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Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I'm thankful for a lot this year. Pretty big things happened for Me this year in terms of my writing and teaching careers. It's so nice to be able to spend my life doing things I love. I'm also thankful that my friends and family are healthy. Grammy battled cancer and won. I moved into a house that I love and enjoy making my own.

Today I'm spending Thanksgiving with Grammy, Mom, my brother, my uncle, aunt, and cousin. Looking forward to great food and quality time with the family. I hope everyone has a great day!

On a side note--I'm also thankful for the break from school because I can get in some much needed editing/writing time.  

Author Interview with Word to Dreams

I recently did an interview with Word to Dreams Blog where I talked about what makes a great story, The Atlantis Revolution, how tough it is to get published, my writing schedule/method, and more.  Head over and check out the interview

Life Redefined (Echinodea--Chapter Two)

      "Trey."  Aerian's voice floated on the air.  But it wasn't her voice that had my attention.  It was her body standing in front of me that held my mind hostage.  The white cloth covered her the way it was made to, but it teased just enough to excite my imagination.  Her long, black hair flowed in the breeze, which also carried her sweet scent.
       "Trey."  She touched my shoulder and rubbed it.  Electricity flowed through my veins like blood, stimulating my nerves.  Then she started to shake me.
       "Trey."  The shaking grew stronger.
       "Stop," I said.
       Aerian's voice faded and light took her image away.

       "Trey."  A girl's voice, not Aerian's, called.  White tiles above me matched the color of Aerian's clothes.  I lowered my head and looked forward.  A chalkboard.  Desks with teenagers surrounded me.  Some of the students smiled at me.  Some of them looked at me like I was the biggest fool around.
       "Trey, you fell asleep," Jessica told me.  Her green eyes met mine with concern.  "The teacher called you three times."
       I straightened up and looked around.  Mr. Walker, my biology teacher, stared at me with that look that almost all teachers have.  The one that looks like it could kill you.  It's so effective; they have to practice it in the mirror over and over to get it right.
       "Mr. Atlas," he walked toward my desk.  "Can you tell me what I just said?"
       Of course I couldn't; but he already knew that.  And I bet the nervousness showed in my ocean blue eyes.  "You said that sleeping is an important biological function and sometimes you can't stop it."  All eyes swerved to him.
       "You can find out what I said in detention this afternoon," Mr. Walker told me.  The bell rang and he switched out of the disciplinarian role as though he was never in it.  "Read chapter eighteen tonight."  I ran my hand through my layered blond hair in frustration and then stood up.  "And don't forget to meet me in the computer lab with your completed projects tomorrow."
       Jessica fixed her red hair as I packed my biology book and binder in my backpack.  We met Coal in the hallway and he walked with us to the cafeteria for lunch.  After getting food, we sat down at a table where Ashley and Sara already sat.  Coal sat next to Sara, his girlfriend.  I sat across from Coal, in between Ashley and Jessica.  It was awkward at times because Jessica was my girlfriend but Ashley was one of my best friends, with Coal being the other.
       Unlike with Coal, I had a lot in common with Ashley.  We were both athletes, cared about looking our best, and tried to present a sense of style that worked for us.  In fact, because we had so much in common, I always had a feeling that Ashley and I could date.  The only thing stopping us was the fact that I didn't want to ruin our friendship.
       But we didn't have to date for the friendship to be damaged.  When I started dating Jessica, it put a strain on my friendship with Ashley.  We discussed it many times in the past few weeks and it seemed like we had it smoothed over.  For now.
       "Trey fell asleep in biology class," Coal announced to everyone at the table.  His dark eyes watched my reaction carefully.  I wanted to lash out at him for announcing it to the world.  I wanted to call him Connor, his real name, which he hated with a passion.  Though I couldn’t deny that the nickname suited his dark eyes, rough face, and black hair.
       I decided that I didn't want to make a huge scene about him calling me out but I also didn't want to ignore it.  "Thanks, Coal.  Like it wasn't embarrassing enough."
       "What's going on with you?" Jessica asked.  "You used to be a top student and athlete.  In the past few weeks, you've been falling asleep in classes, your grades are dropping, and you're not even swimming anymore.  Is it me?"
       "No," I said and then took a bite of my pizza.  I looked around the cafeteria, trying to take the focus off myself.  Table after table was filled with laughter and discussion.  Typical high school students living their lives and worrying about who was most popular, who was dating who, and how they were going to pass their next test.  That's what the issue was.  Everyone around me still had their normal lives and had nothing major to worry about.  I had so much responsibility to handle and I was finding it very difficult to manage.
       "Well it started right around the time you started dating me," Jessica said.
       Ashley and Coal looked at me.  They knew the truth.  It did start when I started dating Jessica.  But it had nothing to do with her.  It was because, just before I asked Jessica out, I became the prince of Atlantis, fought off the Knights of Abyss, and found out I was adopted.  I also watched the man I thought was my grandfather fight for his life in the hospital.  An entire population waited for me to lead them into the future and looked to me to keep them safe from another attack by the Knights of the Abyss.  And sooner, rather than later, I was going to have to go back to Atlantis and do my job.  I couldn't avoid it forever, even if I wanted to.  Though I didn't really want to avoid it forever because Atlantis was a part of me, my birthplace.  I just wasn't ready to deal with leading the island yet.
       "It's just a coincidence," I told Jessica.  No one could know about Atlantis, besides my family and two best friends.  They were the only ones I trusted.  I had to keep it secret so that it would remain safe from the outside world.  Atlantis had it's own problems within its boundaries.  I didn't need to add more by revealing that it existed.
       "Trey has a lot going on in his life right now," Ashley said.  Jessica's eyes shot daggers at Ashley.  I tensed with the anticipation of whether Ashley would disclose the information I wanted to protect.
       "And it sounds like he tells you more than he tells me," Jessica stood up and fixed her clothes.  She looked at me.  "Call me later."  Without another word, or time for me to respond, she left the cafeteria.
       "Thanks, Ashley," I said.  "Make my life even more difficult."  I took a sip of milk without looking at her.
       "I was trying to help," she said.
       "Yeah, well, you didn't," I replied.  "Now she's mad at me."
       "You know what, Trey," Ashley stood up in a huff.  "I'm tired of this.  I know your life fell apart but you don't have to go around feeling sorry for yourself.  If you really think that you don't belong here, then go.  No one's stopping you!"  She stormed off.
       I took another bite of pizza and waited for Coal or Sara to say something.  They didn't.  Deep down, I was glad they didn't try to pick sides.  I needed to figure out how to balance my new life and that wasn't going to happen over night.


