Welcome to Lyndi’s adventurous friend Helen C. Johannes!!
When I was in high school, I had a friend who’d never ridden an escalator, never traveled more than 50 miles from home. I couldn’t fathom a life so limited in experiences. Even at the tender age of 16, I’d crossed the United States from coast to coast by car, sailed the Atlantic from NYC to Germany and back, lived in a foreign country and five US states, attended 12 schools, and earned my driver’s license in two states. Most would say I’d already lived an adventure.
Well, I was a military brat, and that was normal. Travel and moving every couple of years was so ingrained that I carried on as an adult, eventually visiting most of the continental US states plus Alaska and Hawaii, and dipping my toes/fingers in both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Pacific, plus the Caribbean.
After all that traveling, that apparent rootlessness, it’s hardly a surprise my author tagline is Brave men, bold women—hearts in search of home. Or that my characters find themselves on cross-country journeys. Or, ultimately, that what each of them desires is a sense of belonging, be it to a place or a group of people.
My heroine in LORD OF DRUEMARWIN is on the ultimate journey, leaving behind her family, her culture, even her landscape for the sake of the man she loves. Here’s a snippet.
LORD OF DRUEMARWIN – PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance, Crown of Tolem series
Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.
“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.
The Prince of Val-Feyridge, Crown of Tolem #1
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from WINDMILLS, the first book in my post-apocalyptic trilogy THE COLOR OF FEAR. This piece gives us insight into Valery Paz, and a glimpse into her history.
Before she stepped over the threshold, Valery Paz patted her two front pockets. The left one held the book she was currently reading, a fantasy story about a modern-day barista and a glass slipper, the right a fully loaded pistol she wasn’t afraid to use.
Yep, Uncle Dave, you’d be proud of this little Latina. Self-defense: Never leave home without it.
Wary of the street after hearing about Kwan’s encounter with the gang, she set off at a swift pace, spurred on by the damp chill in the air, her well-worn sneakers making hardly a sound. Twenty blocks along Broadway, then a right turn, then up to the attic of a small house just past Jackson Square, and she’d be home. She could sit by her tiny window and look out over the bay near the Embarcadero.
If she was lucky, and the fog held off, she might catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate.
The bridge still seemed more like another fantasy to her than reality, even though she’d seen it in clear weather, swathed in fog, and in dozens of different states in between.
She hadn’t lived in the city before the Second Holocaust. Then, she’d been the nearest thing to a Valley Girl at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco, her daily language peppered with southern California slang. She’d been slated to graduate salutatorian of her class, bound for Stanford. The Second Holocaust ended the school year early.
Then it ended a lot of things early.
Her younger brother had died first, but in the twelve months afer the SH, she’d lost her mother and “Uncle” Dave too. Her parents had broken up years before, but her dad had always stopped in when his sales job brought him within shouting distance. It had been maybe a month before the SH when he stopped in before heading to southern California. She hadn’t seen him again.
She’d buried her mother and Dave, then packed a duffel bag with her dearest possessions and those her family had treasured as well. She had to go somewhere,
People came through town, heading to Colorado or New Mexico, and said San Francisco was at least providing some services to residents. Valery had some very
fond memories of the city by the bay, one visit in particular when she’d gone shopping with her mother as a young adolescent. They’d had warm sourdough bread and
shrimp cocktail from a cart on Fisherman’s Wharf and toured Chinatown, just the two of them. Her mother had bought her a new pair of shoes and a tiny cable car ornament
for their Christmas tree. A magical day.
That’s what made up her mind.
Six months now since she’d moved here, and she still sought real direction. When she was younger, she’d wanted to be a fashion model. She was tall enough, and when she only let herself eat lettuce—for a week or so—she could be skinny enough. It wasn’t like modeling scouts came through Salinas, though. And Mama wouldn’t take me to the city to try out. Not till I was eighteen.
