YA Storytellers “fireworks” excerpts — so hot they explode!


I’m excited to giveaway a signed paperback to a random Goodreads commenter in the YA Storytellers Book Club Group discussion of Shadow Slayer. Click here to participate….


Cover for the paperback copy of Shadow Slayer

Cover for the paperback copy of Shadow Slayer


Click here to listen to the series playlist!

Here’s the “fireworks” excerpt from Shadow Slayer:

He finally slows to a stop at the last deserted bonfire. The couples gathered here when we first arrived are inside the mansion, dancing no doubt. Drew turns toward me, grabbing both of my hands and says. “You are the Shadow Slayer.” I’m not sure if it’s his torment or desperation or the fact he believes this shadow stuff with all his heart that sends shivers up my spine in the warmth of the bonfire. I swallow hard. “What’s a Shadow Slayer?”

“You’re the only human who can stop the onslaught, who can turn the tide.” Drew tilts his head as if he doesn’t know what to say next. “It’s sporadic when you’re new. Visions come fast. Some are to be trusted. It’s part of the initiation.” I miss his smile, the one he flashed in the cafeteria when our eyes first met. By the glow of the bonfire in the light of the almost full moon, Drew’s so much more than a ten, his hot factor. This simple thing, being caught in his golden gaze in the heat of the bonfire, makes me realize I’m about to believe anything he says.


The land of the free and the home of the brave…[photo: courtesy Bryna Butler]

Where will your thoughts take you when fireworks light up the night sky this weekend?

For many years I haven’t been able to see fireworks on the 4th of July. So many years, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw fireworks. Fire danger in California played a part. Financially strapped cities too poor to put on shows was a factor. Over the past three years, these themes of danger and lack would unfortunately become forces with which I’d have to contend on a much deeper, personal level.

Tonight I thank the universe that I’ll see fireworks again. Seeing them with those I love is pure magic. Thanks for sharing some of your holiday weekend with me here at Laurasmagicday.

The YA Storytellers are all posting “fireworks” excerpts – so hot they explode! Reading excerpts from my fellow society authors – Bryna ButlerKasi BlakeHeather HildenbrandPatti LarsenQuinn LoftisLiz LongMelissa PearlL.M. PrestonStacey RourkeChristy Sloat and Suzy Turner is a fun way to beat the heat this holiday weekend. For more “fireworks” excerpts click here!


Dancing barefoot on the beach

Here’s a track from the soundtrack of my trip.

This song was playing at an open air bar/dance club just a few meters away. I was sitting on the beach in front of a bonfire on Gili Air with a group of new friends I’d made there. We were all talking about our lives. How they’d all met, where we might all be going. Laughing a lot. I traveled alone, but found I never was alone. It was the trip’s great gift, the company and wisdom of new friends. They were from Sweden, a guy and four girls. The guy and his girlfriend were very sweet and invited me to have dinner with them earlier that night. What struck me about him was how gentlemanly he was, making sure I had a glass of wine and that I knew everyone. Later that night I would discover the heartache he’d suffered. The gal I spoke with most of the night is an artist-yogi. A few Spanish gals and I would dance until morning.

My guru on Bali said in life three things are certain: Everyone will die, everyone will grow older, everyone will lose all that they have.

I hope to dance barefoot on the beach. Often.


When you see the Southern Cross for the first time…


Where have I been?

Around the world, in ninety days.

A research trip for a screenplay that was supposed to be five weeks long where I traveled to Australia and Indonesia turned into so much more. Thanks for your patience while I was away. I’m in the process of understanding all the changes that I’ve been going through and putting words to the experience. Surprisingly I’ve had no jet lag when I returned nearly three weeks ago and am instead working very hard on the screenplay and some film documentaries too. There’s so much to process. The trip was life affirming as well as life changing. You’ve been great supporters of my work and I’m thrilled to have you on this journey with me. One of the places I least expected to go was Mt. Everest, and as fate would have it, while I was there the worst disaster in the history of the storied mountain unfolded. An avalanche took the lives of 16 sherpas. They were family members and friends of the sherpas who trekked with me on the Everest trail. Sometimes stories come to you. This was perhaps the biggest story I’d ever been caught up in and it influenced my entire experience in Nepal, which started off as a humanitarian trip to provide dental care to “yakland” kids (children who live above 10,000 feet) some who are orphaned (due to the ten year civil war there) and some victims of human trafficking. This is but a small a window into one of the unexpected, but wonderful stops on my journey.

