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Rebecca Thomas
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Rebecca Thomas

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Happy Independence Day, American readers (and a Happy Saturday to non-American readers)!

Today, we start a new arc, with our lovely friend Travis coping with a loss of independence. (I didn't actually plan that. Happy coincidence.) Life in the apartment isn't too different (thankfully), but work just got more interesting. It would be better if Will were still talking to her, though. ;)

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene24

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  


== == == == ==

Travis sat on her bed, dragged across her room in a fit of rage, and leaned her forehead against the window. From her parents’ apartment, the streets of New Glory looked like thick lines. People were little more than brightly colored specks moving along the lines. She tried to spin a story about the dots, but her thoughts always fizzled out before she got far.

Being cooped up in the apartment wasn’t as bad as Travis was expecting. Her mother almost never came into the public areas of the apartment. Lydia hadn’t pressured Travis into eating with her family again, and had offered to let Travis eat in her room. The teen was grateful for the buffer.

Having her social life ripped away from her wasn’t as painful as expected, either. After years of having no one her own age to hang out with, she’d become used to having people that felt like they could become friends. But those were the same people who were responsible for her now being trapped in the family apartment. She didn’t hate them, but she didn’t talk to them at work if she could help it. She had nothing to say to them.

Will, on the other hand, she missed. Even at lunch, he still wouldn’t talk to her. He would look at her, sympathy all over his face, but that was it. Travis would give up her sketchbook to spend an evening underground again.

Most of the animation apprentices were eating together, sunk in their chairs as they tried to avoid the looks from other crew members, and talking so quietly the table might as well have been silent. Travis continued to eat with Nigel and Noel.

“I should have taken you with me when I left. I knew those parties get busted regularly.”

“You said it yourself, Nigel. I was the golden girl. There was no way Melinda was going to let me leave.” Travis had been thinking all weekend that she shouldn’t have given Melinda a second chance, but nothing would change that now. “And if those parties end like that a lot, why do they still risk it?”

“Because a lot of them are rich little brats who never had to deal with consequences,” Noel chomped on his burger. Travis and Nigel both just stared at him. “What? You know I’m right, Nig.”

“That’s not the point,” Nigel growled. “I should have been a better date.”

“You really can’t blame yourself for what happened. It just means Mom’s parties would eventually have caught up with me.” Travis shook her head as she stood and pushed in her chair. “Sorry, Noel, but  we have to get back. Brice pretty much has us all on lockdown.”

Nigel didn’t look too confident as he bumped fists with his brother and followed Travis out of the cafeteria. “I have to make a stop, but I’ll catch up with you.”

“Sure,” Travis nodded.

The moment Nigel was out of sight, Melinda appeared at Travis’ shoulder. That girl’s ninja skills need to be surgically removed. Travis ground her teeth. “What do you want?”

Melinda pulled back from Travis, just enough to leave a sliver of light. “What do you mean? I thought you’d be sitting with us. You know, solidarity and all that.” Her voice sounded more shrill, and to Travis it was like a train braking on thin rails.

“Solidarity?”

“Against the rest of the studio. Everyone wants us gone now, when we were just doing what they all do.” Melinda wrapped her hands lightly around Travis’ arm.

Travis wrenched her arm free. “No, we weren’t. We were breaking the rules. Those people you think are judging you? Those are the people old enough to go to my mom’s parties.”

Melinda looked like she’d just been slapped. “So...you won’t stand with us? How is that going to look?” And then she fell in step beside Travis, shoulders back and chin up. “Or maybe you’re hoping that if you aren’t seen with us, everyone will forget you were part of it. They’re not going to forget that any more than they would forget you’re Shiri Ando’s daughter.”

Travis rolled her eyes. “I’m not hanging out with you guys because I prefer hanging out with Nigel and Noel. It’s not like you need me to have a good time.”

Melinda shrugged her shoulders, “Suit yourself. But see how long you last in the team-oriented environment of the animator workspace without the support of the other apprentices.”

“Are you saying you’re going to turn everyone against me, just because I won’t follow you around and do whatever you say?”

Melinda stopped in front of her and just grinned. “No. I’m saying if you don’t stand with us, we won’t work with you.”

“Good luck with that,” Travis spat out. “You’ll only get into more trouble for not doing your job.” Nigel’s opinion of Melinda’s work ran through her head. Maybe her threat is a good thing. If she’s gone, she won’t slow down the work.

“We’ll see.” Melinda spun around on her heel and called back over her shoulder, “See you around, superstar.”

Travis took a deep breath. She can’t do anything to me. Then, she headed to her workstation and started working on a new batch of assets. 
9
Roland Boykin's profile photo
 
Things are just not working out for Travis at all. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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After the party, Travis learns there are consequences...even for the girl who keeps her nose clean. And some consequences are harder to swallow than others.

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene23

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== ==

By the time Travis reached the studio the next morning, news of the party had spread. Given how people gossiped after one of her mother’s party, Travis wasn’t surprised. But the animator workspace was quieter than usual. Half the apprentices hadn’t shown up, and of those who had, most were still hungover and nearly passed out at their workstations.

Travis found the lack of noise distracting and uncomfortable. She plugged in her headphones and started working through her agenda. She’d barely started when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She muted the music and looked up. Brice sneered, “President Shiratori wants to see you.”

“Oh.” Travis pulled out her earbuds and started wrapping the cord around her player. “Okay.” She logged out of her station and started to walk past him.

“You should take your stuff with you.”

Feeling her breakfast start to churn in her stomach, Travis slowly grabbed her bag off her chair. “Okay.” She trudged out of the workspace and made her way down to the president’s office. She paused, hand on the door knob. I haven’t been here since the morning after that one party when I had to tell him my mom wasn’t coming in. 

