A Tall Tale by Kailey Ann – Written by a Millennial, for Millennials!

I’ve put my heart and soul into this novel over the last two years. Already, as of the last time I looked at my KDP dashboard, 129 copies have either been sold or downloaded by readers on Amazon Kindle, or in Paperback/Hardcover editions! I can’t believe so many have already invested in Mily’s story. She and I thank you all, new readers and old, for that incredible show of support!


Every aspect of my book is my vision, down to the typefaces and page setting. Awesome artwork by Thom J. Berger. Here’s me, authortok-ing and fishing for reviews 🙋‍♀️♠️ #booktok #magicalrealism #fantasy #metafiction #climatefiction #talltales

♬ Theme from “The Chronicles of Narnia” (Only the Beginning of the Adventure) – Movie Sounds Unlimited

Help me keep this train going! Soon I’m going to be doing a Q&A about my writing process, the book, and any/everything you want to know about where this story is heading in the future!

ORDER ON AMAZON in Kindle eBook, Paperback, & Hardcover!

Check Out this Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “Ordeal”


A pivotal conversation between Mily (the Millennial) and her dad, Jack Dog Yoder ♠️ From my new book! FREE Kindle eBook (for a limited time) and available in print editions on Amazon! Link in bio! #authortok #whatstrump #MILYTHEMILLENNIAL #dialogue #excerpt

♬ original sound – Kailey Ann

MILY THE MILLENNIAL: A Tall Tale by Kailey Ann

Hi, I’m Kailey Ann. I write because I hafta. Author Made in Indiana, USA.

I’m reading every chapter of my book aloud before the release! MILY THE MILLENNIAL is a new Inspired/Climate Fiction novel about a kid named Mily, who has magic bugs in her brain.

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Read the Book In-Progress:


♠ ♥ ♣ ♦

“Regularity should be observed in dealing, and no party should receive from the dealer,
in any round, more than the number of cards given to the eldest hand.”

The American Hoyle

♥ ♠ ♦ ♣

What might life’of been like if none of it had ever happened?

Emjay Womack Wood-Yoder could not imagine. They could only play Pretend.

“Pick it up,” Will ordered Dog.

Dog chuckled. “Clubs it is,” he said, taking the King into his hand and replacing it with something unknown, downturned on top of the kitty. Dog set the stack to the side, ready now for the first round to start.

Emjay met their dad’s gaze with raised eyebrows. “I lead right?”

Dog nodded. “Left of the dealer leads,” he said with an air of good-natured challenge.

Emjay considered their five-card hand, looking over each one carefully before deciding what to play. It wasn’t a bad deal, not by a longshot. But whatever they led would set the bar for this trick all four that came after it. They knew Will always said to count on your partner to win at least one. A team only needed to take three tricks to score. Emjay bet their brother had at least two in-hand, prob’ly even more, since he’d named trump.

Emjay held back their grin and plucked the Ace of Spades from their hand, placing it upturned in the center of the circle table.

“Your turn, Mom,” Emjay said like it was nothing, hiding the butterflies.

Bird, wearing a perfect euchre face, laid a Ten of Clubs alongside the Ace that was led.

“You have to follow suit,” Emjay reminded her.

“Only if I can follow suit,” their mom said.

Emjay went back to staring at their own hand.

Will played a Queen of Spades and gave Emjay a sideways grin as if to say, Cheer up, this is only the beginning.

Then Dog tossed a King of Spades on the table, and Bird hooted in victory. She gathered the four cards in the middle and pulled them in a single stack to her side of the table.

“Your lead,” Will told their mother.

Bird considered her four-card hand with care. Most fokes didn’t dare to look at the cards for so long, preferring to keep the game moving. But this, Emjay knew, was part of Bird’s strategy. She liked to make others sit and simmer while she considered – or at least while she pretended to.

After a few moments, Bird led with a Queen of Hearts.

“Sorry Mom,” Will said, following up with a Nine of Clubs.

Dog exhaled long and slow out his nose. “Tick-for-tack,” he sighed in a resigned way, spinning a Ten of Hearts into play.

Emjay threw an Ace of Hearts on the table too hard, and it sailed across the tabletop and fell into Will’s lap. He picked it up and pulled the rest of the cards toward him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he drew a card from his hand and slapped it on the woodgrain.

The Jack of Clubs.

“Knew ya had to have the Right,” Dog said, shaking his head.

Emjay grinned over the table at Will, and he smirked back – Their dad tended to get real competitive, especially when it was something silly, like a card game. Out of Dog’s hand came the card he’d been made to pick up at the start the round: He laid a King of Clubs alongside the Bower and waited for Emjay to play next.

Frowning, they set the card down nice and easy this time: an Ace of Clubs.

“Dealt our daughter three Aces, Dog,” Bird said over her hand.

“Lotta good they did me.” Emjay meant to sound light-hearted, but they were just about as competitive as their father was.

