Sneak Peek

Girard The Guardian – Book and Art

Girard is coming soon!

Girard The Guardian will be released only in the Dominion Rising box set for the foreseeable future. The book is turning out so well that I’ve been seriously inspired in the painting department. No, I’m still not very good yet, but I do keep improving. Here are my paintings of the first three main characters. I’m currently working out my sketches for the next two, Lila and Marcus.

“Girard” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

 

“Young Yadikira” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

 

“Thalia Rising” by Ann Christy Watercolor on 140# CP – Copyright 2017 Ann Christy

Maybe because I’m improving, it’s also taking me a lot longer to do a painting. The last two took over a month each. I had my one year anniversary for starting drawing and painting a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still enjoying it very much. Yes, it has slowed down my writing some, but only because I don’t only sit attached to a computer for 16 hours a day. And that has improved my writing too. More time to think about it as I paint, I’m guessing. More cogitation makes for more plot and deeper plots.

Right now, the pre-order price for Dominion is just $0.99 for all 23 brand new, full length novels. Sales have been brisk! Grab it because it will be the only way to get these books for a good while (and you can’t beat the price).

Curious? Then slide on over to the sneak peek page and get a three chapter look at Girard The Guardian!

Cover Reveal – Strikers: Eastlands

And without any further ado…here is the cover! The cover plus three graphics. Just click one to embiggen on it’s own page…share if you like!

 

Eastlands-ebook2-web

Strikers Reveal 3

strikers- eastlands

Strikers Reveal 4

Strikers: Eastlands – First Chapter Sneak Peek

Oh yes, I’m making excellent progress on Strikers: Eastlands. I passed over 45,000 words in the first draft this morning. I decided to take a read through, clean up the typos, and post that first chapter as-is. Because it’s as-is, that means it’s pretty much first draft and it could change substantially before publication. Nevertheless, here it is:

Chapter One

Susanna always says, “Life is a strange bird, so grab it out of the air and look it in the eyes before it flies away.”

I like that saying a lot and I’ve been living it for more than a year. And life has been a very strange bird indeed—but gloriously so, with bright plumage and wide wings. Every strange bird of new experience that flies past me, I grab and look in the eye.

Marcus’s mother is a wise woman, it turns out.

I pull on a semi-clean shirt and my favorite shorts, then take a minute to brush my teeth at the tiny sink we use for all sink-like purposes. The boat is rocking more than usual, so I brace my feet and try not sling toothpaste all over the place. It’s time to get moving, but Jovan still isn’t up yet. He sleeps like a log when we’re at sea. I’ll have to wake him if he’s going to get up on time.

Inside the smaller of the two cabins, Jovan is mumbling in his sleep again, something about a swimming cow. I’m guessing he’s mixing up a dream of the ocean with one of life back home in the Bailar territory in Texas. He doesn’t say so, but I know sometimes he misses it.

I don’t miss it. Neither do Cassie or Connor or Maddix. For us, there’s not much to miss. Sure, I think of my mom now and then, but she has her life and I was never an important part of that. Or, at least not more important than a bottle. And now she thinks I’m dead if she’s heard anything at all about me. I push the thought back and creep up to the bed.

When I brush back the lock of hair that’s fallen over Jovan’s eyes, he wiggles his nose as if I’ve tickled him and a giggle escapes me. We’re due on deck for our turn on watch soon or else I’d let him sleep till noon. The skies have turned angry and we’re going to need all hands on deck for whatever storm is coming our way.

“Hey, sleepyhead,” I whisper into Jovan’s ear. I see the smile bloom across his face even with his eyes closed.

His arms enfold me and he pulls me onto the bed like a sack of potatoes. With my arms trapped in his, all I can do is flail at him, but I think my laughter gives away that I’m not actually fighting too hard. He’s warm from sleep and he smells of salt and yesterday’s sunshine.

“No. You come to bed instead,” he murmurs in my ear. He nuzzles my neck like he’s seeking warmth, which is odd because it’s been broiling hot lately. I can barely stand to be near anyone in this heat. Even just sitting next to someone makes me sweat. The only way to be comfortable is to remain on deck in the wind.

Besides, what’s he suggesting is dangerous territory and I’m not rising to his bait. We’ve had a year to discuss this and the decision has been made. Marriage is for the future, not today. I’m still seventeen, effectively an orphan, and haven’t met my half-brother yet. He knows this, so I also know he’s not too serious about his suggestion.

