Thursday, December 11, 2014

...After The Ending is FREE!...

That's right, we said FREE!

Team Lindsey sat down and had a serious discussion about the merits of trying out After The Ending as a "permafree" book. Setting the first book in a series to free is all the rage with indie authors right now, so we decided to be followers in the best way and test the permafree waters over the holidays.

Our thinking: what better way could there be to introduce more people to Dani and Zoe's end o' the world adventures than making that first step into their world as easy as possible?

That means more popularity for the series, more Endingers for you to discuss the books with, and more possibility that someone behind a camera will take notice and bring the series to life on the big (or little--we'd totally settle for little) screen! I mean, really, could you imagine it?!? That would be insane!


So, if you love the series and want to help it grow, please, please, please share the exciting news:

AFTER THE ENDING is FREE!


After The Ending can be downloaded for FREE all these awesome places:

Wattpad (censored version)


Happy Holidays, and as always, HAPPY READING!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

...It is Done!...





After months of prepping and writing, I am proud to finally announce that I have finished my first official rough draft of my NaNoWriMo project. Here's the final, official breakdown...

Title: "Reilly", now officially Whatever It Takes
Current Word Count: 78,582

What's Next?
First of all, I'm going to take a break. Ideally, I'd like to step away from the story for an entire month or so, but I'm hoping to use my holiday time off at the end of December to do another read-through and make intense revisions. Scenes will be added and removed. Settings developed. Research done. The list goes on.

The good news is that I already have my first draft written and my main characters fleshed out, and those are the biggest, most stressful and time consuming steps in the process. So, I'll be stepping away from Whatever It Takes for a few weeks while my mind re-saturates with creativity and I don't feel so drained of inspiration. 

Then, after my revisions and final solo read-through, I'll send the manuscript out to my betas for feedback, then its onto the editor while I rework my cover, then it's publication time... All while working on the final Ending Series book. So, I'm crossing my fingers that I can juggle everything and execute Before The Dawn and Whatever It Takes with quality and enthusiasm. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

...Being Grateful...

While I strive to take the time to stop and remind myself how grateful I am and why, life takes over. I get busy, the time passing so quickly that I can't figure out where it's actually gone, but I miss it all the same.

Where does time go? In a puff, it's gone. It just disappears, leaving behind a haze of should'ves, could'ves and would'ves. BUT wonderful memories are interspersed among hindsight and those pesky second guesses that are permanently etched in the crinkles of time as well. That--remembering those things that would otherwise be fleeting smiles or belly laughs long forgotten--is what Thanksgiving is about: consciously taking the time to wave away the haze in order to gain some clarity.

Even though I don't say it enough, I am grateful for so many things. I could never name them all, but here are a few...

                                                                         -Dennis-

                                                                           My friends...


                                                                 ----My family---
                                              
   
                                                                           ~Beast~
                                                                     
                                                                       ~Sunshine~

                     ---Entertainment - TV - Music - Movies for I'd be uninspired without them---


                                                                               Nature~~~~


                                                                                        
 What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

...Authorship-ism-ology exploration continued: Characters...

****PLEASE NOTE: This is an old post. I no longer post on this blog. For more information, to visit my new blog, or to contact me, visit HERE****
 

OK all, we're two weeks into November, and so far...I'm doing alright with my NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50K in 30 days. There are many aspects of pre-planning your story (including outlining and brainstorming, which I discussed in one of my last posts) that have helped me get this far. But this post is about my character development

While plot and setting are important, characters are what drive the story--they are the voice(s) behind the telling. So, naturally I want to understand them as best I can before I dive into writing the world from their perspectives. 

  • If I can think like them, that means readers should be able to as well. 
  • The last thing I want is for Reilly and Sam to be muddled in any way, so that's why I've dug a bit deeper into what they look like, what their hobbies and favorite places are, asked myself what their fears and passions might be, and what it is that drives their actions.
Finding the right Characters.
One aspect of story building that I usually enjoy is finding a physical representation to reference for my character inspiration. This is both fun and frustrating because it's not often easy to find that perfect muse or reference. But, when I do find it, it truly helps everything else fall into place.

People have asked me why, if I'm a good writer, do I need a picture for inspiration, especially if the character is so clear in my mind? 

Great question, and for me, it's like this... 

