Musings of a YA author throwing herself into the fray. Join me on the journey ...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Awkward 2x5 Recap: My Love is a Black Heart

Sorry for the late post, I was out of town last week and just got caught up on my Awkward. watching. So, here we go...

Awkward. Episode 2x5 Summary and Review in 500 1053 words or less

The Least You Need To Know: After her baptism by fire at Jesus camp with Jake's ex-Lissa, Jenna decides she must forgive herself her trespasses, and that she and Matty can be friends...that is until she sees him sniff his pits over some freshman bimbette.

The Set-Up: Valentine's Day, great and terrible, the day all singletons fear the worst, even more than NYE, has come to pass at Palos Hills High. A KStew situation is going down in the quad prompting a severe case of PTXD--Post Traumatic Ex Disorder. Of which Tamara is also still in the throes of over douche-flame Ricky. But not Jenna, cause she's got Sweetheart Jake, so this year she's a Lover not a Hater.

The Sagging Middle: Matty comes to her for perfect date tips. For Jake perhaps? Jenna gives him pointers. Then Sweetheart Jake arrives with some kind of cutesy, cute stuffed thing. (Guys, It's a Love Bug, he proclaims, but Jenna's too preoccupied scoping out the freshman bimbette Matty's whispering sweet nothings to. She's tall, blonde--your basic nightmare. So, what's the sitch on Matty and the bimbette? Dating? Nah, assures Jake, he's getting ready to tap that like a keg of Natty Light at a moontower party.

Elsewhere, Sadist Sadie proclaims her loathing of Vday, but when Jake's ex-Lissa invites her over for their annual viewing of Mean Girls, Sadie passes. (By the by, loving Lissa's new backbone).  During lunch, Ming reveals that instead of doing cyanide shots with Tamara she's going to the BHP--the infamous Black Hearts Party. Squee! Take me, Tamara begs. No way, says Ming, Ricky S is gonna be there and the rumor from the Tong is he's in lurve. Jenna, however, can't concentrate on anything except the bimbette. Guys, is she cute? she asks. Um, hells yeah, T & Ming concur. Whatever. I'm not jealous, Jenna tells Crazy Cakes. Who is she kidding? Not even herself.

Cute Dad drops Jenna back  home and she informs him their annual father/daughter date is on pause this year because of Sweetheart Jake. In walks Lacey. Totally awkward family reunion ensues, but Cute Dad's not into it. Jenna smarts off about her mom's shenanigans with Crazy Cakes, so Lacey drops the mom-block: curfew's at 10.

It's the perfect date with the perfect boy at the perfect restaurant. Everything's perfect, perfect, perfect...scraaaatch. Matty's there, bimbette in tow. At the table a deux right next to theirs. Gotta be a total setup, right? Bimbette meet Jenna-with-the-big-green-eyes.

The Black Hearts Party is raving. Douche-flame Ricky tosses Tamara a casual howdy-do, sending T into a tailspin of cheap booze and dry humping with randoms.

At the double-date from hell, Jenna's plate is full of something guaranteed to send her into anaphalactic shock. No worries. Matty steps in to take it off her hands. Hey, how does he know and I don't? wonders Sweetheart Jake.  Meanwhile Matty spoonfeeds Bimbette, who practically fellates the fork. Jake's a nervous wreck about this train wreck V-date. Then Jenna totally emasculates him when he wants to buy her a posy from Eliza Doolittle but regrets it when Matty buys tulips for the bimbette. Jenna, pick a team already! And speaking of teams, talk at the table turns to football as romance takes a backseat to bromance. Bimbette leans in for a girl-to-girl gab session - I cannot believe I'm on a date with Matty McKibben! That makes two of us, bemoans Jenna.

Back at the BHP, Tamara continues her downward spiral into Fatal Attraction territory, but pauses for Mings first red cup photo op courtesy of Fred Woo.