I haven’t updated my about page, because I really like the fact that I had written there that one of my dreams was to travel to Indonesia. And it’s so nice when dreams come true. I don’t think I’ll update it with my new dreams yet. It’s nice to savor and celebrate moments like this. *pops the cork off the champagne bottle* *pours you a glass* Now about that stand up comedy routine…




YA Storytellers : *blushes* or yeah I d-id….


This week for Fun Friday the YA Storytellers are dishing embarrassing moments. There are sooooo many to choose from for me. But the one that just cracks me up is the one that happened to me in Houston. I hadn’t flown very far, it was only a four hour flight. So I can’t blame this on jet leg or even exhaustion, I guess I could try and blame it on what I call travel haze. Overstimulation. Rushing. This thing and that thing on the mind. I was not quite where I needed to be CLEARLY.

See, I had to pee. Yeah. And so I did. Only, as I did, a very deep voice in the stall next to me said in a southern, very gentlemanly accent, “Ma’am, I believe you are in the wrong bathroom.” He must have seen my pink painted toes. You know those moments, the ones where you’re like, REALLY? It sort of hits me between the eyes and the center of my stomach at the same time and I alternate between wanting to laugh and disappear. I didn’t laugh. I remember that because I was so gobsmacked, as a good friend would say–it actually is the perfect word to describe how it felt for me. So I sort of doubled over on my half-naked self and swore silently. Then he added, “I’ll make sure no one else comes in while you are in here.” And my rescuer was a very wonderful man who asked me if I was okay. And I thought I was, but maybe deep down I really wasn’t. Anyway, looking into his deep dark eyes and seeing his white smile made whiter by his chestnut skin, I felt certain he was an angel watching out for me. A perfect stranger’s kindness is usually what meets my embarrassment every time. I guess fast friends are formed in the intimacy of being vulnerable, being human. And for every time I’ve wanted to disappear when I’ve been embarrassed, I’ve been given a measure of magic too.

Ginny, in Winnemucca, a small-town fairy tale has an embarrassing moment when she realizes she’s falling for the local axe-murderer…at least that’s what her best friend Lizzy calls him. Of course this happens the day she’s planning to breakup with Bobby, her fiáncee. Here’s the excerpt:

Clyde placed his murdering hand on the doorknob and took his

eyes off me for the very first time. He walked out of the stock room

but something floated in the air behind him and whatever-it-was

caught in the door Lizzy held open. I bent down, and freed the

paper, but it was just an empty toilet paper roll. I tossed it into the

garbage but when it landed on a pile of folded Pampers packing

boxes, I saw what I hadn’t seen when I held it in my hand––ribbons

of blue words.

“What’s that?” Lizzy said pawing my hand.

“Nothing.” I rolled it over in my fingers trying to make sense of the

scribbling. But, it wasn’t scribbling. It was, poetry. Even had a title,

No one loves you like me. Dated the day before.

There’s a circle, a spiral I walk

with dear Ginny

and a wish we’d never part

as we lift over our barbed wire sea

Ginny. Me. Clyde signed his name so hard it indented the

“Let me see,” Lizzy said. But I stuffed the poem in my apron like a

used Kleenex. Like it wasn’t the most enchanting moment of my

life––that a man I’d never spoken to wrote a love poem about me.

And for the first time I didn’t believe the rumors about Clyde.

Lizzy unloaded another box of shampoo and I peeked at the next


The Devil’s rope around my heart

I wanted to know more about Clyde as desperately as I wanted

nothing to do with Bobby.

“Now, you girls get back to work,” Charlie said, all fake mad, his

forehead a sea of wrinkles, his tuffty eyebrows formed a V like a

Muppet. Tie Guy sighed, scribbling on his clipboard again.

“Anna knows where you are. Bobby’ll be here any minute,”

Lizzy whispered in my ear.

I rolled Clyde’s poetry in my fingers, trying to read every word.

