Happy Friday! I feel like this is going to be a great weekend – and I have no idea why. Hope it turns out good for all of us. Here is something to start you out; the first chapter of ‘Fire, Book Three of the Akasha Series’. Word of caution – this gets a little graphic. The second book left off with Kaitlyn in labor, alone on a boat navigation the Southern Ocean. Readers were left with the ultimate cliffhanger, so this first chapter couldn’t disappoint!
The fireball shot out of my hand, straight into one of the cupboards, blowing shards of pressed wood everywhere. Bits of flame flared up around the large captain’s bridge on the boat. I bent over, uncontrollable pain wracking my body. The coaching I received on labor pains did nothing.
Imagine riding on top of the wave of pain, instead of sinking beneath them.
I laughed out loud at the irony. Little did the doctor know I’d be in the middle of the Southern Ocean, on my own, navigating literal waves.
The contraction subsided, and I stumbled to the other side of the room to retrieve the fire extinguisher. The foamy, white goo was probably almost gone. With little hope of being able to reign in my powers, I was digging my own grave.
I paused before aiming the extinguisher over what was left of the cupboard. Most of the windows had blown out, and the cold wind, along with the freezing droplets of ocean, was quickly turning my hands blue; the rest of my body was bound to follow. Fire might be a good thing. But there was no way to control it. I forced my numb hand to squeeze the handle, extinguishing the flames before they could burn the ship right out from under me.
I hobbled over to the Doppler machine, checking to see if anyone was on my tail before another contraction came. I hadn’t blown up that machine, yet. Only one dot on the screen; my boat. Everyone I left behind on Heard and McDonalds Islands would still be there, recovering from the battle. Cato was dead, killed by the traitor Vayu – now also dead.
Susan had a boat, but she was on the opposite end of the island and had no idea I was gone. Alex would be helping Micah out of the crater formed from my earthquake.
Micah. A new wave of pain was mounting, physically and mentally this time. I let the contraction take me, nearly pulling me under and drowning me. This one I deserved. This one was my punishment for leaving Micah, depriving him of his family and the wonderful life he envisioned for us. This one left me in tears.
I am so sorry, Micah. Please forgive me. Please understand.
Even if he should find me, which he wouldn’t, nothing would go back to the way it was. Nothing would be the same.
I wiped my cheeks dry, and crawled over to my makeshift bed – a mattress on the floor. I looked over at the bassinet, ready to receive the life inside me. If only we could survive this; which was looking more doubtful by the minute.
Another contraction. Already? They were practically right on top of each other now, giving me no time to recover. It gripped my entire mid-section, muscles squeezing until I thought they would explode. I moved to my hands and knees, trying to concentrate on something. I looked out the window at the gray sky and sea, which blurred into one, never-ending ocean of nothing. I held my breath through the contraction, and my vision went wavy. The pain dulled slightly, making it a little more manageable. This contraction seemed to last forever, and I hadn’t even crested the wave yet.
The wind picked up outside. I blinked and my vision cleared. A tornado had formed directly in the path of my boat.
I want the fireballs back.
I launched my body toward the wheel and turned it, hard. The boat lurched in response. I considered turning back for the islands. I might be safer fighting Shawn than fighting myself.
My contraction peaked, rendering mind and body useless. The boat stopped its forward momentum, pausing as I rode the waves of pain, then was pulled backward, into the tornado. Although the contraction was subsiding, I couldn’t do anything but watch as I was drawn closer and closer into a vortex of spinning wind and water.
Thank God I did not do this in a hospital or even around other people. I couldn’t imagine the consequences. How did the other Gaias manage?
The doctor told me of two Gaias he helped during labor. For one the baby hadn’t survived, the other, the mother hadn’t.
I looked at the tornado. This would be why.
As the contraction ceased, so did the tornado. I dreaded the ride the next one would bring, and it was only seconds away. I pushed myself off the ground, groaning, and hurried to put the boat back on course for Perth, the largest city in Western Australia.
