Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It's the Blue Moon!

If you've seen the news (or even been on social media) recently, you know there are all kinds of crazy things going on with the moon right now--eclipse, super, blue moon, right? This blue moon is particularly important to me because it actually appears in Illumination, Book 5 of The Clandestine Saga.

For years, readers had been making one specific request regarding the series, or at least complaining that I'd made one particular choice as a creative artist. If you've read the series, you can probably guess what I'm referring to (I don't want to give away any spoilers!) The events of Repercussion (Book 3) all had a purpose, but I would be the first to admit I agreed with the readers. But how could I undo what had already been done?

Will the blue moon really open a portal like in Illumination?

Enter the Blue Moon Portal! In Illumination, Cadence discovers that on the night of a blue moon, a portal will open that allows a Guardian to come back from the other side. But the use of the portal come with a price, and there's a good chance something evil will come through. Illumination revolves (see what I did there?) around Cadence's decision as to whether or not using the portal is a good idea and the consequences of her choice.

Will Cadence make the right choice for her team?

If you haven't started reading The Clandestine Saga yet, you can find the first book, Transformation, here for only 99 cents. If you're all caught up but haven't taken on Illumination yet, find it here.

What if everything you've ever known is a lie, and you're really a Vampire Hunter?

I'm also excited to announce that the whole series will be getting new covers soon! Stay tuned for the reveal and information about when you can expect the first novel in the spinoff series Backstories.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Promises to be a Great Year!

Hello, Readers!
It's been a while since I've updated my blog. I've been busy trying to get several books out at the end of the year. I'm excited that Waiting On Love, Book 4 of the Heartwarming Holiday Sweet Romance series will be out in just a few days on January 20th. My next endeavor will be to write book 5, Shamrock Hearts. The feedback I'm getting on this series has been wonderful! People really seem to like the Christian themes integrated with holiday romance. Melody's Christmas, Christmas Cocoa, and Winter Woods have all been well received. My plan is to write a new romance novel for all the major holidays this year including: Valentine's Day (Waiting on Love), St. Patrick's Day (Shamrock  Hearts) Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years! The best feature of this series is that you don't have to read them in order. If you'd like to start reading with the current holiday, it's no problem. You won't be behind.
Waiting On Love is now available for preorder!






Shamrock Hearts will be available for preorder in February! I'll keep you posted!
Residuum is also available for preorder!
As the banner above will tell you. Residuum, the third book in the Ghosts of Southampton series, is finished and is now available for preorder. Over the years, I've gotten lots of inquiries about the fate of Meg and Charlie. Find out what happens when Titanic docks in New York City. Will Meg's past keep haunting her or will she outrun the ghosts at last? If you haven't read the first two books, you can read hem now. I will say, Prelude has themes that have made some readers uncomfortable, though everyone agrees they have been handled tactfully. I think it's important not to shy away from difficult themes. If we are to bring about change, we have to be willing to talk about even the most uncomfortable topics.

I'm also working on a spinoff series from The Clandestine Saga called Backstories. So many people have asked me over the years about where the Guardians came from. How did Jamie know he was a Healer? Did Elliott really sell used cars? So, I decided to write about their pasts!  I am hoping to release the first two volumes in the spring. If you haven't read The Clandestine Saga, Transformation is available for only 99 cents.

My first Urban Fantasy series, Reaper's Hallow, will also be out in the spring. It follows the journey of an elementary school teacher, Ru Robinson, as she discovers what it means to be a Keeper. She discovers a past she'd never dreamed of an a future tasked with hunting down Reapers and sending them back to Hell. Luckily, she has a team of other Keepers to show her how it's done. The first book, Ruin's Lot, will be out in the next few months.

I have a lot going on, but 2018 promises to be the best year yet of my writing career. If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you'll want to do so. That way you'll know when a new release comes out or I'm doing a giveaway. You can sign up here.

I sincerely hope that 2018 is a stellar year for you and yours as well! Feel free to drop me a line at authoridjohnson@gmail.com or leave me a comment. Best wishes to all of you!
All of these books are either now available or will be published in 2018!