“Let me tell Bobby.” Lizzy eyed the poem.

I shook my head, dropped the poem into my apron pocket and

grabbed Lizzy by the hand so we could catch up to Clyde. My cell

vibrated again. I searched up and down every aisle but Clyde had

vanished. The clocks on the new majestic shelves in aisle nine

weren’t running. I stared at them anyway.

“Why are you just standing there?” Lizzy asked.

Clyde walked past empty picture frames and table lamps.

He met me at the frozen clocks and leaned his mop against the

majestic shelves.

My cell vibrated again, and all I wanted to do was breathe in

Clyde’s big-sky, blue-eyed stare. My stomach sank knowing why.

My heart had Devil’s rope around it too. I held tight to Espy’s

“Lizzy Fairchild, to the register,” Charlie announced over the

Lizzy said, “Keep away from my best friend, Convict.” She threw

Clyde an axe-murdering gaze on her walk down the aisle. She

was a master at axe-murdering gazes.

I’d never really seen Clyde before. And right then he wasn’t just

one of the people on the edges of my life anymore, he was front

and center.

“Straddling the fence is the same as straddling the middle of the

road,” Clyde said, like he knew the ripening would seal our fates.

Like he’d been with me when my sleep went thin and I’d straddle

the open road. And there, in aisle nine, I fell for Clyde. It was

wrong. It was lousy timing. But it was real. My heart jack-hammered

and more than anything I wish I had the power to freeze time.

Thanks for stopping by. If you feel like sharing one of your embarrassing moments, feel free to comment and we can have a laugh together. Check out all the fun posts from the other YA Storytellers here. Have a wonderful weekend! *waves* from Indonesia.


Clyde placed his murdering hand on the doorknob and took his


Wordless Wednesday


Teaser Tuesday: Gamelan––Growing up under Japanese Occupation

I’ve been researching and trying to write a story based on my family’s experience in World War II for about ten years now, ever since Dad started to open up about his experience. For ten years we’ve been sitting down with each other, talking about events, locations and his experiences, getting clear about the “when” and “wheres” of his time as a prisoner. When we first sat down together, it was difficult for him to remember just how many prisons he was in and how long he had been a prisoner. But, together, we pieced the puzzle together. I’ve read that “why” isn’t a very spiritual question. I kind of like that insight.

I’ve tried five different times to write the story as a novel. And, well…it just wasn’t happening. Each attempt fell apart for one reason or another. And then, after I’d taken only a few storyboarding classes at Art Center at Night, creative fireworks went off and I saw the whole story. I like to write my novels cinematically, so I guess the transition to screenplays is natural, even as I have a lot to learn. Part of the reason why this story hasn’t come together as a novel has to do with the fact that the scope of the story has seemed so epic to me, spanning several generations, and like my screenplay writing instructor said, “that’s the trouble with true stories”…all the details. The story needed focus and that’s what I’ve been working very hard on over the past few months. Here is the opening scene from Gamelan.


A bamboo and barbed wire fence. An old, white man’s emaciated wrinkled, shaky hand clenches three cigarettes. The boney, but steady hand of HANS (19) takes the cigarettes from the old man.

HANS hammers a crooked nail into a rough-hewn wooden plank.


Liberty is something you can’t understand until it’s taken away. You become a different person. You become a prisoner. You learn what it is to survive.

Last weekend my family had a reunion where we celebrated Dad’s 90th birthday!

Happy Birthday Dad! 


Lisa Nowak on Dystopian YA & The McCall Initiative

NOTE: I’m thrilled to have Lisa Nowak guest post here on Laurasmagicday. She’s not only a dedicated writer but a lot of fun and a passionate gardener. I’m so happy to have gotten to know her and her fiction over years when my travels took me to the Pacific Northwest. I met an amazing group of authors there and we went on tour, click here to see pics of the fun we had on the “Rain boots required” book tour. I’m very happy to have Lisa talk about her creative process and her latest series. Take it away Lisa!

Almost a year and a half ago, while my husband and I were driving to a friend’s house, he told me about a story he’d read in the Portland Mercury. According to the article, fifty years from now much of the United States will be devastated by climate change. The Pacific Northwest will remain relatively unchanged in comparison, which will result in an influx of climate refugees.