She muttered, “Well. Now I’m eighteen, Mama. Look at me. Sneaking around the streets after dark like some matón.”
Kwan said the Enforcer had rescued her from the gang. A tendril of wistful thought wound itself around Valery’s heart. When will I have a white knight riding out to save me, huh?
Even as she wished for that person who might be waiting out there, somewhere, she shoved that idea aside.
That’s why I’m better off. I don’t need saving.
Besides, she didn’t intend to stay in San Francisco all her life.
She reached her house without incident and ran up the steps, scanning the street before she opened the door. Once she was safe inside, she triple-locked it and headed
upstairs to her room, locking the door to the attic as well. She tossed her pea jacket onto her bed, a mattress on the floor she’d dragged up the narrow steps, then lit several
candles. When everything was arranged to her liking, she rummaged through her “pantry,” a cardboard carton of cans and boxes of food she’d collected over the
last few weeks. One can called for her attention, and she took it out, cradling it in her hand. The brilliant orange of the mangoes on the Goya juice can reminded her of the
ambrosial juice awaiting her inside. She could almost taste the sweet tartness on her tongue.
She popped open the top and took a small sip, letting it roll around her mouth like the finest wine. Amazing.
She leaned down to glance out the window before settling in, disappointed that the cool, wet air had brought along a flood of fog that covered the waters of the bay. No bridge-gazing tonight. What else to do?
She plopped down on the worn blue beanbag chair she’d wrestled up the steps the first week she’d arrived. It was just like the one her brother Jimmy’d had, back in the
The loneliness was starting to get to her. She should leave. Comparing the number of survivors in the site of the SH attack, San Diego, and San Francisco, she could extrapolate
the differences between San Francisco and other parts of the country. The farther east you went, the better the chances there would be a healthier population.
Who knew? Maybe they still had fashion runway shows in New York City.
Si, chica, the models, they are very skinny this year…skin and bones…well, maybe bones without the skin…
A chill ran up her back, the black humor a little too close to truth.
Welcome to guest author Laura Strickland, here to talk about her new book, Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure. Take it away, Laura!
The thing I hear most often when I attend Steampunk Festivals and other events promoting my books is, “What’s Steampunk?” It’s a fair question. Many readers aren’t familiar with the genre, and feel a bit intimidated by it. But as I’ve learned since starting this wild ride, penning my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series, there’s no easy answer. Steampunk means something different to all those who love it.
For some of us, it’s all about the gadgets. Steampunk aficionados love to tinker. They build teapot racers, life-sized robots and fully-operational automatons. Others love the costuming, and the chance to transform into someone other than their every-day selves, to walk for even a few hours on the wild side. Goggles and helmets, brass-buttoned jackets and sweeping skirts…and stepping through the looking glass.
For me, it’s all about what-might-have-been. What if the glorious age of steam heralded by the Industrial Revolution had never been superseded by electricity and the internal combustion engine? What if the Victorian age hadn’t died but merely morphed into something bigger, grander—and more twisted?
If you’d like to imagine the Steampunk world, think Victorian, with a twist. Just a little bit darker (a la Jack the Ripper), a little bit weirder, and to those of us who appreciate the strange, that much more delightful.
The characters in my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures books are real—far from perfect, they have warts and fears, and disadvantages. The city’s real too—Victorian Buffalo, city (if not time) of my birth. Buffalo makes the perfect setting for Steampunk, industrial, gritty and yes, it has an edge.
Me, I love the edge. I love the twist. If you do too, come walk the brick streets of Steampunk Buffalo with me. You may never want to leave.
BUFFALO STEAMPUNK ADVENTURES Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aauK5ob3zI
Blurb for new release: Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
When Maddie MacGillicuddy loses her job, she’s desperate to find another. Though good jobs are available at the stables, only men are hired. A big, strapping girl, she becomes Matty in her brother’s clothing. Complications arise when a city magnate, assembling a tournament hockey team, admires Matty’s skating skills and recruits “him,” with real money and the city’s reputation on the line.
