So, if you missed my [[last blog post]], the third book in my KINETICS series, titled “KINETIC HISTORY”, will be released on January 31st, 2020!
Look at the amazing cover. Just look at it! [[Designed By Starla]] worked her magic again!
Moving on, because I’m sure you all want to know everything that is happening leading to the release, as well as the aftermath. If so, keep reading.
Starting Monday, January 20th, 2020 (TOMORROW, PEOPLE!!), the first book in this series (“KINETIC REBIRTH”), will be free for Kindle through to Friday, January 24th, 2020. Yes, you read correctly: FREE KINDLE BOOK.
I addition, the second account of the KINETICS saga (“KINETIC MEMORY”), will be having a Kindle Countdown promotion. At 08:00 PST on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, this second part of the incredible journey KINETICS will drag you along will be only 99c! However, on Sunday, January 26th, 2020 at 16:00 PST, the price will jolt up a tad to be $1.99, which is still a bit better than its list price of #2.99, which is what it will revert back to at Midnight PST on Thursday, January 30th: just one day before “KINETIC HISTORY” will drop into the mass chaos of Amazon’s self-published authors.
Also, if you are more of a print book person, the kind that loves the smell of a new physical book, here’s a preorder list to fill out for SIGNED and PERSONALIZED copies of all three books, should you want them. You can find pricing details in [[this blog post]], or just keep reading (almost done, I promise)::
Pre-Release SIGNED book deals — Pricing details —
KINETIC REBIRTH (KINETICS #1)
> Each Copy: $8
> Shipping: $4
>> Form closes 2/16/2020
KINETIC MEMORY (KINETICS #2)
> Each Copy: $8
> Shipping: $4
>> Form closes 2/16/2020
KINETIC HISTORY (KINETICS #3)
> Each Copy: $9
> Shipping: $4
>> Form closes 2/16/2020
All 3 Books (KINETICS #1-3)
> Each Order: $25
> Shipping: $5 per set
>> Form closes 3/1/2020
Leading up to this has been a challenging road. The day of KINETIC HISTORY’S release marks three years without my Jessi on Earth. That day haunts my memories in ways I can’t explain. She was so full of life and energy, the most kindhearted, helpful, comforting, spontaneous, and random bundle of energy I’d ever met. Without her in my life, I never would’v e met my husband, and we never would’ve gotten married. If you want to know more to that story, it’s told within my “Acknowledgements” section at the beginning of KINETIC HISTORY when it releases January 31st.
Now, after over 2 years of not producing new, fresh, written content, I release this one on the very day a part of my heart was ripped out. Felt it was the best way to honor a truly special person and guardian angel and muse for everything I’ve written since meeting her, both before and after her life on Earth.
And, yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a Summary Sunday, but I hope to pick those up soon. And, to be entirely honest, between release prep, new job responsibilities at day job, and searching for a house with the Hubby, my writing time has been quite pathetic. However, I got hit with inspiration last night, and began a potential new series. Still in the early stages though. BUT, hopefully, once the chaos of KINETIC HISTORY’s release dies down a bit, I can pick back up on the #Productivity2020 train and push through!
Hopefully you Vikans out there will help support me in this series. It’s my baby, and I want to share it with the world!
Keep Faith, guys.
And, as was said in KINETICS many, many times, “Assume Nothing.“
Hiya, Vikans!! Nice to see you all again since the last time I was…
. . . . .
Goodness, I’m really not the best at being active here, am I?
Well, hopefully, I can change that. With y’all’s help, of course!
Since I last checked in here, lots has happened. To keep it brief, I’ll just mention the biggest one:
I GOT MARRIED!!
Yep, never thought I’d get a happily ever after, and still not sure my husband knows what he’s gotten himself into. Guess he’ll find out eventually. 😉
Now, to get into serious writing-related business in this post. Ready? Cuz I’ll need y’all’s help!
So, here we are, in November of the Year 2019. Though only 1 month until the new decade of 2020, most people probably haven’t even thought about their goals for the New Year. Me, I refuse to make a New Years Resolution. I was inspired years ago by buddy and fellow author Tee Morris. Find his blog and website [here], to support him: one of my mentors and an amazing role model.
