This Is a Book: Chapter Fourteen

Today’s chapter of This Is a Book is coming at you with a surprise announcement at the end of the post, so make sure to check that out when you’re done reading!

Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Follow this link.

Need to catch up on previous chapters? Follow this link.


Chapter Fourteen: Of Mice and Men

            “No,” I say. “No. You’re all crazy. I’m from the United States! We don’t believe in kings!”

            Randy tears the parchment from my hands and raises his eyebrows. “‘Find the king’? What is this?” A smirk takes up residence on one side of his face. I rip the paper away from him. Mr. Smith and Rose take a step away. I glare daggers at them.

            Turning back to Randy, I say, “Despite the fact that we have a zombie-ghost-pirate in our midst, it’s not a treasure map. And despite the fact that it seems like everyone around here has been putting a little more than tea leaves in their breakfast brew lately, it has nothing to do with that either.” I take a breath and turn to wave the parchment in Book-boy’s face. He smiles like he is delighted by my reaction so far. I scoff. “You people. Are all. Bloody. Looney Tunes!”

            “I’d be careful, Mary,” Rose says. She grins, but her skin is pale—well, paler than it usually is, anyway. “Your English is showing.”

            “Are you daft? I’m not blooming English!”

            She bursts out laughing. “Exactly.”

            I toss the parchment at her and stomp away, throwing myself into Book-man’s stiff leather desk chair. He opens his mouth to protest, but Randy shakes his head in warning, and he stops.

            “I saw that, you know.”

            “I just thought it would be a good idea to keep you from murdering the only lead we’ve got right now, is all.” Randy shrugs and crosses his arms. “Unless, of course, you’ve found another reporter with inside knowledge about this whole zombie thing for us to question.”

            “Shut it, Princess Randilyn, or I’ll run you over with a bus, too.”

            “Oh, dear me,” says Book-boy. “I dare say I forgotyou were the one who defamed that tour bus last year.” He takes another step away.

            “We had reason to believe the diplomat was an alien,” I say, glowering at him. “Wait, how do you know about that?”

            He doesn’t answer my question, instead asking, “And was he?”

            Before I have a chance to try interrogating him again, Rose shouts, “Could we please focus on the matter at hand?!”

            I don’t think anyone is more surprised by Rose raising her voice than Rose herself. I know for a fact no one is less surprised than Randy, who spends the next moment looking between Book-boy and me in confusion as he takes in our dropped jaws and wide eyes.

            “What just happened?” he asks after a second. “Did the ghost die or something?”

            “Zombie,” Book-boy and Rose correct in unison.

            “Same difference,” I say. They shoot me a look. “What? Rose is dead either way.”

            Rose ignores the comment. She is still pale and extra dead-looking, lips set in a firm line, as she nods to the parchment on the floor, then looks up to meet my eye. With a groan I lift it so she can examine the writing. Her fingers trace across the words.

            “I told you we shouldn’t have ignored the summons, Mary,” she says.

            “I told you I didn’t believe in magic, Rose,” I shoot back.

            “You believe in me, obviously.”

            “You’re like paranormal-science-fiction stuff more than fantasy,” I remind her. “Whole different ballpark.” I lean back against the leather of the chair and burrow into it, trying to get more comfortable. How Book-man stands to write so many creepy articles while sitting in this thing is beyond me.

            “Well, evidently the pixie was real, if we keep hearing about the prophecy.” Rose goes another shade paler.

Can ghosts—invisible zombies, whatever—actually get paler? Maybe there’s just something weird with the lighting in here.

            I glance up at the ceiling. Nope. That seems normal.

            Darn it all, now I’m seeing spots.

            “Or this could be the ultimate episode of Punk’d,” I say. “Ooh, I hope Justin Bieber’s running this episode, so I can run him over with a bus!”

            “You are absolutely hopeless.”

            “Can someone please explain to me what’s going on?” Randy asks. He’s leaning against the far wall beside the door, pants pockets bulging with things he must have stolen while we’ve been talking, the kleptomaniac. His pale face is lax with boredom.

            “Book-man, my dear fellow,” I say, “I’m afraid my colleague here has stolen all your paperclips. And possibly your butterfly clips, too.”

            “You are a horrible roommate, Mary,” Randy says. “I was going to sell these for a week’s worth of fish and chips.”

            “Where, on the office supply black market?”

            “Don’t worry about the clips, they come free with the office,” Book-man says. He shrugs and Randy sticks out his tongue. I roll my eyes. “Now, Miss Rose, what is this about a prophecy?”

            “Hey, why are you only addressing her?” I ask, leaning forward in his chair. “The dumb prophecy thing affects me just as much as it does the ghost-zombie-whatever!”

            His tone is sharp as he says, “I thought Rose might actually give me an answer instead of leading me in circles the way you seem to enjoy to.”

            I close my mouth, but I’m sure my eyes say enough for me.

            You’re going down, Book-man. Dooown. What kind of a superhero is someone named Book-man anyway? I should have named you Scrooge McBook or something instead, you little—

            “The prophecy is how Mary and I met,” says Rose. “It was around Christmas when a pixie approached the two of us in a cemetery and told us we had to save the king of Norland.”

            “Norland?” Book-man asks. He glances at Randy, apparently having forgotten that the kid can’t hear Rose.

            “What?” Randy asks. “Am I supposed to know what that means? Is it a place near Surrey? I think I did a bank heist in a place called Norland before.” He stops. “Wait, no, that was Newfoundland. In Canada.”

            “Not even Norway,” I mutter to myself. “He didn’t even get it confused with Norway. No, it’s Newfoundland of all places.”

            “Norland is a place that’s neither here nor there,” Rose says. “It’s a magical place.”

            “Sort of ethereal and annoying, you know,” I add helpfully.

            “I was thinking more of the word intriguing, actually,” retorts Rose.

            “Amazing,” says Book-man. “And the two of you have been prophesied to save this mystical country of Norland?”


            “I was hoping Rose would respond.”

            “Rose, what do you think of this quest for ethereal greatness?” I swivel the chair around to face her—but she’s not there. “Rose?” I do a 360 with the chair. Nowhere. Nowhere, nowhere, Rose is nowhere.

            “Where is she?” Book-man asks.