Bird threw off-suit with a Nine of Diamonds.

Emjay hadn’t been playing euchre long, but they’d watched others at it for as long as they could remember. While Will pulled their second-won trick to the side, Emjay thumbed their pocket to fiddle with the silver-starfish shooter stashed there.

A King of Diamonds was led.

Dog went with a Jack of Diamonds next. “Be a different story if we’d called it Red,” he said, smirking at Bird over the one card left in-hand.

Emjay played a Ten of Diamonds, hoping Bird couldn’t top a King.

She could.

“I’ll take that!” Bird declared, putting an Ace of Diamonds face-up for half-a-second before sweeping the trick beside the first one she’d won. Then she led a Jack of Hearts.

Will followed-suit with the King. Dog gave his son a look, and then without breaking eye-contact, played a Queen of Clubs.

“I think that’s a Euchre,” Dog bragged.

“Fat chance!” Emjay laughed. All three players turned and stared wide-eyed as Emjay flourished a Jack of Spades.

“Stopper!” Will cheered. He pushed the trick to his sibling, who gathered it up, cheeks a little pink with pride at the surprise win. It was Emjay’s favorite card of them all, even if it was only the Left – they didn’t care. Something about the Jack of Spades helped Emjay find their strength.

“I was saving it,” they said in a self-satisfied way.

“Good choice,” Bird praised. “Okay! Your turn to deal Mily.”

Everyone stared hard at Bird except for Emjay, who buried their face in their lap. Their mom realized her mistake at once and was all-apology.

“Honey I – I’m so sorry I – ”

“It’s okay Mom,” Emjay said. Even though it hurt, it also intensified the self-satisfied feeling brought on by the appearance of the Left Bower. No matter what anybody said, everyone thought of Emjay as the same person they’d always known. It was a huge comfort to know that for sure.

Besides – Emjay was done running. They would never put their parents through that worry ever ever again, they’d promised.

To break the awkward silence that followed, Will added a point to the scorecards.

Emjay shuffled the twenty-four card deck. Once they felt it was mixed-up enough, they slid it to the right and offered it to Dog to cut if he wanted.

He tapped the top card with two fingers, which Emjay knew was a way of saying, Pass.

Three-then-two, they thought to jog their reflexes, doling out the cards in two rounds going clockwise: Three to Mom, two to Will, three to Dad, two to Me – Two to Mom, three to Will, two to Dad, three to Me.

Bird, Will, and Dog gathered the cards they were dealt and fanned them out. Emjay turned the top card of what was leftover face-up before looking at their own hand.

A Nine of Spades was optioned.

Bird passed fast. Will was just as quick, knocking on the table, staring hard at his hand. Dog pondered the Nine for a while, looking back and forth between his cards and the kitty like he was at an impasse. “Pick it up,” he said, sounding confident in whatever it was he’d been considering.

Emjay fought grinding their teeth. I wanted to call it, they thought, staring at a Jack of Clubs in their hand, impressed that they’d somehow landed the Left Bower again. Picking up the Nine of Spades, Emjay traded it with a Nine of Clubs, hiding the card with their palm and leaving it facedown on the pile so no one could see.

“Your lead Mom,” Emjay said, oozing encouragement so Bird would know she was forgiven for dropping the Dead Name.

Bird’s eyes were shiny when she smiled. She forewent her usual time-consuming consideration and led with a Nine of Diamonds.

Emjay thought it was odd to lead with such a weak card, but Bird and Dog had played euchre forever so, Emjay let it go. Will made a tut-tut with his tongue and responded with an Ace of Spades.

“Alright,” Dog raved, casting his Ace of Diamonds into the mix.

Emjay had no choice but to follow-suit with a King. Will took the trick grinning and played an Ace of Hearts to start the next bid.

“Sorry bout’cha!” Dog commented while laying a Ten of Spades beside the Ace.

Emjay had to follow-suit again and gave up another King – Hearts this time. Bird returned to stalling, looking at her cards so long that Dog, her own partner, coughed as if to remind her, Trick’s mine already. Bird was a lover of drama. She rolled her eyes and, oh-so-slowly, scooted a Ten of Diamonds out to the center.

Dog led with the Right Bower.

Deciding to try a trick out of Bird’s book, Emjay held their hand very close to their eyes and considered all three cards carefully, letting it go on quite a long time. Will was the one to interrupt the charade this time.

“Just play your lowest card,” he said. “Everyone knows you can’t top that Jack.”

“I know how to play,” Emjay snarked back. “I was just deciding what to get rid of.”

Will made a face like they were a total idiot.

“What!” Emjay exclaimed, hurrying to play the Nine of Spades in their hand.

“No table-talk, remember?” Bird giggled, dishing out a King of Spades.

