The New Rules Book Review

I think Brian Kardon (CMO, Lattice Engines) sums it up best in Chapter 24: Make it Happen: “…you can’t outrun the ball. For a certain amount of time you can, but you’ll get to a point where someone asks a technical question or something with a little more depth, and if you haven’t done it, you’re not going to be successful.”

David Meer51-PDe-yIpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgman Scott expertly frames the industries biggest changes and persuades his readers that it’s the new way or the highway. Some books present information while others will just try to convince readers why they have to change, but Scott’s New Rules of Marketing & PR does both in an non-obtrusive way that leaves the reader wanting more. In an increasingly digital world, Scott shows his audience how changing with the times not only gets your company “up to snuff,” but propels it forward.


David Meerman Scott

The New Rules offers both solutions to problems and a “how-to” of sorts to get started. Similar to Lisa Buyer’s Social PR Secrets, the book provides information and tips in an easy-to-read form with applicable examples that make it easy for both the newbie and seasoned professional to understand. The tone isn’t patronizing and patient with readers and Scott painstakingly walks through each “new rule.”

Kardon said it right: “…if you haven’t done it, you’re not going to be successful.” The New Rules of Marketing & PR ensures your success by teaching, showing and engaging readers how digital they can be.

Sample Radio Release: St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital

Bryan, Texas


Katarina DeFelice

Director of Public Relations

February 16, 2016 16:1

Hope in Bloom                                              

                                                                                                                                    (Time: 30 Seconds)

Today, St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital unveiled its new memorial garden, designed to relieve stress of St. Mary’s patients and families. Together with Target, St. Mary’s will host a Valentine Carnival at the memorial garden this weekend with food and music. St. Mary’s also announced the completion of the $1 billion, five-year hospital expansion that furthers research.



Sample VNR: St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital

135 College Station Boulevard. Bryan, Texas 08028. 717-123-4567

Contact: Katarina Aleea DeFelice, Director of Public Relations 717-487-4513







St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital will host a Valentine-themed carnival this weekend at the Thomas and Rose Marie Donnelli memorial garden.


SCENE :20 seconds of memorial garden


Today, St. Mary’s unveiled its new memorial garden that commemorates founders Thomas and Rose Marie Donnelli. Together with Target, St. Mary’s will host a Valentine Carnival in the garden this weekend to wrap the patients of St. Mary’s in love.


SCENE :20 seconds of the Valentine Carnival


The carnival incorporates music, games and food with learning and celebration. The Blenders will perform as children and families munch on funnel cake, create love letter mailboxes and explore St. Mary’s $1 billion campus expansion and school redesign.


SCENE :05 seconds of ribbon cutting ceremony outside the St. Mary School


Terri Donnelli, the founders’ daughter, thanked the community for its generosity.


SCENE :15 seconds of Terri Donnelli soundbite


“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all those generous people who continue to work with the foundation to help us find cures and treatments for their devastating illnesses.”


Sample News Release: St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital

Bryan, Texas 68134


Date: 16 February 2016                                                          Contact: Katarina DeFelice

For Immediate Release                                                          Director of Public Relations

                                                                                                                 (812) 123-4567

Hope in Bloom

BRYAN, TEXAS:  Pain. Suffering. Heartbreak. Three things St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital hopes to avoid for its patients. Instead, the world-renowned research hospital offers hope and renewal in an atmosphere surrounded by cascading waterfalls.

Today, St. Mary’s unveiled its new memorial garden designed to relieve the stress of childhood illness on residents and visitors. The garden commemorates founders Thomas and Rose Marie Donnelli and stands adjacent to the Italian American Helping Hand (ITAHH) pavilion.

This weekend, St. Mary’s and Target Department Stores host a “Valentine-ival” to brighten spirits and wrap the patients and families of St. Mary’s in love. The Target-sponsored, Valentine-themed carnival incorporates music, games and food along with learning and celebration. Local music group The Blenders perform as children and families munch on funnel cake, create love letter mailboxes and visit the new St. Mary’s School. Target resigned St. Mary’s School to better serve patients through bigger classrooms, new furniture and interactive SMART Boards™ .

St. Mary’s officials will also announce the completion of the $1 billion, five-year expansion that helps realize the dream of Thomas Donnelli that “no child should die in the dawn of life.” The expansion doubles St. Mary’s campus, modernizes radiation therapy in an adolescent setting and renews the commitment to family-centered care.