Anyway, as we are nearing the end of one year, it’s time to plan for another. So, that means… UPDATING MY SPREADSHEETS!!! YAY!!!
. . .
What? A Fantasy Author can’t get a thrill from Microsoft Excel? I work in IT, for crying out loud.
. . .
DON’T. JUDGE. ME.
Anyway, if y’all remember, I made a New Years goal to try and write every day for an entire year. Here’s what resulted::
Out of the 335 days that have passed since beginning of 2019, I wrote for only approximately 46 days. OUT OF 335 DAYS!!!
Yeah, I know, shocked me too.
That’s when I realized what happened. My drive, my fuel, my inspiration had been shot down. My most recent release was back in 2018, with the first CHAOS ACCOUNTS collection book my only release in 2019. And that was back in February. My goal to write something – ANYTHING – every day of the year got balled up and thrown in a corner. My annual Smoky retreat gave me the closure I needed over JV’s death years ago. Once I got home, my desire to write faded. I even tried MANY times to crank out the words, but they either never came, or I never even loaded the laptop to write, because I felt small, and almost scared of writing. I didn’t think I could measure up. And, between no recent releases, wedding planning, little sister graduating college, and my family having health problems ALL over the board… Yep, I was preoccupied. But, even when I had the time to write, my mind convinced me to do other stuff instead.
I am going to take my writing productivity as a serious endeavor. I have updated that GIANT spreadsheet I’ve shown you all before, and found that a lot of my projects are 50%-90% complete, according to my Target Word Counts. I’ve also got a good number of short story/novella series on the docket as well.
On this Form, I have listed a bunch of unfinished projects, ones I’d like to pursue in 2020. I want you all to go to this form, and tell me if you think each of the projects deserves to get a higher priority on my productivity chain. Obviously, I’ll be checking results throughout December to prep all the projects that I’ve listed. But, the answers I get from all of your Vikans out there on the Interwebs will help me plan, and, more importantly, create personal deadlines and/or word count goals for me to get my writing mojo back, once and for all!
So, we’re about a day or so away from the end of 2017. Looking back at the events the rest of the world dealt with, from losing friends over politics, shootings, some people scared to even cross the street. We lost pop culture icons, some very tragically. So, in the public eye, 2017, in general, sucked.
I look back on my 2017, my personal 2017, and, on the surface and at first, seemed just as sucky and tragic. My regular day job is going through major changes that might have me out of work some time this year. My books, stories, and Patreon supporters had drastically, exponentially less impact on the reading community than I had hoped for. And, biggest hit of all, I lost JV on January 31st. There’s rarely been a day since she passed that I haven’t cried or at least gotten choked up. She was my coauthor, my co-conspirator, my Youtube vlogging partner, my best friend, and, post-mortem, my biggest source of inspiration.
Which leads into the next, and more important, part of this post. I have very strong GAD and depression, which means trying to find things to be happy about is very VERY difficult. However, at the end of every year, I organize my thoughts, reflecting on the year as a whole, both good things and bad. Here’s a bit of happy things I am grateful for:
Went to Smoky retreat again. It was only 3 weeks after JV’s passing, so I was in a dark spot. My fellow Somkies supported me lie I’ve rarely had before, and I cranked out 30+k on my first KINETICS novel.
I finished my Smoky project within a month (End of Feb to end of March), and sent it out for professional editing a week or two later.
I got to kick two bands off my bucket lists of concerts I wanted to see live before I die. AND got to take my sister. Sister bonding time rocks. 🙂
I wrote three short stories that became my CHAOS ACCOUNTS serial saga. Fourth one, “Account of Secrets” is due at the stroke of New Year 2018.
I wrote and completed both KINETICS #1 and #2, titled “Kinetic Rebirth” and “Kinetic Memory” respectively. First one went live in September/October 2017, and the second coming late Winter 2018
I started two new novel projects. One was KINETICS #3, title TDB. Second is the first in my CASTERS series, which essentially is recycling characters from my first series I wrote in high school and creating a story so drastically different than their original one.