Then Emjay got it. Delaying that particular play had basically told everybody that their whole hand was Spades. Heat crawled up Emjay’s neck to their cheeks as Will tossed out a Ten of Hearts and fixed his sister with forewarning stare. Be smart, it seemed to say – Quite a tone-shift from the last bid, when he’d been totally forgiving of Emjay’s tenderfooted euchre play.

Dog started the next bid with a King of Clubs. Emjay smirked, plucking the trump Queen from their hand and sliding it out to meet the King with their index finger. Evidently, Bird had to play what was led, so out came a Queen of Clubs – and Will, looking a little less stressed, went with a Jack of Hearts.

Sparing Will the narrow-eyed look they wanted to shoot back, Emjay turned to Dog instead and said, “Two tricks each. My lead?”

“You bet,” Dog said with a twinkle in his eye that told Emjay he found their brother’s ruffled feathers as funny as the kids had found his.

“You asked for it,” Emjay said, and with a flourish exactly like the previous hand, presented the Jack of Clubs for all to see.

Will’s smile grew wider than ever. “Okay, okay, my bad Emjay. I won’t doubt you again! You euchred’m!”

Bird, Will, and Dog threw their last cards at Bird without giving Emjay enough time to see what they were. It didn’t matter – the Left Bower was the strongest card left in the round, and they all knew it.

While their mother shuffled the deck, Will added two more points to his and Emjay’s scorecards.

The game went on for quite a few rounds, and Dog and Bird did gain some ground. The kids’ and parents’ teams were neck-and-neck, both sides having found their way to six – Each just four points off from and winning.

“Loner Range,” Dog said when he took three out of five tricks to tie the game.

♣ ♣ ♦ ♦

♣ ♣ ♦ ♦

♣ ♣ ♦ ♦

It was Will’s turn to deal. He clucked his tongue and shuffled the cards bridge-style. He pointed his eyes at the ceiling, tapping the cards even and sharing them in the usual pattern, clockwise three-then-two. When all four players had five cards each, Emjay scooped their hand up and absorbed the hand –

It was all Nines and Tens.

Emjay peeked at the expressions of the other three, but their faces gave nothing away. Fighting the urge to sight-see, their eyes travelled to the upturned card: It was a Jack of Diamonds.

No way, Emjay thought, declaring, “Farmer’s hand!” before their dad had said whether he wanted Will to pick up the Jack or passed.

“You’re kidding,” Bird breathed.

“I’m not,” Emjay pressed. Fanning the cards wide, Emjay laid the hand down flat so their family could see the truth.

“Well I’ll be darn’d,” Dog said.

“Cards in,” Will exhaled, tossing his own into the center.

Everyone followed suit, Emjay sliding their hand to the throw-in heap and gathering the rest into a neat pile before pushing them in Dog’s direction.

“I like that rule,” Emjay commented while Dog took to reshuffling the deck.

“That’s a Diana rule,” Dog said, mixing the cards hand-over-hand. “Try call’n that over in Purchase, you’ll be tossed right outta the game.”

“How do you know?” Will asked.

“Your dad was thrown out of a tournament for trying his hoosier tricks,” Bird answered. “Isn’t that right Dog?”

He grinned back in that humbled way that meant Dog had a story on the brain. “We’re not playing that hilljack crap!” He quoted, tone dripping judgment. “This is a one-strike club ya Hoosier, so don’t come back!”

Emjay’s eyes grew. “They really said that to you?”

“Oh yes,” Dog said laughing. “They take their Euchre real serious out West.” Once he’d finished reshuffling, Dog slid the deck his son’s way. Will made a cut four cards from the bottom and slapped the smaller half on top. Then Dog dealt again.

“Well why’d they call you ‘Hoosier’ like that?” Emjay asked.

“Like they were call’n me a name you mean?”


“We like to call ourselves Hoosiers here,” Dog said with a shrug. “But someplaces, I guess, hoosier means th’same thing as Redneck.”

“Well that’s mean,” Emjay said. They crossed their arms, not quite sure why it was so bothersome.

“Language is funny,” Bird said forgivingly. “Some words are universal, and some have regional meanings. Hoosier is a term of unity and identity for us. But, people in other places might not know we call ourselves that. It means something else to them.”

Bird always had a way of explaining things that made sense to Emjay. But in this case, they didn’t like understanding.

“So if I call myself a Hoosier someplace else,” Emjay said slowly while Dog dealt. “People won’t know I’m saying I’m from Diana? They’ll just think I’m saying I’m a redneck?”

“Most likely,” their dad said. “But you know what’chya mean, and that’s all that matters. Just don’t call someone else a Hoosier if they’re not from Diana.”

“Well I wouldn’t,” Emjay said indignantly. “Because if they don’t live in Diana, they’re not a Hoosier.”

“Sounds like your definition is clear enough,” Will said, inspecting his hand.

Emjay shrugged. The others were now all looking at their cards, ready to get back to playing the game.

Dog turned over the top card and revealed a Nine of Diamonds.

“Pass,” Emjay said.

A knock from Bird.

