I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, master of some. I have a cute baby, a cuter husband, and a voracious hunger to learn and explore.
I have a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in contemporary American literature from Brigham Young University and completed an editing minor during my undergraduate.
I’m absolutely obsessed with books. As a toddler I was “reading” picture books from memory to my parents and knocking all their books off the bookshelf before going through them one by one for hours. In school you would have wondered why I had a small stack of books with me at all times; I am indeed guilty of reading multiple stories at once. My Goodreads boasts 854 read books, and those are just the ones I’ve bothered or remembered to record. It’s not rare for me to finish a book in one sitting, and I absolutely love that my job consists of reading!
This love of books has easily translated into an absolute need to write. Little me wrote (and illustrated) books about a group of bunny friends who went on epic adventures. Teenage me wrote most of a fantasy novel on her iPod during a long car ride over the summer. College me took creative writing classes and published several poems. And adult me is still working on her many, many different stories and projects.Here’s a portion from my current project:
Cirilius fingered his revolver, mentally counting the number of bullets he had left as he tapped his thumb against the gun. The Outenders had left a warped trail, crooked trees and divided streets. A wooden sign was now split in half, the name of the town divided by the Outenders’ wrath. Lazarenth was now Laza and Renth. How many more towns would be alienated by these abominations?
“Blasted bullets! How many more towns will they eat?”
“I didn’t think you cared, Cir.”
“Not being emotionally invested doesn’t equate with not caring, Smoke.”
“You could have fooled me, you old gunshot,” Smoke replied, smiling good-naturedly as he cleaned the barrel of his rifle. The man would smile and joke with death if death offered him a dozen mist bullets.
“Is there still time to chase them down?” Smoke asked casually, reloading his gun.
“Not on foot. But if we mistwalk, maybe.”
“Cir, after what happened last time, I don’t think...”
“It’s fine!” Cirilius snapped, cocking his revolver and picking up the pace. Smoke, long and lean, had no trouble keeping up with his friend.
“You might think it’s fine, but when you don’t come out don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Cirilius groaned, slowing his pace slightly and turning around to glare at Smoke.
“All right. We need another mode of transportation then, and fast.”
“We’re walking through a warped town! Most transportation will be useless. But if we manage to find horses...”
“We’ll be able to catch up! Although you know I hate horses, Smoke.”
Smoke didn’t bother responding, grinning widely as he jogged ahead of Cirilius. With his broad shoulders, dark skin, and curly black hair, he looked half Outender. Before the corruption. Cirilius had seen warped towns before, but they never ceased to surprise him. Each warping was unique. Trees whole, but without a single leaf—the leaves would be hanging midair a couple feet away, as though hanging from transparent branches. He was about to turn aside when he noticed a flash of unexpected color. The leaves, instead of the usual green or blue, were a strange yellow and orange, like a slow burning flame. Cirilius stopped jogging entirely, approaching the tree trunk cautiously. The trunk was healthy and white, without even tints of infectious purple. Then why were the leaves the color of flame?
Cirilius was so focused on the tree that he almost missed Smoke, comfortably settled atop a large black horse. Following behind him was a small ornery looking beast, with flaming red hair and ivory skin.
“What in Unity’s name is that?” Cirilius asked, staring down the small horse.
“A horse more your size, Cir. Don’t worry, she looks small but she’s a fiery one. I think she’ll be able to keep up.”
“I hope so,” Cirilius sniffed, approaching the horse slowly.
“Come on, Cir, you of all people know we’re in a hurry!”
“If I’d known that we’d be chasing after Outenders on horseback I might have reconsidered...”
“Cir, get on and ride!” Smoke called out, already galloping away.
Cirilius growled, sheathing his gun and throwing his leg over the horse. As soon as he was sitting on top of the beast, he gingerly urged the beast forward with a hesitant tap of his boot. The tiny horse started a lazy walk. Cir debated kicking the horse harder—Smoke was already a shadow in the distance—but thought better of it when he looked her in the eye.
“You gave me a murderous horse!”
Smoke laughed, a faint sound now, and raised one of his hands to the sky. Cir squinted, his eyes widening as he saw Smoke’s rifle and understood the ramifications. Cir was still trying to rip his feet out of the stirrups when the gun went off and the little horse throttled forward like a fiery bullet. He made a last-ditch effort to escape the horse by pulling back on the reins, hard, but that only spurred the four-legged demon to greater speeds. Soon the two of them were streaking past Smoke and his docile giant. Cir managed to give Smoke a particularly nasty glare as the little horse ripped him past his friend.
As the horse charged forward, Cir trained his eyes on the ground, looking for the telltale symbols the Outenders always left in their wake. The only thing consistent about them was how close they would brush against the common alphabet, only to deviate, slightly, on every letter, every marking. Like sleep talking—close enough to the common tongue to make the gibberish terrifying. The red-headed beast of burden continued to run ahead with reckless abandon, making the symbols impossible to read (if Cir had taken the time to learn the markings, which he hadn’t). Axis was the expert on these matters.
Although, he really didn’t need to bother looking down… he’d be able to hear the cursed marks before he saw them. Prolonged exposure to the Outender’s haunting half-melodies was deadly, but Smoke and Cir had spent long hours building up a tolerance to the echoing remains. It still gave Cir a piercing headache, but at least he remained sane and conscious—both pluses.
He thought he’d begun to hear the repetitive, twisting refrain of the Outenders when the little horse neighed violently and stopped abruptly, sending Cir careening over the beast’s head and face-first into the dirt.
Smoke appeared a few moments later, as silent and graceful as his name as he dismounted a couple paces before the small horse.
From the ground, Cir called up, “Oh sure, go ahead and act all graceful and noble. We both know you gave me this creature on purpose. You probably knew it only had one speed—run-as-though-an-Outender-is-murdering-you fast. Next time I’ll let you find the symbols!”
Smoke laughed, patting his horse on the neck before approaching Cir’s little horse and whispering loudly into the beast’s ear, “Thanks, I owe you one.”
His expression instantly sobered, however, as he took in the markings, obvious now that they could hear the sound that always accompanied them. The twisting symbols glittered with an otherworldly sheen, as though they’d been soaked in water and star fragments. Smoke’s eyes didn’t leave the strange images as he extended a hand down towards Cir, who took it and rose quickly, not even bothering to dust off his long coat and trousers.
“They must be close,” Smoke murmured, his hand straying to his rifle. He was about to continue speaking when Cir looked at him sharply, silencing him. When Smoke looked at him inquiringly, Cir put a hand to his ear and pointed above them. A winding trail in front of them led up to what looked like an old stone building, moss and telltale silver ivy curling around the structure like old friends embracing. The air around the stone edifice was hazy, as though the building were simmering. Cir squinted his eyes, but the haze was undistinguishable at this distance. Smoke was also peering into the distance, his dark eyes widening as he focused on the building high above them.
“Could it be? But why would they have stopped so suddenly?”
“It’s not our job to ask questions, Smoke. It doesn’t matter why they’ve stopped, only if we can deter them.”
Cir didn’t wait for Smoke to respond—he was already striding up the trail, avoiding stepping on fragments of Outender markings that littered the trail like fallen stars.
I also love photography and may or may not have taken thousands of photos on a recent trip to the United Kingdom and Spain. I play the piano and cello—and wish I knew how to play a couple other instruments. I’ve doodled and played around with just about every art medium since I was a little girl who claimed she would’ve done the entire galaxy on her piece of paper but ran out of space. Some of my favorites are handcrafted ceramics (don’t even ask me about my subpar wheel experience), painting with my fingers, and getting messy with charcoal.