Before I tell you about the book I’m featuring today I need to tell you about its author. I met Nyrae two and a half years ago on the website Inkpop (now Figment). Her story was one of the first that I read on the site. But we really started talking when both of our books made it into the Top Five (which meant a HarperCollins editor was going to read and review them!) Her book was called Chasing Normal, and mine was called Angel Prophecy.
Nyrae and I started messaging each other every day and quickly became close friends. We began to beta read for one another, critiquing whole manuscripts. Soon Nyrae was the person I turned to first with all of my writing ails and joys. She was my writing bestie, and now one of my closest friends. We’ve been through a lot in the short time we’ve known one another. My book, Angel Prophecy, was picked up by HarperCollins and the title changed to Sweet Evil. Her book, Chasing Normal, was picked up by Crescent Moon Press and the title changed to Karma Bites. She’s also experienced a lot of excitement this year through self-publishing FOUR of her amazing novels and gaining a hardcore loyal fan base. I’ve read all of her stuff, and I’m one of those loyal fans.
Nyrae and I first met earlier this year when I flew to California for my sweet Grandmother’s funeral. It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but I was thrilled to meet her, as you can see from my cheesy grin:
And two weeks ago I got to share a room (and bed, lol) with Nyrae at the SCBWI conference in L.A.
Part of why Nyrae and I get along so well is because we’re both romantics. We gush over book boys, kissing scenes, and HEAs together. It’s funny because she’s mostly a contemporary/realistic fiction writer, and all my stuff is fantasy. Karma Bites is the exception. It’s paranormal, and I *think* she’s nervous about it. Honestly, I think everyone’s going to LOVE it as much as I do. It’s got a contemp feel, and the main character’s voice is so much fun. This is my favorite story of Nyrae’s, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to Abby and Caleb in Karma Bites!
When bad boy Caleb Evans saves Abby from a mean girl attack straight out of a “B” movie, Abby’s own karma starts to improve. Maybe “normal” could become her way of life, after all. But Caleb isn’t the only boy to notice her. Once newcomer Gabriel Chambers becomes Abby’s new best friend, she finds herself trapped between two boys, both holding secrets. And when Abby learns sometimes things really do go bump in the night, she discovers one of those secrets could just get her killed."
And here’s an excerpt from Karma Bites:
I wonder how teachers make the school clocks run so slowly? As soon as you step through the doors you’re in a parallel universe where time runs slower than Mr. Henry’s drawn-out algebra lectures. Like any of us will need this outside the classroom. If we did, there would be an adult other than a math teacher who could help with homework.
I sigh, letting my eyes travel to Stacy, queen of The Lipstick Posse. Her eyes, dark brown, but they almost look black, narrow at me and she gives me one of those wicked smiles that only someone who excels in mean-girlism can give. She mouths vamp freak at me. So original. The least she could do is muster up some creativity. Okay, so my mom believes in vampires. That’s golden as far as reasons to make someone’s life miserable. If I were Stacy, you can bet I’d have a better game than that.
In case you didn’t catch it, my life sucks. Ha! A pun. It wasn’t even on purpose either.
At the first shrill ring of the bell, I pull my familiar swoop-and-roll maneuver, jerking my backpack over my shoulder, rolling out of the chair and making a break for the door. It’s not that I’m scared of The LP. Okay, that’s a lie; maybe I’m just a little afraid. Who can blame me? It’s not only three on one, but I have no doubt if Mom’s crazy vampires-are-real fantasy were true, Stacy Cavanaugh and her death stare would be the poster child for the undead. She sucks the life out of me every day. Not that I have much of a life to suck. Wow, I rock at puns.
I squeeze my way through the students herding toward the door. Don’t these people understand I’m tortured here? They should totally let me out first. I’m trying not to become a bullied teen statistic.
“Excuse me. Excuse me.”
I try to wiggle my way through, but it doesn’t work. Everyone else might not stoop to calling me “Vamp Freak of Karma, California”, but they do enjoy the show, no matter how many reruns The LP play.
I’m halfway down the hall before I exhale a deep breath. I might have made it.
“Hey, Vamp Freak. How’s your crazy mom?” They surround me like a bad Mafia movie. I keep walking. “It must be hard, living with a nutcase. Do you guys have padded walls in your house?”
It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me, I chant to myself. But it does. No matter what, she’s still my mom and besides the one tiny—okay, maybe not so tiny—but besides the one peculiarity about her, she’s completely normal.