“Pick it up,” Will said at once. “I’m going alone.”

Emjay was stunned. “What does that mean?”

“Remember when Dad said Longer Range?”


“Well, that means if I take all five tricks by myself, we get four points instead of two,” Will explained. “And we win the game.”

“I didn’t know that!”

“That’s a universal rule,” Bird said, wearing a bemused look like maybe she was impressed. “My lead. Let’s see what you’ve got, William.”

“Well what do I do?” Emjay asked before anyone had moved.

“You lay your hand facedown,” Dog said.

“I don’t get to play at all?”

“Not this time,” Will said. “It’s part of the game.”

Emjay felt left out but wanted to see how ‘Going Alone’ went, so they just said, “Okay,” and put their cards facedown on the table like their dad had said to.

Bird led with a Jack of Hearts.

Will smiled sideways so big his right eye squinted. Then he played a Jack of Diamonds.

“Worth a shot,” Dog said to Bird, tossing a King of Spades into the fray.

Will took the trick and then did something strange: He laid all four cards he had left in his hand on the table in one go: A Ten of Diamonds, a Queen of Hearts, a King of Hearts, and an Ace of Hearts.

“You yank’n my chain?” Dog interrogated, grinning greatbig. “Farmer’s hand followed up by go’n alone? What are the chances of that?” His eyes found Bird’s on the last question – both of them seemed to think it was really funny.

“Just have good luck I guess,” Will said.

“So we won?” Emjay asked just as Will moved to make the scorecards say so.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

♣ ♣

“We sure did! Want to play again?”


Emjay and Will turned to look at Bird, who was suddenly pink in the cheeks. Then they swivelled their heads to look at Dog, who was tapping the deck straight even though it was already as square as it could possibly be.

“We have some news to share with you,” Bird went on more evenly. Her face lit up, and she looked back-and-forth between the two kids faces without saying anything else.

Emjay got a funny feeling.

“Good news,” Dog added.

The parents stared at each other, smiling. Will and Emjay met each others’ gazes a few times, appraising the situation while they waited for either Dog or Bird to get on with it.

“What is it?” Emjay finally asked for the two of them.

“Well,” Bird said, taking a deep breath. “Will, Mil – Emjay – you’re going to be Big Siblings soon.”

Emjay met their mom’s eyes and was surprised to see that they were shiny again – but this time it looked like joy.

“You’re having a baby!” Emjay cried.

“Yes!” Bird cheered. She looked relieved by her daughter’s warmth. “I am. Not for a few more months though. Your little sibling still has quite a bit of growing to do.” Bird patted her belly with two hands. “I know there’s been a lot of change lately, but, I hope this is one we can all be excited about.”

“Of course we’re excited Mom!” Will almost shouted. He looked at Emjay, making sure they really felt the same way and, seeing that they did, went on and asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“It’s a girl!” Emjay shouted.

“Well, we don’t know for sure yet,” Bird giggled.

“I do!”

Bird’s mouth squirmed, a question on her lips held back by her very wide smile.

“You think so?” Dog said.

Emjay saw it all flash before their eyes – Novah! She’s coming! She’s coming in March! – A head full of black hair with white-frosted ends, a little girl swaddled tight in a yellow blanket, sleeping through a blizzard while Bird snored in the bed beside her.

“I know so! March Ninth!” Emjay asserted. Their mind was racing with excitement. It wasn’t a dream! It was real! It wasn’t pretend! Little Novie is real!

{ So it’s true!

“Can – Can I tell the twins?” Emjay asked, wanting to talk about it at once since E already heard the news.

Bird was blinking rapidly. “Soon,” she responded, cocking her head to the side like she might be confused. “My…” Bird shared her bewilderment with Dog across the table, who stared back seeming equally at a loss for words. “My due date is March Eleventh.”

“Well she’ll come sooner!” Emjay said.

“Well if the baby’s a girl,” Dog said. “We think her name will be – ”

“Novah!” Emjay revealed. “Her name is Novah!”

“How did you know…” Bird blinked a few more times and then set Will with an asking stare, but her son was clearly just as astonished as Dog and Bird were.

That struck Emjay dumb for a few moments. The big grin froze on their face, gaze hopping from face to face to face… Oh. There was no other way to explain – It was time.

Emjay had to come clean.

“I’ll tell you everything,” they said. “But first you have to answer one question.”

Bird, Dog, and Will exchanged looks. Then all three turned to Emjay with the most bewildered expressions any of them had ever worn. For only a second, Emjay was torn.

Then they took a deep breath.

{ Are you seriously about to –

“What are queeries?”

* * * * *

/ n o t a r e

Dick, W. B. (1874) The American Hoyle; or, Gentleman’s hand-book of games. [New York, Dick & Fitzgerald] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

© Kailey Ann

The Power of my People | A Call to Crowdsource

I can hardly believe I’m two days into a month-long fundraiser for my Book In-Progress, and I’m already almost HALFWAY to reaching my fundraising goal of $500.