            “I don’t know!” I’m panicking now. I turn faster and faster in the chair, until I’m growing dizzy in my search of the teeny office. “Rose, Rose, Rose, where are you?” I stop. “Blast it all, invisible-zombie-ghost-pirates can’t just disappear whenever they feel like it, can they?!”

            “The parchment,” Randy says. He rushes over from the wall and scours the desk, the floor, the ceiling. “It’s not here!”

            Nowhere. Rose is nowhere, and so is the paper from the pixie.

            “Rose, get your butt back here!” I shout at thin air. “I’m not done antagonizing you yet!”

            Then I blink and I am nowhere too.


Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for! While Mel and I were being all writerly in New York City, she proposed the absolutely fantastic idea of getting some more people involved in the making of This Is a Book–primarily by asking YOU to help us decide who some of the new characters should be in up and coming chapters (sweet, right?). All you’ve gotta do is fill out the following form and leave your answers in the comment section below, and then we’ll round them all up in a week’s time (so you have until Thursday, April 18th to do this). Then Step Two in all this madness will begin: We’re going to jumble up all the characteristics you’ve given us to create new characters, post these lovely, monstrous creations on the block, and then it’ll be up to YOU to vote for your favorites to actually make it into the story!

Sound like a barrel of fun? Good. (I’m just going to answer for you here, because it definitely sounds like a barrel of fun to me.) (Plus, you… you know… can’t exactly answer… because this is a blog post. Oh well?)


The form of mystical, magical awesomeness:







Example of what your comment should look like:


TYPE OF CREATURE/PERSON: Magical speaking hippopotamus

SPECIAL ABILITY: Can turn anything into a very tasty baked potato. With sour cream (but no bacon).


DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC: Purple hair with highlighter yellow highlights


… Remember, you have one week to submit a character form, and then the real craziness begins!

Thanks for reading (and participating)!


This Is a Book: Chapter Twelve

Whoa. Whoa, dude. Look. Look, it’s a new chapter of This Is a Book. IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! (I know. It really isn’t that exciting. But it’s after 11 PM, which means my brain is in the midst of shutting down for the night. You’re lucky you’ve caught me now, instead of in ten minutes when I’ll be attempting to do my Spanish homework and sleep at the same time.)

Anywho, if you don’t know what This Is a Book is, you can follow this link.

And if you’d like to get caught up on chapters–whether you haven’t read a word of this genre-less masterpiece, or you just need to read Chapter Eleven–here’s a link to a page that’ll help you with that too.

And now, I give you: Chapter Twelve.


Chapter Twelve: Ragtime

            If Creepy Writer Man recognizes who we are, he doesn’t let onto it.

            As he shakes my hand he says, “Yes, are you here about the internship? I’m afraid I’ve already hired a chap, you see, so if you could just allow Ms. Fulson to escort you out…”

            Ms. Fulson harrumphs behind us. I laugh a little, tinny laugh, throwing my head back, and say, “Don’t be ridiculous, Mr. Smith. Or do you prefer to go by Booker? Or Book? Bookie? Book-boy? I find in my professional life, it helps to have my underlings call me by a nickname, in order to establish an air of humanity. Hence, Mary. My real name is Mariana Donna Dory Delilah Jackson—how drab is that?”

            Beside me Rose chokes on her ghostly spit. Randy doesn’t blink an eye. A twitch goes off in Mr. Smith’s jaw. I extricate my hand from his sweaty grip and smile the most radiant smile I can manage without seeming like I don’t take him seriously.

—I have a bad tendency of bursting into laughter at inappropriate occasions. Which might be part of the reason the US government is now convinced I was on something when I ran over their pesky diplomat.

            When Mr. Smith doesn’t respond, I raise my eyebrows and ask, “Book-boy?”

            “Oh, oh, yes,” he says. “I apologize, my dear, I’m just trying to figure out how to respond to your delightful… uh, speech. You may address me as Mr. Smith, thank you.” He glances over my head at the secretary, his lips set in a stern frown that is impossible to read, and then his eyes come back to rest on me. “How may I help you… uh, Mary, was it?”

            “Yes. Yes, Mary. As in Mariana Donna Dory Delilah Jackson of Dust to Diamonds Enterprises. Surely you know who I am?”

            Mr. Smith’s eyes seem to glaze over for a second as he thinks, trying to decide whether it is beneficial or not for him to act like he knows me, his forehead glistening even more than before under the room’s soft yellow mood lights. I can feel Randy and Rose holding their breath behind me—although that’s a fairly common reaction on Rose’s part. Then Mr. Smith gives a sharp nod, looks me up and down once, and says in an even tone, “Yes. Yes. Of course, Ms. Jackson.”

            “Please,” I say, rolling my eyes with a flourish. “Ms. Jackson is my grandmother. And Mariana is my mother. Call me Mary. I beg you.”

            “Yes, well…” It’s obvious Book-boy still doesn’t know how to deal with me—which is exactly how I want him.

            “My associate and I—” I indicate to Randy “—are here to talk to you about an article you released in the paper yesterday. You talked about one such Javier Boulevard and how he prevented a jewel heist from occurring, and—”

            “Yes, yes, very well. I know what my own article says.” Mr. Smith waves away my explanation like I’m daft or something.

            I mean stupid. Like he thinks I’m stupid. Awful Brits.

            “Good, then may we step into your office to discuss this article that everyone in the room happens to know about?” I sweep my arms wide and Ms. Fulson coughs. Before Mr. Smith has a chance to try turning us away again, I grab Randy’s arm and march quickly up the hall the reporter came from five minutes ago. Rose catches up to walk beside us, and Book-boy to The Rescue walks behind.

            “The key,” I whisper to Rose, “is maintaining control. Give them an opportunity to direct the interaction, you lose that control, and you lose the ability to gain anything from the conversation.” Louder, I call back to Mr. Smith, “Delightful office space, Book-boy. Did you design it yourself?”

            “Nuh-nuh-no—I’m not that high up in the newspaper hierarchy.”

            I arch an eyebrow at Rose like, See? Randy shakes his head at me, glaring. I stick my tongue out.

            “Sorry I’m so brilliant at my job, you awful thief,” I whisper under my breath. “Manage to steal anything from the office yet, or are you waiting for me to just hand you a hundred bucks?”

            “Does that nasty secretary’s paperweight count?”