Thursday, November 2, 2017

Excerpt from Residuum: Ghosts of Southampton Book 3

I'm finally writing the sequel to Titanic: Ghosts of Southampton Book 2! I have heard from so many readers that they are really interested to hear what happened to Charlie and Meg after they arrived back in New York City. We are all hoping for a happy ending, but first our two heroes will have to face some demons. After all, Meg's been through a lot with the loss of her father, the abuse of her mother and uncle, and now Titanic. Charlie survived the sinking, but that doesn't mean everything is as it should be. Here's the unedited prologue for Residuum I've just written. I hope that you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Also, Prelude is now available and will be free today, November 2, 2017. It is the prequel to Titanic and you can find it here.

Residuum

This amazing cover for Residuum was created by JC Clarke at The Graphics Shed


Prologue

            “The water was so cold, little crystals of ice immediately formed atop anything and everything that crested the surface. The sensations below weren’t any better, however. It was as if a thousand tiny pins were plunged into my flesh all at the same time. Even through my leather shoes, my coat. It didn’t matter; so I took them off. The entire Atlantic Ocean was already pulling me down. I didn’t need anything else hastening my journey to the abyss.”
            The man in the brown leather chair cleared his throat and adjusted his spectacles. “And then what do you remember next?”
            There was a long pause of consideration as thoughts fought to both spring to the surface and hide deep in the recesses of his mind. At last, a sentence was formulated. “I didn’t have a lot of time to decide what to do. There’d been plenty of chances, mind you, to climb into one of the lifeboats. I’d declined. Even though I’d been below deck and had seen what it was like down there, had seen the water crawling up the walls, lapping up the staircase, one concrete step at a time, I suppose even then it was difficult to wrap my mind around what was actually happening. But I was determined not to take the seat of another, particularly a mother or child. And though I had given great consideration to what I might do when I inevitably found myself in the Atlantic, my plan wasn’t as developed as I would’ve liked.”
            “You say you had a plan though?”
            “Not really. I suppose I’d like to think I had one, that I would come up with something spectacular at the last moment to save myself. That’s what I’d reassured everyone else, all those who beckoned me aboard the lifeboats with them. In retrospect, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had climbed aboard a lifeboat. No one else filled those seats. Hundreds of empty seats. Did you see that? In the papers?”
            He glanced up from his notes. “I did. I read it later, after the reports were filed.”
            “Right. So, here I was trying to be… heroic or chivalrous, I suppose. It turned out my efforts were wasted, and I ended up dying because of it. Momentarily, anyhow.” He remembered what it had been like to slip away and then come crashing back to his own existence and pushed those thoughts aside, returning to his previous thought. “I believe there’s another word one might use to describe my actions in turning down a perfectly good lifeboat.”
            He scratched his balding head beside a thin line of light brown hair. “And what word might that be?”
            “Foolish.”
            There was a “hmmm” sound in response, which was neither an agreement or a disagreement. “So once you were in the water, what happened then? Do you remember exactly?”
            The words were having difficulty placing themselves in the correct order again. It took a moment of forced introspection. “I had intended to find something that would float. I assumed, a ship with that much lumber aboard—deck chairs, tables, doors, what have you—would have enough debris to easily find something I could mount and wait. I was under the impression that the lifeboats would come back—the half-empty ones for certain. It made little sense to me to think that those people, the thousand or so who had made it safely aboard a life vessel--would sit idly by. I assumed it would only be a matter of moments before there was a rescue party, if you will. I also remembered seeing a light on the horizon before we went under. I thought this other ship would be our salvation. It turns out I was mistaken in all of my optimistic assumptions.
            “In answer to your inquiry, however, there really is no order of things, no chronological account I can replicate for you. There was no time. Curious souls often ask me how long it took for the rescue boat—that’s what they like to call it, which I find quite ironic—the rescue boat to come back and begin to check to see who was still alive. I can’t answer that question, honestly. It was an eternity. It was the blink of an eye. I can’t precisely tell you what happened after I found myself completely submerged in the Atlantic. Nothing happened. Everything happened. All at the same time.”
