Writing

On Writing my Third “Magical Missions” Novel

This process has been SUPER difficult for me. I meant that. For two years, I couldn’t finish a single darn draft. Then, last year, I discovered that I needed to start shorter and sloppier. I realized that my progress differed from other writers. I needed to simplify things drastically. While others write 100,000 words and have to cut, I will have to write 10,000 words and then expand. But that’s another post.

Anyway, the first installment “The Frights of Fiji” is available on Amazon here. The second installment, “The Uncontrollable Curse” can be pre-ordered right here. The third novel is currently titled “Enchanted for Eternity” (which might change) and still has a ways to go. I am writing a synopsis for the current draft. I’m hoping that plot can work for the final draft. Really—I just want this project to be done. About 3.25 years of this WIP have passed and I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to quit.

Yeah—finding an exciting plot was sooo hard. Even recently, long after I completed a full first draft from January to February last year (2018), I have gotten bored with some of my plots. However, the one I’m working on actually sounds pretty exciting, even though I’m not done with the synopsis.

But the idea has stayed the same. My main character, Alyssa, is cursed with magic that she needs to learn to control and keep permanently. I’ll release more information once the story’s pretty much done and nearing publication, which might be early fall, as of now.

fiction

Excerpt: The Frights of Fiji (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 1)

The raindrops darkened into black, looking as if ink fell from the sky. Alyssa leaned closer to them. She squinted to determine the shapes they formed on the kitchen window… letters.

            No! That couldn’t happen. Yet, a message spelled out as more pigments plopped onto the glass. Alyssa gasped at what it said.

            Your life will never be the same again, Alyssa McCarthy, as magic will interfere.

            What? Magic didn’t exist—at least that’d been what others had told her when she was little. No one on Orion Street could possess enchanted abilities.

            Alyssa had lived here since she’d lost her parents in that car crash five years ago. She’d only been seven then. How would she tell her uncle, Bruce, about this? He’d consider her crazy. He’d already toughened up his attitude and rules. So he might consider it an excuse to escape this house.

            Although Alyssa’s parents had designated her godfather as the first priority guardian, Uncle Bruce forbade her to try and contact him. He’d hidden the phone number and other information about him.

            Since Alyssa’s aunt, Laura, had died three years ago, Uncle Bruce had required fun to be earned. And that took more effort than Alyssa could often accomplish.

            Turning around, she spotted her babysitter, Mrs. Hutchinson, examining the kitchen floor. Alyssa’s eleven-year-old cousin, Hailey, watched the progress. Hailey had mopped the floor. Would she earn a break now? Ever since her uncle, Bruce, had hired Mrs. Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson had admired the way Hailey had done her chores more than Alyssa.

            “Hailey, you can take a break until your next chore,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, get back to work. You’ve been staring at the rain for too long.”

            “Okay.” Alyssa turned back—only to see the message gone and the rain back to its normal transparency.

            “What did I say?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.

            Alyssa sighed. “Fine, I’ll finish washing the dishes.”

She scrubbed her dish and glass with soap under warm running water. Her eyes focused on just those. No way would she want Mrs. Hutchinson to catch her looking out the window again. Mrs. Hutchinson was only in her sixties, but she’d sometimes seem to forget that was 2010 and not 1960 with her guidelines. Yet, it had taken Alyssa a while to realize that she wouldn’t even tolerate the mildest kind of nonsense, such as getting distracted by a windowpane when having to perform chores.

            Now that she finished washing her dishes, Alyssa put them to the side and grabbed some paper towels to dry them.

            “What do you think you’re doing?” Mrs. Hutchinson asked.

Alyssa stopped. “I’m just—”

            “The last few times I was here, you left little bits of food on your dishes.”

            “But they were stuck.”

            “Let me inspect them. Also, if something is rubbery, you have to wash it again.”

            “Why?”

            “Because clean dishes aren’t supposed to be rubbery. And boy, did you do such a sloppy job. Look at that stain on your sweater.”

