Color Blind # 1
Genre- YA paranormal
By- Penny Miller
All her life Harmony Phillips has felt defective. Growing up in a paranormal community where magikal abilities come from the wavelengths of color, a color blind girl is worthless, and they haven't let her forget it. No one but her adoptive parents, Charlie a Were-Lion and Sarah a Witch, along with her best friend Tesch, a Siren, have ever given her an ounce of esteem. When a fit of outrage unlocks the color yellow to her eyes, Harmony passes out cold with shock over her eggs and accidentally glamours her nemesis Challen Parks into a cowardly golden retriever. As other colors unfold before her eyes, so do new abilities. Love and friendship get turned upside down as Harmony struggles to have faith in people, discovering they are not always as they seem. The misfit becomes the outlaw as she is once again different from everyone else. What began as joy turns to peril when the paranormal Council finds out she is more than a Witch, or a Were or a Fae... oh my.
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About the Author-
Penny Miller is a born and bred Oklahoman. She has a nursing degree from Eastern Penny Miller Oklahoma State College and is a Registered Nurse in addition to being an author. Penny wrote her first short story complete with illustrations when she was seven-years-old and has been writing ideas and bits of dialogue ever since. As a child, her mother regularly read to her classic faery tales. It was those stories that ignited her imagination and attraction to the magical and whimsical. With her three children Robert, Amy and Cheyenne, she carried on the tradition of introducing them to fantasy and other worlds through stories. Three years ago, she co-authored erotic romance e-books under the pseudonym Jp Archer. At that time her daughters asked her when she was going to write stories they could read. Penny went to her keyboard and dug in and her debut solo novel, Color Blind, was born. Most importantly, creating a story in the Young
Adult/Paranormal genre is where she found her true voice as a writer. She hopes readers will become fans of her heroine Harmony Phillips and follow her story through the next phases; Colorful and Colorless.
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Excerpt Three from Chapter 6: Harmony and Tesch are in the den of her home studying together. Now that the school is aware that Harmony has the yellow magik of the Fae it has been deemed appropriate that she take the courses she has been kept out of when she had no powers. As usual, the pair are verbally sparring in a way that often leads to playful rough housing. This excerpt is a bit longer than the previous two but one I was quite proud of.
“You are so going to pay for that one.” I warned. My sorcery book launched itself at his head of its own accord, honest.
“Bring it, little girl, if you got the juice.” He laughed as he dodged another free-flying school text.
Friends, you can’t live with ’em and can’t knock ’em upside the head with your History and Anatomy of Were Beings book either. But that didn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
My Coke can hit Tesch in the chest and bounced off. He looked surprised for all of two seconds and then smiled evilly. Suddenly on the defensive, I did what I do best. I ran.
Tesch chased me around the sofa and chair group. I shrieked as he launched himself over the back of the couch to tackle me. We rolled across the rug, coming to rest behind the furniture on the floor by Charlie’s big desk. His long body spread over mine, dwarfing me by comparison.
“Get off me!” I groaned.
“No. Not until you say you’re sorry for hitting me with the can.”
“No. You called me princess.”
“You threw a book at me.” He answered back.
“Not until you called me princess.”
“True. But you said I had fleas.”
“I did not! Now get off!” I struggled beneath him, feeling smothered. “You’re squishing me, you dumb jerk! I can’t breathe.”
“Well, we can’t have that.” Tesch pinned my arms to the floor with his hands and raised his body up to straddle my waist. “There, that better?”
He’d worn a bright yellow T-shirt with Scooby Doo on it. In my honor, he’d said when he arrived bright and peppy before lunch. The shirt fit snuggly and showed off the muscles in his arms and chest.
Though he’d ceased mashing me into the floor, it didn’t feel any easier to breathe. “You’re still too heavy, Tesch.” I panted.
“No, I’m not.”
He stared at my face in a way I didn’t recognize. Tesch looked like I felt when I watched a Monarch butterfly emerge from its cocoon, as if he’d seen something miraculous and wonderful.
“Tesch?” My voice pleaded. For exactly what, I couldn’t say. I felt confused. What was happening here? Tesch, my safe harbor, the one I shared all the best and worst of my days with. Sarah and Charlie were wonderful parents, but they’re parents, not my confidants. Some things were not the same telling them.
I’d have been a liar though if I said I hadn’t noticed Tesch was a guy, a handsome guy. I’d seen the way girls in school stared at him. Like the way I stared at him from my position on the floor.
My heart beat fast. I felt short of breath as if I’d run miles without stopping. Did I want this? Did I want things to change? Was the decision even mine?
