Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1st=Surprises For YOU!

Hello, beautiful person reading this post!
Do you know what today is?
Yes, yes, it is New Year’s Day. I knew that.
(I didn’t know that.)
But guess what else today is!

Today is January 1st, which means my book, my baby, will be out there in exactly 28 days!
Shit. Like, shit
When I started writing what is now known as SUNSHINE, I never ever had the intention of ever sharing it with anyone. I was bored and lonely, so I made up this world and these people. 

And 28 days from now, people will be able to read it. People who have never read it before.
And it’s scary and exciting and mind blowing. Sometimes I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “What? Am I really doing this? Is this real life?”
Yes. It is January 1st, and it is indeed, real life.
And a lot of you may have just heard of SUNSHINE recently, or maybe you’ve been nagging me to read it since I started, but as a reward for you guys, I have two surprises!
One: A part of Chapter One
So here we go, yo. Happy New Year, and I’ll see you January 28th

Here is the cover:
Just take a minute. I'll wait. 

Regina Wamba of MaeIdesign did the cover. 
Jesus Christ on a cracker, if you guys could have seen me when I got this in an email. Fuck. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. It is so absolutely my book. And it’s gorgeous. And it’s mine. And it’s happening. 
Show the designer some love here
And now, the exerpt:    

 Chapter  1
“I wear my sunglasses at night.”-Corey Hart
               There are only a few precious days of summer left and I have to spend one of them like this: waking up at the crack of dawn, getting into the car, and driving an hour out of the way to go to the doctor. No, I’m not sick. At least, I don’t think of myself as sick.
            “Ready to go, Sophie?” Jade, my brother asks, flipping his multi-colored mane out of his face.
            “Not really.”
             The only reason I agreed to go to this stupid doctor was to keep my mom happy in her own little perfect-pretend-world-where-everything-must-be-perfect, including abnormal me.
            The reason why I am up so early?
            Solar Urticaria. Reason numero uno why I am not a normal human being. I was diagnosed with it when I was a little kid. Well, kind of. They don’t really know what the hell is wrong with me. Nice, right? Whatever. In simplest terms, I’m allergic to the sun or sun-like light. If I’m out in sunlight for more than a few hours, I get these red itchy spots on me. 
            Then they turn into these sun poisoning-type-spots.
            Then I get super sick and it’s not so nice.
            So just stay out of the sun. No big deal, right? When you live in a place like Bumblefuck, South Jersey, where it rains pretty regularly anyway and even when it doesn’t, there isn‘t too much to do outside, it seems easy enough.
            But when it happens to be sunny, I can’t leave my house without slathering SPF 120 all over. Then there are the industrial shades that cover half of my face, and a trench coat that sweeps the ground when I walk. I look like a walking Looney bin in eighty degree weather. My light blue Oldsmobile—passed down from who knows which relative—has black tinted windows, so driving is always fun. Especially when you get pulled over and have to explain that, Yes, Mr. Officer, I know they’re illegal, but here’s the thing…
            Living in a small town is also never good when you have something wrong with you.
            On the grey scale, my skin registers at about corpse white. This little characteristic fuels most of the kids at school. It’s great to see that calling people names will just never go out of style. That whole sticks and stones saying has no meaning to the people at Lucky High. They have tons of nicknames for me: Casper, Elvira, and of course the various vampire comments are never in short supply. 
            But hey, Casper is cute, Elvira has an amazing body, and vampire? C’mon, like it took you all night to think of that one. Plus, I highly doubt that any of the three could pull off dark magenta hair and tattoos as I have.
            And I can guarantee none of them look as good in combat boots.   
            There are worse things than being made fun of. Like having people feel sorry for you. I’ve over heard people in school talking about me. How it must Like, totally like, suck not being able to go tanning or like, go to the beach, or like, do anything outside. But in all honesty, I don’t really think about it. You can’t miss what you never really remember having, I guess.  
            My only memory of being out in the sun is so fuzzy I can barely make it out anymore. 
            Pieces of it come to me in my sleep sometimes. Flashes here and there. I was about five or six. Mom had taken my little sister Laura and I to the park. I remember screaming, burning, crying. I remember what the sun looked like, shining so bright off of the metal surface of the slide I was standing on top of. Then someone carrying me away, shielding me from the sun, but it wasn’t my mother. I know it wasn’t. It was definitely a guy. Later, Mom would tell me that of course it was her, and who else would it be? I think it could have been my father. Some guy I barely have one memory of. A memory without a face.
