EXCLUSIVE! EXCERPT FROM REFLECTION POND

Reflection pond TeaserTake a good hard look at this foot. What you’re seeing is a snippet from the cover of Reflection Pond. On Saturday, you’ll be able to finally see the full cover. In keeping with my trend of interviews, exclusive insider info, and tidbits, I will now give you an excerpt from Reflection Pond. (This excerpt is from an uncorrected galley of Reflection Pond and may contain errors.)

Don’t be shy. Post your comments below!

Chapter One

His hand slid under Callie’s shirt; branded skin, slipped into places she tried to keep hidden.

“No,” she said, shoving his fingers away. “No.”

Nate froze and made a disgusted sound. “Callie…”

            She tugged her shirt down.

He sighed. “This has to stop. Do you expect me to wait forever?”

          Callie climbed off of the bed and curled her trembling hands into fists. She hated the wash of his breath on her neck, the smell of his skin, soap and cheap cologne. She’d never loved him, only hoped that if she tried hard enough, she’d miraculously transform into a puzzle that still had all its pieces. Fake it until you make it, she thought bitterly.

            “Callie…” He stood now, came two steps closer as she shrank away. “We can work this out.”

            Behind Nate, the bed lay disheveled and made a mockery of her inadequacy. She added to the list of things she hated—the ten by eight foot space of Nate’s room, the bed, the way he said her name, his refusal to give up.

           “I said I can’t, Nate.” His name slid between clenched teeth. Callie backed up further, until the cold roundness of the doorknob pressed into her back. Her heartbeat thundered everywhere, chest, fingertips, and scalp.

            Nate scraped his hands through unruly curls. He was attractive enough, she supposed, muscular from playing football. But he was right; she couldn’t expect him to wait forever, just as he couldn’t expect her to ever be ready.

            The hard ball of the doorknob filled her hand. She bolted, leaving Nate standing dumbfounded, surrounded by the dirty clothes that lined his floor and the sparkling football trophies on his shelves.

          She didn’t stop to see if he was chasing her. It didn’t matter if he was, because every part of her body screamed to run faster. Out the front door, across the patchy lawn, past her foster home next-door where the screen gaped open and the shutters hung crooked.

            Callie pushed harder, wondering if she could run fast enough to dissipate like smoke, to un-become.

           She couldn’t go home—if she could call it home—where the stench of her foster mother’s cancer seeped into the walls, where she was expected to play parent to the younger foster kids. She couldn’t return to Nate—not ever—not with the humiliation clawing at her chest. Callie knew she’d never be ready. Not in a week, a month…a year.

            Never.

           The thought of Nate’s skin on hers made Callie gag as she steered her legs toward the park. She gasped for air around the bile burning her throat. She knew she looked crazy, but couldn’t bring herself to care. She blew past the old man walking his dog and the girl drawing a hopscotch board on broken concrete. It was as though seventeen years of needing to escape had finally caught up with her.

The sun shone bright, but to Callie, it was shadows.

            Struggling trees surrounding a mucky pond came into view—the park. She registered the change from hard, unforgiving sidewalk to scratchy, dry grass, and didn’t slow. She ran around empty benches where bums slept at night, under the swing set, clattering the chains that dangled without seats. She ran with a singular vision—freedom.

            Callie didn’t see the motorbike or hear the shouts that intruded upon the desolate wasteland of her life. She didn’t see the man as he fell from his two-wheeled machine of destruction or the look of horror on his face. She saw the sky, impossibly blue, as she flew into the air. Callie saw the dank, clouded surface of the reflection pond, too dirty to have ever served as a mirror, and she saw her life—a short, inconsequential blip on the grand map of existence.

            And then, she broke the surface.

The blue sky smudged gray like a painting and the splash echoed in her ears, muffled by the suffocating sound of being underwater. The reflection pond felt wrong—warm, silky, like the lining of a winter coat—and it made her remember.

She opened her mouth to scream, tasting imaginary, pink bubbles, but nothing happened. No stagnant pond water rushed into her throat.

She didn’t drown. She didn’t even choke.

Callie fell through the water and hit a solid, freezing cold floor with the force of a two-story drop. Her lungs paralyzed from the impact and she rolled onto her back, eyes widening. Above her, floating as though suspended by magic, was the pond. She could make out the bottom, clogged with weeds. Sand swirled around the spot she’d fallen through, hitting an invisible barrier and bouncing back. Humid, floral scented air rushed into her lungs and she sat up, surprised to find her clothes and hair dry.

Heart hammering, she dragged herself to her feet and rubbed the sore spots on her elbows. The fear of suffocation faded, replaced with curiosity and the unmistakable relief of escaping Nate.

Pale light filtered through the pond and cast dancing beams onto the walls. The only other illumination came from small rocks that lined the floor. There was a word for that in the back of her mind—bioluminescent. Dark stone walls dripped with humidity. In the distance, water gurgled. Bright flowers in blues, purples, and pinks hung from vines, their heavy heads as large as dinner plates, bowed to the ground.

It was like something from a painting, too beautiful to be real.