            I narrow my eyes. “You did not.”

            “No,” says Rose, “he definitely did.” There’s a note of admiration to her voice. “While your circus antics kept Ms. Fulson captivated, he slid it right off her desk. It’s only a wooden piece—they must not pay her well—but it is indeed now stolen.”

            One side of my mouth twitches up in a grin that I quickly force away as I turn back to Randy. “Rose says you’re bluffing.”

            “What?” They say it in unison.

            “Excuse me, Ms.… well, Mary,” Mr. Smith interrupts us.

            “Yes?” I stop walking and turn back to face him, popping a hip. My skirt is uncomfortably short, but what’cha gonna do when your only business clothes came out of a children’s Halloween catalogue. Darn PWNBEIBER, not paying me enough for real clothes.

            “May I ask what you and your associate are speaking so intensely together about?” He steeples his fingers and leans towards me, as if we’re sharing secrets. His skin is pale in contrast with his dark grey, Italian-made suit.

            “No, of course not,” I say, tone weary. I rub my temples with one hand and place the other on my hip. I level my eyes at him. “It’s private diamond industry business matters, you see. Quite boring, actually. It has nothing to do with your delightful office and the article we have come to discuss today.”

            “How did you even get in here?”

            I open my mouth to answer, but before I can get a single syllable out, Randy steps in front of me, blocking my view with all six-foot-something of his lanky frame, and says, “I do believe we will be asking the questions today, Mr. Smith.”

            “His name is Book-boy,” I mutter. Randy jabs me in the stomach. “Well sorry, you ungrateful street-urchin-waiting-to-happen. You’re supposed to be a talented thief—how many meals do you think that paperweight’s going to buy you? Go become a newsie or something.”

            I glance around Randy’s side to find Mr. Smith looking between the two of us like he can’t decide whether we have gone crazy, or he has. Rose stands off to the side of the hall, laughing hysterically for some reason I cannot comprehend. Thank God nobody but me can hear her.

            —Or at least, that’s what I think until Booker Smith glances over his shoulder to make sure we are out of earshot and eyesight of that baboon he calls his secretary, then looks straight at Rose and says, “My dear lady, I beg your pardon for not introducing myself sooner. It is the greatest of honors to finally meet you. You must be Rose.”


Remember to check Mel’s blog this weekend for Chapter Thirteen!


This Is a Book: Chapter Ten

Yesss, it’s finally here! I managed to escape the horrid revisions long enough to write the next chapter!

Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Follow this link.

Want to read a previous chapter (or more)? Follow this link.

And now, without further ado…


Chapter Ten: Anna and the French Kiss

“Well that was unexpected,” says Rose.

“I’ve found that in this line of work, you come to expect the unexpected,” I say. I tap my finger against the newspaper picture of the man who is not Javier. “Now the question becomes: why is there a man posing as our dearly deceased weirdo?”

“Hang on a moment,” Randy says. “I’m trying to get my bearings. Are you talking to me or to Casper?”

“Who’s Casper?” asks Rose.

“As in of The Friendly Ghost variety,” I tell her, and then turn back to Randy. “Both of you. I’m talking to both of you.”

“Gee whiz,” he says, “I’m so excited to be sharing your attention with someone I can’t even see.”

“You should be happy. You hate my attention. At least now you only have to deal with half of it.”

Rose’s eyes are turned down at the corners, her lips set in a straight line. She stares at Randy.

“What is it now, Rose?”

“Is your friend always this rude?”

“First off,” I say, counting with my fingers, “Princess Randilyn here and I are not friends. We just put up with each other because the PWNBEIBER organization doesn’t pay well enough for us to get our own apartments in this lovely, lovely city of huge expenses. Second off, yes he is. Third off—” Before I can go on, a glower from Randy shuts me up. “Gosh, what is up with you now?”

“I don’t like this, Mary,” he says. He leans forward so that his elbows are on his knees, hunched uncomfortably on the edge of the couch. “I feel weird about there being somebody in the room who I can’t even know for sure exists. How do we know we can trust her? How do I know I’m not going to sit on her? How do you know you’re not just insane?”

“If I was insane, Randy,” I say drily, “Rose would not be the only ghost in the room by now.”

I let that one settle with the two of them, and then turn back to the newspaper. “Now. For real, guys. We need to figure out what’s up with the clone we’ve got here.”

“Do you think he’s doing the same thing I did with the mob boss’s son?” Randy asks. “Pretending to be someone in order to get something for himself?”

“I doubt he’d purposely let himself show up on the cover of a newspaper if he was trying to pull a con,” I say. “Rose, thoughts?”

The ghost is still watching Randy like she thinks he might throw a knife at her at any moment, or at least steal her treasure chest the first time she blinks.


“Oh. Yes.” She seems to be coming out of a daze. Can ghosts get Alzheimer’s? She asks, “What was the question?”

“Focus, Rose. Gosh. We are getting absolutely nothing done right now. This is such a waste of time. I’d so rather be watching Glee than dealing with you.”

I take a breath, but before I can continue Randy says, “Rose… um… wherever you are…” He glances wildly around the room—at the other couch, over by the doorway, up near the ceiling. “Um. Well. The question was something to do with if you think the fake Javier got himself in the newspaper on purpose. Right, Mary?” He doesn’t even glance at me, he’s still too busy trying to locate Mary.

“She’s right beside me, dude.” I say. I throw a thumb in Rose’s direction. “You can stop playing Dora the Explorer now.” In a perfect intimidation of everyone’s favorite bilingual child I say, “¿Dónde está the ghosty? Can you find the ghosty?!” Randy’s expression could melt all the ice cream in our freezer. “And yes. That’s exactly what the question was.”

“In that case,” says Rose, “I don’t know. However, if the fraud man did try to get himself in the newspaper on purpose, that still doesn’t explain what happened in your apartment. Or how your newspapers were for a week from now.”

I nod. “Makes sense. Good job, Rose.” I relay her message to Randy and he leans back, crossing his arms.

“How is it that a girl who technically shouldn’t be able to exist is smarter than you, Mary?”

“How is it that you didn’t think of that either, Randy?”

“How do either of you ever get anything done?” Rose asks. She smirks.

