This post is going to feel a little like déjà vu because, like The End of Bookstore Boys, I promise you there is a Thursday Thousand story at the end of this, but my introduction is a little bit longer than normal.
This is, by far, a much crazier idea than finishing bookstore boys in a week. I gave myself nine full work days to finish it. I’m not even giving myself a week for this? If I want to post this by next Thursday, it’s technically six days. (I don’t write on the weekends, usually.) I’m going to die. Why do I want this done by end of day on Thursday? Well, you see, because from the 24th-28th, my best friend is here for a visit, and while we’ll certainly talk about words a lot, we won’t write any, and I told myself to get this book done by the end of May, so.
Let’s give ’em hell.
(oh and just in case you thought this wasn’t insane enough, it took me all nine of those days to write 23k words to finish bookstore boys. I’ve got, at minimum, 30k to write for sister witches HAHAHA I’M GOING TO DIE)
So 30k words in six days is about 5k words a day, which is typically two chapters in this story. Sometimes just one if I’m feeling crazy, but I just did a few of those recently, so it’ll probably end up being two every day. I wrote one before lunch, which came in at 2,563 words, so I’m halfway there for the day, but I’d also like to finish reading The Plastic Magician today, so I am going to try to accomplish both. I’ve got four hours in the rest of my work day, so who knows. Maybe I can write two more chapters and read the rest.
Another solid 3k words for the next chapter, and the end is in sight. I know the shape of act three to get to the end, and we’re in the final phases now, so let’s have a little music party, yeah?
I’ve had that on repeat for most of today, and I think it’s pretty self-explanatory for the kind of vibe I’ve been going for.
Yo, yesterday was no joke. Not only did I write two chapters at work, I also wrote one when I got home that night after dinner out with some friends. I am on a mission, apparently. In total, yesterday I wrote 9,016 words, and I am officially past the 80k words mark. I’m hoping to get a good chunk done today, too, particularly because I know, in detail, what’s going to happen in the next several chapters.
I also have to take a moment to reflect on something.
Honestly? I’d had the idea in my head that I was probably going to do another marathon sprint of writing to finish this book, but with everything that’s going on right now, it’s been a comfort to be able to settle into these characters and know that they’d set the patriarchy on fire before you even asked. They’re some of the fiercest and most diverse women I’ve ever written. And spending the entire day in Henley’s head yesterday reminded me that it was going to be okay as long as we just keep our heads high and show them the kind of darkness we hold inside when you mess with us. There are demons in this story, and there are demons in my soul that will tear anyone apart who dares to think they have a say over my own damn body.
I’m under no impression that the future is going to get better right now, and I am terrified just to be a woman, and this week of marathon writing is going to be a little hellish, but this story of powerful, unforgiving, wild women needs to be heard, and it’s time I finished telling it. So I’m ready for whatever comes my way right now. I’ve got my witches to give me strength.
In other news, I’m apparently not editing while I go, just steamrolling right through. That will certainly make for an interesting time when it’s over, but ah well, here we are. Let’s see what Friday brings.
It’s 11:07AM, and I’m taking a small break. I wrote another 2500 word chapter, and I haven’t read Onyx & Ivory since Wednesday, and I miss it, so I’m heading in that direction for a few hours.
I AM DONE
It’s 3:36PM, and I am freaking tired. This last chapter I just wrote was just over 3k words, and it was a lot to handle all at once, and I’m toast, so I’m going to read for the next hour and a half and just chill. I ended up writing 5,581 words today, bringing my word count total up to 86,892, which is just that much closer to the end. Like, I was freaking out about having to write 30k words, and now I’ve only got, like, 15k left? Yo, this is totally going to happen. But holy shit, I’m tired right now.
Alright, it’s almost 1:30PM, and I haven’t done any writing yet today, so I’m diving in and not coming out until I have two chapters finished.
It is now almost 2:30PM, and I still haven’t started writing, but I did finish briefly editing the chapters I wrote last week, so I guess that’s something.
It’s now 3:30PM, and I got a 3k word chapter written, and I am literally 12 words away from 90k, so that needs to happen today. I also thought I was going to have to write 30k in these six days, but it’s looking like it’ll be a little more than that. Probably 40k when all is said and done. Right now, what I think I can get accomplished today is the beginning of the end, like the big chapter where Henley & Co. storm the big bad wolf, essentially, and the power battle begins.
Also, she just told some non-witches that magic was real, and I am living for their collective reaction of THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER instead of the freaking out Henley thought was going to happen. Henley, my girl, come on. Anyone who’s witchy has, at one point in their life, been upset over not receiving a Hogwarts letter. Of course these girls are stoked magic is real.
Alright, let’s do this. I’ve got an hour and a half before I have to teach, so that should be enough time to kick some ass.
