Friday, June 15, 2012

100th page!

I completed my 100th page of Dakota Ryan today! :D It was set in Constantia, size 13. I hope to make the font Adobe Garamond if it gets published. But that's a long way away, if it is in the future at all. :) Here's a snippet:

The Box was glowing again. But this time Dakota could see white flames rising out of its depths, rising towards the tray. It washed over the tray like water, then receded, leaving something on the tray.
One neatly folded piece of paper.

Yeah, I know. You're probably thinking, "What's so special about a piece of paper?"

You'll find out.....eventually. :) Just know that this is a crucial part of the story, this scene and the three scenes before it.

P.S. As of now, I have 48,479 words. :D

Monday, June 11, 2012


Random excerpt. I kind of liked it and am satisfied with it...what do you think? (Though parts of it will probably be cut down and edited during the editing process.....if I ever get there ☺)

The breeze was warm but powerful, sending droplets of water hurling at Jazmyn like bullets.
Jazmyn sat on a bench near the lake, the same bench that she had confessed her past to Dakota a day ago. She did not regret it – Dakota would've found out anyway – but she was beginning to wonder just exactly where Dakota's loyalty lies.
The excursion with ___*, and not telling Riko – suspicious, if you ask me.
Yet Jazmyn knew the importance of secrecy. She also knew that sometimes, people's suspicions were wrong.
If that wasn't true, I wouldn't be here.
She stared out over the water, holding up one hand to shield herself against the oncoming droplets. It would not be wise to stay out here very long, Jazmyn knew – the air foretold of rain, and lots of it.
It has almost always been this way when we are using the Box. Jazmyn thought.
Jazmyn had always put her name in the Box, everytime a mission had been called. She felt it was her duty to put right to all her wrongs. Yet she had never been chosen, in all her many years at the Haven. She had tried and hoped, but she was never chosen. Now, try after try after try, Jazmyn was on the verge of giving up.
She hated even the thought of giving up, but she was still fighting feelings of discouragement. She was fighting with all her strength to keep thoughts such as you'll never get chosen, because you're a vampire out of her head. But they kept returning. She tried to fight them head-on (Lies, they are all lies) but she was just crushed and overpowered by their forceful pull.
Thunder echoed in the distance. Jazmyn checked her watch. Fifteen minutes left.
She took one last, long glance at the beautiful lake then pulled herself off the bench and began the long walk back to the Haven, back to what Jazmyn was sure to be yet another mission she would not partake in.

* I can't tell would give things away(:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chapter 1

Yay! Here ya go - half of a chapter. It will be edited once I'm done, so this isn't the final, but this is it for now.

