Tag Archives: young adult

Interview with a Supernormal: About Those Abilities

As I write Root, the next book in the Dormant series, I draw on clandestine interviews I’ve had with the only supernormal I’ve met. I know her as Kate Brighthall but that’s not her real name. It’s the name she gave me when she recused me from a house fire when we were both teenagers. Over the years she’s trusted me with details about her world and allowed me to write about it. I suspect she wants to make sure at least some facts are correctly reported to counterbalance the rumors swirling around — mostly in the tabloids.

Below is an excerpt from notes I took when Kate told me about how supernormal abilities develop. She was unusually chatty that day.


As told by Kate Brighthall…

Supernormal children aren’t born with their active powers. Our children aren’t distinguishable from normal children at all. Not at first.

Our children start showing signs of the basic package abilities around age three. The basic package abilities (my daughter Zoe’s term) include super speed, sight, smell, hearing, and strength. As a child grows up, we do some light training to hone the basic package skills, however intense training begins at age thirteen when a child’s significant ability manifests. A significant ability can be one of many different skills — it could be an extension of the basic package or something very different. For example, Zoe’s significant ability is super speed. She can run the 120 miles from the Portland warehouse to Mt Hood and back in fifteen minutes. Others gain significant abilities such as the power to manipulate objects without touching them. I can manipulate objects weighing up to 5 lbs. Others can handle heavier objects. Other abilities include fire starters, like my niece Olivia. My brother, Alex, is an empath — skill often used for healing. Supernormals can heal more rapidly than normals but we occasionally need a little help. Alex also uses his ability to help normals heal — surreptitiously, of course.

Most abilities are easy to hide from normals but some of us manifest abilities that require we stay hidden. It’s not unheard of for a supernormal to manifest wings, gills, or other physical changes. Once, a long time ago, we were less successful at staying hidden. That’s how some myths got started — normals saw supernormals in action. Nowadays we stay below the radar; it’s safer that way — for us and for normals.

As teenager supernormals manifest their significant ability, they focus on honing their new skill. There are tried and true exercises for each ability, but my brothers and I challenge ourselves to find new ways of training. It’s been particularly interesting training Olivia’s fire starter skills — her range is amazing but her control still needs work. Good thing her grandfather built a fireproof training room.

Once a thirteen year old supernormal manifests her significant ability it takes about six months for full development. After that period, our significant abilities are set and don’t grow any more. Of course, we can refine our skills. For example, only being able to manipulating object of 5 pounds or less might seem like a limitation but I’ve learned that it depends on what that object is.

There’s only one forbidden ability — mind reading. Any child who manifests this ability must learn to suppress it — almost all supernormals who manifest this ability develop the power to control minds as well. They usually end up going insane. About two hundred years ago, a supernormal with the ability to read minds destroyed most of the supernormal population globally. Because of this cataclysmic event, there are less than a thousand of us worldwide. Fortunately, mind reading is a rare ability; typically, only one child per generation manifests it. I’ve only known one personally and he is in a medically induced coma to protect himself and others.

Every family lineage has a role in the supernormal world. For example, Brighthalls often train to be hunters, seeking and containing the monster population while protecting normals from these creatures. Sometimes we have to kill the monsters; for example, it’s very difficult to trap and contain a Mongolian Death Worm due to its acid spewing abilities. Usually we try to capture and then release a creature in a safer habitat. Recently we tracked a firebug — a small tentacled critter who emits sparks and sometimes flames — usually harmless in a remote desert setting but not in an urban environment where it can harm normals. We were able to use Olivia’s ability capture the firebug and now it’s on its way to a safe habitat.

As the normal population has grown, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep monsters away from normals. Sadly, due to encroaching populations we’ve had to kill more creatures than we did in the past. I’m trying to find better ways for us to capture and contain these monsters. Most of the creatures are harmless when kept away from normals.

My family is atypical because we integrate into the normal population while most supernormals live in remote locations around the world. My family’s job as hunters means that we usually live in cities so we find have to work hard to blend in among normals. In fact, unusually among supernormals we often marry normals. Supernormal genes are dominant so our children have abilities. I remember when I told my normal husband about supernormals — he was stunned but has adapted very well to our double life.

I think it’s good to stay connected to the normals — keeps us grounded in both worlds. Not everyone agrees. Most supernormals keep themselves separate from normals as much as possible. Historically, the few times we’ve come out to normals, it’s been a disaster for us and we’ve had to go back into hiding. Normals either want to control us out of fear of our abilities or use our abilities to make their lives easier. The crash of the Hindenburg, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake –examples of normals trying to control my kind in the early part of the 20th century.