At the center of it all, the founders’ daughter Terri Donnelli smiles through tears of joy. “My parents are smiling in heaven knowing that today their dream to help children took a major step forward. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all those generous people who continue to work with the foundation to help us find cures and treatments for their devastating illnesses,” Donnelli said.

St. Mary’s Children’s Research Hospital opened in 1962 with Thomas Donnelli at the helm. The hospital treats more than 5,700 patients a year, publishes 700 papers a year and remains the only pediatric cancer research center where families never receive a bill for treatment.


Baby I’m Back!

I started school this month… I’m a junior in college!


That means I have to win at everything for the next two years and hopefully I get a job that helps me put a dent in my student debt and save me from an overwhelming downward cycle of working in retail and crying at the bank.

But it also means I’ve collected lots of knowledge and experience, (generally) know what I should do and what I shouldn’t do, and still procrastinate because homework sucks.

This year, I’m the Vice President of my school’s chapter of the Public Relation Student Society of America. I plan meetings, invite speakers, coordinate schedules and publicize our club and events wherever and whenever possible. Disney taught me a lot of responsibility and time management. Even though I work best under pressure, I know how to get things done in a timely manner.

I’m really excited to see what this year holds. I actually really enjoy taking 6 classes (and I still ended up with a breezy schedule!), and I’ve limited my organizations to just two or three… okay, four. But it’s better than the seven I tried to do last year!

Blossoming in my PR career, I understand just how important an online presence is. I also have used this blog for a few classes already, so I already know it comes in handy.

Keep an eye out for more posts, I’ll be covering the events in Philly when the Pope comes in just a few weeks! And don’t forget to never grow up!

Special remembrance for those who gave their lives fourteen years ago. The entire world was rocked by such ruthless hate and terrorism. I thank God every day I was able to keep my family, but pray especially today for those who weren’t as lucky. If you see a service member of any branch, please reach out to them and thank them for the incredible sacrifices and risks they make for others.

Disney in Action: Animal Kingdom!

SHOCKER. I didn’t get a video for this blog post. I wish I did, but the days I have off are literally devoted to homework and laundry and grocery shopping. Once I’m done my online classes, I can finally enjoy the 2 months (SAD FACE) I’ll have left!

So Animal Kingdom is kind of the weird cousin of all the parks, in like every way you look at it. I have to say though, their entertainment is pretty fun.

While there’s not a lot of entertainment, the things DAK does have are great. Exhibit 1: Festival of the Lion King.

I LOVE THIS SHOW. Timon is probably my favorite part because of his sass and the tumble monkeys he plays around with, but the entire thing is just too cool for school. The emcees each take a section of the audience (I was a lion!) and make the sounds of that animal in different times of the show. Classic Lion King songs are sung and aerial acrobats are kicking butt swinging and jumping and flipping! At the very end, the guests from the first few rows are invited to come dance with the animals of the jungle.. It’s seriously the bomb. One of my favorite things to do in Africa!

Also check out Finding Nemo the Musical – it’s cool! In my opinion, Finding Nemo wasn’t a musical for a reason. But the songs are catchy and the show is really great for all ages! Bright colors and fun effects really make it a spectacle to see. It’s located right between Asia and Dinoland!

If you walk into the park around 9 or 10, keep a close eye on the trees… some of them move!! Well not some, just one. Meet DiVine, the living grape vine in Animal Kingdom’s Oasis. She hides in the trees and makes for absolutely beautiful pictures.

One of my other favorite things to do is Dinoland, USA’s “Dinoland Dance Party”! I love it soo much! It’s one of the only places you can meet Slim from Bug’s Life! A lot of random characters pop up at the dance party to groove and “Shake it Off!” One guy you can usually catch there is Br’er Fox… he loves to dance to “What Does the Fox Say?!” The other cast members dressed in different colored shirts and dancing are really fun too! They love to take pictures and dance with all the guests! I seriously recommend joining in! I think the times of it are somewhere around 3:15 and 5! However, I’ve heard rumors of it ending so get there as soon as you can!

There are a few pop-up shows around Africa, Asia, Discovery Island and Dinoland USA, but they’re not well publicized and I’ve only seen the African one for a minute or so. It’s cultural music, just like the ones at EPCOT, and they’re featured prominently so you won’t miss them on a walk through the park!

On the very rare occasion, you might run into a popup character! I met Timon one day when I was leaving the park! I’ve also seen Flik and Br’er Rabbit and Terk. It depends on how the animals are feeling, but you just might find an unexpected surprise at the end of your days!

