Author: Sharon Clark Page 1 of 9

NaNoWriMo, writing recharge

TGIN: Thank Goodness It’s NaNo!

After a whole lot of upheaval that included my daughter’s wedding, my older son’s engagement, my youngest son’s move to Chicago, and my publishing agreement for my first novel, I’ve struggled to write.

Currently, I have three unfinished manuscripts languishing on my laptop. They are all very different, ranging from a fantasy novel to a ghost love story, a coming-home romance on a horse ranch to a suspense story where nothing is what it seems. Each one holds a special place in my heart, but every time I sat down to make edits or to finish the story, I floundered and only managed to make a mess.

But, thankfully, NOVEMBER APPROACHES!!

I have learned that, left to my own devices, I am a master procrastinator and a chaser of the new and shiny. When you throw in a foot injury that limited my mobility, lingering COVID concerns that kept my writing support group from meeting regularly, and a knee injury that further limited my ability to do almost anything, it’s no surprise I couldn’t focus on writing – or much else – or more than a fleeting moment.

Mama needs a little structure, a deadline, a goal to reach.

Just like a toddler who needs limits and a schedule so they don’t become overwhelmed, I need parameters to work within. So the impending bustle and demands of National Novel Writing Month provide a kind of solace for me.

  • A daily word count goal!
  • Regular Zoom writing events!
  • A 50,000-word finish line to reach!
  • And a definitive reason to sit down every day and prioritize writing!

Not only that, but I get to connect with my found family again – this crazy hodgepodge of creatives that I miss seeing IRL, hugging, eating, writing together. No matter what form NaNoWriMo takes, it’s still 30 days of fun, encouragement, creativity, and support and I’m so very grateful that it exists.

Are there other writers out there who can’t function properly under a loosey-goosey kind of atmosphere? Or do deadlines and benchmarks make you break out in a cold sweat? Drop your comment below!

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Sharon L. Clark author, touchpoint press, book deal

On to the Next Adventure in Writing!

Guys. You guys. I have exciting news, and I’m having a hard time believing that this is real life.

I’m going to be a published author!

You read that right! My first novel, tentatively titled I’ll Call You Mine, is slated for release in the fall of 2022 through TouchPoint Press, thanks to my brilliant agent, Katie Salvo. I will hold a physical, printed copy of a story I wrote, where I can pet it and smell it and hug it, in less than 18 months. I’ve seen videos of other authors opening the box containing copies of their new book and choking up the first time they get to hold it.

I already know I will sob like a baby.

I’ve had some friends congratulate me with, ‘It’s been a long time coming!’ But, to be honest, in my case it really hasn’t. Yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was probably twelve years old. But the idea of trying to get published didn’t take seed until 2018. I joined my local NaNoWriMo group the year before as a challenge to myself to meet people and maybe make some friends. I had no plans beyond reaching the 50,00-word goal. I kept my head down and had a hard time speaking out loud to give my word-count update when asked. I was shy and quiet.

The people who currently know me are probably scoffing at ‘shy’.

While I’m no wallflower now, that doesn’t mean I’m not nervous about what comes next. This is all uncharted territory for me. I have a rough idea: I’ll get an editor, we’ll make changes, a book cover will be designed, and BAM! We’ll have a book baby. Of course, I know a lot more goes into this process. There is so much I’ll have the opportunity to learn, and I am chomping at the bit to get started!

I want to share this new adventure with you all.

I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into a warm group of creatives who were more than generous with their knowledge about writing and querying, and I want to pay it forward. As we dive into next steps please don’t be shy about asking questions, and I will answer everything I can. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from all of you.

Thank you.

Make sure you don’t miss any future posts! Subscribe HERE so you’ll be one of the first to read any new announcements, including everything about my upcoming novel release. And, as always, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email!

My Favorite Reads of 2021 – So Far

At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to read more, so I got a membership to the Book of the Month Club, joined a book discussion group, and signed up for two different reading challenges.

It has been a formidable task. But also amazing.

I have read – and loved – several books that I normally wouldn’t have given a second glance, including Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography, the first book in the Bridgertons series, a collection of essays on Basquiat’s Defacement, and the haunting The Death of Vivek Oji.

To say my selections have been eclectic is putting it mildly.