“We have stairs you know,” a male voice said.

Callie whirled to find two guys.

They were as alike as they were different, around her age or a little older. They held an identical posture as they stood staring at her, arms crossed over their chests, legs wide, feet bare and dirty. There was a lightness about them and Callie imagined they could move very fast if they wanted. The taller one had wavy, jet black hair that hung to his shoulders, and intense, light blue eyes. His lips twisted into a smirk. The second boy was shorter than the first, very pale, with green eyes and ginger hair that bordered on strawberry blond. His features were small and fine, pretty for a boy; and he smiled, amused.

“What message have you brought us?” the dark-haired boy asked, smirk turning into a grimace.

Callie stared, wondering if she’d hit her head and this was just a wacky, concussion-induced vision. The boy’s eyes narrowed. She looked up; the pond was still there, swirling with absolute benevolence. She searched for an exit. Stone walls. Stone floor. The pond. The three of them with no doors. A new fear fizzled in her stomach.

“I don’t—” she started, voice breathy and uncertain. Her gaze returned to the pond. “How?”

The dark haired boy snorted, drawing her gaze. “This is the antechamber; you know your charms are stripped here.”

“Don’t be rude,” the redhead spoke up. He took a step forward, holding his forearm out. “I’m Ash,” he nodded his head towards the other boy, “this is Rowan.”

“How—did I just…how did I get here?” Despite falling through the pond, Callie’s mouth was dry. She stared at his offered arm, confused. Where did he intend to escort her? “Did you fall through too? Are we trapped?”

The dark-haired one, Rowan, took a step closer, a curious expression on his face. “She doesn’t know,” he said, fascinated, glancing at Ash. “She has no idea.”

Ash looked between Rowan and Callie, his face a question mark. “That’s not possible.”

“It is,” Rowan insisted. He pushed the ends of Callie’s sweaty hair off of her chest and she was too frozen with terror to stop him. “Look,” he pointed to her pale skin, “She doesn’t have an imprint.”

Rowan glowered furiously at Callie, as though she had any idea what he meant. She glanced down at the purple tank top she wore. Loose strands of hair clung to her skin. She backed away, gasping when her shoulders hit the warm foliage that covered the walls. “What is going on?” She gestured to the ceiling. “I just fell through…” Callie cleared her throat, voice hoarse and high with borderline hysteria. “I just fell through the pond.” She shook her arms. “I’m not even wet.” When Ash didn’t answer, she turned to Rowan. “Please. What’s going on?”

Ash glanced at Rowan, incredulous, ignoring Callie. “You don’t have an imprint yet.”

Rowan’s dark eyebrows lowered. “Like I could forget. So nice of you to remind me.” He shook his head and jabbed his finger at Callie again. “Look at her, Ash. She could be related to Sapphire’s line. Look at her eyes.” He took another step closer, which she reciprocated by pressing her spine into the wall.

“I think you’re freaking her out,” Ash said.

Callie lifted her chin in a last-ditch effort not to cry. She was trapped. Her hands curled into stubborn fists. “How did I fall through there?” Something moved in the pond now, something big and solid, wearing a red t-shirt—the guy who’d caused her to plunge into the water.

“Hey!” She waved her arms and followed him from one end of the pond to the other on shaky legs. “I’m right here. Hey!” Panic bubbled in Callie’s chest as she watched his head whip from side to side, looking for her.

“Hey!” Rowan said, raising his voice to match hers.

“I’m here.” She flailed her arms around some more. The guy kicked his feet, traveling from one end of the small pond to the other. Tears leaked onto Callie’s cheeks. She wiped them away. “Why can’t you hear me?”

“Knock that off.” Rowan batted her arms down. “He’s not gonna answer. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Rowan!” Ash admonished.  

They’d cornered her against a wall, and stood before her, expressions perplexed. She’d have to get through both of them if she wanted to run. If she could evade them in a room with no doors. Think, she ordered herself.

“It’s Cal—” she started to answer, searching over their shoulders for a way out. The panic in her chest was rising, an ocean constricted to a jar. She would burst under the pressure.

Ash covered her mouth with his hand. “Shh!”

She tried to bite his palm. His hand tasted sweet, floral.

Ash pulled away and grinned. “You don’t need to tell us your name,” he said, wiping the hand on his pants. “You can’t just ask people that, Row. You know better.”

“She’s not really one of us,” Rowan said.

“She came through the ward. She is.

“I am what?” Callie asked, realizing the only way out was to be the way she came in—the pond. But how was she supposed to get herself back up through it? Even if she jumped, her fingertips would be several feet away from the water. It would have to work. Maybe she could climb on one of their shoulders. She eyed the taller one.

“Maybe we should take her to Hazel. She’ll know what to do,” Rowan said.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Ash hesitated, “but…”

“But what?” Irritation tinged Rowan’s words. “You want to keep her trapped here as a plaything?”

“No. You’re right.” Ash held out his arm again. “Come along then.”

Callie didn’t move. Did he think she would go with them without a fight? Above her, the guy had climbed out of the pond. He’d probably already given up on finding her. What would they tell her foster family? She fell into the pond and just disappeared. I swear.