I WANT TO KEEP WRITING BUT I HAVE TO GO TEACH YOGA SO HERE I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO THIS FOR AN HOUR STRAIGHT AND I WROTE 3606 WORDS OF BADASSERY I’LL BE BACK IN A BIT
I did it
not the whole novel, hush, just THE CHAPTER
god, it was literally so much, and I am now exhausted, so I’m off to bed to read, but I did it, 7500 words for today and I think 4 chapters left, huzzah
You know, I have crystals in my bra because I was prepared to need to be grounded after all that insanity last night, but I wish those same crystals had helped me not just spill half my tea. It’s fine, everything just smells like chai now.
1:17PM: Possibly my favorite thing about writing is the research. I just got to Google “how to perform a séance,” which is oodles more fun than the usual “how many pints of blood can you lose before you die.” Also, I just finished a 3k word Henley chapter, and I am quickly realizing that uh, yeah, I’m probably going to finish this today. Realistically, I just have the next chapter, which is the séance, and then probably one last chapter to tie things up and also to hint at the next book. I’m still posting this on Thursday, but here we go!
2:18PM: ONE CHAPTER LEFT HERE WE GO
Guys, I get to see her on Thursday (in a freaking church JUST IMAGINE THE ACOUSTICS) and I cannot wait, but also, I had this song on repeat during the séance.
This last chapter is going to be short, too, so I’ll be back briefly.
2:58PM: Well, my spooky friends. That’s it. Sister witches is officially done. Coming in at 101,015 words, 32 chapters (17 with Henley, 12 with Theodore, and 3 with Wren), and a quiet little “wait what” moment at the end to leave you wanting more.
And, if you’ve made it this far, welcome to the Thursday Thousand! Every week, on Thor’s Day, I will be posting a short story (hopefully) written in advance. The only parameter is that it be, at minimum, 1000 words long. It can be any genre, any length beyond that, and even contain mild cliffhangers!
Why? Because some of these will turn into novels, let’s be honest here. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!
This week, in honor of finishing my next novel and finally be able to return to the Saintsverse, here is the first chapter of sister witches.
Henley paused just on the edge of the kitchen, a handful of lavender wrapped together with a bit of twine in her hand, and let out a breath. All around them, the walls were bare, boxes were piled precariously, and the only light came from the four cardinal candles and the moonlight occasionally filtering through the curtain-less windows when it slid from beneath a cloud. Thus, it was dark everywhere but the space they would eventually put a sofa, maybe a coffee table, one of Adelaide’s ugly throw rugs, and a television for Margot’s overdramatic love of trashy reality shows. Her two friends—sisters now, really—were kneeling inside the cardinal candles.
Margot, her wild curls threaded through with a brightly patterned scarf and her brown skin dark from studying outside, was the only one of them not wearing a shirt, her midriff exposed above the waist of her high, cotton shorts and beneath the hem of her neon orange sports bra. She’d wriggled out of her shirt halfway through moving the boxes up, muttered that not allowing their significant others to help was stupid, and was now tapping out a message to her boyfriend on her phone. Her feet were still enveloped in slip-on Vans, baby blue with little pink patterns of flowers around the heel.
Adelaide, her long dark hair tied up into a bun, bangs pinned back beneath a knotted headband, and scowling as the sage spat and hissed in the abalone shell, was still refusing the summer heat in a pair of ripped jeans. Her almond eyes were narrowed as she glared at the sage, and her olive hands were flattened against the floor just outside of the circle of white crystals that surrounded the sage and palo santo.
It was late August, and the dying summer clung to their skin. Adelaide hated the heat, much preferred to bundle up in layers upon layers in the winter, even didn’t really enjoy autumn or spring. Margot was game for anything, as she was with most things in life. Henley, dark-haired and darker skinned from their latest trip to the beach, was still in the dusty shorts she’d worn all day, a pair of ratty sneakers on her feet, and a swishing grey tank that had a distressed image of the Earth on it. She loved the summer more than anything, and had been utterly beside herself with excitement when they signed the lease to this apartment last month. They’d been living in a small two-bedroom, her and Adelaide, and when they decided to move to a bigger place, somewhere closer to downtown Salem, the universe had just served Margot up on a golden platter. Here you go, the stars seemed to say, a third sister to dance under the moon with.
The sage spat a last time, and went out. Adelaide threw up her hands and sank back onto her heels. “I told you it wasn’t going to light,” she muttered.
“It is still a bit wet from the puddle,” Margot agreed even as she reached forward to pick it up.
Henley tossed Margot the lighter as she came over to them, content not to rise to Adelaide’s bad mood. Adelaide was the one that had demanded they cleanse the apartment before they unboxed, which meant they’d had to go through Henley’s poorly done sorting system to find everything necessary. It also meant that they were dredging up the spell from memory, and none of them were completely certain they remembered the words quite right.