Across the table, Jake takes Jenna's hand. Ha! Suck on that Bimbette, you'll never get this with Matty--oops! my napkin. J ducks and finds not only her lost linen, but some Undercover DA at the other table.  Crack!! Head meet table. Jenna consoles herself that at least what she saw was hidden, it isn't. Matty's hand. Bimbette's hand. Entwined. Right there for God and Jenna to see. She flees to confess her seething jealousy to Tamara's VM. Matty shows up with napkin of ice for her bump. Thanks for the date pointers, he says.  See, he IS totally trying to make me jealous, Jenna believes. But, nah, he just wants this to be legit with Bimbette, not like he was with her. Jenna sad. Then in rides Sweetheart Jake with an ice pack. (Not gonna lie--I feel totally sorry for Jake, but also I kinda wanna slap him.)

Ming is totally getting down with Fred Woo, until distraught Tamara sits down for the cockblock. Okay, wrap this up, Ming, while I pee and we're gonna jet. But, of course, the line for the ladies' room is four effin' miles long. Tamara makes for the door and bangs on it. We must pee!! Door flies open to reveal--dundundun!--Sadist Sadie's tongue down Douche-Ricky's throat. Anguished, Tamara's sphincter can hold no more.

Denounement: Ext. Hamilton House. Great date! Jenna assures Jake. Def better than what my Dad had planned, exhibit A: he left a Love Bug for her on the porch, identical to the one Jake gave her earlier. (Dear God, Jenna, don't you see--Jake is just like your dad. Freud, anyone?) Jake presents her with a bouquet of calla lilies--strong and beautiful, just like you, he croons. Way better than tulips, she says. Oops, was that out loud? Don't screw this up, she tells herself. Jake is perfect, perfect, perfect. I love you, Jenna, he professes. Big smile, big kiss, and...Awesome!?! No ditto, no vice-versa, just awesome. Jake leaves, crushed.

Lacey: You're late.
Jenna: Here's a gift from Dad. It's a love bug.
Lacey clings to it like the last life preserver on the Titanic. In Jenna's room, Tamara is sobbing undercover. No more tears, T, cause Sadie & Ricky deserve each other. You have to move on, Jenna preaches. I have (since when, Jenna?) and so should Matty, she thinks. (Easy to say when the bimbette isn't around...)

Best Matty/Jenna moment: When he takes whatever it is off her plate and tells Jake she's allergic.
Best phrase I'm going to start using: Darth Hater

Friday, July 20, 2012

Awkward 2x4 Recap Are You There God? It's Me, Jenna

Okay, I know I haven't yet posted the recap for the epic Three's a Crowd, and I promise I will, but I'm going to jump ahead into last night's religulous experience Are You There God? It's Me, Jenna.

Awkward. Epsiode 2x4 Summary and Review in 500 798 words or less

The Least You Need to Know: Matty is totally trying to sabotage Jenna's relationship with Jake. Also, Lacey is failing in her reconciliation attempts with Kevin aka Cute Dad.

The Set-Up: Guilt! So much guilt. Guilt for being the catalyst in her parents' breakup. Guilt for not telling Jake about Matty. Guilt about still having feelings for Matty??? And to assuage it, the shiny mother ship of guilt--church. Hey, at least there's donuts! But also Jake's ex-Lissa, who invites Jenna to Jesus camp for the weekend, to atone for the all the sinning aka boyfriend theft (and maybe some impure thoughts abouts an ex? just sayin...).

The Sagging Middle: Tamara is not down with this whole weekend cult experience. Do not drink the kool-aid, she warns. But Jenna feels the need for some spiritual healing. Oh, hey, stalker Kyle, waz up with the Jenna Lives band? Broke up. Too much unwanted attention from jocks and pretty boys (wink, wink). We're now Take It Outside. WTF? That's my line, Tamara says.

Sadist Sadie confronts ex-BFF Lissa about her refusal to fall back in line. No way. Lissa blames Sadie for her bad karma. Besides Jenna's gonna be her new bestie. Sadie is not pleased.

Jenna steps into Crazy Cakes's office. I broke up my parents so I'm going to Jesus Camp. Holy! Cute Dad is available? Focus, Crazy Cakes. Jenna, just remember that turning to God is a slippery slope, Val counsels. First it's all hugs and the next thing you know you're bald and handing out leaflets at the airport.