       The steady rhythm of water beating off my body helped me relax and allowed my mind to clear up a little bit.  It was needed.  I didn't even remember what happened during the rest of the school day.  A dense fog had settled in my brain and clogged up my consciousness.  I slept, or day dreamt, through my afternoon classes. 
    After school, I served my detention for Mr. Walker.  He talked to me about his concern for the change in my grades and behavior.  I tuned him out and just agreed with him so it would be painless.  I went to the gym and did my normal routine before heading home and jumping in the shower.
       I'd hoped that I would connect with Aerian through the water but that wasn't happening.  I didn't have a lot of time to waste anyway; I had to meet Jessica for dinner in an hour.  I called her to make sure she was ok since lunch didn't go smoothly.  She had calmed down but I asked her to dinner to make it even better.
       I ended my shower, toweled off, dressed in my most expensive jeans and polo shirt, and headed downstairs.  Mom was working on her laptop at the kitchen table.  "Hey," I said as I went to get my shoes, which sat on the floor next to the back door.
       "Where're you going?" Mom asked.
       "I'm having dinner with Jess."  I sat on a chair at the table and started putting my shoes on.
       "Still didn't hear anything from Atlantis?" she questioned.  Mom was as interested in the island as I was.  As an archeologist, she couldn't hide her fascination with ancient peoples and cities.
       "Aren't you worried that something's wrong?"
       "No."  I finished tying my shoes and stood up.
       "Are you going to Atlantis soon?"
       "I don't know."  I started toward the door.
       Mom stood up and moved to follow me.  "Trey, wait!"
       "I have to go; I'm going to be late."  I opened the door.
       Mom put a hand on my shoulder and pulled me away from the door.  Then she pushed the door closed.  This wasn't good.  She wanted to talk and I didn't.  "Mom, I have to..."
       "No, Trey," she cut me off.  "I need to talk to you.  You're scaring me."
       I rolled my eyes at her.
       "Don't do that," she reprimanded me.  "You know what I mean.  You're not the same."
       I went to the table and sat down.  "Fine let's talk."  I decided that it didn't matter if I was late to dinner.  Jess was already upset with me.  "Isn't it obvious why I'm different?  I'm dealing with a lot right now.  I was told I was adopted, that I was from an island that wasn't supposed to exist, and that I'm now the ruler of said island.  Grandpa is dying.  And none of my friends or family seems to think any of that is worth being upset about.  That is if I can still consider my family my family."
       Mom joined me at the table.  "You're not alone, Trey."
       "Really?  Then tell me who's with me because it doesn't seem like anyone cares."
       "I care."
       "You care because you’re my mother," I told her.  I really wanted to say that if she cared she wouldn't have hid the fact that I was adopted from me but I didn't want to argue and I knew that wasn’t a fair statement.  She did what she felt was the best thing for me.  And even though I didn't agree that it was the best thing, I knew why she hid it for so long.
       "What about Coal and Ashley?" she asked.
       "They're trying to act like everything is normal.
       "You have Jess."
       "Jess is upset with me because I won't tell her what's wrong with me.  She thinks it's her."
       Mom smiled.  "So tell her the truth.  Girls just want to know the truth."
       "I can't tell her about Atlantis.  I can't tell anyone.  I shouldn't have even told Coal and Ashley.  Don't you understand?  Atlantis has enough problems within its own boundaries.  It doesn't need to deal with people from the outside causing issues."
       "But you're the one dealing with Atlantis' issues anyway."
       "Exactly the point!  I don't need anything else to worry about."
       "Well this isn't good for you.  You gave up swimming, you're grades are dropping, and you don't let anyone help you."
       "None of you understand.  You can't help me.  I'm on my own."  I got up from the table and pushed the chair in.  Without saying another word, I stormed out the back door.