It was a simple cleansing spell, really, sage and palo santo burning in the middle, a mixture of white crystals dotting a circle around the abalone shell, twined lavender at each witch’s left, and the four candles at the cardinal points around them. They were in a contained circle, and the words should have been simple. They should have remembered them without trouble, but they were in a new space, in a new city, and they hadn’t yet settled into their new home.
They’d only met Margot a few weeks ago, and were shocked when she asked them if they practiced magic on only their second date. The first time, Henley and Adelaide met her at the Panera in Danvers and were pleasantly surprised when they found her sitting at one of the tables outside. Those tables were coveted during the summer, and had they been paying attention, they would have noticed the black thread tied around her wrist, a matching one wrapped around one of the poles beneath the table. The second time, they met her at the café Henley worked at in Salem, and Henley barely sat down with Adelaide’s smoothie when Margot said, “So, you’re witches, right? Because I put the ad up hoping that I might find roommates, but the ultimate dream is to find a coven.”
At first, Henley thought she meant witches in the general Salem sense—people who wore a lot of black, had pentagrams hanging on their front doors, and posted aesthetic pictures of their black cats and burning candles on Instagram. It was Adelaide that saw through it, that asked, “What happened to your last one?” Because Margot was the real deal, just like them, had actually been born with magic in her blood unlike those who just desperately wished for it. Margot hadn’t been part of a coven, hadn’t even discovered her magic until she was in her undergrad at NYU. This would be her first one, she told them, and so Henley and Adelaide didn’t tell her the places they’d come from, just gave her a lease to sign and moved in with her three weeks later.
In those three weeks, they’d argued over which cleansing spell to use, finally settled on one six days ago, and had all been trying to memorize the simple words.
They were simple, too, and they’d been parroting them back to one another over the course of the day as they moved the boxes in, but they were still in an unfamiliar place and just figuring out how to act as three witches together, so later, when the dust settled, they didn’t blame each other. Of course mistakes would be made. They should have dug out the book instead of just trusting their memories.
When Margot got the sage lit again, they waited until they were sure it would actually catch, and then waited a little longer until a steady stream of smoke was trickling up toward the ceiling. “Alright,” Henley said softly, and held out both hands. They didn’t tremble, though her heart was thundering loudly in her chest. Adelaide took her left, Margot took her right, and they formed the third circle. They took a collective inhale, and on their exhale, they started chanting.
The words came easy.
Adelaide’s scowl broke as she glanced over at Henley, offering her a small, surprised smile. They’d done it—they’d remembered the words; they were successfully casting their first spell as a group.
Henley returned the smile as a rush of warmth spread across her chest. She turned to bestow the smile on Margot, and screamed instead. There was a dark, rippling figure of a person behind Margot when before there had been nothing but bare wall. Henley tried to rip her hands away, but Adelaide held fast, shouting at Margot to do the same. The dark figure’s head tipped to the side, and Henley let out a gasping breath. “We’re not finished!” Adelaide shouted as she turned to see what had spooked Henley.
Henley kept pulling at their hands, even got one foot under her as she tried to scramble to her feet. Her shoulders were shaking as the dark figure lifted one of its still-forming hands and spread its fingers. This wasn’t happening. They couldn’t have messed up that badly.
“Oh fuck,” Adelaide said breathlessly.
Margot closed her eyes and bowed her head, her chin dipping toward her chest. “There’s something behind me, isn’t there?” she whispered. Henley’s attention snapped away from the dark figure and to Margot. She’d invited her into their circle, had promised to keep her safe.
“We have to finish the spell,” Adelaide said, not taking her eyes off of the dark form wavering behind Margot, “We have to bind it.”
“Bind it?” Margot squeaked, “Oh gods above and below, what is it?”
“If we don’t finish,” Henley said slowly as she looked away from Margot and back up at the dark figure, “then it stays here, unbound.”
“Unbound things are bad,” Margot said quickly as she lifted her head again. She shook it, her curls bouncing with the movement. “Okay. We got this. Henley, can you bind it?”
“We’ll finish summoning it,” Adelaide said, though her voice sounded like that was the very last thing she wanted to do. It was the last thing Henley wanted to do, but to only summon it halfway and then try to banish it was way beyond their skillset, beyond their strength. They had to finish this mess, bind whatever they’d summoned to them, and figure out how to clean it up later.
It took a long moment, but Henley finally looked away from the dark form and to her sister witches. “Don’t look at it,” Henley said before she dipped her gaze to the smoking sage, nodded slowly, and started chanting again. The other two quickly jumped back in, though the words started to take on a different tone. Adelaide and Margot continued with the original spell while Henley started to weave a binding one. The dark figure slowly started to take on a more corporeal shape, its edges blurring into fine lines until one by one, each of the four cardinal candles whispered out. When, eventually, the spell came to a close, they released hands at the same time and all looked behind Margot.