His lips lowered toward me. I closed my eyes. Here it came, my first kiss.
Starbursts exploded behind my lids before his mouth touched mine. A jolt of something I had no name for coursed through my body. Pain speared me.
“Tesch!” I screamed his name as my spine bowed, ready for an arrow. My eyes came open for a staggering minute.
A blast of power threw him back against the heavy oak desk, rattling the drawers and toppling the lamp. I heard the distinct pop of the bulb as my eyes sealed shut again in opposition to the tempest raging in my chest, threatening to crack it open.
I felt as if I’d swallowed an animal of some type. One with teeth and claws and fur, definitely fur because it rubbed in my throat, itchy and dry. The animal wanted out! It was set to come through my ribs and stomach!
Oh stars, it hurt. It burned! I was dying. I knew it. No one could survive this kind of torture. I fought just to breathe, to last another minute.
I heard Tesch calling my name, but I was unable to answer him. He shouted for help from Charlie.
Charlie came running. I heard the pounding footsteps against the hardwood. Sarah came too. Her tread lighter, but no less quick. My eyes were still tightly closed against the agony, but I felt their presence, smelled their scents.
“Oh my, Goddess!” Sarah’s horrified whisper reached me. “Charlie, is she…?”
Am I what?
I wanted to shriek, but it came out a growl that grew to a scream. The kind of scream heard on a dark night in the middle of the wild, a screech to make small animals shiver and run for cover.
“I don’t know, but I think so.” Charlie agreed. The stress in his voice reverberated down my back bone. I convulsed against the floor boards.
“But how is that possible?” Sarah’s voice was etched with worry.
“Harmony! Harmony! Kitten? Can you hear me?”
Another wave of pain hit me, and a mournful cry escaped my throat. The best I could manage under the circumstances.
“Kitten, don’t fight it. Fighting only makes it worse.” Charlie coaxed me. How the hell would he know? He couldn’t know how badly I hurt? Couldn’t he see I’d been poisoned or something. Call an ambulance for cripe’s sakes!
As I writhed on the floor praying for an end to my existence, Charlie barked orders. “Tesch, close all the doors and windows. Seal up any way
she could escape. Sarah, honey, I think it’s time some of those chickens of yours served a higher purpose. Get a few and bring them in here.”
“Should I wring their necks?”
“No. This first time we need to let instinct take its course.”
The individual scents of water and rosemary drifted away as Tesch and Sarah went to follow Charlie’s weird instructions. I might have understood under different circumstances, but I’d become a little preoccupied with getting ripped apart from the inside out.
My neck arched with another inhuman cry. My adoptive father knelt beside me. He took my hand in his. I gripped the lifeline to sanity.
“Kitten, listen to me. Listen to my voice. I don’t know how, but you are shifting; shape changing.” He had to be mistaken or crazy! I couldn’t be a Were-anything. I showed freaking Faery power. I saw yellow and accidentally cast illusions. That’s it! That’s all!
Charlie spoke to me again. “I know it hurts. The first time is hell. If you fight it, it hurts more and takes longer. When the next wave comes, don’t try to get over it, ride it. Let the tide carry you where it wants to go.”
His voice stayed calm and controlled, but I could smell his fear. The pain liked the scent. I rolled onto all fours, still gripping his hand in mine. My eyes opened to a new world.
Everything appeared sharper and more defined, at least up close. I saw shades of gold in Charlie’s hair and a deeper color in his beard; like each individual strand had been outlined in light. I could have grabbed a single strand easily, getting the one I meant to snatch.
Dust motes in the air were vivid, a sunbeam coming through the window highlighting their dance. I’d like to pounce on them, but the idea was abruptly cut short as another spasm waylaid me.
I curled into a protective ball, still grasping Charlie’s hand. When would this torment end?
“Breathe, Kitten. Don’t fight. Take deep, even breaths.”
I looked up at him from my misery. Tears leaked down my cheeks. It would have been a waste of energy to try to stop them. I focused on Charlie. He took breaths with me, coaching me in some bizarre version of Lamaze. The ache in my center peaked again. I breathed.
Time split into short parcels of pain and breathing. My skin moved on its own, in ways I hadn’t known it could. I breathed.
Sharp, lethal claws erupted from my fingertips with searing torture. I punctured Charlie’s skin with my grip and breathed. Life became reduced to nanoseconds of hell and sucking wind.
Sarah and Tesch returned together. She carried a couple of clucking hostages. They watched me with looks of wonder and dismay. I breathed.
