First Page of WIP, and another Book Launching at The King's English

Friday, yo.

1. Sam and I were watching the footage of the Icelandic volcano this morning, and all the European flights that have been cancelled. Sam's all, "Can you imagine having a flight in to England right now?"
Actually, I can imagine, and so can he. When Sam and I were getting ready to leave for graduate school in England, we had plane tickets to London set for September 12, 2001. Needless to say, that flight was cancelled.

2. Good friend Sarah Deford Williams' book Palace Beautiful launches tomorrow (Saturday) at The King's English at 2:00.

I am so excited for Sarah. The book is set in the Avenues in Salt Lake City, and follows two sisters and their neighbor, who discover a secret journal hidden in their attic.

So, if you want to come party with me, and the rest of The Six, I'll see you at TKE.

3. Okay, so I promised a few of you I'd post the first couple pages of my book again, since I'm starting to submit the book to agents. Hope you like it. If you don't, keep it to yourself, kay?

I apologize to those of you who have already read it...

by Brodi Ashton

The Underneath
History books call it the Underworld. Or the land of the Afterlife.

But I know it’s neither. It is really called the Underneath and it’s not a place for the dead. It’s a place for the Everliving- humans who have discovered the secret to eternal life. It’s a place for their Forfeits- the humans who give up everything to keep the Everliving alive.  It’s the world caught between this one and the next, a layer between Earth and Hell.

I know this because I was a Forfeit. I would give anything to change this.

Chapter one
Park City High School

It’s too soon.
But, really, I’ve been gone for one hundred years. Everything about my old life will be too soon. Especially high school. The halls of Park City High looked the same, and I reminded myself that above ground – far above the Underneath - only a few months had passed during my absence.

Senior year. A waste of time, in one respect, considering I’ll never make it to graduation. But I need be here to glimpse, for a moment, the life I had before. The year I should’ve had. To see Jack one last time. To stockpile memories that will nourish me for the next century. I only have six months left. I can do this without hurting him again. Maybe he doesn’t even think of me anymore.

I glanced down at my schedule. First period English Literature.  As I checked the room numbers at the tops of the doors, curious whispers floated along the hall behind me. Hanging in the air above my head. Blended together, belonging to no single voice.

Isn’t that Nikki Beckett? She looks awful…

Is she still using?

Has to be… What else would do that to person?

Poor Jack.

Does he know she’s back? Does he know she’s strung out?

When I found the right room, I clutched my books into my chest, lowered my head, and walked through the door.
Someone – probably the teacher – called from near the front of the classroom. “Miss Beckett? Is it?”

    Hearing my own last name did strange things to my heart. Made it beat a little faster. A little harder. It’d been so long since I had a last name. For a hundred years in the Underneath, Cole only called me by my first name. It was how the Everliving treated their Forfeits- if you didn’t have a last name, you didn’t ever really have a life outside of the Underneath. Nothing to want to come back to. Maybe that was why he was so surprised that I chose to come back.

    I stopped just inside the doorway and lifted my head toward the teacher, keeping a few strands of hair in front of my eyes as I nodded in response.

    “Welcome.” She hesitated as she took in my appearance. People did that a lot. It wasn’t that I looked threatening. My dad told me it was because I looked like a malnourished animal, ready to sprint. “The principal told me to expect you. I’m Mrs. Stone. I see you have the textbook.”

    I nodded again.  I didn’t tell her I had already read the entire book.

    “There’s an empty chair in the back there.” She pointed toward the rear of the classroom, but I kept my gaze on her. Most of the other students had taken their seats, and I didn’t want to attract any stares.  “You’ll have to work hard to catch up with the rest of the class.”

    I turned and shuffled down the middle row until I reached the empty place at the back. Once seated, I took out my notebook and pencil, and leaned forward over my desk so my hair created a curtain on either side of my face.

    I could do this.

Under the general curiosity in the room, I started to taste something different than the usual morning jitters. Cole said that during my Return to the Surface, I would be able to taste the energy in the air, but I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between its distinctive flavors. Right now, however, one emotion floated to the top of the rest, and seared my throat with its intensity.

    “Hi,” a familiar voice said from the desk next to mine.

    It was him. Jack. I wasn’t expecting him to be in my first class of the day. In that instant, I knew I couldn’t do this.

    Jack’s voice held no evidence of recognition. A concerted effort to sound flat was the single clue of a history there. Maybe I was the only one who would’ve picked up on it.

    I kept my head down, took a deep breath, and exhaled as slowly as I could. “Hi.”
The word had no accompanying voice to it. Just the escaping air behind my lips. 

    He turned away from me to focus on Mrs. Stone. I wondered how I was going to get through the hour.