Huritt Gilbert is used to battling his way through life. At the stables, he routinely endures racial slurs, sometimes striking back. He’s never met a woman like Maddie and would do anything for her, including accept the dangerous position of goalie for her team. But when competition heats up, loyalties get twisted. Will Gilbert and Maddie play for glory, or love?
“Gilbert, you should see how good Maddie skates.”
“I’d like to,” Gilbert said in his dusky voice. The dark—which somehow matched that voice—seemed to close around them. It made the encounter feel more intimate than it should.
Maddie shivered. “I’d better get Roddy home. It’s getting colder.”
“Going to snow some more, too,” Gilbert offered, not taking his eyes from Maddie’s. “I can always tell.”
He wagged his dark head. Maddie had a sudden and completely inappropriate impulse to plunge her fingers through that black hair. But he still held her fingers captive.
He told her, “I get an instinct for certain things—sometimes I just know.”
“I see. And are you never wrong?”
He shrugged those wide shoulders. “Seldom enough.”
“Come on, Maddie,” Roddy demanded, completely immune to any undertones. “I’m hungry.”
“Yes, all right.”
She tugged at her fingers again; this time Gilbert let them go. Together, they climbed up over the bank and trudged to the foot of Ferry Street.
“Do you live far?” Gilbert asked. “Can I see you home?”
“Peach Street,” Maddie told him, wishing this somehow enchanting encounter had happened on any other day than the one during which she’d destroyed her life. “I think we’ll be all right.” She hoped so.
Gilbert nodded. “Maybe I’ll see you again on the ice.”
Later she wondered if he, with all his bright instincts, had uttered a prophecy.
Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. These days while she’s writing, you can always find her latest rescue, Lacy, nearby. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Author Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/760146.Laura_Strickland
Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951
BookBub page: https://www.bookbub.com/search?search=Laura+Strickland
“Hope?” you say? From all these stories of civilization torn down, people in chaos, life destroyed?
It may seem contrary, when real life is at a frightening point. But one common thread in much of this fiction is the inherent goodness of man. For every toilet-paper hoarding idiot, there is a Stu Redman fromThe Stand. For every self-serving politician, there is a Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Even in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is about the most bleak, horrifying, hopeless story ever, in the end there is a moment of humanity.
I believe we’re starting to see it now, in the communities around the world. People are beginning to reach out to others, while observing the new rules and realities of Covid-19 times. Italians confined to their homes sing to each other to boost morale. Local restaurants in my city make sure kids have lunch while schools are closed, and surely they can least afford it, since restaurant attendance is down. People shop for their at-risk elderly neighbors who should not be out. Granted, we are early in the process, and things may become more desperate as it lingers on. But humans are best at doing human.
My own post-apocalyptic YA series THE COLOR OF FEAR is founded on that issue of hope, and the conviction that those who stick to the path of right will triumph in the end over those who espouse hate and fear.
Tzu Lin Kwan, Xi San, Valery Paz, Eddie Garrick, Marie, Arik and all the others who try their best for their fellow humans are inspirational, and some of the favorite characters I’ve created. Not only do they fight the results of a terrorist plague, but they also oppose the white supremacist cult leader Gabriel and his Angels, who take advantage of the decimated population and the fears of the remaining white men and women to try to overthrow what remains of a poorly-organized government. The first book, WINDMILLS, takes the reader from Hong Kong to San Francisco; the second, DESTINATIONS, tells what happens as the ethnic survivors band together in the face of Gabriel’s threat, and the yet-to-be-released ADVERSARIES will reveal what happens when the inevitable clash of the two occurs. Find out more at the COLOR OF FEAR tab above.