Confidence that I would ever make it was waning. I collapsed on the floor, too drained to even pull myself back to the mattress. My body temperature spiked, the ice-cold ocean spray hitting me through the shattered windows actually felt good.
As another contraction started, a lump of despair rose up in my throat. I can’t do this. What was I thinking? I need to turn back. But I was closer to my destination than my departure point by now.
The pain quickly rose to new heights. I bit my lower lip and tasted coppery blood. It was not a good enough distraction. Having no other choice, I screamed out loud, my shriek lost among the ocean waves surrounding me. The water grew more and more intense until every last wave was double the size of my boat, threatening to engulf me.
The boat made stomach-flipping drops, tilting to one side so much I thought it would tip. Then it leveled out and went to the other side; like a carnival ride. Except this time I wasn’t throwing my hands in the air. My fingers curled into the floor, cracking my nails. Just as I reached the peak of the contraction, I felt something inside drop. There was an unbearable pressure between my legs, accompanied with the urgent need to push. I held out, remembering what I could of movie births. Wait for it, take a breath. Breathe…breathe….it was almost over. I reached down and felt between my legs. Something hard where only soft should be. The head! My baby was almost here!
I waited a few more seconds until the contraction came. Then I pushed. I pushed through my gut, every muscle in my body tensed. My vision went blurry again but a new wave of adrenaline came to me and I used it to focus. Another quick breath, and then more pushing. The contraction came and went, and I had made no more progress.
I started to panic. What if she was suffocating? A million things could go wrong, and my baby was stuck.
One more time, I told myself. She’ll be ok. Give it one more contraction and then you can panic.
Before the thought finished forming, the next contraction came.
“This is it,” I said aloud, my voice rough, foreign-sounding. I pushed, determined to make it work. If she didn’t come out this time, I’d seriously consider putting the scalpel in the first aid kit to good use.
I pushed with everything I had left, not saving one ounce of energy for future contractions. It was now or never.
Everything tensed and strained, except my voice. My vocal chords were paralyzed. Pushing all of that energy out, I felt the elemental magic welling up within me. Shit, shit, shit, I thought. This time it wouldn’t just be a fireball, or a tornado. I could survive both of those, I had proven it. Instead, the elements were intertwining; I felt them knitting together inside me as if they knew exactly what to do.
Please no, please no, I thought. Nothing good would come of this. I couldn’t concentrate on both my labor and my magic. I had to pick one and go with it. At this point, I went with the only one I felt slightly more in control of; the labor.
On my back now, I lifted up my chin, trying to see something over my big, round belly. I put my hands down between my legs, feeling frantically. One quick breath, then I pushed again. I could feel her downward progress within me. It felt like fire. I hoped to God my powers weren’t harming the baby. More burning and finally, I felt her. Her large round head emerged into my hands. I pulled gently, but she didn’t come out further. Frantically, I turned her head, hoping the body would follow, and pushed again. Her shoulders popped out and then the rest of her.
Everything seemed to unleash itself at once. A final wave of energy burst out of the captain’s bridge, spraying bits of glass, laminate, and particle wood out and into the ocean. The atmosphere outside absorbed the mix of elements and then – everything went calm. The wind receded to a light, cool breeze, the waves evened out, and for the first time in hours the boat slowed to a gentle rocking motion.
I looked down at the tiny, pink, wrinkly baby in my hands, still slippery with blood and mucus. I gasped in deep, frantic breaths, laughing and hyperventilating all at the same time. I scooted over to the mattress and bassinette, wrapping a blanket around her, with an awkward twist around the umbilical cord. I worked to get my breathing under control, but tears were now streaming down my face, making it difficult to see.
She was still, eyes closed. And not crying.
She needs to cry; they always cry in the movies. I turned her face down in my arms, and gave her a light pop on the bottom. Still nothing. I took a deep breath. Don’t panic. One more spank and then panic.
The next spank elicited tiny, pathetic mewling. I turned her over, laughing again, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry – but you’re alive! My sweet baby girl!”
A quick check in the blanket confirmed it. The doctor was right – a girl.