  1. I'm not a great writer. I'm a novice, and I can only achieve so much with my imagination and writing ability so early in my writing career. I'll take all the help I can get creating characters that don't really exists. Would a poet be able to write poetry without having lived through what they write, at least in some small way? My characters are IN MY MIND, so it's easy to overlook certain traits and behaviors about them that my mind glazes over. A physical reminder helps me keep the descriptions and actions dynamic.
  2. I'm no expert. I don't know what it feels like to lose my father, and I wouldn't be able to write about my character's reaction without doing the research or talking to those who have lived through something so traumatic. Physical research and appreciation isn't any different. All aspects of a character deserve due diligence if they're going to be authentic.
  3. No such thing as a brand new character. No characters--looks or character traits--are completely made up. There's generally a living person who brings their image to life, a television character or college roommate, a teacher or the girl next door that contributes to the person in your head. Writers use what they know, and I'm a visual person.

Organization.
Generally, I'm an indecisive, easily distracted, and unorganized person. So, there are steps I'm learning to take and tools I'm exploring to help me stay focused, visualize the scenes, and get to know my characters with a bit more ease.

Pinterest

While most people use Pinterest to pin recipes and craft ideas, I use it to organize and visualize my story ideas through pictures I can reference while writing.
Some of my Pinterst Boards - Story ideas and inspiration

I can also collage the photos I've collected on my Pinterest boards to compile visual tools like these...


Story Boards and Introductions:


Sam's Story Board
Meet Samantha Jenner, a simple girl living in a overly complicated world. Once sweet and endearing to the few people she holds dear, everything changes after a horrible accident. Her innocence turns jaded, her timidness solidified to distrust and the need for control. Sam's a care giver and has nearly perfected the art of lying--to others and to herself. Though naivety has shredded her heart, loss has shown her that vulnerability is the most dangerous emotion. 

On any given day, Sam enjoys the outdoors and camping with her friends. When she's not mucking out stalls, riding her old gray mare, Shasta, or taking care of the only family she has left, Sam does all she can to keep busy...she'll do whatever it takes, as long as she's not alone with her thoughts for too long. Loneliness welcomes thoughts, and thoughts conjure guilt and sadness, two emotions that have helped mold her into the dark shadow of herself she's become.


Reilly's Story Board
Meet Josh Reilly, a heart breaker to some, best friend to others, and an arrogant bastard to the one woman he wishes would just give him a damn chance. This military man is no stranger to hard word, taking chances, and living life to the fullest whenever possible. Despite what some may argue, Reilly prides himself on his loyalty--even when it gets him into trouble and nearly ruins his life. But life decisions, good and bad, have taught him that he has to work for what he wants, no matter how daunting the task, if he ever wants to find true happiness.

For fun, Reilly likes to play baseball with the guys, live a little dangerously, and work with his hands (wink). A perfect date would be drinking a beer by the bonfire down at the lake, listening to old rock'n roll, and sharing embarrassing childhood stories.

~Coming soon: Outlining a Series~
****

If you'd like to follow my writing process, you can find me here:
Twitter
Pinterest
Facebook

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

...National Novel Writing Month has begun!!!!....

Okay, all! It's that time of year when all moments are filled with thoughtful distractions--wishes for writing and the impending 50K word count writing challenge! Participating in NaNoWriMo while having a job, friends, and family (especially during the busy holiday season) can be difficult. 

This is only my second year participating, but last year wasn't all fun and games. It's a lot to take on. Here's my project for this year, and how I try to stay focused...

My NaNoWriMo breakdown:

My project:


Working Title - Reilly, book one of my currently titled series, "Whatever It Takes"
Genre - New Adult - Contemporary Romance
Goal - Completed first (very rough) draft by Nov 30
Current WC - 40K with an approximate 50K more to go
Challenges - Writing even when I'm not feeling inspired to do so

The staples:


Libation for long, brain-fart stinted nights

Cozy Leg Warmers for cold days

Lady Gray Tea and my Balsam-scented candle
I generally only eat once around 11:00 or so...I make it a good one




What I use and how I do:

I couldn't stay organized without Scrivener



Or my story notebook, which contains sketches, notes, outlines, ideas, etc....





Playlist:

A few artists and the songs that help me stay in my story "zone" this year...



What keeps my creative juices flowing:

  1. HOT showers
  2. Wine...bubbles and more wine
  3. Observing - being out in public
  4. SLEEP

Oh yeah, it's official...


Friday, October 31, 2014

Let the Holiday Giving Begin!

It's officially the holiday season, and what better way to gear up for cold days, friends, and family than winning some great prizes! Are you already a dedicated Endinger and you've read all these book? Tell your friends, or enter to win a copy for them!

