And then get sick again. And then I noticed we were all dropping weight. A lot of weight. And then the sickness got worse and worse. I spent the night before Nora’s first birthday screaming in agony, but having no idea why.

It took another two months to figure out that Sean had contracted Giardia, one of the most common waterborne parasites, and spread it to all of us. My children were wasting away before we finally got medical care. And it didn’t end there. The medicine to kill the bacteria was horrible. It stripped our stomachs and immune systems. We couldn’t eat anything. Our bodies stopped being able to process food. Nora was at the age where she should have been walking, but she just lay around on the floor, not moving.

I’ve rarely felt so helpless and afraid.

Long story short, through many more months of additional medication to kill another round of the disease (the buggers are stubborn and hard to get rid of), and more months of building our stomachs back up we are all now mostly on the mend. Both Nora and I still have sensitive stomachs to some foods, but I know in time that should heal as well.

This is why there have been no new books. I’ve been writing, but I haven’t had nearly the time or energy needed to complete projects before now. But now, hurray, we’re finally better and I’m writing and drawing again! Joy! As a celebration of healing I’ve included the first chapters of the three (yes, three!) books I’m working on right now. They are unedited and quite messy, but I’m just so happy to write I can’t keep them to myself. I hope you enjoy.

I’d also like to ask something of you all. Just a little something. God has really been challenging me lately about giving. I don’t give enough. Honestly, I feel so overwhelmed by the world’s problems that I’d rather turn a blind eye. And I’d rather keep my money. But I can’t anymore. One, because spiritual health means giving of myself and this includes not holding my wealth too tightly. It means appreciating quality and design and art and spending money on things I love, but it also means giving my money away. I’m challenging myself to start giving to things I’m passionate about.

And I’m passionate about clean water.

663 million people on this planet don’t have access to clean water.

That means 1 out of 11 people in our world is drinking water that comes from a river, lake or muddy hole in the ground every day. Dirty, contaminated water that has leeches and debris in it. Water that causes disease, keeps kids out of school and takes hours to bring back home.

So, in honor of our 10 year wedding anniversary, Jake and I  would like to start a Charity : Water campaign to help.

100% of the money donated will be used to build clean water projects for people in need, and when they’re complete, Charity: Water will send us all photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped.

You can give a little or you can give a lot, but every bit makes a huge difference.

I’m asking anyone who reads this blog to give $10.00 and in September, Charity:Water will match your donation. Big win. We’ve already donated to kick things off! You can view and donate here :

And now onto new things!

Rogue: Unedited Chapter One

– Jack –

It was the coldest day of winter, but only I seemed to notice. White puffs drifted from the noses of morning commuters as they streamed into the station where I stood, watching from the shadows. I tucked my chin deeper inside the folds of my scarf and breathed in the icy air, forcing it into my lungs. Forcing myself to remember what fresh air felt like, to sear the sensation into my brain before I darted back down into the darkness.

The Sanctum hadn’t installed a heating system or closed windows inside the station. Why bother when everyone could regulate their own body temperature?

Everyone except me.

The throng pressed like cattle toward the sleek, sliver engines. All of them distracted, gaping at tiny, humming squares strapped to their wrists or staring like zombies at the bright vids lining the walls. Vids which blared endless loops of Sanctum-funded propaganda that made my stomach roll.

Sometimes I wondered why I came up here at all. Nothing ever changed.

The nine-twenty train rested quietly, its metallic doors waiting to gobble up the masses and carry them into Peoria, the heart of our glorious North Urasian Territory. I eyed the gigantic machine, careful to avoid the watchful stare of Officials in long, navy uniforms who guarded each car. The cold dug its icy fingers through the fabric of my coat as a familiar ache formed under my ribcage.

“Monsters,” I muttered and turned away, kneading the ache with my knuckles.

An image of my parent’s faces flashed through my mind as I headed toward the station exits. They’re gone, I reminded myself. Barnabas made sure of that.

I pictured our old apartment as I weaved through the crowd, the tall windows and gleaming tiles. It had been one hell of place to call home; an apartment for the elite, for Sanctum employees on special assignments.

Special. Yeah. Look where that had gotten my folks.

And now it belonged to another three-person family. Another perfect, superhuman mother and father with their single government-sanctioned child.

“Right,” I murmured into Dad’s old scarf. “That’s enough fresh air and painful memories for today. Time to scuttle underground now like a good little outcast.”

“What?” A woman on my right asked, giving me an odd look. Her skin flashed from green to gold to silver and back to green again.