            Anyway, I’ve never had a problem with being different. You’d think singing and playing piano for the best band ever and having more than a few body modifications would be enough to tell me apart from the next person, which is fine with me. The whole sun issue is just one more thing that makes me different. Different is fine.
           However, my mother has always had a problem with different.
           The sun allergy issue has always been the worst thing to happen in her perfect little life. She has the rich husband, the clone daughter, the cute little girl, the loveable but—gasp—gay son, and then me. She used to hate Jade the most, but since he moved in with his boyfriend, Stevie, she really doesn’t pay him much attention anymore.
            What a blessing that must be sometimes. 
            We had been through countless doctors before I was even old enough to ride a bike. All of them said the same thing. That it was an allergy. That my body sees something in sunlight as “invasive” and that the “skin reactions” are just its way of protecting itself from “unwanted toxins.” I found this comforting in a way. My body knowing how to protect itself.
            “So how do we get rid of it?” was the only question Mom ever asked. 
            And there would always be the same answer. There was no way to “cure” it. There were only ways of “eliminating accidents” and “preventing” my skin from getting burned. It was highly likely that I would grow out of it, and all I had to do was be careful until then. This was fine with me. I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t deformed. Nothing uncontrollably horrible was happening; it would eventually go away and my mom would love me the way she did before soon enough.
            But that never happened.  
            I’m eighteen, about to start my senior year of high school. I have yet to go to the beach with friends or slip on a bikini to go tanning.
            A few years passed and it seemed like Mom had given up on fixing me, but I was wrong. Someone told her about this doctor at the hospital that was into experimental treatments. My mother called him, asked if he could fix me, and he said, “he’d be delighted to try,”…I wish I was making that up.
            Doctor Helmet entered our lives three months ago.
           “C’mon. The sooner we do this, the sooner we’ll be done,” Jade says to me.
            We’re sitting in my car, staring up at the menacing hospital building ahead of us. He tosses his floppy, fading rainbow mohawk out of his eyes again. I shove my sunglasses on and wrap my coat around me, inching out of the car and into the sweltering heat.
            “Why don’t we just tell Mom we went and see a movie instead?” I ask as we enter the nice, air-conditioned lobby.
            Jade encloses an arm around me, pushing me toward the elevator because my feet will just not move. “Why don’t we just go and if he wants to do anything to you that you don’t want him to, say no. You’re not a lab rat, Sunshine.”
            I groan as we get into the elevator next to some nurses dressed in pink scrubs with cartoon characters on them. They look nice, but the smell is making me sick.
            Why does the stupid doctor have to be in a hospital? No matter where you are or who you are standing next to, it smells like latex gloves and stale coffee.
            We get to our floor and start to get closer to the office. My feet feel like they’re in Jell-o. “Seriously. We can forget we were even here,” I say to Jade.
           “If you’re good, I promise I’ll ask the nurse for a lollipop and a sticker for you.” He smiles.
           “You know, if we weren’t in a hospital, I would soooooo try to kill you.”
            The yellow office greets us with its framed paintings of artists I’ve never heard of and its diplomas hung above brown chairs. I sign in on the clipboard the receptionist hands me, then I sit down next to Jade. The receptionist pops her gum.
            Jade places his hand on my knee. “I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long. It looks like we’re the only people here.”
            For the most part, I don’t mind doctors. They’re usually pretty cool in my book. If I’m sick, I go to one, they make me better, and that’s really neat. There’s just something about Doctor Helmet that I don’t like. Maybe it’s the way he talks to me, or doesn’t look me directly in the eye.
            Maybe he’s just hoping he can fix me so he can be a  well known, rich doctor with like, five books describing how he helped this poor girl that was deathly allergic to the sun.
            Whatever it is, I don’t like him touching me. Some doctors avoid touching you when they examine you. Not Doctor H. He always to makes a point to have his rough hands come in contact with my skin as much as he can. I can’t describe how much I hate that. 
            I hate it when people touch me.