Typical.

“Clearly there’s been some kind of misunderstanding,” Callie said, forcing her voice to remain reasonable. “I just need to get back up there and we can forget this ever happened.” She nodded. She’d read somewhere that nodding helped convince people to agree with you.

Rowan cleared his throat. “You can come on your own, or we can force you. I’m trained in torture techniques that make ax murderers cringe.”

“You don’t have to be dramatic,” Ash said. He pushed his arm closer to Callie, insistent, it nearly touched her nose. “Once Hazel sees you, we can figure out what you’re doing here and get you on your way.” He waited. “Come on. Don’t be rude.”

Callie didn’t get it and she didn’t like it—she’d somehow fallen through water and remained dry. These two guys were weird. She especially didn’t like that the guy had left her for dead in the pond.

Ass.

She lifted her arms to shove the guys away and make a run for it—to where, she didn’t know—but Rowan caught her wrists.

“Don’t bother. Ash—get the rope.”

Callie couldn’t tell if he was joking. Fear stabbed at her throat.

“For the love, Row. Shut up.” Ash tried to pry Rowan’s hands off, but he held tight.

“Let me go.” Callie jabbed her elbow at his face and missed by a lot. Being a foster for most of her life had given her street smarts, but Callie didn’t know the first thing about fighting, unless she counted evading Nate’s advances, which she didn’t. Callie didn’t count on Nate for much. Rowan’s fingers tightened on the soft inside of her wrist and she flinched, not because it hurt, but because it tingled, as if it’d fallen asleep.

“Be nice,” Ash said, knocking Rowan’s hand away. “It’s okay.” He smiled and presented his arm again like a father waiting to accompany his daughter down the aisle.

The gesture made Callie slightly nauseous. She rubbed her wrist. Her fear gave way to annoyance. Maybe this Hazel person could get her back…up? She had to get out of this room. If there was one thing Callie couldn’t stand, it was being trapped, caged in like an animal, held down. She needed doors. She needed windows. She needed a sky above her.

“And I can’t leave until I meet Hazel?” she asked. Her instincts said to humor them until she could escape.

“You can’t leave,” Rowan said. “Ever.” A slow, irritating smile spread across his mouth.

“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to set you on fire,” Ash said, but he was smiling at the other boy. Maybe here, under the pond, setting people on fire was a normal thing to do.

“Hazel will help you,” Ash said to Callie. “Besides, it’s not like we can just throw you up through the pond.” He made a dismissive gesture as if it was a ridiculous notion.

“You can leave if you die,” Rowan said thoughtfully.

“Fire,” Ash reminded.

Rowan made a gesture that said lead the way.

“Fine,” Callie conceded, looping her arm through Ash’s, cringing once again at the strange sensation she got when they touched her. “Take me to Hazel.” Get me out of this room.

Ash beamed and pulled her toward the wall. Rowan trailed behind, muttering something about the “idiocy of mere mortals.”

“Wait,” she said as Ash tried to drag her into the stone, “That’s a rock wall.” The room had no exits, no doors, not even a hole large enough to crawl through.

Rowan snickered. “Well, of course it is.” He gave her a hard shove and she shut her eyes as her face careened toward the stone, knowing that she’d made a terrible mistake.

***

Rowan watched the girl disappear and tried to ignore the tightness in his chest.

It wasn’t because she was pretty—of course she was, beauty was a given in Eirensae. Sometimes he longed for the diversity of the human world, where no one was glamoured to perfection. He wanted scars to map out a history that actually meant something. Flawlessness turned his stomach.

            The humid, overheated air shifted as he stepped through the portal and into the common space of the tunnels, turning cooler, though the suffocating scent of flowers remained. He supposed he should enjoy the scent, associate it with home, but home was an elusive word.

            The city was beautiful. Rowan had never gotten used to it. He’d thought that over time the magnificence would grow on him and one day he’d wake up and think, Oh, I fit here.

In a couple months, it’d be two years since he’d crossed the portal into the city, and it still felt just as foreign as the first day. Besides, beauty was fragile. Take the blooms that dripped from every surface here, easily plucked. Rowan was fire and Eirensae was a flower. No good could come of that combination.

            The girl’s arched mouth fell into a gasp as she looked up at the glamoured ceiling. A blond cascade of hair skimmed over her shoulders as she leaned farther backwards, trying to take it all in.

Rowan didn’t believe a single word that came out of her mouth. He couldn’t lie, but he didn’t think she was like him. It didn’t matter if she looked like Sapphire. Lots of girls had blond hair and blue eyes. Lots of girls were beautiful. It didn’t mean she belonged here. No one fell through the pond by accident.

Tearing his gaze from the curve of her throat, Rowan tried to scrape away the cynicism and see the room through new eyes. The walls were similar to those in the antechamber, made of solid, knobby gray rock. Deep green vines snaked across them, weaving in and out of each other, sometimes creating great leaves as long as his legs. Flowers of every shape and color dripped in a kaleidoscope, their petals huge, each color brighter and more impossible than the last. Rowan curled his toes against the cool, compressed dirt floor and glanced up.