We’ve spent this year whiling away our time inside a heavenly pause between lives. Fishing, doing trades with Florida via their weird little buoys, and occasionally shuttling trade cargo. Each trip from the big port of Pensacola in the Gulf Cooperative to one of the ports on the Mighty Miss allows us to while away more time without making decisions.

What all this movement hasn’t done is push us forward into what will be our new lives. What will those lives be? We don’t know. The world is big and full of choices. If there’s anything about Texas that I can safely say that I miss, it would be that I lived with certainty. I had no choices, no options, no hope for anything better…but at least I knew what came next. Out here, everything is limitless and that’s more than a little scary.

I’ve written back and forth with my father’s wife and my half-brother, but I can’t help feeling guilty that he’s lost a father and she, a husband. How can they not hold that against me? While I didn’t find his body that day when I went back to the burned remains of our hideout, his wife sent a team and found proof of his death.

Under the debris was a skeleton, his wedding ring and the metal bits from his clothes more than enough to identify him. Just like it must have done for them, the certainty of his death made me grieve harder. Without a body, there was always this tiny thread of hope that he’d survived somehow.

Past the grief, there’s still the reality of a brother for me to consider. It’s nice to think I have a family, but at the same time, I can’t bring myself to go there and see the pain of loss in their eyes. Especially since I’m the cause of that pain. There’s no getting around that simple truth.

My sigh must communicate more than I meant it to, because Jovan’s hand brushes my hair away from my face and he murmurs, “It’s okay. Everything is okay.”

There’s no question that I have the best boyfriend in the world. He’s my certainty, my north star, my safety amidst so much that is unknown. I love him and even better, I’m absolutely certain that he loves me too.

Cassie pokes her head in and purses her lips when she sees us, but the smile isn’t completely hidden behind her prim expression. “Well, now. I suppose I can just eat your breakfast for you.”

That gets Jovan up. He shoves me over on the bed and hops up like there’s a fire somewhere. “Them’s fighting words, little miss,” he says in his best cowboy accent. Then he leans forward to give her a peck on the cheek.

Cassie shoves him away and he disappears through the door with a laugh. I disengage myself from the mess that Jovan made of his covers and Cassie drapes an arm over my shoulder as we make our way up on deck. She chatters on about the sky, the clouds, and the possibility of storms in typical Cassie fashion.

Up on deck, I find that she’s more than correct. Cassie can be a little exuberant—she finds wonder in almost everything—but in this case, she’s minimized the impact of the low and threatening sky. It doesn’t look exciting to me, except in a scary way.

Connor and Maddix are in deep discussion with Marcus at the chart table, heads together and their voices impossible to hear over the wind that snaps our sails. The crackle of the radio punctuates their discussion and spurs Marcus to make another mark on the chart with a pencil.

When we picked up Maddix and Connor in Pensacola last summer, I felt like my family was back together again. And by family, I mean the real kind of family made up of people we love because we choose to love them. Neither of them is a natural sailor like Jovan and Cassie have turned out to be, but they’re doing pretty well and both learn quickly. The money isn’t bad either and that gives them incentive to learn.

Marcus looks up and catches my eye. There’s worry there and my stomach does a little back flip in response. Jovan must have caught it too, because his big hand lands on my shoulder and he whispers, “Go find out what’s going on. I’ll keep Cassie occupied.”

I nod and cross behind the wheel, tucking my hair into a ponytail while I walk. The wheel is locked on course with a line looped and tied just for that purpose. That tells me whatever they’re talking about is important. Marcus doesn’t like locking the wheel as long as there is someone on deck who can tend it. Even when we all got sick from something we ate last winter during a resupply trip, one of us stayed up near the wheel and locked it only when a visit over the rail to throw up was urgently required.

“What’s up?” I ask, my eyes taking in the neat series of dots and expanding circles on the chart.

“Tropical storm,” answers Marcus, his face grim. “Rapid developer too.”

The radio crackles out another series of numbers that Connor jots quickly down on the chart margin, resulting in yet another dot and another two circles around the dot. Jovan clearly failed at keeping Cassie occupied and away from the table, because they both come to the chart table—which is also our fish cleaning table—and listen.

“This is not good,” Maddix says, his eyes still locked on the chart. With one finger he points to our current location. With another, he traces the long line of dots and circles until his fingers touch. We’re just miles from the Florida coast. The dots they’ve been drawing based on the radio transmissions create a line that intersects our track quite neatly.