Slowly, she opened the door and poked her head in. The president looked up at the noise, “Ah. Travis. There you are. Come in and have a seat.”

The president’s tone reminded Travis of scenes in books where girls were called in to the principal’s office, usually for something they didn’t do or because the bad girls blamed her for something they did. She sat on the edge of the chair and drew her bag into her lap.

The president folded his hands on his desk and looked directly at Travis. “You should know that we are aware of what happened last night, and we have the police report.” He lifted a small stack of papers. “You’ve probably also noticed there aren’t as many animators this morning.” Travis nodded. “Sai Anto Productions has a reputation to uphold, both here in the city and in the industry. And we do not condone behavior such as what you were all displaying last night.” 

But you look the other way when your star does it, Travis thought. It didn’t bring her much comfort.

“This is also not the first time it has happened.” The president leaned forward. “Those apprentices who have shown up on similar police reports are no longer with the studio.” Travis’ heart sank. “I know you attend your mother’s parties, but I had hoped you wouldn’t endanger your career like this. Frankly, Travis, you’re too talented to throw everything away.”

I don’t willingly attend my mother’s parties. “I wasn’t drinking, sir!” Travis prided herself on not behaving like her mother.

“Some of the other apprentices have said you had a drink last night.”

“I was handed a cup. I carried it so I wouldn’t be handed another. The police tested us when they took us in. The report should show I wasn’t drinking.”

The president scanned the report and his face relaxed slightly. “So it does.” he set it down on his desk. “But you were at the party, and you are on probation for the time being. Appear at another party, and you will be done here.”

“Yes, sir.” I wonder if that would be grounds enough to get Mom to let me to move out.

She returned to her workstation, buried her head in her arms, and breathed deeply a few times, trying to blink back tears.

##

At home, Travis wanted little more than to hide in her room or escape to her grandparents. Except she couldn’t imagine how she would explain any of this to her grandfather.

Staying out of sight wasn’t an option, though. Lydia knocked on her door and made her come out for dinner. She couldn’t remember the last time the three of them had sat at the same table, and she didn’t want to be there now. Her father looked sad, more than she’d ever seen him. Her mother jabbed at her shake with a straw, shaking her head. Trying to make herself as small and unnoticeable as she could, Travis slowly picked at her dinner.

“You do realize that after last night, you won’t be moving into that horrible place.” Her mother didn’t even look at Travis.

“What?” Travis screeched. “You‘ve done so much worse here. At the mansion. Everywhere we’ve lived!”

“Travis, lower your voice.” Her mother said calmly.

Travis couldn’t believe her ears. “No. I didn’t do anything wrong. I haven’t done anything wrong. And now I’m about to lose my apprenticeship.”

Her father didn’t look up as her mother continued. “Mister Shiratori told us. We’ve discussed it, and to keep that from happening, you’re grounded for the next month. No going to the apartments. No going out with your little crew friend. No going to your grandparents.”

Travis snorted in disbelief. “What do you mean ‘I’m grounded’? I’m an apprentice! Other kids my age live on their own! I’m way too old to be ‘grounded’, especially by someone like you!”

“The matter is closed. Set one foot out of this apartment headed somewhere other than the studio, and…”

“And what?” That her mother even thought she had a leg to stand on started to amuse Travis.

“And the consequences will be unpleasant.” With that, Shiri rose from the table and disappeared into her room. Travis looked pleadingly at her father, who just kept staring at the table.
1
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Rebecca Thomas

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I wasn't entirely sure I was going to have this ready to go this week. But here we are. Travis is still stewing over her mother's reaction to her request to move to the apprentice apartments. Will and Melinda are still stewing over their respective friendships with Travis. But fellow apprentice Nigel is sympathetic.

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene21

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series on:
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: http://bit.ly/CN1wattpad (This is Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available.)

I have gathered the story into a Collection, so if you want to read it without leaving Google+, head right over here: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

“Why is she so set against my moving to the apprentice apartments?” Travis had neatly sliced her waffles into small triangles. “Shouldn’t she be glad I’m trying to be more independent?”

Lydia smiled softly. “You know, my nieces don’t live in the apartments.”

“Really? Why not?” Travis looked up from where she was trying to glue her waffles back together with syrup. “I’m so ready to be out of here.”

“The girls felt like they’d be on their own soon enough, so they chose to stay with their families a little bit longer.” Lydia leaned over the counter. “If you ask me, Rose won’t leave until Caleb goes to school.”

Travis leaned in. “Who’s Caleb?”

“Her baby brother,” Lydia winked, and went back to washing a pile of fruit. “Do you want strawberries or a peach today?”

“Peach is fine,” Travis set down her fork a bit deliberately.  “What’s your other niece’s name?”

“Gloria, after my late mother.”

“That’s sweet,” Travis hopped off the chair and then paused. “I know I said I’d meet them…”

Lydia handed her a lunchbox. “When you have time.”

“Thanks,” Travis drooped. She hadn’t told the housekeeper yet what was going on with Will and Melinda, but the woman seemed to know when something was amiss. Just like Oma.

==

Lunchtime was starting to remind Travis of the books she’d sworn off reading. Will wouldn’t look at her. Melinda’s table was oddly full. She looked at her lunchbox and debated eating in a stairwell.

“Looking for a seat?”

She jumped, and then turned. “Hey, Nigel.”

“Melinda playing Queen of the Apprentices?”

“Does she do that?” Travis had thought Melinda was starting to remind her of the characters she didn’t much like in her books.

Nigel laughed. “Don’t worry about it. She’ll brood for a few days. Someone else will screw up, and you’ll be her favorite again.”

Travis could feel her skin crawling. “Is that a good thing?”

