Monday, 21 December 2015

Bookmas Day 7 — A Snippet From My Book

On the seventh day of Bookmas, the book blogger gave to me, a bit of Hide & Seek, some festive reads, a post about films, reading recipes, comic book thoughts, a list of writing tips and a book rec for a mystery

Welcome to Bookmas day seven! Today I have for you a snippet of my novel, Hide And Seek. I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2014 (which was a much more successful year than this year, I assure you). It is probably the most important thing I've done in my life, and I am rather proud of it. Every time I see it sitting on my shelf, I get super excited.
Hide And Seek

Anyways, I thought I'd share a little bit of it here, so that if you are potentially interested in reading it, you can get a bit of a tester. Also, it's a bit of a precursor to tomorrow's post (as much as I'd like to give you all a free copy of my book, unfortunately, it's not that). If you'd like to purchase my book anywhere, you can get it in ebook from Amazon, and paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Booktopia, and even eBay, from various sellers!

Without further ado, here is the snippet! It is from the beginning of the book, where you first get to meet the characters and such. I hope you enjoy it :)

 The sun reflected off the slate roofs on Kaleidoscope Street as we walked towards the park, carrying a basket full of sandwiches and cakes and tepid soft drink.

I adjusted my hat and pulled my sunglasses out of my tote bag. Rena tutted, flicking her dark, hatless hair.
“You and your pale skin. So many hats and so much sunscreen,” she taunted, smirking at Tilly and me.

Gabriel swatted her. “Don’t tease, Rena. This is a Positivity Picnic,” he chided.

Gabriel, Rena, Tilly, Sebastian and I had been best friends for as long as we could remember. Living in a town of just five hundred residents really didn’t give you much choice as to your friendships, but the five of us had an inexplicable connection.

“Honestly, hush, we are going out-of-bounds, remember. If someone hears us, the police will be notified and we’ll be scrambled!” Tilly said, pointing towards the forest inside the park that was clearly out-of-bounds. She was right. If the police caught us out-of-bounds, we’d be in serious trouble.

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Chill, Till. We’ve been doing this since year two, and we’ve never been caught. We’ll be fine.”

We looked around to check that no one was watching and climbed through the heavy foliage. Gabriel, ever the gentleman, held the leaves back for us.

Our secret picnic location, hidden deep within the out of bounds forest, took a five minute hike through solid forest to even get there, but the place was idyllic. Surrounded by the forest and with a river running down beside it, our picnic area, a beautiful area of lush green grass, was our little haven in Worthington Falls. Sharing a close community with five hundred people leaves little privacy.

Worthington Falls was hardly the most wonderful place in the world. Apparently, according to our brief history lessons in early primary school, Worthington Falls was an urban development town plant built in the early 1900s for those who wanted a more close sense of community, and to get out of the main cities. That’s what we’re told. No one really remembered anything but Worthington Falls, because everyone had lived here their entire lives. There were huge walls around the town, and a train that came and went once a week, on Friday afternoon at three thirty-four, but no one ever got on, and no one ever got off.

The only time anyone new had ever come to Worthington Falls was when the town was being redeveloped in 2003. Rena and her mother had arrived then.

“Ugh, I think there’s a spider in my handbag,” Rena muttered, flipping her bag inside out. “It’s my mum’s, how did that get in there?”

Rena’s relationship with her mother was something I envied. She was very close with her mother, whereas I barely ever saw mine. Rena’s mother was one of the founding leaders of Worthington Falls, as close as we would ever have to a mayor. She came during the 2003 renovations and led the whole project. She was quiet and thoughtful, but she was always planning and scheming, ready to go through anything to get where she wanted. Just like Rena.

“Positivity Picnic! We all need to be positive, that’s kind of the point,” Gabriel said, frowning at Rena. Gabriel had coined the phrase ‘positivity picnic’ when Tilly had broken up with Reilly Harris in Year Seven, and we all needed a place to chat and get over things that were happening in the town.

The best thing about our picnic area was that it was a whole other world, so separate from the town and parents and schools and responsibilities. It was the perfect place to be alone, just the five of us.