Starting Saturday, November 1st through Saturday, November 8th...


20 participants will win an ebook copy of After The Ending!


Book One, The Ending Series

For each additional entry, you're entered to be the second place or grand prize winner!



Second Place Prize:

  • Audiobook copies of book one, After The Ending, and book two, Into The Fire.
Grand Prize:
  • Series ebooks, including the prequel novellas, After The Ending, Into The Fire, and Out Of The Ashes
  • Audiobook copies of After The Ending and Into The Fire

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reading and Good LUCK!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

....Authorship-ism-ology: Brainstorming and Outlining...

****PLEASE NOTE: This is an old post. I no longer post on this blog. For more information, to visit my new blog, or to contact me, visit HERE****

Brainstorming
I start with getting in the right mindset. It's hard when you've got another story and characters so prominent in your mind (The Ending Series). So, wading around in my ideas, sketching and observing while watching a show or movie sometimes helps inspire me to get into the "New Story" frame of mind. Thus, the birth of my new story notebook. While "Reilly" is only my working title, it's the only title I have right now, so...


Lindsey Pogue - Author Story Notebook Reilly
"Reilly" Story Notebook

The Basics
Reilly was the original title for the story I wrote when I was in high school. At the time, I deemed it a masterpiece and marked it "completed". Now that I'm older and have written a book or two, I've learned a thing or two that was glaringly wrong in my old Reilly manuscript:

  • A story with only 20,000 words isn't a novel, but a short story or novella.
  • Although I want my stories to be riddled with emotion, they've got to have a happy ending - otherwise I'm depressed writing the damn thing. So the originally Reilly story is getting a major face lift and rework, hopefully leaving plenty of grit and emotion in the mix while providing an ending that is satisfying to me and readers.
  • I've got to develop my characters more, hence the extensive outlining process below.

Key issues I've had while working on "Reilly":

  • Getting out of my own head. Just because I wrote a certain story line fifteen years ago, doesn't mean it's good or that I have to stick with it. As much as I know that, it's hard to work through something that's so solidified and concrete in my mind. no matter how horrible parts of it is.
  • Writing is a courtship, not a marriage. Things change, ideas come up, and characters take the story where they want to. Wait until you're finished or 100% certain of something before you decide to commit, it will make everything so much easier.
  • Keep exploring cover ideas and title ideas and series ideas, write them down, run with them, do whatever is needed in order to stay inspired and keep the creative juices flowing.

Lindsey Pogue - Author Brainstorming Outline Reilly
Ideas, characters strengths and weaknesses, etc.

When the Muse is a no show
In my world, libation equals creation. There's no better way to free your mind than a glass (or two) of wine. It may sound silly, but there's something to be said for getting out of your own head and letting your mind wander, most often stumbling across something magical that would've otherwise remained uncovered.


Fancy Pants Wine for Brainstorming - Lindsey Pogue Author
Fancy Pants, I show that story who's boss...

Outlining

This is a long process with lots of twists and turns, revisions and road blocks. I've spent a solid two months developing my characters, exploring the story, bouncing ideas off friends, all so I could get a solid outline. Let's be honest, outlining is a great intention to have, but things always change as I mentioned above. So, use it as a guide, but don't resist the desire to explore or take another, unexpected road.


Lindsey Pogue Author - Extensive Reilly Outline
Extended Outline - Chapters, setting, characters and notes

So, obviously there is much to learn when writing a novel by yourself. It's strange how different it is than writing a book with someone else. There are many elements that are very much the same, like brainstorming with friends, deciding what actions and situations are best suited for your characters, while others aspects are completely different, i.e. coming up with your own story line, deciding where you want to take the story, with the help of your characters, of course. Either way, it's the life of a writer, and I'm only beginning to scratch the surface.

I'll be posting my character story boards and character explorations next. Stay tuned!

***** 

If you're interested in my writing progress and other news, you can find me here:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

...NaNoWriMo, you say?...

I was just about to post something about the characters I've been working on over the past couple weeks in preparation for NaNoWriMo, when I realized some of you may not know what the heck that actually is. Since I'll be referencing it quite a bit over the next two months, I thought I'd fill you in.



For those of you who don't know or understand what National Novel Writing Month is, it's a designated time of the year where writers can challenge themselves to get large portions of their Work in Progress (WIP) written. 

