Unbullied – Chapter 1

photo 4

Unbullied is a YA novella that I coauthored with my granddaughter under pen names  Alexa & Angel

Dumas. We dedicate this book to victims of bullying across the country and around the world.

Bullying is a serious issue that affects millions of children.

 

Chapter 1

 

Daddy would never do this to me. Never. The thought buzzed in Kylee Sidhu’s head like a swarm of wasps.

Sitting on the edge of her bed, she stared in mid-air, tense energy pulsing in her ears. She pressed two fingers to her temples to calm her roiling emotions, but her anxiety slowly morphed into anger, slicing through her mind like a knife through butter.

How could she stay calm when Coquitlam was the last place on earth she wanted to be? Deep in thought, she hugged her knees, resting her chin on them. These feelings had been storming through her since Amelia Bennett Sidhu—her mother—announced her decision. HER decision.

Kylee’s opinions didn’t seem to matter to Amelia—although they should have—now more than ever, because now it was Kylee and Amelia against the world.

A crease formed between her eyebrows as the image of herself stared back from a full-size mirror hung on her door.

She’d been told she was pretty to a fault. Her freckle-sprinkled nose twitched. Now, she didn’t see beauty. All she saw was misery. The usual sparkle in her green eyes was gone and replaced only by sadness and something else…

Frustration.

Constantly, Amelia told her she loved her, but her actions proved otherwise.

Why didn’t she ever listen to what Kylee had to say? She was her mother. Wasn’t listening part of motherhood?

Had she ever heard Kylee’s concerns? Likely not—not the words, not the door slamming, not the angry exchanges.

So they had packed ten suitcases with their most precious possessions, and Charlie—their dog. At least, Amelia had agreed to bring Charlie.

A suppressed, almost silent groan forced its way from behind Kylee’s gritted teeth. Her dark hair gleamed under the fluorescent light as she shook her head.

Why did we have to move to this God-forsaken town? I hate her! Kylee’s mind screamed.

Everything was different here. No, everything was the exact opposite from their lives in London. Their house was old, not new. The streets were quiet, not noisy. The ground was sloping, not flat—in fact, their house stood on a hill high enough to reach God. And, to top it all, she had no friends in Coquitlam. Likely, she never will.

And what the heck kind of name is that? Why couldn’t we stay in a town with a name that I could actually pronounce? And spell.

Not one good reason to move, except her mother’s new job—English Professor at the University of British Columbia—which according to her mother, would allow them to live a very comfortable life.

We had a comfortable life. In London.

In less than a week, Kylee would start school.

“You’ll make new friends,” her mother had repeatedly told her.

“That’s not fair,” she had protested, and like most fourteen-year-olds, Kylee guessed, she did her best to hate her mother for making her move.

“Look, we need to do this, you know that.”

No, she didn’t know that. If there was a point to her mother’s argument, Kylee must’ve missed it, but clearly, her mother had made up her mind. Nothing that Kylee said or did would change Amelia’s mind, so Kylee stopped arguing. In fact, beyond the absolute necessary exchanges, she stopped talking with her mother altogether.

Now, what? she wondered.

Would she make new friends, like her mother had promised, or would she eat alone at lunch? Would she ever go to a school dance? Would she ever go to the malls?

QuestionsQuestionsQuestions.

She had left all her friends behind in London. Noah was her best friend in the whole world. She and Noah had known each other their whole lives.

Kylee’s gaze shifted to a picture of her and Noah, propped against a lamp. The picture of them, holding hands as they learned to walk, was taken on their first birthday. She picked it up and sighing, she gently caressed her thumb over Noah’s face.

He was five thousand miles away. They had promised to email and call each other every day. But realistically, they both knew that even if they kept their promise for a while, it would never last. It was human nature to leave the past in the past. In fourteen years of life, she’d learned that much.

Frustrated and scared, Kylee slouched back between soft pillows piled against the headboard. Hugging her knees to her chest again, she searched her mind for a seed of hope. Her research had revealed that Canadians were warm and welcoming people.

Perhaps you should just relax, Kylee, and see what happens, she tried to comfort herself.

“Mum told me that if I stay out of everyone’s way, I should be okay,” Kylee scorned aloud. The silence didn’t argue with her.

