Sunday 7 October 2012

On Spotlight + Chapter Excerpt

Today, I have the pleasure to spotlight Kelbian Noel's book Elemental, the first in The Elemental series, along with a chapter excerpt.

Baltimore Land is a typical teenager whose parents embarrass her completely. She wants nothing to do with her family's beliefs and is convinced their silly rituals only exist to make her life miserable. All she wants is to be normal, but the fact that her parents are witches seriously messes with her social life.

She's doing alright, with a boyfriend who seems to like her just the way she is and an awesome best friend who is fascinated by her lifestyle, but she's not the most popular girl in her small Utah town. In fact, she's kind of the town freak.

When her boyfriend's ex tries to win him back, Baltimore's emotions get the best of her and she soon realizes her parents' beliefs aren't so silly after all--they're just the beginning.

An excerpt from Elementals:

“So you’re telling me you’ve never, ever done a spell before?” Bridgett asks.

We sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor, shuffling through my Wicca library. Mom’s given me at least three Wiccan reference books a year since I was ten. It’s a wonder my bookshelf can hold any more.

“Once, when I was a kid, I wanted a Barbie for Christmas—to actually celebrate Christmas. Didn’t work though.”

And I was so sure the spell would work. I’d done everything the book said. Copied the pictures exactly. But life went on a usual. That’s one of the main reasons I don’t believe in the power of spell casting, but I choose to keep that fact to myself.

“These books are crazy. I wish my mom was as cool as yours.” Bridgett turns another page to a spell book Mom gave me the night before. “Look at this one, ‘To Win Back a Lover’. Ooh, you should try this one on Toby. He won’t know what hit him.”

“That’s okay. I’m too good for him now anyway.”

Bridgett winks. “That’s the spirit.” She reaches for another book from the pile I’ve gathered and stacked around us. “Whoa, what’s this one?” She holds up the old leather book.

“Grandma’s Book of Shadows. Mom gave it to me the other night. Right after she told me I didn’t have to do anything Wicca ever again. I’m pretty sure she planned that one.”

“Book of Shadows? Those are real?”

I nod. “It’s like a witch’s diary. You’re supposed to write your own spells or the ones that you use all the time in there.”

“This is so cool. It must be ages old,” Bridgett runs her hand over the front cover and then opens the book from the back. “Is this your family tree?”

I lean over her shoulder. There’s an elaborate black-ink sketch of an actual tree with dozens of names written in the branches. In the middle of the tree are the letters S-E-O-I-R-S-E.

“See-ors-ay? See-oh-urse?” Bridgett wrinkles her nose.

“I don’t know.” I cock my head to the side, trying to recall a name I’ve heard over the years that might match those letters. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this name before.”

Bridgett shrugs. “Not surprising, there’s got to be at least three or four generations in here.” She scans her finger over the page “Am I reading this right?” Bridgett snickers. “You’re middle name is Mary?”

My face grows hot as I shuffle through the box of candles in front of me and pretend not to

hear her.

“Baltimore Mary Land? Okay, so a big part of me is taking back that thing I said about wishing my mom was like yours.”

I sigh. “Please, don’t say anything. My life is hard enough.”

“How did I not know this? How does anyone not?”

“Undisclosed information for obvious reasons.”

“Does Toby know?”

“He’s sworn to secrecy.”

Bridgett raises her eyebrows. “How long’s that going to last?”

I groan and reach for the box of incense. I hadn’t thought of that. There’s a lot about me I wouldn’t want Toby to share. I sigh. Just what I need, more fuel for the fire.

“Baltimore, my friend, you lead an interesting life. But don’t worry, I think,” she grins holding the book closer to her. “I’ve get just the thing to make sure he doesn’t talk anymore than he already has.”

“What is it?”

She turns the pages to face me. “Our first spell; To Safely Guard a Secret.”

I offer her a bright smile. The truth is, if a spell like that would actually work, I’d have used it the moment I set foot on Utah soil. But, as she’s asked, I’ll humor her. “What do we need?”

Bridgett places the heavy book in her lap and claps her hands like a toddler. As she reads each item from the list, I search and place them on the floor between us. “It says here you’ll need one blue, brown and dark purple candle, a piece of hematite, a piece of smoky quartz, a black cloth, and sage incense. Got everything?”

I shake my head. “Except for hematite. I don’t even know what that is. Is there a picture?” I crawl across the rug and sit down next to her, leaning over her shoulder again.