            Millions of stars dotted what should’ve been a stone ceiling. It was vast and velvet, the sky over an ocean, away from lights and people, and as magical as it was fake. The glamour was lovely, but not as impressive to those who knew its true form. Rowan focused on the sky until it dissolved into the rock ceiling underneath. The presence of the ordinary stone satisfied him for some reason and he let the glamoured night sky slide back into place.

            Ash tugged on the girl’s arm.

“That’s impossible,” she murmured transfixed, eyes wide.

A cluster of shooting stars flashed across the darkness, brightening the room for a few seconds. They fizzled on the opposite end, just above the tunnel that lead to the library, Rowan’s favorite place in Eirensae. Even now—especially now—Rowan longed to hide in the books, devour the information, immerse himself in the one thing that had never let him down.

            “Stop showing off,” he said, fighting the urge to scowl at Ash. He pushed around them and entered the far passageway that led to Hazel’s hideaway, anxious to get rid of the girl and spend the afternoon with his quarterstaff, beating the hell out of something.

            “You’ll soon learn that nothing is impossible here,” Ash said, voice skipping through the tunnels.

            Rowan quickened his steps, not caring whether they followed or not.

MEET ROWAN, STAR OF REFLECTION POND

To continue our journey into Reflection Pond, allow me to introduce Rowan, the male main character.

Name: Rowan

Age: 19

Appearance: Longish, black hair, with blue eyes, and a compact, muscular frame. He’d be described as thin and sharp, not bulky. In a perfect world, when Reflection Pond is made into a movie, he’ll be played by Kit Harington (see picture!). I agonized over this choice. My issue is, every male actor who’s perfect for the role is too old. It’s not fair for thirty-somethings (or forty-somethings) to play teenagers. So while Ian Somerhalder and Jared Leto are out, I found Kit. Let’s slap some contacts in his eyes and he’s PERFECT. We have to hurry, though, he’s getting dangerously close to thirty.

Personality: Sarcastic, easily irritated. Fiercely loyal. He wants to belong somewhere, but is afraid he’ll ruin everything just by being himself.

Callie’s first impression of Rowan:

There was a lightness about them and Callie imagined they could move very fast if they wanted. The taller one had wavy, jet black hair that hung to his shoulders, and intense, light blue eyes. His lips twisted into a smirk.

An excerpt from Rowan:

            “I know what you’re doing,” he said, voice bored. “You’ll probably break your ankle.” He knew what Callie saw as she looked up at him; a guy in black jeans and a black t-shirt, a bad boy who didn’t belong and didn’t care. He’d cultivated that image so carefully that sometimes even he believed it. He’d turned so many people away with his hostility that they’d stopped trying to befriend him. Rowan preferred it that way, no obligations, no expectations.

            “Not that you care,” Callie said. Her fingers curled into the wood and tried to find purchase.

            “I’ve seen open fractures, you know, where the bone rips through the skin.” He shuddered. “Nasty.”

            “You’re not helping,” she said through clenched teeth.

            “Oh, sorry. Would you prefer I help the process along, throw you out the window and lament over your corpse? Wax poetic about how your life ended so soon and so tragically? It’s a bit dramatic though, falling to your death just to evade a party. Rude, too, if you ask me, considering all of this is to welcome you back to your rightful home and all that bullshit.”

            Callie groaned. Tension leaked into her words. “I didn’t ask for a party. I didn’t ask for any of this. I just want to go home.”

            “What’s your master plan here?” A pause. He used the break to inspect his nails. “Have you considered how you’re going to get back through the pond? I suggest go go gadget arms or abracadabra.” He held up a finger. “I know. Click your heels.” Rowan frowned as though deep in thought. “Wait—that might not work considering we don’t wear shoes.”

            “Maybe I’ll just die and save myself the trouble.”

            “Well, good luck with that.”

Rowan’s interview takes place just before Reflection Pond begins.

  1. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

            Every day is a day to myself. When you’re unimprinted, nobody cares what you do. So, I’d train with the quarterstaff, then spend the rest of the day in the library. If I’m not beating the hell out of something, then I’m reading. I like to keep things balanced.

  1. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?

            Obviously, everyone thinks I’m unbelievably attractive. IF they manage to get past that, then they’ll find I’m loyal. Nobody really gets past the first part.

  1. What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that’ll happen in your life?

            Marriage? Why in the world would someone want to be married? That’s a terrible idea.

  1. What are you most proud of about your life?

            My knowledge. People may overlook me, but I’ll always come out on top in the end, because I studied, and they didn’t.

  1. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

            There are a few bad decisions that will haunt me forever. I’ve found that once you’ve done something horrible, that potential is always inside of you. I’m ashamed of my inability to change the past. If I could go back, I’d let it be me instead of her.

  1. If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

            My foster mother. Just one more day and I’d change everything.

  1. Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected?

            Probably not. They probably hoped I’d be a doctor or something. Instead, I’m the black sheep. The town idiot. I’m really aiming high.

  1. What do you believe about God?

            If there is a God, he’s not paying attention.