At this point, Kate received a text message. I don’t know what it said but she gasped and abruptly ended our interview. As she rushed off I heard her mutter, “Olivia what have you done now?”


LeeAnn Elwood McLennan 05 Color (2)LeeAnn Elwood McLennan is the author of Dormant, the first book in the Dormant Trilogy available on http://www.secondwindpublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’s diligently working on Root, book two in the trilogy. Follow LeeAnn on Twitter @atticusmcl and on Facebook at LEMWrites.

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My first critique group experience

I’m attending my first official critique group today and I’m nervous. I’ve never understood why people love their critique groups so much—they can’t wait to get to the next one! Perhaps I’ll find out today what the big deal is.
In the meantime, I’ll “go all out” and extend critique day in this blog. I’ve been struggling with a few plot points, so I’ll ask my blogging audience about them too. Keep in mind that the targeted audience is young adults.
1) I have a pug dog in my story and at one point she is left in the care of a boy who has blossomed because of her. Is this a cop out? Should I instead have allowed the dog to go on a dangerous trip into the wilds of Papua New Guinea with the two main characters? It certainly could have made for additional conflict, for no one wants to see a dog endangered. (I think I just talked myself into taking her.)
2) Should the bad guy die … or not? Is redemption or revenge more what young adults like to read about now a days?
3) How can I make the cannibal characters—they are a tribe in PNG—sympathetic yet terrifying? External descriptions certainly help, but does anyone have any ideas on how to make a scary-looking, primitive tribesman act three dimensional and a bit sympathetic? I could show him with his child, but is that concept too clichéd?
4) Should someone nice die? It would be very easy to kill one off, since there are three “good” people, in addition to the main characters, trapped by the cannibals. I can kill off the bad guy here, but is that too boring an ending? I get the feeling that most teenagers today don’t appreciate happy endings the way I used to when I was one.
5) Any ideas on how to—believably—allow a guy to dive into crocodile infested waters and NOT get bitten/eaten?
Wish me luck!!

Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic
Available through Amazon.com and Second Wind Publishing


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Blurb advice

Diane Gaston gave a talk at last month’s Virginia Romance Writer meeting. She said that she writes her blurb and her synopsis before she starts writing the actual book. She inspired me to start writing blurbs for my still-to-be-titled young adult book that I’m working on, the same one that I had hoped to finish by the end of last year. Oh well…

I’d love opinions on the following three attempts. Which is your favorite? How would you change any of them?


When Nina finds candylicious liquid vials in their grandmother’s storage room, Nathan warns her not to drink them. His advice ignored, he’s forced to follow Nina to Cloud Seven, a place where he and his twin are given a chance to change history.

Their task isn’t easy. They must survive the wilds of Papua New Guinea as they attempt to rescue a cancer-curing plant from oblivion. Along the way, they find out that fierce cannibals and malaria are the least of their worries…



A routine stay at their grandmother’s apartment leads Nathan and Nina to a place they never dreamed existed. They’re given a choice: return to home and safety, or stay … and change the world by rewriting history. Of course, if they stay, there are no guarantees they’ll ever get back home…



1963: A scientist dies in the wilds of Papua New Guinea at the hands of fierce cannibals. The valuable plant he discovered is lost forever … or is it?

2011: Nathan and Nina Christy never dreamed that snooping in their grandmother’s storage room would get them transported to Cloud Seven. They’re given the chance to go back in time and change history. But at what cost?


Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic, a Regency romance available through Second Wind Publishing and Amazon.


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Lucy Balch says, “Hello!”

Since I’m one of Second Wind Publishing’s new writers, and since this is my first ever blog, I’ll introduce myself. My degree says I’m a speech-language pathologist, but lately I’ve been trying out the “writer” moniker instead. After all, five years of writing can equal three years of grad school, can’t it?

I rediscovered my love for writing after finding some of my old stories in my father’s attic, ones I wrote when I was in elementary school. Adolescence must have come along and knocked the writing bug out of me as thoroughly as it ended my tree climbing and Blockhead craze, but now I’m thoroughly re-infected.  I try to write something every day, and if I don’t I start to feel cranky.