On the radio, a female voice says that the next storm track update will be in six hours, but that there will be hourly bulletins on conditions as the information arrives. Then the crackles cease and the wind in the sails is the only noise while Marcus stares at the chart in consternation.

I don’t interrupt him because he’s got that look on his face he gets when he’s trying to find a way out of a problem. And he’s been on the water his whole life, so he’s the one who’ll need to tell us what all this means.

I know what a tropical storm is, but we’ve not experienced one. Last year we pulled in to avoid some rough seas associated with one, but nothing came close to us. All a tropical storm was for me was some higher waves, a stiffer wind, and a cold glass of orange juice while we waited it out.

He seems to make up his mind about something and slaps a hand down on the chart. “Okay, we’re sort of in the pincer here.” Marcus drags a finger along a line connecting the dots again and then taps our position, north of the line, smack dab between the storm and the land. “We’re close to Florida and we can’t get too far west before we’re hit by the waves. Our best chance is to try to make landfall at the first place we can over the Gulf Cooperative border.”

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Cassie agrees because she says, “Fine, let’s go to it then. The seas are kicking up and the sky looks like it’s going to fall on us.”

I’m still not as good at reading charts as Jovan, but even I can tell that those storm locations are labeled to reach our area soon. And if those big circles around the storm track mean anything, we’re in real trouble. If the wind kicks up, we can’t just hoist more sail and go faster. It’s the opposite. We have to get out of the area before it gets bad or we’re sitting ducks.

Clearly, I’m thinking correctly because Marcus shakes his head, then looks past me toward the lowering clouds to our south. “We need to move. Now.”

The sky above is full of foreboding, dark and heavy and ready to spill on us. I have a feeling we’re in for one heck of a ride.

 

Let me know what you think! You’ve all been soooo patient while I worked on the Between Life and Death series, and I appreciate it. If this goes over well, I’ll share a few more chapters as I get them cleaned up.

Sneak Peek of The Book of Sam, Book One of Between Life and Death Origins

So, quite a few of you wanted that sneaky peeky of The Book of Sam. This is first draft…and you all know what that means…but here’s your glimpse at the beginning. Let me know what you think, either here or on the Facebook post.

The Book of Sam

Between Life and Death Origins

Chapter One – Day One

The school bell rings and I look at the students in front of me. Only eight today. Bella is missing, but I half-expected that at some point. She has an older sister more than capable of taking care of her during the day while her mother works, something many of my students don’t have. The hassle of getting Bella to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, and then worrying about picking her up at the end of the day can be alleviated by simply letting her stay home rather than attend summer school.

Still, summer school is important for my students, no matter how much of a pain it might be. The challenges of Down syndrome are significant enough without adding a nine-week break from school into the mix. These students often lose more during the course of a summer than children in mainstream classes if nothing is done to reinforce what they’ve learned. And Bella had been doing so well.

I sigh, drawing the attention of one of my students. Little Piper—so sweet that it almost seems she might melt in the rain like a cube of sugar—gives me a sidelong glance and smiles her sweetest smile. It’s the one that brings up two dimples next to her lips and lifts her chubby cheeks into two rosy balls. I can’t help but smile back. We’re not supposed to pick favorites, but some kids are just too awesome not to adore. Piper is one of those.

“Okay, kids! Let’s settle down,” I call out to the socializing group of kids. Aged between seven and eleven, they’re at that age where any meeting with a friend is cause for loud celebration. “Paulie, that’s enough hugging for now. Okay? Can everyone find their name for me?”

They sort of turn their attention to me, but the lure of chatting is a strong one. I walk toward the rough circle formed in X’s of tape stuck to the short carpet, the name of a child in the class carefully written in bold capital letters on each one. Having their attention shift to me, and then to the X spots on the floor, lowers the decibel level a little more.

Each child seeks their X, most of them remembering exactly where their mark is, but going through their standard process of sounding out their name and pointing to each letter in turn, before sitting. I have to help Corinne to her X. She’s still working on the spelling of her name and she still doesn’t always recognize it. We point to each letter and sound it out, her giggling and laughing in delight the whole while. I love my job. I really do.

The two empty spots that should be for Bella and Thomas are a bit like a silent rebuke. Unfortunately, chance would have it that those bracket my most sensitive student, Michael. He looks to either side of his spot, his face crumpling as he does. Michael is the youngest in his family, with four much older siblings. He feels rejection very keenly, even when there is none intended.