Here's what you need to know about NaNoWriMo:
  • Purpose: Work on writing a project of your choice - novel, multiple short stories, articles, etc. Technically it's for novel writing, but I say use it for whatever you want to write as long as you have 50K words to set as your goal.
  • When: the entire month of November
  • The goal: 50,000 words or more to be deemed a "NaNoWriMo Winner"
  • Process: Everyday you copy and paste your WIP into the NaNo words counter and it generates and tracks your progress, thus also generating a breakdown of how much longer you have to meet your goal, your progress compared to other days, how many words a day you need to write in order to reach your goal, and so on. 
  • Completion: By November 30th at midnight, the NaNoWriMo elves will compute all data and deem those who have reached or exceeded their goal of 50K words or more WINNERS! Those who do not win don't get a loser badge or anything, at least not that I'm aware of.
  • Why: Because it's a great way to get your butt in gear!
The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that people who share your love and enthusiasm for writing and storytelling come together to encourage and support each other. Everyone is working toward the same goal--getting shit done! You have access to writing buddies and pep talks, live chats with authors, question forums, personal goal trackers, encouragement emails, brainstorming session, etc. Basically, NaNoWriMo provides writers the opportunity and excuse to lock yourself away and write-write-write.

If you don't make your goal, you're not flogged or stoned or reprimanded. This is for YOU! NaNoWriMo just helps get you motivated to do great things, to start or finish that book you've always wanted to write. 

If you have always wanted to write, but never knew where to start, check out their website and welcome kits!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

...Move over Edward Cullen, Nathaniel needs his prune juice...

The Vampire's Housekeeper Chronicles, Volume OneThe Vampire's Housekeeper Chronicles, Volume One by J. Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Move over Edward Cullen, Nathaniel needs his prune juice, ASAP

What do you get when you pair a geriatric vampire with a sarcastic, desperate, and unemployable mortal? You get witty banter, laugh-out-loud moments, and a perfect melody of imagination and cringe-worthy horror. Throw in some werefrogs and a ninja, maybe a few unsuspecting Mormons and ghosts, and you've got a recipe for comical greatness. This collection of stories will leave your mouth gaping, all while appreciating how clever it actually is.

Each tale is short, entertaining, and leaves you wondering what the inappropriate, old school Nathaniel will do next--who he'll eat and what he'll say. Deirdre is the yin to Nathaniel's yang. Her no-nonsense personality and sarcasm are truly enjoyable, making her and Nathaniel the perfect pair. The greatest part of it all is that each story is short, providing the reader with the perfect interim read between novels and a diversion from life in general. The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles is a wonderful satire on the world of Vampires as we "know" them today.

I recommend this to everyone who doesn't take life too seriously and can take a joke, even if it's completely offensive, because let's face it, when you're a centuries-old vampire who thinks the television is a thing of sorcery and a woman over the age of twenty is a hopeless old maid, you're in for a world of "did he seriously just say that?"


View all my reviews

Thursday, September 25, 2014

...Another phase of Authorship-ism-ology: Solo projects...

Authoriship-ism-ology
As I've mentioned before, every day I'm discovering, navigating, and learning the world of authorship-ism-ology. So far, the phases seem to break down like this:
  1. Deciding to take writing seriously - taking a chance
  2. Starting a business with my writing friend now partner
  3. Co-writing my first book and actually publishing it for people to read, love it or hate it
  4. Learning how to market myself
And now... 5. I'm Embarking on my first solo project

Before I delve into the fourth and final book in The Ending Series, Before The Dawn, which we start outlining in January, I've decided to flesh out and better develop a manuscript I wrote in high school--a story currently called Reilly. Given the fact that my writing experience 15 years ago was somewhat limited, Reilly is merely a rough outline to work off of. BUT National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in November--just around the corner--and my goal is to have the first draft of Reilly completely written by November 30th. That means I've started developing the plot, outlining, character building, content writing, and so much more NOW so that I'm ready come November 1.  This new project is both awesome/fun/exciting and daunting/difficult/time consuming.