Nigel laughed again. “You’re going to be okay.” He nudged her and then started into the lunchroom. “Come sit with us.”

Travis walked quickly to keep up, “Who’s ‘us’?”

“It’s just me and my brother. Ever since Queen Melinda booted me from her table last fall, Noel and I have started eating together. It’s kind of nice, you know. It’s the only time we get to see each other.”

“I thought you said he was your brother.” Travis set her lunchbox down at the indicated seat.

“He is.” He sat down. “Noel, this is Travis. Travis, this is my brother Noel.”

Noel’s mouth was full, but he waved.

Travis smiled and started unpacking her lunch. “It seems like there are a lot of people related to each other here.”

Nigel smirked. “You’re one to talk.”

“I always thought I was here because I grew up around this. How did you both get into working on interactives?”

Noel had finally finished chewing, “We were trying to escape our parents.” He looked to his brother, who nearly snorted a bite of carrot. “It was just easier to band together and create our own worlds.”

“So, what is your area?” Travis asked, taking a sip of the fruity tea Lydia had packed for her.

“I’m a writer. I help create the stories the interactors perform.”

“Oh. So, you would write stories, and Nigel would animate them?”

“Something like that,” Nigel had recovered.

“That’s so cool! So, why aren’t you producing your own projects?”

“There’s better money in working for a studio,” Noel responded.

“And experience,” Nigel added.

“And experience,” Noel agreed. “So, your mom is an interactor and you’re an animator. Did you spend a lot of time drawing her growing up?”

“I spent a lot of time avoiding her growing up.” The brothers laughed. People at the nearby tables glared at them, and they both calmed their laughter down to mere snickering. “But I’ve always loved to draw. I actually did a lot of technical art in intermediate school.”

“Cool!” The brothers said together. Travis laughed and shook her head.

“You’re pretty cool. You should come hang out some time,” Noel nibbled on a celery stick.

“She has been hanging out. You need to take time from your busy girl-chasing schedule to hang out.” Nigel glared at his brother.

Noel looked at Travis carefully. “She’s cute. I might just do that.’

Travis could feel her cheeks warm.

Nigel rolled his eyes, “Jerk.”

Noel smirked and rose from the table, “See you later, loser.”

“Later.” Nigel waved.

Travis finished the last bite of her peach, “You two are close.”

“Yeah. Really, we’re best friends, but kids ally better than grown-ups.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” Nigel looked back toward his departed brother. “You ready to go back?”

“Sure,.” Travis replied uncertainly.
4
Roland Boykin's profile photo
 
Cute scene, and I love the dialogue. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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In a bizarre twist, this was actually written during the week. It's kind of terrifying. (This is the first time in probably four months that I've actually been on top of my side writing projects. Still behind on my primary writing projects, but baby steps.)

This week, Travis considers making another stab at getting out of living with her parents, this time by thinking about moving into the apprentice apartments. Will they like this idea any better than they liked the idea of her staying with her grandparents?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene20

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series on:
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: http://bit.ly/CN1wattpad (This is Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available.)

I have gathered the story into a Collection, so if you want to read it without leaving Google+, head right over here: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

Travis walked a few steps into the cafeteria, and then changed direction and set her lunch down on the table where the other animator apprentices sat. Will hadn’t spoken to Travis in nearly a month, not since the night at the underground. He wouldn’t even sit with her at lunch, instead sitting with his fellow crew members. Melinda invited her to sit with the animator apprentices, but it felt unnatural.

Actually, it made sense. She was spending more time at the apprentice apartments that she was at home. When her mother threw parties, Travis hid out at the apartments.

“You know, Travis. You could just move in. You’re here all the time, anyway.”

“I don’t know,” Travis fidgeted with the strap on her sandal. “How do you even get a place here?”

“They’re provided by the company,” Nigel said around a mouthful of pretzels. “Companies expect that you’ll move into the apartments a couple of years into your apprenticeship, and then live here until you’ve been working a couple of years. S’pretty sweet.”

Travis thought about that for a moment. “So...you’re expected to leave home?”

“Why not?” Melinda shrugged. “Kids in other countries leave home when they go to advanced schools when they’re about our age. Besides, we’re going to move out eventually, right?”

“Do you ever go home, see your parents?”

“Oh, sure.” Nigel refilled his glass. “I’m home for all the holidays, and I go home and do my laundry on the weekends.” 

“And your parents are okay with that?”

“Travis, you’re an apprentice,” Melinda said. “You’re supposed to be growing up. Your parents know that.”

“The apartment across from mine is open,” Nigel offered. “The guy was a first-year researcher at CyberMedia. Burned out. Jumped off his balcony.”

“Nigel!” Melinda hissed. “That’s probably not a good apartment for our girl.”

Travis couldn’t agree more, but the idea of not living at home was definitely appealing. Her parents wouldn’t let her live with her grandparents, though. Would they ever go for the idea of her having her own apartment?

==

She spent the next week pacing her room, the halls of the studio, and the path between her apartment and her grandparents’ house, trying to figure out how to bring up the apprentice apartments. Mom wouldn’t even listen when I asked to stay with Oma and Opa. There’s no way she’ll ever go for this.

The cool spring air blew her hair in her face, and she heard a familiar voice, “Travis?”

She pulled her hair out of her face. “Hi, Oma.”

“Hello, dear. I don’t see you very often any more.” 

“We’ve been busy. And I’ve been making friends.”

“That’s wonderful, dear. Now,” her grandmother took her arm, “what brings you to this part of town?”

Travis smiled sheepishly. How did grandmothers always know?

==

Oma was the perfect confidant. She’d known Travis hadn’t wanted to move home when her parents finally got settled in New Glory, and she listened patiently as Travis explained the apartments. She gave her granddaughter some advice and sent her on her way home.