When we finally got to the picnic area, a warm sense of familiarity at the sight of the circle of green grass made me tingly. I unfolded the picnic rug and spread it out, whilst Rena and Gabe prepared the food, Tilly poured drinks and Sebastian checked the nearby forest and river for any police cameras or stray children who’d wandered too far and might tell on us. It was the way we’d always done things, the way we’d always do things.

“Ah,” Tilly sighed, kicking off her shoes and stretching in the summer sun. Tilly was beautiful, and the sunlight that bathed her creamy skin made her glow. Everything about Tilly was flawless. She had soft, curling red hair that cascaded around her face and onto her shoulders, coiling and twisting in a perfect way, as if someone had planned every single movement of every single strand.

She was the top of our year, intelligent beyond belief, but you wouldn’t know, because she never said so. The thing that set Tilly apart from every other over-achiever was her heart. She cared for everyone and everything. From animals being kept in cages to children being excluded in the playground, a wave of her hand seemed to fix it. Tilly restored your faith in humanity but at the same time made you wonder what went wrong in the manufacturing of every other human.

“Ellie, you look absolutely perfect in that dress,” Tilly said to me, gesturing to the lilac sundress we’d bought together back in winter. “It complements your skin tone beautifully.”

I laughed, passing her a cucumber sandwich. “If it wasn’t you telling me, Matilda Kennedy, I wouldn’t believe you.”

“It’s true. Doesn’t she look beautiful, Seb? Gabe? Rena?” Tilly prompted, nudging each of our friends.

“Yes, it really does look amazing,” Rena said, grinning.

Seb shrugged. “I wouldn’t really pick it for myself, but…” he started, and I threw some bread crusts at him.

He looked at me, scandalized, and we all laughed before we fell into a quiet, peaceful lull.

“I desperately hate sitting this close to the water. You know that, right? It’s terrifying,” Tilly muttered, looking over uneasily to the river.

Rena shrugged. “Sorry, but this is the only place in the entirety of Worthington Falls where we can go and not be watched,” she replied, lazily twirling a dark curl around her finger.

Tilly sighed. “I know. But the water scares the hell out of me.”

I leaned closer to her and patted her arm. “It’s okay, Tilly, if you fall in, I’ll jump in right after you.”

Tilly grinned. “My saviour.”

We continued to talk about anything and everything, about Rena’s special after-school forensic classes, about the hilarious time in Year Seven where Gabe accidentally sat through an entire day of wrong lessons, about my drawings, and about Seb’s lack of commitment to just about anything.

After a slight pause, Tilly spoke up. “Do you ever think about Worthington Falls,” Tilly said thoughtfully, taking a bite of her sandwich, “and why we have such odd rules? Like the curfew and the out-of-bounds areas?”

I cocked my head at her. “Not really. It’s just the way things are,” I said, shrugging.

Gabriel nodded. “I don’t really. I suppose it is a little odd, but every town has its own rules, and police force. It’s just the way we do things in Worthington Falls.”

“No, but there are so many things that are restricted, and no one ever comes and goes,” she continued, no longer thoughtful but very serious. “I don’t know. I just feel like we do things… differently here. Like, bad different, I guess. It’s just… weird.”

Rena shook her head. “You shouldn’t say stuff like that, Tilly. You’ll get yourself in trouble.”

“From who? Our lame police force who make themselves feel powerful by enforcing stupid curfews and restricting access to High School Musical 3?” Sebastian scoffed, grabbing a handful of chips.

Rena shrugged. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Gabe whacked her and Sebastian in the arm. “C’mon! We’re trying to be positive here! This is going to be the best year ever, let’s start on a high note!”

Sebastian side-eyed Gabriel. “Honestly, your positivity is like the plague — infectious and deadly. You’re going to kill us all, Gabriel. I can feel the disease seeping through my body, infecting all my cells.”

“Gross, Sebastian! And that’s not even how science works!” I cried, but Sebastian wasn’t listening to me.

Gabriel scowled at Sebastian. “At least I don’t have to resort to vicious sarcasm to make me feel better about myself,” he retorted.

Rena snorted. “Whoa, Seb, do you need some cold water for that burn?

Sebastian tried to look menacingly at Rena and Gabe, but he couldn’t control his laughter. Tilly and I ducked out of the way as Sebastian tackled Gabe to the ground, knocking over some of the food. They were rolling around on the grass, pulling at one another’s hair and clothes whilst we were in uncontrollable fits of laughter for a good minute before we could stop them.