Michael is a loud and expressive crier, so I scoot over toward one of the empty spots and sit down on the X marked Thomas. That drawers his attention, so I lean down to grin at Michael and say, “I’m very lucky to sit next to you today, Michael!”

The confusion on Michael’s face fades quickly, the happiness returning like the sunshine after the passing of a single obscuring cloud, and he leans over to put his head against my arm. As much as I like the kids, I have to gently adjust the boy back to a seated position in short order. I’m always keenly aware of the caution that all teachers must have with respect to contact with their charges. The cameras in each corner of the room remind me of it every time I see their obtrusive and untrusting eyes.

“Does anyone remember what we were doing at the end of the day yesterday?” I ask, looking around the circle and meeting the eyes of each student. I’m careful to give an encouraging smile to each and every one of them.

Several hands shoot up, then a few more because raising hands is apparently great fun. I call on one of the first to raise her hand, so that I’ll be sure to get a correct answer. No one likes to start the day by giving a wrong answer.

Mary, the oldest in my class at almost twelve, yells the answer just a little too loudly, “Counting and colors!”

“Right!” I exclaim—though not as loudly—and flip over the pile of oversized cards lying in the center of the circle. Bright shapes in vibrant colors along with the letters spelling out the color cover the cards, and several of the children clap at the sight of them. This is a favorite activity for many of them. It’s true that a good many of my kids are well past the need for counting and color activities like this one, but it’s an excellent reinforcement for them. It also allows them the chance to lead the younger ones. From my point of view, that’s another important part of growing up.

The morning class begins and I feel that same sense of fulfillment I do whenever I enter the classroom. It takes more to prepare these wonderful children for their future lives than many teachers have the patience for, but to me this is a balm to the soul and the fulfillment of a promise to the brother I lost.

My older brother, George, was born with severe Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, he was also born with most of the physical problems that can come along for the ride with the syndrome. Though he had corrective heart surgery as a toddler, he passed away one night in his sleep. There was no warning, no hint that it was coming. We shared a room, so it was to my mother’s screams that I woke that morning, seeing her bent over his bed and shaking him, begging him to wake up.

I was only ten and George was thirteen. To say that his loss struck me deeply would be an understatement. And I don’t mean just because I was just eight feet from him when it happened and I slept right through it, though that’s certainly bad enough. It was because he was gone and I missed him in a way I’ve never missed anything or anyone else.

I still do.

While it’s true that George was three years older than me, I learned pretty early that he needed me to stick up for him. He didn’t understand the casual cruelty of children at our primary school. I didn’t always understand it, but I sure knew it when I saw it. Though I never got into another fight after he passed, I learned to scrap pretty well at a young age.

So, it’s easy to see why I chose the profession I did. Every single day I work is like me saying thank you to my brother. I promised I would always take care of him. This is how I do that now that he’s not here himself.

Before the first recess bell sounds, the door to my classroom bangs open, the metal kickplate banging against the stop like a shot. The kids jump, but I think I jump even more. Bethany, another teacher and probably my best “teacher friend” rushes in. The look on her face sets my heart to racing. Something is very wrong.

She stops after two steps inside, probably realizing that she’s just scared the bejesus out of me, and then makes it worse by waving me over with urgent sweeps of her hand. I’m guessing she also notices the effect her facial expression is having on my kids, because she tries to smile at the kids. It looks more like a grimace.

In a shaky voice, she says, “It’s okay kids! Everything is fine. I just need Mr. Sam for a minute. Is that okay?”

Piper shouts up at her, “We’re on blue!” She waves the big card with a circle of bright blue on it to demonstrate what she means.

“Blue is my favorite!” Michael shouts and tries to grab for the card.

I get up from my spot in the circle and pass the stack of cards to Michael to distract him from his grabs. He snatches them in delight and I tell him, “Why don’t you take one and then pass them around the circle. Everyone take a card when it gets passed to you and practice on that color. Okay?”

That suggestion gets me a round of happy agreements, so I step away, but keep half an eye on the kids, while worrying what that pale, strained look on Bethany’s face might mean. As always, my first thought is that something bad might be happening inside the school. Even in elementary school, it’s something all teachers have in the back of their minds. That’s just the way things are nowadays. That possibility is an unfortunate fact of life.