By the time Travis walked into her apartment, wild butterflies had claimed her stomach. Her father was sitting in the large common room. “Hey, starshine.”

“Hi, Dad.” Travis slowly closed the door behind her. “Can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure,” he patted the couch next to her. 

Travis hesitated, but sat down. “There is a place not too far from here where the studio apprentices live. Apparently, we’re supposed to live there during our apprenticeship.”

“Like a dorm?” 

She’d never heard of a dorm. “Um...sure…”

“They’re apartments, Ben. These kids live on their own in their own apartments.” 

Travis jumped at the sharp edge to her mother’s melodic voice. “Mom, I didn’t see you come in.”

“That doesn’t seem unreasonable,” her father replied.

“That’s because you don’t know what goes on in those apartments. Just because kids are apprentices doesn’t mean they’re ready to live on their own.” Her mother folded her arms, the sign she was done with the conversation.

You left home for a life on the road when you were my age, Travis thought bitterly, trying to look past the hypocrisy of Shiri Ando’s opinion of wild partying.

“Travis is a pretty level headed kid. I think she’ll be fine. Besides, we’re here. We’re not planning on leaving any time soon. And your parents are here.” He reached out and ruffled Travis’ wind-tossed hair. “I think a little independence would be good for her.”

Travis smiled gratefully at her father’s support.

“She’s staying at home with us, and that’s final.” Her mother stormed out of the room.

Without even realizing she was doing it, Travis folded her arms and drew her knees up to her chest. I guess that’s that. I shouldn’t have brought it up.
2
Rebecca Thomas's profile photoRoland Boykin's profile photo
3 comments
 
I know how that feels, so just do what you feel comfortable doing. I'm really enjoying your story, and look forward to more. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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Holy taco! Is this Arc 4, beginning when I said it would? Whoa. That's a little creepy. ;)

When we left Travis at the end of Arc 3, she had just met Melinda, a fellow animator apprentice. But Will didn't care for Melinda, and the feeling was clearly mutual. Will Travis become friends with Melinda, endangering her friendship with Will? Or will she find a way to preserve both friendships?

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series on:
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: http://bit.ly/CN1wattpad (This is Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available.)

Volume 3 just completed on wattpad, if you find that format easier to read: http://bit.ly/CN3wattpad

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

Travis sat in the corner of her bed munching on popcorn and reading. Ever since meeting Melinda, Travis had become scared of actually being invited to hang out with the other animator apprentices. I wouldn’t know how to behave. What if I do something stupid and they decide they hate me?

She popped another handful of popcorn into her mouth. Actually, it wouldn’t be much different than it is now. She turned the page and kept reading.

It didn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter. She knew that. She’d been reading these books since she was intermediate school, and none of them ever seemed to resemble her life. The girls didn’t go through the same schooling system she had. At her age, the characters were all in an advanced school where they were more interested in finding the right guy to ask them to an upcoming dance than they were in doing anything else, including their schoolwork.

The girls in these books weren’t working. They didn’t have completely irresponsible parents. They didn’t have anything in common with Travis. Why am I still reading these?

She looked out the window, wondering if she could find some books with characters more like her. My life can’t be that unusual, right? She crushed in the top of the popcorn bag and set it near the foot of the bed.

Her phone jingled, a message from Melinda with a time and place. Travis smiled, a bit relieved. She’d been waiting two weeks for this invitation, waiting for the studio to get back on track so the animators actually had some downtime. She hopped off her bed and meticulously rummaged through her closet. Melinda had said they were just hanging out, but Travis didn’t know what that meant in the real world. Should she throw on something casual? Something a bit dressier?

_Maybe I am more like the girls in those books than I think. _

She threw a few options on her bed and then tried each one with a mock-up hairstyle, trying to figure out how to be ready for whatever Melinda threw at her. She finally settled on a simple skirt and a nicer top, and was just finishing her hair when there  was a soft knock on her door. She jumped. No one had ever knocked on her door before. So many new experiences.

Lydia was waiting for her, “There’s a young man here to see you.”

A young man? “Oh?” She followed the housekeeper to the common area and found Will looking at the pile of books on the coffee table. “Hey! What are you doing here?”

Will looked her over, “I didn’t know you have a date tonight.”

“I look like I’m going on a date?” When Will nodded, Travis tugged at the hem of her shirt. “I’m going to hang out with the other animators. Is this really too much?”

Will’s eyes were smirking, but his mouth definitely wasn’t. “You might want to tone down the shirt.”

“Right. Thanks.” Travis shifted. “So...you’re here.”

“Yeah.” Will ran his fingers through his hair. “I was going to see if you wanted to come hang out underground.”

I’d love to! “Sorry. Maybe another time?”

“Whatever.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and headed for the door.

“Will, I’m sorry. Any other night, I’d be happy to go.”

He shrugged and left. Travis watched him, a pit forming in her stomach, and then went back to her room and changed her shirt.

==

By the time she reached the address Melinda had sent her, she had replayed the scene with Will over and over too many times to think straight. She didn’t even remember knocking on the door before the life was nearly squeezed out of her. “You made it! I wasn’t sure you’d come.”

Travis stepped back out of Melinda’s reach and took a deep breath. “Of course I came.”

Melinda seized Travis hand and led her into the apartment. “Guys, this is Travis. Be nice to her.” The handful of people scattered around the living room waved or nodded at Travis, and she vaguely waved back. “Travis, this is everyone. Well, not everyone. There’s always a couple of people who can’t make it.”

“Oh.”

“But you’re here. That more than makes up for it.” Melinda giggled, a high-pitched noise that reminded Travis of her mother. 