That speaks volumes about the incredible people I have in my circle.

“Thanks” feels like too small a word to describe the impact this has had on me personally.

Why is MILY THE MILLENNIAL so important though?

Well, for those who may not know, I experienced a very tough period of writers’ block for about eight years. I published my first book when I was 16, having been selected to take a leading role in a collaborative children’s book project which, unquestionably, changed my entire life. After that, I set some very big goals for myself – If I wanted to really be a career novelist, I decided I had to keep up that early-publishing trend.

So, I published my first solo novel at 18. I wrote that book throughout my senior year of high school. Two books in my teens was cool. But I didn’t realize the pressure I had put on myself to maintain that kind of insane pace.

And, for what it’s worth, I vastly underestimated the amount of change I’d go through from 18 to 28.

I started a lot of books. I tried to collaborate on another one, but that ended badly as I later learned my prospective co-writer and I did not share much of the same vision for the work itself as I originally thought. I entered writing contests. I started a dozen or so books. I could never get past the first or second chapter, always feeling like my work was lackluster, or I was missing the mark somehow.

So, even though I graduated college with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing, I sort of gave up on ever being a full-fledged fiction writer. I thought I’d proven to myself that despite my aspirational youth, I ultimately didn’t have whatever that ‘thing’ was that all the writers I admire had.

I never said that out loud. Part of that is probably because I knew it wasn’t true. But I was definitely fearful that it was true.

But guess what! It wasn’t.

I’m back, baby – and feeling better than ever.

But wait WHY is THIS BOOK so important though?

Right, I was getting to that part.

In the going-on ten years since I published my last novel, I’ve done a lot of things professionally – all of them centered in writing. I worked in Tourism for two years, learning to work through local, state, and federal partnerships to raise awareness about ecological preservation and educate all kinds of people from all kinds of places about what makes a SPECIFIC place uniquely beautiful and significant.

After that, I realized I had dreams I never considered in those early years of adolescence. As it turns out, the thing I love most about writing is that I can use words to empower people to do good, incredible, challenging, exciting, meaningful, impactful things. I can use my middle-kid superpowers of Observation to show others things they may have never really SEEN fully before. I can encourage people to embrace different ways of thinking, to strive for common ground and resolution, to go after the things that make them happy.

So this book is really, really important to me because writing Mily’s story has helped me remember what makes me happy and rededicate my life to sharing that goodness with those around me.

Cool, so it’s about you…

Got me there. Writers – and I’m speaking VERY generally here – are almost always a little self-absorbed. I’ll call myself out for being a total Cancer. Reflection is my primary mode of being. So in that, yeah, I can’t write something that doesn’t have ME in it.

That’s called VOICE.

My voice is direct. It’s graphic, though not in an obscene sense hardly ever. I unlocked my voice in 2020, which by and large was either THE BEST or THE WORST year for creatives in general. Lucky me, it was good year for creativity. It was also the hardest year of my life.

After deciding to leave my Tourism job and go to grad school to study Leadership, applying specifically to a program where I would be given the agency to direct my course of study in a way that would best-serve my long-term goals. By specializing in Intentional Writing, I had the amazing opportunity to be in class with future politicians, medical professionals, coaches, and English teachers. I was very, very serious about discussing the foundations of “Organization Theory” and “Decision-Making” with individuals with HIGH aspirational goals (AKA, future leaders) as well as VASTLY different professional fields to draw perspective.

I knew that my Intent in writing books was to reach BROAD audiences and BRIDGE gaps between groups of people who are often separated by polarized politics.

My Intent was good. The Pandemic felt like a terribly-timed challenge under the scopes of “ORGANIZATION THEORY” and “DECISION-MAKING” specifically. I’m a great student, I don’t mind saying. But school was harder than it had ever been for me because of the uncertain and constantly changing environment we all suddenly found ourselves working through.

Then, just when I thought I was finally on the right track, I was assaulted by a naked stranger on the front steps of my own home.

That was the toughest battle I have ever, ever fought in my life. The experience derailed my study completely. It rendered me incapable of extended concentration, fearful of indulging in my studies because of an overwhelming hyper-awareness of my surroundings. It gave me a sense of one being hunted, watched, made me angry that all I felt for many months was rage, pain, despair, or numbness. It made me wonder if the world was in fact punishing me for pursuing a dream I should have given up on back in high school.

But I couldn’t let go. I didn’t finish grad school… But I did discover the story I’ve been trying to write for most of my life.

That story is Mily’s.

So what now?

Now, I am taking tomorrow off in respect for those lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Our lives were forever impacted by that day in History. That day was traumatic no matter how near or far we were from the incident itself. That day will never leave me. But I believe that reflecting on that Day has the power to change people for the better. And that, ultimately, is what Mily’s story ended up being about.