Thanks for the WILD ride into Animal Kingdom with me, be sure to share my posts if you like them and don’t hesitate to ask questions!

The Search for Mickey: Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom!

Our search for Hidden Mickeys concludes with a two-park finale! Mr. Hidden Mickey Guy is supplying all the help, so definitely check out his website to find even more Mickeys! But let’s begin… First up: Hollywood Studios!

Hollywood Boulevard: The Great Movie Ride

While you’re in the ancient Egyptian temple, pay special attention to the hieroglyphs on the walls. Mickey is hiding right under the bird and beside the legs of the men!

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Echo Avenue: Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner

Take a stroll past the boat that doubles as a diner and see a cleverly hidden Mickey Mouse head! If you stand near where the big hat used to be, the portholes line up with the sign and produce that classic Mickey Mouse!

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 5.09.42 PM

Sunset Boulevard: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Gift Shop

A very obvious Hidden Mickey, but cute nonetheless. While purchasing souvenirs after riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, look down at the counter to see either Mickey or Minnie sculpted out of guitar picks!

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Asia: Expedition Everest Queue

In the queue for one of the best rides at Animal Kingdom, observe your surroundings and find the campsite the Yeti destroyed! On the table you’ll see a tea kettle that has been smashed by the Yeti’s claws, but it’s shape forms a Hidden Mickey!

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Africa: Refreshment Stand outside exit to Kilimanjaro Safari

After your dangerous and fun exploration through the Savannah, grab a cool drink to cool off! This refreshment stand houses a small but adorable Hidden Mickey.

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Dinoland U.S.A.: Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures

Pop into this merchandise location right by Goofy and Pluto’s meet-and-greet at the Dinoland Gas Station! It has a ton of fun dino-themed memorabilia, along with a unique Hidden Mickey! Look up when you enter the store to see a Mickey marionette! It’s hard to spot in the first picture, but the second picture shows you exactly what to look for!
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Oasis: Tram Pickup

Like in Japan, take notice of the metal grates that cover the trees near the tram stop! The overlapping circles make a Hidden Mickey!


And that about wraps up our search for Hidden Mickeys! Like I’ve said before, there are too many to count; no one knows the exact number of Mickey heads hiding in the park! But keep your eye out and find as many as you can!

The End of an Era (/semester)

As it’s my last day of classes for the Fall semester, I thought it’d be fitting to write the generic “hard work pays off” post. But it really, really does.

I told you in the last update that I was taking 18 credits and had a litany of extra-curriculars to keep me busy. Let me tell you, this semester was such a whirlwind. It seems as if these past few months dragged on forever, and then again it feels that they passed in the blink of an eye. I am so incredibly proud of this semester though, and I’m my toughest critic.

I’ve really been blessed with more than I could ever ask for. I have the most wonderful support system behind me, led by my wonderful Lucas Miles. Everything I was able to accomplish, you reinforced my ability to. I’ve encountered so many exciting opportunities and was able to work hard with different peers and staff to achieve goals I never thought I’d see as a sophomore. I had God behind me the whole time, watching over me and helping me in literally every way. I truly, truly believe I was able to survive this semester because of Him. And not only survive it, but excel.

I was given a card by my PRSSA family yesterday wishing me good luck at Disney. Looking at all the signatures and messages almost made me cry. Most of this semester, I was wrapped up in myself while cramming for test, working ahead on projects and keeping myself as busy as I could be. I never realized how others perceived me, and that I gave off such a glow (their words, not mine!) even when I thought I was stressed and angry and mean.

So I guess this semester taught me the importance of being myself, to never give up, and to trust in God. Most importantly, I learned that if I dream it, I most certainly can do it.

Merry Christmas y’all! Have a wonderful winter!:)


Here’s a not-so-short story that I wrote for a class. If you enjoy it, let me know!


It was a blustery afternoon with wind whipping over the vast expanse of lawn that belonged to Calton School for Girls. Our faded blue and white motorboat, docked at the small boathouse, slowly swayed back and forth in the navy, foam covered water. I stared out into the lake in front of me. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular; there was nothing to find. It was empty, just like my mind.

“Larkin,” my sister calls gently. When she tapped me on the shoulder, I reluctantly met her gaze. She can tell I’m unprepared for what’s about to happen.

“Not too chilly today,” she commented as we made our way back up to the school. “Maybe we can go out on the lake later!”

“Supposed to rain soon,” I said blandly, immediately shutting her cheer down.