Then again, Bethany wouldn’t likely be standing in full view of the hallway with an open door at her back if there was that kind of problem. She’d have hit the deck, closed and bolted the door, or be herding her kids out of the building. Plus, there’s no noise.

As soon as I get within reach, Bethany grabs my forearm, her fingers sharp and tight. I lean close, hoping that will encourage her to keep her voice down. She looks more than worried now that we’re close, she looks frightened.

“Sam, can you take my class? I have to go. Now,” she says without delay.

I look back at my charges, but they’re busily exchanging cards with each other to get their favorites, then back at Bethany. “I really shouldn’t. You understand, right?”

Bethany sneaks a peek around my shoulder at my students and bites at her lip. I can see the warring needs in her as clearly as if they were written in magic marker across her forehead. I’d love to help her, but the rules are very firm in a few regards and this is one of them. Bethany’s class is made up of mainstream summer schoolers. Specifically, her class is made up of math students who might noth otherwise pass up into the next grade. They’re also all fourth and fifth graders. And there are more than twenty of them.

It’s not just about breaking class size rules, because there’s always room to wiggle on that when it comes to an emergency like a teacher having to stop a class for whatever reason. The real problem is that mixing mainstream students with his students is just not done. My first priority is the safety of my students, but my second is their happiness. I won’t have them scarred by unthinking slights or rude giggles.

“What about one of the other teachers?” I ask. There aren’t many here—this is a small neighborhood school—but there are some. I can’t be the only choice. It may be summer school, but we’ve got five classes going.

Bethany shakes her head, lips thin and tight. “Debbie’s got thirty-three kids in her class already and Rob’s already got two classes worth because Sherry didn’t show up. She’s probably in the same boat I’m in,” she says, then trails off, her eyes finding the clock and her jaw muscles tightening.

“Wait, what?” I ask, now concerned. A teacher just not showing up is a big deal any day, but particularly during the summer. There’s just one admin person, no aids at all this week because of training, and like every week after a holiday, a whole lot of people scheduling vacation time.

When I came in, I saw the office was occupied, and I passed Bethany getting ready in her classroom, but I was running late so I didn’t go to the teacher’s lounge or anywhere else this morning. I lean forward just enough to see down the hallway, and everything looks fine, if somewhat empty. There’s only Henry, the single school maintenance person on duty, rolling his mop bucket down the hall on squeaky wheels.

Bethany takes a deep breath, as if centering herself or reaching for calm when being pushed by a particularly challenging child, and says, “Right. Okay. I’m guessing you don’t know what’s going on out there?”

She looks up at me with those huge, dark eyes of hers and I’m pretty much done for no matter what she says. I can tell she’s searching for an answer even before I speak. I can also tell she knows I’m clueless. My shrug just confirms it.

“You remember about my Dad?” she asks.

This is a jarring change in topic. I should have realized what it was about as soon as I realized nothing was on fire and no one was shooting. The concern, the wringing hands, the ways she’s shuffling her feet a little as if she’s poised to run finally come together in my clearly, inferior brain.

“Oh, no. Did he…I mean…has he…” I trail off, not sure what the appropriate words are when asking if someone died.

She grips at my forearms again, understanding what I mean—which is good, because it was so not clear—and smiles a shaky smile. “No, no! Nothing like that. It’s the opposite. He woke up, but he’s very disoriented and…not himself.”

The relief I feel at not have to do any consoling cannot be overstated. Seriously. That sort of thing doesn’t come easy to me yet. I’m never sure if I’m doing it right or saying the right thing. Plus, this is good news. Or, it should be good news. But if it is, why does she look so scared?

“Are you okay, Bethany?” I ask her, but this time I focus entirely on her so she’ll know I want to hear the truth.

She surprises me by leaning forward and bumping her forehead into my chest. Seriously, she couldn’t have surprised me more if she’d kissed me. Even so, this feels like an overwhelmed lean instead of a flirting one, so I just let her keep doing it. I should just enjoy it while it lasts, though I’d never, ever confess that to anyone.

Bethany is older than me—as in almost twice my age—but there’s something about her. She’s divorced, has kids that aren’t too many years younger than me, and probably hasn’t thought twice about me that way. Even so, I have my daydreams. And even without daydreams, we’re friends and I know how hard the last two years have been for her.