In the meantime, there are many other books that can remind you about the good that may come from tumultuous, post-apocalyptic times:
If you prefer movies, check these out: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/entertainment/contagion-and-pandemics-in-movies/index.html
Paul Carlson, Janet Joyce Holden, Michael Bailey, Carla Robinson,
Jeff Seeman, Kate Jonez, Gary Phillips, Lucio Rodriguez, Terry Bisson,
explore the future of trucking in this new science fiction anthology!
There’s something for every genre fiction fan in this follow-up to
the hit “18 wheels of Horror – a Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors.”
A disembodied driver wages war on self-driving trucks… A haul
through time takes an unexpected turn… Reality shatters for a
trucker using an experimental delivery device… Stargazing gives an
overweight driver a new lease on life… A young girl risks her life
to hitch a ride out of an apocalyptic wasteland…
“Skyways” trucking Science Fiction novel series, in which
legendary driver Jake McGraw (now an AI) and his son Sammy find new
adventures on the mysterious skyway between worlds.
exotic alien fuel additive at a truck stop, and the two find out just
how fast their Big Rig will go.
caught in a rebellion, and learns a terrible secret about her past
that affects not only hers and her beloved daughter’s lives, but
threatens humanity itself.
quantum delivery device, and has to make a choice that could re-unite
him with his son, or take him to a unknown future.
experimental driving program, but a cyber-attack by hackers turns him
into an revenge-fueled ghost in the machine.
Magazine, a trucker helps out a young hitchhiker as they travel over
the miles-high mountain that an apocalyptic seismic event has thrust
through the heart of America.
hundreds of trucks through the blasted wasteland of middle America,
and a group of drivers discover a secret that could change the
world—if it doesn’t get them killed first.
the robot drivers that threaten to take over human jobs—and who
also yearn for freedom.
water for a droughtriddled future, but encounter a time paradox
threatens to destroy everything they know.
oils deep into the Arctic tries to find out what the Canadian
government is doing with the odd cargo.
flies through a hidden wormhole and winds up thousands of light years
from home. Scared and lost, he struggles to find a way back to his family.
apocalyptic wasteland, who risks her life to stow away on a truck
that could carry her to freedom.
him years after he committed a hit and run accident. But things are
far from what they seem…
lease on life thanks to the fantastic things he sees while looking at
experimental technology propelling her truck has somehow brought back
a ghost from her past.
afoul of a government agent when he tries to smuggle contraband alien
technology, and his fugitive sister in-law works to save him with a
seemingly magical interdimensional artifact.
when he goes to work for a high-tech autonomous trucking company.
volatile rocket fuel through gang-war torn Los Angeles, and nothing,
not bullets, bombs, or bad luck, will stop him from delivering his
for exclusive content and a giveaway!
Please welcome Lyndi’s adventurous friend Michelle Miles!
I’m excited about my upcoming release next Tuesday! Vol 4, Lord of the Underworld, in my time travel action/adventure series, Ransom & Fortune Adventures, will be available in ebook and paperback (but you can preorder now). Here’s the blurb:
In this new adventure, Dane is heralded as a god while Skye is branded a sorceress. Can he use his godlike power to save them both?
Skye and Dane hurtle through space and time only to end up in a desert world resembling that of Ancient Egypt…but not. As they navigate the dry, dusty world in the aftermath of war, Dane is heralded as the Lord of the Underworld, a god resurrected as human and eerily like the Egyptian god, Osiris. The ancient inhabitants fear him, the pharaoh and his wife worship him, while Skye, with her flaming red hair, is branded a sorceress and sent to work in the blistering heat as a slave.
Now Dane must work his way back to her but is thwarted by factions he never expected and can’t outmaneuver. And when a new enemy appears, their situation becomes the most dangerous yet.
The series started out as a serial a long time ago and ended up in a two-book novel format with a small publisher. When I got the rights back, it took me a while to decide what to do with the books. I finally committed to turning them into 30k word novellas! They have been a lot of fun to revisit and rewrite. Volume 4 is a brand new, never before published adventure!