“Just this one.” She points to an odd shaped black object drawn beside the word. “Didn’t I see a book on stones and crystals somewhere?”

“Yeah, right here.” I fish the book out of the pile and flip to the index. “Hematite.” I read from the description on page after a few moments. “‘A shiny mineral, often black or slate but sometimes reddish-silver in color. It is used to provide safety during astral travel and knowledge of past lives. Hematite can also be used during spell casting to provide protection, offer concealment, deflect and defend against negative vibrations.’ Mom has a ton of these.” I rise to my feet and walk toward the hallway. “I’ll be right back.”

It takes me a few minutes to find the box and by the time I return to my room, Bridgett has already set up the altar.

“Jeez, Bridge. You’re a natural.”

“Just followed the instructions in this book. All we’re missing is the hematite, your picture and a lock of your hair.”

“Um, there’s no way I’m cutting my hair.”

“Here.” Bridgett runs her fingers through thick curls and presents a small ball of red fuzz. “I’ve got lots to spare.”

I giggle. “Fine, whatever works. What’s next?” I ask as I place the hair and my driver’s license on the rug.

Bridgett passes me the piece of black cloth. “Put the quartz and the hematite in here and tie the corners together. I’ll light the candles and incense.” She rests each candle at three different points to form a circle around us. Then she puts the incense in middle of the circle and lights it.

“Now what?” I glance at the open page.

“It says here to ‘concentrate on your secret while holding the mineral pouch in your left hand and then repeat this incantation seven times’.”

I run my index finger across the words on the page.

“Ready?” Bridgett asks, her eyes bright.

I nod. “I guess.” I clear my throat and take the book from her. Then I place it in my lap and read from the page. “I hold this secret close to me. Those who know it might they be enticed to guard it safely, despite the cost. So mote it be.”

I repeat the rhyme six times and wait. Bridgett and I stare at each other in silence until, all at once, the three candles burn out.

“What the?” Bridgett’s eyes widen. “Do you think it worked?”

“I don’t know. I mean, did you see that? Did that just happen?”

“I think so. I didn’t do it, did you?”

“How could anyone blow out three candles at the same time?”

“The wind can.” Bridgett jumps up and walks over to the window. The curtain flutters in the air and then rests in its place. “No wonder it’s so cold in here. Why do have this thing open anyway?”

“It’s part of a cleansing ritual. This thing Mom does everyday.”

“Should we cast another spell?” Bridgett asks and reaches for the Book of Shadows.

“I don’t know.” All of a sudden I’m uneasy. I imagine what Mom would say if she knew what I’ve just done, that I’ve involved Bridgett in what she’d consider a sacred ritual.

As much as I consider this no more than child’s play, I know my parents have vastly different opinions.

“Oh, c’mon don’t get spooked now. We haven’t even gotten to the best part—giving Trina Spicer a third nipple.”

“Ha. As tempting as that sounds, I think I’ll pass. Mom’ll be back from her deliveries soon and if the place smells like incense she’ll start asking questions. I don’t want to give her any false hope. Rain check?”

“Whatever you say. But I’m holding you to it,” Bridgett warns as she helps me clean up. “This was awesome. I’m seriously considering leaving the Church of Latter-day Saints.”

I chuckle. “Just as long as you promise to protect me from your family’s spears and torches.”


“Thanks for dinner,” Mom says as she clears the dishes from the table. “If you keep making a habit of this I may just decide to homeschool you. Having you home this time of day makes me feel like I have a maid.”

With all that’s going on in my life, I might just hold her to that.

“How was your day?” Dad asks.


“Did you get out to see Toby?

I nod. “Then I went Christmas shopping at the Swapmeet out in West Valley with Bridge.”

“And then what happened?” Mom’s hands are on her hips, her eyebrows raised.

“What do you mean?” I take long chug of water.

“You know you can’t let those kids get to you, Baltimore.” Dad pushes his plate away and stretches his arms toward the ceiling before clasping his hands behind his head.

What are they, psychic?

“The best defense is a quick offense,” he continues.

What does that even mean? It’s not like Dad’s a sports man either— he probably doesn’t even know.

Mom laughs out loud and Dad turns to look at her. “What?”

“Oh, Dugan?”

Dad clucks his tongue. “All I’m saying is you need to use what you know against them. They think Wicca is weird? Then be a Wiccan to the highest degree. It can’t get much worse.”