            There was a long pause as the thin man in the upright leather chair seemed to ponder how to proceed. “Can you describe how you felt?”
            He pressed the palm of his hand into one eye socket, pressing hard enough to feel an ache before running his hand through his brown hair and straightening the hem of his jacket. He cleared his throat. “I felt like I was going to die. My body was both on fire and frozen solid at the same time. It’s hard to describe, but at some point, the human body becomes so cold it burns. I had the fleeting thought that there were three choices that lay before me, and I didn’t truly have any options because there was no time to weight the potential outcomes. I only had time to react.”
            “What were the choices?”
            “The first one was to fight—to swim as fast as I could in any direction; it really didn’t seem to matter which. Thrash about, try to make a headway in one bearing or another. I couldn’t see any of the lifeboats, so there was no sense in attempting to reach one, but swimming would be action, and action seemed to be an option.
            “The next was to do nothing. To stay perfectly still and allow the ocean to take me, as it so clearly wanted to do. As I said, I could feel it pulling me. It wasn’t the suction created by the ship or some such rubbish would-be scientists will try to explain in their overly-wordy, overly-educated statements. It was the ocean itself. She wanted me, wanted all of us, and her lapping waves were an invitation to let go of everything I’d ever known before and simply cease to exist.”
            He went quiet again, and the man across the room seemed perplexed as to whether or not he should issue another prompt or simply wait. He tried the latter for a lengthy while, and then, just as his thin lips parted to probe, the story was continued.
            “The third option never really existed. I just thought it might. I thought there was a chance that I could employ the same tactic I had every other time I’d been in such a precarious situation, sure of nothing but certain death. It didn’t work this time, however.”
            “What tactic is that?” he asked, squinting behind his thin-rimmed glasses.
            The answer came more quickly than expected. “Wake up.”
            The inquisitor absorbed the answer and then gave one short nod of the head. “I see,” he said quietly, as if it had never occurred to him that one might even think that was an option. “I suppose it makes sense one might assume, under the circumstances, they must be having a dream.”
            “A nightmare,” he corrected.
            “Indeed.”
            “Once I realized that my preferred escape method was not a true possibility, a parade of familiar faces skirted through my mind, people I wished to see again, and I began to look around for an alternative. That’s when I saw the collapsible.”
            “About how far away do you think it was?”
            “In truth, not far at all. At that point, it didn’t matter, however. Any sort of movement whatsoever was excruciating. All of my joints had frozen stiff after just a few minutes in the water. It could’ve been a hand’s breath away and reaching it would’ve been nearly impossible. I’d say, it was less than ten yards’ distance. It may as well have been floating up next to the mocking moon.”
            “And yet, you were able to reach it, eventually.”
            “I was. I’m sure I don’t know how. When I started out on my journey, there was quite a commotion surrounding the upturned vessel as those nearby struggled to gain traction and buoyancy. By the time of my arrival, everyone was much more… still. Some were grasping hold with all their might. Others slipped below the surface and were not strong enough to recover from the siren call of the abyss. There was no helping them, no matter how badly the others wished they could assist. At that point, it truly was every man for himself.”
            “You were able to find a spot somehow, and to grab hold?”
            “Somehow,” he agreed. He began to strum his fingers on the arm of the couch intermittently, as if typing out a message using Morse Code.
            “And you’ve no idea how long you were there, you say?”
            “No.” The answer came quickly, unlike all of the other words that refused to form coherent sentences.
            “Do you remember being plucked from the water, then? When the lifeboats finally returned?”
            “No.” Equally as easily accessible. “I don’t remember anything again until after I awoke on Carpathia.” He was quiet for a very long time again, before he reconsidered his statement. “That’s not true. I do remember something else.” His voice was soft now, just above a whisper, and the man across the room leaned forward in his chair, straining to hear. “It’s the true reason I’m here.”
            “What’s that?”