“Stop!” I cried out, breathless.

After Sebastian and Gabe had stopped play-fighting, we all sat in a circle on the rug, sipping lemonade and nibbling cakes and sandwiches quietly, avoiding the reason we were even there. Despite it being a Positivity Picnic, none of us were very positive.

“So…” Sebastian said, tossing an apple up and down.

Gabe sighed. “We all know why we’re here. It’s going to be a struggle, and it’s going to determine where we go after school, but we’ll make it through together. Senior Year is just another challenge we can take on together. We’re all here to work together,” he said in the way he always did, making everything seem okay. Gabe was good at that. He cared deeply for those he loved, and it was a privilege to be on that list. I’d known Gabe for almost as long as I’d known Tilly, and in Year Eight, we’d even attempted to be a couple, but it was weird. We’d set a date to have our first kiss, on the swings in the back of the playground, but we both couldn’t stop laughing, and decided we didn’t even like each other that way.

He’d lost his mother when he was very young. She’d jumped off a ledge on the far side of Worthington Falls when Gabe was only five. Later, his father jumped, too, which left his older sister as his guardian. Gabe’s life had been something of a tragedy, compared to mine.

We all knew Gabe wanted to work in the school as a counsellor, and had been working towards it for a long time, but it really was up to the school to allocate him a job after this year, our Senior Year, like everyone else.
“Gabe… That was inspirational as hell but it doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow begins the final year we have to prove ourselves capable for the jobs we want. But, Gabe, you just proved yourself as a perfect school counsellor, to be honest. You’ll be fine,” Rena said, tossing a grape in the air and catching it in her mouth.

Tilly shoved Rena playfully. “At least he’s trying to raise the mood. It’s terrifying, but we’ll all be okay. Well, maybe not Seb,” she said cheekily, winking at Sebastian.

“Oh, ha ha ha,” Sebastian said, sprawling himself on the grass and tucking his hands under his head. It was a widely known fact that Sebastian had no motivation to do well in any school work, despite being quite intelligent. With the wealthiest man in Worthington Falls as his father, he would probably never even have to work.

Sebastian was the opposite of Gabe. While Gabriel depended on us and others for support, if anyone got too close to Sebastian Hastings, he exploded. He was tall and pale, but his dark hair stood out against his skin like spilt ink on parchment.

Sebastian had a reputation for being cold and rude, and not even we could disagree with that. We were his best friends, but even we couldn’t handle him sometimes. We often forgot that Sebastian didn’t do “being handled”. He needed to be let go —if you tried to reason with him, it would only end badly for you.

“Even Seb might have to work this year,” Gabe said, poking Seb. Sebastian grunted, smiling as he pushed Gabe away. No one could understand how Seb and Gabe were best friends. But through whatever, through every hard time they’d tackled, Sebastian and Gabriel supported each other and were as close as brothers. It made no sense, but then again, sometimes the best relationships didn’t.

“Yeah, Seb. Have you even worked out how to spell luminescent yet?” I teased, throwing a grape at him.

Sebastian shrugged. “Well, no, but who needs to use luminescent on a regular basis? Honestly, you’re all pretentious prats.”

Rena laughed. “Well, at least we’ll pass our exams. Senior Year is going to kick your butt.”

“Let’s not talk about Senior Year,” Tilly said, rolling onto her stomach and picking little flowers, arranging them around the food. “Let’s just enjoy the picnic and talk about how great the break was.”

I sighed, remembering the two-month break from school. “Yes, please! So many movies and lots of pop tarts…”

“Remember when we were watching Paranormal Activity in Seb’s basement and Gabe basically jumped into Tilly’s arms, he was so terrified?” Rena said, a grin painted across her face.

Everyone laughed, even Gabe. “Anyone remember when Rena’s parents found her social media accounts and she was grounded for two whole weeks?” he said, firing back at Rena.

We continued to pick on one another until we were all coughing and crying with laughter.

“Let’s play hide and seek,” Rena suggested once we had calmed down and all the food had disappeared.

Rena loved games like hide and seek because she was so good at predicting where people would hide. Despite this, Rena was a wonderful friend. She was loyal and would always defend us.