In the quad, hot girls give Matty the eye, but he's blinded by his broken heart. You've got to get over that lame bitch, Jake tells him. What lame bitch? Jenna asks. The one who dumped Matty, Jake reminds. Oh, yeah, me, Jenna remembers. Great idea, bro--let's double date this weekend, Jake invites. Oh, Hells No--I'm going to church camp, declares Jenna. It's gonna be love, peace, and donuts. But who does she spy on the bus to redemption? The anti-Christ, Sadie. Hallelujah?

Rescue me T, Jenna begs from the woods. Sorry, I'm grounded cause of that douche-flame Ricky Schwartz I keep flitting to, says moth-Tamara.  Also, thanks for the stalker.

Like Moses on Mount Sanai, Sadist Sadie lays down the law to Jenna: Lissa is mine. Luckily for Jenna, there's a ubiquitous-YA gay guy to listen to her moan session and teach her a lesson--Own Your Own Shit! In the words of Judy Blume, nobody can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them.

At a bar, Lacey's desperately praying Jenna will call for a rescue. Hey, single lady! calls out Crazy Cakes. No, we're on a break, Lacey replies, cause I can't be single. Whatever, says Val. Let me show you how to break bread in public, alone.

It's come as your favorite biblical character night at camp. Lissa is Eve, Gay Guy is Adam, and Jenna's the serpent, natch. Sadie is Mary, about five seconds from needing a manger.

In the Anno Domini, Tamara demands Kyle cease and desist their stalkership.

Back at camp it's time for share circle! It's like Friends of Bill but with Jesus. Lissa confesses her handiwork prowess with Jake. Ewww! But instead it brings Lissa & Jenna closer to BFF status sending Sadist Sadie into the ninth circle of hell. Hey, Hamilton, how bout that suicide attempt? she reveals to all. It was an accident! Beg forgiveness, sinner, sayeth the circle, or burn forever, or is it purgatory, or--? Jenna snaps--Nevermind. Satan Forever!

Val is on step 3 of showing Lacey how to become a crazy cat lady eat in public alone: it's all about the reading material. And the wine. Much wine. Hey, thanks new bestie! says Lacey. No problem, Val replies. Also, I'm going to ask Cute Dad for a date.

Jenna has an epiphany: beneath the dim cheerleader exterior, Jake's ex-Lissa is a really good person. Hugs.

Denouement: updates: Jenna and Lacey will survive! They've absolved and evolved. And they're not alone, reminds the Anonymous commenter. Who r u? Jenna asks. Not God...

Jenna reveals to Tamara the secret to happiness: compassion. Too bad Tamara has none for stalker  Kyle. If you're gonna stalk me, she says, here's some lite reading. She hands him an All About Tamara scrapbook.

Lissa decides to reconcile with Sadie, realizing that Sadist Saxton is her cross to bear.

Matty apologizes to Jenna about what happened at the quad. You're not a lame bitch, you're boyfriend said that. No worries. Truce? Sure. A tall blonde walks by. Hey, Matty, she purrs. Matty is no longer oblivious, and sniffs his pits. Oh, Sweet Jesus.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Awkward. Episode 2x2 Recap