            The strumming stopped, and he looked up, a shift in his countenance. “The photographs in my mind are one thing. I see their faces. That’s… troubling. It’s not the worst of it. But every time I close my eyes, I distinctly see each of them. A woman with short, curly hair. A man with some sort of wrap on his head, his face frozen in anguish. Literally frozen. A little boy, maybe six, clinging to a woman I presumed to be his mother. A baby wrapped in layers of blankets and nestled between an arm stiff with frost and a bosom that would never feed the child again. Their faces are haunting, and they are everywhere. Despite that daily terror, it isn’t the worst.”
            “It isn’t? What is it then? What could possibly be worse than seeing the faces of the dead everywhere you look?”
            “Dr. Morgan, have you ever considered the different definitions for the word ‘drown’?”
            The question seemed to take him aback, and he scooted his shoulders into the chair. “No, I can’t honestly say that I have.”
            “I looked it up in the dictionary because I was curious as to precisely what it might say. It’s such an interesting word. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? Drown. Drown. Drowning. It sounds almost as morbid as the meaning behind it. The latter definition is almost as unsettling as the first, though, when you think about it. You can’t just stick to the first definition, mind you, doctor. You have to read them all. ‘To die under water of liquid or other suffocation.’ Yes, of course, we all know that one. We were all trying so hard to avoid it that night, though I’m not sure any of us thought of the true cause of death—freezing. Nevertheless, the Atlantic that night was full of over two thousand persons trying hard not to succumb to the first definition of the word drown.
            “If you’ll read further, however, my good man, you’ll come up with another definition. ‘To overwhelm as if to render inaudible, as by a louder sound.’ Dr. Morgan, since I’ve arrived back in New York City, I’ve heard all sorts of loud sounds. Whistles, horns, people shouting, doors slamming, music playing. Some of them startle me because I now have a new association with each of them. I can’t imagine what might happen should I ever again hear the loud popping sound of a firecracker exploding, much like the distress signal that was fired off that night. But one thing that still eludes me, Dr. Morgan, is the second part of that definition—a louder sound, one that renders the original sound inaudible.”
            “I’m not sure I know exactly what you mean.”
            “It’s quite simple, really, Dr. Morgan. I’ve come here, I continue to come here, because I’m hoping that you can help me extinguish, or otherwise drown out the constant noise I’m hearing, not with my ears but with my mind. Not just while I’m sleeping but even when I’m awake. It never stops. It’s there all the time. And, Dr. Morgan, while I’m quite certain that a psychiatrist of your caliber is just as capable as anyone in the world at helping me with this problem, I must admit I’m afraid it might be a lost cause.”
            “Why do you say that, Mr. Ashton?”
            “Because, Dr. Morgan, it’s been nearly six months since Titanic sank, and I still hear them. I still hear the screams, the wails, the cries for help. I still hear the thrashing sound of two thousand people desperately trying to survive, trying to accept option one and fight for their lives, for those of the ones they love, many of which were right there with them, freezing to death, being dragged under by the pull of the Atlantic. I’m afraid, Dr. Morgan, that I’ve reached the startling conclusion that, despite the irony of the word itself, there’s no helping my situation. Quite frankly, kind sir, I’m of the opinion that nothing drowns out the sound of drowning.”
            Dr. Laurie Morgan was silent for some time, taking in the statement his patient had so decidedly declared, not sure how to respond. Eventually, he cleared his throat, and taking off his spectacles, he picked up a cleaning cloth off of the desk beside him and began to carefully clean the lenses. “Mr. Ashton…” he began.
            “Please, call me Charlie.”
            “Right. Charlie, I do think there is an answer, that we will find a way to make the noises stop, or at least lessen. I understand you’ve been through the sort of traumatic experience only a few people can identify with. However, I believe if we continue to work together, we will eventually see results, and you’ll begin to feel much better.”
            Charlie ran a hand through his hair and let out a deep sigh. He wanted to believe the doctor. He’d already made some progress in the few months they had been working together, but he didn’t know for sure if there was any solution. Today had been a bit of a breakthrough in that he was able to tell the doctor precisely what it was that was still troubling him. Choosing to be optimistic, he nodded, and reaching over next to him on the lounger he refused to lie on, he grabbed his hat before standing. Dr. Morgan rose out of his chair and stepped forward, and Charlie had to tip his head and peer down at the much shorter man. “Thank you for your time, doctor.” He extended his hand, and the doctor shook it. “I will see you next week.”
            “Thank you, Charlie,” Dr. Morgan replied. “Yes, next week. I hope to work on finding some answers then.”

