Red Sand

Meet BENEATH THE RED SAND (YA Sci-fi/Supernatural),  my work-in-progress:

Sixteen-year-old Kassi reluctantly follows her family to join the first Mars colony, leaving behind her dreams of landing the role of Clara in this year’s production of The Nutcracker and eventually studying at Julliard. Stuck in a sterile wasteland with no outdoor air and no dance academy, Kassi channels her drive to excel into a new ambition. She applies for an apprenticeship under an elite archaeologist. From her first excavation, she’s hooked on the thrill of hunting treasure—fossils of ancient marine life or signs of a long-ago civilization.

She and her excavation partner, Noah, unearth the first prehistoric cave drawings and pottery buried beneath layers of dirt. Not long after, the habitat’s hull breaches during a freak sandstorm. Then the oxygen circulation system fails. Each disaster site is emblazoned with the same symbol as the cave art, leading Kassi to suspect these aren’t random accidents. 

Determined to discover who — or what — is sabotaging her new home, Kassi teams up with Noah to unravel the mystery of the symbol. What they find leads them to one inescapable conclusion: an ancient force has awakened that doesn’t want humans on the red planet and will kill to shut down Mars Colony 1. With the disasters escalating, Kassi and Noah must somehow vanquish this guardian spirit before it wipes out the entire community.


Character art by illustrator aimelli at nanowrimo

First page:

With three little words, Dad shatters my life as I know it. These are the words I’ve dreaded hearing for years now, but never actually expected him to say.

We’re leaving Earth.

“What? No. It's too soon. I can't--” I choke out, tears stinging my eyes. In one violent motion, I stand so fast I accidentally bump into my vanity and send its contents -- the makeup, hairbrush, barrettes and bejeweled bobby pins I’m using to get ready for tonight’s date -- flying in all directions. They clatter to the oak hardwood floor, a satisfying sound. Luckily, the still-hot curling iron doesn’t fall along with them. My hand flies to my mouth after my clumsy moment. It's a lot to take in, being expected to abandon everyone and everything I love outside my immediate family. My feet step back of their own accord as Dad’s words sink deeply into my being. “When?”

He pulls out my desk chair and plops onto it, uninvited. Some of the excitement in his eyes dims at my reaction, but I don’t care. I don’t care. He rubs his stubbly chin and sighs. “Two weeks. Honey, I’ve been training for this my entire career...”

Two weeks? The words reverberate in my skull, echoing louder and louder until I want to scream. Two weeks to say goodbye to my best friend Anna, who I’ve never been away from for more than a week or two at a time in our whole lives. Two weeks to say goodbye to my boyfriend Ben, the sweetest guy on Earth. Everything else I’m leaving behind, too, runs through my head--our house by the beach, dance lessons, school--until my chest feels too tight, like I can’t get enough air.

Cover art  courtesy of illustrator Hannah J. Shaw at NaNoWriMo

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