“Thanks, Dad. Really. But I don’t think that’ll help much. Besides who said anything about anyone picking on me?”

Dad leans forward and pats my arm. “You don’t have to say it, hon. I could tell by the way you dragged your butt in here earlier. All pouty and brooding. Reminds of our first few months in this place.”

“Before Toby that is.” Mom pipes in with a smile. She slices a piece of rhubarb-strawberry pie and sets the plate in front of me. “How was he when you went to see him earlier?”

Mean. Accusatory. Pathetic.

I clear my throat then stab the pie with my fork. “Fine,” I pop the red-soaked pastry into my mouth and chew slowly with every intention of leaving it at that.

I’ll tell them about the break up later. After I know for sure things are over. After I talk to him one more time. That is if he doesn’t take it upon himself to tell everyone first.

“I only ask because when I spoke with Eleanor earlier, she said he hasn’t said a word in hours.” Mom hands Dad a slice of pie and then begins to serve herself.

On the inside, I’m smiling. Guilt must have gotten the best of him. I hope he’s just lying there stewing in his juices. Feeling awful for what he said to me. That way he’ll be apologizing out of his ass the next time I go to visit him. I’ll make him pay for this one for months.

I shovel another hunk of pie into my mouth.

“Plenty of pie to go around,” Dad says with a smirk.

“It’s just so odd.” Mom sits down in her seat. “That boy he’s always hanging out with. What’s his name? Troy? Andrew? I never remember. He came to visit and the two of them seemed to be having a hoot of a time, then just like that, not too long ago, three or four hours maybe, he just stopped talking.”

“Probably tired,” Dad says through a mouthful. “He had a pretty rough night. A visit from his girlfriend and best friend in the same day. Not to mention, you know how overbearing his mother can be.”

Mom shakes her head. “No. It’s not that he won’t speak. According to Eleanor, he can’t. He’s been communicating the best he can. The doctor had to give him a pad of paper but since he’s injured his left hand he can’t write anything but scribbles.”

“Hmm. That is odd.” Dad strokes his chin.

Mom’s voice grows distant as I recall the events of the day. All of the terrible things we said to each other. He was in the hospital for Goddess sake. After a bad car accident. Of course he was pissed. Then there was the Ramón thing that Bridgett pulled. He said some horrible things but…

What if there’s something seriously wrong with him? What if that’s the last conversation we’ll ever have?

I push my plate away and rise from my seat.

“Done so soon?” Dad asks reaching for my plate.

“I think I might head back out to Sandy, if that’s okay.” I cross my fingers.

I’m not allowed to drive out of Miner after dark. But considering the circumstances maybe they’ll let this one slide.

“Oh, honey.” Mom places a hand on her chest. “I shouldn’t have…I hope I haven’t worried you. I’m sure the doctors have it under control. Toby’s probably just fine.”

“Still, if I could just...please. I won’t stay long. Just an hour or so. I’ll be back here by ten.”

“I don’t like you driving on that road at night. And after last night, I can’t say I like the idea anymore.” Dad clears his throat. “Not by yourself.”

“Could you drive me?”

“Your dad and I have a ton of stuff to do tonight, honey. I’ve got three batches of soap to make, and the Town Hall ordered three hundred candles for the Christmas Eve Skate.” Mom rolls her eyes. “Apparently everything is sold out and I’m the last resort. I can’t complain though. I’m going to make a mint off this one.”

“Maybe Bridgett could come. Can I go if she goes with me?”

Dad glances at Mom and she nods.

“Thank you.” I kiss them both and rush toward my room.

“But you need to be out of here no later than six,” Dad calls behind me. “It’s the only way you’ll make it back here by ten.”


I snatch my phone from my night table. Then I push Grandma’s Book of Shadows and the rest of the books from earlier out of the way so I can open the bottom drawer of my dresser. I pull out my favorite jeans and sweater. They’re both comfortable but cute. There’s no way I’m going back to that hospital dressed in these depressing gray sweats. Toby may not be able to talk, but he can still see.

I press the button to speed dial Bridgett, then put the phone on speaker. I disrobe then pull on my jeans as I wait for her to answer.

“Hey, Bridge?” I respond to a ruffling noise on the other end. “Are you there?”

“Hello, Baltimore.” I cringe at Mrs. Harris’ icy response.

