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Anna and the Dark Place ebook + audiobook

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***As a special thank you for ordering from my webstore, I am including the audio commentary into your order free of charge ($10 value)***

Are you obsessed with witches? 

Do you love tragic romances? 

Do you like thinking about death and grief and loss and junk? 

Then Anna and the Dark Place is the perfect book for you.

Anna cannot escape death. It follows her everywhere. First with her aunt, then her father, and now her best friend Katie has died after a long battle with cancer.

With her best friend gone, Anna is falling apart.

So, when Katie’s ghost returns from beyond the pale talking about a tear in the barrier between the living of the dead, Anna is sure she’s gone crazy.

She denies Katie at first.

However, eventually, Katie turns Anna to her side and convinces her to help. Now, together they must learn a spell that will save the world before the dead invade and destroy everything.

Join Anna and Katie on a fantastical quest that introduces them to trolls, gnomes, dragons, and much more as they discover that death is stranger than they ever imagined.

If you love the idea of magic hiding in plain sight, coming-of-age stories about people becoming more than they ever thought possible, or tales about overcoming grief in the face of overwhelming pain, then make sure to pick up Anna and the Dark Place today.

The Main Characters

This story revolves around two best friend and star-crossed lovers; Anna and Kate. 


Anna used to be filled with life before death came for everyone she loved, and now it has come for her best friend Kate. You see, Anna loved Kate...yes, as a friend, but also as much more. She didn't realize it herself until her best friend got sick, and at that point it wasn't fair to put that on her, especially when she became terminal. At the beginning of the story, she is sallow and sullen, but then her best friend returns and she gets a second chance at life, and at love. 


Kate was a great athlete before she was diagnosed with the cancer that would kill her. She died slowly, but never lost her lust for life, and her luster. In death, she found a rift between the living and the dead, and came back to Earth to help her best friend become a witch and save the world...but moreso, there is something deep inside her pulling her back to Anna, and another chance at changing her fate.

Why do I love this book?

I wrote this book in 2019, and I have been DYING to get it out for years. This book is EVERYTHING I love about fantasy. 

If I had to pick ONE book for people to read that was my absolute favorite, I would have a hard time not choosing Anna and the Dark Place

I adore everything about it. 

I've written over 40 novels, but back in 2017, I had only written a handful. I started an incredible run of novels, writing books 5x faster than I ever had before, and it didn't take long for every story to feel the same. 

More importantly, I found that while I was strong in doing some things, like structure and action, there were many things I couldn't do well. For one, slowing down the action and focusing on character relationships, writing YA, and especially romance. 

Because a series needs to really stay in a similar tone if you want to have a strong readthrough, I decided to write a bunch of other stories in different worlds that deviated from my main series. 

I focused on YA fantasy with The Marked Ones, romance with Invasion, and then I wrote The Void Calls Us Home to kind of bring them all together. It was my prototype, but Anna and the Dark Place was my capstone project; the project that brought everything I loved together in one package. 

To me, it's the perfect book. It's filled with romance, action, rich characters, and a wonderful structure that hits on tons of fantasy tropes you know and love. If you have enjoyed The Obsidian Spindle Saga, then Anna and the Dark Place is the reason why. 

It's the book I wrote to show that I learned something from all those other books, and I couldn't be more proud of it. 

Outside of Kickstarter, this is the ONLY place to buy the audiobook for Anna and the Dark Place.

***As a special thank you for ordering from my webstore, I am including the audio commentary into your order free of charge ($10 value)***


Chapter 1

Funerals suck.

That wasn’t some great revelation or anything, but just because it wasn’t profound didn’t make it any less true. I wasn’t trying to be Shakespeare. Every word out of my mouth or thought in my head didn’t need to be some pithy observation meant to entertain a billion people for a thousand years.

In my short sixteen years of life, I’d been to four funerals, though, so I knew something about the subject: all of them sucked, hard. I wasn’t a mob hitman. Why had I been to so many funerals at such a tender age? Some people chalked it up to bad luck, but I had the sneaking suspicion I was cursed.

The first funeral I attended was for my nana. She was old, and I was three. I couldn’t remember that one very well because...well, I was three. Who remembers anything from when they were three? Nobody, that’s who.

Next was my Aunt Pauline. She smoked a pack of cigarettes a day until the day she died. I wasn’t surprised she died young, but I was surprised she could afford the habit even after they raised the price to over seven dollars a pack. I guess it was lucky that she retired rich with the right stock options. Or maybe it wasn’t lucky, since those cigarettes killed her.