Millennials like me were set on a course unseen in human history because of the events on 9/11. I realize more and more every year how much that one day shaped me into who I am today. I was eight when it happened, just like Mily is in this book. I remember being afraid of airplanes, and wondering who terrorists were, and wondering why on Earth anyone would want to attack the United States. I WAS EIGHT. I am empath, I was then and I am today – but back then I didn’t have words to describe how it felt to constantly sense the stress, fear, anxiety, hurt, anger, grief, and ever-present confusion of the adults around me. I knew my parents were different than before it happened. I knew my teachers were too. My pastors. My coaches. Everybody.

I wasn’t afraid of another attack. I didn’t understand war. I didn’t know a lot of things that I do or am just starting to now, twenty years later. But my lack of understanding has led to a lot of questions over the years, questions I think most Millennials share. About what went wrong. About how to prevent catastrophe. About how to be better people, make better societies, and forge ahead through fear of the unknowable and unthinkable happening again.

Mily is eight. She trips into a patch of Pitcher’s thistle which leads to magical bugs nesting in her brain. And the infestation, the powers of overhearing and sightseeing they bring, gives Mily knowledge that will empower her to keep moving forward, most especially when she doesn’t understand why her world had to change so much, so quickly, so permanently.

Looking ahead…

I plan for this book to be in readers hands before winter. Fall is the season of shedding skins, bright colors, and corn mazes. Writing this book has gotten my life back on the right tracks. I’m not afraid to stand and consider a Crossroads anymore – That’s where I’m from, it’s who I am.

I hope this book gives every reader at least an ounce of the courage Mily has given me.

We have the power to create a better tomorrow. I believe we can do it. I trust that most of us will try. And if even half of us do, I have no doubt that we will live to see a beautiful, healthful future.

Wanna partner with me?

Check out my fundraiser?



Read the Book In-Progress:

♠ ♥ ♣ ♦

“While Liberty’s bright natal star
Shines twinkling on her own domain.”

The Hoosier’s Nest

♥ ♠ ♦ ♣

Mily was lost in time.

Each and every pipt and faced person in Lockdown was looking out for the Million-Dollar-Daughter. The lost child belonged to the family of the Left Bower, and the fact made this search and rescue a top priority. Four suited Aces stationed teams at key places where the kid was bound to be located. Keepers worked in pairs on watch-duty around the clock, sweeping the whole compound.

It was all talk.

Prudences befell the undground. There wasn’t a person there who wasn’t aware of the missing minor in question, and the disappearance was clearly top-of-mind. People exchanged worries and hopes of a sure and safe return, for the family. In stead of taking to the tunnels with flashlights and ropes, most only turned to their neighbors and asked whether they had heard if there was any news.

Mily’s name was not disclosed so hardly anyone knew it. Politeness stole their tongues. It would have hardly been appropriate to call attention to certain things in light of the current circumstances. They all agreed that the child’s life was priceless, no matter their worth in rumors.

After the first day, her whereabouts became harder to discuss. Most fokes were new to the place and new to each other, so over-minded in the way they spoke to one another about the girl who got lost in the Spokes. ‘Any word?’ / ‘Any sign?’ / ‘Any progress?’ took the place of her name in their smalltalk. Nobody wanted to offend, but after twenty-four hours a lot more doubted the Search was still ‘and rescue.’

After the second day, her story had lost touch with what was really going on. Mily was fine and what was more, she was going to be – It’s just that she still had to do Something.

In the meantime, she heard every type of talking there was to be had in Lockdown. Listening inside long forgotten access tunnels running underneath loading decks in the Spokes, Mily overheard the garbled gist.

That’s how the tall-tales of the Millennial started.

Some people were awful cruel, so Mily did her best to tune those out; the assaults on her parents’ character were hardest to overlook, as if it’d been their fault that their daughter decided to run away and stay lost. She shook her head, remembering what the Deer Serpent said:

Pay Little Mind For What They Might Say

Mily knew the words were wise because they worked when she applied them in practice. The only way to win this trick was with mind over matter. She reminded herself as much while climbing down a mossy ladder, following directions given to her back in the cavern:

You Must Go Your Own Way

It was strange, but Mily knew where she was heading even though she’d never been there. She supposed that must be the Creature’s magic at work. Discerning eyes found passages worth taking, railroads hidden in rubble and entryways left unrecollected in newer maps.

Keepers didn’t bother with the old routes. That was partway how Mily knew she was on the right tracks; she was looking for a place that had been unseen for many many years.

The Twins knew she was alright, but their word wasn’t much in the face of such worry. When Esa asked why they weren’t allowed to tell anyone their cousin’s name, Dog, Bird, Aunt Elaeagus, and Uncle Earn decided it was time for the kids to know the Whole Truth of What Happened.

She plugged her nose from time to time while passing through the maze of an old wastewater system. It had long been dried up, but some of the earth still stunk. She’d claimed the abandoned water treatment office for the evening and found someone’s minifridge still plugged-in and running, stocked with canned drinks and preserved snackgoods.

