Working Title: Tao of You: Or How I Loved the Man Who Pulled the Trigger
Current word count: 48,000
Genre: Memoir/Creative Non-Fiction
Status: First Draft
I'm working on it.
Fear is a strange, globulous monster. One that lurks at the corners of your vision all the time.
It got so bad for me, I thought the hazy black form was actually a friend of mine. The comforting kind that I could always fall back on and trust to keep me safe. I believed it, even when the fear began to require little bits of my life as a sacrifice to its insatiable appetite. Those little bits were worth the sacrifice, I thought, if it meant I was safe.
But I was wrong.
Fear had friends. And they all came to visit eventually, especially since I was offering regular meals. Friends like despair, self-doubt, anxiety, and self-pity, to name a few. And they stuck around like a horde of cute cats I couldn’t quite bring myself to kick to the curb, even though they were destroying my family, my reputation, and my pocketbook.
And the saddest part?
I couldn’t even tell it was happening, until a friend of mine forced me to look at my life. Forced me to put on my glasses and really look at the details.
A part of me is forever grateful to this friend, a man named Kirk Kwasniewsk, for showing me the truth.
But a part of me wishes he hadn’t forced his hand. Because if he hadn’t, he would still be here to talk to, and to hang out with occasionally, and to raise his daughter. But he’s not. And that’s always hard. Death is always hard to deal with for those who are left behind.
Working Title: Alice
Current word count: 86,000
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Status: under revision
One bad decision leaves eighteen-year-old Cherry Hart reeling. A girl is dead. A multi-billion-dollar deal ruined. And Cherry has been demoted to Guild Master of Hart Corporation's group of underground hackers. With the company near bankruptcy, the only way to redeem herself and jumpstart the company's flatlining profits is to resurrect the very project that left Cherry’s life in shambles—a possible cure for cancer. But because of resistance in the company, Cherry’s only choice is to steal the code and fix it herself.
At sixteen, Alice Winther's world revolves around making sure her sister lives to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. With a chemo-resistant form of leukemia, her sister’s chances aren't great, but Alice is willing to try anything. Including stealing the Hart Corporation's new cancer-fighting biotech. When she realizes that the only way to get past the company’s infamous firewalls is to become a member of Cherry Hart’s guild, Alice woos Cherry’s brother to get her foot in the door.
Then a rival guild attacks the Hart Corporation’s AI and Alice and Cherry must work together to stop the rivals from destroying both their dreams. But when the Hart family starts to feel like her own, Alice must decide which family she’s willing to sacrifice. And when their work uncovers information that shakes Cherry’s faith in her company and connects Cherry with Alice’s sister, she’s not sure that saving the Hart Corporation will bring the redemption she seeks.
“You’re not real, Mom. Go away.” Cherry didn't turn her head, but out of the corner of her eye she could see that the holographic rendering of her mother—powered by the family's own artificial intelligence program—hadn't listened.
Instead, it said, "I am learning more every day."
With a huff, Cherry pulled her voluminous, tightly-curled hair—currently dyed a crimson red—out of the way. She didn't want to deal with this right now. Staring at code for the last five hours made her eyes sting, and this virus wasn’t done yet. It would take at least another three hours to finish—and she’d already had four cups of coffee which had stopped working about an hour ago. "And I am in the middle of something. Please go bother someone else with your learning.”
Despite Cherry’s intentional rudeness, the semi-translucent rendering of a tall, beautiful black woman continued to stand two feet in the air, irritatingly unfazed. “I don’t bother anyone as much as I bother you.”
Cherry looked up at the hologram. It hovered next to Cherry's four-poster bed, a large night-blackened window on the far wall partially distorted by the image. When her real mother, Amanda Hart, had initially programmed the AI, Cherry thought the differences between her real mother and the virtual one were humorous. They both had the same rich alto voice, the same aspen-leaf eyes and round cheeks, the same honey-brown skin tone that Cherry had inherited. But where her mother had been witty and sarcastic and creative, the AI was dogmatic and deliberate and boring. Those differences were no longer humorous—they were painful—a constant reminder that her real mother was never coming back.
“So this is another one of your little tests? Are you trying to bother me?” Cherry said aloud.
“No, this is not a test. I have merely found that those who enjoy my company are not easily bothered.”
Cherry growled. She wanted to throw something at the irksome imitation of her mother, but throwing things at holograms was so unsatisfying.
Not for the first time today, she wished she had access to the mainframe running the AI. Then she could turn the annoying thing off and have peace for twenty-four hours. But it would take over a week to break into her father’s clean room and it wasn’t worth the effort. At least not right now.