            Alyssa looked down.

            “That looks like chocolate.”

            Alyssa blushed and arched her eyebrows.  “Hey—it’s just water.” She covered the stain at the bottom of her sweater’s V-neck.

            But Mrs. Hutchinson waved her index finger. “Don’t you ‘hey’ me, Alyssa. That’s rude. In my days, kids respected their elders. We never would dare talk to them that way unless we didn’t mind them smacking our bottoms.”

            “Things change.”

            “Not when I’m here, they don’t. Now let me do my inspection.”

            Great—an inspection! How long would Mrs. Hutchinson take? She might spend a couple minutes or maybe twenty. Alyssa crossed her arms and tapped her foot. She wanted her break now. She wished to read, rest, do a small craft, like lanyards—anything but wait for Mrs. Hutchinson to finish her task.

            “Mrs. Hutchinson?” Alyssa asked.

            “Whatever you need to say, wait till I’m done,” she said.

            Alyssa sighed. She continued to watch Mrs. Hutchinson run her finger down the middle of the front of the dish. She then rubbed it back and forth. When she put it down and nodded, Alyssa figured out that the dish had nothing on it.

            Mrs. Hutchinson spent a few minutes of running her finger down the glass. She put it down and turned to Alyssa. “You’re good. Now what did you want to tell me?”

            “Um . . . if I tell you, can you not give me a hard time?”

            “Okay.”

            “There was writing on the window.”

            Mrs. Hutchinson pursed her lips and tilted her head. “Really?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Nonsense.”

            “No, really, it was there.”

            “There was nothing there when I came, and there’s nothing there right now. So don’t tell me stories.”

            “But it’s not a story.”

            “I don’t want to hear any more. Now it’s time for your next chore.”

            “Aw, but I wanted my break.”

            “Too bad. You have to go vacuum the living room.”

            Alyssa dragged her feet toward the living room and took the vacuum from the corner. She cleaned and thought about that writing as well as how Mrs. Hutchinson wouldn’t believe her. Would a nicer babysitter have believed her? Mrs. Hutchinson had watched her and Hailey for three years, and not once had she smiled or assisted with anything.

            After vacuuming the carpet for about five minutes, Alyssa decided that she had tidied the floor enough. So she stopped and put the vacuum away.

            “Hailey, you and Alyssa need to go get the mail now!” Mrs. Hutchinson called, facing the staircase.            

“Coming!” cried Hailey.

Another rule Uncle Bruce had placed on Alyssa and Hailey was they could only go outside together. He worried about people taking them or something, even though Alyssa would turn thirteen next month. But that rule had been placed because a few months ago, Uncle Bruce had heard about a seventeen-year-old boy who had been shot while skateboarding in his neighborhood. Violence could even happen here in Bursnell, New Jersey.

            Hailey and Alyssa headed to the closet and put their raincoats on until Mrs. Hutchinson said, “It stopped raining outside.”

            “Already?” asked Alyssa.

            “Yes.” Mrs. Hutchinson went to the bathroom.

            The girls walked outside toward the mailbox. Alyssa pulled the mail and headed back toward the door. But mud bubbled from the ground near the house. It piled up, looking like horse manure, and grew as more soil emerged. Alyssa dropped her jaw and stared at it.

            “Alyssa, what’s going on?” Hailey asked.

            “No idea,” said Alyssa.

            The dirt stopped piling up, but it continued to bubble, and the effects spread throughout the whole pile. The bubbles stopped popping up and down. Alyssa and Hailey gasped as they expanded. They kept their mouths open as the bubbles merged together, each one attached to another, forming a single bigger shape. Alyssa and Hailey stepped back as the now giant bubble swelled. And it . . . popped! Particles of exploding mud landed on the girls. They shrieked.

The front door opened to reveal a glowering Mrs. Hutchinson. “What the heck have you two been doing?”

            “T-the mud . . . it e-exploded,” said Hailey.

            “Nonsense!” growled Mrs. Hutchinson. “Get inside!”