“That sounds like a great set up for a dystopian YA novel,” I said. Within minutes, I had the basic premise outlined. The Pacific Northwest, disgruntled over the population boom, secedes from the United States to form its own country with a closed border. Wealthy Americans want to buy their way in, so poor people begin disappearing off the streets. Naturally, I needed a romantic aspect, but I wanted to give it a twist. I decided my protagonist would be a girl whose family had disappeared, and the love interest would be the boy whose family had displaced hers.

Over the coming weeks, the idea grew to include an existing political movement to form a bioregion called Cascadia, Portland’s major league soccer team and its rowdy band of fans, the Timbers Army, and a rock star-turned-activist who becomes the first president of the new nation. My husband, friends, and fellow writers supplied me with myriad excellent ideas and educated me about the subjects of history, politics, computer science, medicine, and soccer.

Several writers I know have been experimenting with serialized stories, and this idea seemed perfect for that venue. I envision it much like a season of a television series. Each short episode gives you part of the story, with the entire plot-line playing out over a nine-book “season.” I currently have the first three episodes published, (you can buy them individually, or as a box set) and the fourth will be released in early March. If you aren’t sure this is for you, fear not. You can try the first episode absolutely free at any of the retailers listed below.


What if the Pacific Northwest seceded from the United States? In 2063, it has.

The climate change that’s devastated all but the Northwest corner of the U.S. has been around since before Piper Hall was born. She doesn’t spend much time thinking about it, the secession that created Cascadia, or the closed border, erected to keep out climate refugees. All she wants is to get through high school and earn a medical degree so she can pull her family out of poverty. Piper’s sure her little brother’s stories about poor people vanishing are just rumors-until she comes home to an empty house. Losing her future, her family, and her freedom and forced into hiding, Piper has to find a way to get to the bottom of the disappearances. But the only one who can help might be the very boy whose family has displaced her own.

YA Storytellers: SuperBowl Fun Friday

I don’t know about you, but I’m psyched for this SuperBowl. Heard this one’s being called the Bowl Bowl, or the 4/20 bowl…hee-hee. I love the Broncos now because my daughter just moved to Colorado and I’ve spent a lot of time there this year. At the Denver airport there’s this huge bronco statue and it’s eyes are lit up red at night…it’s really fierce looking. So, this Super Bowl weekend…I’m for the Broncos! I haven’t written about football much, but I have written about a fictional sport that’s just as intense–airboarding, a combination of snowboarding and surfing IN THE AIR. Here’s an excerpt of what happens during the snowboarding finals on planet RETHA…a parallel planet to planet Earth. This SuperBowl excerpt is from my SciFi Romance Starjump Series, book 1 TRANSFER STUDENT, an intergalactic tale of beauty and the geek:

Two Worlds––Two Teens––One Wish

Geek Rhoe and Surfer Ashley would never be friends.
Even if they lived on the same planet.
But, they’ll become so much more.
They’ll transfer.

In a teleporting experiment gone wrong, Ashley, a Beverly Hills surfer, and Rhoe, a brilliant geek from planet Retha, swap lives when they make the same wish at the same time.

“Get up!”

I roll over in Rhoe’s bed-net. Maybe Mr. Bright-And-Early will go away and leave me alone. I just want a few more Ashley-minutes to myself.

“Rhoe, The Finals…,” Yuke says in my ear so loud my eardrums stop drumming, if web-footed aliens even have eardrums.

Blech. Just as I roll over, away from him, and close my eyes––so not wanting to get out of this weird bed-net for another whole day of Ashley-in-Wonderland––Yuke wraps his hands, his very warm hands, across my tummy and pulls me over so I roll back to face him. Tingles climb up my part-frog-part-bird spine. All I see are Yuke’s webbed-feet. Turns out a girl can overlook a few gruesome details when said gruesomeness sports a gnarly six-pack bulging through a nearly see-through neoprene shirt. Yuke is hot in a winged-alien-way. A way I never thought I’d crush on until now. His golden gaze had already cast a spell over me. But I didn’t really pay attention to the rest of him. Something about the way he grabbed my stomach makes me want to kiss him. Kiss a guy as a guy. I want to kiss Yuke so bad even that thought doesn’t cool the way I feel at all. I want him to wrap me up in his wings and kiss me. Now. I don’t even care that I have alien morning breath. And I can’t even enjoy the dream of kissing him before it’s happening. Again. I gasp at the spot in my shorts that looks like a tent.