            Soon the receptionist tells us that we can go inside and a nurse leads us to a room with a table covered in waxed paper. The only good thing about Doctor Helmet’s place is that unlike other doctors, they don’t make you wear those itchy paper gown things. And I wouldn’t be caught dead here if someone wasn’t allowed to sit in the room with me.
            After the nurse leaves, Doctor Helmet comes in. He’s not too old, maybe forty-five. He has a pink dress shirt on under his white coat, and he’s wearing a red tie and grey pants. I always think he looks too tan.
            Like a worn out leather bag.
            He doesn’t say hi. Doesn’t look at us. He stares at my chart.
            “So how have you been?” he says. I know he doesn’t mean “how is your life?” like most people do when they ask that question. He means “how is your illness?”
            “Okay. Nothing major has happened or anything,” I answer.
            He looks at my chart some more.
            “It says here that your eyes are sensitive to the sunlight as well,” he says.
            “Mmhmm.” He already knows this. I told him the first time we met. I don’t know what he wants me to say here.
            “Does the sun still bother your eyes?” he asks like I’m acting dumb on purpose.
             I shift on the wax paper covered table under me. “Yeah,” I answer a little less than nicely.
             He nods like he’s happy about something then finally glances at me. “We’re going to try some eye drops today. We just got them and they are supposed to help with sensitivity to light.”
             He waits. It’s my turn to talk.
            Jade looks at me to make sure that I want to do this.
            “Okay,” I answer.
            He pats me on the head like a dog. “I’ll go get a nurse,” he says.
            Doctor H leaves Jade and I alone in the yellow examination room for what seems like an hour.  Jade gets so bored that he starts going through all of the drawers and pocketing things like tongue depressors and cotton balls. “You know, you don’t have to try those drops,” he tells me.
            “I know, but I want to. I mean, if they work, I won’t have to wear my big black glasses anymore.” 
             How awesome would that be? To walk outside and not worry about going blind if it happens to be sunny and I forget my sunglasses. Sure, I would still need the coat, but hey, no more shades.
            “Okay. Just as long as you want to do it for you. Not to make him or Mom happy.” Jade studies some cottony looking stuff he’s ripped out of a wrapper.
            “Of course not.”
            Jade hurries to shut all of the drawers and cabinets when we hear the doorknob turn.
            One of the nicer nurses walks in with what I can only assume are the drops in a white plastic bottle.  “Hi there, Sophie.”
            She’s young, probably about twenty-five. Her blond hair is a quality I usually hate in a person, but I let it slide.  She tells me to lie back so she can get to work. I have no problem with being comfortable around her. If Doctor Helmet hadn’t been able to find a nurse, he’d be dripping the chemicals into my eyes and probably touching me way too much.
            So I do as she says and open my eyes real wide. One, two drops in the left eye. One, two drops in the right. Then she tells me to sit up.
            “How do they feel?” she asks.
            “I don’t know. Kind of tingly,” is all I can say to describe it. It sort of feels like when you have a cold and you use that vapo-rub stuff and your eyes water a little bit because of the way it smells.
            A few milliseconds pass by and my eyes kind of feel dry, so I do what any normal person would do: I blink.
            My eyes are on fire. Not only that, but under and around them, even my cheekbones burn.           
           “What’s wrong?” Jade asks immediately.
           “It burns. Damn, it really burns,” I blurt out.
            Then it feels like I have no control over what my body does. My arms start flailing, my legs start kicking in every direction, and I can’t stop screaming.
            It takes about four nurses, Jade, and Doctor H to hold me down long enough for them to put some other type of drop in my eyes that makes the burning stop.
            “Open your eyes,” Helmet says, sounding slightly annoyed that I interrupted his morning coffee or something.
            As soon as I do, I can’t see anything but a blur and my eyes start burning again so I shut them. I swear I can hear him sigh in frustration.
            “What the hell was that?” Jade asks.
            The nurse hands me a cold, wet paper towel that I press under my bottom lids. That helps a lot. Especially the her being nice part.
            “An allergic reaction,” Doctor H shoots back like Jade has something wrong with him.
            Of course it was an allergic reaction. Everything they’ve ever tried has resulted in an allergic reaction. Why do I always seem to forget that when they have something new for me to try?
            The experimental sun lotion gave me hives.
            The experimental pills made me hallucinate little purple kitty cats everywhere.       
            Then throw up.
            So why would I not think that the experimental eye drops wouldn’t blind me?