And if you want to catch up on the series, here are the other three novellas:
Vol 1 – Highland Fling
Vol 2 – Dead of Winter
Vol 3 – The Citadel
They’re short, action-packed reads that will keep you turning pages. I hope you’ll check out the series. It’s a whole lot of fun!
Here’s where you can pre-order Lord of the Underworld: https://books2read.com/Lord-Underworld-Vol4
And here’s where you can find me on the web and sign-up for my newsletter: http://www.michellemiles.net
About Michelle Miles:
Michelle Miles believes in fairy tales, true love and magic. She is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy, IN THE TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING, as well as the fantasy romance series, REALM OF HONOR, featuring knights and their ladies fair, and the paranormal dragon-shifter romance series, DRAGON PROTECTORS.
In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, cross-stitching and watching movies. Even though she’s a native Texan, she loves castles, dragons, fairies and elves and is an avid Game of Thrones fan. She can be found online at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Interesting story about Bozeman, Montana, not too far from the Bitterroot. Seems like they have a lot of problems that my new home city, Asheville, NC, is dealing with:
Is it possible to build up too much fun for anyone to afford?
A bad divorce, a broken heart, a need to begin again.
These three things propel reporter Sara Woods to leave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and take a job as the new reporter for small-town Ohio’s Ralston Courier. Ralston is a sleepy little town that doesn’t seem to have much to offer this big-city girl, but her very first assignment is to investigate a dead body, a young woman found half-frozen on the side of a country road. As more bodies are discovered, the only common link seems to be that they’re all young women Sara’s age.
Still recovering from a previous auto accident and struggling with chronic pain, she becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing.
But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, a doctor at the city hospital who shares her concern about the deaths of the young women, one of whom was his own patient. He teaches her through Eastern techniques how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past.
Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he stalks her, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone. He always turns up at the most suspicious times, especially where the dead bodies are found. What’s his interest in Sara?
Sara continues to dig deeper into the story, and tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.
By then, it’s too late.
Where to buy Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Gloria kept me on a full round of assignments, though I still didn’t have a regular beat. I interviewed farmers, called state legislators on budget talks, and wrote obituaries. But I found that whenever I asked for time to do further investigation about Lily and the others, Gloria bent over backward to make it happen for me.
While I was grateful, I thought it was unlike the hard-bitten editor to allow such devotion to a cause that had been shelved by the police and everyone else. She certainly didn’t seem to give others that leeway. After several days, I found myself alone with her by the coffeepot in the hallway between the news and sports departments, a pencil stuck behind one ear, looking very intellectual in the tortoise shell glasses. Her movements were stiff, caused by arthritis, according to newsroom scuttlebutt, but she refused any medication and denied any disability. I asked her about Lily.
“Gloria, I get the feeling you should be telling me to get over this case and move on. But you don’t.”
“No.” She poured a tall mug of black coffee.
I waited for more of an explanation, but she didn’t elaborate. I shoved several quarters in the snack machine for some cheesy crackers. “So you think it’s worthwhile.”
“Yes.” Gloria stared out the window, jaw set.
She was as stubborn as I. A little smile inched across my lips. “Because?” I said pointedly.
She looked up and down the hall, and started to speak, but bit her lip instead. “Come to my office,” she said, and marched away. After a moment of stunned silence, I followed her. She waited till I was inside, then shut the door. She turned on her radio, loud. National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Terry Gross boomed forth, interviewing a movie director about independent film making. Gloria gestured at the chair next to the desk, and I took it, but she sat on the counter under the window, cranked it open so she could smoke.
She took her time, burning up half the cigarette before she finally turned to me. “I want you to get them.”
“The people who are killing all these women. Because there’s more than four. There’s more than the ones you pulled from O’Neal’s files. By my informal count, there’s at least 17.”
“What?” My voice, tight with surprise, got almost shrill.
She glanced at the radio, then at the door, then at me.
“Sorry,” I said, much more softly. “Where does that number come from?”