  1. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?

            Ha. Oh wait, this is serious? I want to belong. If I could do that…maybe—nevermind. Next question.

  1. What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

            I killed someone I loved. That never goes away, you can never take it back. I learned that I can’t trust myself and I certainly can’t trust anyone else. I’m always going to try to rectify that mistake.

  1. Tell me about your best friend.

            That’d be Ash. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m an asshole. I’m also pretty sure he’s right. Ash is cool, though. He’s a teacher, so we spend a lot of time talking about books and our history. He doesn’t treat me like an outsider. I appreciate that.

  1. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

            Really? You had to ask again? See question 10.

  1. What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

            Tombstone? I’m hoping to have my ashes spread in the river.

  1. Describe your ideal mate.

            I like looks as much as the next guy, but I’d really like someone who challenges me. I don’t like slutty girls or the ones who can’t stand up for themselves. Sometimes I’m a jerk, I need someone who will tell me when I’m being an ass.

  1. What are you most afraid of?

            Myself.

  1. What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

            Home. Not that I really have one, but maybe one day.

  1. What do you like best about yourself? Least?

            I like that I’m able to analyze things from a different perspective. I’m also loyal. What do I like least? Where should I begin? We’ll be here all week.

  1. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

            I’d like to find my amulet, for one, finally be accepted in Eirensae. Other than that, things are okay.

  1. Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it?

            Don’t you know the fae can’t lie? Not even to themselves.

Want more Reflection Pond (and more specifically, more Rowan!)? Add it on Goodreads and join my mailing list to get all the latest news and freebies!

All the best,

Kacey

MEET CALLIE, STAR OF REFLECTION POND

In preparation for the upcoming release of Reflection Pond, I’ve compiled some juicy tidbits about the characters (with excerpts!). Today, I’m going to introduce you to Callie, the main female character.

Name: Callie, Calla Lily

Age: 17

Appearance: Long blond hair, blue eyes. In a perfect world, where Reflection Pond was made into a movie, Annasophia Robb (see picture!) would play Callie.

Personality: Reserved, quiet, shy, with a short fuse ignited by fear. She’s had a hard past that makes her hesitant to trust people or rely on them. She has a soft side that longs for magic and kindness. She believes that she can leave her past behind and make herself into a new person, if only given the chance.

Here is Rowan’s (the male main character) first impression of Callie:

It wasn’t because she was pretty—of course she was, beauty was a given in Eirensae. Sometimes he longed for the diversity of the human world, where no one was glamoured to perfection. He wanted scars to map out a history that actually meant something. Flawlessness turned his stomach.

The girl’s arched mouth fell into a gasp as she looked up at the glamoured ceiling. A blond cascade of hair skimmed over her shoulders as she leaned farther backwards, trying to take it all in.

Rowan didn’t believe a single word that came out of her mouth. He couldn’t lie, but he didn’t think she was like him. It didn’t matter if she looked like Sapphire. Lots of girls had blond hair and blue eyes. Lots of girls were beautiful. It didn’t mean she belonged here. No one fell through the pond by accident.

And an excerpt from Callie:

She must be crazy, going through with this party. Callie pressed her fingertips to the mirror, half expecting her hand to disappear through it as she saw in the movies. Maybe she was dreaming. Maybe she’d fallen asleep in Nate’s bed and created another reality so she wouldn’t have to face the real one.

When she was little, back before she’d realized that the world was an awful, cruel place, Callie had dreamed that her mother was a princess. She’d drawn pictures of castles sparkling with jewels and white knights on horses. She convinced herself that one day, a carriage would come for her and never look back. Then she’d been placed with the Johnson’s and Callie had lost all hope.

And maybe she was crazy, but was it so wrong of her to be curious? To ask, what if? She glanced again at her reflection. They’d pinned flowers in her hair and covered her eyelids with glitter. Maybe she wanted this.

Maybe this was the most excited she’d been.

Ever.

Callie’s interview. This takes place just before Reflection Pond, when Callie is a foster child.

  1. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

            Read. The best way to escape your life is to take on someone else’s. I can be anyone as long as I’m inside a book.

  1. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?

            I think I come off as quiet and maybe a bit standoffish. It’s not that I’m trying to be that way, it’s just hard for me to trust people. I don’t have many friends and very, very few people know what really happened to me. Fosters are like that. You can’t hold too tightly to anything, because tomorrow it will be taken away from you.

  1. What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that’ll happen in your life?

            No. Just no.

  1. What are you most proud of about your life?

            My ability to blend in. Inside, everything is a mess, but on the outside you just see a girl who is making it through every day. Maybe I don’t smile enough, but no one is looking hard enough to notice.

  1. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

            Not being able to defend myself. If I were stronger, I could’ve had a different life.

  1. If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

            Joan of Arc. Not only did she have visions of the future, but she used them to change history. She had to convince people she wasn’t a heretic, and though she eventually died for her visions, she brought about great change in a small amount of time. She was strong and brave, living in a man’s world, and that’s the kind of person I want to be.

  1. Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected?