We’re both guys. I repeat over and over in my head, trying to tame my wild crush as I place my hands over my alien bulge.

“Rhoe, get out of your net. We’ve only got fifteen livcecs to make the lineup,” Yuke says sitting on the floor peering up at me. “Neron’s sick. Only another Astral can be his alternate… Xanny’s at Leadership Council all day. I need you.”

I need Yuke too. He has no idea how bad. I just wish I could tell him without freaking him out. I’ll do anything Yuke says. He’s that gorgeous. I don’t even care what I look like. A guy wouldn’t really primp before helping a friend anyway. Lineup. Board. Yuke wants me to go surfing? This place is getting better and better. I look down at my webbed-feet. They’ll make catching a wave easy but the clunkers’ll be hard to maneuver on a board.


“Yeah, yeah.” I want to move but I’m nervous it will come back, believe me, no one needs to see… that. Yuke darts around the room grabbing random crap. I eye a pair of pants that hover behind Yuke while his back is turned but when I leap for them he spins around.

I freeze. Hoping, praying it’s, gone. The heartbeats in my throat practically suffocate me. Bum-bum-bum-bum, Bum-bum-bum-bum. I wonder if having two hearts makes Rhoe fall harder when he’s in love. Like now. Maybe Rethans love twice as much as Earthlings. When Rhoe breaks up with a girl, it must hurt more. Or, maybe the other heart is more like a spare. Anyway, I’m falling farther faster for Yuke than I have for any boy. Ever. Maybe it’s the lack of gravity. I can’t stop it, whatever-it-is.

“Where’s that crazy powder you like to gleam your board with?” Yuke asks all ready to go.

No matter how much I know that I’m a guy and Yuke’s a guy, no matter how many times I tell the Ashley part of me it’s OK to kiss Yuke, I’m still just a girl who’s nervous about a hot guy standing in her alien bedroom. Make that an incredibly-hot-alien-guy-that-I-seriously-want-to-french-even-though-I’m-a-guy-and-he’s-a-guy. That hot.

“Let’s go. I’m not letting you miss your shot this ray. It’ll help you forget about the invention competition,” Yuke says.

Not. I never forget. And, I always win. Even if I get munched doing it like at last year’s surfing expo in Malibu, and I’m so not going into that now. I’m going to prove to Yuke that I’m not who he thinks I am. That Rhoe isn’t who Yuke thinks he is. I just have to figure out how. Rhoe’s brilliant. That’s obvious. And then, when I do convince Yuke, all those geek losers will know Rhoe really won the invention competition. We won the invention competition.

“Wait. What day is it?” I ask.

“Day?” Yuke says grabbing a jar of green powder.

“Rayling. What Rayling is it?”

“It’s 3 of 7 in the time of Falco,” he says.

Damn. I know I’m missing it. The one year I’ve been invited and actually have a shot at winning The Open Women’s Division at the Laguna Beach Invitational, snagging the scholarship I’ll need to go to med school and say goodbye to freaking Wellesley, driving a station wagon, and being Mr. Right’s wife or a movie star. My mom’s plans for me. I mean Wellesley is cherry, gorgeous even, but I love California. I’d die if I couldn’t surf year round. I know that’s why Mom wants me to go there. She’s a hater, can’t stand surfers. Rhoe better not screw up. What am I thinking? Of course he’ll screw it up.

I might not be able to do anything about the way Rhoe rips the waves. But, if there’s one thing I believe in, it’s Karma. So I’m going to do whatever it takes to make him win everything here. If I rock these finals or whatever-they-are, he’ll do the same for me. I pull a shirt over my hairy, flat chest and stare at my floppy feet. I hope the waves are good to Rhoe.

Yuke tosses me a board and gives me that look. The one that freaking melts me––the real me, deep down inside this alien body. I catch the board in one hand as we run out the door. I can’t believe I catch it one hand. Yuke’s board is propped up next to the front door and a little longer than mine. He grabs it on his way out the door. My board wobbles as I run.