Sebastian laughed. “No. Nope. Let’s not.”

“I’m up for it,” Gabriel said, standing up and dusting off his pants.

“Me too,” Tilly said.

“I’m cool. I suppose you’re outnumbered, Seb,” I said.

Sebastian sighed. “Again? Honestly, we’re going into Senior Year.”

I smiled at Sebastian, not sure whether I was gloating or sympathetic. We all scattered, Rena accidently knocking Sebastian over on the way.

“Sorry, bro,” she said, leaning over and pulling him up. “Honestly wasn’t intentional.”

Gabriel laughed. “Sure it wasn’t, Rena, had nothing to do with the fact he made fun of your favourite game,” he said, and then ran off into the forest.

I went in the opposite direction to Gabe, and Sebastian followed me. “Wanna be allies?” he whispered, trying to pull branches out of the way quietly.

“Okay, sure. But should I trust you? Or are you secretly allied with Rena, hoping you can catch me?” I whispered playfully.

“Of course not. I don’t even want to be playing. The twigs and branches snag threads in my clothes and make me all dirty,” Sebastian muttered.

“You’re a wuss,” I teased, spotting a huge tree surrounded by bushes that would make a good hiding spot. “Here. This is a good place, I don’t even think Rena will find us here.”

“I beg to differ,” Sebastian said.

I patted the ground next to me at the base of the tree. “Ever the optimist. Come sit.”

He sighed, and put his hand into his pocket. I knew what he was reaching for.

He froze, eyes widening. He moved his hand frantically in and out of each pocket and then again, and again. Then into his jacket pockets.

“It’s gone,” he whispered to me.

Sebastian’s mother died when he was seven. Suicide, like all the other untimely deaths in Worthington Falls. He’d found a brooch on her dresser the night she died, right after he had gotten the news of her death.

It was beautiful and expensive, intricately designed with her initials and little bluebirds. Sebastian kept it on him at all times. He frequently would slip his hand into his pocket and touch the brooch. For what, none of us knew. We had speculated, of course. But Sebastian’s mother was one of the few out-of-bounds topics we had in our little friendship circle. No one asked and Sebastian never indulged us with the information.

All I knew was that the brooch was Sebastian’s favourite thing in the whole world, and for it to be lost would destroy him.

“Seb, calm down, it’s okay, we’ll —”

“No. No, it’s not okay!” Sebastian yelled, wildly scanning every part of the forest floor. He was moving around in such a flurry I doubted he was getting any actual searching done.

I grabbed his arm. “Sebastian!” I hissed. “Calm down! Freaking out is not going to help you find the brooch. We’ll call off the game and then we’ll ask everyone to look around for it, okay? It’s okay, Seb. We’ll find it.”

His eyes swum with panic and fear.

I tugged on his arm and led him back to the picnic area, where I cooed out our emergency bird signal. Soon enough, Rena was there.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you hurt?”

We shook our heads. “No,” I said. “Seb’s lost his brooch. We need to find it ASAP.”

“Okay. I’ll trace the left side of the forest,” Rena said, and she ran off to check.

I poked Seb. “It’s okay, Sebastian. Look, everyone’s going to search until we find it.”

“Thank you,” he whispered.

When the others arrived, we decided Tilly would check along the river, Gabe would check the track back to the park, I would check the right side of the forest and Sebastian would scan the picnic area in case the brooch was hiding in the grass.

“If anyone finds it, do the bird signal, and we all need to meet back here. If no one finds it in twenty minutes, meet back here anyways,” Gabe said, and we all set off to look for the brooch.

I was no stranger to walking through the forest alone. I loved coming out here with my sketchbook and drawing new plants and animals I saw. Wanting to follow a career of botanical science was an uncommon goal here in Worthington Falls, and consequently, I was often alone in my plant-recording escapades.

But today, something felt different than normal. The forest seemed more sinister, more dangerous. If it was cruel enough to swallow Sebastian’s dead mother’s brooch, it was cruel enough to do worse. It no longer had the magical touch it used to.

I carefully searched each part of land I walked on, periodically checking the time. When it got to eighteen minutes, and I was still unsuccessful in my search, I heard the bird whistle.

I ran back through the forest to the picnic area, where Sebastian was standing, smiling. No one else had arrived back yet.