            I have no idea. I’ve never met my parents, though when they gave me up, I hope they didn’t expect me to have so many foster homes.

  1. What do you believe about God?

            I’ve never been very religious. Once, I lived in a home that required us to go to church. It seemed to me that God was just an excuse people used to do things. You can get away with nearly anything if you claim you did it in the name of God.

  1. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?

            I want to get out of Pennsylvania, and I will, as soon as I turn eighteen. I’ve got enough money saved for a bus ticket. Florida, California, New York. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’m leaving. What would happen? I don’t know. That’s the best part.

  1. What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

            I’m not answering that.

  1. Tell me about your best friend.

            I don’t really have a best friend. I guess it’s my boyfriend, Nate. He’s the only person who’s put up with me for this long.

  1. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

            The worst thing I’ve done? Being born. Obviously I was a burden to my parents.

  1. What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

That’s cryptic. My name, I guess.

  1. Describe your ideal mate.

            Mate? You’re kidding, right? A book. A book is my ideal “mate.”

  1. What are you most afraid of?

            Being unable to defend myself. Being trapped.

  1. What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

            Freedom. Well, I’ll value it when I have it, anyway.

  1. What do you like best about yourself? Least?

            I’m determined, it’s probably my best quality. The least? My fear.

  1. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

            I feel like I’m stuck, but only for a little while longer. Like I said, eighteenth birthday, bus ticket, sayonara Pennsylvania and being a foster.  

  1. Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it?

Lying? I’m not much of a liar, I prefer to omit things. If I ignore it, it doesn’t really exist.

Read more about Callie and Rowan’s lives when Reflection Pond releases April 1st. Do you have questions for Callie? Post them below and I’ll answer them!

You can also add Reflection Pond on Goodreads and join my mailing list to get all the latest news and freebies!

All the best,

Kacey

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Reflection Pond Coming Soon ImageHello readers and friends! There are a lot of exciting things going on right now, and just in case you’re out of the loop, living under a rock, or disinclined to social media, I have a new book coming April 1st! Reflection Pond is a young adult fantasy and I can’t wait for you to read it.

In preparation for the release, I’ve started a newsletter. People who subscribe will receive advance knowledge of book releases, cover reveals, information, and FREEBIES.

I’m giving away 10 ARCs (advance reader copies) to the first ten people to sign up for the newsletter, but this is only the beginning. My subscribers will be at the forefront of my readership, in other words, I will love you and lavish you with things that others won’t see.

So fill up the form below. I can’t wait to hear from you!

All the best,

Kacey

REFLECTION POND ANNOUNCEMENT

Hi there. Come closer…closer.
 
I have a secret that I would like to make not secret anymore. Technically, I let it slip last night on Twitter, but this is The Official Announcement.
 
My YA Fantasy, Reflection Pond, will be published this spring. The date is still up in the air, but most likely late April/early May. I have been a hard working girl between rewrites and editing, and I can’t wait to share this story with you.
 
I’ll let you in on another secret. I’ve seen a mockup of the cover and it is INCREDIBLE. It’s going to be everything I’ve dreamed of and I promise the cover will WOW you.
 
Can’t wait to read Reflection Pond? Here’s a blurb to tempt you.
 
Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you. 
 
Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.
 
Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.
 
In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting tidbits from the story, character bios and interviews, and you can expect beautiful cover reveal to happen in March.
 
Interested in getting on board? I’m looking for people to review ARC’s of Reflection Pond and participate in the cover reveal and release day celebration. Leave your info below or shoot me an email: Kacey.Vanderkarr (at) gmail.com.
 
All the best,
Kacey

WHAT? DECEMBER ALREADY?

November has come and gone. There’s something about that month that’s always crazy busy for me. Sure, it contains my birthday. Hello, twenty-seven, you’re looking lovely. This age is ironic to me. A long, long time ago (which to people my age means about ten years,) I made a pact with a then-friend that if we reached 27 and weren’t married, we would marry each other. Well, as you can see, I hurried and got myself married at 20 so I avoided that disaster. Said friend went on to things I don’t particularly agree with (can we say porn?). Friendship dissolved anyway. Can’t imagine what would’ve happened if we’d kept that pact.

So yes, I had a birthday that involved a birthday bash that ended eventfully in a way I hope to never experience again. I expect you’re already plotting out the lecture in your head. No, no, I don’t need a lecture. I wasn’t the eventful one. That award goes to a drunken friend.

November was Nano. I didn’t participate, couldn’t bring myself to devote the time and energy needed to get to 50,000. Knew I couldn’t. I clocked in at just fewer than 25,000 words, which is a respectable number for me to write in a month. I’m more than satisfied. The first draft of Shade of the Poison Tree should be finished within the next month or two. I’m at 54,000 dark and delicious words. Where Through the Reflection Pond was light, Shade of the Poison Tree is dark. I’m having a lot of fun creating giant messes and killing characters. Taking chances, exploring things that used to be off-limits.

I saw Breaking Dawn Part 2. Judge me. Go ahead. I liked it. I was a little sad that it’s over. But there are bigger and better things around the corner!! City of Bones, for one. Did you all see the trailer? No? Here it is! I’m unbelievably excited for this movie. It’s like crack.