If you've ever participated in NaNoWriMo, you know you're either one of two types of writers: a "planner" who has an outline and plan for the story before you sit down and delve in. This could be chapter by chapter notes or an overall, more general plan. OR you're a "pantser", someone who writes without much of a plan at all...you let the story and characters lead you when you're "in the zone". I'm clearly a planner, I have a badge for it and everything:


The bare-bones...until my characters decide differently:

  • Samantha's had a life filled with abandonment and heartache, and most recently she has Reilly to blame for her life being turned completely upside down, or so she thinks.
  • When Reilly decides to enlist in the military, she couldn't be more happy or relieved.
  • But the loss of her father isn't where it ends. Soon her boyfriend ditches her, leaving her alone with a shattered heart and overwhelming emptiness she yearns to fill. Luckily she has her friends and family to rely on, but coping is one thing Sam's never been all that good at.
  • A couple years later, when Reilly comes back to town on leave, Sam's forced to look at two things - what really happened that night that continues to haunt her, that night all those years ago that Reilly took her father from her, and what the hell is she going to do about it?
  • While Reilly wants her to let him in, to know the truth, she's not ready to listen or forgive him. Opening herself up to yet one more person is counterproductive in her plan to "stay in control" of her life. 
  • But in the end, Sam has to ask herself what's more important, grasping on to the past or taking a chance on an unknown future, one that is sure to leave her vulnerable, but is the only way she'll ever be able to move on.
I have some great characters in mind for this story, and the series in general. There's comic relief (my personal favorite), the characters I hope will make you cry, and as always, those who will make readers swoon. Although still in the early stages, hopefully this is going to be a story that pulls at people's heartstrings as much as it makes them laugh out loud.





Stay Tuned.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing with you some of my thinking and writing processes with you. I'll delve deeper into:


  • how I discover more about my characters
  • building a setting and choosing certain elements of a story
  • brainstorming and outlining
  • building a new series from scratch - a first look at book two and three
  • title, cover rework, and official blurb process 
Why am I doing this? Because I'm learning as I go, and why not share my journey with others who might also be interested in writing? Also, I'm a visual person. In truth, organizing myself here helps me stay on track with my deadlines, forces me revisit my settings and plot and characters, all of which are helpful for me when trying to keep the Ending Series characters at bay while jumping into a completely new projects that hasn't been on my mind for the last 3 years, especially when you're going full speed ahead.

It's all about FOCUS, which is difficult to attain when you have way too many ideas floating around in your head, like me.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

...August Recap....

Team Lindsey had a very fun, successful August as we celebrated the release of our third book in The Ending Series, Out Of The Ashes, on the 23rd. Not only did we see some great sales for book one, After The Ending, and book two, Into The Fire, but we also had an amazing release party with our awesome Endingers! There was tons of chatting, some of our author friends stopped by, we posted videos of Team Lindsey acting like, well, like Team Lindsey, and we gave away some really cool prizes.

Plus, we're able to say we're bestselling SciFi Romance authors for the second time! This marks our second book in the series that has achieved "Best Seller" status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



We also announced our Ending Series merchandise that's now available for purchase. Here are a couple items...



And then, every once in a while, I get these beauties in my inbox. It's a great feeling to see the series you've lost countless nights of sleep over show up on an Amazon recommendation list that goes out to thousands of people, not to mention the ENTIRE series on the list. Sigh.


So that's my author-grateful recap for August. I can't believe we've accomplished so much over the past couple years. LF, I couldn't have done any of it without you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

...The Ending Beginnings Prequel Novella Compilation...

The Ending Beginnings prequel novellas are now available as a compiled set as an ebook and in paperback!

The Omnibus edition includes:
I - Carlos
II - Mandy
III - Vanessa
IV - Jake
V - Clara
VI - Jake & Clara

Where to find it:
Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

...Book 3 Release!...


Available in ebook and paperback
Where to buy: Amazon, Barnes & NobleKoboiBooks


Hope brought them together, but it's now fear that drives them...
...and threatens to tear them apart.


Zoe and her companions succeeded in rescuing Dani from the Colony. But not without sacrifice. Beaten and broken, they head west, determined to leave behind the torment and horrors they experienced in Colorado.

As Dani and Zoe make the perilous trek home to Bodega Bay, they learn that danger can take many forms--other survivors, their friends, even themselves--and that things are rarely what they seem. Zoe is desperate to become the woman she sees in others' memories, while Dani struggles to conceal damaging secrets, risking losing herself--her humanity--completely. Together, they must rediscover the true meaning of friendship, love, and trust, and learn just how hard they're willing to fight for what remains of their shattered world.

As relationships are put to the test, second chances are given, and new life emerges, death lurks in the most unlikely of places. To survive, Dani and Zoe must accept that sometimes hope alone isn't enough.


Where to buy: Amazon, Barnes & NobleKoboiBooks

Monday, August 18, 2014

...The Ending Series Fantasy Cast...