Mily ate next to nothing but chocolate pudding that night.

The Truth of What Happened didn’t feel like the whole story. Will and the Twins may’of been satisfied by their parents’ telling, but Mily just wasn’t. When she woke on the third day of being Missing, she got the Sense that everything was going to come together here real-soon.

But she must do her best to be there by Noon.

First she dusted herself off and stretched out the pains of sleeping on the floor. Then she opened the office door and continued on with her exploration of Lockdown’s patchwork underground.

{ Please say today’s the day

Today is the day! Mily promised E. She was quite far along already when she spotted another ladder and felt her heart miss a beat. Almost made it, I can tell!

{ Emjay –

You swore!

{ Okay-okay

Three entire days – That was what they’d agreed, and Mily didn’t intend to go back on their deal. If she couldn’t get to the place she intended by then, she would give up the search and tell the Twins how to find her.

Mily was sure there would be a real shock when she was finally discovered. From all the talk, it seemed like her still being unfound made the people in charge look bad; fears of cracks in the halls and bottomless pits in off-limits places fell listlessly from families’ lips. Mily disliked being a source of so much stress, but she was thumbing the pulse of a discovery that was much more important.

Testing the ladder by pressing her palms to the lowermost rung, Mily felt sure this was the right way to go. Stepping and reaching, she made it halfway up and held on tight while she looked around. Giant metal rings fixed together with slabs of concrete ran forwards and backwards into darkness.

“We sprung a leak somewhere and don’t know where it might be,” Mily heard somebody say up above, where an old steel hatch was propped open, likely left ajar after someone was done working a long time ago.

I know where, Mily told the air. The Aces kept sending Keepers to look in all the wrong places, which couldn’t be helped since the place they were looking for wasn’t recorded and was frankly quite hard to find. It sure seemed like the flashfloods rose from some lower level because water was gushing up from the grates under trains in half of the main Spokes… but she knew that wasn’t the case.

Kind of like how she had mistaken the Deer Serpent’s antlers for branches, Mily knew things weren’t always what they seemed at first glance. It was a quick way for her to have learned that life lesson.

At the top of the ladder, Mily paused to get her bearings. The stench from some tunnels was starting to affect her breathing. It wasn’t just that it smelled bad – the scent was sharp metallic. It stuck to her nosehairs and dried the skin out inside, leaving her follicles feeling stung.

One at a time, Mily wiped her hands on her dusty pant-pockets and finished the climb. Her head popped out of the open utility hole and found the air somewhat more pleasant. This tunnel was so low-ceilinged that she would have to duck while she walked. Mily clapped once and heard the twack! echo much further than she’d imagined it would. But that was alright. Butterflies twittered in her stomach. She was positive that this was perhaps the last leg.

The Creature’d said all she had to do was trust her gut – At least, that’s what Mily thought was meant by the phrasing:

Wisdom Will Full Fill Your Understanding

Mily passed another utility hole in the floor, though this one’s cover was sealed shut. She kept walking a few paces, but something made her hesitate. Stepping back towards the metal door, she took a good look at its spinner knob handle.

The hole-cover diameter was a few inches wider than her shoulders. It appeared to be older than the one she’d crawled out of a ways back – It was tinted seafoam green, the same color as Lady Liberty, which told Mily it must be made of copper. Righty-tighty-Lefty-loosey. Fixing both hands to the knob, she gave it a firm shove counter-clockwise, but the hatch wouldn’t budge.

Mily shook out her fingers and refastened her grip, using her thighs to put her weight behind the next push. This has got to be it, Something told her. It was a fluttering in her gut, the feeling she’d decided to trust. It had gotten her this far, after all.

There was no way of knowing for sure, but Mily felt the time running short.

Now or never.

She shoved with all her might – And the wheel began to turn.

It was slow-going. Mily had to take a break twice to let the blood back into her hands. But each time she started again, it spun a little easier. She made three full circles before hearing a hiss which meant the seal had been broken.

A sulfuric smell flooded the tunnel. Mily’s head spun. She pulled her shirt collar over her nose and pressed forward hard as she could – And the latch stopped.

Sweat dripped down her forehead. Her shoulders ached. Mily was too young to have thought about rehydrating much the night before. Her vision was curvy, and she suddenly wished she’d had something to eat besides all that chocolate pudding.

After another deep breath, she grabbed the handle like a steering wheel at Ten and Two and lifted the lid wide on its hinge. Once it was open, Mily had to retreat a ways to keep from breathing in the haze of rotten-eggs. She sat down and crossed her legs, letting her wrists rest on her knees. Eyani, Mily pinged when she’d started to catch her breath.

{ Yep?

If you don’t hear from me –

{ Mily!

Just listen! If you don’t hear from me in six minutes, send help to the Old Spokes.

{ You’re in the bunkers?


{ But I thought those were underwater?