       I met Jessica at the Italian restaurant.  She already sat at a table, dressed in a skirt and blouse.  She looked great but she didn't look happy.  "You're late," she said as I sat down.
       "I was talking with my Mom," I told her.  I picked up the menu and perused the pages.  I guess I hoped it would avoid the uncomfortable conversations that I knew were bound to happen.
       "Trey, look at me," Jessica said.  I spent a few more seconds staring into the menu and then placed it flat on the table.  My eyes met hers.  "Trey, something's wrong and I don't even know what it is.  I want to help you but I can't.  And if I'm going to be your girlfriend, I need you to be honest with me."
       I looked away.
       "It's not that I don't want to be honest with you," I said, meeting her eyes again.  "It's just that I can't.  I can't share some things about my life."
       "But I thought I was sharing your life?  Don't I deserve to have the full thing?"
       "Of course you do.  But there's just something I can't share.  I know you don't understand but I can't do anything about it."
       "Does Coal know?  How 'bout Ashley?"  Her words stabbed me in the chest.  I looked away again.  "If they know, why can't you tell me?  Don't I mean that much to you?"
       The young waitress in black pants and a white shirt stopped at our table and asked if we were ready to order.  The brown haired girl used her eyes to flirt with me but I wasn’t even remotely receptive.  Not only was I sitting with my girlfriend but I also had way too many other things to worry about.  We ordered drinks and our dinners and then she disappeared.  I was thankful for the interruption but Jess's silence reminded me of the question she posed just minutes ago.
       Don't I mean that much to you?  I had to be careful about how I answered that question.  Of course she meant a lot to me but unfortunately it was different than Ashley or Coal, who I knew all my life.  Girls just want to know the truth.
       "You mean a lot to me," I said.
       "So then what's the problem?
       "It's just that I've known Coal and Ashley my whole life.  I just met you.  I mean, I can tell them secrets that I know they won't share because there's a really good chance they'll be my friends the rest of my life."
       "And what am I?  A passing fling?"
       "No.  I mean...I don't know.”  I thought about what to say for a few moments.  “How do we know if we'll be together forever?  This thing that's bothering me is the kind of secret that can change lives if it gets out.  It can change the world.  And if you and I have issues and we break up, I don't want to worry that you're going to share it with people in revenge."
       "So you don't trust me," she said matter of factly.
       That was the right answer but I knew better than to agree with it.  "It's not that.  It's just that I don't know you well enough yet.  I'm sure in time I'll be able to share this piece of my life with you.  I just think it's too early in our relationship."
       Her demeanor changed, like she finally understood what I was saying.  "I guess I can accept that."  I breathed a sigh of relief.  "But I hope that one day you'll feel comfortable enough with me to share your deepest secrets."
       "And one day I hope to be."  I took her hand in mine and smiled.  "Jess, I love spending time with you.  You mean a lot to me and I'm glad I have you in my life.  And I'm sorry I ever made you feel like that wasn't true."
       The waitress delivered our drinks and tried another round of flirting that I ignored.  We talked about school while we waited for our dinners.  Jess filled me in on all of the gossip I missed while I was locked away in my own subconscious, as she called it.  By the time our food was delivered, I had been caught up on all of the drama between the quarterback of the football team and the head basketball player, who apparently were fighting over the captain of the cheerleading squad.
       We ate while Jess talked about how there was a list of all of the boys and their best attributes on one of the stalls in the girls’ bathroom.  She said that my name was at the top of most attribute lists.  I knew that she was trying to make conversation without facing the reality of what was happening to my life.  Because, whether she knew it or not, I knew exactly what conversations were taking place at the high school. 
    The biggest gossip was about how the best athlete from our high school, the top swimmer in the state, fell from grace.  About how the hottest guy in the school was having a life crisis and breaking down.  And all of the rumors that surrounded that fact were not very flattering to my self-esteem.  Everyone had a theory and none of them were even remotely close to the real situation.  But how could they be?  No one even knew that Atlantis existed.  And no one could ever know.  That's where my dilemma was and where it would remain.