She laughed. Probably the most pathetic, sad laugh that ever left her mouth. She heard the despair in it, as a soft knock on the door interrupted her parody. The door opened, and Amelia peered into the room.

“Are you all settled?” her mother asked in her soft British accent.

Kylee’s eyes shifted away from her mother. She was still upset with her.

“Oh, come on, sweetheart. Don’t tell me you will never speak to me again.”

Kylee rolled her eyes but said nothing. Amelia reached and gently patted her daughter’s back. “You know I need this job. Hopefully, now we can start fresh here.”

“You’ve ruined my life!” Kylee shouted louder than she’d intended. Lowering her feet to the ground, she stomped into her bathroom slamming the door behind her.

***

Amelia sighed and walked out of the room, closing the door with a soft click. She stopped and in a moment of desperation, pressed her palm against the door.

What am I going to do with you, Kylee?

She inhaled deeply and released it in frustration. If she knew something about her daughter, she knew she would not be able to sway Kylee’s standpoint tonight.

Teenage hormones, she found herself thinking, but deep down she knew it was more than that. Since she’d made the announcement, she had often pondered if aliens had abducted her real daughter, because that’s how turned backward she was.

Amelia knew Kylee had reached those special years—torn between the easy life of a child and the enthralling one of a teen, but Amelia felt there was more. A lot more. She had a feeling Kylee blamed her for Rahul’s death.

Kylee had not cried since January 27th, the day her father died, but her school counselor had told Amelia not to worry.

“She’s still in shock. Even if she blames you, she doesn’t really mean it,” Ms. Lancelot had said.

Perhaps it was my fault.

If she hadn’t argued with him, Rahul wouldn’t have taken his eyes off the road.

NoNoNo. I will not go there again.

But just then, the sound of someone’s tires screeching on the pavement outside, sliced through the silence like a high-pitched scream, triggering old memories.

Amelia closed her eyes, fighting images that played at the edge of her mind. However, the wailing sounds proved to be stronger, and fragmented colors pulled together forming images from that fateful day. Each new picture felt more vivid than the last, reminding Amelia that her husband was dead, and she might have been responsible.

She shivered. The memories persisted. Emotional. Scornful. As usual, guilt swept over her.

She was there again…smelling burned rubber and hearing metal parts grinding on the icy road.

The snow had fallen in thick fluffy flakes over a compact layer of ice, and Rahul seemed to think that because he drove a four-wheel-drive he didn’t need to worry about road conditions.

Amelia and Rahul had been celebrating their fourteenth wedding anniversary when they got into an argument about Amelia wanting to return to work full time.

They carried their argument outside the restaurant and into the car, each getting more heated as the words flew back and forth.

Amelia remembered it vividly. “Why can’t you understand, Rahul? You refuse to see how important this is to me.”

“When Kylee was born we agreed that you would be a stay-at-home mom. Now you want to leave our young daughter to fend for herself. You know she’s at a vulnerable age.” Rahul hit the steering wheel with the flat of his hand, frustration emanating from him in waves. “We don’t need the money, Amelia.”

“It’s not about the money. I miss my job. I miss my life outside of being just Kylee’s mom or Rahul’s wife. I need to be Amelia, too. Please try to understand.”

He cut a glance at her, which clearly said he did not understand. They were still arguing as they approached the turnoff, Amelia knew that Rahul was going too fast, but before she could say it aloud, the car skidded and flipped. Everything seemed surreal as the car rolled in slow motion. Amelia couldn’t tell how many times it rolled or even when it stopped rolling.

Slowly, she became aware of the metallic taste of blood in her mouth. The car settled, engulfing her in silence as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

Two weeks later, she awoke in the hospital—the same day Rahul died.

From that point on, Amelia seemed just to go through the motions of life. She had loved him so much that the news of his death had brought her whole world crumbling down. Therapy had helped, but her attitude generally might have rubbed on Kylee.

No, no, no! I’ll not go there again. I won’t waste time on things I can’t change. It was just an unfortunate accident.

Brushing her dark thoughts away, Amelia walked into her tiny kitchen, considering what to make for dinner. She had two choices—frozen convenience food, or stuff she needed to chop and season.

I’m definitely not chopping anything tonight.

She grabbed a frozen lasagne out of the freezer and slammed it into the oven. Brushing her hands at a job well done, Amelia headed for the living room where she collapsed into an oversize rocking chair. She flicked through the television channels, trying to find a good show—one that would cheer her up.