I knew she wanted me to open up to her, but Piper was never one to pry, in other people’s feelings or life in general. We walked in an awkward silence to the towering front doors, which seemed more like a punishment than an invite.

“After you,” she offers. Instead, I walked side-by-side with her into the building and yanked her under the staircase.

“What are we going to do?” I demanded. Out of nowhere, fear and madness had taken hold of my body. It possessed every cell, every atom I had. My mind raced from scenario to scenario, finding no solution. I felt like a mouse in a dead-ended maze.

Piper didn’t answer my question. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the meeting room, where I was greeted by the Dean and the Police Chief.

“Nice of you to join us, Ms. Trectorini.” Dean Williams deprecating tone couldn’t be missed. I tried to avert my eyes from the piercing stares, but the only two open seats were positioned in the middle of the room. Dean Williams began to talk, then the Chief Martin. Piper absorbed every word that was said, but I just sat their patiently, waiting for it to end.


“We are gathered here this evening to say our final goodbyes to a dearly departed friend. His kindness and friendship will be missed by all. The Lord has taken our dearly departed Joe to a better place,” the Reverend drones on in his repetitive, generic speech. If an audience had shown up, they’d be asleep by now. The church is much to big for a three person funeral; well, four if you count the stiff in the coffin.

Suicide, they said. Swallowed a bunch of pills and washed it down with a handle of Jack. Life was apparently “too hard to handle,” as it was put in the note. I never saw the note, but I know that none of it is true.

I look at my father in his open casket. His face is pale and lifeless, like you’d expect any dead person to look. I’m closer to my father than Piper is, which means that I get two calls a week instead of one. Despite a limited relationship, I love him more than anything else in my life. The news of his death rocked me into oblivion, I just didn’t let it reflect externally. In my mind, I’m crying, screaming, fighting, and dying all at the same time. I’m grasping at straws for any answer or indication foreshadowing his death. I comb through letters and phone calls and emails, but in all of them, he maintained his soft tone and polite disinterest. I scrutinize his body, looking for answers.

There’s a scratch on his cheek almost cover up by the mortician’s powder. The faint pink line reached from his right temple to his lips, which look fuller than normal. Even though he’s lifeless, blood still seems to be blowing up his lower lip. I look even closer… and a patch of his hair is missing by his ear.

“Piper!” I bark in the softest voice I can. Her gaze doesn’t leave the altar and she replies out of the side of her mouth.

“What? Pay attention!” I scoff at her manners.

“You know this is wrong.”

“What’s wrong?” She asks, with more interest this time.

“Why would dad kill himself? He just closed that new deal, we’re getting good grades, he even started talking to that waitress at the diner! What could have gone so wrong that he wanted to die?” A flicker of doubt burns in Piper’s hazel eyes. She tries to shake it off.

“We don’t know what he was thinking. He doesn’t tell us everything, you know.”

He doesn’t tell you everything’ I wanted to say, but I bit my tongue. I pressed on with my questions.

“Why would he have a scratch on his cheek then? A fat lip? And unless he started aging really quickly, I don’t remember him having a bald spot.” Piper ignored me until the ceremony was over. When we’re walking to our car in the deserted parking lot, I finally explode.

“Why are you acting like you don’t care?” I exclaim, letting my blood boil. “You’ve always been like this. You take things at face value and never question anything. It’s like you don’t even care that dad’s gone!”

Piper whips her head around, her eyes wide and mad with rage. It stops me in my tracks.

“You think I don’t care that dad’s gone? That we’re orphans? That we literally have nothing? I can’t believe you would accuse me of that. You didn’t even show up for half of the meeting yesterday! I was the one that found out first. They put all of the stress on me. They told me that dad went broke and never made a will, meaning we have nothing. They told me that they bank is taking the house as compensation for all of our debt. They told me that our tuition is going to run out after this semester.” Piper lowered her eyes to the ground.

“Larkin, they told me we have a half-sister.” My jaw drops to the cracked concrete.

“What? We have a sister?” I cry in disbelief. Piper still doesn’t look at me.

Her voice breaks when she answers. “She goes to Calton.”

We’re starting to attract an audience with our dramatic family problems, so hurriedly, we duck into the car and make the long drive back to Calton.

“Her name is Lissa, and she’s a grade lower than us. ” Piper starts. “They didn’t tell me any specifics, but I’m guessing dad’s business trips involved more than just business. Apparently, he started her at Calton when he started us.” A disgusted look spreads over my face. Betrayed! Lied to! I knew my father wasn’t a saint, but I didn’t think he was the devil.