Three years in, I had my first romance novel, A Second Chance. I now call it my learn-as-you-go book, and one day I hope to dust it off and revise it enough to make it marketable. Love Trumps Logic, my second book, is the one about to be published, and it’s actually a prequel to the first book. I liked Lord Beaumont so much in the first book that I decided to write his story in Love Trumps Logic. Both books take place in the Regency period, an era I’ve loved ever since my sister turned me on to Georgette Heyer’s books as a teenager.

Here’s a brief glimpse into Love Trumps Logic:

“I’m done, Fergie,” Lord Albert Beaumont said in his friend’s ear, after the third matchmaking mama in one hour had introduced him to–this time–a freckle-faced girl with protruding front teeth.  She had giggled so hard she hadn’t been able to get one word out.

“Your reputation for adoring red-heads was the cause of that last introduction,” Lord Ferguson responded, unsuccessfully hiding a smile.

“No, it happened because I foolishly allowed your prattle about your cousin to lure me in here,” Beau responded, taking the last two glasses of champagne from a passing footman’s tray and downing one of them in a single gulp.

“It would all be worth it if we could find her.  I don’t lie when I say she’s prettier than any chit here.  Perhaps my aunt left early, since they’re leaving for the country tomorrow.”

“Let’s go,” Beau said, emptying the second glass as quickly as the first.  He led the way toward the door, handing off the empty glasses to another footman on the way, and was ten feet away from freedom when a tall, silver-haired matron stepped in his way, grabbing the sleeve of his jacket.
“Good evening, Lady Pilchard,” Beau said, biting back a groan.

“Good evening, indeed!  What could possibly have brought you to Lady Darlington’s tonight?” the bony woman gushed, not letting him go.  “Are you looking for a wife this season?”

Beau saw the greedy gleam of possibility in her eyes and repressed a shudder.  Lady Pilchard’s daughters were notoriously homely, with gangly bodies and paper-thin lips.  “Not that, no.  Lord Ferguson hoped to find his aunt here, and I accompanied him.  His business is finished and we’re leaving.”

“Regardless, the gossip papers will say otherwise tomorrow.  Perhaps you should be thinking of settling down.  Aren’t you nearly thirty?” she chided, tapping his captured arm with an ivory lace fan.

“I’ve learned to ignore the gossip papers and I’m two years shy of thirty.  Goodnight, Lady Pilchard.”  Beau disengaged his sleeve from the lady’s impressive grip and gave her one of his stunning smiles.  She gasped, speechless, her eyes glazing over with delight, and Beau heard Fergie snort behind him.  Beau knew his smile had that effect on women, it always had.  It also made Fergie laugh every time he witnessed it.

The two men successfully escaped a minute later, but their night of difficult encounters wasn’t over.

If you want to find out about the other difficult encounters, Love Trumps Logic will be available sometime in the near future.

I want thank Second Wind Publishing for giving me this incredible opportunity. Their acceptance of Love Trumps Logic has given me something tangible to feed an obsession that, until Second Wind came along, neither earned me money nor helped me keep my house in order nor bettered my children’s lives.

And I’ve already discovered that getting published isn’t just about writing the book. There are so many more steps, but I’m not complaining!

Deciding which name to use was one such step, and I’ve come full circle on that. First, I was going to use a pen name: Elizabeth Locklin. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? And it uses my dropped middle name and my mother’s maiden name, so it feels somewhat familiar. The problem was that I started to feel schizophrenic even thinking about using it, and I worried about how I would make it look better than a third-grader’s signature at a book signing.

So I’m using my real name, which is Lucy Arnold Balch, but that’s not the end of it because I have another dilemma: I’m also writing a young adult book, and hope to get it published one day, but I need a slightly different name for that genre, in order to keep the identities separate. One author who writes both genres uses Nicole Burnam for romance and Nikki Burnam for young adult, so I considered Lucille Balch for romance and Lucy Balch for young adult. But looking at the reality of Lucille Balch: doesn’t it remind everyone of the beloved “I Love Lucy” actress? And besides, I’ve never been crazy about the name Lucille for myself. It’s never felt like a good fit for my personality. So what about using my maiden name? Perfect!  Until I discovered that lucyarnold.com is already taken by an artist who paints gorgeous nature paintings.

Then I remembered initials. I could be Lucy Balch for romance, and L. A. Balch for young adult. No one has taken either website yet, and I would be in the good company of J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, ee cummings, and others who’ve made initials work.

So, it’s settled. At least, I think it is. I probably won’t know for sure until the final proof deadline.

t’s nice to meet everyone!

Lucy Balch


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