            The girls returned inside, pulling and wiping the mud out of their hair. Alyssa could spot the mud in her straight pale-blonde tresses, unlike Hailey, who likely needed more patience to search for globs in her elbow-length red locks. But Alyssa’s hair fell a few inches past her hips, so cleaning out the mud would take longer, even with the shorter layers in the front.

            “How could dirt explode?” Mrs. Hutchinson stomped.

            “I-I think it was magic!” exclaimed Alyssa.

            “There’s no such thing as magic!” screamed Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, you’re twelve years old. You’re too old to say things like that!”

            “But nothing else can make mud explode!” Alyssa said.

            “Mrs. Hutchinson, we swear it did!” whined Hailey.

            “Enough!” snapped Mrs. Hutchinson. “You and Hailey—go upstairs and take showers!”

            Alyssa followed Hailey up the stairs and heaved a sigh. How else would the mud have splattered all over them? Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t have thought they’d play in the mud like small children.

            “Alyssa, can I shower first?” asked Hailey.

            “Sure,” said Alyssa.

            As Hailey strode into the bathroom, Alyssa walked into her room. She scratched more mud off her skinny jeans (the only jeans she’d worn ever since they’d come into style) and the back of her hand. She stood by her bed since she wanted to keep it clean.

She considered the writing on the window and the exploding mud. Someone wanted magic to interfere with her life, but who, and how come?

            Also, why hadn’t she ever seen wizardry before? Why would her parents and others tell her that it hadn’t existed? Did sorcery just start on earth? Had it hidden somewhere? There had to be some reason why no one had ever believed in it.

Enjoyed the excerpt? Click here to purchase the book.

fiction

Animal Psychic: A Short Story

Isabella woke up. Energy filled her mind as she hopped out of bed and got dressed. She brushed her long, dark brown waves and put on her glasses.

Today was her eleventh birthday. She hurried downstairs where her aunt, Molly, prepared breakfast.

“Happy birthday, Isabella,” said Aunt Molly.

“Thanks.” Isabella sat down. She looked outside and frowned. If only her parents and uncle could see her today.

Three years ago, Isabella’s mom had suffered from depression after the dad had died from a heart attack. Isabella’s mother had lost so much control that social services had sent Isabella to live with Aunt Molly. Uncle Tanner had divorced Aunt Molly a year after and had moved to Vancouver.

“Isabella, after breakfast, I have a surprise birthday present for you.” Aunt Molly tied her ash-blonde hair into a bun.

“Oh, yippee.” Isabella ate her pancakes. She cleaned up, and then Aunt Molly led her downstairs to the basement. Aunt Molly turned on the lights. “Ta da.”

An albino guinea pig ran around in its cage. Isabella opened her mouth.

“You get to name her,” Aunt Molly said.

“All right,” Isabella said. “Her name will be… Peppermint.”

“Nice name,” said Aunt Molly.

“Why peppermint, though?” asked a strange female voice.

Isabella gasped. “Aunt Molly, did you hear something?”

“What? The guinea pig making noises?”

“No, someone asked why I named the guinea pig, Peppermint.”

Aunt Molly tilted her head at Isabella.

“I’m serious.”

“Whatever. Play pretend like you’re five.” Aunt Molly returned upstairs.

“Aunt Molly, stop it!”

But Aunt Molly closed the door.

“You can read animal’s minds,” the same unknown voice said.

Isabella breathed and looked around. “W-who’s there?”

“Its me, the guinea pig you named Peppermint,” said the voice.

Gasping, Isabella turned to the creature. She rushed her breathing.

“Last night, someone gave you the power to read animal’s minds,” the voice said.

“But how am I going to convince my aunt?” asked Isabella.

“There is a note in your closet upstairs stating the name of the person. It appeared last night when you were sleeping.”

Isabella hurried upstairs and to her bedroom. She opened her closet and saw a piece of paper under her shoes. She picked it up and read it.