She took an involuntary step away from the animator, for the first time really seeing her new friend that evening. If Travis had originally looked like she was going on a date, Melinda looked like she was going to a disco. Her top was nearly identical to the one Travis’s mother had thrown on her before the party Travis had walked out on. Oh, goddess! What if these guys were at that party? Wait. That’s silly. None of them is old enough to go to one of Mom’s parties.

Melinda poured some liquid into a plastic flute and handed it to Travis, who mumbled her thanks as she took it. I was at that party, and I’m younger than these guys. She started to take a sip, but her stomach felt queasy. Maybe I should have gone to the skate park with Will after all.
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Stanley Morris's profile photo
 
Nice scene
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Rebecca Thomas

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(G+ wouldn't let me post this with a picture. Weird.)

Here we are, yet again, in between Chasing Normal story arcs, so you get an independent short story. The voice actor has been busy this week, but the writer took a break from worldbuilding research to dig up an "old" scene (2012) for your amusement.

High school student Jocelyn has been in the care of her folklorist aunt since her parents (a museum curator and an archaeologist) vanished under mysterious circumstances. While her aunt has expressly forbidden her from going to look for her parents, Jocelyn feels compelled to complete jobs people offer her mother, not realizing she's missing.

While Jocelyn's stories are a great opportunity to play with some favorite themes and tropes, this story was an early effort to confront my nemesis: writing action scenes.

As always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel compelled, and share with someone you think will enjoy it.    

== == == == ==

Jocelyn could feel the pain creeping up her arm. Maybe I should have stayed in that fire. Asphyxiation has to be less painful than this. The flames still danced out over the cliff’s edge, drawing sweat through every inch of clothing she wore. Looking toward the vines dangling off the cliff just a few feet away, she wished she’d thought to kick off her boots before she swung over the lip. The weight was pulling on her, forcing her attention back to the gash in her arm.

Just a little bit farther. Bracing herself against the rock face, she inched her injured arm across loose gravel until it found her healthier arm. Then, she slid her healthier arm out. She’d probably been crawling along for no more than five minutes, but the burning in her arm made it feel like hours. If she reached out her leg, she’d be able to touch the nearest clump of vines. Grunting, she pushed herself to keep going.

Shouts above encouraged her. If they see me, I’m hosed. She had no delusions about just how lucky she, a sixteen-year-old girl, was to get away from half a dozen mercenaries. She picked up her pace as much as her arm would allow, but the exertion was wearing her down quickly.

Finally, the first vines were within reach. As she reached out, she realized she hadn’t thought her plan through. Most vines wouldn’t support her weight, and it was long way down. Maybe if I can find a sturdy bundle… She grasped at a few of the closest vines, realizing most of them were too thin to be of any hope. The shouts from the edge were coming closer. Come on. Help me out. She found some vines that were too thick for her to get her hand around before finally finding one she thought she could get a good hold on. Gun fire started raining around her as she shimmied into the vines and started lowering herself.

Between the dew and her sweat, though, the vine proved too slick, and she kept losing traction, sliding several feet in stops and starts. The guns were still going, but she was out of their range before too long. If they’d hit me, this would have been over. Her arm was starting to feel numb, making it harder to get anywhere.

And then the vine snapped. Jocelyn looked up. The gunfire had been turned on the vines themselves, and hers had been severed. She tried to relax as she fell through the air, hugging her arm against her chest as if that would do any good when she hit the ground way too fast.

But the ground was closer than she thought, and landing knocked the wind out of her. She heard a sickening snap, and lay there trying to catch her breath.
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The action worked well. The only thing I noticed was her seemingly lack of emotion. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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We're in between arcs again, and you know what that means. Today, I thought I'd share with you a short story I wrote in April 2010 in response to the prompt: A fiction author is down on her luck. She’s contracted to write another novel, but has no idea what it will be. On an otherwise uneventful Monday, she leaves home and finds her inspiration — in the most unusual of places.

Arc 5 will start next week, but please enjoy this intermission.

As always, +1 if you enjoy this story, comment if you feel so inclined, and share with others who would enjoy the story.   

== == == == ==

The pitch was due the next afternoon. The screen was still blank.
“This is a problem,” I said. The screen, thankfully, had the social grace to not respond. I picked up the tragically empty soda can and added it to the pyramid before reaching into the case.

“Bother!” I shook the box and sighed heavily as I looked into a box as empty as my inspiration. “Oh, well,” I broke down the box for the recycling bin, “I probably need to get some fresh air anyway.”

My feet led me to my favorite coffee shop. Do I really want coffee? I haven’t slept in four days. Isn’t coffee just fueling that impending crash?

I looked in the window and saw a woman looking back at me. Her hair was pulled away from her face in a lopsided bun, held in place by a cheap pink mechanical pencil. Wisps of escaped hair straggled, framing her face in chaos. Her dark red button-down shirt, mis-buttoned, clashed so horribly with the pencil in her hair that I wanted to look away but couldn’t. To finish off the look, the woman wore sweat pants.

Honestly, a five-year-old looked more put together when allowed to dress herself.

I tried to imagine what kind of woman allowed herself to walk out of the house. Maybe she was a mom. Maybe she’d lost a bet with her kindergartner. Maybe she felt no need to nurture her sense of pride or dignity because she’d just lost her job. Maybe no one had sat her down and explained to her that she looked awful.

As I finished my scan, I noticed her shoes. And I blinked. I looked at the woman’s face again. She looked so lost, so frazzled.

But I feel so confident…don’t I?