Episode 2x2 Sex, Lies & The Sanctuary Summary and Review in 500 948 words or less
The Least You Need To Know: Jenna’s still with Jake. Matty asked for a 2nd chance, but Jenna was all “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”, so long.
The Set-up: The bliss continues for Jenna as she strolls publicly hand-in-hand with Sweetheart Jake cause he’s not ashamed to be seen with her, even in that tragic outfit she’s wearing. Hey, what’s going down at the Sanctuary? Holy Homeland Security! There’s a camera pointed right at thehigh school’s sex cave. How long has that been there?!?  Jenna prays she and Matty don’t have a starring role in the Palos Hills High Sex Tape.
The Sagging Middle: The footage has been snatched. Mass hysteria prevails. Matty is trying to convince himself that he is not playing the part of Tommy Lee/Ray-J/Rick Salomon on the tape, while Jake moans about his girlfriend’s hymen-less status. Whoa! Back up the cherry tree, Matty says. Are you tapping Hamilton? Not yet, opines Jake. Thanks god—I mean, that’s the past, bro, assures Matty. Chill. Oh, hey, J-town. Don’t J-Town me—did you tell Jake about us? No ways, but pics don’t lie, so we better get our story straight, luvah.
To quell any scandal potential, the principal asks Crazy Cakes to use her insider ways with the kiddoes to procure the whereabouts of said sex tape. She and Jenna attempt to shake down each other for some info, but hit a wall. The Great Wall that is. J and Tamara convince Ming she has to play her Asian card to get the intel. So Ming must kowtow to Becca, leader of the school’s tong. Ming doesn’t really fit in being neither a School Asian (low SATs) or a Cool Asian (no affair with singer of an indie rock band), but Becca agrees to help. Sushi, anyone? Also, here’s the answers to tomorrow’s history test. Use it and stop making us look bad. Ming is enchanted.
At home, Lacey has made all of Jenna’s favorite foods, but J’s not hungry and wants Lacey  to reveal her “A Friend” nom de plume to Cute Dad. But Lacey’s too scared and besides she totally regrets it now. Too little, too late, Jenna declares. Tell Dad or I will.
Next day at school, fear of the sex tape’s contents runs rampant in the hallways. I must tell Jake,  Jenna decides.Call off the Asian mafia. But it’s too late for that Becca tells Ming. The DVD will be delivered as promised tomorrow.
In the boy’s locker room, Matty and Jake are bantering about thongs and such (they have the best chemistry on the show), especially since Jake seems to have grown some lady bits himself. My girlfriend’s not a virgin, wah wah wah. You must chill, dude, insists Matty. But she loved him, bro—how can I compete? Jake replies. Love? Really? Matty takes off, man-on-a-mission styles.
Hey, J-Town, am I still your one and only? Cause, I lurve you, declares Matty, sweet smile of relief on his lips. See, be careful what you wish for, Jenna…
Later, Jakes all: Tell me, I gotta know who it was. Never mind. It doesn’t matter cause I’m super-sensitive Sweetheart Jake and all that matters is that you’re with me now. Gag. So, Jenna’s off that hook. Except, Tamara warns her that if Matty’s willing to say the L-word now, he could go all Jason Bourne on J&J’s romance. And how’s Jake gonna feel then when the video goes viral, in 10, 9, 8, 7…
No worries! Matty & J aren’t on the DVD Becca tells Ming. Crazy Cakes swipes it and hands it over to a very sweaty principal who wants  to shut down some sexy times evidence of his own—resulting in a VP promotion for Crazy Cakes, apparently evil Becca’s plan all along. While Ming comes to the realization that she’s been jumped into the Asian mafia, Jenna basks in the afterglow of getting away with her sexcapade, until she gets a Meet Me text from Matty.
We’re in the clear, he says. So, what about the L- bomb I dropped on you earlier? Again, too little, too late, she says. I’m so sorry, J-town, but please don’t tell Jake. He can’t stand to lose his girl and his bestie. Poor Matty. (Whew! Now that the apology is out of the way, the road is paved to a future reconciliation.) updates: About the secrets, Jake won’t ask, Matty won’t tell, and mom’s in the closet.  Ping!  Anon commenter reminds Jenna it’s her mom’s secret to tell. In the end it doesn’t matter, because Lacey finally comes clean to Cute Dad (whose name is Kevin apparently). There’s a knock at Jenna’s back door which sets up the obligatory be-hymen reference. It’s Jake, he’s nervous—why did Jenna want to talk? Because she’ not “in” love with that other guy anymore, she’s “in”vested in Jake (vested is so not the same as love, I would like to point out). They kiss and it’s totally…asexual. Guy’s there is no heat with this couple. Like I said before, Jake Rossati will not make it out of the friend zone.
Best quote I’m totally gonna use: Amasian-ing!
Best Jenna/Matty moment: The adorbs little smile  Matty gives after he declares his love.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's baaaacccckkkk...Awkward. Recaps

So,  I am way behind on these, but I plan to get the recaps for the first three eps up before the new one on Thursday. Enjoy!

Episode 2x1 Resolutions Summary and Review in 500 753 words or less

The Least You Need To Know: While it’s been 9 long months for us since Awkward.’s first season finale in which Jenna chose Sweetheart Jake over High School Fantasy (HSF) Matty and discovered that it was her mom, Lacey, who authored the infamous Care-frontation letter, in fair Palos Verde it’s been a mere fortnight since these events came to pass.