City of Bones Trailer

There’s a celebration in order for my friend, Stephanie Diaz, who not only got agented this year, but sold a three book deal to St. Martin’s. Congrats, Steph, you deserve it! Read all about her deal HERE.

I’m elbows deep in winterguard. That explains where all my time has gone. I have 23 awesome kids on my high school team this year. We’re all working really hard and some of us are losing sleep (read: me) over it. Things are running smoothly, for now. The show is coming along, we have uniforms and flags and rifles, and a mix of attitudes that sometimes gets in the way. But I’ve put on my big girl panties that say COACH across the back and handled it all. It’s epic season or bust around here.

Reflection Pond is still out to betas. Not too worried, got enough on my plate writing Poison Tree. Once that’s done I’ll probably start nagging them to send it back. I’m starting to get behind on my timeline, but that’s okay. Shit happens.

Sadly, because of work, I can’t go to writing group anymore. Seriously breaks my heart. Those people helped my writing SO MUCH and now I CAN’T GO!! Ahh…it kills me. Oh to be a fulltime writer and not conform to the constraints of society (hello, tattoos). One day, one day.

Last on the list of news is vacation. Yes, you read correctly, I’m actually going on vacation. I have no idea what that word even means! Drum roll please…Las Vegas!! One month from today and the time can’t go fast enough. I’m already ready for Christmas to be over! I’m counting on some relaxation, writing, and visiting the Hoover Dam (Oh, so scared of this.). At least it’s not a cruise ship.

Well friends, that’s all the updates I have.

All the best,

Kacey

UPDATES ON ALL MY WORK

Well…*twiddles thumbs*

There’s not a whole lot going on around here right now. Whenever I have downtime, I find myself going to open my manuscript and then remembering Oh yeah, I finished that… Good news is I’m working on my chapter for the blogvel, BLOOM, which will post on Monday. It’s a thrilling tale about…well, just check it out for yourself. CLICK HERE for the complete table of contents. Each chapter is written by a different author, which keeps things interesting.

There’s no news on the publishing front, other than my release date was pushed back to JULY 21, 2013. I know, I know, it’s 8 months later than what I originally told you, but things happen. The upside? I’ll have 8 more months to promote myself and entice all my readers to buy ANTITHESIS when it’s available. The editing is done and I’m waiting to hear from the designer on the cover. Hopefully within the next month I should have more information.

REFLECTION POND is in a holding pattern right now, circling somewhere above my head, in manuscript land. It’s ready to be edited, but I need a few days away from it so that I can be impartial with my editing. I do need to write one more scene that may or may not involve a giant spider…I’ll get around to that eventually. I’ve started plotting for the sequel, which will be titled either POISON TREE or UNDER THE POISON TREE, in which case, REFLECTION POND will become THROUGH THE REFLECTION POND. Decisions, decisions, I’m taking suggestions. There’s also plans for a third book, which is yet untitled. It’ll come to me eventually.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about STEPPING STONES, the book that started it all for me. I needed to rewrite it, so I started, but then got distracted by REFLECTION POND. I really LOVE the characters in STEPPING STONES, but I just don’t know if I can revisit it and do it justice, unless I completely change the storyline. I think it’s the pantser in me. I already know everything that happens, so I can’t write it and keep it fresh. It all sounds old and tired to me. I don’t know how to get around it, but I really want to eventually write Chase’s story (my favorite character from that series). Maybe there’s hope, and I’ll just start with Chase. I can always work backwards, it’s been done before (not by me, of course. But if someone else can do it, so can I.). It’s bittersweet, really. I want to let it go, but then I feel like I’m letting my characters down. Us writers…we’re so weird…dedicated to our fictional beings.

So, I’ll leave you with a title poll. What’ll it be, readers?

All the best,

Kacey

THE THRILL OF COMPLETION (AND AN EXCERPT!)

Yep- the title means exactly what you think it does. I finished another manuscript. This one is all about faeries, faerieland, and things that go bump in the night. Okay, I lied about that last part. There may be more bump in the second book.

At just over 81,000 words, I’ve left myself room for rewrites and any additional scenes I might need. What I find amazing, is that from beginning to end I can see my growth as a writer. Granted, I did get to work with an editor right in the middle of this project, which probably helped enormously, but I LOVE to see that improvement. Another plus? The writing group I joined. For the longest time all I wanted was a writing support group, and now I have it!

So let’s talk about this manuscript. Faeries…

I love this storyline. The characters are magical (no pun intended). Of course, it’s still in its raw form and has a long way to go, but I feel pretty good about it regardless. I’ve probably mentioned that I plan on seeking an agent for this work, and that still holds true. I have a LONG time before that will happen, have no fear. There will be mass edits, beta reads, and more edits. Not to mention it’ll be subjected to my writing group. Haha…subjected. They really are great, I swear. Subjecting my writing to them is always a pleasure. I only hope one day I can write as well as they do. It’s something to strive for, at least.