 

Dear Isabella,

 

            I wanted to let you know something about myself. I was born with the power to read everyone’s minds, including animals. I’ve kept it secret from you for many years. I was worried that I was going to scare you. So I sent some magic into the letter that would make you understand what I’ve gone through. I miss you. I wish I could be here for your birthday.

 

            Love,

            Mom

 

Isabella flushed. Tears stung her eyes. How could her own mother want her to read animals’ minds? The mom couldn’t have gone that insane. It made no sense.

Isabella hurried downstairs. “Aunt Molly?”

“What now, Isabella?” Aunt Molly asked.

“I got this note from my mom.” She held up the paper.

Aunt Molly put her hands on her hips.

“It is, I swear. I even recognize the handwriting.”

“Let me see.”

Isabella handed the note to Aunt Molly. Aunt Molly read it. Her eyes watered. She burst into tears. “I c-can’t believe it.”

Isabella remained mute.

“I don’t want you to be like this, Isabella.”

Isabella shook her head. “Neither do I.”

“There’s got to be a way to undo this.”

Isabella paused. Then she returned to the basement.

“You’re back,” Peppermint’s internal voice said.

“I need to get rid of this curse,” Isabella said.

“The only way to get rid of it is to suppress it yourself.”

            “How?”

“You have to replace thoughts of me with thoughts of other people.”

“B-but I can’t forget you.”

“It’ll only take a few minutes. Then you can spend as much time with me as you’d like.”

            Isabella looked down. “Okay.” She returned upstairs and sat in the living room. She closed her eyes. Thoughts of her friends, teachers, and even her mom, came into her head. She thought about the guinea pig, but replaced it with a memory of her dad going to the hospital.

Peppermint’s internal voice faded away from Isabella’s mind. Isabella pushed herself to remember the voice. But she had forgotten.

She went back to the basement. Peppermint made her usual guinea pig sounds. Isabella gazed at her. The animal climbed her cage bars. There were no unusual voices.

Isabella grinned.

 

fiction

Hannah and Troy: A Short Story

Hannah looked out the window and gazed at the people on the shore across from her beach house. They played volleyball, swam, built sand castles, rested, or just hung out with others.

But Hannah looked down, letting her long golden hair fall down her torso. The two months she’d moved here to New Jersey had not done much for her. In a week, she would start eighth grade. Unlike her old school in Delaware, this one would mandate uniforms. It was a private school, but Hannah still experienced palm sweats and energy drains when thinking about not getting to wear what she wanted anymore.

She also had not made any friends at camp. She still remained in touch with those from her previous town on Facebook. But she wouldn’t see them ever again unless she visited the area.

Hannah breathed and headed to the door. Her parents hung out in their bedroom. Plus, Hannah would not stray too far. She just planned to talk to somebody on the beach.

She walked outside—only to hear grunts coming from the backyard.

“Will someone help me, please?” cried a teenage boy.

Gasping, Hannah rushed to the property behind the house. The boy stuck out of the sand. He wore no top, had dark tousles of hair, and appeared to be a few years older than Hannah, who was thirteen.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” Hannah approached the kid.

“I think the water pushed me here and now I’m stuck,” the boy said.

“I’ll pull you out.” Hannah grabbed the kid’s hands and pulled back. She clenched her teeth, and her arms ached.

The boy ascended from the ground. More of his torso showed. But he stopped and got stuck again.

“I can’t climb out,” the kid said. “You need to keep pulling.”

Hannah inhaled and exhaled. She added more pressure to free the boy from the ground. She squeezed her eyes shut. Some weight increased as Hannah continued to let the boy out. But a flap sounded.

“Thank you,” the kid panted.

Hannah opened her eyes and jumped back, shrieking. The boy had a fish tail. Hannah’s chest tightened and her muscles stiffened.

“I swear I’m not wearing a costume,” said the boy.

Hannah said nothing and just sucked in her breaths.

“I guess you’ve never seen a merman before,” said the kid.

“I… I was going to invite you for dinner,” said Hannah.