       After dinner, I walked Jess to her car and opened the driver's door for her.  She twirled around to face me and smiled.  "Thanks for a great dinner," she said.  She leaned toward me and kissed my lips for a brief second.  "And as much as I wish you’d tell me more, thank you for at least being as honest as you could."  She kissed me again.
       When she pulled away, I replied, "thank you for understanding."  And then I kissed her, more passionately than she had kissed me.  My hands found their way to her waist and I pulled her close.  Aerian's image found its way to the inside of my eyelids as Jess and I kissed.  In that moment, I felt the best I had in a long time.
       She pulled away and used her hands to take mine off her waist.  "I should go before this gets serious."  She laughed nervously.
    "Yeah."  That was all I could say. 
    She climbed into her car and I closed the door for her.  And then she was gone, the taillights down the road.  My problems rushed back, colliding with my brain like two runaway freight trains.  I still had an island to lead and protect.  Then there was the fact that none of my relationships were remotely close to the way they had been before Atlantis.  And of course Aerian was a problem.  I was dating Jess but, as we kissed, I imagined the sorceress.  There were too many unknowns and uncertainties.
       The thoughts reorganized in my head.  I still needed to go see my grandfather, who wasn't really my grandfather.  I needed to see how he was doing and I had to hope he had information about Atlantis and my life there that would be valuable to me.  But seeing him would, more likely than not, give me more stress and frustration because I wouldn't be sure about his health.