“Generally we have a lot of fun arguing like this, and then sudden bursts of brilliance just sort of happen every once in a while. Most of the time while eating something unhealthy. I think it’s because when my body’s freaking out over how much I’m poisoning it, it decides to work extra hard to come up with something smart. It’s my arteries’ attempt to convince me to eat a salad for dinner tomorrow instead of pigging out on Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

“That seems like an utterly horrible process,” Rose states.

“Hence why I don’t generally use it with you.” I shrug. “Now, anyway—anyone figure out what’s going on while I’ve been monologue-ing over here?”

“Of course,” says Randy. I look at him in surprise. “What, did you think I was actually listening to you all this time?”

“No, I just didn’t believe you were thinking either.”

He ignores the taunt to say, “Obviously the men in the two newspaper pictures are different. But did you think to look at who wrote the articles?”


“That’s brilliant,” says Rose. I grab the two newspapers and look at them side by side. He’s right.

My eyes widen. “No way. They’re both by someone named Booker Smith.”


Thanks for reading, and make sure to check Mel’s blog for Chapter Eleven, coming this weekend!

(Now I’m going to go stare at my Spanish homework some more and pretend it makes sense.)



Just so you know…

Mel and I are officially postponing posting the next two chapters of This Is a Book until next weekend (and there will likely be another couple of weeks coming up here that we can’t post during either, due to fun writing shenanigans in everyone’s favorite city-nicknamed-after-a-fruit), so we’re really sorry but we hope these delays won’t stop you from reading. We appreciate all the support we’ve been getting with this crazy, wacko story, and we can’t wait to get back into the groove of writing it once we’ve got a smidgen more free time again.

Thanks for sticking with us!


This Is a Book: Chapter Eight

I apologize profusely for how late this chapter is going up. As I mentioned before, this week has basically consisted of me doing nothing but revising Cadence, and by the time I got to my daily quota of revised pages yesterday (Thursday), I didn’t have any time left to work on This Is a Book.

However: Today (Friday) (sorry, it’s after midnight now so it’s technically Saturday, so I feel the need to clarify what days I’m talking about) I finished my revisions (well, that round of them anyway), so I finally got to write Chapter Eight. Whoohoo!

(Ugh. So many asides. I apologize for that too. I’m really tired.)


Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Follow this link.

Haven’t read one (or more) of the previous chapters? Follow the links below:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Rose does not seem happy about meeting me six days early for our weekly appointment.

“Why are you so fidgety?” I ask as we sit down at a café table. “I didn’t even know ghosts could be fidgety.”

“You’ve known me for how long?” She crosses her arms and looks at a spot above my head. She seems more transparent than normal today. I don’t know why.

I pour more milk into my already very milky tea and then take a sip. I’m aware of the way the Londoners are all staring at me like I’m insane—sitting here, talking to myself—but I ignore them as I look Rose up and down over my mug of tea and say, “Look, I know we aren’t exactly friends, but something’s obviously wrong with you and I feel like it’s my duty to help, seeing as I need your help to stop the aliens. You’re looking a little extra see-through today. What, do you have jaundice or something? Have you not been getting enough sun?”

“I cannot believe it,” Rose says. “I think that might be the most idiotic question you have ever asked me. And there have been quite a few idiotic ones recently.” She finally steels her nerve to meet my eye, but quickly looks away when her gaze falls on my mole. She asks, “Is it possible you’re actually getting dumber with time, Mary?”

“Whoa. Burn,” I say. I take a sip of my tea. “I’ve never heard that one before. Oh wait. I’m serious. I never have. Because I’m a freaking super genius.”

“Just because you figured out how to drive a double-decker bus without instructions does not mean you are a super genius,” Rose huffs.

“Actually, I was talking about my SAT score, but whatever.” I roll my eyes. “Look, I called you here today for a reason, Rose. Some seriously screwed up stuff went down at my apartment last night, and I thought you should know about it.”

She stiffens at the words “last night,” and I roll my eyes again. Seriously. It’s not like I told her I ran over her dog or something.

“What is with you today?” I ask.

“Nothing,” Rose says quickly.

“Um. Yes. If by ‘nothing’ you mean that you are acting completely senile, anyway.”

“Isn’t ‘senile’ a bit of a big word for you?” she asks. She leans across the table, clasping her hands against its surface, and says in a quick torrent, “Mary. I tell you everything you need to know about the impending apocalyptic attack by the aliens, right? Well, this has nothing to do with them. So leave me alone about it.”

“Fine.” I pout. “Whatever.”

By now the man sitting at the table beside ours is outright staring at me, so I turn and raise my mug at him and ask in a chipper voice, “Lovely day for discussing doomsday plans with your invisible friend, eh?” I flash him a dazzling smile. He blanches and looks away, obviously horrified at having been addressed by the crazy girl.

I turn back to Rose. “Last night when I got home from our meeting, I found the entrance to my apartment completely blocked from floor to ceiling by a wall of newspapers. Then, there was an explosion in the living room while Randy and I were eating dinner. Fortunately, the superintendent thought we’d done it as protest to the broken elevator, so that’s up and running again now. Unfortunately, all the newspapers disappeared. Except for one.” I pluck my messenger bag from the floor and rifle through it until I find the paper Randy had pulled from the stack to examine when we first arrived home. “Look at this.” I hand it across the table to Rose.

Her eyebrows immediately scrunch low as she reads the headline on the front page and then scans the article and pictures below. When she looks up again, there’s a smirk on her face.

“What?” I ask, wondering what on earth she could find amusing about a newspaper that isn’t supposed to exist for another week.

“You said the body in the Thames wasn’t important.”

“That was before somebody tried barricading me from my apartment with a stack of newspapers talking about it.”

“You said all you cared about was the aliens.”

“That was before somebody tried blowing up my living room.”

“You said—”

“Look, I didn’t call you here just for you to go on and on about what a jerk I am, all right?” I slam my mug down on the table. Milk with a dash of tea in it splatters everywhere. “Plus, I’m not a jerk. I’m a brilliantly snarky hipster American who’s stuck in the worst city in the world with only a chicken for a roommate and a ghost for an ally. So I would really appreciate it if you’d just spill the beans on what you know about the dead body and then leave me alone.”

“Oh,” Rose snorts, “you want to be left alone now? After you called me here?”

She is far too nonchalant after my rant. She must still be preoccupied by that other thing that was bothering her when we walked in, if she’s not taking me seriously.