Heat built in my core. I started panting. I couldn’t help it. Something came, changed, and grew inside me! No human could achieve the shriek that tore from my throat as my body shivered violently and broke apart.
Some residual affection for the beings in the room had me slinking away from them. Instinct said hide. The predator observed for signs of weakness.
“She’s beautiful.” The young male’s voice startled me. I hissed in his direction.
“Yes, she is.” The older, bleeding man agreed.
Please share a brief history/bio on each of the main characters from ‘Color Blind’ with us. This can include a physical description, likes/dislikes, personality traits, etc.
Harmony Phillips: 5’2” tall. Hazel eyes that are blue, green, with a hint of violet in them. Hair: has been described as “living wood polished to a high shine” ~ ash, oak, cherry and mahogany. Her birthday is June 1st.
Harmony was adopted as a baby. She has never really considered who her birth parents are because her adoptive parents are so wonderful and loving. Sadly, Harmony was born totally colorblind in society where magik is based on colored wavelengths of light. She can’t see or do any of it. Because of her disability she has been bullied, picked on and left out of a lot in school, but it hasn’t stopped her from still looking for the best in people.
Harmony fully expects to join the “Normal” world someday because she can’t see magik. So when something happens and she starts to see color and do magik, she accepts it as a miracle and is grateful. She just wants to enjoy the change with her family and best friend/boyfriend Tesch. She never dreamed of the danger it could bring to her life and certainly never wanted anyone to be hurt by it. She is loving and honest to a fault. Expecting people to be the same, she never anticipates cruelty or lies from others. It makes her naive, her biggest downfall. .
Tesch (Teschandarian) Wight: 6’0” tall, Eyes: Jade Green, Hair: Black
Tesch is a Siren, he has Fae magik which is in the yellow spectrum. He is also an orphan who lives with his guardian, Mr. Wight. He has been Harmony’s best friend and self appointed protector since first grade. He’s been in love with her for years even if Harmony doesn’t realize it. Tesch feels like he has been ‘on his own’ all his life and is not as forgiving or innocent as Harmony. He knows people are not always what they pretend to be. While he has powers and can do magik, he deliberately refrains from doing very much magik around Harmony. He doesn’t want her to feel bad that he can when she can’t. Tesch doesn’t like anyone who picks on Harmony and has come to think of Harmony’s home and parents as his own. He’d do anything to keep the Phillips family safe and sound.
Sarah Phillips: 5’0” tall, Eyes: Warm Brown, Hair: Red (long)
Sarah is a former witch of the green spectrum. When she married her husband Charlie, she had to give up her powers. Intermarriage between color powers is not allowed. as Harmony says “You can take the magik out of the witch, but you can’t take the witch out of the woman.”
Sarah has her own business, raising farm fresh vegetables and selling them to ‘green’ grocers. She loves her husband, her daughter and her plants, in that order. She prayed to Gaia for a miracle to restore Harmony’s color vision, hoping that she might share her craft and potion skills with the next generation. Very practical, she is the calm center of this family group and handles the changes in Harmony’s life with the optimism of discovery.
Charlie Phillips: 6’4” tall, Hair:Blond, Eyes:Blue
Charlie gave up being a were-lion for love. He has all the red magik he needs when he runs his fingers through his wife’s hair. By profession, Charlie is a college professor of American History. He is quite content with his life, wife and daughter and doesn’t need or want things to change. When changes do happen he is more cautious about the new events. His love of history has taught him that while change is not necessarily bad or evil, it can be painful for those going through it. He feels his role is to guide his family through change as wisely as he can.
Challen Parks: 6’1” tall, Hair: Blond, Eyes: Blue Grey
Challen Parks has been the bane of Harmony’s life since she was a little girl. An alpha were-wolf, he was always the first to bully and make fun of her. Only when Harmony stands up to him, (and accidentally glamours him) is he forced to face his true feelings about her.
Being confused and conflicted have made Challen a real jerk, but he will have a chance to redeem himself.
Joliet Combs: 5’8” tall, Eyes: Dark Brown, Hair: Dark Brown
Joliet is the social scene Queen. The girl everyone wants to know or be. She is one of two djinni’s at McLoud High School and the only daughter of the Mayor. Spoiled, pampered and powerful she befriends Harmony when she first manifests Fae magik. Harmony describes Joliet as “vain at times, even narcissistic, but with the mind of a born prosecuting attorney.” Joliet is only being a friend so she can spy on Harmony for her parents. When Harmony learns this, she realizes how lonely Joliet is, trapped by the circumstances of her birth and gives her a second chance on the condition of complete honesty between them. It remains to be seen if Joliet can live up to Harmony’s terms of friendship.
