Red Sand

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

All sixteen-year-old Kassi Blake wants to do is dance, and stay at home on Earth. Simple wants, really. But when her father’s chosen by NASA to help terraform the red planet, Kassi reluctantly travels with her family to join Mars Colony 1. Mars is a sterile wasteland with no dance academy, and it’s 33.9 million miles away from home and Kassi’s dreams. She learns the excavation team is accepting applications and takes the opportunity to prove that her physical stamina and grit honed from years of ballet can translate into a new dream — success in one of the most challenging fields Mars offers.

Kassi's partner in hunting archaeological treasure is Noah, a former football player and grandson of the habitat’s commander. On their initial dig, they unearth prehistoric cave drawings and pottery emblazoned with a mysterious symbol. Not long after, the habitat’s hull breaches during a freak sandstorm. The sandstorm vanishes as quickly as it began in an eerie green mist, and in its wake, the site of the breach now bears the same symbol as one they found in the cave.

Kassi and Noah race to unravel the mystery of the symbol and discover who — or what — attacked their new home. What they find leads them to one inescapable conclusion. An ancient force has awakened and will kill to shut down Mars Colony 1. The next disaster targets the greenhouse where her mom works, landing her mom and several others in critical condition. Then the habitat's oxygen circulation system fails, sending everyone into a panic. With dwindling food stores and only three days’ supply of air left, Kassi and Noah must face 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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