THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Five: Daniel Hale 10/11 | 3:47 p.m.

Daniel drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, trying to focus on the music pouring from the speakers rather than his thumping heartbeat. Ella shouldn’t have gone up there. This was a mistake. He could feel it in his bones.

The hope had been for a solution to come to them on the drive over, but upon arrival, they’d drawn a blank, and after sitting on the street for twenty minutes, Ella had grown frustrated and stormed up to Jasmine’s apartment to give her one last warning and “put an end to all of this”. David Youngstone had said they needed to do something different, but Daniel was pretty sure this wasn’t it.

He leaned to the side, peering up at the building. Then he spotted Ella, exiting the bottom of the staircase and storming across the grass toward him, her dark hair bobbing with every angry step.

“What happened?” he called from the window.

She ignored him and returned to the passenger side. “Nothing,” she said, yanking open the door and climbing in with far more aggression than was necessary. “We can’t help her. We might as well go.”

“We can’t just give up.”

“What are we supposed to do? Hang out here all night and make sure no one murders her? If she sees us loitering, she’s gonna call the cops.”

“Well, do you blame her? I told you not to go up there!”

“At least I did something. You just sat here like a useless lump. What are you even good for? I can’t believe I almost had sex with you.”

“You haven’t come up with anything either. And believe me, the feeling is mutual.”

“Well, you’ll be rid of me soon.”

He sighed, resting his forehead on the steering wheel. “You know that’s not what I want.”

“Me neither,” she said, her voice barely audible.

“Then stop the bullshit. We know what we have to do.”

“Talk to Noland? I did. He was up there.”

What?” Daniel flailed in his seat. “You saw Noland?”

“Yeah. He came upstairs because Jasmine was yelling at me. I told him only he can save her now.”

“But did you tell him not to go to Pasadena? And about Bumbles?”

“No … We already talked about this. You can’t just go up to a stranger and tell him not to go to Pasadena.”

“That’s why you should’ve mentioned Bumbles! It’s his cat! Only he’d know about his cat. What if Bumbles was the key?”

She threw a finger in his face. “Why don’t you go tell him about Bumbles? I’m sick of looking like a crazy person.”

Daniel forced himself to breathe. She was right. He was failing to do his part. They’d gone over every scenario in the past few weeks, trying to think of a way to intervene. So far, they’d come up with two ideas. Starting a small fire outside the building to hopefully draw the authorities and deter Jasmine’s killer was the first. The second was to attempt a mild fender bender with Noland, stalling him long enough to ruin his plans in Pasadena and keep him in Los Angeles for the evening.

Obviously, both of those plans could result in life-ruining consequences, and they’d already seen from their dealings with Jasmine how unwilling people were to listen to strangers who popped up out of nowhere claiming to know the future. Daniel didn’t blame them. But he also wasn’t okay with failing the mission.

“David Youngstone chose us for a reason,” he said. “We can’t just give up.”

“Fine,” Ella said. “You go talk to Noland, and I’ll lurk in the bushes and watch for anyone who looks like they might be in a murderous mood.”

“And what’ll you do if you see someone?”

“I wasn’t being serious. Do you really think I’d crawl around in the dirty bushes?”

“Come on, Ella, the past few weeks have led up to this. Please help me think of something.”

“Why won’t you go talk to Noland?”

“I will. I’m just trying to think of the right approach.” He chewed his lip as they sat there in silence, the minutes ticking by. Then, it happened. The first raindrop, falling from the cloudy sky and landing on his windshield. Then another. Then hundreds.

“The storm,” Ella said. “It’s starting.”

“We’re running out of time.” Daniel let out a slow breath. “Okay. I’m gonna go find him—shit!” He threw himself forward, eyes wide.

“What?” Ella followed his gaze to see Noland coming down to the street. He turned in the opposite direction and headed toward one of the cars parked up the road.

“He’s leaving,” Daniel said. “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

“He’s going to Pasadena!”

“Okay, we have to do something.”

“Get out!” Ella shoved him toward the door. “Now! Go! Run!”

Daniel opened the door and stumbled out, falling to his knees on the wet sidewalk. By the time he was on his feet, Noland was already in the car with the engine running.

“It’s too late. He’s going.” Daniel jumped back in the car and put his seatbelt on. “We have to chase him.”

Chase him?”

“Yeah. Maybe we can approach him wherever he stops. Maybe he’ll need gas or something.”

“Hang on,” Ella said, popping her door open. “You go. I’ll stay here.”

“Why?”

“Someone has to make sure Jasmine’s okay.”

“But what are you gonna do?”

She shrugged and made a face. “Hide in the bushes?”

“Okay,” he said, looking ahead to where Noland’s car was pulling out into the street. “I’ll text you when I get somewhere. Remember—if she’s still alive after the storm passes, she made it.” He gave Ella a firm nod and started the engine.

He made it to the end of the road just in time to see Noland’s car make a right on the next road, which led to the freeway.

This was probably the most important thing Daniel would ever do. Failure wasn’t an option.

