Illustration by Christian Nacorda for Dark Companion/Shadow Girl Trailer
I live in a microclimate where summers are cool and foggy, and sunshine finally comes out in autumn. I went to Catholic schools with wool uniforms, which were particularly unpleasant during heat waves. I woke at 6 a.m. and took three buses to reach my all-girls high school, set in the low East Bay hills, surrounded by gardens.

The good thing was: I always had books to read on the rides. When I was deep into a story, the miles passed too quickly. I remember the smell of my school's polished linoleum floors, the ornate entrance with marble steps leading to huge carved doors, the mysterious hallways, and architectural artifacts -- features left in place from another time. I remember the sound of hundreds of teenage girls chattering, laughing, shouting as classes let out. I remember sitting on back campus or the front gardens with my friends, dreaming of our futures. In this boy-free zone, we could compete and also support one another. We could confidently ace tests, and we were the ones our teachers called upon. We studied and explored science and math, literature and history, the arts and sports.

And yet, all I wanted was to escape high school. Well, youth is wasted on the young.

All this is to say that The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove (published by Tor as Dark Companion) is a book very close to my heart. I think of my gothic young adult novel as a strange-looking wonderful child that no one understands. Everyone wants a pretty and perfect girl doing all the right things for all the right reasons and discovering that she's really a princess. I wanted my Jane to be more real than that.

She says, “You know, I’ve always hated stories about handsome princes and beautiful princesses with some extraordinary ability, special because they’re born special...I didn’t see how those were happy stories, because life has given princes and princesses enough unearned advantages. I’d rather believe that anyone can accomplish remarkable things when she really tries. Maybe her accomplishments will never be recognized, but simply loving and caring for someone else, that’s miraculous to me.”

I'm offering The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove free on Amazon from October 3-17. I'm also having a free promo for Fancy That, a lighthearted romcom, from September 26-30. (If loving romcoms is wrong, I don't want to be right.) Both books are available on Kindle Unlimited. If you haven't had a chance to read them, please grab them now!

Read The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove at Amazon US and watch the video trailer, narrated by Patricia Fructuoso and illustrated by Christian Nacorda!

Read Fancy That at Amazon US.