       It took me about twenty minutes to walk to the hospital.  The nurse at the desk on Grandpa's floor just smiled at me.  I visited every night since I returned from Atlantis so all of the nurses and doctors knew me well.  Grandpa slept peacefully so I positioned myself in the chair across from his bed.
       The man in the bed was the only grandparent I ever knew.  The problem was, the man in the bed wasn't my real grandfather.  He was actually a sorcerer from Atlantis that was responsible for keeping me alive.  He brought me to Miami when I was just a baby and convinced my parents to adopt me.  They couldn't have a baby of their own so they agreed to raise me but they vowed that they wouldn't tell me the truth about my life.
       That plan worked until I started hearing screams in the water while I was swimming.  And then when Grandpa gave me my necklace, the one I never remove from my neck---not that it mattered because the magical jewel always returns to its owner--- I started to have visions of a woman in trouble.  That's when he revealed everything about my true life to me.  That's when my world fell apart.
       The man in front of me breathed heavily, even though he appeared to be in a deep sleep.  His small, skinny frame made him look in worse condition than he really was, or at least worse than I thought he was.  Maybe I just wouldn't accept how poor his health was.  Even though he wasn't my biological grandfather like I once thought, he still meant a lot to me.  After all, he was part of my life from the beginning.  In fact, he was my one true link to Atlantis and my biological parents.
       I moved to the bedside and took his hand in mine.  It was cold and gray.  The monitors beeped periodically, reminding me to watch his vitals to make sure they were where they should be.  They were, but only because of the medication.  In fact, the medication was also the reason he was always sleeping.  Whenever he woke up, he wanted to know about Atlantis.  Everyday since I came back from Atlantis, he asked me to share my adventure with him.  I think he forgot it from one day to the next.  While I hoped that he would one day fill me in on my biological parents and my connection to Atlantis, he didn't remember anything.  The more I questioned, the more upset he got.  He wanted to help me but couldn't.
       His eyes opened with a start and I gently shushed him to keep him calm.  His heart rate escalated.  "Grandpa," I said softly.  "I'm here.  It's alright."
       His voice was weak.  "Trey."
       "I'm here," I reassured him.
       "Trey.  How was Atlantis?"
       As much as I hated recapping my adventures in Atlantis everyday--bringing back the source of my problems--I didn't want to disappoint Grandpa.  Especially because of the condition he was in.  So I recapped it again.  How I met Oaren and his family and they helped me get some clothes and a map.  The encounter with the Knights in the capitol city, the soldier---Ries---saving Oaren and me from the attack.  Oaren's parents being called traitors and their murder.  Ries and the Knights meeting us in the woods and helping us save Aerian.  Training at the base and making the plan to defeat the Knights.  The battle, my encounter with the sorceress---how she turned dirt into wasps---and our victory.  My speech to the Atlanteans, the seahorse tattoo I have on my left biceps, and the incredible palace that now belonged to me.
       As I finished my recap, I realized I had a lot to be thankful for and to be proud of.  But that still didn't make up for all of the problems of balancing my life at home and my royalty in Atlantis.
       "Trey," Grandpa whispered, his grasp on my hand tightening.  "There's something I need to tell you.  Something that will make things clearer but might also cause some more frustration for you."  Great.  More frustration.  Just what I needed.  "It's about your family; your biological family.  You’re a royal because..."
       "I'm sorry, Trey, but you're going to have to leave now," the nurse that smiled at me from the desk entered the room.  "Visiting hours are over, honey."
       Grandpa was just about to tell me something crucial about my real parents.  Something that might help me figure out who they were.  Who I am.  And now I had to leave.
       "Grandpa," I said, "save this until tomorrow.  I want to hear the rest of your story when I come to visit."  I patted his hand with my hand that wasn’t already clenched in his.  "Good night."
       "Good night," he replied as he released my hand.  I left the hospital room with my stomach in knots.  The information I needed had been seconds away from my ears but it vanished.  And I probably wouldn't ever hear it again because, even though I said to save the story for tomorrow, Grandpa would probably forget we even had that conversation.  He'd forget all about the information he was about to share.  And I'd be right back to square one, except I knew that he had the information I needed.

And the Title for the Third Book of the Atlantis Revolution is...

Did you know that Hippocampus was originally titled Trey Atlas and the Key to the Kingdom?  Yeah, I know, Hippocampus is better. 

While I was promoting Trey Atlas and the Key to the Kingdom on Textnovel and Inkpop in 2010, I realized that the title just wasn't what I wanted it to be.  So I picked the symbol right out of the story--Hippocampus, the Atlantean symbol of royalty.  And it suits the first book in more ways than one. 

From there, I decided on the titles for the second and third book, both of which stay true to the format of scientific names for marine animals.  They also represent the classes in the Atlantean society.  While I don't want to give anything away, Echinodea represents two different aspects of the second book.

There's a lot of thought behind the titles of The Atlantis Revolution and anyone who reads the books will surely see how well they work.  In fact, the titles--and how important they are--are one of the major reasons my agent loves The Atlantis Revolution.  Just wait until you get to connect the title Echinodea with the story inside the book.  I think you'll find it to have a huge impact on the series--and probably you and your need for book 3. 

That being said, I want you to know the title of the third (and final) book of The Atlantis Revolution.  This way I can use it when I refer to my progress over the next few months.  And you'd find out when the reviewers start reading Echinodea in a few weeks anyway.  This book had 3 different titles since I started official work on the series in 2009, and I finally settled on the one now being revealed.  And like it's predecessors, it works for numerous reasons. 

So drum roll please...
The title of the third and final book of the Atlantis Revolution is....