The third funeral was my father’s, and it sucked super hard. Kids are supposed to outlive their parents, but that didn’t make it suck any less. Parents were supposed to die after they’d gotten older, like when they were ninety, not when they were forty-five.

Although, maybe I need to shut my mouth, because it’s better to outlive your parent than to have your parent outlive you.

Katie was my best friend, and the owner of the body that was being lowered into the ground in front of me. We had known each other all of our lives. Our parents brought us home from the hospital within a month of each other, and our fathers left us at the same time, both through the same helicopter accident in Kabul which killed their whole unit.

Crap. I had been to five funerals. I forgot that Katie’s father had a funeral the day after my father’s, so they blended together.

Katie and I grew up across the street from each other, and our families did everything together, from having barbecues, to watching the Super Bowl, to going on vacations together. After our fathers died, Katie and Joanne became even closer to us. We didn’t have much family left. My father was an only child, and my mother only had Pauline. Once they were gone, and Nana too, our family became just my mother, me, Katie, and Joanne.

I hated death with a real passion, too. It wasn’t fair. All the other kids had brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, fathers, grandparents...they had a family. They had friends. They had support.

Death took all of that away from me. Every person I grew close to faded out of my life. After my father died, I stopped letting people in. I walled myself off from the outside world. I figured if everybody was going to die, and it hurt so bad every time they did, at least I could be hurt by as few people as possible.

I didn’t join any clubs, or play any sports, or go to any parties. All I did was come home after school and hang out with Katie, and whatever friends she bothered to bring around me. She never had the same fears I did, despite death taking her father away just like it had mine. 

She was the opposite of me. After her father’s death, Katie decided to go out into the world and meet new people. She signed up for all the clubs and never met a person she didn’t like. She lived more in her few years on this planet than most people, and certainly had more of a life than I ever did.

Joanne stood from her seat next to mine in the cemetery and walked up to the podium beside Katie’s grave. Her hair was once blonde and vibrant, but she long ago let it return to its natural brown, which matched her eyes. Her skin was white and pale, and her eyes were red from crying. 

“Thank you for coming,” Joanne said, as her daughter was lowered into the grave in front of her. “I know it’s not normal to give the eulogy at the cemetery instead of a church, but my Katie wasn’t normal, either.”

Katie had planned her own funeral, which was how I learned that the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard is that a graveyard is connected to a church and a cemetery isn’t connected to anything. Katie hated churches, and she refused to be buried in a graveyard. She wanted her funeral to take place outdoors, not in some stuffy funeral parlor.

Joanne wiped the tears from her eyes. “Katie told me the day she was diagnosed that she was going to die, but that didn’t stop her from fighting anyway.”

It was true. I was there. Specifically, what she said was, “Mom, I don’t think I’m going to beat this cancer, but I’m not going down without a fight.” That was the kind of person Katie was, practical but headstrong. She ended up being right too, about her death at least, which I hated her for just a little bit, which made me love her just 9,999,999 percent more than anybody else.

“She wasn’t scared of death,” Joanne continued, choking on her tears. “Even in the last days of her life, she saw it as another step in the journey. She didn’t know where she was going to go, but she knew it would be a better place.”

That part was a lie, but at least it was only a lie of omission. She said it wouldn’t be any worse of a place, or at least that’s what she told me. She could have said something different to her mother. Then, she only would have been lying to one of us, but Katie always believed that lies were okay as long as they came from a place of kindness.

“I know she’s in a better place.” Joanne paused, swallowing her tears. “And one day we will be together again in the next life. Until then, Katie would have wanted me to live. She would have wanted us all to live; to embrace life, and to cherish every day as if it were our last.”

That did sound like her. Hopelessly optimistic even in the end, even when she had no reason to be optimistic. “Cheer up,” she would tell me whenever I visited her in the hospital during her chemo treatments. “I’m the one dying.”

She was wrong, of course. We were all the ones dying. She was just dying sooner than the rest of us. One day we would all be dead. What would happen to me then? Would I really be reunited with Katie, or would I just rot in the ground?

Joanne grabbed a rose from the foldout table next to her. There were over a hundred roses piled there. I looked around and there were only a few dozen people in attendance, but that was Katie, always hopelessly optimistic, even about how many people would attend her funeral.

I helped Katie plan her funeral, once the tumors in her bones became inoperable. She wanted me to put a clown nose on her, and make sure everybody honked it when they passed. It was the only thing Joanne refused to do for her after she died. It was a shame, because that was a perfectly Katie moment, laughing at death and making everybody around her feel slightly less uncomfortable.