Hopefully I’ll have a new description up about REFLECTION POND soon. Blurbs, queries, synopsis’s, and all that jazz, aren’t really my forte. Mostly they make me want to bang my head against the wall. But I’ll persevere. Because now I can have my writing group help me! (They’ll be so thrilled.) 🙂

And, because you’re such loyal readers, I’m going to grace you with a short excerpt from REFLECTION POND.

“What are you doing?” I asked, staring. There was something about all the boys here that made them unbelievably attractive. Maybe it was a faerie thing. My mouth went dry.

            “This is a glamour,” he said. His voice had me searching his face. It was tight, wary, like he wished he was anywhere else but ensconced in the dark with me. The fact that he seemed worried did nothing to calm my already thin nerves.

            “Are you trying to tell me that you’re actually fat?” I said, trying to lighten the suddenly portentous mood.

            Rowan’s lips quirked. “No.” He touched the edge of his ribs and I wished, not for the first time, that it was my hand there instead of his. “Start here.”

            I swallowed and did as instructed. But this time, instead of seeing the hard line of bone and muscle, I found a shimmering edge, a layer that didn’t belong. “I see it,” I said, excited.

            “Good.” The tightness remained in his words. “I want you to peel it away like the dead skin of a sunburn.”

            I ignored how gross that sounded and found the edge again. I imagined it curling, stretching, and pulling away from Rowan’s ribs. I watched, fascinated, as the glamour obeyed, inch by inch. Rowan’s skin under the glamour was littered with raised scars. They crisscrossed over the bone, angry pale marks that distorted the otherwise smooth skin. I only managed to reveal a thin strip before the scars distracted me and the glamour fell back into place.

            Before I could think about what I was doing, I’d pressed my hand to his side. The skin was smooth and firm under my palm. I looked up, confused. “What happened to you?”

            Rowan let out a breath. “So you did it, then. Good.” He stepped out of my touch and went to the fireplace, adding another log. The sound of fire devouring wood filled the room. I stared at his back for a moment, seeing the shimmering edge of the glamour. I peeled it away just above his shoulder blade, revealing more scarred skin. Nausea turned my stomach and I swallowed it down.

            “Rowan?”

            His shoulders tensed and he curled his hands into fists, but didn’t answer. I stood, hands shaking. My feet scraped the dirt floor as I crossed it, but Rowan didn’t turn. The heat of the fire and Rowan’s scent reached me at the same time. I lifted my trembling hands; they hung in the air between us, indecisive. Neither of us breathed. Other than the fire, the room was silent.

            “Go ahead,” he said, voice hoarse. His head was lowered, and his hair obscured his face and his expression, so I had no idea what he was thinking.

            I touched my hands to his shoulders, gentle at first, and then harder when he didn’t pull away. I watched, horrified, as the glamour dissolved, and Rowan—the real Rowan—stood before me. Scars covered his entire torso and arms, some long and straight; others jagged like someone had torn through his skin with a serrated blade. I traced a thick, hard ridge near his shoulder and he tensed further. This scar had a twin on the opposite side, just as wide and rough.

            I wanted to ask him who did this. I wanted to seek vengeance—the sudden and bitter hatred that bubbled inside me was a surprise. I bit my lip hard, trying not to cry. I remembered Rowan’s memories, seeing him as a little boy, taunted and unloved. His foster homes were not a safe place to live; I knew it just as much as I knew that it was the same for mine. Someone had hurt him, and hurt him badly.

            I stepped closer, running my hands from his back, over the bumps of his ribs, to his chest. I flattened them there, feeling the slight down of chest hair. I pressed my face to his back and Rowan sucked in a breath.

            I held him.

            My cool cheek pressed against the fevered warmth of his ruined skin. There was wetness there as my silent tears dripped, warm and salty. I closed my eyes, scarcely breathing. Underneath scars, muscle, and bone, Rowan’s pulse pounded. His skin heated where our energy connected, warming my unsteady hands with restrained possibility. Several moments passed. The fire continued to crackle with cheerful obliviousness to the emotion whirling inside of me.

            It was a while before Rowan turned out of my touch and I let him, dropping my arms to my sides. He faced me, expression guarded and distant. The glamour was back, I realized, his chest and arms smooth. He brushed at my tears with the pads of his thumbs. “Please don’t cry, Callie.” His voice was thick with the emotion he refused to show on his face. I closed my eyes and more tears fell. He caught them with his fingertips, wiping them away. “It was a long time ago.” His breath was warm on my cheek. “Don’t cry for me.”

            “I’m sorry,” I whispered, eyes still closed. His forehead pressed to mine and one of his hands traveled to the back of my neck. His palm was warm and damp with my tears. For a second I thought that he would kiss me. My heart leapt into my throat as I anticipated that, but all too soon he pulled away, leaving my lips parted and expecting a kiss that would never come.

So to celebrate this accomplishment, I think I’ll go to the movies tonight. Snow White is in my future.

All the best,

Kacey

P.S. In two weeks I will post my chapter of BLOOM, a round robin blogvel that all started with Michelle Simkins. Read up so you’ll be ready!