            Charlie nodded and forced a smile, thinking that might be all but impossible. He headed for the office door, and waving goodbye, he let himself out. The receptionist, an older woman with graying hair, smiled at him, and Charlie wished her a good day before making his way down and out of the office building into the busy streets of New York where amidst a crowd of thousands, he felt just as alone as he had when he’d been floating in a sea of faces in the frigid Atlantic.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Day in the Life of an Indie Writer!

Today is Sunday, and even though I am watching the Chiefs beat the Eagles and will definitely watch the Cowboys play the Broncos, I'm also working. Now that I am a full-time writer, I have to use every moment I can when I'm not "momming" to work on writing and all of the other stuff that goes along with attempting to be a successful Indie author. So, here is a look at my day so far!

1) Check email--get rid of all that junk I don't need but haven't unsubscribed from. See an email from another awesome writer who wants to do an email newsletter swap, email her back, set up dates, reduce price on Cordia's Will: A Civil War Story of Love and Loss so that it's a good price for her readers on Sept. 22. (Incidentally, it's now 99 cents for you, too! You can pick it up here.)
Cordia's Will is only 99 cents for a limited time!


2) Check on my Prelude Kindle Scout campaign. See that (surprisingly!) we are still in Hot and Trending!

Nominate Prelude on Kindle Scout and you could get it for free!

3) Check in on KBoards and comment in response to a witty post by the amazing author Steve Vernon whose Kelpie Dreams is awesome, and you can find it here.

4) Check on my Facebook, Amazon Marketing Service, and Bookbub ads (no, I didn't actually get a Bookbub, but I have been approved to run ads with their peeps, so I do that a bit.)

5) Re-price 1000 keywords on an AMS ad because it's not working too well. (This takes a loooong time.)

6) Check my email subscription and the report from my last newsletter.

7) Check my Instafreebie links. (I just listed The Doll Maker's Daughter at Christmas for FREE last night, and you can get it here!)
Download Doll Maker on Instafreebie! Read the whole novel for free!


8) Set up a FREE promo for Transformation for Oct. 7-10.
Transformation will be free October 7-10. Read it for 99 cents today!


9) See that Illumination is now life for pre-order for only 99 cents through October 15, and post that to Facebook. Tag my incredible editor.
Pre-order Illumination while it's only 99 cents!


10) Send an email to the incredibly talented JC Clarke at The Graphics Shed about some upcoming book covers she is working on.

11) Decide that some people might not realize how hard Indie authors work so write this blog post!

This is about four hours worth of work, and I haven't written a darn word that counts! My plan is to start writing Melody's Christmas tomorrow and to have it available in November for pre-order. It's my first contemporary romance, but I'm excited about it. I am a huge fan of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, and this one will go right along with those storylines.
Melody's Christmas will be available this winter! The amazing cover is by The Graphics Shed


What are you up to on this Sunday afternoon? Whatever it is, I hope you get to spend some time with your family and friends!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Excerpt from Illumination: The Clandestine Saga Book 5

I'm so excited about Illumination--I can't wait to finish writing it so I can get it out to waiting readers. I'm in the process of writing it right now, but I had to share an excerpt with you. I think you'll be just as excited as I am. Here's one of the exciting plot twists I don't think anyone saw coming (including me!) And please remember this has not been edited yet. (I literally just wrote it.)

***Caution--this contains SPOILERS! If you have not read the first four books in The Clandestine Saga precede with caution! This will ruin it for you!***

Tentative release date for Illumination is Oct. 1, 2017


           Cadence had a hard time tearing her eyes away from her grandmother’s tranquil face, but she did as she was instructed, and at the back of the book, she found a letter-sized envelope with the inscription, “Kid” written on it in familiar writing.
            She was so shocked, she almost dropped the album.
            “What is this?” Cadence asked, almost afraid to touch it.
            “I found it a few day ago when I was looking through the album. It was New Year’s Eve, and I was filling a bit melancholy, missing your grandfather something awful, so I thought I’d have a look at some of the old photos. And that fell out.”
             “When do you suppose he left it?”
            “I’m not sure,” Janette admitted. “He came to visit about a week before the… what do you call it?”
            “Sierraville Incident?” Cadence asked, referring to the operation on which Elliott had lost his life.
            “Yes. He came to visit pretty frequently, especially if he was already in Shenandoah checking on Cassidy. He missed you. A lot. We both did. So… he’d come and visit, and we’d sit and reminisce a bit. I guess he slipped that in while I wasn’t looking.”
            With a deep sigh, Cadence carefully unsealed the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of notebook paper. She unfolded it and began to read.