“Just tell me about the body, okay?”

“It was a body,” Rose says. “That was all there was to it.”

“Do you happen to know whose body it was?”

“No, I’m not psychic, Mary.” She stiffens at her own words and I cock an eyebrow. She scowls and runs a hand through her hair. I wait for her to go on. “If you bothered to read your own newspaper though,” she says slowly, “you would know that the man was named Javier Boulevard and he was French.”

“Javier, like that dude from that one musical everyone’s always going on about?” I hide the snort in my tea.

Rose exclaims, “That’s Javert. Goodness, I’ve been dead for how long, and even I know that!”

“Sorry, I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately if you didn’t notice.” I lift the newspaper and wave it in her face to prove my point.

“You think I haven’t?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I say. “You won’t tell me.”

“Goodness, Mary.”

“Goodness, Rose.”

“Miss?” The man from the other table has turned his attention back to me. “I’m sorry, miss,” he says in a posh accent, “but you’re making it very difficult for me to enjoy my morning paper.”

“Oh, I’m sorry my little psychotic breakdown here is disturbing you,” I say kindly. “Let me just take this little argument I’m having with myself outside.” I send a meaningful look to Rose and am just about to stand when the man lifts his newspaper to continue reading and I realize I recognize the man on the cover.

It’s our very own Javier Boulevard. Only in this picture, he is still alive.


As always, make sure to check Mel’s blog this Sunday for the next chapter of This Is a Book, and I’ll talk to you soon!



Facebook Page, and Other Such Things

Hey there! So I’m currently at home for spring break, busily revising novels and watching too many movies and plays (I’m literally seeing one or the other every single day over break–this is like Julia Heaven), and I’ve got some exciting news to share with you. So without further ado, here we go:

  • Mel just posted Chapter Seven of This Is a Book on her blog. Check it out here.
  • Requiem–the last novel in the Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver–is coming out this week!!! AND I AM SO EXCITED. Ever since I got to read Requiem as an ARC a few months back, I’ve been dying to gush about the book to you, but I knew I couldn’t say anything until the book was actually released. AND IN A COUPLE OF DAYS I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO. So be watching out to a review or something sometime in the next couple of weeks!
  • I made a Facebook page! I’m going to be using it to put out smaller updates than what I’d talk about on here, but still very fun stuff, so I’d love for you to like it. 🙂 Thanks!

Well, that’s it for now I guess (I’m sure there’s something else I’m supposed to be telling you that I’m just forgetting), but I’ll talk to you soon! Have a great week!


This Is a Book: Chapter Six

I just finished with my Spanish “midterm” type thing, and I am crazy relieved right now. It was a fifteen minute interview with my teacher where I had to talk entirely in Spanish about my interests and high school and life general, and gah. I was so worried she was going to ask me about something I didn’t know any of the vocab for, because then I would have failed, which is always happening to me in Spanish (the not knowing the vocab part, not the part about failing–although I do plenty enough of that as well), thanks to the fact that my life primarily consists of writing at the moment, and the words for “spies” and “subconscious” and all the other fun stuff I generally write about aren’t exactly your run of the mill palabras de vocabulario en una clase de Español.

But it went fine, and I’m apparently right on track to pass the massive final exam at the end of the semester, so everything’s swell.

What I looked like before the interview:


“¡Voy a morir, voy a morir, voy a morir!”

What I look like now:


“I passed, and now I’m going to go take a nap, and nunca quiero hablar en Español otra vez.”

Now, time to relax with good ol’ Chapter Six of This Is a Book! ¡EN INGLÉS! 😀


Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Follow this link.

Haven’t read one (or more) of the previous chapters? Follow the links below:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five


Chapter Six: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Once Randy and I have dug our way through enough of the newspapers to make a hole we use to burrow into the apartment, we vacate the unsecure hallway and set up shop in the kitchen to discuss what the papers mean and how they might have gotten here.

“Are you sure we should be talking about this in an apartment that someone clearly has broken into for nefarious purposes?” Randy asks, sitting down in his chair and resting his chin in his hands. His eye twitches, which tells me he’s actually nervous about being in here right now.

“They left a wall of newspapers, Randy, not a bomb.” I swing open the freezer door and begin searching through its contents.

“How do you know there isn’t a bomb in here?” Randy asks. “There could be a bomb strapped to the bottom of my chair right now, and we wouldn’t even be aware of it!”

I count down in my head, Five, four, three, two…

Sure enough, Randy’s up and out of his chair in an instant, flipping it over to check the underside for hidden explosives. I roll my eyes and turn back to my excavation of the freezer contents.

“What do you think for dinner,” I say, “mint chocolate chip or raspberry sorbet?”

“How about some fish and chips? Let’s be healthy for once.” Randy runs his hands over the chair legs, inspecting them for hidden compartments that could contain poison dart frogs or something, I don’t really know.

“Yes, because deep fat fried fish and French fries with identity problems are definitely healthier than dulce de leche ala mode.” I hold up a tub of ice cream the way Vanna White would showcase a prize on Jeopardy.

“I want real food, Mary,” Randy says. “And don’t you realize having ice cream ala mode just means having ice cream with more ice cream?”

“I ain’t your cook.” I toss the tub down on the counter and begin searching through the cabinets for spoons. When I can’t find any, I grab one from the sink, rinse it off under hot water, and then rip the lid off my dulce de leche. “Ahhh. Dinner.”

Randy finally finishes inspecting his chair and places it back on the floor. I pass a tub of plain vanilla ice cream to him (that’s what he gets for questioning my judgment), and then go sit down at my place across the table from him, holding my own ice cream to my chest.

“So about those newspapers,” I say around a mouthful of caramel heaven, “who do you think left them?”

“Honestly, Mary, you are disgusting,” Randy says. He won’t touch his ice cream.

“Make your own dang fish and chips, if you’re going to complain so much.” A bit of ice cream dribbles down my chin, and I wipe at it with the back of my hand.

“I have no idea who could’ve left the newspapers.”

“You are the worst PWNBEIBER member ever,” I say.

He scoffs at me, his dark eyes narrowing. “Oh yeah? Let’s hear some of your theories then, Miss Snarky Pants. Go on. I’m sure they’re brilliant.”