After a moment of silent contemplation, Joanne turned to us again. “Now, please step forward and send my daughter into the afterlife with a rose.”

I walked forward with my mother and picked up three roses, then headed slowly toward the grave where the coffin was already lowered.

“I wish we had more time together,” I whispered. I threw the roses into the hole in the ground which held my best friend’s body. “Goodbye.”

Chapter 2

Katie had hundreds of friends before she was diagnosed with leukemia. They came to sleepovers at her house and cheered her on during soccer games. Everybody said they loved her. People loved Katie...but then she became sick. Once she got sick, the number of friends she had whittled down until there was just me again.

It was the best part of Katie being sick, honestly. I finally got to hang out with her without a gaggle of other friends around. Most of middle school saw me watching from the sidelines as Katie did one amazing thing after another, leaving me behind little by little. She kept me around once she became popular, but it was never the same as when we were younger.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely hated that Katie had cancer, but that didn’t mean it was without its benefits. Most things, no matter how horrible, had tangential benefits. Hell, they say Hitler kept the trains running on time, but that doesn’t mean anybody wanted another Holocaust.

Everybody abandoned Katie once the cancer got hard, and she stopped being peppy all the time, which meant she needed a friend. A real friend. Somebody who wouldn’t complain when she couldn’t go out on Friday night. One that held her hair when she threw up and who told her she looked good when all that hair came out during the horrible days after chemo when all she wanted to do was cry and sleep. 

I was glad that person was me. We would stay up late at night, read books together, and talk about life and the universe, just like when we were kids. I never begrudged Katie her accolades or friendships. I really, seriously wanted what was best for her. I never wanted her to be sick and hoped against hope that she was wrong about dying. It turned out everything she said would happen, did happen.

I ended up in Katie’s room an hour after the funeral, looking out at my pale, purple house across the street. It sorely needed a paint job. Every night, Katie and I would say goodnight to each other through our windows, and every morning I would rush to the window to make sure she was still alive.

When I woke up on the day she died, her mother was in her room, crying. I watched her scream and collapse on her daughter’s lifeless corpse. I knew what had happened, but that didn’t stop me from running across the street and pushing open the front door that Joanne never locked.

Katie didn’t look dead when I saw her the morning after she died. She was pale, but she had been paling for months, and she was so skinny in the final months of her life that I could see her bones through her sagging skin. Her blonde hair had long ago fallen out, and her dark blue eyes were closed as if she were sleeping.

She died in her sleep, and I wasn’t there to comfort her. Nobody was there for her in those final moments.

I was likely the last person to see her alive. Her mother had kissed her goodnight and tucked her in before we waved to each other that night. Had I known it would be the last time I saw her, I would have said more; I would have told her how I really felt about her, but I had no clue she would be dead by morning.

“She really loved you, Anna,” Joanne said from the doorway behind me.

I turned around and collapsed into her arms. “I know. I loved her too.”

We didn’t move for a long time, except for our chests, which heaved in pain against each other. Eventually, when the tears were gone, I unlatched from her. I wiped the tears from my eyes and gave her the smallest of smiles.

“Come downstairs,” Joanne said. “I can’t do this alone.”

“In a minute,” I replied.

I wanted to help Joanne, but crowds...I didn’t like crowds, and I didn’t like when they fawned over a girl they barely knew. More so, I hated the fact that they were all still alive and Katie wasn’t. It was a horrible thought, but I just wanted my friend back. Seeing all of them alive, smiling, and being with the ones they loved, was too much for me to take.

I sat down on Katie’s bed and fell onto her pillow. I could smell her shampoo. The sweet smell of roses and vanilla filled my nostrils, and for a moment Katie was alive again in my memory. I thought the tears were gone, but I was wrong. My body convulsed a gain, and they came back harder than ever.

Why? Katie. Why did you leave me?

It was a selfish thought, but it was a true one. I wept for Katie, for all the potential she lost, and all the days she would no longer have, but in that moment, I wept because I would never see her again. I wept because of what her death did to me.

I once had three people I loved in this world. My mother, Joanne, and Katie. Now I only had two. And I didn’t love them as much as I loved Katie.

Chapter 3

I didn’t want to sleep in my room any more. My room faced Katie’s, across the street, and that meant memories of her flooded into my brain every time I looked out my window. I had taken to sleeping on the couch in the living room, and only sleeping with Netflix blaring Parks and Rec on repeat. Otherwise, the dark thoughts infested my brain.

