Atlantis Academy – The First Element

I have a new book coming out in August. You can pre-order Atlantis Academy now!

Read a snippet of Atlantis Academy Chapter One below!

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with breast cancer for over a year now. I started chemotherapy in October 2018, and I had my last treatment on July 12, 2019. (Yay!) I still have some treatment ahead, but hopefully, the chemotherapy part is done now.

I had 22 treatments over a period of 9 months, and at the end of it all, I was (still am) pretty beaten down by it. I was in bed a lot, and one day I suddenly felt inspired to write something new… I had made some good progress on my Fractured Era books, but I wanted to write something filled with magic. I needed a distraction to help me get through the end of the chemo.

I put on some music and got a pen with some pretty paper and asked my heart what to write. Within an hour, I had a whole new world to write in, and I knew a lot about my future story.

Atlantis Academy: The First Element is the book I wrote first. I wrote most of it while in bed because, well, I couldn’t get out of bed! I have finished book one and am working on book two (Atlantis Academy: The Second Element.) There will be five books, all full-length novels.

This story is a little different from what I’ve written in the past. It is urban fantasy with romantic elements.  I know some of my readers prefer sci-fi and are waiting for more Fractured Era. (There will be more Fractured Era books to come. I have much of Defective #2 written already, but these books take me a long time due to how complex they’ve become.)

But if you’re like me, and you enjoy both Science Fiction and Fantasy books and TV shows, I think you’ll enjoy this story!

Check out the sneak peek snippet of Chapter One below!

An Oregon Beach Adventure. (Pic of me that my partner Kyle took.) Plus some magick.

Atlantis Academy – The First Element Sneak Peek

Chapter One

What’s the meaning of life?

I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately.

We’re born, forced through a one-size-fits-nobody school system, work nine to five, save enough money to retire—if we’re lucky—and then we die.

If we’re not lucky… We just work ‘til we’re dead.

But I don’t see the point.

I also don’t see any alternatives. As far as I can tell, there’s no escaping this ride, unless you wanna be homeless. Cold, starving, desperate. That’s my future if I stop working hard. I’m barely hanging on as it is, and I don’t want my life to get any worse.

The church bell rings in the distance.

Oh, no!

I’m late for work. How am I late for work?

I pick up my pace, running up the steep sidewalk, sucking down huge lungfuls of the sea-salt-tinged air. My thighs are burning as I reach the end of the road and begin weaving my way through the forest of young Redwood trees. My heart’s hammering against my ribcage in a staccato rhythm, punctuating the words in my head.

Gonna get fired. Gonna get fired. Gonna get fired.

You’re gonna get fired, Lyric. Then what will you do?

I can’t afford to lose this job! Half the town’s unemployed, so being employed makes me one of the lucky ones. Well… “lucky” might be a stretch. My mom’s boss felt bad for me when she died, so he gave me her job.

That’s right, important life lesson alert. Contrary to popular belief, life isn’t a meritocracy. I inherited my waitressing job. Don’t everyone get jealous at once.

Hey, maybe that church bell’s wrong. Maybe I’m not late.

I come to a dead stop, fumbling through my windbreaker’s pockets for my phone. A drop of sweat slides into my eye.

Where. Is. My. Phone!

Found it.

It’s in the back pocket of my jeans, nearly falling out from my run through the woods. I glance at the display.

Crap. My phone agrees with the church bell.

I shove it into my coat pocket with my wallet and keys, zipper it shut, and start running again.

So late!

I’m always late, so why would today be any different? I need a damn watch. I think that every day, but do I get a watch? No way. That would require me to plan something and follow through. Ha ha ha.

Other people seem to feel time passing. They just effortlessly arrive where they need to be, at the right time, as if by magic. Not me. No, ma’am. My brain continually hijacks me and flies me off to la-la land, where time has no meaning. In fact, I have such a loose grasp on linear time, I’ve sometimes wondered if it actually exists. But it must, right? I just don’t feel it.

So that’s how I ended up taking a detour to work today, even though I apparently had no time for a detour.

I try to run faster, but my lungs are burning, and a horrible cramp has started up in my side. I can’t do this for much longer, but I’m nearly through the forest.

Wind whips in from the ocean, tearing through the trees and rustling the branches above me. The harsh, icy cold of it shocks me awake, and I slow to a walk, gasping for air. The stitch in my side won’t let up. I dig my knuckles into it, coming to a full stop, half-bent over from the pain.

I seriously gotta do more cardio.

Another gust of wind rips through the woods, and strands of my auburn hair fall into my eyes. As I attempt to tuck them back into my ponytail, a few drops of cool rain hit my nose and collide with the sweat on my forehead.

I glance up through the trees at the sky. It’s been like this for a week straight. Gray, chilly, drizzling endlessly. It’s late August, and our short summer’s already over. It’s typical Oregon coast weather from here on out.

I blow out a breath and try to keep moving, stumbling my way past the edge of the tree line. I pause where the forest meets the road, breathing hard. The stitch in my side’s not improving.

From up here, you can see all of Port Ashford. The Pacific Ocean is cold and unforgiving. Violent, dark blue waves crash onto flat sand, sending up wicked spray. Most of the fishing boats are out, but there’s one at the dock now, rocking to and fro. Rough waters today but not rough enough to scare off our guys. Descendants of pioneers are not scared of a little danger.