Dakota Ryan is not normal. Whatsoever. Many people call themselves strange, but in reality, you have not seen strange until you have seen Dakota Ryan.
Her hair is a bright, flaming red, and it sticks out in all directions. She has tried (unsuccessfully) to tame it, but to no avail. Her eyes are intriguing and they make it difficult not to stare and be hypnotized by them. They are a mix between green and blue – not exactly green, not exactly blue, and the colors seem to swirl and alternate at times if you stare at them long enough. And sometimes (especially if she's angry) you will see her eyes spark and smolder, like there is a living flame dwelling inside them.
Everyone she meets thinks she is an oddball. Even her own aunts, uncles, and cousins think so, but they do so privately. At school, she is teased mercilessly for being the “weirdo”, the “idiot” and the “mental patient”. And not just because of her appearance, either.
Dakota has anger issues. Or at least, she thinks so. She had had it under control a long time ago, before she was enrolled in Coiferte Public School. Then it flared up all the time – in classes, in hallways, in cafeterias. She would shake in rage and smoke – literal smoke – would come out of her ears.
But, if you look past her appearance and “issues”, you will find that she is a serious, solemn girl. She is a quick thinker and is practical. But only one person, other than her family, dared to come close and figure that out.
That person is Tessa Reed.
And Tessa Reed was waiting patiently outside, in the dark, for Dakota Ryan on October 31, Halloween. They were dressed up as themselves (they couldn't think of anything else to wear) and were going out. But this Halloween was special. Dakota had turned thirteen a few weeks ago, on October 14, and her parents were allowing her to walk around without adult supervision.
Tessa bounced on her toes and shoved her hands in her hoodie's pockets. “Oh, hurry up, Dakota,” she muttered to herself. “I'm freezing.”
Sure enough, within a few minutes, Dakota showed up, carrying a pillowcase in one hand and a purse in the other. She wore a hoodie and jeans, like Tessa, her hair as wild as ever.
“Hi, Tessa!” said Dakota cheerily. “Sorry it took me so long – Brooke needed help with her princess dress –”
“That's okay, but now that you're here, can we go now? I'm cold.”
“Sure.” Dakota turned to her family, who had come out. Her mother, Cara, had smooth, shiny blonde hair that looked nothing like Dakota's. She was trying to keep Brooke from running away with her pumpkin bucket while Dakota's thin, also blond father, Jim, noticed Dakota and waved.
That's another strange thing about Dakota. She looks nothing like her family.
“Have a good time!” shouted Jim.
The girls took that as dismissal, waved, turned, and left.
There was hardly anyone out this year – the weatherman had called for eighty four percent chance of rain that morning, and sure enough, droplets of water were starting to fall.
The girls pulled up their hoods and continued on.
They acted like it was perfectly dry as they walked along and talked.
“So how have you been, Dakota?” asked Tessa. “I haven't seen you in a while.”
“Yeah – I've been fine –”
“You can't fool me,” said Tessa sternly. “What's up, Dakota Ryan?”
“Well ...” Dakota sighed. “I've had a lot of school problems lately.”
“With who? Or what?” Tessa grabbed a handful of candy from someone's bowl. “Oooh, Kit Kats – anyway –”
“There's this girl named Julia Capule,” Dakota began as they walked away. “She's really mean. Strange, too. I mean, most bullies have a clique around them or something – but not her. She works alone. Like, I'm in the hallway at my locker, putting my math book away, and this kid walks by me. Well, Julia just appears behind him, pushes him into a nearby locker, and disappears. I don't know how she does it. But I got blamed for it.”
“Yeah. She spies on me too – I was in the bathroom once and she just appeared –”
“Okay, you don't have to go into details, I get the picture.”
“Hmph.” Dakota sighed deeply. “She follows me everywhere. She keeps trying to get close to me, but I'm always with someone. She tries to get me alone, but I won't let her. I don't get the sense that she wants to seriously hurt me though. Yet, anyway – it's like she only wants to talk to me. But, I won't – it's too dangerous, I suppose.”
“Totally.” Tessa and Dakota crossed onto Brickwood Avenue. “I wish I could be there with you, Dakota,” said Tessa sadly. “If I hadn't had to move to that blasted school –”
“Now, Tessa, it's not your fault you had to change schools ...”
“– I could be there with you –”
“Come on, Tessa, this lady's got bubble gum ...”
“– and could get that Julia expelled –”
“What? Oh yes, sorry. Got a little carried away there.” said Tessa sheepishly.
Dakota laughed softly as she rang someone's doorbell. “Yes, well, I'll take care of it soon. My mom and dad know, so it's only a matter of time.”
“Right.” said Tessa.