I rebranded my short stories, that now all have bad-ass covers. 🙂
I linked all my series into a connected, interlocking universe (KNU), where each one relates to another, so my readers can find Easter eggs and connections and freak out as much as I was when making those very links.
And that’s just the major stuff. This year was my most productive writing year since I started my writing journey in 2007. … Wow, ten years? Hard to believe. But, that’ll be a reflection I tackle in my blog at a later date.
I’ve finished two full-length novel manuscripts, started 2 others, and cranked out 4 short stories. And that’s just the writing bit. I’ve come so far in my day job career, learned so many new things. Plus, the year has rounded out with rebranding both of my short story saga’s. I’ll provide links to everything I’ve published to date, including the New Year’s preorder link to “Account of Secrets“, my 4th CHAOS ACCOUNTS story.
Looking toward 2018, I’m determined to be just as productive as I was in 2017, maybe more so. In addition to CHAOS ACCOUNTS #4 on New Year’s Day, KINETIC MEMORY is due out in a month or so (still working on last minute proof checking), CHAOS ACCOUNTS #5 is slated to release in Spring/Summer 2018, and I’ve got a plan to hopefully have another book released in Summer/Fall 2018 as well, but depends on editing and cover delays. This book will take us back to where my publishing journey started. Hint: it’s a world that I’ve already written stories for. It’s also the namesake for this website. 😉
Now, here’s the covers and links to all of my writing that I’ve published. Some are free permanently, some free only until the New Year (on Smashwords only), and some that cost a little bit.
So, a LOT has happened lately for me, both in terms of personal and professional plotlines. In addition, my eyes opened wide about three weeks ago, almost as if struck by lightning, in an instant, I had my entire writing and publishing career figured out. Well, in basic, general terms and only in my head, at least. Here’s how this happened, and what it means for my readers and me.
Three weeks ago, I was 25,000 words into KINETICS 3, 13k of them written during the previous 8 days of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those that don’t know that acronym). I had decided to recycle characters from manuscripts that ended up in my “Manuscript Graveyard”, essentially, stories and novels that I didn’t think would ever see the light of day. By doing that, I make this ode to my best friend JV fully encompass my writing career from its very roots.
Two characters that will show up in Book 3 are named Chrissy and Ryan. They were the Hero and Antagonist from my first ever finished manuscript in high school. Over the course of middle and high school, I’d finished 2 full novel-length manuscripts, and started on the next three. Back then, I bounced between books in a single series, as it was a bit easier for my ADHD minded imagination at the time. Toward the latter half of high school senior year, I ditched this series for Terrara Vikos-related writing (aka-first book in that trilogy).
However, I dug it out again mid-college. Read through it. At the end, all I could think of is, “This is a piece of crap!” So, I decided to try a complete rewrite back in 2012. In fact, my first two short stories for my Creative Writing class critique in college were written with characters from my Chrissy and Ryan series, at the time named THE ENCOUNTER. I had hoped those stories would give me the boost to get that first book rewritten as similarly to the original as possible, just with better writing. And, hopefully, a domino effect would occur.
I stopped five chapters in.
And those five chapters went back into the Manuscript Graveyard.
Here we are in Fall of 2017, and Chrissy and Ryan decide to become a part of my KINETICS universe. When trying to figure out their back stories, my min wandered back to my original, action-packed story, with lies, secret identities, a heroine like Kim Possible, and magic that vaguely resembled Avatar: The Last Airbender.
I was a seventh grader coming up with this story. Get over it.
Anyway, I was trying to figure out their past that led up to their appearance in KINETICS 3. What would need to change? What would be different? That’s when I had a major, stray thought:
“What if I didn’t need to change a thing? What if, somehow, their story happened in some kind of relation to my KINETICS storyline?”
“What if ALL my series were interconnected like that? They’re basically the same type of magic system and abilities, after all…”
One thing led to another, and, one-by-one, connecting lines criss-crossed, and I had most of my major projects from the last decade of writing interlocked with each other. My adrenaline pumping again, I finally realized that this new universe would probably take my entire writing career to finish. Granted, a have a good chunk of those interlocked series either completely written or partially written, but I’d still need money for covers and editing and such, so I’ll have to space them out.