“Cherish.” The hologram folded her hands in front of her.
“Don’t call me that.”
“All right. Cherry. As I have been trying to say, I think it prudent…”
Cherry didn’t want to hear any more. She tapped the circular tattoo on her left arm, powering on her earbud implants. The buzzy beat of “She’s My Cherry Pie” hit her ears, making her smile despite herself. She slid her finger across the tattoo, increasing the volume enough to drown out the AI’s droning, then turned her retinal implants back on. Code scrolled out in front of her, comfortably unemotional.
Cracking her knuckles, she got back to business, the music thrumming through her skull.
Working Title: The Green Mage
Current word count: 73,500
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Mattie Westphal discovers love, that she can do magic, and an evil plot that might mean war between a secret, magical faction and us ordinary humans, all before she turns 18, but all she wanted to do was go to college.
After being left by her mother and impoverished by her father’s bad choices, Mattie wants nothing more than to build herself an extraordinarily ordinary life. She has the next six years of her life planned out in detail, but when Brand, a grumpy, abrasive, swoon-worthy boy shows up and tries to convince her she can do magic, her dry-clean-only life gets decidedly messy. Especially after the two of them discover that Brand’s superior in the mage hierarchy is plotting to use a rare form of magic to put himself in power, not only over the mage world, but the human one, too. As they try to thwart his plans, Mattie has to rethink her plans and what it really means to be successful.
I could see why Slim hadn’t really noticed the new guy. He wasn’t her type.
Josh was her type. He had clear, light-blue eyes that always hinted of a joke; tight-cropped blond hair; and a great smile. He was also tall and kind of preppy--important factors to one as willowy and fashion-conscious as Slim.
The new guy wasn’t Abercrombie and Fitch like Josh. He was more of a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester. He had a rugged, raw look: dark brown hair, worn long and wavy; artfully unshaven stubble; lean and lithe physique. Also, he seemed very unhappy.
The other boys’ conversation had gotten a little rowdy. From what I could hear, they were talking about a game of some sort. Probably the college basketball game from last night. Blah. I’m not a big basketball fan. It looked like new guy wasn’t either. Josh, who was sitting next to him, got punched in the arm by another roommate for some comment, making him bump into the new guy. Looking about as comfortable as one of those bug-eyed fish that come in a can, New Guy turned slightly to try and avoid touching Josh again and looked directly at me. He had the most beautiful, bright green eyes I had ever seen and they had caught me staring at him.
In a brilliant display of keeping my cool under pressure, my math book jumped out of my hands and onto the floor just at that moment. Oh boy. I ducked my head under the table to retrieve the book and to hide my burning face. Of course I would be the one to get caught ogling the hot guy across the room, just in time to make a fool of myself. Way to go, Mattie.
“What are you doing?” Slim whisper-screamed at me as she slid back into her seat.
“Nothing,” I lied, trying desperately to gather up my homework and my pride. Slim would be disappointed with my woeful attempt at subtle boy-watching. Honestly, I was surprised she was claiming me as a friend with my head stuck under the table.
I set my book back on the table and filled my face with French fries and a big bite of shake. I tried my best to not even glance at the table where Josh and his roommates were sitting.
Slim was quiet and munched on a couple of fries. It took me a full minute to realize that Slim was being quiet. This was completely uncharacteristic of her and was a very bad sign.
I slowly turned to look at her, and all she did was raise one of her eyebrows.
“What?” I asked.
“Oh nothing,” she replied. “Since you had your head under the table for no reason, I’m sure you have no idea why the new guy has been staring at you since I sat down.”
It’s times like these that reflexes overcome reason. “What!?” My head jerked over to the boys’ table. And there were his sharp green eyes still staring at me. He had barely moved. How does a person sit that still? And he was staring at me. Why? Why was the hottest guy in the room staring at me? Dropping my book was embarrassing, but it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. I’m sure girls did stupid things when he looked at them all the time.
And those bright green eyes. They had a look of relief to them as he stared at me, but he also seemed perturbed. Neither emotion made any sense to me. This whole situation was rapidly entering the zone of the surreal.
“Mattie!” Slim said again as she kicked my foot to get my attention. When I turned back to her, she was visibly flustered. “What are you thinking? You don’t stare at people like that. I thought I had taught you better.” She sounded sincerely disappointed in my lack of etiquette.
I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t meant to stare at him again. I did think Slim was overreacting, though. She was the only one who noticed things like that.
Or so I thought.