“What kind of a surfboard is this?” I say stroking the wood grain. Admiring the thinness of it. This is going to be fun.

Yuke hops onto his board, squares his frog feet and bends over to adjust their suction. I could watch him adjust his suction all day.

“Shouldn’t we wait until we’re at the water before we…” I say just as Yuke hops into the wind. He sails over my shoulder away from me, toward one of the suns.

These lunatics surf air? Of course they do. Gulp. I’ve walked into some bizarre unreality TV show and I so wish someone would vote me off this freaking alien island. Now. Thanks, Rhoe. Thanks a lot. The next time you feel like making a random Earthling into your science fair experiment make sure YOU DON’T PICK ME. I’m going to die.

It’s just like surfing. It’s got to be. That’s what I tell myself mostly because of my belief in Karma and that since it owes me so bad, surfing the air is going to ROCK. But there’s this little part of me that’s keeping me calm, overly calm. Because it knows that if I freak out, I’ll die.

Yuke disappears over the purple horizon. I slide my wiggly board under my ginormous feet and leap into the air just like Yuke did. The gust has its way with me tilting me one way and then the other. I overcompensate and whirl to the ground. And it doesn’t get any better. It’s all leap, whirl, fall, repeat. Repeat. Yuke has to know the truth now. He has to face it. I’m not Rhoe. There’s no explaining this Lameoid behavior. One minute Rhoe’s a championship flyer and the next a championship faller. Is the time ever right to tell a hot guy that I’m really a girl alien transported into his best friend’s body? And that I want, no need, to French him. No, I didn’t think so. Yuke’s long gone, but not for long. He doubles back, no doubt wanting to track down what his one-time-quarky-now-psycho best friend is up to.

“Hi,” I say, wanting to be ok with kissing him. He’s that hot. And at this point, I have nothing to lose. I’ll never fit in here.

“Wanna tell me what’s going on?” he says, like he just caught me with another guy––well, if I was a girl and he was my boyfriend and I was with another guy.

Here’s what I want to say, um, I’m getting another erection just looking at you and your golden-eyed gorgeousness and I’m so kissing you when you realize who I really am. But I go with, “Ah, remember what I told you. At the academy?” I ask.

“Yes,” Yuke says, staring out in front of us like it’s the Sahara or something, like we aren’t a few livcecs away from wherever-we’re-going. I know because I can hear music and crowds and stuff.

“I’m not Rhoe,” I say, desperate for him to get it. Desperate for his stare. For him to stare at the real me that way.

“We’re so late,” Yuke says. And his golden eyes, the ones that melt me every time he looks at me, dim just a little. He rides the wind like a pro. And as I ride behind him somehow it feels like we’re about to cross the Frenemy Line. I mean I can’t say that I blame him. I’m a total screw up as Rhoe. A total Rhoe wanna-be. It’s weird how sometimes a person can feel the moment when a friendship changes.

My gut’s hollow, worse than when senior-stud Gordon Haley stood me up my freshman year. My biggest social climbing date score that year was foiled by a ghastly opportunistic senior who hijacked Gordon with promises of putting out in ways a freshman never could. I’m over it, can you tell?

On Earth, I haven’t been much of a friend. I use people for what they can do for me or for what being with them can get me. Most of my friends come and go. I say good-bye way easier than hello. I’ve only kept two friends in four years at Beverly Hills High, Sean and Tiff. I switched everyone else up. If Rhoe does anything to screw me out of the only friendships I have left, I’ll kill him. That’s why Yuke not getting the real me hurts so bad. Because it feels like I’ve known him forever and because Yuke is different than any other guy I’ve liked before. I know this because I don’t want anything from him except a kiss. One single kiss.

I slide my board under my feet, adjust their suction and leap into the air. My board is still flimsy in the gusts, but my alien skin adheres better to the board. The wind blows harder. I lean into it and adjust my angle.

The wind is a wave, the wind is a wave, I keep telling myself.

But my life reading the sea is lost on the wind. And when I see Yuke flying back toward me I almost lose it completely.