“Several people have taken notice of the deaths, the pattern, the statistics. We’ve compared notes and done what we can, but the authorities were less then helpful.”
“Good thing that’s changed,” I said with a heavy helping of sarcasm.
She smiled without warmth. “Cops are cops. They’ll never change.” She tossed the cigarette butt out the window. “When you’re ready, I will give you my contacts. Because I want you to nail the bastards. They killed my baby sister.”
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So this week, I’m trying something new, after being invited by author Lisabet Sarai to join in a bit of good work! Each participating author will identify a charity they wish to benefit, and then pledges to donate a certain amount of money to their charity for each comment made by a reader.
Furever Friends is a cat rescue organization in Asheville, NC. I have fostered–and foster
failed!– for them, and in fact, have my dear Daisy Mae, Reba and Clarice all thanks to them.
Fortunately, I’ve passed on more kittens than I’ve kept to great furever homes, and I am so pleased to be able to work with Pam and Glynn Lookabill and the other volunteers.
Kitten season is coming up, however, and they will need a new influx of cash for the rounds and rounds of bottle babes, kittens and mommas that will come through their doors.
So as a result, I will donate $5 for each comment made as part of this blog hop to Pam and her group.
If you, too, love kitties and want to help out, contact Pam at fureverfriends at bellsouth dot net, and she can give you all the particulars!
Now for the entertainment part of the post, here is a blurb and excerpt from THE LOST CHORD, a YA fantasy from Dragonfly Publishing with Bee Warrick, a girl on the autism spectrum, as a heroine!
A poisonous wave is spreading disease and discord across the eleven known universes. Seven special people, known as Keys, must strike the Lost Chord in order to restore the balance. Among those Keys is Bee Warrick, an autistic teenager from Earth who has traveled between the realms for years without realizing it. Can Bee help the Conductor find the other Keys before a bitter enemy strikes the wrong chord and shatters the universes?
Halfway through, her brother Reese barged in. The tall, broad-built boy plopped down on her bright pink bedspread and dropped his football helmet on the floor, where it rolled in a circle before coming to a stop.
Bee jumped and covered her ears to protect herself from the sound.
“Hey there little SPED girl. I see Mom isn’t riding you about your homework.” He glared at her. “Must be nice to be autistic.”
“I’m not stupid like you.” Bee knew Reese wasn’t supposed to call her names. Mom had told him often enough, ever since she was little. But he never stopped, so now she called them back.
She wasn’t sure exactly what ‘autistic’ was supposed to be; she’d read about it in books. She was just what she was, not some word that started with A. Her favorite book was Songs of the Gorilla Nation, about a woman with autism who’d learned to communicate with gorillas.
At least gorillas didn’t make fun of you, she thought.
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
Reese twisted up his face at her. He had the same auburn hair as Bee, a color received from their father’s genes. She hardly remembered their father. He came and took Reese away every other weekend. He never took her. She didn’t even bother to go to the window and look at him any more.
“Bzzzzzzz,” she said, annoyed and wishing he’d go away.
“You know that’s so damn lame. Knock it off. People talk about you at school. SPED.”
Bee knew that term was derogatory by the tone of Reese’s voice, though she couldn’t understand why it was bad. ‘Special’ was something that was extra good. So special education should be something really great, like a Christmas present.
Besides she wasn’t in specials any more. Just speech. Her classes were regular, just like everyone else, and she finally didn’t have a TSS following her everywhere.
Ever since she could remember, she’d been in therapy—occupational therapy, where she’d swung in a net and glued letters on paper; hippotherapy, where she rode and cared for horses at a local farm (she’d liked that); and de-sensitizing therapy, when her mother had scrubbed her body with a surgical sponge for 15 minutes at a time several times a day (she’d hated that).
The longest had been speech therapy, where she’d struggled to learn language, a process that was short-circuited somewhere in her brain. So much didn’t make sense.
Like special education.
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