The Set-up: Tis the night before Christmas, and nothing is stirring except Jenna’s mouse as she catches up on her blogging (Nice to know she’s not the only one who falls behind. Ahem.) The news to her readership: Jake = Bliss. Well, maybe bliss is too strong a word, but definitely more happy-like. And guess what? Jake invites her to update her relationship status to GFF. But is she ready for such a visible commitment while visions of sugar plum Matty still dance in her head?

The Sagging Middle: Christmas morn, family presents around the Hamilton tree. Playing the role of Joan Crawford, Lacey tries to buy her way out of guilt with some bling for her baby girl, while from Cute Dad …a Costco-size box of condoms?!? Awkward.

Skip ahead and it’s time to party like it’s 2012. Jenna’s on the phone with Tamara, who’s still the moth to Ricky Schwartz’s douche-flame. Also, even though Jenna knows about her mom’s role in her non-suicide attempt, she’s keeping it on the DL for now. But Lacey notices her daughter’s growing distance. Could it be because Jake hasn’t made their relationship online official? Gah! Parents just don’t understand, Jenna blogs, as a comment from Anonymous pops up. WTW? Who’s cyber stalking Jenna? (Odds on favorites: Matty or Lacey)

Matty is the NYE host with the most which makes everything totes awkward for Jenna. Luckily, Ming and Tamara are already there cause Jenna is still wigged out by her Anon commenter. Meanwhile, Jake’s ex-Lissa wants to repent her sins against Jenna Old Testament styles—a slap for a slap. And while Jenna gives the webmaster a free pass, the same cannot be said for the Lissa-Sadie ex-BFF relaysh. In the kitchen, Matty’s getting the scoop on the sitch between his bestie and his girl, while Jenna hovers in the pantry. RING, RING!! It’s Crazy Cakes! Aw, Val, I’ve missed you so.

Crazy Cakes is a stood-up mess, but Jenna can’t help right now because she’s decided what she really needs for the new year is closure with Matty. Except that’s not what Matty wants. Oh, no. He wants a second chance. So meet him in the basement at midnight, he pleads, and--in the douchiest Matty moment ever—volunteers to tell Sweetheart Jake himself, who’s sure to understand once he knows it was Matty who tapped Jenna first. WTF????

Anywho, said Sweetheart is whining to Ming and Tamara about the too-long delay of his online girlfriend request. ‘Cept T doesn’t have time for this cause Ricky’s scamming some bimbette on the sofa.  So Jake posits the question to Jenna who’s all deflect, missing cat, deflect. And then…Crazy Cakes arrives to save the day and eventually helps J realize that you can’t let past disappointments hold you back.

10 seconds till midnight: who’s Jenna gonna choose? Sweetheart Jake or HSF Matty? Matty, Matty, Matty…but it’s Jake who gets kissed into the New Year. Which pretty much drives drunkass Matty into the arms of unrequited-luvah Sadie. Luckily, he passes out mid-ab reveal. Phew! Crisis averted.

On to the resolutions portion of the program:
Tamara = No more Ricky. For reals this time. Wait…awww, Ricky.
Lissa = WWJD? For Life
Jenna = No resolutions, and, okay, a slap for Jake’s ex-Lissa.

Denouement: Jake sees Jenna’s econo-box o’condoms. Wow! I’m getting lucky. Oh, don’t feel so special, Sweetheart Jake, my dad gets them for all my boyfriends. What? Yeah, but only for those I REALLY love. That was TMI. Please don’t leave! Hell’s no, I’m totally getting laid! Okay, but if we’re gonna do IT then I really have to change my online status to Jake’s GF for everyone to see. Oh, and confront my mom.  Also, who the hell is this Anonymous commenter?

Best quote: “I am tore up from the floor up; I am beat up from the feet up; and, I need a check up from the neck up.”

Best Matty/Jenna moment: When they awkwardly hug/fist bump each other at the party.

Best scene: Sadie licking the cheese flavor from the Doritos.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Doomed Excerpt

Sorry, guys!  The weekend got away from me.  Here's the new excerpt from Doomed.  Hope you like it :)

“That’s not the really puzzling part,” Agent Lessing finally continues.  “Especially if you insist on your innocence in this matter, how is it that starting at seven-fifteen this morning, someone from this IP address opened the twelve different sections of code that make up this worm and uploaded them onto the internet, one by one?”