Maybe they were. Mily stood up and stretched. The odor had settled throughout the passage, but it wasn’t getting any worse. She took a few steps back to the open hatch and peered into a deep dark gloom. They might flood again soon if I don’t hurry.

There was a long pause in which Eyani didn’t respond. Mily waited, wanting him to confirm he understood her instructions before she descended. In the time it took for her cousin to gather his thoughts, she saw that the ladder hung down further than she could see. And its rungs were all rusted.

E? Mily called after a while.

{ You better’of got a good reason for doing this

I do.

{ Then you got six minutes

{ Better get going

On my way. Wish me luck.

{ I’m wishing alright

Sure to test each rung with the ball of her foot before taking it, Mily headed down with her eyes Wide Open. There was no light at all to see by, but she could anyway. Something about her encounter with the Creature linked all her greater Senses together. It was the Silence of the chute which would have stirred a sense of unease if she hadn’t had a goal in mind to hold her focus.

A whispered word could’of shattered the stillness. But it wasn’t difficult to count the seconds passing; Mily set a steady pace, and her heart beat in-time. Step by step, Mily sank lower into the long forgotten reaches of Lockdown.

It was the sort of pitch blackness that inspired fear – A darkness so complete that time and space seemed more theory than real. Despite the swallowing chasm spanning far-far away towards a bottom she really hoped was there, Mily kept her cool. It did no good to be afraid when something much worse was on its way if she didn’t make it to the Place in time to fulfill the Deer Serpent’s task.

Mily tried her best not to think about falling into that black oblivion. Staring below showed nothing but clandestine murk bereft of brightness. Would anyone ever find her if she slipped, or would she be lost to the obsidian void for the rest of her days on planet Erath?

Stop that, Mily ordered. What good did it do to dwell on What-Ifs? She needed to keep her head – Lowering herself into this dense and precarious channel of nothingness was enough to overrule her Sense. Mily took a beat and fixed her eyes on the pinhole of light now very high overhead. She had to’of been at this for three minutes or more already.

Give me two more minutes, E.

{ Emjay that’s not the deal

Eyani Please.

Eyani didn’t send word, but Mily heard a { pop } that gave off the same disgruntled tone as a scoff. Mmph, she returned without meaning to. Her cousin wasn’t giving her the confidence she wanted, but she understood that this was the last time she should try his patience. Everybody was beyond worried…

Oh well most of them think I’m a lost cause already anyway.

Mily ventured further inward.

The ladder was sturdy. She needn’t have worried about the rust, as the descent was smooth all the way down to rock bottom.

I made it. Feet on solid ground again, Mily took stock – The copper piping didn’t extend to touch the bedrock, unlike the iron ladder bolted into the floor. There was just enough room to duck under the edge of the chute to see what was in store for her beyond it.

Pressing her right cheek and chest flat to the earth, Mily peered into the room –

E um – Eyani yew – you oughta ferget what I – forget the extra minutes E – I…

Her mind rambled with panic. It barely registered the returned radio-silence.

I mean it – E! Send some – send somebody to come – tell em ta take the elev – elevator down to Subway One-One-One and then fol – follow the railroad tunnel to Stop Forty-Two – part of it is uh busted so tell em they have to walk – RUN – tell em they have to run till they see a big CROSSING sign – thers a hole um no wait – was that be…fore or af…ter the unlocked door that says ACE NO FACE on it…?

Mily was still pressed flat to the earth, her heart thumping in her throat. Every nerve was on high-alert. What she was seeing made no sense – She’d never seen anything like it.

It was a boneyard. Fishes, rodents, persons. Mily saw some of every single kind of skeleton that ever lived it seemed like. There was even a mammoth. Its tusks were huge, each one long as three of her wing-spans put together. And there was writing on the wall, written in rusty red ink, which made her think gruesomely – Is it blood?

She would have to crawl out if she wanted to see more, but Fear locked her bent arms and legs to the uneven floor. Her eyes darted between cracked skulls and splintered femurs and fragmented ribcages. If not for the fact that not one bone-being rose from the dead since her eyes found this feast for time, Mily might have stayed frozen there forever.

But nothing did. Not one finger or toe so much as twitched. The graveyard was utterly unmoved by her presence.

Okay. Okay. I can do this. It’s just bones. Like at the History Museum. Just like the dinosaurs. You like those. This is the same. I can do this. Be brave. I promised I would.

Wits Will Not Stray Far From Faith
Summon Your Fates

Mily squeezed her eyes shut and rolled out from under the utility chute.

She squinted to peek and was dumbfounded. What the Creature’d said was Truth. Oggling at the ceiling, an open-mouthed grin filled her cheeks. Wits blew through her head and chest with a gust of recognition –

Guts took Mily to just the Place she’d been looking for.

* * * * *

/ n o t a r e

Finley, John. The Hoosier’s Nest: And Other Poems. United States, Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin, 1866.