After a boat accident, her father had been shot full of First Responder nanites by emergency services. It was protocol, but like so many others, it hadn’t worked the way it was supposed to on him. The First Responders boost oxygen in the blood, encourage heart activity, and stimulate the body’s natural responses to trauma, helping many survive the trip to the hospital and giving most those crucial few minutes they need to get truly sophisticated medical care. They are, on the whole, a good and life-saving thing.

Only they don’t always work. Her father’s traumatic brain injury meant that the nanites kept his body alive, but without enough brain function to return to normal life. He became one of the many people commonly referred to as vegetables, perfectly healthy yet never again to wake.

And now Bethany is saying he’s awake. But she’s not talking to me and she’s leaning against me in front of my class instead of jumping for joy.

“Aren’t you happy? You always said he would beat it,” I say, extricating an arm so I can pat her on the back. I look back around at the kids, some of whom are very interested in what we’re up to. That must bring her back to the present, because she pulls away and pushes back her hair. She smiles at the kids, then at me.

Something flashes through her smile, some hint of emotion other than joy. I think it really is fear. I don’t think I’m imagining it. Then it hits me what she said before. “Wait, you said Sherry was in the same boat as you. What’s going on?”

One of the children calls, so we pause long enough for me to persuade Piper to go back to her spot in the circle. Back at the door, Bethany says, “Yeah. She never talked about it, but her grandmother is in long term care in nearly the same condition as my father. Anyway, I haven’t talked to her or anything, but it’s happening all over, so it’s probably happening with her grandmother too.”

“Wait,” I say, because now I’m really confused. “You mean it’s not just your father waking up? Did something happen?”

Bethany’s eyes widen and she gives a little shake of her head, “Really? Sam, do you never watch the news? Seriously.” She puffs out a breath and waves a hand as if it doesn’t matter. “It’s all over the news. There was some experiment to try to correct neural deficits or something—basically wake up the people like my Dad—but it wasn’t supposed to be everywhere. The nurse called me here and said that it has something to do with the Monitor nanites Dad has now. They picked up the signal or something. I don’t know. Honestly, I’m just glad he’s waking up! Except…”

Sentences that trail off after words like that are never good. Not ever. “Except?” I prod.

“Well, he’s strapped down now, but the first thing he did was bite my mom on the arm. Hard. And he’s sort of out of it.” Again she flaps her hands in agitation. “It doesn’t matter. But I need to get to their house. I really do. The nurse is only supposed to be there for an hour and she has a lot of other patients. My mom can’t handle him like this on her own. Who knows what will happen?”

I’m no more capable of resisting that sort of plea that I would be able to leave a kitten in the middle of a busy street. It just isn’t in me. I push a hand through my hair and sigh. It must have been enough of an answer for Bethany, because she squeezes my arms and says, “Oh, thank you, Sam! I will totally return the favor someday!”

“Fine, yes,” I say, but I’m still very unsure about the whole thing. “Can you go to the office on your way out and ask them to call in a sub?”

Bethany nods, her mind clearly already shifting to getting out of the school as quickly as possible. “Sure, sure. I’ll go get my kids. Or do you want to bring yours over?”

I consider it, but decide that this room, which is about twice the size of a regular classroom given the variety of activities that go on in here, is the better choice. “No, bring them over for now. But give them some sort of assignment to tide them over until a sub gets here. Will you?”

“Of course! And school’s out at lunch anyway. Everything will be fine,” Bethany says, stepping away and clearly ready to dash. I let her go and then face my kids, wondering how I’m going to handle two such disparate groups for another two hours. There’s no way a sub will make it in time and I know it. At least it’s only a half day. It could be worse.

The In-Betweener is here!

BetweenWebCoversOnly

A new series by Ann Christy!

 

 Meet Emily.

At eighteen, she should be dating, going to college…maybe causing her mother a little worry. Instead, she wakes up each morning and smashes heads. It’s not the life she imagined.

Two years ago, a medical nanite advance was supposed to make human life healthier and longer. Instead, it divided us into three types: humans, deaders, and the frightening in-betweeners, who crave human flesh. Emily is now alone. Her home is a warehouse complex and her days have grown quiet and ordered. As mayhem beyond her gates emptied the world, she put her talents for survival to good use. Each day she wakes to kill the deaders at her fences and each night she barricades herself into a tiny, windowless office and hopes for morning.

One day, everything changes when one of the deaders at her gate isn’t a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any she has seen or heard of before…and he has a message.

Meet Sam.