Dear Kid,

If you are reading this, then something has probably happened to me. You’ve been gone on your “find myself’ tour for about four months now, and I’ve been missing you a lot. I know I can get you on the IAC but that’s not the same as seeing your goofy grin or feeling your tiny punches in my arm whenever I say something out of line. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a little off lately, like something bad is about to happen, and while I’m not sure what it is, there are a few things I wanted you to know in case the “impossible” happens.
First of all, I’m really sorry that I tried to get you kicked off of the team. There were a few reasons for that. Yes, you were a distraction—a bigger distraction than we’ve ever encountered before. It was pretty clear to me from even before the Eidolon Festival that Aaron was completely hung up on you. I think I saw it a long time before he knew it himself. I was there when he handed you off to Hannah, and I remember why he did it, too, though I guess he had pushed those thoughts out of his mind. He was too close to the situation for other reasons then. Now, here you are, a beautiful young lady who clearly has feelings for him. While I couldn’t blame him for being distracted, I was trying to prevent it from happening.
I also didn’t want you to get hurt. I thought maybe he’d assign you to another team. It makes sense—if he was worried about being able to concentrate on doing his job all of those years before when you weren’t even around every day, why not just send you off to another region? I was hoping that the thing with Henry would get you re-assigned, not released. At the time, I was willing to take either one. You were bound and determined to get yourself killed. I still don’t know how you managed to survive those first few hunts.
Once Aaron almost died protecting you, I felt like I had to do something. You needed to go. But by then, I was starting to admire you quite a bit. I’d never seen anything like you. Of course, you know the rest. Taking out Barbarosa was enough to solidify Big E and Little C for life. (Okay—I just made that up right now, but I like it!)
The only problem was, it wasn’t much longer before I started to realize it was going to take something major for Aaron to realize what an idiot he was being. I felt like the universe was shifting in that direction, trying to get his attention. In a way, I think I kind of volunteered myself. I caught myself saying things like, “The two of you will get together if it’s the last thing I do,” more than once, and while it was kind of funny before we knew about titanium bullets and rogue hunters, I’m starting to realize I may have set myself up to take one for the team.
And I’m okay with that, so long as the two of you figure this thing out.
You are meant to be together; that’s clear to me and to everyone else in the world. Now if you would just accept that, you’d make everyone’s lives a bit easier.
I’m sure if something has happened to me that Cass is probably really upset, and I’m very sorry for that. She’s such a good kid. I was so honored to have the opportunity to look out for her for all of those years. Please remind her that I love her very much, and you can let her read this as well if you want to.
Also, I did try to contact Amanda, like you recommended, but I don’t think she’s interested in hearing from me. I do feel better about trying, though. So thanks for that.
I didn’t mean to write a damn book, but I guess I feel better knowing that, if something does happen to me, you’ll at least have a few answers.
All right. Hopefully, this has just been a waste of an hour-and-a-half (What? I’m a slow writer!) and none of this was necessary. But, if something does happen to me, remember that I love you very much. Hope to see you around some time, once in a blue moon.

