Muse Monday: Book excerpt

Three weeks from tomorrow, my first book is being released. I’m thrilled, and excited, and nervous, and I think butterflies have taken up permanent residence in my stomach. It seems like I’ve waited forever, and now it’s right around the corner.

Since it is so close, I wanted to share a little bit of the book with you:


I picked up right where I’d left off during my art class, and I felt the same focus and determination coming right back. My nose actually bumped into the paper before I realized that my room had gotten dark. I got up to turn on the light and ran to the kitchen for a glass of water, and then I was right back to work.

My dad poked his head in the door, around my usual bedtime, to tell me that he was finally home. I was so involved in my drawing, I barely registered that he was there. About an hour later, both of my parents came in to wish me a good night. My mom gently reminded me of the time and told me to head to bed soon. I told her I would, but I was still shading in part of the picture.

When my mom came back, she had to touch my shoulder before I realized she was there. “Mackenzie, it’s one o’clock in the morning. This isn’t due for almost a week. It’s time to shut it down.” She started putting all of my supplies back in their case, not giving me a choice.

I gave her the pencil I’d been using. It wasn’t until I sat up straight and let go of the pencil that I realized how stiff and sore I was. My hand felt like it was going to be permanently cramped in the position of holding the pencil, but the picture looked amazing.

Mom practically pulled me off the bar stool and sent me to get ready for bed. When I came back, she had moved the easel to the side of my desk, put away my art case, put the bar stool against the far wall, and turned down my covers. She gave me a hug and watched me get into bed before she turned off the light. I knew, from experience, that she would be staying awake for a while to make sure I didn’t turn the light back on.

I was well past the age of needing a nightlight, but there was a streetlight at the edge of our yard that threw some light into my room. It was enough light that I could still see the picture.

Whether she’d meant to or not, I don’t know, but my mom had placed the easel so that I had a perfect view of it from my pillow. I studied it while I waited to fall asleep.

The sky was the color of sunrise, pinks and oranges stealing across it. There were low mountains in the background, lush and green. In the middle of the picture, but still somewhat in the background, there was a village with people between and in front of the buildings. The focus of the entire work was the young woman in the front, on the left side of the picture. She was older than I was, but she looked a little like me. That was shocking, since I hadn’t planned to draw her that way.

Like me, she had brown hair and green eyes. Unlike me, she had hair that fell in waves almost to her waist, streaked through with highlights of red, and eyes that almost glowed because they were so brilliantly green. She was wearing a dress that was similar to a picture I’d once seen of an ancient Greek tunic, bold blue with silver pins on the shoulders. She had a thin silver chain around her head with a gleaming pendant resting on her upper forehead.

Her hands were cupped in front of her and she had her lips pursed, blowing sand from them. The sand changed as it left her hands. First the dull tan that sand naturally is, then a silvery gold, and finally a shining white as it formed into a snowy horse. The horse wasn’t entirely formed, its back half was still the sparkling sand, but the front legs, shoulders, neck, and head were stretching proudly forward into a run.

I rolled onto my side, still staring at the picture. Just as I started to drift off, I thought I saw the sand start to swirl. Well, that’s just crazy. It can’t be moving, you’re just exhausted. I closed my eyes and slipped off to sleep.

The dream didn’t start the way my dreams usually did. Normally, I’d drift into a dream, getting vague images or nonsense phrases. This was like being teleported from one place to another, or, rather, from one body to another. I was the woman from my own picture, blowing the sand out of my hands. I knew her name and her life story, knew how and why she was making the horse appear from the sand. If some small part of my brain still realized I was Mackenzie Ward, it was deeply buried.

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