Another contraction caused me to take a sharp breath in, and her umbilical cord reminded me. I laid her down on the mattress, still wrapped in her blanket. I brought myself to a sitting position and pushed again.
The afterbirth came out. I avoided looking at it, but glanced at the cord, still attached to the baby. Guess I’d have to make good use of that scalpel after all.
Lying on my side, I washed her as best I could with what water bottles and towels I had with me. Her mewling subsided. Her limbs moved in involuntary jerks as she got used to her body. My cooing was awkward and goofy. Not all motherly instincts came naturally.
A quick glance at her face showed me her eyes were now open, but I looked away. The color of her eyes may reveal who her father is. I had other things to think about. The rest of her was still a mess. Puffy and red from the labor, she resembled what I could only label as demon spawn.
I continued rubbing her down, counting fingers and toes, making sure her ears were clear.
Micah or Shawn?
I suppose in a way, I would feel relieved if she weren’t Micah’s. It would make my running off with her a little more bearable for him, had he learned the truth. But if she were Shawn’s, I’d have to take extra care to make sure she stayed well away from him. And should authorities get involved, they’d insist he’d get parental rights.
Ten fingers and ten toes. Had we been in a hospital, by now she would have been weighed, maybe received a few shots and whatever tests they do in hospitals.
“We don’t need those needles. No we don’t, no we don’t, do we?” I cooed at her.
She calmed a little further at the sound of my voice.
Wind blew in through gaping holes in the captain’s bridge, covering us both in the open artic chill. I moved her back to my chest, letting skin-to-skin contact heat us both. She started mewling again, now rooting with her mouth.
Oh shit, I thought. Does she need to eat already?
I shrugged. She was my daughter, after all.
Wholly unprepared, I took in a deep breath and guided her mouth to my nipple. A painful pinch, and I quickly pushed her away. She started crying now, with gusto.
Glad one of us found our voice.
I tried again, this time using one hand to position my nipple while my other arm pushed her into me. The pain wasn’t quite as intense, or I was better prepared; one of the two.
I felt her feather-light tongue against me as she sucked. I had no idea if anything was coming out, but she seemed happy enough. Almost right away, I had another contraction.
“What the hell; is there another one in there?” I tried breathing through it. It wasn’t nearly as intense, but plenty painful, especially after everything I had just been through.
The baby’s position was disturbed by my tensing arms. She popped off my breast, and cried again.
“Oh, sorry baby.” I moved her to the other side, “Gotta keep them even.”
This time was easier, and definitely less painful as she latched on, but again, another contraction. “Are you kidding me?” I bent over, careful not to disturb her feeding.
After the contraction subsided, I leaned back into the wall, utterly exhausted. The baby fell asleep in my arms. I swaddled her again using what blankets were left, nestled her in the crook of my arm and lay over on my side; sleep catching up with me faster than I cared to admit.
Stay tuned – next post I’ve decided to release the first chapter of the final book of the Akasha Series, ‘Earth’. In the meantime, if you haven’t started yet, you can get ‘Water, Book One’ as an ebook for free, ‘Air, Book Two’ at the special price of $2.99 and ‘Fire, Book Three’ for $4.99. Happy reading!
Oh geez, I’ve got a cold…and a stomach thing…and like half my kids have it too. I just realized two posts ago I promised the first chapter of each of my books, then didn’t continue. Sorry! But in case you missed the news flash, ‘Fire, Book Three of the Akasha Series‘ is now available!!! Except for iBooks (grrr) – still not available there. It’s been submitted but their approval process can take forevs.
Anyway, here is the first chapter to ‘Air, Book Two of the Akasha Series‘. Enjoy!
“I can see my breath.”
There was no response from the small, handheld radio nestled in my thick glove.
I clicked on the talk button again. “Did you hear me, Micah? I said I can see my breath. Time to go.”
Finally, a voice answered, though not through the radio. Do you not understand the concept of silent ops?