“I wish I could join you.” The boy looked down. “But I will thank you for saving me.”

“You’re welcome.” Hannah kneeled down at him. “My name’s Hannah, by the way.”

“Troy.”

The two shook hands.

“I need to get back to the ocean,” Troy said. “I’m supposed to be around humans.”

“So how did you end up here?”

“A current pushed me—it’s complicated.”

“So if you’re not supposed to be around people, how am I going to get you back to the water?”

Troy sighed. “I guess you’re going to have to wrap me in a towel and cover my tail completely as you carry me back.”

“Okay.” Hannah rushed back inside her house. Her parents stood in the kitchen.

“What you were doing outside?” Hannah’s dad asked.

“I… uh… was talking to a boy.”

“Where is he from?” asked Hannah’s mom.

Hannah remained mute for a couple seconds. “Far away. He wants me to hang out with him.”

“Oh, okay.” Hannah’s dad nodded. “Can we meet him?”

Hannah remained silent and frowned. “He’s a little shy. I’m going to go get a towel for him.” She continued to the closet and grabbed a towel. Then she returned outside. But Troy wasn’t there. Hannah gasped. “Troy?” She looked around. “Troy?”

There was no answer.

“You stay away from here, you mutant fish!” yelled an old man.

“Oh no,” whispered Hannah. She ran to the front property. A fisherman carried a net. A large fish tail stuck out of a sack. Muffled noises sounded.

“Hey, you!” Hannah dashed to the guy. “Let the boy go!”

“What do you think you can do to me?” the man asked. “You’re just a kid.”

“You let that boy go right now, or I’m—”

“You can’t threaten me, child,” said the guy. “I am going to do something with the young merman that I do to every fish I’ve caught. And you can’t stop me.”

“He is not yours,” Hannah said. “He belongs in the ocean, where he can roam free whenever he wants.”

The man grasped Hannah’s shoulder and pushed her down.

“You’re not stopping me, little one,” the guy snarled.

“Leave them both alone!” cried another girl around Hannah’s age.

She sprinted to the fisherman and jumped onto his back. She grabbed his neck, and he dropped the net.

Hannah removed the sack and the handkerchief around Troy’s mouth.

“Thank you so much,” Troy moaned.

“You’re welcome.” Hannah untied the rope around him. She pulled him out of the net.

But the girl who tried to defeat the fisherman screamed. The guy stepped on her belly. “I am going to hurt you next.”

“Leave her alone!” yelled a woman, probably the girl’s mother. She took out her cell phone. “If you don’t get out of here, I’m calling the police.”

The man didn’t move. But the lady touched her device. She pressed a few more times.

“Fine!” the old man exclaimed. “You win!” He ran away from the shore and behind the beach houses.

The woman put her phone down.

“Thank you so much, everyone,” Hannah said. She turned to the girl who’d tried to save her before. “Thank you, as well.”

“Don’t mention it,” the child said. “If anyone needs to be thanked, it’s my mom.”

“Oh,” said Hannah.

“Can you take me back, please?” asked Troy.

“Yes.” Hannah picked him up and carried him to the ocean.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay with you,” Troy said. “But I’ll always remember you.”

“Me, too.” Hannah continued to the water. She reached it and lowered Troy.

“Goodbye, Hannah.” Troy waved. “And thank you.” He turned around and swam away.

Hannah sighed and looked down. She turned around and dragged her feet.

“We can hang out with you if you want?” the same girl as before said, walking with her mom.

“You can?” Hannah asked.

“Yeah, absolutely,” the mom said.

“You want to have dinner with me and my parents?” asked Hannah.

“We’d love to,” smiled the mother.

The girl held her hand out. “My name’s Jennifer.”

“Hannah.” She and Jennifer shook hands.

The weather cooled down.

“Let’s go meet your parents,” said Jennifer’s mom.

“Sounds good to me.” Hannah nodded.

The three walked back to the house. Hannah hoped to become friends with Jennifer. And a new life would start.