The wind blew, and one of those wild tendrils blew into her face. As I pushed it out of my face, I knew I had my story.
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Nice scene
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Rebecca Thomas

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Travis is still learning how to navigate teen friendships, and now she's adding a layer of surviving teen politics. Why couldn't life remain simple like it was when she was just Shiri Ando's daughter?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene22

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== ==

After a week of eating lunch with Nigel and Noel, Travis was surprised when Melinda hooked arms with her as she walked into the cafeteria and led her over to the animator apprentices. Travis looked toward the brothers’ table. Noel hadn’t shown up yet, but Nigel was watching. He gave her a thumbs up. Travis wasn’t so sure.

“So, some of us have been talking, and we think we should celebrate this next milestone.” Melinda whispered conspiratorially, as if she hadn’t been avoiding Travis for days. “Nothing over the top, of course. Something classy and grown-up.”

“Sure,” Travis sputtered.

“Great!” Melinda unlinked her arm as they got to the table. “Guys, Travis is in. This party is going to rock.”

Travis set down her lunchbox and looked back toward Nigel. Noel had arrived, and the brothers were chatting about something. Inspiration hit. “Dates are allowed, right?”

Melinda wrinkled her nose. “I suppose. It depends. It’s not that crew guy, is it?”

“No,” Travis shook her head, “he has a boyfriend.”

“Oh. Then it should be fine.”

“Great.” Hopefully, Nigel will go for this.

==

Nigel found the thought of being Travis’ date to Melinda’s party completely funny and readily agreed. “The look on Melinda’s face will be priceless.”

“What do you mean?” Oh, goddess. Did I do something wrong?

“Well, you’re invited, but I’m not. She still hasn’t forgiven me for taking some of her assignments.”

“You took some of her assignments?” Travis could feel her stomach leaching toward her toes.

“No. Brice got tired of her sloppy work, so he re-routed a bunch of her assignments to a couple of us. Melinda found out, and now we’re blackballed from her social circle.” Nigel grinned.

“That’s awful.” Travis tugged at the hem of her sweater. “We don’t have to go tonight.”

“Yes, we do. If we don’t, she’ll make your life miserable for blowing her off.” Nigel opened the door to the apartment building. “And I’m going to enjoy her not being able to throw me out.”

“It’s her party. Why can’t she throw you out?”

“Because I’m the golden girl’s date.” His face lit up.

“Oh.” This could possibly be worse than any of Mom’s parties.

They weren’t more than a couple of steps into the apartment before Melinda spotted them and raced over. Travis held her breath, unsure whether Melinda would be delighted to see them or if she would kick Nigel out. But the hostess slid between them, wrapping an arm around Travis and pulling her into the party. “I’m so glad you could make it. Everyone is dying to see you. Let’s get you a drink, and we’ll tour the room.”

Travis looked over her shoulder at Nigel, who was quietly snickering.

Melinda followed her gaze, “Thanks for making sure Travis got here safely. You can see yourself out.”

“I’d love to,” Nigel smirked, “but I’m with Travis.”

Melinda stopped and half turned, considering Travis and then Nigel. She faced Travis, “We’ll find you a more suitable date.” She then wrapped her arm around Travis’ shoulders and started walking again, “Good night, Nigel.”

When he didn’t leave, Melinda waved her hand, and two large guys came over and started walking Nigel toward the door. He slipped out of their grasp and ran to catch up with the girls. The guys caught up with him and dragged him to the door, where they formed a human wall to keep him from coming back in.

Travis’ phone went off, and she checked it while Melinda stepped away to grab drinks. It was Nigel: Don’t worry about it. Have fun and call me tomorrow. She wanted to run after him, but she had a bad feeling he was right about her fragile status among the apprentices.

Melinda came back and handed her a cup. “So, those two over there…” Travis tuned her out as she sipped at her drink, and then spat it out. “This is alcoholic.”

Melinda laughed. “Oh, Travis. You’re adorable.”

For a long moment, Travis considered throwing the drink in Melinda’s face and running after Nigel. But she decided to just hold the cup. She’d been a wallflower at enough of her parents’ parties to know how to dump the liquid discreetly somewhere later. So, she smiled uneasily and lifted the cup to her lips without taking a drink. Melinda smiled and continued her catty introductions.

The party continued with the alcohol flowing and the music getting louder and louder. Guys clowning around on the balcony started showing off their acrobatic skills on the railing, one of them nearly slipping off the wrong direction. Travis kept an eye, both on her cup and on the door, trying to figure out how to get out without being noticed.

Her luck ran out when she heard a loud, familiar banging on the door. Melinda turned down the music and giggled herself senseless as she tried to quiet everybody down on her way to the door. “Hello, officer. Can I help you?” And then she doubled over in giggles.

Travis knew what was coming and fished her ID out of her purse. But the officer didn’t need it. Given that most people who lived in the apartments were under age, everyone was rounded up and taken to the station.

It was an hour before an officer spoke with her and she was allowed to call her family. She couldn’t reach her parents, not that she was expecting to at this hour, but she was able to wake her grandparents. Her grandfather arrived twenty minutes later, disappointment chiseled into his face. Travis’ heart broke.
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Roland Boykin's profile photo
 
Wonderful scene! Why can't anything in her life be easy? Hopefully her grandfather will forgive her. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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In honor of Chasing Normal's fourth volume starting on +Wattpad, here's a #skatepark   Will and his friends would love: http://wrd.cm/1cdwSz4 
A proposal takes the best parts of skating in a parking garage and combines them with the convenience of a more traditional skatepark.
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Fresh off the cooling rack: Travis is learning that juggling friendships in real life isn't anything like it is in teen books. But she knows the Underground is more relaxing than chilling with the animator apprentices, and the skaters are willing to teach her how to ollie. Life should be good, right?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene19

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series on:
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: http://bit.ly/CN1wattpad (This is Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available.)