Mr. Bellfwigg 4’11” tall, Hair: balding Eyes: Brown
Mr. Bellfwigg is Harmony’s vice principal. He also takes on the role of Fae magik tutor and mentor when Harmony’s powers begin to develop. Harmony thinks he is a gifted teacher in the way he uses visualization to help her learn magik. She is a bit disturbed when she also learns that Mr. Bellfwigg belongs to a secret political group called the Wizened This group is dedicated to bringing all paranormals back into the fold of their society, including mixed blood and half-breeds. The Wizened strongly opposes the Paranormal Council’s ban on intermarriage and mixing of color powers and has been waiting for centuries for a champion to take on the Grey Cloaks.
Madame Osza: Height: unknown (she is in a wheelchair), Eyes: One dark brown, one serpentine, Hair: Silver
Madame Osza is the first mixed blood paranormal Harmony knowingly encounters. She is the fortune teller for a carnival, part lamia *seer) and a very wise woman. She tells Harmony’s future with her deck of tarot cards. It is not a future Harmony is sure she wants. The question is, can she escape her fate or is she destined to be more than just a small town paranormal girl.
Grey Cloaks: Height, hair and eyes varies
These are the paranormal world’s ‘boogeymen’. Soldiers and henchmen for the Paranormal Council, they enforce the strict laws on racial mixing and keeping the paranormal world a secret from “Normals”. There is only one punishment. Death.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first short story when I was in the first grade. It was about a paranormal story too. I think my mom still has it in a trunk of momentos. I wrote poems and short stories all through school. My sixth grade English teacher was the first person to ever say to me “You should be a writer.” But I didn’t actually get serious about writing until I turned forty. Nothing like a milestone birthday to light a fire under the butt.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
It took me nine months to write Color Blind. I started July 22, 2012, I finished April 9, 2013. Just a few days after my daughter, Amy’s thirteenth birthday. Which incidentally, it’s her photo on the cover of the book. A lot about Harmony is like her. She was my inspiration.
It’s taking me longer to write the next book Color Full, partly because there is a lot more of the story happening. Harmony is going through some pretty big issues and milestones to become what she was meant to be, just like most young people at that age. And partly because of my work schedule. While I’m a writer, I’m also a full time working mom. My other job is being a RN and hospital supervisor. These days finding the time to write is challenging, but I am dedicated to it.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
LOL. In a word, HECTIC!. I would love for the day to come when I could devote most of my time to writing. Not only for the Color Blind trilogy, but for the other stories I have waiting in my hard drive.
I work a “real” job close to 50 hours a week. So my days off are split between family activities, chores and writing. Thank goodness, I’m a blitz writer. I know some people try to write something everyday, but I am more like a sprinter. I sit down and pound out five to six thousands words at a whack. I write in pivotal increments moving Harmony (or other characters) through one crisis until the the next.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t do it on purpose but I have this habit of using them often. But that is what make a page turner. It’s the reason for a reader to not want to put a book down. They just have to know what happens next.
5. How do books get published?
Well, my first ‘books’ were ebooks for an erotic romance company called Sizzler Intoxications. I had a partner that I wrote with under the pseudonym Jp Archer. That was my first foray into the publishing world. Honestly, my partner on those books, Lani Rhea had already established the contract and premises for the stories. She asked me to co-write for my English skills and dialogue. I give great dialogue.
Anyway, Color Blind was my solo debut and I was such a novice it was sad. I wrote the story, Polished and edited the book to the best of my abilities, then listened to all the discussions and advice of indie authors I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Then I queried. And queried and queried. I had a list of publishers and editors accepting unsolicited manuscripts from Publisher’s Weekly. I queried five to ten of them every month for a year. About half sent me very polite ‘no thank you’ and ‘not at this time’ letters. The other half didn’t even respond. It was very disheartening. I shelved the book for six months and worked on other things.
Then a friend of mine, Author Elizabeth Kolodziej contacted me asking if I had contracted to anyone for Color Blind. She told me that Indie Gypsy Publishing was opening a YA branch to their house and looking for stories/authors.I submitted my query to them and they liked my work and offered me a contract. One of the happiest days of my life. It was so validating to be accepted and published.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Color Blind is set in the real world. And most of my “research” is real world experience. The fantasy part is just that, fantasy, my own creation. That’s the beauty of writing fantasy and paranormal, the world is whatever I want it be. And a lot of useless trivia that is stuck in my brain. I have years or reading good books, textbooks and articles for reference. And the godz blessed me with excellent recall of most anything I read.