Delightful, I thought. A Shifter and a Memorist. I wondered how strong her abilities were. Or if Tug’s scrambler had gone on the fritz again. He was forever trying to find replacement wires for the tiny chips. They ran hot and fried often. Which is what you got when you jimmy-rigged stolen parts together to create complicated tech.

I did my best to clear my mind, erecting an imaginary concrete wall around my thoughts.

“You got a problem?” I asked, trying to sound annoyed, which wasn’t too difficult.

“I heard you. You were thinking things.” As her violet eyes held mine they shifted from purple to blue. “Treasonous things.”

“Hey,” I said, backing up a step and adding more bricks to my mind wall. Without the scrambler working I had to keep calm, keep my thoughts on this exact moment. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. The only things I got swirling around in my head are how I’m gonna pass my third period science test and the absolute insanity of Meira Westfield’s lips. If you’d like to keep invading my personal space I’ll make sure to focus on the more lurid details of her anatomy, but I’m guessing underage fantasies aren’t to you taste. No? Thought so. So why don’t you bug off. Thought reading is strictly prohibited in public spaces or don’t you read the signs.” I gestured to one of the many regulation postings that dotted the station.

I was right and she knew it. But still, if she decided to turn me in…

The woman darted a glance at the Official standing nearby and I moved another step backward. Didn’t see the kid racing in the other direction, his face buried in a gaming screen. We smacked like two trains colliding.

“What the hell?” he snapped, before I even had a nanosecond to move out of his way. He muttered a curse far too salty for someone his age as the gaming screen swooped down to his knees. His black hair instantly whooshed to bright, screaming red and his eyes narrowed to slits. The screen froze in mid-air just before it hit the white tiled floor.

I had to get out of here, fast. Before one of the Offs noticed all this commotion and came to check things out.

“Sorry, man. Didn’t see you.” No use trying to explain that he’d actually bumped into me. Kids had a hard time regulating their abilities. Control came with age—and practice. I was lucky he hadn’t shot a fireball at me. Or worse. The chip on my ear should have protected me from whatever abilities he had, but it wasn’t working. So who knows what might have happened.

“Hope your game’s all right,” I lied and shot a glance at the Memorist/Shifter who still stared at me like I had two heads.

“Whatever.” The kid’s attention was already re-ensnared by the screen. He used his mind to lift the gamer up into position again and melted back into the crowd.

“Well, this has been lovely,” I said with a wide, false grin on my face. I gave a little wave to the rainbow-eyed woman and walked away as fast as I could.

I passed the kid on my way to the exits and kept my face turned to the wall, hoping he wouldn’t recognize me. He didn’t. I’d almost forgotten what was like to be that self-centered. To be that young.

I bit off a salty curse of my own and stalked toward the exits. One week. That’s how long it’d taken those bastards in navy coats to erase my life. To obliterate my childhood and any hope I had of a future. To execute my family.

I glared at the Officials from underneath hooded eyelids. Executed. The word thudded through my brain as hot, raging anger flowed through me. It felt good to get angry. Like I was living again instead of scuttling around like a cockroach, forgotten, in the gray underbelly of the world.

But no, without the scrambler I had to be careful of my thoughts. My emotions. I took a deep, settling breath and checked my wrist screen as I got into one of the lines out. Sure enough, there was a ping from one of my fellow cockroaches. “Jack, get your sorry ass back down here. Now.” That was it.

I sighed. Ruth must have written the ping. Only she would be that abrupt. Sanders and Tug were nicer when they gave me a hard time about my visits to the real world.

No one else but me risked coming up here.

“Freaking girls,” I mumbled as I reached the turnstile and held out my wrist to the Scanner who manned it. I hoped he wouldn’t run any bios on me or ask about my coat. My ID tag was fake and my bios would definitely come back abnormal. But he wasn’t paying attention to at me at all, which was helpful, but had to be breaking all kinds of security rules. His head angled the opposite direction, his dark glasses trained like a hawk on this tall, raven-haired knockout strutting into the train station.

“Ah…Ahem.” I cleared my throat. I was ready to get out of here.

“Hold out your ID tag,” he replied in a droning voice, still ogling the woman.

“Yeah, I am.” But still he didn’t turn around to read it.

I peered around him to get a better view of the woman, but honestly wasn’t that impressed. I mean, sure, she was gorgeous, but in a flashy way—and much too old for a seventeen-year-old like me. What caught my eye though, was the steaming cup of coffee that floated in the air to and from her red lips like magic. Despite how normal this seemed to everyone else, I felt my body and brain begin to hum. Why now, why with this particular cup of coffee I had no idea. But the sensation of what it had been like to have abilities zinged right through me like a jolt of electricity.