Flu season had started and threatened to be a bad one. ISIS had kidnaped more Western journalists. More beheadings in the Middle East. A teenage girl was arrested in Toronto after stabbing five people, including one of her teachers.

Is there any good left in this world? Amelia wondered.

The screen flickered its images through her mind as if the whole world had turned upside down. She shook her head feeling the blood leave her skin and continued to look for something more positive to watch. When nothing satisfied her, she tossed the remote onto the coffee table and walked over to a picture of Rahul, Kylee and herself, propped on top of the fireplace mantel.

She let her fingers trail down Rahul’s face then linger over the picture. For more than a year since his death, she’d been angry with him for leaving her. Then angry with herself for blaming him. Perhaps now she could finally put all that behind and start a new life. If she could only reach Kylee.

Indie Authors: Step by step guide on how to place your book on pre-order months before the release

2abc

 

 

As an Indie author, I’m constantly looking to find new ways to market my books. One thing that had bugged me for a long time is that we, Indies, are at a disadvantage when it comes to new releases. We do all we can to let our readers know that we wrote another book, which will be released soon, but we don’t have contact with all of our readers, right? In fact, Amazon is discouraging us to have ANY contact with our readers or else they would take down all reviews placed by people who “know” the author. I think that’s ridiculous, but who am I to judge?

The best way to alert readers about your upcoming release is to place it on pre-order—an option that’s not extended to Indies.

Well, that’s not true. I recently came across something that few Indie authors know—how to place your new book on pre-order months before the release.

Here is how:

  • First, you need to know that AA program works well if you’ve NOT published your book yet through CreateSpace.
  • Second, you must have your ISBN for your book. Now, here, I was a little confused because many people told me that I had to buy my own ISBN. Not true. CreateSpace (CS) provides a free ISBN. So first you go to your CS account and create your book. Conduct all the steps to approve your book. That’s where you stop because now you have your free ISBN. DO NOT approve your files.
  • Once you have your ISBN, you have to set up an Amazon Advantage (AA) account. https://advantage.amazon.com This will qualify you as a vendor. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated; if I could do it, you can too. Just follow the simple steps that will guide you from A to Z. I used my name, email, and address in all required fields. When they ask you for your banking information, if you live outside the USA, simply mark the payments made to Don’t worry about the ridiculous $15 charge they mention because you’ll only use AA for marketing purposes before release.
  • Now you have your account so go ahead and sign in.

https://advantage.amazon.com/gp/vendor/sign-in

  • At the top of the page, click on the ‘Items’ tab and a pull-down-menu will appear.
  • Click on ‘Add an Item’.
  • You’ll be asked to enter your product (book, music-pop, music classical, DVD, VHS). Pick Book Option.
  • Enter your ISBN, then continue with the steps as prompted.
  • After you have completed all the steps, you’ll want to upload the image of your book. Note that your pre-order must be live on Amazon before you can add images to it. Go to “Items>Upload images” on the AA menu and upload your book’s cover. The image must meet stringent specifications, but most importantly, the file must be named accordingly (Main). Amazon will then verify your image and in 1–2 days, your pre-order page will be updated.
  • 1-3 days before the release date you should approve your book (in your CS Control Panel after being satisfied with your proof copy) so that it gets published.
  • This is the last in the series of steps. Request (through your Amazon Advantage Control Panel by opening a support ticket) that AA stops fulfilling your orders. Tell them that CreateSpace.

 

Good luck with your book and happy selling.

Check out my new book – Resilience – that is up for pre-order.

What you should know about POV?

 

z20

As I’ve mentioned before, writing a book is an art. It takes more than telling a story; more than writing words on paper; even more than the back-breaking work you have to put in it from start to finish.

In this article, I’ll talk about POV—point of view. What is a point of view and why is it important to your story.

Point of view in literature is a window through which the reader sees, hears, feels and smells the story. Setting the POV is entirely up to the author.

There are three types of POVs, but only two of them are regularly used .

 

  • First-person POV—the author narrates the story with the pronoun I or We. In other words, the reader can only hear, see, feel, and smell what I or We can hear, see, feel, and smell. 