Yuke tosses me a helmet.

I catch the helmet, but lose my balance and spin over then under my board, again and again. The helmet falls out of my hands. My board lands nose-down in a meadow and I tumble to the ground, landing super-hard on my shoulder. My bad shoulder. The one that got munched at last year’s expo in Malibu when I ended up on the wrong side of the last wave. Good thing I’m in Rhoe’s body or this would’ve hurt like hell.

Wild grass ripples in the wind. The blades sparkle in the afternoon suns. The warmth relieves my sore, twisted muscles. I pick up my helmet and eyeball my board, lying in the tall grass.

“Got another one?” I ask. Yuke glides across the meadow and makes a perfect landing next to me.

He opens his visor. “Right, like you’d ride any other board? How many tries did it take you and your dad to reach perfection?”

I love the idea of riding an alien, hot-dog board. I smile. I hope it’s too girly a smile. That he’ll see right through Rhoe to me. But he just walks off, shaking his head.

Rhoe and his dad were super close. I’m closer to my dad than my mom, but that’s not saying much. Dad’s a corporate big deal who doesn’t have time for me. When he’s home, I try to pretend everything’s normal. Mom’s so much happier when he burns the candles at both ends. He’s around less. She gets to spend more. It’s a win-win.

“Yuke, where am I in the lineup?” I ask.

“Same place you always are. First. But… you’ll be a back a few spots. Because of your fall the other day. But that’s only if we make it in time.”

I put my helmet on, pick my board up out of the meadow and launch back into the air. Every time I leap into the sky, it feels like the first time. I know if Rhoe ever figures out how to switch us back and I do go home, I’ll miss soaring. This feeling. I’ll miss Yuke. I’ll miss lots of things.

I lean one way and then another, not quite crashing into Yuke. If I’d had breakfast, it would be bubbling up inside of me. I rock back and forth, remembering my combustion envy over my friends who surf the heavies during storms and Santa Anas. They’re gorgeous in their lack of wipeout fear. I need to be that gorgeous today. But I’m far from it now.

A smooth breeze lifts me over Yuke.

And for some reason I see my biggest wipeout ever. The one I took at last year’s expo. I took off on a straight up-and-down wall, made the drop and raced off on an eight-foot left slide. It broke so hard then began to curl and crack over me. The wave closed out and buried me. I plunged into the salty white foam. Thinking down was up, I hit my head on the rocky bottom. I stroke my temple to feel my scar, fifteen stitches. Something I always do before a big ride, to remind me how tough I am.

But my temple is smooth. The stitches aren’t there.

I’m not me.

If Rhoe gets munched in the sea, what will happen to me? To us? I drop fast and hover beside Yuke, wishing I could claim the control I have, but I know it’s just the way the wind’s blowing.

Sean says the ocean is a living, breathing thing and, like a stranger, to never trust it. Don’t turn your back on the ocean. I hear him as clearly as if he and I were standing on the beach at Zuma.

What if Rhoe turns his back on the ocean? Why do I trust Yuke so much?

I tip to one side, grab hold of my board and roll over the nose again and again, but I stay in the air. Yuke looks my way, my geek moves reflect in his visor. We ride in silence, something new.

“What’s up?” I ask like I airboard every day. I’m good when the wind is slow and steady, terrible in the gusts, not like that’s a big surprise.

Yuke shakes his head and says, “Rhoe, the old you would have been ready to go two raylings before it was time. I would have been the one you dragged out of bed. The old you would never have settled for a spot in The Teller’s Festival. I don’t care how big of a deal it’s supposed to be. You a Teller? What’s going on with you, Rhoe?”

Rows of flags peek just over rolling hills in front of us. The hills turn into cliffs and the cliffs into mountains.

“I already told you. I’m not Rhoe,” I say, taking as deep a breath as this gentle planet will let me.

We lower ourselves over a path and land. Yuke doesn’t kick up as much dirt as I do. My less-than-perfect landing ends up with me falling into a bush.

Yuke takes off his helmet and says “Prove it.”

Damn he’s thick. Rhoe wouldn’t wipeout like I did. I get all jittery. “Look at me. You know it. Rhoe doesn’t wipeout like this. Whatever, look, I can’t think about wipeouts before a ride okay? It’s bad Karma,” I say.