“She doesn’t know either, though,” Piper finishes. “No one’s ever told her. She thinks her great aunt is paying for her tuition.”

Piper was calm now. Getting things off her chest always alleviates her stress. She turned some radio station on. Sound or static, it makes no difference to me. I know I have a problem that I need to fix, and her name is Lissa.


I’m not going to lie, I stalked her. I found her on social media and monitored her activity. Since I knew what she looked like, I found her in the dining hall and made notice of every time I bumped into her between classes and on free time. I even started making conversation with her. It took me a while, but I devised a plan that I put into action today.

Lissa walks out of dinner around 6:15, right when I get out of my class. I fall behind her in the hallway, carefully keeping her in my line of sight. I feigned tripping and fell right on top of her.

“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry!” I squeak in my most apologetic tone. “I’m such a klutz!”

Lissa doesn’t seem to mind at all and helps me off of the ground. “It’s no problem, really! I’m just glad you’re okay, it was a nasty spill!”

Her friendliness sickens me.

I fake a smile and brush myself off. “You’re Lissa, right?”

“Yes!” She grins. “I didn’t think someone like you would know who I was!”

“Like me?” I question.

“You and Piper! Everyone knows you guys. You’re like the most popular girls at Calton!” This surprises me, because Piper and I keep to ourselves almost all the time. Lissa persists.

“I mean sure, you guys don’t really talk to a lot of other people, but everyone notices you! You guys are always the first to answer in class, apparently. I’m a grade below you so I wouldn’t know because I’m not in your classes, but I have this friend that is in like all of your classes and she always talks about how you two are like the smartest and prettiest and you guys are both presidents of different clubs here and really involved so you’re successful too!” She takes a breath. “I just realized that was a very embarrassing spiel of praise. Sorry. I get over-excited very easily.”

Her ego-boost stuns me and I almost forget why I’m talking to her. I laugh and continue with my plan.

“It’s okay, really! It’s actually nice to talk to someone as a friend. Like you said, Piper and I don’t hang out with a lot of people.” I pause for effect, then stop to look at her. “Want to do something?”

Her eyes widen in excitement. “You mean, like, hang out? With me?” Internally, I laugh. She’s so naïve and dying to be seen with me. It’s comical.

“Yes!” I say. “It’s pretty nice outside, do you want to go for a boat ride?” She doesn’t even answer, she just sprints for the lake. Killing her is going to be easier than I thought.

I yell after her, “I’m going to get Piper!” I think she broke the sound barrier getting to the boat and inspecting every inch.

“Pipe!” I call into our room. She’s sitting on her bed doing homework, as usual. Our small eruption over the weekend has been all but forgotten, and she immediately jumps up when I invite her to a ride in the boat.

“I invited Lissa,” I announce while we’re walking down the staircase. Her questioning eyes examine me. “I thought we should meet her! Don’t worry, I haven’t told her anything. I’m waiting for you to do it, if you want to do it at all!” Piper nods her head and wraps herself in thought the entire walk down to the boathouse. Lissa is already making commotion.

“I can’t believe I’m in the Trectorini’s boat!” She squeals, jolting the boat every which way with her excitement. I untie it from the dock and rev up the engine as she tries to calm herself down.

Lissa chirps in a sing-songy voice, “I can’t believe I’m with the Trectorini Twins! Hanging out, doing girl stuff, being friends!” This girl has no filter. Her emotions are way too external. I see the thought dance in Piper’s mind too, “How are we related to her?

Piper engages Lissa and some small talk, and really only has to say a few words before Lissa gets going. She gave us her entire life story, from birth until Calton. Since she’s more in the dark than we are, not a word of value is said.

We finally arrive at my desired location. The lake turns into a marsh and is covered by thick foliage, with a gaping hole in the side of a rock. The formation seems so ill-placed, but it’s been here since anyone can remember.

“Wow!” Lissa screeched, jumping out of the boat to go explore. I begin to anchor the boat to the mushy ground, but Piper takes over for me, thankfully. I need something to keep her busy. I grab my backpack, full with supplies and make my way over to Lissa, all fake happiness aside.

She’s already past the lip of the cave and I duck behind a tree to take out a brick that I’ve been saving for a very specific purpose. As quietly as I can, I sneak into the cave on her left and wait until she passes the stalactite that I wait behind. It gives me a strength to know I can fix what my father polluted. Suddenly, Piper appears next to Lissa. Spotting my eyes peeking out from the rocks, she pulls Lissa along and hides behind the formation with me. I immediately drop the brick behind my back, hoping they won’t notice it.