Example: Ica Iova’s, Unsung Victims. The story is seen exclusively through Johanna’s eyes. The reader only gets to see, hear, feel, and smell what Johanna sees, hears, feels, or smells.

~ I felt pleased and troubled in the same breath. My own image—aged image—gazed back at me from the mirror. Maybe not so much aged as soul-tired. Heartbroken. Blond wisps spilling out from a loose ponytail and a pair of sluggish blue eyes crafted the image of a worn-out figure. ~ Johanna’s POV ~

 

  • Second-person POV—the author speaks directly to the reader. This POV is relatively uncommon. However, some authors have employed it efficiently.

Example: Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller.  The author speaks directly to the reader.

~You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice—they won’t hear you otherwise…~ Italo Calvino ~

 

  • Third-person POV—the author narrates the story through a third-person’s eyes. Here, the author may choose a third-person omniscient POV, where the thoughts and senses of every character are open to the reader, or third-person limited, where only one character’s mind and senses are accessible by the reader.

Example: Ica Iova’s, Boundaries. More than one character’s POV is open to the reader. The following example is one scene containing two POVs separated by a paragraph break.

~ To her dismay, through all that darkness, she thought she saw the gleaming light of determination intensifying in his eyes. She realized that this was it. He had used every tool in his considerable arsenal to seduce her. And she’d be damned if she didn’t let him have it his way. ~ Gabriela’s POV ~

***

~ He could probably pull together more rational reasons, but the two years they’d been apart, had made him recognize what was important in life, and it wasn’t defending stupid criminals. ~ Landon’s POV ~

 

Writing from multiple points of views is my favorite because I can switch back and forth between characters—I can allow each character to express their thoughts and emotions.

However, writing from more than one POV can be tricky and distracting to the reader. The author must be very careful to keep the story focused. Each character must wait for their turn to have the podium so they don’t clutter and confuse the plotline, pacing, and ultimately the reader.

Yes, you can write stories in all three types of POVs, as long as you remember these two simple rules:  a) write in the POV that makes you comfortable; b) if you write in third-person omniscient POV, insert breaks between POVs—either paragraph breaks or chapter breaks.

 

 

Resilience

I killed one of my characters in Resilience. Here is a little unedited teaser.

 

RESILIENCE – coming soon.