This universe I’ve created looks like a cork board with strings that a stalker or serial killer might have, just in my mind. I am tentatively named this universe the KNU, or “Kinetic Noveletic Universe”. Once I’ve got two more books or so out, I will put “(KNU)” at the end of each series title, making it easier on Amazon for my readers trying to find every story within this interlocked collection of worlds. Also, this might be fun for my readers, because there will be Easter eggs in each series that mirror or relate to something happening in a connected series. It’ll be fun, right?!
A few days after this revelation, I started working on Chrissy and Ryan’s story again from scratch. Remember when I said above that their backstory didn’t have to change?
Well it did.
OKAY, A LOT! GEEZ!
The story is completely different from the one I started with. The opening scene was salvaged from my 2013 rewrite, but the reasons and motivations were completely different. In fact, one of my main adult heroes becomes an antagonist, whereas my antagonist became my anti-hero, and the romance that was slow-paced and spanned three novels originally starts in Chapter Two.
Not digging any deeper than that, sorry. You’ll have to wait for it.
Oh, and next week’s blog post should have long-awaited details on KINETIC 2, as well as a few details on my above mentioned series with Chrissy and Ryan, tentative series title is “CASTERS”.
I am currently panicking. With KINETIC REBIRTH releasing digitally next Tuesday (September 19th), my day job taking a sharp turn on a rocky mountain side, and my creativity monster giving me flack, my mind never shuts off. I have woken up slightly late every day this week thus far, luckily only arriving a few minutes late to day job. My brain has been going a hundred miles an hour as I prep for release day, which makes my body exhausted. If that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve been getting crippling chest pain, which doctor’s tell me is due to anxiety.
No. Frickin. Way. NEVER would have guessed THAT. (Catch the sarcasm?)
Anyway, long story short, lots of stuff going on. KINETICS #2 (Title TBD) reached 40,000 words a few weeks ago, with a total goal of minimum 60-65k. ACCOUNT OF SECRETS, my Chaos Accounts Story #4, is only two or three scenes away from its cliffhanger ending, so close I can taste it.
I haven’t touched either in a week.
My creativity and inspiration has been floating back to the series I was writing with JV. If you want an idea of how we decided to coauthor a book together, that story starts as far back as when we first met in October 2011. Check out the videos JV and I did for my Youtube Channel: [Part 1 here] and [Part 2 here]. Part 1 talks about our friendship, while Part 2 talks writing a book series together. Also, if you want a good grasp of JV’s character and personality (and mine as well), check out [this video] (also below) of us acting like goofballs::
This has happened once before, back in April, where my inspiration for writing always crept back to Lite & Darke (Our series title). It’s a struggle, because, currently, I do not have access to her notebooks. Legal stuff I’m not going to get into. The point is, I coped with it by finishing a few unfinished chapters I’d written, and updated our outline/word count spreadsheet. That gave me enough satisfaction to finally move back to projects I might actually have a chance of finishing, aka, Chaos Accounts and Kinetics.
Well, it came creeping back into my brain lately, probably because of the nearby release date, and the fact that JV would have had her baby around the seven month marker since her death.
Not an hour has gone by every day since January 31st that I don’t think of her. She was my closest friend, practically a sister. I made a promise to her while during the funeral home viewing and at the church ceremony, as well as promised each of her family members and close friends, that I would finish Lite & Darke for her, and her name would be on the covers right next to mine. While KINETICS is my ultimate dedication to her life and personality, Lite & Darke is my way of showing how we helped each other to grow as writers, how we had a chemistry with creative juices and thought processes. In fact, one of us would have an idea for a scene, and when telling the other over the phone, the other would cut the original plotter’s description, but say the exact same thing the originator was going to say. I swear the two of us had some kind of psychic bond between us, which is probably why her being gone is so painful.
Anyway, to conclude, I went into my Lite & Darke folder on my computer and opened my merged file with all of our completed or partially completed chapters, as well as the Book 1 Outline we only partially finished filling out. Don’t think even for a second that was all we’d planned together. No, we outlined the whole series in our heads and words, and I remember every single idea, even without written/typed documentation.
