Here’s a quote from my favorite scene in The Nexis Secret, one inspired by a Pinterest Pic, actually. This is a turning point for Lucy, where she decides whether or not to join Nexis and finally accept her gifts as reality. Plus, there’s an added Lucy and Bryan camaraderie that naturally evolves from this point.
Of course, there’s a lot more to this scene that I love, it’s effortless flow and melancholy tone that turns into hope. But I couldn’t include some of my favorite bits for spoiler reasons.
Don't worry, this mini-excerpt is pretty sweet in its own right.
Excerpt from The Nexis Secret
He drew back to look at me. “I’m sorry. I’m not helping, am I?”
My lips curved at the beautiful concern in his eyes. “I don’t know about that. Things didn’t make sense until you told me to listen to my heart. At least I don’t think I’m crazy any more. That’s a big improvement.”
“Good to know I have some effect on you, even if it’s only keeping you sane.” A laugh rumbled from his chest. “I believe I said, go with your gut, not this mushy heart stuff.”
I didn’t have the energy to laugh. Still, the burden of uncertainty over James lifted like a weight off of my heart. If this story was true, then my visions were true, too. I let my shoulders relax and my head sink onto Bryan’s firm shoulder. As he stroked my hair, I closed my eyes. I barely noticed the bright light I saw instead of darkness. It wrapped around me, filling me with peace as I drifted off.
Halloween at Montrose Academy
When writing my fabulous Halloween scenes in The Nexis Secret, I relied on the old adage, “write what you know.” I turned back time to mashup my 2 favorite Halloween-type experiences—the haunted houses my friends and I loved in middle school, and my dorm decorating contests. Montrose Academy is a boarding school, so it’s kinda like college right? And I’ve got the pictures to prove it.
I bet you’re wondering how I combined haunted houses and dorm decorating to create Halloween at Montrose Academy. Okay, here we go.
Fast-forward about five years as one of those friends goes off to college. It’s her freshman year, and her school only has open dorms once a year. So they do it up right. Especially when there’s a title on the line, her floor won last year and they’re determined to win again. They of course choose a fabulous theme, Hollywood, and take it to the next level. They build larger-than-life-sized Oscars, along with the red carpet and an exact(ish) replica of Hollywood Hill. They even make her dress up like she’s heading to the Oscars. (But who’s complaining?)
So what do these two separate and seemingly unrelated stories have in common? Now they’re both part of Halloween at Montrose Academy. One is the essence of the boy’s dorm decorating prowess, the other belongs to our story’s leading lady and her dorm. Did you figure it out already? Of course, our prep-school boys had to build their own haunted house if only to relive their (ahem, my) glory days. Obviously, our prep-school girls went to opposite route, choosing to be pretty, fabulous, and not to mention pretty fabulous in their own little Hollywood. Who do you think wins the Halloween dorm decorating contest at Montrose Academy?
But of course, a Halloween story wouldn’t be complete without a creepy prank right? Here’s a little excerpt along those lines from The Nexis Secret.
Excerpt from The Nexis Secret, Chapter 24 “Grape Eyes”:
I tried to open my door, but something pushed back. I bent down, picking up a silver tray with a paper triangle on top. The note read, Prize for the Best Scream Award. How could that get around so fast? More importantly, who could’ve put the tray in my room? I thought we’d locked it.
When I lifted the paper, a pair of eyeballs rolled back at me.
In a split-second my dorm room disappeared.
The rest of the real word faded away, too.
As if I stepped through a portal to another world, suddenly I found myself in the archway of a Gothic cathedral. With a blonde girl dressed in white staring at me like she needed something. She held up her own silver tray—except the eyeballs were real this time. Lolling back and forth like they were still alive.
When she looked straight at me, I knew who she was.
Her eyes weren’t eyes any more. They sparkled like diamonds.
She was St. Lucia, she had to be, just like the “priest” showed us at the church.
She stretched out her finger, not at me exactly, but over my shoulder. I swiveled around like a marionette.