Of the twenty-three books I’ve read so far in 2021, these are only a few of my favorites:

  • Rewinder by Brett Battles
    This is an interesting take on time travel and I loved the moral dilemmas the characters faced. In an alternate reality, the United States doesn’t exist, but is still part of the British Empire. With caste systems and a lack of modern technology, the world the main character, Denny, lives in is somewhat bleak. Instead of working in the factory with his father as his place in society dictates, Denny’s intelligence earns him an invitation to become a Rewinder for the Upjohn Institute where he will verify personal histories. But instead of getting stuck in a library with dusty tomes, he is tasked with observing history. In person. As you can guess, decisions made create some fascinating challenges.
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
    This trilogy is considered Young Adult, but I have always been a sucker for a good fantasy adventure. I devoured this one in a weekend. Orphaned as an infant when her kingdom of Winter was conquered, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, training to be a warrior. She’s desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather, and will do anything to help them return to their home. When she learns that the key to restoring their magic is within reach, she goes after it herself – but the mission doesn’t go as planned. The Winterians are forced to beg for help from another kingdom where she meets the charming Theron. Yes, it’s a teenaged love triangle, and yes, I have a favorite, and NO, I’m not ashamed of that. My only 5 star review this year.
  • Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
    This was a pick of my book club and I loved it. I could see it as a movie as I read, and I would love to see it made! Growing up with a single mother who struggled to keep them afloat through various cons, Nina has plans to leave that life behind with a fancy art history degree. But when her mother gets sick, she starts stealing from rich, spoiled, L.A. brats with her boyfriend, Lachlan. At the same time, heiress Vanessa’s life is thrown off course by family tragedy and she ends up becoming an internet influencer – a life she realizes is shallow and lonely. After a failed engagement, she retreats to her family’s mountain estate, Stonehaven. Nina, Vanessa, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, and the result is a delightfully twisty tale of lies, love, and revenge.
  • The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
    I consumed these three novels via audiobook, and I’m so glad I did. The incomparable Soneela Nankani narrated all three novels, The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, and she was amazing! The story starts in Cairo, with our heroine Nahri, an orphan with no memory of her past who uses her unsurpassed talents as a con artist just to survive. When she accidentally summons an ancient djinn warrior during one of her cons, she is drawn into a world of magic, danger, and mystery. The warrior brings her to the enchanted city of Daevabad, full of strange creatures, dangerous politics – and a love she can’t have. I adored the characters and my heart broke for the horrible choices each one had to face throughout the three novels. I was satisfied with the ending, but if there’s a spin off following Darayavahoush I wouldn’t be mad…

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books mentioned here? Please leave a comment or send me a message – I’d love to discuss them with you!

waiting is fun

Waiting Is Fun

How has it been six months since my last post?

Where has the time gone? It seems that with every year I am on this spinning rock, the days fly past with increasing speed and decreasing recollection of what, exactly, I’ve been doing. But I have been doing stuff – I swear! Mostly waiting. It’s been difficult to move solidly forward with new things when the old things haven’t quite landed yet.

There’s a good chance I’m not the only one who’s still a bit anxious and uncertain about what comes next – what to DO next – after the unpredictability of last year. I’ve had a hard time fully re-engaging with life and plans and all of that. I think Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham expressed this state of mind best:

I wouldn’t dig in there if I was you. Next one might be at your head. I don’t know where it’s gonna go. Swear to God!”

My little baby novel is still on the hunt for its perfect home. I knew when I started that this process would be a lengthy one, and that I would need to be patient. But doggone it I am not very good at being patient! If I’m honest, I don’t know which is worse: getting all the ‘no thank you’ replies or hearing nothing at all. Recently, I was convinced that this whole writing thing had been a silly little diversion; that it had been fun to play around and learn new things, but the time had come to walk away.

I think my agent would have been less than thrilled with that idea.

So, instead, I’m working on the third or fourth iteration of a romance novel that I’ve been toying with for what seems like forever. I’ve joined a small critique group and, once a month, we share part of what we’re working on and give each other feedback. This has been invaluable as the echo chamber inside my own head can get pretty ugly. On top of that, I’m in a book club that has led me to read some amazing novels that I wouldn’t have picked off the shelf on my own. The club leader spins a wheel to select that month’s genre and then another wheel for a title within that genre. Then we meet to share treats and to “talk about the book.”