I did some minor editing, finished up a partial chapter, and updated the Outline with the total Word Count so far.
Yup, you read that right: Thirty Thou, baby!
This doesn’t include all the scenes that JV handwrote during her breaks at work. Like I mentioned before, those are locked up until May 2018 at the latest. However, I found a loop hole. In our Outline, we designated chapters to each of us, labeling each chapters as “C”, “J”, or “Toss Up”. While I can’t work on the “J” ones just yet, and I remain wary of the “Toss Up” ones as well, I can still writing the scenes I was assigned, at least until my creativity monster is satisfied with the progress and lets me go back to Chaos Accounts and/or Kinetics.
Oh, and just FYI, KINETIC REBIRTH is currently doing preorders for the Kindle version, which, as mentioned above, released on September 19th, 2017 (Next Tuesday // SIX DAYS!!). I’ve been a bit disappointed at the lack of preorders I’ve gotten, so if you’ve got a Kindle or a Kindle app, PLEASE preorder a copy! Preorders count once release day hits, and every one matters to me. To preorder the Kindle copy, PLEASE click [here]! It would mean THE WORLD TO ME!
If you’re a print-book type of person, [subscribe] to my email list. You will receive an email closer to print release date, which is October 19th, the six year anniversary of when JV and I became friends. You will also receive an email the day of digital release next Tuesday morning, as well as a reminder on Print release date as well. Print might not be perfectly timed for a recorded release of October 19th, as I’ll have to approve it prior to October 19th to ensure it is live and available for purchase by the 19th, but I will send the print reminder as soon as the book goes live.
Also, if you have a Kindle, you can get a taste of my KINETICS series on Instafreebie, where you can download KINETIC TRAGEDY, a short prequel story available only to Instafreebie subscribers currently. You can get that story [here]. Also, by downloading that story on Instafreebie, you are automatically added to the above aforementioned subscribing e-Newsletter list. So, not only will you get an email alert when my books/stories release, but you get a free story out of it too! 😀
Maybe a snippet of the first chapter of KINETIC REBIRTH might give you an idea of whether or not you want to join Jaden, Lukas, Kiran, and Jessica on their journey home.
As a final word before the sneak peek…
Keyboard keys tap-tapped all around Jaden Walker. She ripped her gaze from her computer screen to gaze around the competition room. Her spot sat in the second row from the back, with about ten rows of students and computers in front of her. Supervisors scattered around the rows, keeping an eye out for cheaters. Jaden didn’t see the point in that, as every competitor’s test had been randomized out of a pool of questions. In order to cheat, you’d either need a camera and earpiece or be an idiot. That first option screamed “Idiot” to her too, to be entirely honest. After a quick sweep of the testing room, Jaden locked gazes with one of the Supervisors. His burning amber hair stuck out like a sore thumb as he smiled crookedly at her, as if he knew something she didn’t. That look pointed out the obvious, as he – being a Supervisor – already functioned in an aspect of the business world and obviously would know more than college freshman Jaden Walker. Rolling her eyes, she directed her attention back to her test. Despite the beaming talent surrounding her, she knew she would wipe the floor with them. About twenty minutes later, she closed down the testing browser, grabbed her coat, and scooched her way down the narrow walkway to get out of the square of competitors. Right as she reached the edge, she ran right into somebody. “I’m sorry-” “Shhhh…” the man whispered, “Others are still testing.” Jaden nodded. “Sorry.” She kept her voice hushed as well. When she looked up at the Supervisor, she recognized him as the red-headed man who’d made her feel annoyed earlier. “May I ask your name?” Scoffing, she replied lightly, “Like you need to know.” The smallest of smiles crept onto the man’s face, his green eyes gazing down at her as if analyzing her every move. “I’m sure I’ll know it soon enough.” “Riiiiiiight…” A chill shot down her back, which she shrugged off. As she turned around to leave, she felt his eyes on her the whole walk to the back exit. As the door shut behind her, she relaxed, releasing a heavy sigh. “Sooooooo, how’d you do?” Jaden spotted Lukas, her closest friend, leaning against the wall with one foot flat against the tan wallpaper. “I hope