He was using our telepathic connection. I immediately shut it down. There were things in my head he need not know – not yet anyway. I couldn’t take the chance he would find them while tooling around in there. I clicked the radio again. “Then why did you bring the radios?”
I could almost hear his frustrated huff through the vast expanse of the Pennsylvania pine forest that lay between us. He had explained it to me before we separated; the handhelds were there in case we suspected someone intruding on our telepathic connection.
He came back, over the radio this time, and said, “I am almost to the cabin. Let me just check it out and then we can go. I am going silent – for real this time.”
“Don’t you dare turn off the—” my best warning voice was cut off by the hum of the radio, letting me know I was no longer connected to my counterpart. It was tit for tat with us.
I huffed, the same way I imagined him doing it. My breath formed a cloud of fog that lingered lazily in front of my face. I played with it, sucking it back in, then blowing out to form bigger clouds, and swishing it away with my hands. Anything to keep my mind off the cold. The wind picked up as clouds moved into the valley, darkening the midnight sky further.
I squinted, trying to pinpoint the cabin in the dark. The moon, fully hidden behind thick clouds, was no help. We had tracked Shawn this far, despite my protests. In my opinion, it had been far too easy – like following bread crumbs. But Micah’s need for vengeance surpassed my own.
Giving up on the cabin, I exhaled again. A gust of cold wind met the fog. I narrowed my eyes. This gust had come in against the oncoming storm. I watched as my breath cloud was sucked into an invisible black hole and disappeared, sizzling as it went. The wind followed its trail, straight into my lungs.
I turned, flailing my arms out to ward off whatever was attacking me. But how can you ward off air? The sucking persisted, panic and fear taking hold of me more thoroughly than the cold that had bit its way into my bones. Had it not been so dark out already, I’m sure I would’ve already seen the forest go black.
Falling to my knees, I reached out for the only element of which I had a strong grasp; water. Particles were drawn from the clouds, the soil, and the trees. They rushed to meet me, then wavered in front of my face, hesitating. I wasn’t sure what to do with them. But there was more than just me at stake. In a desperate, final act, I sent them down my throat, into my lungs and into the very thing that sucked the life out of me. I flooded it with far more water, volume-wise, than the amount of air it took. Shortly, it proved to be too much, and the mysterious void of nothingness expelled everything. Water and air both flooded my system. I sputtered, choking up the water I had so desperately called to my aid.
As soon as I lifted myself from the ground, thoroughly soaked, I thought of Micah. Whatever, or whoever it was might be going after him too. The trail leading up to the cliff was steep and full of loose rock, causing me to slide most of the way down. Once my feet hit solid earth, I took off running. The forest was dense, but I avoided the protruding roots and clawing branches easily enough. There was only one thing on my mind. Without thinking, I opened up the telepathic connection and screamed his name, Micah!
There was no answer. I ran faster. The forest opened up into a small, circular clearing. As I entered it, I spotted Micah clearing the trees on the opposite side in a dead run toward me. We met in the middle, coming to a stop a few feet apart, both hunched over with our hands on our knees. A cursory scan of each other while still gasping for air was enough until words came to us. He was out of breath, but he was unscathed and handsome and dry – and I hated him for it.
Before he could say anything, I went first, in between breaths, “Well – was there anything in the cabin?” I didn’t bother keeping the bite out of my voice.
He held up a piece of paper in his hand, at least having the mind to look sheepish. “I found a letter.” He folded it up and put it in his pocket. “What happened to you?”
I fixed him with a stare as cold as the wind, “I found trouble.” Then, because I couldn’t help it, I shivered.
He sighed, taking off his jacket and wrapped it around me, “I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less from you, Kaitlyn.”
Hope you liked it! Don’t forget to get ‘Water, Book One’ now free pretty much everywhere as an ebook. ‘Air, Book Two‘ is at a special price of $2.99. Stayed tuned for the first chapter of ‘Fire, Book Three‘!