I have gathered the story into a Collection, so if you want to read it without leaving Google+, head right over here: http://bit.ly/TravisonGPlus

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

The animator apprentices liked to get together as often as Shiri liked to throw parties, and Travis found she just wasn’t built for that much socializing. 

She was planning a quiet night in, reading and working with her grandfather on her designs when Will sat down at the table. “So… Andy’s been asking about you.”

Travis smiled. “Really?”

“He wants to know if you’re going to come back.”

“I know. I know. It’s just...nice to not have everyone in the animation department hate me for a change.”

“It’s great you’re making friends with your own kind, Travis. Just don’t forget the guy who gave you a chance.”

Travis snorted. “You only gave me a chance because I offered to clean up your mess.”

“My mess?” Will stabbed at a cherry tomato. “You ran into me!” When the fork slid down the side of the tomato, he picked it up and threw it at her.

She threw it back, followed by one of her own and grinned.

Will popped both into his mouth and grinned back. “Look. The guys liked meeting you, and they’d love it if you came by again.”

“I’d like that, too. They seemed nice.”

“So, how about coming with me tonight? Or are you hanging out with the dork squad again?”

“No. I don’t have any plans tonight.” Nothing that I can’t do another night, at any rate. 

“Great. We’ll meet here around sunset?”

“Sure!” 

Will swallowed the last of his lunch and ran off. Travis poked at hers, trying to convince herself that hanging out with Will and his skater friends was a good way to relax after dealing with the other apprentices.

##

“I thought girls knew how to dress,” Will remarked as Travis met him at the base of the steps that led into Sai Anto Production.

Travis looked at her outfit. She thought her plain jeans and striped T-shirt were the right shade of casual for an evening hanging out with alternative athletes in an abandoned warehouse. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Not nearly enough bling. You’re never going to fit in looking like that.” Will winked.

Travis swatted at him.

The walk to the Underground seemed shorter this time, probably because the route felt familiar. When they got inside, the space was alive with the white noise of wheels rolling and the clacking of those wheels hitting the wooden structures. A clang rang up the hallway, and Travis jumped. “What was that?”

“Oh, we’re constantly updating the space with new equipment, new challenges. Don’t want to get complacent. That’s how people get hurt.”

“Ah,” Travis followed him into the Underground, the gutted out warehouse some of New Glory’s skaters, rollerbladers, and bicyclists has worked together to turn into an industrial skatepark. There were maybe half a dozen people speeding their way through a course, jumping and flipping from element to element. Another handful were sitting in boxes at the far end of the room cheering and pointing. When they Will and Travis, they waved.

Travis waved back. She’d forgotten how welcoming this group was.

As they reached the boxes, Travis dropped her bag. Her phone went off, and she pulled it out. It was a text from Melinda with plans for the evening. She grimaced, and quickly texted her back: Sorry. Busy tonight. Maybe another night?

Melinda’s response came back quickly: Whatever.

Travis looked at the screen in shock. It was like her mother after the party she walked out on. Maybe this is just how people in New Glory are.

Will took the phone out of her hand and read the screen. He threw the phone back at her. “You can go if you want.”

She fumbled to catch the phone. What? “What?” 

“They’re your people, right? You don’t have to stick around here if the gang has plans.”

Travis stared at her phone. “I’m here because I want to hang out with you guys. I told her I’m not coming.”

“Whatever.” Will stormed over to the far side of the boxes and flopped down.

Travis slowly sat down on the edge of the nearest box and dropped her phone into her bag. This isn’t how making friends goes in the books. I really do need to find some new reading material.

One of the skaters offered to show her some moves, so she followed her off to a spot near one of the new elements, a high ramp with a pipe structure extending from the top. Rollerbladers jumped off the ramp while holding on to a pipe, and swung themselves around onto the next element...all over Travis’ head. She tried to ignore them, and Will’s glare across the warehouse, as the girl showed her a few moves. After she fell of the board for what felt like the twentieth time, she apologized to the girl. “I’m sorry. I just can’t focus tonight.”

Blinking back tears, she rushed over to the boxes to claim her bag and then left. She was almost out of the industrial area when she heard her phone chime. It was Will: Have fun at your party.
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Hey +Rebecca Thomas You forgot to post your link in the Saturdayscenes community. I just happened to stumble across this. Your story is coming along great! It is so hard to make new friends in a new town. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Being unfamiliar with present-day technology may be a sci-fi worldbuilder's best asset, according to William Gibson: http://bit.ly/1FgtbGu
The 2006 anniversary edition of Neuromancer starts with an introduction by William Gibson, in which he muses on how the novel stayed fresh during over two decades of frantically evolving technology. The answer might be ignorance.
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"Nothing dates faster than contemporary references." ~ me :-)
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Rebecca Thomas

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Here we are at the end of Arc 3. Next week (yes, week. Exciting, right?), I'll be posting an old short story from another story world. And then if everything goes to plan, Arc 4 will begin in two weeks. Weird, huh? ;)

Again, I just want to thank everybody for being patient with me while I'm working through things. Just knowing there are still people expecting to see Travis helps. A lot, actually.

And now...on to this week's #saturdayscenes  : After her parents' last party ended in a visit from the police, Travis cringes at the thought of facing her coworkers. But the day might not be as bad as she thought. 

Previous Scene: http://bit.ly/CNScene17

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series on:
- deviantArt: http://bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: http://bit.ly/CN1wattpad (This is Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available.)

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction  

== == == == ==

After a weekend at her grandparents’, Travis expected to walk into work Monday morning feeling relaxed. But as she walked up to the lobby door, she felt a growing sense of dread. People felt compelled to say something to her after her parents’ parties. What would would they say  to her after a party the police broke up?