Something was shrouded in the darkness.
Then the onslaught came.
Shadows laced with sparks and lightning rushed at me. Wraith-like claws lunged for us, shrieking and seething in a burst of fireballs that exploded like fireworks—aimed in my direction.
A flash of light snapped me back into the real world.
Girly jitters erupted down the hall.
I dropped the tray with a crash of metal on hardwood. A peeled grape squished under my heels.
What just happened?
I blinked, dazed and confused but back in my dorm room.
I bolted out of my room just in time to see snatches of brass and honey-blonde hair, along with a swatch of red dress zipping to the end of the hall. The door slammed as the evil blondes disappeared into Monica’s room.
Bryan jogged up to me. “What happened?”
I retreated to my room, plopping with a thud into Shanda’s butterfly chair. “I don’t know, I had the strangest vision. I think Monica and Colleen got a picture of it.”
“What? You’re joking, right?”
I shook my limp head at him.
“That’s perfect.” He threw up his hands. “She’s had it out for me ever since we broke up. It’ll be all over Instagram, Twitter, everywhere, in five minutes.” He scooped the tray off the floor, one grape skittering into the corner. He chucked the metal tray across the room, hard. It clanged against the cement brick. “Were there two of these?”
The expression on his face said it all. The fear in his eyes, mixed with anger. I couldn’t get a sound out. I just nodded again.
“Worse than I thought.” His phone buzzed in his pocket. When he pulled it out it had an awful picture on it. Me, with my eyes half rolled back in my head, a horrified expression on my face. “Much worse.”
“Why would they do something like this?” I rubbed my fingers into my temples, closing my eyes. The vision of St. Lucia flooded back to me, her sunken eyes sparkling like colored diamonds of crystal, amber, and black. Those jeweled eyes seared through me as if they could see into my eternal soul. I blinked fast, forcing my eyes to stay open.
Bryan twiddled his thumbs over his phone’s keypad. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure this gets taken down as soon as possible. But it may be too late.”
Laughter wafted in from the doorway. So it began.
The Bagpiper Spy
In this first installment of my Behind the Scenes of The Nexis Secret series, I thought I’d start with my favorite real-life adapted character. Yes, I actually did “meet” a bagpiper in New York City. Unfortunately, no, he wasn’t a Guardian spy. Shocker—I made that part up!
The Best Trip Ever
About 15 years ago I took a missions trip to New York City, one of the best weeks EVER. We stayed at a church on the Lower East Side, right near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. We held VBS services in the playgrounds, complete with balloon animals and me dressing up as a clown. (Sorry, those pictures are mysteriously absent ) We walked to the corner deli every morning for the best breakfast sandwiches ever, and hopped over to the pizzeria next door for classic NY pizza.
On our day off we got to do touristy stuff, including a visit to Times Square. As I snapped pictures of the bright lights, I noticed this bagpiper in one of my shots. I’ve always loved street musicians, and to own the truth, bagpipes pique my curiosity. I vaguely remember following this guy as he played, but the other pictures were too blurry to tell.
Though I never stopped to talk to him I always wondered. What makes a guy say, “Hey, let’s put on that kilt and play me bagpipes in Times Square tonight.” Maybe it’s the money, or maybe it was something more. My storyteller’s imagination ran with this idea.
From Street Musician to Spy
If you remember from my earlier post Would You Rather Go to College or Boarding School?, The Nexis Secret originally started as a chick lit novel set at an NYC college. Back then it was called A Corner of Reality and I included lots of the real-life tidbits I’d picked up on my NYC trip. Adapted of course to protect the innocent.
When I added angels and secret societies into the mix, I still felt compelled to leave in the bagpiper. I just loved him so much! Plus, I just love the scene where he chases them to the Marriott and they play elevator tag. Also real-life (adapted) incidents by the way.