Johanna squinted against the light. Shit. She had forgotten to close her blinds again and the morning sun flooded her small bedroom. She hated this place. Her bedroom in her parents’ basement was much better. But since Louis had moved the children to another school without her consent, instead of fighting with him and placing the kids in the middle of their disagreements, she chose to move closer to their new school.
The banging on the door restarted, adding to her annoyance. Johanna rolled over and glanced at the electronic clock on her nightstand. 6:01 a.m. Who the hell is up at this hour? She hated mornings and she hated people. She hated people who could do mornings.
Rolling out of bed she mumbled some swearwords directed at whomever stood on the other side of her door. “This better be important,” she groaned as another pound on the door seemed to shake the wall.
“I’m coming! No need to break the damn door,” she shouted while walking the short distance to the door, still in her pajama.
She opened the door and her eyes landed on a fist ready to knock again. The fist belonged to a bulky man whom Johanna recognized instantly. Ted Lewinsky, Louis’ partner. Was Louis okay? For a moment she wondered if she asked aloud.
“Johanna White?” The tone sounded practiced. Distant. Surely he knew who she was so why was he asking her name as if he had never seen her before.
“Yes, Ted, that’s me,” she said letting a bit of sarcasm flow in her tone.
When she and Louis were together, Ted had joined her and Louis for dinner several times. After she and Louis separated, Ted acted polite but cold toward Johanna. As if to make it clear to her that he was on Louis’ side. She wasn’t shocked. Everyone was on Louis’ side because everyone knew Louis by the façade he presented to the world. But now, for Ted to pretend he didn’t know her, that was just rude and she opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind.
Ted pulled one side of his jacket to show his badge. “Detective Ted Lewinsky. Ma’am, you are under arrest for—”
The rest of his words were lost under Johanna’s squeal. “I know who you are.” Then as if just registering Ted’s words, Johanna lowered her voice. “What did you say?”
“Put your hands behind your back. You’re under arrest for the murder of Louis White. You have the right to remain…”
Ted’s words trailed off and morphed into Johanna’s muddled thoughts. Louis was murdered? How? When? A day ago his lawyer told the court that he had gone undercover. Yeah, that was always dangerous but why would they blame her?
***
“For the thousand time,” Johanna shouted, “I had nothing to do with Louis’ death. How many times can I tell you the same thing?”
Ted’s eyes remained on her face. “Until you actually tell me the truth.”
“Are you crazy or deaf? I didn’t kill Louis?”
“Well, some people seem to disagree.”
Johanna blinked in surprise at his remarks. So in his eyes she was guilty as charged and he was the judge, jury, and executioner. Why the hell look for the real killer when he had made an arrest and now he could go back to his waiting box of doughnuts. “Oh, let me guess. Karol.”
Ted remained unyielding. “Are you going to deny that you threatened to kill Louis? Because there are a few witnesses who will testify that you did.”
She had threatened Louis. In a public place. But that was because she was mad at him for letting Aidan suffer. She didn’t really mean it. Dammit! She and her big mouth. How was she going to get out of this? Motive.
“What motive would I have to kill Louis?” she blurted.
Ted shook his head. “Fighting for custody for four long years, I think that’s plenty of motive there; don’t you think?”
Johanna gritted her teeth. This didn’t look good. The more she looked at it, the more she realized how deep in trouble she was.
“Louis was the one dragging me to court.”
“I know. He thought you’re a pretty unstable parent.”
Okay, that’s enough. Johanna rose and slammed a fist on the table separating her from Ted. “Louis lied!” she screamed. “The judge is just beginning to see through his lies.”
“That must have angered you.”
She slowly sat back in her seat and lowered her voice. “Frustration. That’s what I felt when he and I crossed paths. He has killed every other feeling I had toward him. In the beginning I was angry with him, but I slowly realized that I had no control over what he does.”
Ted nodded. “Control…”
Johanna raised her eyes and studied him for a moment. This man was not here to help her. He was here to bury her. What was she doing sharing her feelings with him. “You’re not even going to look for another suspect, are you?”
He raised an eyebrow. “I already have a suspect.”
She nodded. “I think we’re done her. I want my lawyer now,” she said matter-of-factly.
Ted picked up the folder in front of him and slammed it on the table. “Fine. Have it your way,” he said then he walked away.
“Ted…” Johanna called after him. He stopped but didn’t turned around. “If I were you, I’d investigate this with an open mind. I didn’t do this, Ted.” Her voice sounded somewhere between wishing and begging.
Ted nodded once but didn’t reply and walked out of the room.

Good News and Better News

a3

Yesterday I received a snail-mail letter from a publisher. Of course, as usual, I had a thousand other things to do and I forgot about it. However, I opened it today, and guess what? They will publish one of my short stories in a collection of short stories written by Canadians titled “Wherever We Roam”. Oh, and one more thing, the book will become part of the national collection at Library and Archives Canada for preservation in Canada’s documentary history. Naturally, now is happy-dancing round the house… and maybe a glass of champagne later tonight. Yey to me!

Boundaries – How my books were born

null

Initially, Boundaries was a romantic Sci-Fi novelette (only about 17000 words,) titled Crossing Boundaries. I wrote it and forgot about it. It sat in my drawer for about a year, but Gabriela, Landon, and Jack kept nagging, telling me that the story wasn’t finished.

Needless to say that the trio disturbed me from watching funny cat videos and interacting with my Facebook friends. But I finally gave into their demands and once I started writing it, the words just kept flowing. I felt as if I was in the scenes with my characters.

I finished writing it in 2014. Also in 2014, Boundaries was a finalist at World’s Best Story.

I immediately fell in love with Landon. He is definitely my favorite character in the book. The perfect gentleman. The man every woman dreams of.

Gabriela is a little “undecided”, but she really cracked me up more than once. I love her sense of humor and her feistiness.

Bianca is Gabriela’s best friend and she is funny and terribly sarcastic. While she is a secondary character, she complements well the two main characters – Gabriela and Landon.

Jack comes in the picture only vaguely in the beginning, but he sure creates a lot of problems for everyone. He turns out to be one twist in the story that no one expects.

I had a lot of fun writing it, and found myself laughing at their jokes and almost try to comfort them when they were sad or frustrated.

Visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Ica-Iova/e/B00EN8ZH2G/ for this book as well as my other books.