In three days, ‘Fire, Book Three of the Akasha Series’ will be available for purchase on Amazon and B&N. Shortly after that it will be available for iBooks. Of the few books I’ve published so far, ‘Fire’ – by far – is the most exciting for me! Let me tell you – it starts out with a bang. If you are squeamish, the first chapter probably won’t suit you. Whatever the case, make sure to put ‘Fire’ on your Goodreads TBR list now.
Each day until its release, I will post the first chapter of each of the books in the Akasha Series. You know – in case you haven’t read them yet! Today’s first chapter is the opening to the entire series. Don’t forget ‘Water’ is now free on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and iBooks!
There is nothing like an avalanche to put your life into perspective. I leaned forward and the board strapped to my boots responded. Slicing through the fresh powder, I made a sharp curve to the right. A quick glance uphill showed the wave of snow was five times my height, and about to catch up to me.
The avalanche roared like an angry dragon, breath stinking of the earth churned up in its path. The entire right side of the unmarked back country trail was a thick wall of trees, impossible to break through. I pulled my toes up, arching back to the left side of the trail. But I wasn’t going to make it. Ice pelted me on the back of my neck, sending chills down my spine. I pointed my snowboard straight downhill and put all my weight on my forward leg, hoping to outrun the beast.
I willed my board to go faster than I ever dared before. The avalanche was faster. It opened its mouth wide, closing in on me from both sides and overhead. Gray blacked out the blue sky above and the trees to the side of me. The mountain slope cracked and slithered forward, like a monster’s forked tongue. As the force of nature dropped over me, I closed my eyes and threw my arms around my head. My screams were swallowed by the creature.
Completely engulfed, I moved with the avalanche. The whole of the trail had transformed into its body; an agitated, unstoppable river of churning snow and debris. The world became darker and darker, the snow heavier and heavier. Flashes of light were few and far between.
When I gasped for air I was sometimes rewarded with a clear breath but more often than not I sucked in a mouthful of snow. Hacking to rid my throat of the slush, I came to the awful realization that I was drowning on dry land.
My hands, flailing for something solid to hang onto, finally caught hold of a tree. Small as it was, it held fast against the merciless rush of snow. I fought against nature, literally holding on for my life. I wrapped myself around the trunk as two large branches just above me ripped away and disappeared in the churning white waves, along with my screams. I squeezed so tight the rough bark scratched my cheek. I inhaled the heavy scent of pine, as though the smell alone would keep me tethered to the tree. I willed the roots to be strong.
They were, but I was not. My grip started to loosen as my tired muscles and numb fingers were unable to hold on any longer. I lost the stable trunk and returned to the tumble of snow.
I came to a halt just like the rest of the debris that used to be the Canadian mountainside. A small air pocket had formed, allowing me to spit out the coppery taste of blood. Suffocation couldn’t be too far off, encased as I was in an immobile block of ice. Feeble attempts at movement proved useless. Silence settled in on me as I heard the last of the snow come to a halt above me. I tolerated its crushing weight because I had no choice.
As the numbness slowly receded, pain returned to one hand. I wiggled my fingers. They were free, possibly above the surface. I grimaced. Great – at least the wolves would find me. Closed casket for me.
‘Fire, Book Three of the Akasha Series’ becomes available in October. Wanna see the cover?
Beautiful, right?! This, by far, is my favorite cover of the series. Here they are together (with Earth still to go):
I already have the cover for ‘Earth’, which will be revealed in a few months, but I may make some tweaks. It is damn hard to make dirt look magical. I hope that after ‘Fire’, the ‘Earth’ cover isn’t a let down. Maybe I should’ve saved ‘Fire’ for the last book of the series. 🙂 You really can’t go wrong with flame. For your comparison, here are a few other ‘hot’ book covers I’ve come across:
Which is your favorite? Feel free to say mine! Haha. No seriously – feel free. I’m so excited, can’t wait for the release – stay tuned for the announcement!
One great benefit to being an indie author is other indie authors. In general, the community is very open and friendly. During the Orangeberry Summer Splash Blog Hop, I crossed paths with Christopher Starr, author of ‘Road to Hell‘. He was kind enough to post his review of my book on his blog, then he started asking questions. I answered, then sent a few questions of my own. The exchange went on for more than a month and thus you have ‘Between the Covers’, a candid conversation in how writers write. Below is the first of five posts; be sure to follow Christopher’s blog to catch the next post later this week!