Yuke’s expression softens, with a look in his sexy twinkling eyes like we’d just seen each other for the first time after a long, summer separation. His gaze warms a place deep inside my hairy, flat chest.

“Karma?” Yuke asks.

I crawl out of the leafy bush and say, “It’s the universal energy in the galaxy.” I lean in closer to him wanting to more than just talk. “It means if you do good things good things will come back to you. And if you do bad things, bad things will come back to you.”

The hippies at the beach tried to convince me to give up my queen-of-B.H.S.S.-back-stabbing ways with the same lecture but I wasn’t exactly the believing-in-Karma-kind-o gal. Not until now. Turns out, Karma’s a bitch. But, if they would have said, “If you don’t listen to us, you will swap lives with a genius boy alien who uses you for his science fair experiment and said geek will be your only hope of ever getting home,” well, maybe I would have paid more attention.

“What have you done to my best friend?” Yuke asks seeing me for the first time.

It’s the biggest moment of my life. I don’t know how to describe the intergalactic pull between us. It’s more than bodies and more than friendship. More than boys and girls. It’s souls. And my soul and his, no matter what we look like on the outside were born to be together. He inches closer to me. I inch closer to him. And we look at each other as if we don’t believe the other is real. Like we can’t believe we’ve found each other. If there really is only one soul in the universe that’s meant for another, what about all of the souls that spend an eternity a galaxy apart?

I love Karma more than ever before. I love it because it brought me to Yuke. I love it because I’m a better person with frog feet. At the same time, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever survive riding a freaking airboard. But, Rhoe already didn’t win the New Invention Competition and totally deserved to. He’s not going to be a quitter too. I won’t let him, I mean us. We aren’t quitters.

But what if Rhoe or I die? Does Karma even notice when two teenagers are a whole galaxy apart and need each other to survive?

Yuke puts a hand on my face and stares into my soul like no boy has ever done before. I want him in a way I’ve never wanted anyone else. If I’m going to die airbording, I’m going out kissing Yuke.

Check out the other Super Bowl excerpts today at the Society of YA Storytellers, click here to read more excerpts and have a great Super Bowl weekend!

A big shout out to all my fellow YA Storytellers :D 

K.C. Blake
Bryna Butler
Heather Hildenbrand
Patti Larsen
Quinn Loftis
Liz Long
Melissa Pearl
L.M. Preston
Stacey Rourke
Christy Sloat
Suzy Turner

Teaser Tuesday: Safer Outside by Kristina Renee

Hey all, hope you’re having a great week! I just began reading SAFER OUTSIDE and have to share a teaser with you. I’m excited about going on Liz’s journey. Her story might be the perfect “curl up” read to take the edge off this crazy cold weather! Enjoy :)

Starting my sophomore year at a new school was bad enough but trying

to pull off a new persona seemed a bit ridiculous. I’d grown up with a lot of

the kids at that school but in the two years since they’d seen me, I’d lost twenty

pounds and changed by name. I kept asking myself if they would accept me as

the new and improved “Liz” or if they’d laugh at the feeble attempt dorky “Beth” 

was trying to make a new start? — Teaser from SAFER OUTSIDE

Mature YA Romance by Kristina Renee

Safer Outside, Book One of the Outside Series

When Liz moves to a new high school, she hopes for a fresh start. School is her escape from the violence at home and her only hope for breaking the cycle of
poverty she was born into. Trying to shield her siblings from her stepfather’s fury gets harder each day so when she meets Logan, she thinks it will be a
harmless distraction from the fear.

She’s Wrong.

Logan has the resources to change her life but at what cost? Her relationship is the best thing that ever happened to her but it could also be the worst. If she’s
not careful, she may lose everyone that’s important to her. But it’s hard to be careful when you’re fifteen and in love.

For readers 16+

Kristina Renee was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She married her high school sweetheart after college and they have two sweet and adventurous sons. She spends her time chauffeuring her kids around and doing technical marketing but when she can escape, she loves reading, writing and editing. Learn more at www.KristinaReneeBooks.com
follow @authorkristinar
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visit goodreads

Wordless Wednesday



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