Why couldn’t you save her?

Why didn’t you die?

What makes you so special?

These questions filled my brain, and I couldn’t answer them. I had no idea why Katie couldn’t be saved, and why I was alive while so many people I loved died.

Was I the toxic piece that killed everyone around me? Was I a mold, or a spore, that infected those I cared about? Or was I just unlucky that my love was met by death at every turn. I long ago decided never to love again, but perhaps that wasn’t enough. Perhaps I needed to curtail the love I had for those still alive. Maybe it was in their best interests if I just cut off all ties and ran away.

“Move over,” Mom said to me, sitting down on the couch.

“Mom,” I said. “I’m trying to sleep.”

“Too bad,” she replied. “There’s a TV in your room. You can use it if you want, but this one is the family TV.”

I kicked her lightly, trying to get her up, but she wasn’t moving. “I have school in the morning.”

“You have a bed for that, my love. Now, what are we watching?”

I sighed. “Parks and Rec, I guess.”

“All right, I can dig it. Which season?”


“Ooh, that’s a good one. Before or after April and Andy’s wedding?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s just background noise.”

She stared at the TV for a moment. “Before, definitely before. Come on, sit up. Your bony legs are poking into my side.”

I pulled my legs up and Mom fell back onto the couch. “I hate you.”

She rubbed my legs gently. “No, you don’t. Sometimes maybe you wish you did, but you don’t.”

I couldn’t argue with her. There wasn’t anything in the world that could make me stop loving Mom, even if she was cursed to die eventually, just like everyone else I loved. It was just a matter of time.

“You realize if I don’t sleep then I won’t be fresh for school tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “But there’s nothing I can do about that, besides forklift you upstairs, and I’m afraid they won’t let me take one home.”

Mom had the strong hands and wide build of a warehouse worker. Lots of people made fun of her when she went to work in the warehouse after Dad died, but it was one of the few places that paid decently enough for us to keep the house they’d bought before I was born. They didn’t want to hire her at first, but soon enough, she proved herself, and eventually they promoted her to warehouse manager. After a few years she might even get promoted to the day shift.

“Don’t you have work?” I said.

“My boss is a real dick, but even she wouldn’t make me work the night of my friend’s funeral.”

“Aren’t you the boss, though?” I asked.

“There’s still the owner over me,” she said, then sighed. “There’s always a boss over you.”

“Sure, but you work the night crew. Do you think they’re really up to check on you?”

“No, but I’m also very self-aware. And I’m also aware when my kid doesn’t want to sleep in her own room because she doesn’t want to be reminded of her friend.”

“So, you’re a psychologist now?” I asked.

“No, but someday, maybe.”

Mom was studying psychology in community college. She hoped one day to transfer to get a four-year degree, but right now it meant she was hardly ever home between school and work. Luckily, I was very self-reliant. I had been a latchkey kid for a long time, and so she could trust me to be home alone.

I scooted back on the couch and swung my legs off it. “I can’t, Mom. I can’t be reminded of her.”

“I know, sweetie,” she replied. “We both loved her, you know.”

I nodded. “I know you did. She was like a daughter to you.”

“She was a daughter to me, just like you’re a daughter to Joanne. It’s never easy to lose a daughter, or a father, or a husband. That piece of your soul, it will never come back.”

“Does it get easier?” I asked. “I thought it would get easier after Daddy, but it’s just as hard. It’s always just as hard.”

“Some days will be easier than others. This day has been brutally hard, my love. But some days will be easy, and some days you will feel guilty about how easy it becomes, and it will make you spiral.”

“You are not a very good psychologist, Mom.”

“I’m only in my first year. Freud wasn’t Freud on day one.”

“No, not until he found cocaine. That’s when he became Freud.”

“All right, smarty-pants, we can all Wikipedia. That doesn’t make you smart.”

“No,” I replied. “The straight A’s make me smart.”

“That just makes you book smart, kiddo.” Mom pulled my head close to hers and kissed my forehead. “That doesn’t make you street smart, and that doesn’t make you heart smart, either.”

“Now you sound like a Lipitor commercial.”

“Just shut up and watch your show, okay?”

I snuggled into Mom’s stomach and turned to the TV. I listened to her heart beat against my ear, and it slowly lulled me off to sleep. How could I ever stop loving my mother? She knew exactly what I needed. I didn’t need compassion, or pity. I just needed somebody to be there, and act like everything was normal, even when nothing was, and nothing would ever be again.

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