            “Just wear your sunglasses around any type of light until the redness goes away,” Doctor H says like he’s telling me to eat my vegetables.
            “Why can’t I see anything?” I ask.
            “Because you had an allergic reaction. You’ll be able to see normally within a few hours.”
            All I want to do is get out of here. I think Jade is thinking the same thing because he asks, “Are we done here?”
            I’m guessing Helmet nods because Jade grabs my hand and starts pulling me out of the room. A nurse stops us and gives me a pill that will help with the pain. I really don’t like taking pills. There’s something about how one tiny thing can alter the way you act that makes me uncomfortable, but in this case, I would have taken horse tranquilizers if they had any. I gulp it down dry and leave with my brother.
            We’re in the elevator when I try to open my eyes again. The light doesn’t seem to bother them now that I have my sunglasses on, but I still can’t see anything except blurry outlines of people.
            “Are you okay?” Jade finally asks. He knows I hate this question.
            “Yeah. I have to pee.”
            The elevator reaches the bottom floor and we get out. The pain killers seem to be working already because the fuzzy outlines start shifting and moving and changing color a little bit.
            “I’ll take you to the bathroom,” Jade offers, but I’ve already pulled my arm free from his.
            “I can find it by myself,” I assure him, “I’ve been here so many times that I can find it with my eyes closed.” And I may have to.
            “Okay.” I can tell by the tone of his voice that he doesn’t want to let me go on my own.
            “I’m fine. Sit down in the cafeteria and I’ll come and get you when I’m done.” I turn away and start walking.
             All I have to do is make a left, then there are two more left turns, cross the hallway once and I’ll be there. Easy. 
             I’m about halfway through the second left turn when I feel like the ground is made out of some kind of slippery substance made especially for me to crack my face on, but everyone else has no problem walking on it. I hug the wall the rest of the way there. All I have left to do is cross the hallway. It should only take me about three big steps.
            One: Doing good.
            Two: Almost slip on something, but I’m still good.
            Th— Damn it.
            Someone slams into me, sending my bag and me flying, causing my tailbone to come in hard contact with linoleum. I decide the best thing to do in this situation is try to find my junk and get to the bathroom before I throw up, seeing as the unexpected landing has made my stomach angry at me.
            “Are you okay?” I hear a concerned male voice say from above me. I’m guessing it’s the person who bumped into me.
            I ignore him.
            “Hey,” he says.          
            I feel something cold touch my shoulder. As soon as I realize that it’s a hand, I shove it away. That makes my head pound and my stomach gets worse. I see the wobbly outline of him kneeling down next to me, gathering my stuff into a pile near me. The swaying, blurry person only makes me dizzier than I was before.
            “You could have hit your head. Do you want me to get a doctor?” he asks.
            I try not to smile at the irony of this, and shake my head no. My sunglasses slip down a tiny bit. The guy gasps. I guess my eyes are all red and puffy. Pushing them back into place, I grab my pile of miscellaneous purse contents from him and throw them back into my bag.
            The same cold hand touches my shoulder, I’m guessing to help me up, but I pull away before he can. I stand all by myself. “Maybe you should see a doctor,” he says again.
            “No,” I finally answer.
            Then we’re silent as I smooth out my jacket and adjust my bag.
            “I’m really sorry,” and he sounds like he is.
            Now I feel bad. He didn’t mean to knock me over. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. Anyone else would be grateful that they were being helped.
            But I’m not anyone else.
            “Do you want me to help you get somewhere?” he offers.
            I don’t want to go anywhere but to the bathroom then home to sleep until the sun just completely burns out. “I’m fine,” I say, trying to keep my breakfast down. But he’s trying to be nice and everything. I can’t just leave to vom without saying anything to him. “Thanks,” I mutter.
            “No problem.” 
             Now there’s no time for talking.
             Sometimes, your body has complete control over your mind, over what you do. Sometimes, you just have to do what it says because it will do it anyway. Right now my body is saying, Either you go to the bathroom to throw up, or you throw up all over this complete stranger.
            So I casually feel behind me for the bathroom door, open it, chunk, and black out. 


  1. I feel like this cover just gets more beautiful every time I look at it! <3 Great excerpt too! :)

  2. I honestly have not stopped staring at it since it was finished. And thank you. You're so awesome. <3