She kept her eyes to the floor and moved through the lobby at a good clip. Not quickly enough to escape Lorraine’s overly cheerful, “Mornin’, sugar!”, but enough to not be caught up in a conversation with the woman. Inside the studio’s workspace, she started for the elevator, and then realized she was less likely to run into anyone if she just ran up the stairs. But no sooner had she shut the stairwell door behind her than she heard the dull thud of steps on the carpeted steps. She sighed, slipped back into the hallway and hoped for the best on the elevator.

Her luck didn’t hold out. As the doors closed, she heard a high-pitched voice, “Hold the door?” Travis stuck her bag in the door to foil the sensors, and an older teen ran in. “Thank you,” she said breathlessly. She took a moment to catch her breath. “I’m Melinda.”

“Travis.” She wished the doors would close already.

“Oh, right. The new apprentice. How are you liking this place so far?” Melinda straightened her bag on her shoulder and gathered her hair into a low ponytail.

How am I liking this place so far? I get to work for a bit, and then I have to be Shiri Ando’s daughter. How do you think I’m liking this place so far? “It’s a nice studio.”

Melinda smiled knowingly. “I’m an animator. And for three years, I was stuck being the little sister of the genius lighting apprentice. Really, how’s it going?”

Travis’ eyes widened, and then she gathered her composure. “About as well as can be expected.”

Melinda laughed. “Now that I believe.” The doors opened, and Melinda walked out. “You know there’s a group of us that gets together on the weekends when we aren’t in a production crunch. You should come hang out with us.” She looked over her shoulder to make sure Travis was still following her. “It’s kind of lame. We just chill, draw, play games, whatever. But it’s nice to just unwind with people who know your pain, you know?”

Travis didn’t know, but she liked the idea. “Sure.”

As they walked into the animator workspace, Melinda squeezed her hand. “Great! I’ll find you at lunch and we’ll trade contacts.”

“Okay.” Travis stepped toward her station. “”Oh. Wait. I usually sit-”

“With that cute crew guy. I know.” Melinda winked. “We can all have lunch together, can’t we?”

Travis blinked. “Of course we can.”

“Great. I’ll see you later. Send me more good props this morning. Your work is really clean for a first-year apprentice.” And just like that, Melinda vanished into a row of workstations.

Travis shook her head. Did that just happen? She logged into her station and found the first of many unpromising emails of the morning: Can we expect your mother this morning, or is she still in jail?

==

Melinda found Will before Travis had a chance to warn him. She had seated herself across and down from him, leaving Travis her usual spot across from him. 

As Travis sat down, Will shot her a look. She wanted to ask, but he shook his head. Maybe I shouldn’t have invited Melinda to sit with us.

“Hey, Travis. Will and I were just chatting about the rumor that the studio is going to upgrade crew operations.”

Travis noticed Will squirm in his seat. “Upgrades are good, right? Won’t they make it easier to do your job?”

Will laid his arms along the sides of his tray. “She thinks they’ll replace us.”

“You guys are kind of irreplaceable,” Travis responded. “I’ve been in a lot of studios with my mom. I’ve never seen one without people working as the crew.”

Melinda shrugged at Will, a smug smile on her face; he responded with a dark look. Unaffected, Melinda looked at her watch, “I better get back. I still have a lot of work to do. Sorry we didn’t get to chat, Travis, but I’ll see you later?”

“Sure.”

As soon as she was beyond the cafeteria door, Will growled, “You’ve been making new friends.”

“I, um… Yeah. I met her this morning. She wants me to hang out with the animator apprentices some time.”

“I’ll bet.” Will stood. “See you around.” As he stormed off, Travis sank in her seat. What just happened here?
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Poor Travis! Things just aren't going her way. Nice scene and thanks for sharing. :)
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Tagline
Writer. Editor. Voice Actor.
Introduction
About Me
I am a writer, editor, and digital media producer who has spent most of her life teaching, planning, creating, or performing. After an extensive career teaching and designing educational programming for science museums and tutoring middle school and high school students in math, writing, and study skills, I have returned to my performing and show production roots and wonder why I left in the first place.

Currently, I spend most of my time working on science fiction and fantasy short stories, digital media, and interactive fiction; narrating audiobooks and performing in audio dramas; playing with sound design; and tinkering with video editors. I hope that I’ll be able to move into narrative design and voice acting for crossmedia and interactive projects.

About My Webspaces
We are what we experience. It shapes who we are, what we do, and how we think. This is my experience. This is what I'm reading, seeing, thinking, and creating. This is where I've been and where I'm headed, for better or for worse. The topics may represent a diverse set of interests to you, but to me it's the tightly woven tapestry of my life. Following me won't change your life. It won't even change how you see the world. But hopefully, it will inspire you to think about and pay attention to what shapes and inspires you.


My Following Policy
(I never thought I'd need one of these, but some creative and business folk on Twitter and G+ apparently need manners or maybe a reminder that they aren't in kindergarten or high school anymore.)

My following policy is simple. I make posts that are interesting to me that I hope will be interesting to others, and I follow people who make interesting posts. I don't auto-follow, and I don't expect people to follow me just because I followed them.

I have zero tolerance for serial add/droppers and for those who engage in that behavior trying to build up their numbers. Those people just don't understand social media. 
Bragging rights
As a first year teacher, I had 100% of my geometry class achieve the highest score on the state EOC exam. I'm very proud of her. :)
Work
Occupation
Science Fiction/Fantasy Reader, Writer, Editor, and Narrator. Digital Storyteller. Voice Actor. Casual Anthropologist. STEAM Enthusiast.
Skills
writing, editing, narrating, voice acting, research, curation, blogging, managing social media, teaching, curriculum design
Employment
  • Writer, Editor, and Voice Actor
    Freelance, 2012 - present
  • Genius on Hold
    Blogger, 2011 - present