I wipe my mouth and set my spoon down before saying, as articulately as possible considering the fact that my tongue probably has hypothermia now from all the ice cream, “The man the front page talks about, who they found in the Thames? He died today. Rose saw him getting lifted out of the river or something.”

“You were hanging out with your imaginary friend again?”

“You only wish you knew a ghost-pirate who was feeding you intel about the invasion,” I retort. “You know as well as I do that Rose, despite being annoying and strangely invisible to 99.99999% of the world, has found some pretty hefty clues before. It’s either I know a ghost, or I’m psychic. You take your pick between the options.”

Randy finally gives in to the temptation of the ice cream and slips off his tub’s lid. “I’ll take the ghost. Imagining you being able to read my thoughts is far too horrific a scenario.”

“Why?” I raise an eyebrow mock-seductively. “Think about me often, thief boy?”

“Only in my nightmares.”

“How sweet,” I say, “you dream about me!”

“Seriously though. About the newspapers. You have theories about who could have left them. Share.” He points his spoon at me like this is somehow threatening.

“Well obviously it was someone who knows who we are,” I say, “so they must be pretty intelligent and have pretty high clearance. But they aren’t with Interpol or anything, or I’d be in the back of a squad car by now.”

“I still don’t understand how you got caught for running over that senator anyway,” Randy says.

“He was a diplomat,” I correct him. “And some idiot tourist with an iPhone posted a video of the assassination on Youtube. And my face happened to be in it. And the Americans just assumed that the girl behind the wheel of the bus was the one to blame, despite the way that man clearly walked in front of my runaway double decker. Right as I came around a corner. And swerved towards him. And slammed down on the accelerator.”

“Theories?” Randy reminds me.

“Right—so whoever it is, they must be like us. High clearance, but illegal. So,” I grin, thinking of how poorly Randy’s going to react to this next chunk of news already, “it must have been a bad person.”

He pales. He drops his spoon into his ice cream tub, so that it lands with a splat and little bits of vanilla bean spray all over his pristine black t-shirt.

“You mean one of the people we fight against?”

“I mean exactly one of the people we fight against,” I say. I lean back against my chair and fold my arms over my chest, my smiling growing even wider. “Or it could be whoever murdered that poor man too, out to get us for some crazy reason.”

Before Randy can respond (or throw up—he looks like he might be closer to doing that, anyway), the lights go out.

“Did you forget to pay the electricity bill again, Mary?” Randy asks.

“I thought you were paying for it this month.”

“No matter.” There’s the sound of rustling fabric as he pulls something from his pocket, and a second later light flickers into existence from an electric torch.

“It’s called a flashlight, Mary,” I correct myself.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Just slowly losing my sanity over here.”

Randy directs the beam of light at my face and I squint against it.

“What do we do now?” he asks. There’s a boom from the other side of the apartment, like something exploding. Little bits of plaster fall from the ceiling, and my tub of ice cream falls to the floor. Randy screams. When the shaking stops, he says, “I thought you said there weren’t any bombs!”

“There aren’t any, you loser,” I reply. I reach across the table and pull the flashlight from his hands so that I can direct it away from my face. “Now, anyway.” I stand. “Come on, let’s go check out the carnage. Maybe the explosion took out that annoying superintendent.”

“I think the proper course of action at this point in time would be to flee, actually,” Randy says. His skin is almost as pale as Rose’s. How such a scaredy-cat ever became a professional thief is beyond me.

“It would be if we were normal people,” I say. “But we’re PWNBEIBER members, so it’s our job to go confront danger and slap it across the face instead of running away from it like all the dumb civilians do.”

Without waiting to see if Randy will follow, I point the beam of his flashlight through the doorway to the entrance hall, and start making my way to the door. I stop just a few feet later, though.

“What is it?” Randy calls from the kitchen.

“The wall of newspapers,” I say. “It’s gone.”


Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk to you next week! (WHEN I’M ON SPRING BREAK AHHH!!!!!)


This Is a Book: Chapter Four

Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Follow this link.

Haven’t read one (or more) of the previous chapters? Follow the links below:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three


… And now, on to Chapter Four of This Is a Book!


Chapter Four: The Fault in Our Stars

My fault?” said Rose.

“Well of course. I’m a perfectly normal human being. It’s not like I could have summoned some otherworldly evil pipsqueak creature here. My job is to kill that sort of thing.”

“You thought that pixie was evil?” Rose snorted into her luminescent hand and ignored my remark about killing things. Dang it, I was kind of hoping that would’ve intimidate her even more than my mole had—but, then again, ghosts don’t have much fear of dying, do they?

I crossed my arms and leaned back on the headstone, glaring up at her. I thought about how, seeing as Rose was dead, she was officially the first creature I’d ever met that I had no chance of ever killing. Weird.

A sharp breeze jerked through the cemetery, biting at my cheeks and raising the hair along the back of my neck. I tried not to shiver, but failed. Rose stood floating, waiting for my answer.

“I have yet to meet anything other than a dog that doesn’t have at least a trace of bad in its blood. Including people. Including me. Therefore, I can guarantee you that your adorable little tripped-out friend there was evil.”

What a strange Christmas. First a snarky ghost dressed in an awful pirate costume shows up, and then a—what was that little flying creature called? I didn’t even know. It was just creepy, whatever it was.

“Plus,” I went on, “people who aren’t evil rarely come searching me out with, um, job requests.”

“What exactly do you do?” Rose asked, not sounding wary or curious in the least. More like she was just making polite conversation with the depressed living girl she happened to have come across.

“I’m a member of an elite secret organization that goes by the acronym PWNBEIBER. I’m an assassin. Of things like aliens and Dobby the House Elf or whatever it was that just sought us out.”

“House Elf? Don’t be foolish,” said Rose. “Those aren’t real. That was a pixie you just saw.”

“Yes. Because the existence of pixies is so much more plausible.”

A pixie. Gosh, what liars adults were. They had always taught me pixies were either haircuts or paper tubes of colored sugar. And now all of a sudden there was a freaking Real. Live. Pixie. floating around London, giving out quests and doomsday predictions and all that fun stuff, like those were the sorts of presents people wanted to find in their stockings this Christmas.

“Well, in my personal opinion,” said Rose, “I believe we should help the poor fellow and figure out this whole business about the king.”