you’re not leaving a shoe print on that wall. The convention center staff might not take too kindly to that.” Removing his foot, he smiled. “Avoiding the question, I see?” Shoulders dropping from exasperation, she snapped lightly, “How should I know? I won’t know until the awards ceremony tomorrow night.” “Jeesh, just asked a question. No need to be harsh.” Rolling her eyes with a small smile, Jaden walked down the testing hallway. Her eyes skimmed the walls, all plastered with promotional “BS” related to this Phi Beta Lambda national conference. She won first place in two state competitions and second in a third, which gave her admittance to the national level of testing. Even placing in the top ten would be amazing. Plus, it looked impressive on a resume when she would graduate in a few years. She’d just finished her final test, so all that was left of her agenda involved networking with business professionals (in her wording, schmoozing the big wigs) and tomorrow night’s award ceremony at Six PM. Lukas suddenly appeared at her side, matching her step by step, completely in sync with her pace and speed. “So, no weird people in there?” “Well there was one guy, but I think other people saw him, so not a figment.” The term “figment” referred to the hallucinations she’d had since she was a child. At first, her parents blamed it on an over-active, childish imagination. Once she’d reached high school and still saw people and animals who weren’t there, her parents worried deeply for their daughter. They employed the help of a shrink, who, for each session, she’d humored with breathing exercises and repetitive mantras and meds until she bolted out to go home and read a book. Rather quickly, she masked her diagnosed schizophrenia from the world, instead diving deep into her studies and avoiding as many social situations whenever possible. “You trust your sight yet?” Heaving a heavy sigh, Jaden responded, “Not entirely. You’re still here.” “Hey!” After whacking him lightly on the back of his head, she finally cracked a smile. Lukas had been her friend since third grade and stuck like glue to her side. In fact, he went everywhere with her. Weirdly enough, he’d frequently show up out of the blue during personal trips and vacations, insisting he wanted to surprise her. At first, his surprises did shock and elate her, but after a couple years of it, it became pretty predictable. His parents tended to be lenient toward him and his antics, and they somehow had the money for him to follow her pretty much anywhere. Part of her thanked God that he wasn’t another one of her figments. People saw him, talked to him, and played with him, so he existed. Since he’d been by her side for so long, she confided her mental handicap to him early on, and only him. Outside of him and her family, no one knew, and she wanted it to stay that way. She’d thought it was strange with how accepting he was with it. He didn’t freak out or get depressed or feel worrisome. He’d pretty much shrugged it off, like seeing imaginary people everywhere was as normal as pizza on a Friday night. Lukas rubbed where she whacked him. “Um, ow!” Her smiled widened slightly as she shoved him with her shoulder. “That didn’t hurt and you know it.” She knew it too, because he possessed a “high pain tolerance”, as he’d reminded her on countless occasions. With a light chuckle, he shoved her with his shoulder like she had to him. “Good, you remembered.” Then, he froze, stopping in his tracks. His icy blue eyes locked on something ahead. “Uh, oh…” Her eyes followed his line of sight and easily spotted two teenagers making a beeline for them. Or, rather her, because she went to address Lukas to discover he’d vanished. Again. He’d done this frequently in her life, and it always annoyed her. He didn’t up and poof away in a puff of smoke, but he always picked the perfect moment to disappear on her, usually moments he didn’t want to deal with. “Freaking kidding me, Wolfe!” The two kids stopped about three feet from her. The girl waved and greeted, “Hi!” Her personality bubbled with childish excitement, like a kid stuck in a sixteen-year-old’s rather bulky body. Jaden stared at her for a moment before weakly raising a hand as well. “Hi?” The boy with her rolled his eyes. “Jess, you’re freaking her out.” The girl’s eyes widened slightly. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.” “Not startled,” Jaden replied slowly, “Just weirded out. What can I do for you two?” The girl and boy looked at each other briefly before turning attention back to her. “My name’s Jessica, but most people call me Jessi. My twin brother here, Kiran, usually calls me Jess or JV, just randomly picking between four different variations of my name. It’s a good thing I’m used to being addressed with all four throughout my life.” Kiran’s head rolled back as he sighed, “Jess, diarrhea of the mouth again. I honestly don’t think she cares about your millions of nicknames.” Shaking a hand at him, Jaden said, “It’s fine. I don’t mind. My sister’s the same way sometimes. So, Jessi, Kiran… Can I help you with something?” The two teens exchanged looks again before looking back at her. Jessi told her, “We think someone might be looking for you.” Raising an eyebrow, Jaden responded, “Probably my parents. They’ve been wandering around this Gaylord center every time I have mandatory events. I’ll find them eventually, I promise. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She walked around them, but only made it two steps before the two kids stepped into her path. Holding up a hand, a “STOP” gesture, Jessi told her, “No, not your parents. Someone else. Someone bad.” In her mind, Jaden could only call them crazy kids with overactive imaginations. Right when that thought crossed her mind, she recalled that being her parents’ initial reaction to her seeing the figments. These two probably have been dealing with the same stuff she had her whole life, and she felt a pang of empathy for them. “Look, I’m sure security around here will be able to pick him up like a sore thumb.” Jessi shook her head, her sandy brown hair flying around at the rapid, overly-excited speed she swung it. Jaden caught scattered blonde highlights in the strands of her bob-like haircut. “No, they can’t, because no one can see him. Nobody but you.” Jaden’s heart started pounding in her chest, her skin chilled with goosebumps. Did these two kids, strangers at that, really know that she was a schizo? Shaking her head slightly to snap out of her worrisome, panicked thoughts, she replied, “I have no idea what you mean by that. Plus, I’ve got a seminar at four that I can’t be late for.” This time, Kiran spoke up, “Which seminar?” She hesitated. Clearly these two needed help, or at least needed to stick with their guardian or chaperone. But, she really didn’t see the harm in sharing. “‘Budgeting for Needs and Wants’. Since I’ll be coming out of college debt-free, thanks to my dad’s military benefits, I need to figure out how to budget once I don’t have my parents to help. I graduate in about three years, so it’s better to be prepared, you know?” Kiran’s eyes lit up, his irises a blue-green that reflected the color of the ocean. “Oh, cool! That sounds like fun! Mind if we tag along?” As much as Jaden wanted to get as far away from these unhinged children as fast as she could, she bit back her stress and told them nonchalantly, “Yeah, sure, that’s seems okay with me. You can join me. Make sure you have a notebook handy. I’ve heard the speaker is amazing and gives tons of good advice.” Kiran’s mouth widened into a huge smile. “That’s sounds awesome! Sold! C’mon, Jess, let’s go learn about finances.” Jessi stared at her brother for a few seconds before sighing heavily. “Alright, Mr. Studious Crazy, I’ll come too. Take notes for both of us though. I don’t want to zone out and not have the amazing knowledge this strange businessman has to offer.” Jaden recognized the slight sarcasm in the girl’s words, but Kiran’s excitement blocked him from identifying it himself. “Great! Lead the way…” He faded off, biting his lip. He glanced at her and then at his sister. Mentally rolling her eyes, Jaden filled in the missing blank: “Jaden. Jaden Walker.” With a smile, Jessi responded, “Nice to meet you, Jaden. I hope we won’t slow you down much.” As she held back a laugh, remembering a ton of times that Lukas had said that to her in jest, she told her, “Trust me, I’ve dealt with worse. Okay, I believe that seminar is in room 2B.” “Excellent!” Kiran rubbed his hands together, during which Jaden thought she saw sparks flying out. Trying to snap herself out of those thoughts didn’t work at first. First figments, and now I’m imagining electricity popping out of a kid’s hands. Don’t tell me my problem is branching out more… “Let’s go!” Kiran’s shout of excitement shocked her out of it. Her head snapped up from where it had been angled at the floor to find the two teens halfway across the atrium. Kiran waved at her excitedly. “C’mon, slowpoke! Thought this was your panel choice.” Her face cracked a small smile at his eagerness. As she walked to catch up with them, a question ran through her head that worried her. Did they know? Followed by a second one: How?