Emily gasps and I want to protest.  I want to tell the FBI agent that she’s crazy.  That I have no idea what she’s talking about.  But the truth of the matter is that suddenly I do.  I know exactly what I was doing at seven-fifteen this morning.

The tentative fairy tale I’ve been building in my head all day—the one I wasn’t even aware of until right now—collapses.  I swear, I feel it shatter and my stomach, though close to empty, chooses that moment to revolt.

 I spring up from my chair.

“Hey, you can’t go anywhere.  Sit back down!”  Lessing tells me firmly, reaching into her jacket and pulling out her gun.

I don’t stop; I can’t.  Even so, I barely make it to the trash can in time.  I don’t know how long I sit there, puking my guts up, but by the time I finish, Lessing has put away her gun.  Emily is looking at me in dismay, while Mackaray and Lundstrom—who rushed in at Lessing’s alarmed shout—are wearing identical expressions of smug triumph.  Even Lessing seems satisfied, and I know it’s because I’ve blown it big time.

            It’s pretty hard to protest your innocence when you get so upset by what they’re telling you that you hurl.

I don’t get up right away.  Instead, I stay on the floor, my head resting against the cool wood of a cabinet.  I think about my laptop, stuffed in my backpack, with all the incriminating evidence on it.  I think about what else is in the bag—namely the pictures from my father that I’d shoved in there at the last minute.  All twelve of them.

            I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why me, and the answer has been there all along.  The psychopath who did this, the one who chose me as this harbinger of destruction, is my father. 

            He did this to me.  Used my curiosity against me—and the world—and turned me into a modern-day Pandora.  Like my namesake before me, I’ve brought a new kind of evil into the world and there’s no going back.  Maybe Emily’s dad and the others can fix it.  Maybe they can’t.  But either way, I have a feeling that deep, dark hole they want to throw me in just got a lot deeper and darker.

            Every writing campaign I’ve ever partaken in for Amnesty International flashes through my head.  Letter after letter about Guantanamo Bay.  Sierra Leon.  Somalia.  Story after story of Americans taken to foreign countries and tortured because they’re suspected of terrorism. 

Even as I tell myself I’m being silly, I hear the president saying the United States doesn’t tolerate terrorists.  That’s what I am, what my father has turned me into with a few strokes of my keyboard, a few picture downloads that I thought were to celebrate my seventeenth birthday.

            A cyber terrorist.

            I reach for the trash can again as dry heaves shake my entire body. 

What am I going to do?  What am I going to do?      What. Am. I. Going. To. Do?

            Behind me, I hear movement and brace myself to be yanked to my feet.  But that doesn’t happen.  Instead, Emily settles on the ground next to me and hands me a bottle of water.  I rinse my mouth out, drink a few sips.  Then she’s hugging me, stroking my hair.  “It’s going to be okay, Pandora,” she whispers to me.  “I promise. It’s going to be okay.”

            I open my mouth, plan on telling them everything and begging for mercy.  Instead, only four words come out.  Four words I never thought I’d say.  “I want a lawyer.”

            “A lawyer?”  Mackaray’s eyes gleam with triumph as he crouches down next to me.  “Pandora, where you’re going, lawyers rank right up there with fairies and unicorns as mythical creatures.”

            “You can’t do that!” Emily protests.  “She didn’t do anything wrong!  My father—“

            “Your father is one of an elite few who could pull off something of this magnitude, Ms. Wood.”  Lundstrom speaks up for the first time in a long while.  “So I suggest you close your mouth unless you want to bring a lot of trouble down on him as well.”

            Emily shuts up then, her eyes wide and frightened as she presses her back against the cabinet, almost like she wants to shrink inside.  The arms wrapped around me start to tremble, but I barely notice since I’m shaking just as hard.

            “She didn’t do anything,” I tell them, wondering if I should just tell them everything? 

If I should send them next door to retrieve my laptop from Eli and Theo and get them involved in this? 

