I was 27,000 words–about halfway through–the first draft of my YA psychological thriller, Untrue Crime, when my friend Kay Lynne Simpson (aka The Nightowl) passed away suddenly. I called it a half-Nanowrimo (like a half marathon) and stopped writing to help the other local fen with Kay’s needs, and then to grieve.
Now it’s six weeks later and I’ve only just re-opened the document.
I started writing back in 1997, when Kay Lynne told me I had to. I’m ashamed to say my first fanfic is still on the net if you know where to look. Then in 2007, I decided to go pro, quickly contracting my first novel, Gym Dandy.
Now it’s 2017 and this is the longest I’ve ever gone without working on a book, either writing or editing. I’ve been doing a wee bit of marketing, but not a heck of a lot of that, either.
So just in time for the holidays, I’m back at it. I’m re-writing the opening. Instead of taking chapter after chapter to get to the main story action as I usually do, it’s now in the very first scene. I’m pretty pleased with it.
Of course that means deleting a bunch of stuff, but tighter writing trumps word count.
So we carry on…
Tagline: Is it still a crime if you don’t get caught?
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I thought, “Stalker. Guardian angel. It’s a fine line, really.”
Who better to protect you than someone who’s watching you all the time anyway?
But, gahhhh! The story is seriously creepifying. It’s for a mystery/crime anthology. May think about changing it.
Oddly, writing this one is like pulling teeth, and yet… it’s writing itself. I did not know there were multiple stalkers when I started writing. Hmmm.
FEW ARE CHOSEN won the Bookie Award for best YA short of 2012! It’s a GBLT, multicultural, paranormal YA short story (m/m). Available from all your fave e-tailers. More about the Bookie win, below.
TAGLINE: Sparks fly between virgin teenage demon hunters when the Chosen One turns out to be… the Chosen Two?
Apprentice warrior Blake St. Blake is the Chosen One, raised by an ancient order to defend the world against evil. Well, maybe not the whole world, but at least his neighborhood in downtown Detroit. When a dreaded reflux demon is sighted in a local cemetery, Blake is sent off to his very first battle, armed with his sword, his super-senses, his black leather duster, and a few well-rehearsed one-liners.
But another Chosen One gets in Blake’s way—an apprentice wizard named Shadow. While the boys argue about who’s the more chosen of the two, the demon escapes.
Blake wants to be angry, but it turns out he and Shadow have a lot in common. Besides, Shadow’s pretty cute, and Blake can’t help but think that the wizard’s skills (and hands and lips and other bits) might make the perfect complement to his. Blake and Shadow are brave enough to challenge the reflux demon in a second battle, but will they have the courage to tell each other how they feel?
The demon swiveled its head in my direction. “Oh, you again. You’re the apprentissse warrior, right? Not the junior sssorssserer?”
“Yes, I’m the warrior. See. The. Sword.” I thrust it a bit further forward. The beast nodded, failing to quake with terror, or even to look particularly impressed. I tightened my grip on my weapon and shouted, “I command thee to return to Hell and trouble this fair land no more!”
“Fffair land? Thisss isss downtown Detroit. I’m not ssseein’ a lot of fffair around here. And hey, I’m ssstanding right here. There’sss no need to ssshout.
I opened my mouth to command it again to leave, but it cut me off.
“Lisssten, boy. I’ve got sssome errandsss to run and I’m not going home until I get what I came fffor.”
“And what, pray tell, are these tokens which you seek?”
“Tokensss, what? I’m gonna get a cassse of Bud, and then sssome grossseriesss. And maybe a fffatted calfff. There’sss a butcher over on Missshigan that hasss really good beefff.” Its shoulders raised in what may have been a demonic shrug. “D’you know where there’sss a Wal-Mart around here?”
I refused to answer; refused to be tricked. The foul beast was trying to humanize itself so I would be less inclined to kill it. Well, that wasn’t going to work. It was way too fugly to get to me.
“If you will not return to Hell immediately, then you leave me no choice. I must slay you. I mean, thee.” My cheeks heated and I cursed myself for screwing up the wording. My first demon and I was getting it all wrong. I could hear Hadley’s voice in my head telling me to just breathe and take it easy. Okay. I drew in a deep, calming breath, only to start coughing. God, this thing needed a Tic Tac. Luckily I could do that thing now that allowed me to turn my sense of smell way, way down.
Relax, I ordered myself. It’s not like anyone’s recording your performance. Not like when we taped my practice sessions for critiquing later.
I raised my foot to take a step forward, but froze when I heard the reflux horking up acid, sounding exactly like one of the older members of our Order in the mornings. I threw myself backward, intending to land lightly yards away, poised for my next attack. Instead, I smacked painfully into a tree. My head struck bark, but at least I wasn’t where the demon’s acid landed, sizzling the ground where I’d just been.