“What’s wrong?” Lissa asks loudly. Piper shushes her and I realize why she pulled Lissa under cover.

Voices begin to arise from the mouth of the cave. One is husky, and there’s an awful nasally one.

“Who are these girls anyways?” the nasally one asks in a perturbed tone. “Why are they so important?”

The husky one answers him, “Who cares? Da boss says dey need to be gone so we gone dem.” I roll my eyes at his moronic language. Piper and Lissa look more distressed over the fact that the idiots are looking for girls; presumably us. I think Lissa starts to cry.

A lot of good it did her, and us for that matter. We were discovered because she couldn’t keep her heinous sobs inside of her mouth. I’m presuming the husky one pulls us out of our hiding place. His burly hands grope at our necks and incite screams in Lissa. I roll my eyes and tell her to calm down.

We’re placed before a pair of men that couldn’t have been more different. The motley two consisted of a large, stereotypical guido who I earlier identified as the husky voice. His black mane drips hair gel, and the tracksuit he’s wearing seems to have experienced far too many meatball subs. There’s a tall gangly one, with hollow eyes and pale skin. It’s easy to identify him as the nasally voice, because his nose seems to be the largest part about him. The one who hasn’t spoken yet parts the previous two with his hands, making a grand entrance.

“Shut up you two,” he says in a playful tone, a smile dancing on his lips. “Someone might hear us.”

He’s awful. He’s awful and beautiful. His tone oozes douchebag. His head won’t even fit in this vast cave it’s so swollen by praise he probably didn’t deserve. I hate him. I hate him and his stupidly beautiful eyes, piercing ice blue that seem to look right into your heart. I hate his swooshy auburn hair that falls perfectly in his eyes and his freckles that accentuate his prominent cheek bones. He dons a smug grin that I’d love to wipe off with a punch… or a kiss.

“Well boys, it looks like we’ve found our prize!” His pompous strut around the three of us turns my insides.

“What do you want from us?” I bark at him. I try to appear as confident as him and saunter off, but Guido shoves his hand in my chest.

“Get your hand off of me!” I protest! The stupidly handsome one slides up close to my body, pressing his against mine while his arm supported his weight on the rocky wall. His sly grin and sparkling eyes almost make me feel something other than hate.

“C’mon,” he coos. “Don’t you want to play?” I stare back at his smolder with the iciest disgust I could muster.

“Get away from me,” I warn.

“Or what, you’re gonna hit him?” Nose-Boy chuckles from the sidelines. The look Handsome shoots him silences his laughter.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sweetheart. Your daddy owes my daddy a lot of money, and we’ve come to collect.”

“I don’t have any money to give you,” I say, my confidence faltering a little.

“I didn’t say we were here for money,” he whispered in my ear before seizing the back of my hair and pulling me down. “This one’s first. Once the feisty one’s gone, the other two will be a piece of cake.” Guido and Nose-Boy huddle around me and Handsome starts to undo his belt.

“This might hurt a little,” he laughed as the other two join in the sick joke.

Before I knew what was happening, Guido and Nose-Boy dropped to the ground, holding their heads. Lissa stares at me wide-eyed, with my brick in her hands. She knocks Handsome on the head, and I don’t even thank her before we start running. Since his two henchmen were recovering from the bump on their head and blocked the entry, we had no where to go but the back of the cave. Guido was agile for his size, and Nose-Boy was but an arm’s length away from be. I heard Handsome in the distance shrieking orders and trying to catch up. Then, I caught my foot on a rock and then a fall. I felt a slight naval pull; giving you that kind of feeling when you go down an unexpected hill. It felt like I was falling for just a second, and then darkness. It was night. My attention focused on the sky, who’s glittering blanket looked down on everything. Was it my sky? Where am I? What did it see, I wondered? Did it see what I had done? Does it see where I’m going? Or is its sight as limited as mine, and remain only in the present? I left all these questions for another time and drifted off to sleep.


I open my eyes to see thick trees surrounding me, making the yellow light that filtered in a deep green. A cool blue pool lays in front of me. I look to my left, and a soft grassy knoll broke Piper and Lissa’s fall. They’re sleeping peacefully, but I intend to wake them. Handsome, Guido and Nose-Boy are nowhere in sight, so I take the opportunity crawl to my sisters so we can escape.