Do I admit that my father is behind this and let them arrest him, lock him up and throw away the key like they’re threatening to do to me?  But if I admit I had an unwitting part in this, are they going to believe me?  The looks on their faces say no, that they’ve already made up their minds about my guilt.  My best bet, then, is to wait for Mr. Wood.  He’s one of the best computer security guys in the country.  He’ll know what to do.

I shut down then, refuse to say anything else.  They keep asking me questions, but I ignore them.  Even when Mackaray grabs onto my arms and lifts me into a standing position, I don’t protest.  I’ll wait for Mr. Wood, I tell myself.  He’ll be able to fix this.

As we wait, the house grows quiet around me.  The front door opens and closes numerous times and I hear the slam of car doors outside.  The rev of engines that mark the end of the search.  Everyone else has done their jobs and now I’m left alone with these three.

Mr. Wood finally arrives, with a police escort.  He’s all outrage and concern as he wraps his arms around us, but it becomes clear very quickly that he won’t be able to help me.  He’s not my parent or guardian and no matter how much he argues with the agents—he knows two of them personally—they aren’t budging.  But at least Emily seems safe, and that’s something.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I say, after Mr. Wood’s been here about an hour.  They’ve told him both he and Emily are free to go, but he hasn’t budged.  I know it’s because he doesn’t want to leave me alone with them.

“Tough,” Lundstrom tells me.  “You’re not going anywhere.”

“Jesus, Mike, she’s just a kid!”  Mr. Wood exclaims. 

“She unleashed cyber Armageddon—computer genius trumps kid every day of the week.”

“Please,” I say.  “I really need to use the restroom.”  Even though I don’t.  I just want a couple of minutes alone to think, a couple of minutes where they aren’t staring at me like a bug under a microscope.

“I’ll take her,” Mackaray finally says, and I almost change my mind.  I don’t want to be alone with him, even for as long as it takes to walk to my bathroom.  But it’s not like I have a choice now, not after I made such a big deal of having to go.

We leave the kitchen together and when I try to head upstairs to my bathroom, he grabs my elbow and directs me to the half-bath down the hall.  The one without any windows.  I shake my head in disbelief.  They already think I’m some kind of genius hacker-- now they think I can mastermind an escape from federal custody as well?  Who the hell do these people think I am?

“Leave the door open,” Mackaray tells me when we get there.

“What?” I stare at him incredulously.

“You heard me.”  The face staring back at me is implacable.

“Where am I going to go?  There’s no other way out of the bathroom!”

“Take it or leave it.”  Something moves in his eyes and I know he’s waiting for me to leave it.  But I won’t give him the satisfaction.

“Does your wife know you get your kicks by listening to teenage girls pee?”

The hand on my elbow gets tighter, his fingers digging into my flesh until I start to see stars.  He pulls me towards him and whispers, “You don’t want to play games with me, little girl.  I win every time.”

I’m straining so hard in the other direction that when he finally lets me go, I stumble, crack my funny bone hard against the door frame.  He laughs, at me and at the helpless tears of pain that spring to my eyes.

I go into the bathroom, leaving the door partially ajar.  I turn on the faucet, splash water on my face, blink back the tears.

“Hurry up!” he says after a minute.  “We don’t have all night.”

Before I can respond, the lights blink once, twice, then go out completely.  My entire house is plunged into an inky blackness.

“What the hell!”  Mackaray says, slamming the bathroom door open all the way.  “Either get it done or not, kid.  You’ve got one minute and then I’m taking you back to the kitchen.”

I barely hear him over the pounding of my own heart and the panic clawing through me, trumping everything else.  Even my fear of going to jail.  I hate the dark, hate it, hate it, hate it.  Ever since I was five and ended up getting trapped in my uncle’s storage shed, under a pile of heavy boxes that fell when I was looking for my Christmas presents.  There’d been no lights, or windows, and I’d laid there in the dark for hours, crying, convinced that no one was ever going to find me.

Curiosity had been my downfall then as well.

“Tom?”  Lessing’s voice drifts through the hall.


“Just checking.  It looks like the whole grid just went down.”

“I can see that.”  Lessing must catch the sarcasm in his voice because she shuts up quickly.