Yes, the quotations are intentional. Don’t judge.

But I think my favorite thing is that my writing group has started to cautiously meet in person again. Over the past year, we kept in touch through weekly video conferencing, but there is nothing like being in the same room with some of your favorite creative people. I swear that when we’re all together, the air is different and we seem to gain strength from one another.

Coffee and muffins help, too.

All of these things have helped to fuel my creativity and push me to get back to what I love doing: creating stories. Although it may falter at times, I still believe this is the right path for me and, when everything falls into place with the right story, the right editor, the right publishing house, and the right planetary alignment (you think I’m kidding) my sweet little book baby will venture out into the world and into the hands of people who will love her like I do.

So, I wait.

How is 2021 is treating you? Drop a comment or send me an email and fill me in on your last six months, what’s different, how you’re feeling about, well, everything! I’d love the chance to start a conversation!

Happy New year 2021 large greeting card illustration

2020 in Review: What the Heck Just Happened?!

So. That was fun, right?

There is no way anyone filled a BINGO card this year. If they did, I would look askance at them as potentially masterminding some of this nonsense. Reviewing the things that happened in 2020, I find it difficult to believe that was all in the past twelve months. If you’ve been on TikTok, you’ve undoubtedly seen one of the many videos of a misunderstanding between God and an angel regarding a decade of disasters in one year. Watch it here – some language near the end.

I’m not so sure that isn’t what happened.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 2020 events I can recall:

  • Australia caught on fire.
  • Tiger King was everywhere.
  • COVID-19 made its debut, and refuses to leave.
  • Murder hornets crashed the party in the U.S. and a plague of locusts devastated East Africa.
  • Racial injustice was given a much-needed global stage.
  • California, Oregon, and Washington caught on fire.
  • Iowa endured a rare ‘land hurricane’ and now everyone knows what a derecho is.
  • We lost a multitude of actors, musicians, authors, politicians, athletes, scientists, and cultural icons including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Eddie Van Halen, Chadwick Bosemen, Kobe Bryant, Grant Imihara, John Lewis, and Alex Trebek.
  • Presidential Election. ‘Nuff said.

My family and I have been beyond fortunate, and we’ve even seen some shining lights in this year’s darkness. Our youngest moved to Chicago for college, our middle earned a prestigious academic opportunity, our oldest got engaged, and I signed with a literary agent. (Those last two events happened the same weekend in March, at the same time the world fell apart.) The summer was spent planning a small wedding and editing my first novel, and I can’t say there weren’t tears during both. In January, we’ll watch our daughter marry her best friend, then my novel will be sent into the world to find a publisher who will love it as much as I do.

Not such a boring start to the new year for the old Clark Clan.

Tomorrow is January 1, 2021. I hope against hope that the new year will be different. That it—and we—will be better. Perhaps all the trials we’ve been through were stepping stones or growing pains or lessons to be collectively learned. This year, I plan to take what the universe has to offer and make the best damn lemonade the world has ever seen.

My wish for you is that you’ll be able to take a deep breath, hold your loved ones close, and snuggle under a blanket of health, safety, and peace in 2021.

Happy New Year!

‘What the Hell Am I Doing?’ and Other Anxiety Gems

There are ten days left in November and I am sitting pretty at just over 45,000 words on my current project. I feel fairly confident that I’ll tip over 50k this weekend and win my 4th NaNoWriMo.

Yay!

But I had a bit of a ‘day’ earlier this week. I woke up Sunday wondering what gave me the audacity to think I could be an author? There are millions of writers out there that are way more talented than I, have degrees in creative writing and literature, and have meaningful stories to tell. Who did I think I was?

Imposter syndrome, am I right?

I have struggled with this NaNo for a few reasons, I think. First, and foremost, 2020. There is so much going on, so much to worry about, that I get overwhelmed. It’s so chaotic and hopeless sometimes, that writing feels frivolous. Second, I signed with an agent, and even without having a publisher, I feel tremendous pressure to write something GOOD. It’s all imagined pressure, of course, but it makes me second-guess every line of dialogue and every plot point. Thanks to these mounting stressors, my scenes stalled, the action wasn’t moving forward, the dialogue was stilted and unnatural and pointless.