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was forty-one when I co-authored my first story, Before the Dawn with Lani Rhea. We cranked out Under Bonded Contract that same year and I helped to write the first seventeen chapters of the next book, Pass or Play before deciding to pursue my own interests, Color Blind.
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read. Not exciting, I know, but I am a voracious reader. I can read a book in a day, sometimes less. My nirvana is going to Barnes and Noble, Hastings or the library.
I enjoy bowling. I used to bowl on a league and I have a trophy for a high game of 289. For those who don’t bowl, that’s eleven pins short of a perfect game. I like movies and music. And I like stand up comedy. There is a comedy club in Oklahoma City called Looney Bin that my best friend and I go to once in awhile.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
My first books were in the erotic romance genre, so I think they were a little embarrassed. But now that I have written Color Blind they are very supportive. It’s something my momma can talk about with her church group, lol.
My daughters thought it was a cool hobby, until some of their friends from school read my book and LOVED it. Now there is a small celebrity status involved, at least locally LOL. They are more on board with it now. But… I do find it funny that whenever I sit down to write or blog or do writing stuff is exactly when they need my attention.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I learned was about myself. That I could do it! LOL.
One of my biggest flaws I think is that I am a procrastinator. The other is that I sometimes don’t finish what I start. (I know, it a serious character flaw, but being flawed is what makes a good character, right?) But finishing the book was an achievement. I proved something to myself. That may not be the answer you were looking for, but it is the best one I have.
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Completed books… four if I include the ones I co-authored. And of course, Color Blind is my favorite. But ask me again in a few years. I think the answer may be different. I am planning another paranormal trilogy about Thunderbirds with a set of fraternal twins as the heroine/hero. And while Harmony is a wonderful character, Crimson and Royal are promising to be very interesting and diverse.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
A very big question. And I think the best advice I can give is WTFS. Write the Freaking Story. If you have a great story to tell, that only YOU can tell, then the editing, the polishing and the publishing will come.
But some of the little tips that I have learned
1) Any time you find the word “was” in your manuscript, go back and try to find an action verb to replace it. Be very conscious of the “passive voice”.
2) Keep the pace going. Don’t get too bogged down in detailed description, allow the reader to fill in some of the gaps. Yes, it is your story to tell, but it is their story to read and they will appreciate some wiggle room to invent for their mental movie screen.
3) Get a thick hide. Not everyone will LOVE what you write and not everyone’s criticism will be constructive.
4) Be willing to listen. If you find yourself in a situation where a publisher is interested in your manuscript but has some suggestions for rewrites, unless it completely changes the tenor of your “voice” listen to them. They know their business and are trying to help you both be successful.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
So far so good. The readers I have heard from has been mainly in the form of reviews. I think I had one four star and that was the lowest one. I also have some beta readers of various age groups. The main thing I hear from anyone them is “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THE NEXT BOOK?!” I’ve had death threats from my daughter if I don’t get it done soon.
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I think my books is for adults. Just as much as it is for young adults. More than a few of my reviews have been from adults my age or more and they love it just as much as the younger crowd.
15. What do you think makes a good story?
That ties in with your previous question. I think what makes a good story is that it can appeal to a wide group of people. That there is something in it they can identify with. One friend, author and reader who is older than I am told me that I nailed the feel of being in high school for her, that I took her back to her youthful feelings of uncertainty and excitement of what was to come. Another reader, a grown man loved that I gave him a dose of adventure and wonder without drenching him in romance.
But my own thought is.. a good story is one that entertains. The bottom line is fiction writers are entertainers. And we should put on a good show.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Don’t laugh, I wanted to be an FBI agent. I took a school trip to Washington DC when I was 13. One of the places we visited was Quantico. I was fascinated with the Behavioral Sciences Division and wanted to eventually become and doctor and agent. Do you remember Scully from X-Files? I wanted Scully’s job, before there ever was an X-Files.
17. What would you like my readers to know?
That Color Blind is a great book for anyone who loves a little paranormal, adventure romance and fantasy all rolled into one. That I would enjoy hearing their thoughts on the book also. Do they see themselves in the pages? If they had to chose a color magik, which would they be? They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by my website at https://pennymillerbooks.wordpress.com/ I love to talk about my books and I will write back.
And I wanted to say thank you so much for having me and for giving me a chance to talk to your readers. You asked some good questions. I hope I did just as good of a job of answering them. #whatcolorisyourmagik