I dashed to the right, finding cover among the shadows. The demon advanced, its putrid fire-breath illuminating the night. It was a lot like Shadow’s glowing staff from last week, only stinkier, and I coughed, my eyes watering in the nasty fumes. Too bad Shadow wasn’t here; I could handle the reflux on my own, of course, but his glow stick and ability to paralyze would have been handy. Plus things were always more fun with a friend.
I could really have used a friend right about now.
4.5 Stars I also really liked this author’s take on what it means to be the Chosen One. I thought their battle with the demon was hysterically funny, which was not a surprise for me, since this author’s humor so far always worked for me. I really liked how excitement and poking fun were mixed with awkward, but so adorable first teenage romance. Highly recommended. ~Sirius, on Jessewave
4.5 Stars This story was so adorable. I absolutely loved it, and to be honest, I laughed my ass off. I haven’t ever read anything by this author, but I certainly will be reading more of her work in the future. I found the characters very charming and sweet, and I thought it was cool how she made the story contemporary and included a lot of pop culture humor. ~Jeff Erno, on Top 2 Bottom Reviews
“Oh my gosh, this was a total riot. Totally fit my geeky fangirl side.” ~Jayhjay, on Goodreads
My rating for this is an A! Storm Grant is an author known for nicely blending humor and romance and in her upcoming release Few Are Chosen that blend continues to be perfect. This may be a short story but it’s long on entertaining characters, witty dialogue, humor, and fast-paced action. From start to finish the reader is drawn in and on the edge of their seat to see if our heroes succeed. Ms. Grant has created a fast-paced and deeply satisfying story. The dialogue is witty and humorous and kept my eyes glued to the page so as not to miss a single moment. Blake and Shadow are a dynamic duo that drew me to them and I’m sure you’ll feel the same. I hope this is just the beginning of their relationship and implore Ms. Grant to return to this world as I’ll definitely be waiting with bated breath to read more about these young superheroes. ~Jody, The Scarf Princess on the Words of Wisdom review site
My Bookie Award: Defying Genres and Genders . . . for the Win!
FEW ARE CHOSEN is a humorous, young adult, multi-cultural, GBLT, paranormal, character study with a strong romantic subplot. All in less than 15,000 words!
Sound like a eclectic genre mash-up? It is! But it works. Works so well that it just won “Best YA Short Story of 2012” in the prestigious Bookie Awards. (The Bookies are “the first industry awards nominated and voted for by readers and bloggers alone!”) Each year they’re presented at the Authors After Dark convention attended by several hundred authors, readers, bloggers and industry professionals.
I’m honored and privileged that readers liked my book enough to nominate it. I’m blown away that it won! I love that a GBLT title took first place in a non-gender-specific category.
Imagine being the only un-magical kid at Hogwarts. That’s how sixteen-year-old orphan Jaden Raines feels as he enters Azunya High. He struggles to fit in, but he’s really a fish out of water.
The magical isle of Azunya, where paranormal policing agency B.O.O. is headquartered, is shocking to Jaden after having lived his entire life in the American Midwest. Back there, his classmates were freaks, geeks and gangstas. Here, his classmates are genies, witches, healers… A whole pantheon of beings and monsters.
And worse yet, he’ll have to read The Old Man and the Sea. Again.
Jaden might be the new kid in town, but he’s still a teen. It’s love at first sight with handsome skater-boy Stiltz. They have three things in common: neither is able to use magic, they’re both petrified of water, and, lucky for Jaden, they’re both gay. They should bond, but their relationship’s stormy from the start.
To try to fit in, Jaden hides his powerless state, accidentally creating the myth that he’s the most powerful being of them all.
But when the entire school demands a demonstration, what’s Jaden to do?
New lies and cruel deceptions leave Jaden and Stiltz stranded at sea in the middle of a deadly tropical storm.
In order to survive, the boys must spill their secrets. It’s sink or swim for our heroes.
Only the truth can set them free. And keep them alive.
MYSTERICAL: A young adult, gay, contemporary paranormal adventure romance
Full-length novel, coming soon.
Jaden kicked off his flip-flops. “Ow! Ow!” He hopped from one foot to the other on the hot sand as he struggled to yank the sweat-stuck T-shirt over his head. He tossed the thin cotton shirt onto a nearby stand of pampas grass. It swayed and dipped before the t-shirt dropped onto the dune. Damn. With a dismissive shrug, he turned away, figuring it couldn’t get any more sandy just lying there. He had more important things on his mind than a sweaty T-shirt even if it was the one he’d planned to wear to school today.
He drew a deep breath, preparing himself. The pattern of his surfer shorts grabbed his attention. They were made of some wet-to-dry miracle fabric so they served as both bathing suit and regular, if blindingly bright, shorts. He was about to test drive their bathing suit capacity for the first time.