At 24, Sam is one of the good guys. He loves his mom, apple pie, and Sunday sports. When the world around him went crazy, his first year as a special education teacher came to a tragic end. Since then, he has found himself with a brood of five found children, from baby Jon to the almost-grown Veronica. He has done his best, scavenging the city around them for food and keeping them alive and hidden. But resources have run dry and it’s time to move. Now that Jon is two years old, Sam thinks they can take the risk.

And Sam has just found what might be their salvation. A lone – and possibly crazy – girl at the edge of town, safe behind warehouse walls.

Find out what happens next in the first book of the Between Life and Death series, The In-Betweener, now available on Amazon. Forever Between, book two, is already available for pre-order.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a little something. And here it is, an extended sneak peek far longer than anywhere else.

Forever Between – First Chapter Sneak Peek of Book Two

ForeverBetweenFinal

Book one, The In-Betweener, isn’t even at the editor yet and I’m almost done with the first draft of book two!

The cover is right there–and isn’t is gorgeous!–and I’ve decided there needs to be some sneaky peekies of the first chapter.

Would you like that?

Today – The Girl in the Cage

Noise. Why was there always so much noise?

The girl turns in a slow half-circle, seeking the source of the noise, but everything seems hazy and disordered, as if nothing is in its proper place. The place is familiar, yet odd and somehow incorrect. And the noise! It makes her want to squeeze her fists into her ears. Or around the head of whoever is making the noise.

It’s silent again for a moment, then the harsh clanking returns as she moves toward the edge of her enclosure–though even the idea of the enclosure doesn’t quite sink all the way into her muddled thoughts, only the idea of being in some way restrained. Then a sharp tug brings her up short.

When she can’t lift her hands, she finally puts the noise and the chains around her wrists together, almost into their proper perspectives. Chains. Chains are for holding things down. These chains are holding me.

She lets her hands drop again and it’s a relief. One side of her feels almost too heavy to move and she’s listing toward the wall. A sound escapes her that doesn’t sound right and she lets herself lean against the cold wall. More relief. Less clanking.

A scent reaches her nostrils. It’s tantalizing and she wants it, wants to get near it. Wants to put it in her mouth. Her head follows the direction her nose instructs and even though her eyes don’t want to work properly, the flash of movement through a slit in a metal wall gives her a focal point. She can’t seem to stop herself and a snarl escapes her. The feeling of saliva filling her mouth is disturbing, the taste metallic.

People, there are people behind there. Why are they hiding?

The vagueness returns, which is in its way, a relief as well. No more confusion or muddled thoughts. Different sounds break through the haze. Groans and the snapping of teeth. In the next cage the girl sees the sources of these new and bothersome noises. All across the floor are men laid out on boards. They aren’t just chained, they are strapped down. Even their heads. But they must smell that delicious smell as well as she does.

Maybe they are as hungry as she is.

Movement draws her eyes again and this time, some quirk of physiology allows her to focus a little better on the slit. There are eyes there. Familiar eyes. The hunger is so strong the girl finds herself straining against the chains once more, the clanking paining her ears.

Then the eyes change somehow–some change in the way the light hits them or some subtle alteration in the muscles around them–and the girl recognizes the eyes, knows the face those eyes belong to. The name attached to the eyes appears in her mind in one brief burst of clarity.

Veronica.

The girls sees her hands finally as they truly appear, the bits of gore and the blackened lines of older filth under the nails, the dirt ground into her skin, the matted bits of feather clinging to her sleeves.

Oh no. No.

Behind the slit, the eyes disappear and through it, the girl can now see nothing but light.

 

Work In Progress

Savannah Slays (working title)

5000/ 100000 words. 5% done!

Portals - Portal Invasion #1

78000/ 78000 words. First Draft Done!

Mercy - PePr Inc novella

3000/ 20000 words. 15% done!

The Ways We End

66000/ 66000 words. 100% Done! Publishing Dec 8th! (Dark Collections 2, "And Then Begin Again" goes live on the Dec 8th too!

Strikers: Outlands

40000/ 10000 words. 40% Done!

Good News Gone Bad #1
Series of Shorts

4000 / 20000 words. Back Burner for now.

Lulu 394

60020 / 80000 words. 75% done! Back Burner for now!

Twitter

Privacy Policy and Affiliate Links

I keep your info private. Period. I don't sell it, share it, or any of that shady business. Also, when I remember, I use Amazon affiliate links on this site. That means if you click and use those, I get a few cents on the dollar from them.

Books by Ann Christy