“Uh, is Bridgett there please?” Hadn’t I called her cell phone? She’d be pissed if she knew her mother was answering it.

“Bridgett isn’t feeling particularly well right now. But I’ll have her call you when she’s better.”

Just perfect. Why do I get the feeling she’s lying? Wouldn’t be the first time.

“Oh. Is she okay? I was with her earlier and she seemed fine.”

“Yes, I know. But she isn’t now. She’ll have to call you another time.”

“Well, I just need to talk to her for a second.”

If Mrs. Harris is intercepting, it won’t take much to convince Bridgett to sneak out.

“Bridgett lost her voice. Must have picked up some bug during your adventures today. Sure hope you were able to avoid it.”

Wow, that sounded sincere.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Are you saying she can’t speak at all?”

“Well, yes.”


Seriously? How far will this woman go to keep us apart?

“Well, I’ll try again tomorrow. Please tell her I hope she feels better soon.”

“Will do, but I doubt she’ll be better by tomorrow. These things tend to—Bridgett, would you stop that annoying gesturing? I can’t understand you. Give it a rest already. When you’re better you can do all the talking you want. Now give your voice box the break it deserves. What…what are you doing? Oh, Bridgett.” Mrs. Harris sighs. “Wh—what is that? Honey, you can talk to her when you’re better. I really don’t think this is necessar—fine, let me see. Baltimore, she’s written you a note—or some words. Bridgett this doesn’t even make sense. It worked? Grandma? Secret? Do you have any idea what this means Baltimore?”

Holy. My heart starts to pound and my gaze flickers to the spot on my rug where Bridgett and I sat just a few hours ago.

“Hello? Baltimore, are you still there?”

Moans and sniffles drift through the receiver and I freeze.

“Bridgett, don’t cry. You’re going to be fine. It’s just a bug. Now go back to bed. If you don’t get your rest you might just miss out on the trip after all. No skin off my back.”

The crying quiets and I can only imagine what’s going through Bridgett’s mind. But is what she’s saying—or writing really true? It has to be a coincidence.

“Baltimore, I’m going to have to let you go. I’ll have her call you when she’s recovered.”

“Uh, okay.” I hang up the phone and stand there for a moment.

According to the evidence—Mom’s update on Toby, Bridgett’s kind-of note…could that spell really have worked?

“There’s no effing way.” I cross the room to retrieve Grandma’s Book of Shadows. “This crap isn’t real. There’s no way that worked.”

I laugh and shake my head. Then I open the book in my lap and start flipping through it, in search of the spell.

What was it called again?

Mom pokes her head in. “Colorful language for such a pretty girl.” She winks.

I cover the book with one of my pillows and offer her a sheepish grin.

“What did Bridgett say?”

“Nothing.” At all. And I think it might be my fault. But it couldn’t be. Could it?

Mom doesn’t move. She stands there, head cocked, one eyebrow raised. “So…you’re not going?”

“I—uh—no. I guess not.”

“Are you okay, honey?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I guess you’re right. I’ll just, you know, go back to the hospital tomorrow.”

“Okay. Well I’m going down to the basement to get to work. Holler if you need anything.”

I nod and when she leaves, I jump up and close the door behind her. When I reach my bed again, I sit down and open the book in my lap. I flip through a few more pages until I find it.

To Safely Guard a Secret.

I read the incantation again and again and after a while, my gaze focuses on a single phrase. Despite the cost.

Had that cost been Toby’s ability to speak? To communicate at all?

I go over the now-memorized spell in my head and pause clamping my hand over my mouth as I recall the second line.

Those who know it might they be enticed to guard it safely.

That means Bridgett too.

Author Bio:

From a very young age, Kelbian loved to read. She found herself engulfed in novels by Janette Oke and L.M. Montgomery, but never seemed to find herself in the pages. At the age of 11 she declared she would write stories that had to do with her own experience, and be the youngest author in history. But life was full of baseball, homework, best friends and boys.

Decades later, having studied writing in college and pursued it as a career, Kelbian decided it was time to get back to her dream. She started writing again, joined a critique group and wrote two novels. Then in March 2011, along came Elemental. This time life's distractions couldn't shake the feeling that the world needed to hear Baltimore's story. At least those who would listen! A year later, Kelbian is excited to introduce Elemental to the world with hopes someone will love the story as much as she does.

Kelbian lives in Toronto with her two children.

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