“Tell me your name,” a voice asks softly from behind me. The melodic voice is guarded, but quiet and wondering. Alarmed, I turn around and see a woman in mid-flight. Her dress is a metallic, glittering blue-green, and its neckline looks like a tulip opening. The fabric is thin like silk, and has a delicate line of gold trimming the bottom. Her sheer wings shimmered blue when she passed through the light.

“Tell me your name,” I demand. “Who are you and where am I?” She fluttered away. “Wait!” I cry. “Wait! Where am I, please!”

“Prodos,” she says curtly.

“Prodos?” I question unbelievingly. “What is this, Lord of the Rings?” the winged woman looks back at me, confused.

“Prodos is our land. Where did you come from?” I hardly believe she’s in the position to be asking the questions, but so many run through my mind that I defeatedly answer all of hers.

“My name is Larkin. The brown haired one over there is my sister Piper.” I don’t mention Lissa until she asks who it is. “We were running from these men in a cave by our school. I fell on a rock and I literally have no idea what is going on in my life anymore.” We talked for what seemed like hours. I learned the woman’s name, Ansley. She told me Prodos is the large forest land in this freaking Game of Thrones-themed hell. From what she told me, I felt like I was in a different dimension. Piper and Lissa woke up, and were brought up to speed.

The men who chased us fell closer to civilization than we did. Ansley and the rest of her people tried to take care of them, but Guido tried to incite a fight, so they were all tied up in a secret part of the woods and drugged to stay asleep for most of the day.

“Can you take us to them?” I ask, excited. Piper and Lissa look horrified at my suggestion.

“Why would we want to be close to them? They tried to kill us!” Piper exclaims. Nods of agreement from Lissa follow.

“That’s exactly my point,” I say. “It’s eat or be eaten, and I’m hungry.”

Piper and I fought over what we were going to do for days. Ansley and her people were kind enough to take us in, but their way of living wasn’t up to the 21st century standards at all. Wiping my butt with a coarse leaf was probably the most humiliating thing I’ve done yet.

“Piper, I don’t understand your objections. I understand they tried to hurt and kill us, but doesn’t that make you want to kill them?” I try to reason with her.

“Larkin, you’re acting like killing someone is no big deal. Like you’re not taking a life from someone who has a family and friends and a future. It’s a mortal sin!” I rolled my eyes at her Catholicism crap.

“Where’d you get that moral streak, Pipe? Dad sure didn’t have that.” I shot a look at Lissa, who was fiddling with her thumbs in a corner. Her opinions had been booted out of the conversation almost as soon as she made them known.

“Grow up. Get over yourself and try to think about the consequences of your actions a little bit.” She breezed past me in a silky dress Ansley’s friends had bestowed on her. I want to scream at her what I thought she should do, but then I remember my manners. A simple hand gesture let her back know exactly what I’m thinking.

More days passed and the prisoners were getting weaker by the second. Their small diet of roots and berries did nothing to satisfy the intense hunger for meat or something with substance. When I could, I would sneak onto the highest branch I could find and watch them as they withered away. Most of the day they slept, but in the waking hours, they lived a disgusting life in a pit of their own urine, feces, and vomit. Tears were spilt, especially by Nose-Boy. Handsome seemed to be doing fine though, unfortunately. Though drowned slightly by the pee, a quiet confidence helped him keep his head high. He knew not to be cocky here. He possessed the lower hand and only expert bluffing would keep him alive. One day, Handsome spotted me spying on a tree limb. He said nothing, but I saw that smug grin inch minimally on his face. He thought he had caught me in his spell, and sometimes during the night, I feared the exact same thing.


I finally decide to take matters into my own hands. By the way Ansley’s people are starving the trio, they’ll waste away to nothing by the end of the week. Piper champions for their release; blindfolding them and dropping them off somewhere in this land. I’m not denying it wouldn’t work, it’s just not enough. We know they’re bad men, some sort of modern gangsters. No one would miss them. No one cares about them! They’re completely expendable. At every turn, I tell everyone how horrible they are, even though most of the stories I weave are utter lies.

The fighting only gets worse with Piper; we pretend like we don’t know each other. Hateful glances were passed every time we saw each other, and I begin to spread rumors about her in the small forest community. Piper keeps the good in me, so without her, my murderous plan only flourished. The night before I leave to kill the Handsome, Guido and Nose-Boy, I hear mummers outside of Lissa’s hut. Curious, I stay outside to eavesdrop.

“I don’t know Piper… I thought things would be different after we came here. I thought we could grow as friends, and become whole again.” Lissa’s depressed tone can’t be missed.