By now, it was pouring rain. Their trick-or-treat bags were well on their way to being soaked, and they were shivering with cold.
“Hey! Hey! Dakota!” an excited voice called from behind them. They turned to see Brooke, yelling and waving, and the rest of the family, carrying umbrellas. “Would you like an umbrella, you two?” Cara called mischievously, raising one. The girls glanced at each other.
“Yes!” they cried in unison.
Twenty minutes later, the girls were still freezing but were now pretty much dry.
“How full is your bag?” asked Tessa, craning her neck to see around the umbrella handle.
“About halfway.” Dakota handed the umbrella to Tessa. “It's your turn to hold it.”
“Darn … I was hoping you'd forget.”
“Yeah, right. Take it. It's heavy.”
The girls plodded on for about another hour, chatting about what candy was best, how cold it was getting, and who's turn it was to take the umbrella.
“When are you supposed to be home?” asked Tessa, hoisting her trick-or-treat bag over her shoulder.
Dakota pulled a cheap flip cell phone out of her purse. “It's 8:30. I'm supposed to be home at 8:45.” She snapped the phone closed. “But my mom said I have to start coming home at 8:45, that I have to be home by 9:00.”
“Yeah – oh, trick-or-treat!” said Dakota happily to an old woman. The woman grinned enthusiastically and piled handfuls of candy into her bag. “Here, take a bunch, hon, there's almost no one out.”
And the lady was right. It was raining much, much harder now, and most people had decided to go home. It was only a few determined teens that were out, and even then, there was only a few.
The girls thanked the lady and walked up onto another long street. It was a hill with lots of dark houses and no people. Even still, Tessa and Dakota walked up it.
“Say, Tessa, you think that this could be the last street, then we go home?”
“Yeah.” Tessa sighed. “Too bad, though. If only it wasn't raining.”
The girls started walking up the hill together. There wasn't as many streetlights on this street, and most of the houses were dark, showing that they did not want to give out candy. Only some houses at the very top were lit, and you could hear loud voices from them. Probably a party, thought Dakota. But, as she was thinking this, a pale figure appeared out of the blackness at the top of the hill. It had white skin and black clothing.
As it got closer, it took the form of a girl – with long white blonde hair and a silky black dress. A scarlet cloak billowed gracefully behind her, but there was no wind.
“Who's that?” asked Tessa.
“I don't know,” replied Dakota.
The mystery girl walked closer to the two girls, who were frozen still. “Oh no,” Dakota said, with dawning recognition and despair, “I think I know who it is.”
“Who?” asked Tessa urgently.
“We need to get out of here!” Dakota's voice was suddenly nervous. All cheeriness was gone. “Hurry!”
Too late.
The girl's voice rose softly, like the wind, but made them stop in their tracks. “Where do you think you're going, Dakota Ryan?” You could tell by her voice that she was sneering.
Dakota's eyes widened and she did not say anything. Dakota closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She's just a bully. Tessa's with me. She can't hurt us.
“Who is this person?” Tessa whispered again.
Dakota bit her lip. “Tessa, meet Julia Capule.”
“I didn't know she lived here!”
“Neither did I, and that's the creepy part.”
“I would like to have a word with you.” said Julia smoothly.
“I'd rather not, thanks.” Dakota grabbed Tessa's arm and backtracked down the hill.
Thunder clapped overhead. Julia backed into the shadows near the tree and seemed to disappear. Tessa gasped. “What –”
Cold air raised goosebumps on Dakota's neck. “Don't try to run. I can follow you. I can see you from afar.” Julia's mesmerizing voice hissed behind them. “I have darkness at my command. You do not know what you are getting into.”
Bright red fingernails crawled up Dakota's arm. Dakota shivered. Julia's voice neared her ear. “Proceed to 13 Willow Street immediately, or your family will be gone. If you are not there in a half an hour, your family will be dead by midnight.” Cold air made her ear feel like an icicle. Out of the corner of her eye, Dakota could see blood red lips with fangs overlapping the edge creeping toward her neck. Tessa squealed in fright. Dakota couldn't move. “You're a liar,” snarled Dakota, lip quivering slightly. “You're just a bully! You can't do anything to us!”
All of a sudden, Julia appeared just in front of them, a snarl on her face. “I am not who you think I am.” She snapped her fingers. The darkness near the tree – carefully avoiding the light – darted into her hand, forming a swirling ball of blackness. With a graceful flick of her hand, Julia tossed it over her shoulder. The streetlights flickered and went out. Tessa screamed. It was pitch black; Dakota could barely see the lights on the top of the hill. The voice and cold air returned, whispering inches from Dakota's face. “Go to 13 Willow Lane or you will suffer the consequences. We are watching you, Dakota Ryan. Always watching.”