“No, no, no,” I said, getting to my feet and holding my hands out towards Rose, stepping away. “I’m not going anywhere near that little pixie freak again. I’m still suffering of menopause-like hot flashes at the moment, and I’m only eighteen. You’re on your own, sister.”

What I didn’t mention was that I already had one government on my tail, along with an imminent alien invasion to worry about—I didn’t need anything more on my plate. And I didn’t like the way the hallucination, or whatever that pixie’s presence had caused, had first sent me to a place I loved—the forest at the edge of my town, full of light and warmth and singing birds—and then dumped me in my grandmother’s closet with a heap-load of overflowing cardboard boxes ready to tumble down on me.

“Please, Mary,” Rose said from behind me as I walked away, my Converse scuffing over the frozen ground. “You cannot ignore a summons such as that. Imagine—we could help save an entire kingdom. There could be a reward.”

My greedy heart stumbled. I stopped midstep, one foot in the air, about to leap over a particularly sunken and poop-splattered grave.

“A reward?” I asked. “What sort of reward? Could it let me go home?” I laughed. “It really would take magic to get the U.S. government to let me back in after what I did, wouldn’t it?”


“Nothing.” I turned around and walked back to Rose. “If there’s a reward, I’m in.”


And that’s how Rose and I met, and she ended up working for me.

Okay, so obviously there’s a whole heck of a lot more to the story, but that isn’t important at the moment. What’s important right now is the way the subway operator is looking at me, clinging to the back of his train like a baby monkey to its mother’s back, with his eyes all wide and mouth dropped open in a look of surprise so comical, I would laugh if it weren’t for the constant flow of air getting choked down my throat by the speeding train. I knock on the door and he tentatively opens it, his surprise now turning to bewilderment.

“Pardon, miss, but how in the world did you manage to get yourself stuck to the back of my train?” he asks.

I say the first thing that comes to mind, which is, “Girl Scouts,” and then brush on past him to get out of the operator car. The first passenger car is crowded and rowdy, nobody paying any particular mind to the short American girl with the heart on her cheek, and I settle into a spot near the center.

A few stops later, I leap out of the car and hurry up the stairs into the strange, misty cool of a summer night in London. It’s two blocks to the apartment building PWNBEIBER has me hiding out in, and then seven flights of stairs to the apartment itself. The building used to have an elevator (or a “lift,” I guess—bloody English people, messing with their own language), but somebody broke it last May during a scuffle between a particularly inquisitive CIA agent and a girl whose face is plastered all over America’s Most Wanted. Not that I know anything about that (or at least that’s what I told the superintendent when he asked).

When I reach the apartment door, my legs are shaky and my lungs just about ready to collapse in on themselves. My mind is already full with thoughts of reality TV and a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream waiting nice and cool in the freezer. But the moment I swing open the door, I know that a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon is not in my near future. Because right on the other side of the door is a pile of newspapers that reaches all the way to the ceiling, completely blocking my path.

“If this is Randy’s idea of a practical joke,” I mutter to myself, “I’m suggesting to Management to move him to the bomb sniffing team in place of the toy poodles.”

“What’s that?”

Crap. Randy’s behind me. I really need to stop saying things out loud to myself.

I whirl on him, throwing my thumb back at the wall of inky grey papers.

“Did you do this?” I ask.

“No, of course not. If I’m putting up with being your roommate, Mary, do you really think I could afford to buy that many newspapers?”

“You’re a professional thief, Randy,” I say. I cock a hip. “I wasn’t really implying that I thought you’d bought them.”

Randy has yanked a paper from the top of the stack—lucky tall person, being able to reach all the way up there—and is now scanning the headlines.

“That’s strange,” he says.

“What could be stranger than a wall of newspapers blocking the entrance to our apartment?” I ask. My legs feel like Jell-O—and I’m talking before it’s had a chance to solidify. I’m so not in the mood for this right now.

“This newspaper is dated for next Tuesday.”

“What?” I rip it from Randy’s hand and see that he’s right. It’s marked with the date for next Tuesday, five days from now. And the headline, stretching all the way across the front page, is about a body found floating in the Thames.


Make sure to check back at Mel’s blog this Sunday for Chapter Five, and I’ll see you next week!



Meeting Ally Carter

So, some very awesome and important things happened this past weekend, and I wanted to tell you about them. 🙂

A) I have this thing I call my Top Six List, which is basically a list of my six favorite living authors. They’re writers who I not only enjoy the work of, but also admire as people and hope I’ll have the opportunity to one day be like. This Friday, I got to meet one of my Top Six for the first time ever– Ally Carter, the author of the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society young adult series.

I got to ask her a question during the Q&A portion of her book signing, and then talked to her while she signed my books. She complimented my dress and joked about sneaking me out in the trunk of a car after the event, since I was in enemy territory (it took place near Michigan State University–I go to the University of Michigan). She was the nicest, most down-to-earth and considerate author I’ve ever met, making sure that every single person at her signing felt special and like she cared about them individually (and there were A LOT of people there).

If I’m ever lucky enough to have a book signing someday, I hope I can be as sweet and considerate as Ally was. Meeting your idol is one thing–meeting your idol and having her be just as great of a person as you’ve always imagined is something else entirely. I can honestly say that it was one of the best evenings of my life. 🙂



B) My high school theatre company won the competition they were in!! The company hasn’t won since before a good number of the students currently in it were born, so it’s a really, really big deal, and I’m so proud of them. 🙂 I’m also sad, of course, that I’m no longer a part of the company, since these totally awful things called graduating and growing up happened, but you know what? I had my time. It’s theirs now. And I am so, so, so proud and happy for all my friends who were a part of the play.

C) And, last but not least: If you haven’t already, make sure to go read Chapter Three of This Is a Book–the genre-bending novel I’m co-writing with my friend Mel–over on her blog here. We’re having so much fun writing this story, and we hope you’re having fun reading it too!

… So that’s it for now, and I’ve gotta get back to procrastinating from my Spanish project by glaring at it over my lunch, so I’ll talk to you later. Have a good week!



This Is a Book: Chapter Two

Don’t know what This Is a Book is? Check out this post.

Haven’t read Chapter One yet? Follow this link.