Terra: I wrote the first book not exactly planning on turning it into a series. Once it was complete, and especially after that cliffhanger, I kind of had to continue. I also never expected to enjoy writing so much. The first book was a work in progress for 10+ years, and went through many major revisions. The second book took only two months to write. The majority of the third was written in a month (thanks to NaNoWriMo), and I am now writing the fourth and final book of the series. So far, no breaks in between. How about you?
Christopher: It’s funny, our experience is surprisingly similar. It took me over 7 years to write The Road to Hell. And it went through about 4-5 rewrites, a change in main character, a change in POV, about 150 new pages and some pretty merciless cutting. Writing it was more an “I wonder if I can” process than an exercise in series writing. I do have an advantage though: I know which angels are going to live and the Bible gives me some pretty rigid plot points. I’m lucky in that respect.
Christopher: I know exactly what you mean about writing a novel and then learning to write. The biggest thing is the discipline for me. I like to think that I’m all creative and the inspiration will strike me at some time and I’ll create this magical treatise the world will unite behind.
But that shit doesn’t happen.
So I learned the disciplined portion of it and the value of the rewrite. Get it out. Put words on the page. Advance the story paragraph by excruciating paragraph. Eventually, my right brain takes over and kicks in, finding pieces of the story I didn’t know existed. I’m learning that’s part of the process too.
How do you manage continuity?
Terra: I am laughing out loud right now because I really don’t think there was good continuity. Even after the first and second book were published, I was going back and making changes in order to fit the storyline of the next books. I really like to come full circle, so to speak, in my books, and make sure there are no loose ends. So in writing the fourth and final book (which has been probably the most difficult to write), I am trying to tie everything up. This means revisiting issues that maybe weren’t mentioned since the first book. And you?
Christopher: Continuity is, for me, a bitch. I figure the first book is set in stone—I can’t modify that story at all. What I keep doing is going back to the original, making sure I maintain the events or words. I never wanted to be one of those “spreadsheet authors”—you know the ones who build character sheets and plots through spreadsheets—but I understand the value of it. I guess it beats flipping back into my old book to try and remember what I said or the color of someone’s eyes. I’m currently working on my spreadsheet…
Please post questions of your own! Christopher and I will both be available to answer them!
I am celebrating!!! I just finished the last chapter to the third book in the Akasha Series, ‘Fire’. Of course, it still has a few months’ worth of editing, revising, and critiquing to go (worst part of the writing process, I swear), but this is the first milestone of novel ‘done-ness’.
By far the largest motivation factor to continuing with my series is the unexpected but awesome support I’ve found from readers. Never could I have imagined that complete strangers would be so enthusiastic about Kaitlyn and the goals of the Seven. Waking up to find posts on my facebook page about how much readers enjoyed my books makes all my late nights and early mornings worth it!
Over the next few months, I will be posting excerpts from all three of the books so far, I will do a cover reveal, and (hopefully) organize a massive blog tour for the release of ‘Fire’. To celebrate my readers, I will be offering ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series,’ for FREE for a limited time. You can download an e-copy in almost any version from Smashwords right now. But I need your help. When you have a moment, please go to ‘Water’s’ Amazon page and under ‘product details’ click on ‘tell us about a lower price’. Insert the URL to the Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92109. I’m hoping within a week or so Amazon will price match, and ‘Water’ can be enjoyed for free by thousands of people!
So – a day of rest for me, then back to writing. I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo with the goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of June. I’m moving right on to the final book of the series, ‘Earth’. The genre of ‘Earth’ shifts into dystopian, so it will be quite an adventure to write!
In the meantime, have you added ‘Fire’ to your Goodreads TBR list, or seen my book trailer yet? Which reminds me, I’ll need to do one for ‘Air’ and ‘Fire’ next…