“That’s not what fate saw. Fate saw us breaking apart, piece by piece.” Piper cries. I could envision the tears oozing from her eyes down her face. “Its tearing our relationship apart and destroying our self images… Killing off the good in our mind and letting the weakness shoulder the brunt of the hate.” I knew she was talking about me. Without each other, Piper and I were two ends of a spectrum that couldn’t find a happy medium.

“We suffer the consequences of the casualties.” Lissa says, as if she’s finishing Piper’s thought.

I’ve never heard a more profound conversation, and I almost interject. Before I step into the faint light emitting from the hut, I hear movement in the room. My courage swiftly vanishes, and I continue on my cowardly chore.

My backpack, weathered from the dirty terrain I’ve been a part of, weighed on my back like a ton of bricks, probably because that’s what it held. In the past few hours, I struggled by a riverbed to find jagged, heavy rocks to do the job. I didn’t know how many I’d need, so I packed as many as I could fit in my backpack. Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate how this weight would affect my climbing abilities.

Halfway up my usual tree, I began to feel my backpack getting lighter. Looking down to the ground, I realized why. One-third of my rocks had tumbled out and injured most of the guards, leaving wings pinned or torn, and heads bashed in. When I looked down, there was only one body in the pit instead of three. Instead of continuing my climb, I decide to slide down and confront the enemy face-to-face.

That stupid sly grin slides on Handsome’s face as soon as he saw my figure. I can’t miss his signature wink, even from yards away. I do get pleasure in his expression when I swing my backpack around, curl my fingers around a rock, and aim. He doesn’t look scared, just angry.

“You know why my dad killed your dad?” he shouts. The exclamation stops my heart. I haven’t thought about my father since the funeral. I sprint to his tethered body and yank his stained shirt until he’s in pain. A sickening smile grows on his lips; he knows he’s under my skin. I slap him as hard as I can, making his pale cheek shine bright crimson.

“You’re dad’s a coward!” he spats in my face. “He was never anything but a dirty, rotten coward who made backhanded deals and paid my father to clean up the messes. My father kept your father’s secrets. We’ve known every secret about the Trectorini’s for hundreds of years. Your father was the first to never pay up though. That new deal he scored? My father led him right to it. Your dad was too greedy to share the profits though. That’s why we came for you. We might not have gotten the money back, but we would have scored something even more valuable.” He’s so smug, seeing the pain in my eyes. The rock that was ready to meet flesh falls to the grass as my fingers shake uncontrollably.

“You’re in denial. You’re in denial about your entire life, and you refuse to even believe that! I saw how much you hated that girl, the shorter one with the blonde hair. It’s not a mystery to anyone… all three of you have the same slender nose. You know she’s as much your sister as the other one, and you hate that you know it’s true. That’s why you hate her. That’s why there’s so much hate in you. You deny your feelings to everyone, especially yourself.”

“Shut up!” I scream. “Shut up!”

“You think you hate me. You hate my voice, you hate my face, you hate the way I smile just at you. But what you don’t know is, you don’t hate me at all. You love that I give you a special smile. You can’t help looking into my eyes just a little deeper. And at night, I’d bet you all the money and power in the world that my face is the last thing you see.” Tears had been spilling down my face for a while now. His words, so goddamn true, pierce my heart and sting me in places I didn’t even know could hurt.

I wanted to kill him when I came here, but now all I want to do die myself. I let him savor his triumphant moment because he’ll be gone soon anyways. If not from the hunger, the snakes and spiders that started infesting the pit will make his last momentous torture. I’m sure even in this alternate reality there’s another poison than hate.

Empty in every sense, I begin to walk back to the huts and I stop where all of our problems started. The blue pool looked like a shining black abyss in the dark night, and frothed softly at the edges. The glow of the pond keeps my gaze, but my ears hear everything around me. Ambient noise floats around my head; the swaying of the trees, the water lapping at the ground, even the soft murmur of activities going on not so far away. Even fainter than the whispers of nature around me, I hear my sisters’ laughs; saw their smiles in my head.

My attention turns back to the immediate environment when I hear the wispy green tree branches sway stronger than before. I can feel it… a storm is coming. Instead of seeking shelter in the rock formation to my right, I remain sprawled out in the fresh grass. The thunder grumbles in the distance. Not long after the third roll, I feel a dot of moisture hit me, dripping off my left cheek. More starts to pelt my face, and I smile as the steady rhythm begins. Pat-pat-pat.