In fact, we had a parade just last week to celebrate the Battle of Ashford Rock, where we triumphed against the Indians long ago. Waves are crashing dramatically against the huge outcropping now, throwing up sky-high sea spray. The Rock’s our symbol of bravery, tenacity, and pioneer spirit.

The only problem is… there never was a battle. Our ancestors came and took the land from the Native Americans. Then they marched the local tribes’ leaders onto Ashford Rock and executed them.

We’re a town that’s buried our past, ‘cause it feels better to pretend we were heroes.

But we can’t hide what we are now.

We’re a sad place whose glory days are over.

Coastal Highway 101 runs next to the beach. It’s our main street, with a single gas station, restaurant-slash-bar, grocery-slash-laundromat-slash-post-office, a fire department, police station, and one very old clapboard church. We’re not exactly a popular tourist stop.

The homes on the streets below me are all from Victorian times, dilapidated and run-down. Their creepy dollhouse-like ornamentation and peeling paint give off strong haunted house vibes. I know my house creaks a little too much at night. Plus, things are always going missing.

“This house is evil. We got ghosts in here, tryin’ to suck the life outta me!” That’s what my mom used to say.

But then again, everyone was trying to suck the life out of her. The only evil spirits in our house were the ones in her liquor cabinet.

The wind hits me again, hard, cutting through my ill-named windbreaker, and a shiver runs through me. The stitch in my side is nearly gone, and I take a deep, deep breath, testing for pain.

Living alone in my house is creepy enough without me thinking about damn ghosts. Ghosts do not exist. And they are not hiding my stuff.

I can blame that on my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

ADHD, that’s me. Speaking of which…

I’m now gonna be extra late to work.

My chest constricts, and I glance back down at the 101, trying to guess how long it’s gonna take me to get to the restaurant.

Too long.

It feels like I’m trying to think and move through wet, dirty sand right now. I gotta clear the flotsam out.

I glance behind me at the row of Redwoods. The whole reason I came this way was to get a minute of peace before my shift. Instead, I’m a wreck. I’ll be dropping plates all over the place.

Guilt gnaws at me, but I whirl around and face the trees.

I’ll be quick. I’ll just take a minute to collect myself, then I’ll hustle down to work and face my boss’s anger.

I walk back into the forest, heading for my favorite tree, and take a deep, cleansing breath. Sweet, earthy, citrus. God, I love the scent of these trees. Especially when they’re wet from the rain. If heaven has a smell, it’s a Redwood forest. They don’t smell like other fir trees, and they don’t have the same vibe, either. They feel as out of place here as I do.

But I belong here. They don’t. I’ve been in Port Ashford all seventeen years of my life—they were moved here from somewhere else.

Millions of years ago, Redwoods covered the continent, but now they’re mostly in California. Twenty years ago, some guy had a near-death experience. He said angels told him to save the Redwoods from climate change and loggers. So he cloned the oldest, most resilient trees—the ones that were thousands of years old—and then planted some here, on this hill. Thank you, Tree Angel Guy, wherever you are.

I’ve never seen the real Redwoods, but someday I will… when I get a car. It’s the first place I’m gonna go.

“Obsessed with the trees. Your only friends. No wonder, no one else can stand to be around you.” My smile fades at the memory of my mother’s words. She’d slurred them at me more than once, usually right before her fist or an empty glass connected with my head.

So what if I prefer trees to people? Trees never bullied me, never made fun of my ratty clothes and worn-out boots, never got drunk and beat me. And I did have a friend once, but he moved away when I was eight. I’m happy with my trees.

Trees don’t do all the disappointing things people do to one another. Instead, they make oxygen, look beautiful, and smell amazing. What more could you want?

I mentally stuff my mom back into the box of bad memories where she belongs. This forest is my peaceful refuge, and I won’t let her ruin it.

I’ve reached my favorite tree, and I smile up at its branches and press my hand into the soft, damp reddish-brown bark. An instant spark of happiness flows through me.

“Hello,” I whisper.

I lose myself in the sound of the rustling branches, the scent of the needles, the taste of the salty sea air. They all mingle together, soothing me. I know it’s just my imagination, but in my mind, there’s a dance of energy taking place between the tree and me. My chest grows warm, and my whole body’s soon buzzing with it.

Much better.

I grin and imagine sending all my happiness and love through my hand and into my tree. It bounces right back to me, and a fresh burst of energy courses through me.

I’m calm now.

My mind is clear.

My anxiety, non-existent.

If a baby Redwood tree has this effect on me, I can’t wait to meet the ancient ones!

Do not go to work tonight. A calm, certain voice booms in my mind.

Well, that’s a ridiculous thought. Sure, I’d like a day off, but I can’t afford to do that.

I take a shaky breath and close my eyes again. I press my hand more deeply into the damp bark of my tree, seeking that calm, centered feeling again.

Do not go to work tonight.

My stomach twists, and I scowl at the intruding thought.

It’s true, I don’t wanna go to work. But I have to.

I grind my teeth and close my eyes, determined to leave here feeling peaceful.

Do not go to work tonight.

I let my hand fall away from the tree, giving up.

Taking the night off isn’t an option.

Is it?

No.

I have bills to pay.

A little flicker of anger lights up in my chest. But I’m angry at myself.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I such a screw-up?

Here I am, late to work, playing around in the woods like a little kid.

I’m letting my co-workers down.

I’m letting my boss down.

And I’m letting myself down.

Just like I always do.

I have to get moving and face the consequences.

Because now I’m really late.

Pre-order Atlantis Academy now!