It happened sometimes. Like having a phantom limb.

The woman stopped and held out her forearm, allowing the Scanner at one of the many entrance turnstiles to lower his dark sunglasses and run his eyes over the glowing patch of skin that marked her ID tag.

“Morning,” she said, her tone bored.

“Aye, it is that,” the Scanner replied.

I snorted with disgust as the man’s eyes skimmed over her chest and down her curvy body. What a dirt bag. Sure enough, a sly grin spread across his face as he used his enhanced eyesight to appreciate what was underneath her gleaming red top and pants.

I felt bile rise in my throat and tried to stop the zinging feeling.

A world full of superheroes and they were all still scum. What I’d give to have my abilities back just for a second and teach this guy a lesson. Could have done it, too. I was a very powerful Memorist—once upon a time.

Good genes and all that.

“Get on with it,” the woman sighed as her ID cleared.

“Yeah, Yeah. You’re clear, go on,” the Scanner grunted, his eyes glued on the knockout’s rear end as he waved her through the turnstile. She sashayed into the crowd and, finally, the Scanner at my turnstile swiveled back around.

“ID cleared,” he grunted, with a wave of a metal cylinder over my wrist. He lowered his glasses and gave me a quick once over. “No concealed weapons. What’s that thing on your ear?”

“VR chip. For games. Plugs right into my opticals,” I lied, hoping he wasn’t a gamer.

“Eh, waste of time, games,” he replied, waving me through. “Skin vids, now that’s a good time. Easy too, no need to pretend my tired old peepers is lookin’s anywhere but where’s they lookin’.”

Disgusting, revolting, dirt bag. I allowed the thought as I pushed through the rotating metal bars, not caring if he had any Memorist or Empath abilities threaded into his DNA code. Let him hear me. This would be my last visit for a while I decided, pressing open the station door. The vileness of people, it wasn’t worth the fresh air.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking so much. So lost in my loathing.

“Watch out!” A voice cried and then the door came swinging back at me on its double hinges, slamming straight into my nose and forehead.

“Ow!” I bellowed and grabbed my nose, warm blood gushing onto my fingers as my vision went dark. I stumbled and fell, reality dissolving into a blinding, shattering world of pain.

The Rising Sun: Unedited

Chapter One

Viv’s breaths came in ragged gasps as she wedged her body even tighter into the tree. Her body folded in on itself, her slight frame pressing into a deep V that had formed between two large branches. The rough bark scraped the skin on her face, but she didn’t care. The pain was a welcome distraction from the terror clutching at her chest.

Her heart pounded so fast she thought it might explode right out of her rib cage. She tried slowing it down but it was no use; her body was out of control. The miracle was that she got all the way up here in the first place. Tremors wracked her aching limbs so badly she could hardly move. But the panic hadn’t given her a choice. It had forced her to climb, forced her to get as high as possible. She’d needed to breathe.

“Viv, you up there?” A voice whispered at her through the dark, cool night. The tone was soft, probing—an echoing concern that floated up through the swaying branches.

It was Rain, of course. He always seemed to sense when she couldn’t sleep. When she needed him. She wanted to answer, but her panting lungs wouldn’t stop long enough to get words out. So she trembled and waited for him to come.

Rain sighed patiently below and then the tree shuddered, the weight of another human body added to its boughs. Viv heard a series of grunts and mutterings as he climbed up to her, but she didn’t move.

She couldn’t.

After another moment or two, a thick mop of black hair popped into view, glistening almost blue in the moonlight. The moon, Viv thought. That curious, white orb hanging in the sky. She still wasn’t used it.

The long neck and limbs of a gangly, teenaged boy emerged from the branches below her, his tall frame struggling to find a firm grip.

“Good grief,” Rain huffed, finally pulling his body into a sitting position on one of the thicker branches near her. His brilliant blue eyes sparked with irritation and worry. “Couldn’t you find someplace less, I don’t know, precarious, to freak out?” He glanced around. “We must be twenty feet off the ground.”

Viv couldn’t talk. Her teeth chattered from the cold and from the attack that continued to grip her body.

Rain looked at her. “I’m going to come closer, okay?”

Somehow, she managed to shake her head, and he scooted next to her, angling his lanky form up against her petite frame. Large and small, and neither one of them very strong.

Viv knew she shouldn’t let him wrap his arms around her. Knew she should cut off whatever it was happening between the two of them before it was too late… But instead, she nestled into the cavity between his bicep and chest and allowed the heat from his body sooth her quaking limbs.

“Breathe with me,” he instructed her. “One long one in…there you go. Now one long breath out.” He felt the tension in her body ease slightly as her inhalations and exhalations got under control. Thank goodness. These panic attacks of hers were really starting to worry him. But he tried not to let it show.