After three years of writing, LF and I have finally decided on our fantasy cast for some of our main characters in The Ending Series. This is so fun, it should be illegal...

Zoe Cartwright - Megan Fox


Dani O'Connor - Emma Stone



Jason Cartwright - Jensen Ackles


Jake Vaughn - Henry Cavill


Dr. Anna Wesley - Lena Headey


Dustin Harper - Shemar Moore



Gabe McLaughlin - Josh Holloway


General Herodson - Ralph Fiennes


Friday, August 15, 2014

...Chapter Reveal - Chapter 4 Zoe...

Missed chapter 1? Read it here.
How about chapter 2? Read it here.
Chapter 3 - Read it here.


Chapter 4
Zoe
March 28, 1AE
San Juan National Forest, Colorado
I gasped as an unused part of my mind sparked to life. It seemed to shift and realign, jump-starting my true consciousness as if I’d been running on autopilot, but was now finally in control. Everything changed in the blink of an eye…I felt whole. At least more “myself” than I had since the others found me.

For a brief moment, among the torrent of feelings and memories flooding my mind, I thought the old me might resurface, too. “I think I’m—” Getting my memories back? It was almost too much to hope for.

As my mind spun, so did the onslaught of conflicting emotions—too random and unrecognizable to have been my own.

“Dani,” I breathed. My eyes met hers, and I used the comfort I found in them as my anchor amid the impressions of foreign lifetimes competing for space in my mind. “Something’s…not right.” Dizziness enveloped me, and I gripped Dani’s arm more tightly, automatically reaching for Jason, too.

“It’s your Ability, Zo,” Dani said, composed and reassuring. “Don’t fight it—you’ll only make it worse.”

Images of Jason and Dani flickered in my head, but instead of trying to push them away, I let them come, vivid and countless as they were.

With what felt like a breath of life, I inhaled, and everything in my mind’s eye sharpened. As unsteady as I felt, the clarity brought a sense of relief I hadn’t expected, and the dark recesses of my mind filled with colors and shapes and sounds—recollections of the past. Dani and Jason’s pasts, but not mine.

“I’m so sorry, Zo,” Dani said, her fingers brushing softly over the back of my hand. “This is all my fault. Stupid…so stupid…”

I could feel her guilt, and I shook my head, only vaguely aware of why she felt that way. Dani’s concern replaced my confusion, her curiosity and hope quickly following. Although I didn’t necessarily understand the onslaught, I welcomed it. Everything I saw—everything I felt—was new and unexplored; my mind, once an empty cave, suddenly housed echoes of the past, assembling them into an irrefutable truth that seemed to lighten the darkness and partially fill the lingering void inside me.

But as abruptly as the emotions assaulted me, they vanished, and I felt empty again—the images and feelings were nothing more than fading memories.

Disappointed, I turned to Jason. “You’re taking it away?”

He exchanged a skeptical glance with Dani. “Yeah?” he said, sounding unsure.

No longer needing to steady myself, I loosened my grasp on his arm and looked at him beseechingly. “Please don’t,” I said, self-conscious but needing this other part of me. “It feels…right.”

Jason frowned. “Well…it’s your choice,” he mumbled, and although he seemed baffled, he nodded.

In an instant, another flurry of guilt, frustration, and despair swirled around in my mind. I blinked, once again focusing on Dani as memories and feelings poured out of her. Like a camera shutter opening and closing, I saw Dani for the first time. Yes, she was a fiery, red-haired pixie with bright green eyes and a seemingly carefree nature, but she also felt lost and afraid and confused. I could feel everything—her undeniable love for Jason, and the relentless shadow of a not-too-long-ago broken heart. Inexplicably, I shared her longing to see the woman who’d raised her, her grandma who was gone, and her yearning to speak with her one last time. And then I saw an image of the dead little girl, haunting Dani and flooding her with guilt.

My best friend, who I only knew from her coalescing memories and our stilted conversations over the past week, stood in front of me, and now I understood why she seemed to cry at the drop of a hat. Her emotions were so raw, rampant, and fierce that they almost brought tears to my eyes.

Enthralled by the insight I felt bringing me closer to Dani, I vaguely registered Jason walking away.

I blinked again.

“Zo?” Dani’s hand rested on my shoulder, sending acute waves of anxiety and eagerness rippling through me. “Are you alright?” Her voice teetered between panic and remorse, and I could feel the questions practically jumping off her tongue. She was hoping that my memories had returned, but felt guilty for thinking it, and she was worried she’d accidently and irrevocably hurt me.