Then I remembered why I write.

I don’t yearn to author the Next Great American Novel. I don’t even write to be published – although that would be pretty sweet. Writing is something I love, something that’s a part of who I am. I can’t envision my life without it anymore. If I write with love of the craft and continue to learn and improve as an author, what more do I need?

So, I retraced my steps. I wrote an outline, fleshed out the characters, started and restarted this story multiple times before finding the right path. After removing my self-imposed and outlandish expectations, it’s flowing better and I feel good about what I’m creating.

In the end, isn’t that what matters?

Why do you write? What are your goals as an author? Leave me a message, send an email: Let’s talk!

NaNoWriMo 2020 in the Face of Unfamiliar Territory

We’re heading into the last week of October of an insane year. Let’s take a look at just a few things we’re all dealing with: January tornadoes, earthquakes, civil unrest, a derecho, wildfires, hurricanes, 9 inches of October snow, COVID-19, and murder hornets.

It’s kind of a lot.

Everyone is having to learn a new reality and make adjustments. From finding creative ways to work, to teaching kids safely, to trying to salvage any form of live entertainment, we’ve had to spitball new procedures and change the way things are done – sometimes at the drop of a hat. It’s slow and tedious because not everyone is on the same page quite yet, but we will get there.

Growing pains, am I right?

October is one of my favorite months because of fall colors and cooler temperatures, Halloween, and my birthday. But this last week is leading into another favorite of mine:

National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re new to my website, you may not know that NaNoWriMo has changed my life and I will sing its virtues any chance I get. For the 30 days of November each year, anyone and everyone is challenged to write an original 50,000-word novel. It doesn’t have to be complete, beginning to end. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be good, as evidenced by a couple of my previous projects.

But we’re facing an unfamiliar landscape this year.

My NaNo experience has been colored by the wonderful people of the Central Iowa Authors group who welcomed me and encouraged me from day one. This year, due to COVID, we aren’t able to meet at our favorite restaurants and coffee shops to share our love of writing and – let’s be honest – brunch. I’m tearing up just writing this, thinking of all the things I’ll miss.

Then I take a deep breath and I get excited all over again.

No, NaNoWriMo 2020 isn’t going to look like anything we’ve seen before. But it’s still NaNo. And we live in a world where we can interact, face to face, in real time, from the safety and comfort of our own homes. Virtual hugs will have to do. We can still chat and share words of encouragement without having to brave frigid temps and slick roads. And I get to write, something that brings me so much joy.

So, what’s stopping you?

This whack-a-doo year is the perfect time to dip your toe in the NaNoWriMo pool! It’s a year of firsts – I mean, who the heck ever heard of a derecho?! – so why not write your first novel? Whether you hope to publish or just want to explore some wild ideas and see where they take you, NaNoWriMo is the perfect jumping-off point.

Drop a comment and ask anything you want to know about National Novel Writing Month! Check out the Website, take a look at the Virtual Write-in Calendar, visit Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then come join me!

And if you like what you see, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button!

A Moving Study in Family Relationships

I think when I picked up this novel I was expecting to learn more about the concentration camps built on American soil during World War 2. Instead, I was pleasantly drawn into this study of familial relationships and racial identity.

The Stories We Choose Not To Tell follows Angela Campbell on her path to self-discovery through following the paths of the strong Japanese-American women who came before her.

Click the image to view on Amazon

Just as her family is burying her grandmother, or Obachan, Angela learns that she is expecting her first child – and she’s terrified. Her relationship with her mother, Judith, isn’t the best, and she’s afraid the pattern will continue with her own child. On top of this, her Aunt Pamela gifts her a collection of cassette tapes of a teenaged Pamela interviewing her mother, Aiko, Angela’s Obachan, about her time in the Amache internment camp. The story that unfolds pulls you in and immediately invests you in the relationships.

Angela dives into the box of tapes, as well as her mother’s old journals, and a bigger picture emerges. Making the connection between what happened to her grandmother, the way her parents were treated as a mixed-race couple, and current events, she is compelled to find a way to tell Aiko’s story. Along the way, as she strives to honor her ancestors, she loses sight of the family already surrounding her and loving her. I cried through the last several chapters of this novel.