Underneath Viv’s ear Rain’s heart beat steadily and she took comfort in the rhythm, the steady thumping that somehow pushed the pieces of her shattered psyche back into place.

“You dreamed about him again, didn’t you?” Rain asked after a couple minutes of silence. Viv allowed herself to nod, ever so slightly. Rain brushed his lips against the top of her hair. “He can’t hurt you now, not with all of us here to protect you. You know Thea won’t let that thing get within five yards of this place without calling the entire plain down onto his head.”

Viv squeezed her eyes shut and tried to push away the image that swam through her mind. The perfect, handsome face that haunted both her waking and sleeping hours.

“That’s just it,” Viv whispered, hating how weak and childish her voice sounded. “I’m supposed to be the one protecting her; I’m supposed to be protecting all of you.” Unconsciously, the fingers on her right hand curled into a fist, as though she could punch the Ancient One right in his beautiful face and actually hope to wound him. “Here I am, hiding in a tree, when I should be training harder, learning to use my light so that when he comes out of whatever hole he crawled into, I’ll be ready for him.”

“Aw, Viv, you gotta cut yourself some slack. Isn’t Enoch always going on and on about how you’re still human, even if you are supposedly the savior of the world? If Enoch thinks you should lighten up, then you really need to let this go. We haven’t heard about or seen a single shadow for months. The Ancient One could be all the way across the globe by now. Come on, think about something else, think about the wedding tomorrow. That has to cheer you up.”

Rain tightened his arm around her and Viv let herself relax into his embrace, even as a sharp pang shot through her heart at the mention of tomorrow’s festivities.

The wedding.

How could she have forgotten?

A Whole New World: Unedited

Chapter One  

Deep calls to deep. The ocean sang that morning, drawing all kinds of curious creatures out of the shadows and canyons of sand. Forests of kelp waved back and forth under the water, sprouting from places unknown. Sea urchins and white, flowering algae like bright stars moved gently with the tides, the sun slanting through the waves far overhead; bright, so bright.

The sea was peaceful for a moment, as though the whole of the liquid underbelly of the earth were holding its collective breath, waiting for something to happen.

And then the explosion hit.

In an instant the tides shifted, streaming away from the sudden blast of pressure and energy. Fish darted into coral hideaways like brilliant, multi-colored confetti. Mountains of bubbles burst through the pressure layers, flattening and ballooning as the ocean shifted around them, accommodating the catastrophe as best it could on such short notice.

Then came the fire. Fire in water, a mystery to be sure, but the vessel imploding in on itself above held tons and tons of petrol, enough for two months at sea, and had only used a couple days worth on its tour abruptly ended. The flames billowed under the waves in great orange balls. The ocean quickly swallowed them, in giant, shuddering gulps. But she could not hold back the debris, the quivering hull of the ship as it tore apart, its metal and wood loins spilling into the water, piercing the waves and sinking down into the darkness.

A violent tremor moved through the waters, the aftershocks of the explosion warning all those who belonged to keep away; to run.

But there was one creature who ignored the tremors, in fact, he felt himself lean into them, letting the wrongness of the pressure and energy flow over his body. He whipped his long tail, once, and glided forward, ignoring the shattered chunks of man-made objects streaming past him into oblivion. He was looking for something.


There weren’t many bodies; he knew not many could survive the sinking of a ship that large. The ones that had, kept to the surface of the water. Floating half-charred remains of the race that fascinated him, that ensnared his every waking moment. Usually, he would be searching for survivors, trying to help them despite his parent’s warnings never to interfere with the land dwellers. But this time he was only focused on one.

She was here, among the wreckage. He could feel her.

Deep calls to deep and that morning she had called to him, propelling him leagues from home to this place. Now, he just had to find her, before the ocean sucked the heat and life from her body.

He had to take her home.

And then he had to make her his wife.

YA Book Review: The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

51ZA9VcqYTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Book One)
Author: Nancy Farmer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
Genre: Children’s Adventure
Pages: 480
Language: English
Buy: Amazon Kindle
Buy: Amazon Paperback

Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. “It seems that things are stirring across the water,” the Bard had warned. “Ships are being built, swords are being forged.”

“Is that bad?” Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.

“Of course. People don’t make ships and swords unless they intend to use them.”

The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings. Other threats include a willful mother Dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-boar with a surprising personality — to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight foot tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls. But in stories by award-winner Nancy Farmer, appearances do deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than “Just say no to pillaging.”