Chapter Two: Anne of Green Gables

Sometimes I wish Rose wasn’t dead, because then I could stab her. Do her in myself. It would be so satisfying on days like today. But unfortunately, she is dead—somebody beat me to the task, I don’t really know the details—so the best I can do is level my gaze at her, set my jaw, and say, “Excuse me, but not all of us can travel through walls. Some people—namely those of the living variety—have to use foul things like the subway.”

“You mean the tube,” says Rose. She crosses her transparent arms and stares right back at me in a way that would be disconcerting even if I didn’t know that dead people don’t have to blink, and therefore I am bound to lose this staring contest eventually. I shift further into the shadows and widen my eyes at her—a challenge. She gives a nearly imperceptible shake of her head, as if to say, You’re an idiot and I’m not going to force myself to blink just to make you feel better about it.

My concentration waivers as I try to think up a way to snarkily reply back without speaking, and I blink. Dang it.

“I don’t care what the subway’s called in London—I don’t even want to be Europe, let alone this city of all places, for crying out loud!” I say. “I just want to go home, but unfortunately the U.S. government’s got the CIA after me. I swear, you run over one measly diplomat and suddenly everybody’s acting like the whole bloody world is crashing down.”

“Foul? Bloody? Are you positive you came from across the pond?” Rose asks with a smirk.

“Shut up.” I finally take a step away from the wall and let the light wash over my face, and Rose shudders as my perfectly awful birthmark becomes visible. My lips twist up in a grin. Round two of this little competition tonight goes to me.

“Look, can you just tell me if you’ve heard anything more about the invasion?” I ask. Rose is still scowling at my birthmark so hard the expression might just become permanent. I imagine her having to look like that for the rest of eternity, and I hold back a snort. Before I met Rose this past Christmas, nobody had ever taken offense to my birthmark before. It’s nice to have this one thing to use against her. Who would have thought a ghost would take such an aversion to heart-shaped moles.

Rose steps away from me, her nose scrunched up and lips set into a scowl. The puddle she’s standing in doesn’t show a single ripple as she moves. Once she’s a sufficiently safe distance away from my birthmark, she answers in a cool, haughty tone, “Nothing. None of my sources have heard a thing.” Then, seeming to think any news is better than none, even if it is completely irrelevant, she adds, “Well, the police found a man floating in the Thames today.”

“A bit cold for a swim, isn’t it?”

“Shockingly enough, the dead don’t generally feel things like the temperature.”

“Was he killed by an alien?” I ask, getting impatient. I tap my fingers against the crook of my elbow.

“Why would an alien kill a man and then dump him in the Thames?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “You’re the ghost.”

“And you’re the assassin,” she reminds me.


“Is there anything else I can help you with this lovely midsummer evening?” She raises her eyebrows at the crumbling cement roof and water dripping down the walls.

“Not that I can think of,” I say. “See what else you can find out in the coming week, and then report back here again.”

“Will you be on time?” she asks. She shifts her face upwards so she can look down her nose at me. I look up at her and roll my eyes.

“It depends on the trains.”

“You’d better start paying me overtime if you keep showing up late.”

“I can’t believe I pay you at all. Do you even have to pay rent or taxes or anything?”

Rose doesn’t answer, either too insulted by my question or too far above it. Instead she steps through the nearest wall and vanishes from sight. A moment later there’s the sound of metal against metal; a sudden hot breath whooshing up the tunnel from the nearest train tracks. My ride is here.


I met Rose my first Christmas in Europe, right after my now infamous hit-and-run with the United States diplomat. He was supposed to be on business in England visiting with the Queen, but he never made it out of the airport parking lot. It was honestly just a great big botch on the part of the secret service in my opinion, but of course I’m the one they decided to blame for killing the man. For some reason the assassin is always the scapegoat in those sorts of situations. It’s not my fault the secret service were unorganized after the long flight from Washington DC to London, and while they were scrambling to call a limo to come take the man to afternoon tea I got to drive a red double-decker bus over him.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t even want to do it. I got the short straw when The People Who Namely Believe Evil is Bad End Righteously (or PWNBEIBER for short—nobody ever bothers to say our full name out loud, especially since Justin Bieber came around and it sounds like we’re pwning him whenever we say our acronym) handed out the missions that week. I might even have felt bad about it if it weren’t for the fact that the diplomat was a suspected alien. But of course now I’ve got the entire CIA on my tail and I haven’t been home in over a year. Darn PWNBEIBER giving me a mission like that.

But anyway, it was the Christmas right after the incident with the diplomat and the tourist bus that I met Rose. I was feeling lonely, wanting to go home to my family and my annual mound of presents, so I decided to go take a walk through a cemetery to look emo and like a hipster and feel generally miserable about my lack of ability to participate in American commercialism this holiday season. I had just taken a seat on the only headstone in the graveyard that wasn’t completely coated in bird poop, ready to start writing a forlorn poem that might be so depressing the U.S. would let me back in the country out of pity, when I saw something that was not supposed to exist: a ghost.

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed. “Please no, no, no, don’t let this be like A Christmas Carol! I haven’t done anything wrong! You know, outside of killing that one pesky diplomat, but the dude had it coming, and—please tell me you’re at least the ghost of Christmas Future, so you can tell me when the heck I’m ever going to finally get off this stupid island and go home?”

I’m not sure who was more surprised by the speech—Rose or me.

“Can you see me?” she asked, drifting across the graveyard towards me. “Can you hear me?” She almost sounded excited, or at least as excited as a ghost can ever sound.

“Unfortunately, yes,” I said, scooting away from her as she neared. Who knew what kind of creepy things a ghost could do? They weren’t even supposed to exist. I mean, so yes—aliens existed. As did grumpy CIA officials who couldn’t get over one stupid assassination. But ghosts? Not a chance. That was almost as likely as zombies.

“My name is Rose,” she said.

“Mary Hart,” I replied.

“What are you doing in the cemetery, Mary?” she asked.

I was about to tell her about my woes—no family, no presents—when there was a bright flash, blinding, and suddenly the ground heaved beneath me, sending both me and my new ghost acquaintance flying.


Thanks for reading, and make sure to check back at Mel’s blog this Sunday for Chapter Three of This Is a Book!

(And now, in the meantime, I’m going to get back to procrastinating from my Spanish project while eating leftover paczkis.)

happy valentine's day 2013