He’d stared too long, stalling. His eyes burned and watered. The cartoony palm trees and waves appeared to move as if fanned by an imagined breeze. He scrunched his eyes shut. The images and colors continued to swirl on the backs of his eyelids.
Swallowing hard, he opened his eyes again, forcing himself to gaze out at the real thing. The bright morning sunlight danced on the breakers. He squinted at the horizon. The ocean went on and on and on until it fell off the edge of the world.
But he was nothing if not determined. He gritted his teeth, ordering himself to take the first step across the sand toward the water.
Now or never.
Sink or swim.
He would conquer his fear of water if it killed him.
He’d just started a new life, a new home, a new family. He’d turned sixteen a few days ago. It was time to put away childish things. Today was the first day of the rest of his life. Blah-blah-blah and all that inspirational jazz.
It’s just water, for God’s sake. Everybody else thinks it’s fun. Why don’t I?
He scratched his neck so hard it hurt, like he was punishing himself for being weak. For not fitting in.
Okay, Jaden. You got this.
He raised his head and headed towards the sea.
One step. Two. Another. He forced his rubbery legs onward, stumbling awkwardly on the soft sand.
Then it wasn’t soft. It was firm, wet and dark where the tide washed in. He stopped, almost there, sighing as his burning feet cooled. He gasped when a wave rushed up, touching his feet. Touching him. Springing back, he nearly sprawling on the beach.
“Jerk-face. It’s too early for anybody to see you make and ass of yourself.” He clenched his hands and his teeth and stepped forward again. The water licked at his feet with foamy white tongues. It felt soothing and terrifying at the same time.
Another step and he was up to his ankles. Another and it lapped at his calves. The sand beneath his soles melted away with each wave. In and out. In and out. Just like breathing. Something, he reminded himself, that he really should be doing.
Another step and he was up to his knees. Each breath so loud it was almost a gasp.
When the water reached his thighs, he stopped. Far enough for the first time, he decided.
“This isn’t so bad,” he said aloud, trying not to puke. But the truth was, it was really, really bad. He trembled and swayed, his neck itched and his legs stiffened, tingling and numb at the same time.
Then something grabbed him!
Something inhumanly strong wrapped around his legs, clamping them together, ankle to thigh.
“Nooo!” Jaden yelled, toppling into the cold surf. He struggled, gasping for air. Salt and sand stung his eyes. He flailed in the waves, grasping useless handholds of sand and grit.
He was going down. Oh, God. He was going to drown.
With a yell, he kicked out at his attacker, No good. His legs were tightly bound.
Buffeted by whitecaps, he gasped, inhaling seawater, choking. Panicking. He shoved hard at whatever clamped his legs together, putting all his strength into his trembling arms.
His fingers met a strange, alien surface. Slippery, yet warm and sleek. Scales. Jeeze. Had some giant sea snake swallowed his legs? Panic tore through him. A glimpse through the foam. Glossy black scales and a slick, menacing fin.
A sea monster? In the ocean surrounding Azunya! Why had no one warned him? No one cared enough to warn him.
No one had ever cared.
Then from behind, another attacker. Rough hands grabbed his arm, fingers like claws digging in hard.
He swallowed more salt water, sputtering. His thudding heart shook his entire body. A second pair of hands grabbed him under his other arm, dragging him roughly up and out of the ocean.
Coarse volcanic granules sandpapered his bare back as he was hauled up the shore, away from the waves and their terrifying inhabitants. Turned out his fear of water wasn’t so irrational. He quickly added fear of land to his list.
Once up on the shore, the hands eased their iron grip, but stayed. Warm. Supporting him. Keeping him from collapsing back onto the sand.
Jaden coughed, spewing water, inhaling precious air along with a last few choking droplets.
“Turn him on his side. Recovery position.”
The words were clear, but made no sense to Jaden. He kicked at his new captors, his legs now free. He forced his burning eyes open. Slammed them shut again, blinded by the sun. He scrambled up the wet beach like a startled crab, falling back into dry powdery sand when his legs scuttled faster than his arms.
“Jaden! Jaden! It’s okay. It’s okay. We got you.”
The words made more sense this time. The voice familiar. A voice he was used to obeying, although it wasn’t telling him to pass the ball now. “Coach? Coach Wright?” Jaden gasped, gagging as the last of the inhaled seawater flooded his throat, tasting foul and poisonous. His eyes streamed as he blinked hard, trying to see through salt, sand and tears. “What… What happened?”
“That, my brand new brother, is what we need you to tell us.”
Lost Boys 2.0 releases tomorrow! It’s Book #2 in the Tales of B.O.O. series. (But it stands alone.)
GLOWING PRAISE FROM USA TODAY: “I loved the way Ms. Grant developed the nuances of this story. Lost Boys 2.0 is a character-driven book wrapped in an intricate plot that runs smoothly.”
And I completed the first draft Mysterical yesterday. It’s Book #3!
I’ve even got a cover: Ta da!