Forcing myself, I smiled, if a little weakly, and refocused on her imploring eyes. “Yeah, I am. I’m fine. Better than fine, actually.”

“Are you sure?”

Nodding, I tried to reassure her. “I can see and feel it all so clearly.”

“Like you can feel what I’m feeling?” A burst of apprehension flared inside her.

I bit the inside of my cheek, trying to articulate it. “It’s more than that,” I said, my voice tinged with excitement. “There are images…like memories, too…”

Dani’s eyes lit with hope. “You remember?”

Crap. I sighed and shook my head, feeling a tidal wave of excitement recede between the two of us. “No, I don’t remember,” I admitted, watching the light in her eyes dim. “I still don’t remember anything from before the golf course…but I see you, Dani. I see you and me…my dad and Jason.” I shook my head. “It’s the strangest, most horrifyingly amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.”

Although I had no attachment to the memories themselves, Dani’s profound intimacy with each impression made me feel like I’d found a small piece of myself within them. “It’s like I was there…when you were sick and Jason found you…and then when you were alone and at Grams’s house.” I tried to shake away the overwhelming fog in my head. “There’s so much…”

Dani eyed me curiously, her fingers stroking the sling cradling her injured arm.

“I can feel your pain,” I said, studying her black removable cast. “I can see what happened at the Colony. I feel like I finally understand what’s going on.”

Dani’s eyes widened as fear replaced her curiosity, and the jumble of images focused, a tumultuous memory flashing prominently through her mind.
Dani stood in a stark office, a perfectly organized desk separating her from Dr. Wesley, who was sitting behind it. 
The doctor eyed Dani warily. “So you know?” 
Dani felt a pulse of rage. “That Zoe and Jason are your kids? Yeah…”

Another more vivid memory immediately followed.
In the same office, Dr. Wesley still seated behind the desk and Dani standing opposite her, the doctor’s features hardened into a frown. “If your actions kill my children, then everything I’ve done to keep them safe will have been for naught. That’s on you.” 
Dani shook her head, so much hurt and anger filling her that she could barely speak. “Zo and Jason might blame themselves for everyone’s deaths if they knew about you, but I don’t. I blame you,” she seethed and stormed to the door. 
“Would you rather I’d killed myself, thus killing the two people you love so dearly? Gregory would have found another geneticist to engineer his virus, and everyone would’ve died anyway.”

The memory faded, leaving in its place violent emotions tangled in my gut, nearly bringing me to my knees.

Dr. Wesley is my mom… I’d completely forgotten that.

Dani took a step closer. “We can’t tell him,” she whispered as her eyes darted around us. “He can’t know about your mom, Zo, not yet.”

I hedged. “But she’s our mom, Dani. He’ll be furious if we don’t tell him, won’t he?” Lacking any tangible connection to Jason, I still wanted to do what was right, and I’d seen enough of his silent tantrums in her memories to know this instance would be no exception.

“She’s your mom and she killed nearly everyone to keep you guys safe.” Dani closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her eyes pleading when she reopened them. “Please, Zo. Don’t say anything. He’s not ready. Can’t you see…can’t you feel it?” Dani’s acute panic and desperation were nearly overwhelming.

Rough laughter startled me, and I glanced over to the cart to see Jason and Carlos chatting as they sat on the bench, whittling. Although I had the impression that Jason wouldn’t want me to pry around inside his head, I needed to; I needed to understand why Dani was so adamant to keep the truth from him.

Focusing beyond her swirling emotions, I searched for Jason’s. While Dani’s were easy to access, an invisible wall surrounded Jason’s, cold and excruciatingly controlled. I focused harder. It was difficult with Dani so close, her emotions so intense, but I could see and feel just enough from Jason to understand. There had been too much heartache, and too many lies and surprises to unleash another tumultuous mess on him while he was already so distraught.

Like he could somehow sense my cerebral intrusion, Jason stopped whittling for a moment and glanced over at me. The instant his knowing eyes met mine, the invisible wall protecting his mind solidified, blocking me out completely.

Standing there, with only a brief impression of who he was fresh in my mind, I felt closer to him than I probably ever would have had my Ability remained dormant. And I understood; Dani was right. Learning that our mom was still alive, that she’d made the choice to leave when Jason was a young child, and that she’d been the cause of so much death would devastate him, especially while the real me wasn’t around to help bear the weight of the discovery.