5starNot many books can claim to follow in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings and deliver on that promise, but this book does! It’s truly an epic young adult/middle grade adventure. Don’t let the age of the main character, Jack, fool you. His abduction and the many trials and tribulations that follow are worthy of an adult tome. In fact, the only critical thing I can say about this book is that the action and violence seem rather gruesome for younger audiences. I would let a thirteen-year-old read The Sea of Trolls, but not a ten-year-old. There needs to be a certain level of maturity to deal with passages about the massacre of villages, including women and children.

That being said, the rest of The Sea of Trolls is magical! Jack is a flawed, temperamental, and wise hero to root for. His sister Lucy is a spoiled brat that you can’t help but love and hate at the exact same time. The Bard is an enigmatic old man whose presence weaves throughout the tale like a ghostly father figure. Olaf and the rest of the beserkers are brutes with a softer side, but never to be underestimated.

Everything goes wrong in this book and then everything goes right and then it all falls apart again. You just can’t put it down! A total page turner that is most definitely worth five stars, maybe even six. -M.

Book Spotlight: Torn by Ashley Stambaugh

Torn Cover ArtTitle: Torn, Book Two of the Collide Trilogy
Author: Ashley Stambaugh
Genre: Urban fantasy, New Adult/Adult
Publisher: Astraea Press
Pages: 275
Buy: Amazon Kindle
Buy: Smashwords
Buy: iTunes

Three months have passed and Melina thought she was safe. Safe from the effects of the angel powers and safe from the Noxin demons. But she thought too soon.

Just as she’s starting to enjoy her new powers and her new relationship with Lee, the slight pain she still experiences after using the powers starts to grow worse. As the pain becomes more and more unbearable, she finds herself lashing out at innocent people with unexplained anger and hatred. Then to make matters worse, she sees a Noxin demon again.

No one, not even the elders, seems to know what’s happening to Melina, or how a Noxin demon found her. And when she’s introduced to Dean, another unique human like herself, she learns that his pain is completely gone, which only makes her situation even more confusing.

Grasping for any type of answer, Melina throws out one possible explanation after another. But as her angry feelings intensify, and her angel powers grow weaker, she begins to think there might be something malevolent inside her that’s trying to take over. It’s not long before her internal struggle spirals out of control, and her body is turned into a battlefield that’s torn between good and evil.

Melina fears that if no solution is found, then she might lose all the people she loves, especially Lee. But what scares her even more is that she might lose herself to evil.

ABOUT THE AUTHORAshley Stambaugh Author Photo


Ashley Stambaugh grew up in a small town in Illinois where she and her two siblings created some of the best memories playing on their family’s farm. She stayed in the southern region of the state to attend college where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and also met her husband.

Now, she and her husband live in central Illinois and spend their time creating new memories with their two rambunctious boys and their comical black Pug. She also enjoys reading, taking long walks, and finding great bargains. When her sons are a little bit older, she has a great desire to travel with her family. Oh, and she also has a slight obsession with chocolate.

When she’s not busy chasing after her two young children or losing herself in a good book, you can find her curled up on her couch with her laptop, writing.


Melina released his hands and nodded again as she turned to gaze out the front windshield. “I’ll talk to him as soon as I…ʺ Her voice trailed off as she continued to stare out the window.

            “Is it the pain again?ʺ Lee asked.

            “No,” Melina replied, her face turning paler by the second.

            He glanced out the window and then back at her, a look of concern in his eyes. ʺWhat’s wrong then? What do you see?”

            “A demon.” She continued to stare out the window, her body frozen stiff with fear.

            Lee’s brow furrowed. “Why are you so scared? I know you can see angels all the time now, but I thought you could see all sorts of different demons now, too. “

            Melina’s eyes remained fixed out the window. The demon’s black, billowy figure wasn’t exclusive to his particular group, but the fiery red eyes were unmistakable.

            “This isn’t just some random demon. It’s a Noxin demon.”

            Lee’s expression turned serious. “Those are the ones I saw on the video footage from my apartment, right? The ones you said were really dangerous?ʺ

            She gave him a stiff nod, but kept her gaze locked on the demon. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him looking out the window to see if he could spot the demon himself.

            “Where is he?ʺ Lee asked.

            “He’s behind the antique store across the street, lurking back in the alley.ʺ

            Lee leaned forward in his seat and squinted his eyes as he looked in that direction. ʺI don’t see it.”

            Melina’s breath suddenly caught in her throat. “It’s gone. It’s gone!ʺ She sat up in her seat, her eyes frantically searching the area outside. A few seconds later she turned to look at Lee, her bright green eyes wide with fear. “This is serious. We need to go.ʺ