A hissing sound, like the sound a large snake would make, flooded the two girls for a moment , then disappeared abruptly. With a pop, the lights turned back on. Dakota turned around herself. Julia Capule was gone.
Tessa ran to Dakota and grabbed her arm tightly. “What was that, Dakota?” she said, her eyes lit up with terror. “She doesn't seem like the class bully you told me about!”
Dakota shuddered. “She wasn't. She – she was different tonight somehow … more scary. She was – she was –”
“Real-looking?” said Tessa.
“Yes – that didn't look like a costume at all.”
“This sounds completely crazy, but I'm not sure it was.” Tessa glanced over her shoulder. “So … we're not going to listen to her, right? We're going to go home, and eat our candy –”
“Well …”
“What do you mean, well?” said Tessa indignantly, still clutching Dakota's arm. “She's a bully! She's a – well – meanie, that's what! A liar! You can't just go waltzing over to that place she said, there could be kidnappers, abductors, gangs –” Tessa's voice quivered.
“Listen, Tessa, I'm going to call my mom, and if she doesn't answer, I'm going.” Dakota had never felt so determined – and so scared. She just felt like she had to. Or else. She had this creepy intuition that Julia, or whoever she was, wasn't lying.
“But, Dakota –”
“Tessa, I'm going to call my mom.”
“Dakota, did that weirdo knock the brains out of you? You're not thinking sense! You can't just walk into this ... this death trap –”
But it was too late. Dakota was already calling her mother. Ring … ring … ring … beep. No one answered. Dakota's hands shook. She tried again. Same results. Again. Same. Again. Same. Again. Same.
Beep! Someone was calling. Without hesitating, Dakota answered it without checking caller ID.
“Your parents will not answer,” a rough, hoarse, gravelly voice said, “because they are at my house now.” Dakota's face drained of all color. The voice chuckled. “If you would like to see them ...” – Dakota didn't like the emphasis she put on see – “... come to 13 Willow Street right away.” The person hung up.
Dakota snapped the phone closed, her hands shaking. No. Please no. Some one pinch me, wake me up, this can't be happening – this is just a nightmare – “I have to go, Tessa. You can come if you want, but I am definitely going.”
Tessa's lip quivered. She hesitated, then let go of Dakota's arm and turned and faced her. “You're my best friend, Dakota Ryan. I will not let you go face some insane bully by yourself.” She looked over her shoulder, squeezing the umbrella handle tightly. “I am coming with you.”
Dakota looked fondly at her friend. “Are you sure, Tessa?”
“Yes. Now stop second-guessing me, or you'll make me even more nervous.”
Dakota, with Tessa following closely behind, backtracked to the nearest street sign. “Well, what do you know,” muttered Tessa. “We're on Willow Street already.”
And they were. There wasn't a lot of houses on this street. Unlike the other streets, where the houses were close together, these houses were spread apart and had much more land. They were also more expensive-looking.
The girls began to walk up the hill, glancing every which way as they went. As they walked, Dakota began to lose her confidence. What am I getting into? she asked herself. What am I getting Tessa into? This is mad, this is insane ...
But she could not turn back now. She had already made her decision, and she was pretty sure that that stupid Julia Capule had heard her, if she was still around. She couldn't be cowardly, that would be too lowly.
“Ten, eleven ...” counted Dakota. They were nearing the top of the hill now. That loud party they had heard before was gone – there were traces of them (beer cans, tables, coolers) lying around, but no people. Not a single one. Apparently, the rain had driven them away … it was still raining, not as hard as before, but still drizzling.
Dakota stopped so quickly that Tessa ran into her. “Whoa, Dakota, what's wrong?” asked Tessa.
“There's no thirteen,” whispered Dakota.
“There's no thirteen,” said Dakota loudly. “This house is twelve, the one over there is fourteen, but there's no thirteen – just a little cul-de-sac up at the top.”
“It must have been a trick, then!” said Tessa triumphantly, a slight tone of relief in her voice. “Gosh, that was a waste of time … my mom's going to kill me for being out this late, and what am I going to say? We were threatened by a bully, and we played into her hands –”
“Tessa, stop.” Dakota held up her hand, staring intently at the cul-de-sac.
“What is it now, Dakota?”
“Shh.” Dakota watched. Was it – yes, it was! Black dust rose out of the ground, forming a shape out of black – an old mansion. Doors and windows began to form, an old porch, and a rocking chair slowly swaying with the breeze. Even trees had formed.