“Pandora—“  In his voice is a warning and I know my time is up.  But he stops abruptly and there’s a muffled thump, followed by a slithering sound that has me imagining a bunch of snakes sliding down my hallway.  I press myself back against the wall and try not to scream.

Something large moves in front of the doorway.  “Pandora?”

“Theo?” I whisper incredulously.

He leans forward, until his face is only centimeters from mine.  “Let’s go.”  His voice is pitched so low that I have to strain to hear it even this close.

“Go where?”

“Out of here.  Come on, we’ve only got a couple of minutes before they come looking for you.”

“Looking for—you want me to break out of federal custody?”

“Would you rather I leave you here?”

“I don’t know.  I—“ My head is spinning.  Of all the ways I envisioned tonight ending, this wasn’t even in the top thousand.  “Where’s Mackaray?”

“I hit him.  He’s out, but I don’t know for how long.  Now are you coming or not?”

Am I?  I look back at the kitchen, where Emily and her father wait with the other agents.  I can’t leave her—

It’s like Theo can read my thoughts, because he says, “Emily will be fine.  She’s not the one in trouble here.”

He’s right; I know he is.  But still.  Can I do this?  Bad enough to be a federal suspect—but to be a fugitive?  How is it even possible?  They’ll find us in minutes.

Except, the electricity just went out.  Communications are gone.  No cameras to catch us running by.  No way to get out word of a widespread manhunt (or in this case womanhunt).  No way for them to track me when they’re basically blind, deaf and dumb. It could work.

But still, do I really want to do this?  Do I really want to go down this road?

Hell, yes, I do.

I slip my hand into Theo’s, not bothering to ask how he knew I was in trouble, and we glide as silently as possible through the hallway into the living room.  He seems to know exactly where he’s going and I wonder how long he’s been here, prowling around the house, without anyone knowing. 

He slides open the glass door that leads to the deck just enough that we can slip out.  As he silently closes the door behind us, I realize this is it. 

I really have reached the point of no return.

Enjoy! And remember to leave a comment to be entered to win the ARC!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Doomed Cover Reveal

I am so, so excited about finally-- after months of talking about it to anyone who will listen-- being able to reveal the brand new cover for Doomed, my January 2013 Armageddon YA novel!!!!!  I am ridiculously excited about this book (maybe because I researched and worked harder on it than any of my other books EVER-- which is saying something as I love to research :).  Anyway, Doomed is my retelling of the Pandora's Box myth, except instead of opening a box, my Pandora opens an attachment and hearkens technological Armageddon in the form of an MMO and a Stuxnet type computer worm. 

So, with no further ado ... Here's the Cover:

And here's a brief overview of what the book is about:

Beat the Game, Save the World.

One Stuxnet type worm,

One Greek-themed MMO,

One real world scavenger hunt,

Three teenagers on the run

And a ten-day countdown to total nuclear annihilation .

Pandora’s Box isn’t just a myth anymore …

When seventeen-year-old Pandora Walker opens an email attachment, she uploads the most frightening worm ever invented—and in doing so, brings about total technological Armageddon. Everything from the internet to communications to utilities collapses and suddenly Pandora finds herself on the run from Homeland Security, the FBI and every police department in the country, all of whom blame her for the technological wasteland sweeping across the U.S..  With the help of stepbrothers Eli and Theo, her neighbors and the two hottest guys in school-- plus codes encrypted in a world famous MMO--  she sets out on a real life scavenger hunt that only she can solve.  A scavenger hunt that pits her against one of the most brilliant men in the world—the maker of the Pandora worm.  Her father.  Only by unraveling the clues left by him in the MMO, and in real-world places around the U.S., can they hope to beat the clock ticking the days off until the entire planet is Doomed. 

And, in case you're still with me, here's the prologue:

 My seventeenth birthday starts with betrayal.
It ends the same way, but that’s a different part of the story.  At least for now.
I know that's a terrible tease, so I promise to post more tomorrow-- and all through the weekend.  Post a comment on any of my posts between now and Sunday night and be entered to win an ARC of Pandora along with a signed copy of Tempest Rising and some fun swag.  And if you tweet, facebook or blog about Doomed, you'll get extra entries.  Thanks so much for stopping by and helping me celebrate Doomed's brand new cover!!!!