Love,
Elliott

            Cadence read the letter twice, tears streaming down her face as the sound of his voice filled her head. When she was done, she folded it back up, handed it to her grandmother, and began to sob uncontrollably.
            Janette patted her gently on the back, “There, there, darling. It’s all right,” she whispered quietly. “I’m sure the last thing he would want is to cause you grief all over again.”
            While Cadence knew that was true, it was still very difficult to get a grip on herself. It had been over six months since Elliott had died, and it still seemed like yesterday. 
            Eventually, she was able to get a handle on her emotions, and she excused herself to go into the restroom to wash her face and blow her nose. Sighing, she dried her face off on a towel and tried to get control of herself. What was done was done. Now, she just needed to move forward. There was so much to do and never enough time to do it. Forcing herself not to think about Elliott anymore, she went back to the living room, happy to have received word from him but resolved not to let this distract her.
            When she walked back in, she could see her grandmother reading the letter. She sat down next to her, and saw a tear winding its way down her cheek. “Grandma? Are you okay?” she asked, quietly, placing her hand on her knee.
            “He knew….” she whispered, shaking her head.  Finishing the letter, she inhaled deeply, folded it up, and slid it back into the envelope
            Cautiously, Cadence asked, “What’s that?”
            Grandma Janette took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “If I tell you, I’m certain Aaron will be very cross with me.”
            “Grandma,” Cadence began, “if you and Aaron—and Elliott—have a secret, I think you should let me know about it.”
            Janette opened her weary eyes and looked into Cadence’s. “Do you know what a blue moon is?”
            Caught off guard by the question, instead of a revelation, Cadence wasn’t sure how to respond. “I… don’t know. It’s just an expression, isn’t it? Like ‘see you around’?”
            “Sure. Usually. But a blue moon is a real thing, too. And sometimes people get confused and think it’s something it isn’t.”
            “Grandma, I’m not following,” Cadence replied, scooting back against the couch.
            “Some people think a blue moon is when you have an extra full moon in a season—but that’s not quite right. It’s actually when you have an extra full moon in a month—at least for our purposes. They are both very rare.”
            “Okay…” Cadence said, confused, but doing her best to follow.
            “For thousands of years, people have believed there was something magical about the blue moon.”
            “And what does the blue moon mean to you, Grandma?”
            Once again, Janette took a deep breath. Exhaling, she re-situated herself so that she was turned toward Cadence. “When I was younger, I heard a story about a Guardian who had come back from beyond. He was accidentally killed by a Hunter, and the Hunter felt so terrible, he searched to the ends of the earth to find a way to bring him back. On the night of a blue moon, he took his friend’s ashes out, on a cloudless night, and set them on the ground, urn open. Just as he had been told by an ancient Guardian, a portal opened, and he was able to speak to his friend.”
            “Oh, my goodness,” Cadence sighed.
            “I never believed that was possible. Don’t ask me why. I mean, with all of the things you and I have both seen in our lifetimes, why not? Right? But… after your grandfather died, well I had to give it a try. I wanted to see him again.”
            “And… did it work?”
            “Yes,” Janette replied.
            Cadence’s eyes widened. “You mean, you’ve been able to speak to Grandpa—after he died?”
            “Yes, but only on these rare occasions when the moon is blue, the sky is clear, and the portal is willing to open. It doesn’t always work, darling.”
            Cadence could hardly believe her ears. She leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, her head in her hands. “Why didn’t… why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”
            “Well, I didn’t say anything because… I suppose there’s a reason Aaron didn’t want you to know, dear.”
            “But… if there’s a way that I can see Elliott, talk to him again, why would he want to keep that from me?” Janette pursed her lips, her hands folded in her lap, and Cadence knew immediately there was something else, something she wasn’t saying. “Grandma?”
            “It’s a portal, darling. You know what that means, right?”
            “Are you saying—it’s a doorway?”
            Janette nodded her head once.
            Cadence jumped up off of he sofa and spun to face her grandmother. “It’s a doorway! He can come back?”
            “Calm down, dear!”
            Cadence ran her hands through her long brown hair, tangling her hands at the roots, and began to pull. “Oh, my God! Grandma! Why? Why would Aaron keep this from me? You’re telling me that Elliott could actually come back—walk through a portal from the afterlife—like nothing ever happened—and no one bothered to tell me?”
            “Darling, it’s not that simple,” Janette replied, her voice still calm and even.
            Twirling around to face away from her, Cadence shot back, “Seems pretty damn simple to me.”
            “Cadence Josephine, watch your language,” Grandma Janette scolded.
            Taking a deep breath and crossing her arms, Cadence tried to calm herself. “I’m sorry, Grandma,” she said, slowly turning around to face her. “I guess, I just don’t understand why Aaron wouldn’t tell me this. What in the world could possibly keep him from telling me that we can bring Elliott back? Is there any reason in the world that he wouldn’t want him to come back?”
            “I think that Aaron will have to answer that question for you, sweetheart.”
            Cadence couldn’t think of anything—not one thing—in the whole world that could possibly prevent her from bringing Elliott back if it were possible. And yet, she had to believe there must be something. She collapsed onto the sofa next to her grandma, careful not to jar her, and leaned her head back, staring up at the wide wooden beams of her grandmother’s living room.
            It took her a few moments before she finally collected herself enough to turn her attention back to her grandma. “So… why didn’t Grandpa ever come through?” she asked quietly.

            “Oh, he is quite happy over there,” Janette said with a smile. “One thing I didn’t tell you, that’s very important, is that, once a Guardian comes through, they can never go back. This old fellow I was telling you about, he decided he wanted to go back after a while, and nothing would kill him. Not even a Hunter’s bullet. Nothing. So… while it was possible for your grandfather to come back, I would die eventually, even if I didn’t re-Transform, and then we’d never be together. No, it’s better this way. I can still see him every so often, and he gets to stay on the other side.”

The tentative release date for Illumination is October 1, 2017!