“Tessa, did you see that?” asked Dakota incredulously.
“See what?”
“That – that house just appeared out of black dust, and –”
“Black dust?” Tessa sounded skeptical. “I don't see anything.”
“What – no, come here.” Dakota took Tessa's hand and led her towards the house. The closer Dakota got, the creepier the mansion became.
There were gravestones everywhere, some with hands or bones sticking out of the dirt. There was mummies hanging from trees, and skeletons lying up against the walls.
But it looked real – so real Dakota nearly screamed in fright, and that's something she almost never does.
“What's wrong, Dakota?” said Tessa, confused.
“N – nothing.” stammered Dakota. She shuddered and regained her composure. Dragging Tessa by the hand, she walked over to a tree with nothing on it and touched it. It felt as normal as a regular tree would. “Tessa, touch this.”
“Touch what? I don't see anything.”
“Just – just do it, please.”
Dakota pulled Tessa's hand forward and laid it on the tree. Nothing happened. “Hmm.”
“Hmm what, Dakota? You need to tell me what's going on!” said Tessa forcefully. She spun around and tripped over her own feet, and she fell forward – right through the tree.
“Tessa!” cried Dakota. She lunged toward her friend, but collided with the tree with a thump. “Why can't I go through it?” she muttered to herself, rubbing her forehead as she went around the side of the tree. “Tessa, where are you?”
“Right here.” Tessa came around the side of the tree, almost running into Dakota. She smiled. “Took a bit of a tumble there. I can be so clumsy sometimes.” Tessa noticed Dakota's face and the bruise on her forehead and her smile faded. “What's up, girlfriend?”
“There is definitely a tree there.” Dakota touched the tree gingerly. “I hit my head on it when you fell through it.”
Through it?”
Tessa shook her head, a look of concern clouding her face. “Look, Dakota, I think you've been out in the rain a bit too long. Let's just go home, have a nice cup of cocoa and some Reese's, and go to bed, okay?” Tessa hooked her arm in Dakota's and led her away. Dakota followed reluctantly.
Dakota was taking her last looks at the old house, its rickety windows, and the empty rocking chair when she felt something on her leg. She gave a kick, but it wouldn't go away. She looked down and screamed.
Tessa whirled around. “Dakota, what –” But she could not talk. She was too confused.
The hands that were sticking out of the graves now grabbed Dakota's feet, but they had no owners. They were just hands, bloody, decayed hands. The skeletons were walking slowly towards them. The mummies were untangling themselves from the tree. And they were all latching onto Dakota and Tessa, dragging them quickly and quietly toward the house.
With a loud creaking, the ground in front of the mansion split open, revealing a large, black, smelly pit.
Dakota screamed in terror and fought them, but it didn't work. They were too strong. Tessa could not see them, but she fought them too, all while yelling, “Dakota! What's going on?”
Just as they were going to be thrown into the pit, a familiar, husky voice called across the yard. “Now, my pets, we shouldn't treat guests like this! Release them!”
The skeletons, mummies, and demented hands all let go and scuttled back to their original positions and froze. Dakota turned around, eyes wide with fear.
The rocking chair was no longer empty – an old woman sat in it. She was extremely old and decrepit, wrapped in an ancient shawl and clothed in a faded black dress and boots.
“How nice of you to join me.”
Tessa looked around nervously. “Where is that voice coming from?”
“Mortals,” sighed the woman. “So blind.” She rummaged around in her pockets and pulled out a pouch. She poured some purple powder into her hand. Before Dakota could yell for Tessa to duck, or run, or do anything, the woman spoke.
Sai hakthet.” She chanted as she blew the powder toward the girls. Dakota ducked, and the powder hit Tessa in the chest. Tessa's eyes became glassy, staring into space. She dropped the umbrella and the trick-or-treat bag with a ker-thunk. She turned and began walking smartly away from them.
“Tessa!” Dakota called, but Tessa apparently did not hear her. Dakota began to feel the anger that she had felt so many times in school rising within her. “What did you do to my friend?”
The woman smiled a toothless smile. “Forgetfulness Powder, my dear. Works like a charm. She'll be back to normal in fifteen minutes – without any recollection of what has happened.”
Dakota's eyebrows furrowed. That voice ... “Hey – wait – you're the person who kidnapped my parents!”
The woman calmly folded her hands on her lap. “You finally noticed?”
Dakota growled softly. Her anger was building, and it was building quickly. “What do you want with me?”
“Simply to talk with you.” The woman stood and motioned to Dakota. “Come now, inside. It is too cold out here to talk, and we can have some tea. Agreed?”