__

 

Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

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Writerly Wednesday: Stalling and Revving Up

As I enter my second month of having a book on the market, the world stalling comes to mind. When you first release your book, it’s all excitement, big dreams, and blog tours. You’re getting interviewed, your book is getting attention, and then … nothing.

Stalling Out: Entering the Dead Zone

There comes a point when you’ve already recommended (*cough* begged *cough*) everyone you know to buy your book, and there’s no one left to ask. You’re blogging, tweeting, using Facebook, posting on forums, and doing everything else you can think of to remind people that you do indeed have a book for sale. Yet, sales are slumping. You’ve begun stalling out, and every time you check your Amazon page and see a worsening sales rank, your dreams of success begin to look more like nightmares of

dawn-nature-sunset-woman

Want to learn who your true friends are? Publish a book.

failure.

What if no one buys your book? What if sales get so bad that no respectable publisher in the industry dares take a chance on you again? What if you fail completely?

All of these fears are valid. It’s not like you’re a big-name author with offers to appear on numerous talk shows. If you’re like me, you have ONE book out. One. And while marketing a book is and always will be a continual work in progress, you also have a day job. Maybe you have a family, or a partner, or some form of a social life. And on top of all that, you still have to accomplish the most important thing you will ever do as a writer: finishing your next book.

Revving Up: Kind of Like Stalling Out, but Fancier

The truth is that I have no idea how to sell books. I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two in time, but it’s all a huge experiment. However, I know the most important thing I can do right now is work on my next book. I stalled, revved my engine, and now I’m 25K into a new romance. I’m in love with the characters. The setting thrills me. When I’m writing it, the words flow naturally. I had the same feeling while writing EDGE OF SOMETHING MORE, and while it might not be a best seller just yet, I still believe in it.

Happy #writerlywednesday everyone!

My WWOOF Experience Part Two: Bees, Barns, and Other Good Stuff

When I arrived at my WWOOF homestead in North Carolina, the owner and another worker were busy tending to a beehive. This made things a little awkward, because I couldn’t get close enough to talk to them, and there was no one else there. Being thankful for any act that could help the bee population stay the course with the rest of us, I was not going to complain!

I explored around the main house a bit, the inside of which was as interesting as I’d imagined an old North Carolina homestead to be. When I was done, they were still busy with the bees, so I sat and watched them for a while. That was when a few of the other woofers showed up. I was relieved. Backpacking taught me how to go with the flow, but it was still nice to be officially welcomed. I had just driven four hours, and I was hungry and ready to settle in.

Plucked from my Imagination: Life Imitates Art

As I was shown around the property, I began to see how similar everything was to the book. Of course the layout was different, but most of the elements were there. There were gardens and forests all around. There were hens. The other woofers were all nice, nature-sunny-summer-yellowwell-traveled, and intelligent in the same way I had envisioned my characters.

The place had a main house, a smaller house, a trailer, a few different garden areas, some hen houses, some grassy areas, and a big barn. The barn was where I would be sleeping—with a dude roommate.

I know this sounds like a good setup for a romance novel, but nothing of the sort occurred. The sleeping areas were far enough apart to be separated but close enough where we could still see each other and talk if we wanted. Yeah, super awkward. He was nice, so it ended up being okay. Not romance-novel okay. Just normal, polite okay. Life imitates art, but not that much.

WWOOF-USA: Roughing it … Sort of

There was a bathroom at the main house, but it was pretty far away and unavailable at night. At the barn, we only had the woods or the compost toilet, which I won’t describe in detail except to say that it wasn’t the most private setup ever. I didn’t mind going out to the woods, especially in the middle of the night. It was peaceful.

One of the options for bathing was a pond not far from the property. Pond water didn’t exactly make me feel clean, but the pond was nicer than I had envisioned. I was okay with it at first, but then I started waiting until I could shower at the house, which I was originally told I could do. There ended up being issues with that, but I’ll get into it on the next blog.

I’ll also wait to get into the food situation. It wasn’t as I’d hoped it would be, but it wasn’t like we were starved, either.

WWOOF-USA North Carolina: The Stuff We Did

My duties as a WWOOF worker were a little unclear at times, but when I was assigned tasks, they were always enjoyable. The list includes things like:

  • Caring for chickens.applegirl
  • Harvesting beans and produce.
  • Preparing food.
  • Building or fixing things.

I don’t remember every single assignment at this point, just that most of them were okay. I liked the core mission of the place, which seemed to be promoting sustainable living.

WWOOF-USA: What I Learned from My Host

There’s a lot I could say about my WWOOF host, but since I decided to keep this anonymous, I’ll just say that she’s a person with many great achievements under her belt, and I respected that very much. Once she was finished with the bees and could actually talk to me, she taught me all sorts of things about cooking and canning food, working in the garden, planting, and taking care of animals. It was inspiring to see the life that she had made for herself.

Check out My WWOOF Experience Part Three: Why I Left Early, where I share the negative aspects of my experience.

For what led up to my WWOOF experience, check out Part One: California to WWOOF-USA North Carolina.