“I found it!” he cried out, smiling as he ran towards me and scooped me up in a hug. I was a bit taken aback; Sebastian didn’t do hugs.

“That’s odd. I actually received a Seb-Hug. That happens — what, once every half-millennium?” I said jokingly as he showed me the brooch, as if he needed anything other than the hug and his smile to prove he’d found it.

He punched my shoulder. “Well, without you, I don’t know how I could’ve pulled myself together enough to find it. You know where it was? In the picnic basket. How could I have been so stupid? I have no idea how it got there, but at least I have it,” he babbled as Gabe and Rena arrived.

“You found it!” Gabe cried, patting Sebastian on the back.

“I’m so glad,” Rena sighed, “I was worried we mightn’t.”

We all hugged, high on Sebastian’s happiness and his unusual willingness to initiate physical affection.

Then it hit me.

“Where’s Tilly?” I asked, pulling away from my friends. My heart rate rose, thumping wildly in my chest. I wasn’t sure if I was even breathing. How had I not noticed the absence of my best friend?

Everyone looked around. There was a chorus of “where did she go?” and “did anyone see her?” and “didn’t she hear the whistle?” and more, but I couldn’t hear it. Everything was a blur, everything was white noise echoing behind the need to go find her.

I knew something wasn’t right. Tilly would never be careless enough to go so far as to not hear Sebastian’s whistle. My breathing sped up, and I spun in all different directions. Gabriel grabbed me.

“Stop. Stop it, Ellie. We’ll find her, like we found Seb’s brooch. It’ll be okay. Everyone, split up. Ellie and I will check on the upper right side of the river, Seb, you can check the mid part of the river and Rena, you can check the far left side of the river. Regroup in an hour, whistle if you find her,” Gabe explained in his calm and collected planning voice.

We split up, and the search for Tilly began.

Gabe and I searched everywhere along the river, calling out her name constantly, getting no reply. We didn’t talk, we only looked and called.

When the first hour was over, we went back to the picnic area, and set out on another hour-long search.

Our search continued for four fours, until the late afternoon. We’d covered what seemed like the entire forest twice and called out her name until our voices were hoarse. The time went by like a daze; it was only after the fourth hour, when we all collapsed in the picnic area, worried, tired and scared, when I realised my feet were bruised and blistered, and my head was spinning from dehydration.

“We’ve got to get home,” Gabe muttered as we all sat around, unsure of what to do.

“We should tell the police,” I said, pulling about my phone.

Sebastian snatched it out of my hand. “Are you crazy? Tell the police we were out-of-bounds? We’d get in serious trouble! They might even arrest us!”

“Matilda is missing, Sebastian. If we don’t tell them, she mightn’t be found!” I countered, my voice going higher.

Rena put a hand on my arm. “We don’t need to be so rash. She might have wandered home, you never know. She might have felt sick or forgotten she needed to be somewhere. It’s not unlikely. If we call the police and she’s at home, that benefits no one,” she explained.

“Let’s go home. Tilly’s smart, she knows her stuff. I bet you we’ll see her walking into school tomorrow cheerful as ever,” Gabe said. “It’ll all be okay.”

I nodded, knowing he was right. It was foolish and stupid to be that paranoid. Tilly would be fine.

We walked back together, no one really wanting to talk.

The silence was unbearable. The unknown was pulling us into a deep pool of anxiety and we couldn’t get out.

When we arrived back at the park, no one wanted to go. No one knew what to do.

“We should… um… go home, I think,” Seb whispered.

And then we did the unthinkable.

We left.

So that was the snippet from my book! If you enjoyed it or are interested in finding out more, you can contact me via any of my socials (available in the bar below my blog's banner at the very top) or through my email ( You can find out more about Hide And Seek on its goodreads page and this post.

If you would like to purchase my novel, you can do so through any of the links at the top of this post. If you would like to receive a free copy of my book in exchange for a review on goodreads, your own personal blog, or etc, contact me and I will get one to you. If you do buy my book, let me know so I can thank you profusely and befriend you!

If you have any thoughts about the book/snippet, please let me know in the comment below or via any of my social media accounts.

That's it for me today... I hope you have enjoyed Bookmas Day Seven and I will see you soon with another post :)

Lily xo

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