Life is messy, relationships are complicated, and communication is everything. There are so many important facets to Kelly’s novel, I’m still thinking about it days later. I love Kelly’s writing style and adore her characters. I highly recommend this book!

Within (Part 4)

I’ve been working on the same novel, making revisions, for such a long time that I needed a little break to stretch my writing ‘legs’, so to speak. There will be a total of 4 installments and I will release a new section each Wednesday. “Within” was a quick short that I thoroughly enjoyed writing – and that I hope you enjoy reading!

~~~~~

With a jolt, I’m back inside my own aching body, the cold of the cinder-block wall I’m propped against seeping into me.  My cheeks are wet, my head is throbbing with every heartbeat, and I feel excruciating pain in parts of my body I’d forgotten still existed. A musty, damp smell seeps into my nostrils, the soft whoosh from the vent the only sound. There’s very little light here, filtering through a grimy plate-glass window on the other side of the room. The walls are painted a dingy white, orange rust stains dripping down from the ceiling. What is this place? Where the hell am I?

I bet Kyle’s out there, on the other side of the glass, waiting for me to scream and cry and throw myself against the walls trying to escape. The energy has been sapped from my body, even moving my head is like trying to shift a boulder.

What the hell did he do to me? Every incident leaves me depleted and weak, but never like this. So, what’s different? He injected me with something. What the hell could do this to me, to Them? God knows I tried to tamp it down, hold the power at bay with anything and everything. Alcohol never worked. Not even ketamine. Whatever this is…I need more.

A creak catches my attention and my eyes focus just as Kyle steps into the room.

“Hello, Desiree.” He shuffles around the edges of the room. “How are you feeling?”

My mouth opens, but I can’t force out any sound. I can’t lift my hand, can’t speak, can’t wiggle a foot; and that knowledge seizes my heart in my chest. But that’s nothing compared to the chill that skitters down my spine at the cruel grin that slithers across his face.

“Very good. Excellent. You’ve been kept on a steady diet of succinylcholine and a lead derivative—my own little concoction—to keep you under control without killing you. It seems to be working very well, indeed. You can see me and hear me and register what’s happening to you, but powerless to do anything about it.” He closes the space between us and is suddenly kneeling in front of me. “Because there are plans for you, Des. Important plans.”

I cast my eyes around the room, anywhere but into his cold eyes, hoping to stave off the tears that are trying to spill out. Just kill me! I want to scream. I know he wants to, I know it as surely as I know I deserve it, and yet here we are. The tips of my fingers start to tingle, a shadow of feeling returning, and my breathing quickens. Kyle sneers.

“Yes, you should be afraid. You see, we don’t just need to know how you do what you do. No, you’re far more useful than that. We’re going to figure out how to harness your mutant power to use against our enemies. I can’t guarantee it won’t hurt…” He pauses to trail a finger along my cheek, then throws his head back and guffaws. “Who the fuck am I kidding? It’s going to hurt. A lot, Desiree. You are going to feel every ounce of pain you deserve and more. And I’m going to enjoy watching all of it.”

His laughter rings off the walls as the pale, violet glow seeps from my skin…

END

Within (Part 3)

I’ve been working on the same novel, making revisions, for such a long time that I needed a little break to stretch my writing ‘legs’, so to speak. There will be a total of 4 installments and I will release a new section each Wednesday. “Within” was a quick short that I thoroughly enjoyed writing – and that I hope you enjoy reading!

~~~~~

“Mama, mama, watch me!”

My heart lurches. Her eyes are bright and she’s smiling as she pumps her little legs to make the swing rise higher and higher. My Lily, my darling girl. I glance around at the park, the bright summer sun, the other families enjoying the playground. How is this happening? The bench I’m sitting on is solid and warm, my hair is even waving in the breeze. Am I dreaming? Or is this yet another way my ‘gift’ manifests?

“Lily, be careful! Don’t go so high!” I jump up from the bench, ready to scoop her off the swing and hug her tiny body in my arms. But a voice over my shoulder stops me cold.

“Just let her be a kid, Desiree. Jesus, you can’t control everything.” Kyle frowns at me as he sits with his hands folded in his lap. “And you can’t keep avoiding me. We have to talk about this and we have to talk now.”