Dakota didn't move, glaring suspiciously at this stranger.
“Would you like to have your parents back?”
Dakota sighed and followed.
The house was even older on the inside than on the outside. It smelled of mold and rotten food. There were rats everywhere. There were old suits of armor and strange things like poleaxes hanging around. Dakota almost tripped over a suit of armor with a dagger by its side. The woman just chuckled and said, “Like my decorations, now do you?”
As they got deeper and deeper into the house, the suits of armor were replaced by pictures – disturbing pictures. They depicted people being burned, eaten, or cut into pieces; they showed different types of cauldrons and wands; they showed zombies and vampires; they showed exactly how to cut a person up and rebuild them to do your bidding. Dakota shivered as they walked by.
Finally, the old woman stopped in what seemed to be the dining room. An old, very dusty chandelier hung over a cobweb-strewn table. “Here we are.” said the woman. “Have a seat, dearest.”
Dakota warily sat down and watched the woman as she walked into the kitchen (it was right next to the dining room). There was no door separating the two rooms, so Dakota could see clearly. It looked like a normal kitchen, despite the fact there was a huge black cauldron in the middle of it, and a trapdoor in the corner of the room.
The woman hummed an eerie tune as she walked around, grabbing things like sugar and tea leaves. In no time at all, she had prepared two small cups of tea.
“Here, dear. Take this.” she handed Dakota the cup and sat down. “Now. Our conversation. Yes.” The woman took a sip of tea. “First, you must call me Eclypso.”
Dakota did not say anything. She glared at the tea.
“Second, you mustn't be angry with me for taking your parents away – I knew you wouldn't come talk to me if I didn't. I am truly sorry.” But Eclypso did not look sorry at all.
“All right. Enough with the pretense, hmm? Let's begin.” Eclypso raised her cup into the air, like she was giving a toast, then set it down. “I understand you have a few talents, am I right?”
Dakota was confused, taken aback by this seemingly abrupt question. “What do you mean?”
“I mean sort of fiery talents. I think you understand me quite well now.”
And she was right. Dakota did understand perfectly well. All the days where she had erupted – literally – in anger flashed back to her mind's eye. Eclypso chuckled merrily.
“I'm glad you remember.” she said with a smile. “As you have realized, I'm sure, you are special, and you have something different, something that other people don't have. They look down upon you, call you a liar and other things you shouldn't be called. I know how you feel, for I was treated the same way.” Eclypso looked up at the chandelier thoughtfully. “I felt awful – until I met someone. That someone showed me what I was really meant to do … and asked me to join his force, a force that will bring an end to those rude villains who torture us wherever we go.”
Despite her anger and defiance, Dakota felt herself sympathizing with Eclypso. That was exactly how she felt!
“And so I joined,” continued Eclypso. “And I discovered that I have great power. You have great, great power too, my dear. If you will just join us, we will not only show you that you are extremely powerful, but we will release your parents, as well.”
Dakota almost said yes. She almost did. But something Eclypso had said stopped her. But we will release your parents, as well. Why would I want to join the thing that kidnapped my parents? she asked herself. Would I have to kidnap people too, and hold them against their will?
“No.” Dakota said, her voice determined but unsteady at the same time.
“I won't do such a thing.”
Eclypso's eyes narrowed. “Why not?”
“I won't join something that kidnaps people and takes them away!”
“You will be granted massive and amazing power,” said Eclypso, almost desperately. “You will be in control over all people who stand in your way, Dakota Ryan. Even those who torment you. You will be able to inflict the punishment that they deserve!”
Dakota was tempted – very, very tempted. She imagined Julia being crushed under a giant hammer, and that thought made something inside her rise and stir, laughing and roaring in excitement and anticipation. But something else rose in her too – something brighter and stronger. This something, Dakota knew, was her conscience. Your conscience is almost always right, her mother had said. Trust it. It will guide you.
The seconds seemed to turn into hours as Dakota struggled between what she knew was right and what she wanted to do, then she clenched her fists, stood, and looked Eclypso in the eyes. “No.”
“What was that, dearest?”
“No.” said Dakota determinedly. “I will not join you.”
Eclypso's eyes narrowed. “Is that your final decision?”
“Yes!” shouted Dakota, and she believed it with all her heart.
“Well then,” sighed Eclypso, “we will have to do this the hard way.”