A writer friend wondered why I’d left the bagpiper in the story. I’d reworked the elevator tag scene to fit the new story, but apparently my beloved bagpiper stuck out as unnecessary. She suggested I cut him, unless he had some purpose. For instance, if he was a spy then maybe I could leave him in.
It’s funny to think that my friend’s off-the-wall suggestion gave this character new life. But it really did. Mr. Bagpiper had a new purpose—the hide-in-plain-sight spy. No one would suspect a guy dressed in a kilt as being a spy, right? He almost blends into the background of the Times Square lights. Only a crazy writer-type like me would notice him.
The Making of an Unusual Spy:
All it took was
1 random moment where a bagpiper caught my attention +
1 random suggestion from a friend to =
the zaniest clandestine character ever: The Bagpiper Spy.
Now, whenever I hear bagpipes I always think of my Bagpiper Spy, and the real-life Times Square counterpart.
Have any random incidents in your life you could see in a story?
Origins of The Nexis Society
In my YA angel book, The Nexis Secret, the story centers around The Nexis Society—a secret society. Often I’m asked, “Where did you get the idea for Nexis?” or “Where did Nexis come from?” Well, you asked for it. Here’s your sneak peak into the secret origins of The Nexis Society.
The origins of Nexis date back to the origins of humanity, namely the Tower of Babel. In the Bible, 5 chapters after the flood, you’ll find Genesis chapter 11 where the fictitious Nexis thread begins. After the flood there’s a table of nations, a story of how the nations evolved from the sons of Noah and their wives. Chapter 11 opens with a group settling into a plain and building a tower to the heavens.
Why build a ridiculously tall tower made of brick (or stone, or whatnot)? The theories are numerous, but I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with my own just to create Nexis. The people who originally formed Nexis believed they were extra special, set apart after God destroyed almost all of the world with the flood. They grew tired of spreading out to new territories, always rebuilding. So they decided to unite and came up with their own plan.
They wanted their own entrance into heaven. Not because they thought they were gods, though some of them surmised they were pretty close. Instead, they wanted to recreate the Nephilim of Genesis 6, the half-angel, half-human creatures who were “the heroes of old men of renown.” The people of Nexis thought they could rebuild society with these Nephilim and make Earth a utopia. One they would control. Basically, they wanted to take matters into their own hands.
Obviously, God was appalled not only that they could be so organized, but also be so bold as to try to create their own heaven on Earth. By using an unnatural union of fallen angels humans to create their own overlord hybrid! What does God do? He comes down to inspect their tower and decides that “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” As punishment, he confuses their language, which is why that plain became known as Babylonia, meaning confused.
The appalling Nexis plan leads to the origin of The Guardians, the group who opposes The Nexis Society in The Nexis Secret. The Guardians contend that the creation of Nephilim resulted in the flood. So their goal is to prevent that from ever happening again, which I’ll discuss further in next month’s post on The Origin of The Guardians.
As you can imagine, Nexis is undeterred. Ever since the Tower of Babel, The Nexis Society has been trying to recreate Nephilim to set up their own utopia. After the Babel incident, chapter 11 goes into the lineage of Shem, Noah’s firstborn son. In fact, the lineage makes special note of firstborn sons—only. The other children are listed merely as sons and daughters. From this account, Nexis infers that the firstborn descendants of Noah’s firstborn son Shem, have a special covenant with God. To do what? To receive special gifts to protect God’s people, including the power to see the unseen world of angels, and demons.
They’ve called this person The Seer, and Nexis has been trying to get The Seer on their side for tens of thousands of years. Just so they could recreate Nephilim and finally finish the plan they started way back at the tower of Babel. Creepy huh? Good thing I made it all up just for a series of YA books with a different take on angels.
Of course, this doesn’t go into the whole history of The Nexis Society—the years of searching for Seers, infiltrating governments, or how they set up their Nexis Nations throughout the world. I guess that’ll just have to wait until a later post.
I love being a writer, just so I can create alternate worlds to play in.
If you were(are) a writer, what kind of world would you create?