A chill shoots through me from head to toe. I remember this day, and I don’t want to see it again. Please, please, God or whoever—whatever—is doing this to me, don’t make me live through this again. Maybe I’m in Hell. Maybe, by some miracle, I finally died and this is how my eternal torment is going to play out.

Turning to Kyle, I keep one eye on my little Lily-pad, wanting to absorb the details of her, to replace the memory that haunts every second of my existence. “She’s my daughter and you have no right to take her away from me.” The squeak of the rusted chains on the swing provide a sinister soundtrack to the conversation.

“I have every right.” He bares his teeth as he snarls at me. “You’re not well, Des. I don’t know if it’s drugs or schizophrenia or if you’re just fucking around because you hate me and want to torture me, but Lily is seven years old and shouldn’t have to deal with your lunatic ravings.”

Spying his new wife lurking on the edge of the park, a fire builds in my chest and I wrench my arm free. “I’m not crazy, you asshole. Something is happening to me, if you’d just listen—”

“Mommy, Daddy, look at me now! I’m touching the sky!”

“Wow! Look at you go!” Kyle beams the brightest, most charming smile at our daughter before he turns his attention back to me, his face twisting. How does he do that so quickly? I can feel the hatred wafting off him. “She deserves stability. She shouldn’t have to grow up scared of what you might do to her. Just let her go, for her own good. Jenna and I can give her everything she needs, and you know it.”

“Except her mother. She needs me, Kyle.”

He steps back and crosses his arms. “No, she doesn’t. Jenna will love her better and more than you are even capable of right now.” The smile that spreads over his handsome features chills me to the bone. “Besides, it’s already done. The judge signed the paperwork this morning, based on your own psychiatrist’s recommendations and my tear-filled testimony. That’s why I’m here. Lily is coming home with us, and your parental rights have been terminated, effective immediately.”

My hands start to tingle, then tremble, the vibrations running up my arms. “No…you can’t do this to me, Kyle, you can’t do this to Lily!” My breathing becomes erratic, blood rushing to my head as I struggle to remain in control.

No! Don’t do it! Stop it, fight it, don’t let this happen! I scream into the memory, but everything is unfolding exactly as it did that day. I’m as powerless now as I was then.

Pushing past me, Kyle calls to our daughter in a bright voice. “Hey, Lily-pad! It’s time to go! Jenna and I are going to take you home with us and we’ll order pizza for dinner and watch a movie. How does that sound?”

I snatch at his arm, trying to hold him back. “No. No, Kyle, please. I’ll do anything! Just don’t take her away from me!” My whole body is shuddering and Kyle knows it. He slaps my hand away and rounds on me with a sneer.

“Get a grip, Des, and keep your fucking theatrics to yourself. No one here is buying it.”

“Kyle, no, it’s real!” I shove my hands in my pockets to quell the electricity that’s building in them, the purple glow that’s pooling in my palms. I call them nightmares, but I’ve seen what I can do in my waking hours. “It’s not me. I have no control over Them, I swear on my life! You can’t take her, you just can’t!”

Clouds are swirling into view, obscuring the sun as a frigid wind picks up. I can’t hold Them back anymore and They tear through the thin material of my hoodie, writhing in the air. Kyle stumbles backwards, his upper lip curled back, his eyes wide and unblinking.

“Mama! Are you watching? Look how high I’m going!”

The purple tentacles burst out of my hands and straight toward Kyle, but he ducks, just in time. They shoot over his head and straight into Jenna’s mouth, her jaw dropped low.

“No!” Kyle rushes toward his young wife, heedless of the waving death as it retreats from her body, but we both know it’s too late. He rounds on me, a guttural scream ripping from his throat, and he charges.

I can’t move, take a step, get out of his path. He leaps at me, arm outstretched, and the first I see the blade is when it plunges into my shoulder, inches away from ending me. But no sooner does the weapon find purchase, then a massive shockwave emanates from me, catapulting Kyle a hundred yards away.

I block out the searing pain in my shoulder and cry a warning to Lily, screaming at her to run. The clouds chase each other in the darkening sky and I can feel the pressure building. I watch, helpless, as my Lily clutches at her throat, gasping for air, and tumbles off the swing to the mound of woodchips below.

I scream. Every fiber of my being is screaming for my daughter, begging for her to be spared, seconds before her fragile little body is torn to shreds.

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