“My mom’s not crazy.” I glance at her. “Oh, I think you missed a spot. Your top lip is looking a little less hooker-red than the bottom.”
Tiffany stumbles. Stacy’s hooker lips form an “O”. Even I’m a little surprised by my comment, but a vamp freak can only take so much.
“You little bitch.”
Uh-oh. She pulled out the big guns. Bitch means she’s really pissed and I don’t feel like being shoved into the lockers today. Three on one, remember?
I break into a run. Sad, I know, but unfortunately I don’t have any super-vampire abilities where I’m able to take on The LP by myself.
I shove through the charred-brown doors leading to the back of campus. Ahead of me is a field of green. If this were a movie, I’d be frolicking through it rather than running for my life. Just beyond the field is the line of trees separating high school hell from my reprieve. I find solace in the woods. My problems feel a whole lot smaller when surrounded by towering trees.
Maybe it’s because I know The LP won’t follow me out here. They might get dirty or something.
“Run, freak, run!” Stacy yells as I dash through the field. How cliché. If kids are still quoting movies that came out when most of us weren’t even alive, what chance do I have they’ll ever lose interest in crazy Abby and her psycho mom? If I were old enough to bet, my money would go on never.
My run dies as soon as I hit the trees, settling into a nice, slow walk. A few more months. Only a few more months and I’ll be out of Karma for good. I kick a branch. What kind of name is that anyway? Karma, California. Did I wrong someone in a past life? Oh! Maybe I was a vampire hunter in a past life and this is their payback. But that would take me believing in things like that.
Which I don’t.
Maybe I especially don’t want to believe because, at seventeen, I’d just been allowed out after dark. Kind of hard to fear the night monsters if you’re the only teenager in the world who has to be in by the time the streetlights come on. The only reason I can swing it now is because I threatened to sneak out of the house—gasp! After nightfall. Unfortunately Mom only okays it very rarely and on prearranged, extra-special circumstances.
All thoughts of crazy moms, vampires and psycho, tormenting teens, flitter out of my head on the wind as the tiny cabin comes into view. There’s only one person who has a cabin way out here and my little path leads right past it. Lucky, right?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I remember every detail about the few conversations we’ve had. Every. Last. One. Pathetic.
The slow, lazy walk I was enjoying is over and I start speeding up. Not into a run, because I don’t want to look like the freak everyone thinks I am. A girl has to save face whatever way she can.
Before I reach the dirt road in front of the tiny shack of a cabin Caleb shares with his dad, the blinds part slightly. When eyes I know are the most unique shade of green peer out, I trip. Yes, a stupid rock jumps in front of me when Caleb Evans looks out his window. Nice. My cheeks are hot.
I start walking again.
Just like those few conversations, I know every look too. And surprisingly, Caleb Evans looks at me a lot. But then, who doesn’t like to stare at the vamp freak?
His gaze is scalding on me, burning me up from the outside in. Soon, I can’t take it, my eyes darting to the woodsy earth beneath my feet. It doesn’t last long. My eyes are drawn to him, and I can’t help but seek out his green again.
He’s still there. My thoughts start rapid firing at me. How did he get home so fast? Why does he stare at me? Did he ditch? Why do I like it? Where are his friends? Why can’t I be one of them?
Okay, maybe not that last question, because as addictive as Caleb Evan’s gorgeous green eyes and messy black hair are, his friends are a little scary. I’m pretty sure most of them will end up in prison one day. Well, except for Caleb, because he’s beautiful and makes me burn inside.
God, I really am a freak!
Before losing sight with him, I shoot one more glance his way. And he smiles. Not a real smile, because I’m not sure his mouth really works that way, but a half one. He has me in some kind of Caleb-induced trance. Pfft, trance. It’s called good looks, Abbs. But this is the first smile, so it has to mean something. I can’t help but return it. As soon as I do, the curtains close and he disappears behind them.
The trance is broken. Hell, I’d probably even imagined the smile, because that is my biggest fear. Imagining things, seeing things, believing things. As normal as Mom is in so many ways, I’m scared of becoming that hidden part of her most people don’t see. I’m scared of being like the crazy, vampire-obsessed woman I call Mom.
Karma Bites will be available in paperback and ebook through Amazon and B&N.
You can find Nyrae and all her books, including Karma Bites, on her Goodreads page.
Visit Nyrae Dawn at her website: http://www.nyraedawn.blogspot.com