Dani clutched my hand, silently pleading with me to keep quiet as Jason glanced between us.

With a quick squeeze in return, I reassured her of my silence, at least for a while.

Harper and Chris emerged from the nearest cluster of trees, chatting amiably as they made their way back to camp with armfuls of firewood. When Harper’s eyes found mine, his relaxed expression tensed, and he hurried over to us.

“You doing okay, Baby Girl?” His expression was pinched with worry—a look I’d grown weary of over the last few days. “You’re pale.”

“I’m fine,” I said, waving his concern away. There was nothing like a resurgence of forgotten memories and pitying glances to make me feel like the most pathetic woman in the world.

As I took a few steps toward Harper and Chris, I stumbled, the bombardment of their worries, memories, and emotions throwing me off kilter. Dropping his armful of firewood, Harper jogged the final few steps between us to lend me a supporting hand.

I snickered. Yep, I’m pathetic.

“I’m okay,” I said. “It’s just my Ability…it’s a little overwhelming, and my head’s frazzled…I think.”

“So, Jason’s not…” Chris glanced over at my brother. “A little advanced notice would’ve been nice,” she grumbled, though I didn’t really understand her spike of irritation.

“It was an accident,” Dani chimed in, sounding tired. She patted Wings’s neck. “I’ll send Wings and Shadow out to pasture with the other horses, then head over and warn”—Dani’s gaze flicked to me, and her cheeks reddened as shame emanated from her—“tell the others.” After a brief moment, the sound of lazy, clomping hooves retreated behind me.

Harper helped me over to lean against a lone tree trunk growing along the edge of the pond. His memories and feelings resonated within me, and I mentally waded through the streaming information, effortlessly absorbing pieces of who he was. He was so good and confident and calm; I couldn’t help but admire him.

“You sure you’re alright, Baby Girl?” he asked, scanning me as I gripped the trunk of the tree.

“Yeah. I’m okay, really.” I blushed at being the center of unwanted attention.

With a pat on my shoulder, Chris excused herself and headed over to join Jason and Carlos. I hadn’t missed her and Harper’s silent, charged exchange before she walked away. Their growing connection was impossible to miss, especially when I could feel their mutual attraction.

Harper glanced over at Chris’s retreating form, appraising her covertly, or so he thought. When he noticed me eyeing him, he smiled, a knowing glint in his peridot-colored eyes.

“Interesting,” I said, eyebrows raised in amusement.

He nudged my shoulder with his. “You see too much,” he said and waggled his eyebrows.

I knew that was true, so all I could do was shrug. “I’m still learning how to navigate this whole Ability thing,” I said.

He winked at me. “You’ll get the hang of it.”

“And in the meantime, you’ll all avoid me like I’m a leper?” I asked acerbically. Being bitter wouldn’t help, but it was hard not to be when people were suddenly running as far away from me as possible, despite their smiles.

“Everyone just needs time, Baby Girl, including you. You’ll get the hang of it, and if not, they’ll warm up to it eventually.”

“I sure hope so,” I muttered.

Tavis’s laughter rumbled on the faint breeze, and I could hear him and Sam bantering back and forth. After a quick glance around, I spotted them walking along the other side of the reservoir, water jugs in their hands. The still water began to ripple, and I realized I hadn’t noticed the wind pick up.

“Whatever,” Sam said.

I smiled as they drew closer. Their companionable chatter was familiar, the one feeling I yearned for the most. I welcomed the sense of comfort that came with the sounds of their voices.

“Not true,” Tavis said with a laugh as they approached. “You’d never beat me if it weren’t for your Ability, mate, and that’s a fact.”

Sam sighed, his annoyance making me smile. “You’re just using that as an excuse.”

“As if!” Tavis said with half a laugh.

“Even Zoe’s a better shot than you,” Sam said. “At least she was.”

Tavis stopped mid-step, appalled by Sam’s comment. “Not even true, and your Ability gives you an unfair advantage.”

Sam laughed. “You’re just mad because you don’t know what your Ability is yet.”

“What? Grayson doesn’t know what his Ability is either.” Narrowing his eyes to slits, Tavis tried not to smile. “Maybe we’re Crazies…”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Sam said.

Looking to me and Harper, Tavis shook his head. “Can you believe this kid? He has supersonic hearing and can see a mile away, and he thinks I’m using it as an excuse.”

Unbidden, a soft chuckle escaped from my throat. “I just don’t understand why you’re not improving your archery skills