The thing was still in the shadows, the moon gone behind another cloud so that the only light that fell across it was the dull glow of the streetlights outside. For a brief moment, Henley was glad they hadn’t hung curtains yet, was glad they couldn’t see it yet. “I’m going to shine my phone flashlight on it,” Margot whispered as she dug the phone out from her back pocket. Henley and Adelaide braced themselves as Margot swept her finger up, took a deep breath, and clicked the flashlight function.
The thing reeled back as the light flared across its face, lifting an arm to shield its eyes as one of its Converse-clad feet staggered back. “Oi!” it exclaimed, “Way to ruin a moment!”
Adelaide’s mouth dropped open in shock. Margot lowered the flashlight a little. Henley blinked rapidly before she asked, “A moment?”
The thing lowered its arm tentatively, revealing that it had taken a male shape, and said around a scowl, “You know, a couple of brand new witches accidentally summon a demon and they get all wigged out while its lingering in the shadows like a super creep? Damn these newfangled devices that make everything—” he cut himself off as he loped forward and snatched the phone out of Margot’s hand. She shrieked, and skittered back a few steps as the thing turned the phone over and jabbed the flashlight function. They swam back into darkness, but Henley was already on her feet, running across the room. She slapped the light switch on the wall, plunging them back into light.
The apartment, with all of its boxes and empty walls and almost sterile-feeling cleanliness, looked wildly out of place next to the altar of circles and the thing.
“Say it again,” Henley demanded. She didn’t move from the wall. Margot had upset the abalone shell, and had both hands braced against the ground like she might jump up at any second. Adelaide was clutching the tourmaline that hung around her neck, her calves tense as she prepared to run. “Say what you are,” Henley clarified.
The thing smiled, and it was disarming in a way none of them expected. His fair, freckled skin crinkled at the edges of his dark green eyes, and his smile was neither malicious nor feral. It was just a smile, something they might witness on any boy in the world. “My name is Theodore,” he said, just gave it to them without being asked, which meant it likely wasn’t his real name, “I’m a demon.”
“A demon,” Adelaide whispered.
This was so bad. Anything else, they might have sent back to where it’d come from, but demons entered into your service as soon as you summoned them. They required at least a month’s contract, at the end of which they could very easily decimate your entire life if you didn’t properly send them back.
“Shit,” Henley said.
“What year is it?” Theodore asked, like this was a normal conversation between friends. He wasn’t holding himself in a strange, distorted kind of way, but rather looked like he wasn’t sure of himself. His shoulders were a little hunched up, and he kept fluttering his hands like he didn’t know where to put them.
“2016,” Margot said automatically.
Theodore’s face brightened. “No shit,” he said before he stepped forward, holding out her phone, “Last time I was in the 21st century, it was 2005, and man, what a hellish year that was. How long am I here?”
Henley opened her mouth to say one month, but Adelaide beat her to it, “Half a year.” Both Henley and Margot spun to stare at her in horror. “He’s a greater demon,” Adelaide said. Henley’s blue eyes snapped back to the demon as Adelaide kept talking, “We won’t be able to figure out a banishing spell for a fucking greater demon in one month.” Bizarrely, the demon’s smile flickered at the word banishing, and Henley frowned, head tipping to the side as she watched him. Something was wrong, something more wrong than just accidentally summoning a demon. “We need more time,” Adelaide was still talking, “Half a year might not even be enough to get rid of him.” All at once, Theodore’s smile crashed, and his mouth fell into a flat line.
Henley’s frown deepened as she stepped away from the wall. Theodore was watching Adelaide, but when Henley moved, his eyes flicked up to her. His head stayed where it was, tipped down a little, so just his green eyes moved, and though it was unnerving, Henley held his gaze. He had a mess of red hair that looked windswept and wild, likely from the journey up. He had wide-set shoulders, a wicked curve to his jaw, and high, prominent cheekbones. There were freckles dashed across his nose and wicking across to his ears, leaping across his cheeks and disappearing down his throat. The mark that he was a greater demon, three deep lines scarred into his right wrist, shimmered pale under the harsh overhead lights, but it was not these lines that caught her attention. It was the faded smile and another mark, a half-moon gouged into his upper arm. It disappeared beneath the sleeve of his shirt, but Henley would have bet all her savings that it formed a full circle.
He was a greater demon, yes, one of the most powerful beings in the shadow realm, but he was also enslaved to something far darker, and she recognized the hard look in his eyes. He was trying to run away.
“A year,” Henley said.
“Henley!” Adelaide and Margot erupted.
Theodore lifted his head to stare at her dead-on. His shoulders rolled back, his hands went still, and Henley tried not to swallow nervously. He was a good foot taller than her, and likely only Adelaide would find his height unthreatening.
“Take it back,” Adelaide hissed. Only Henley could change the length of time now unless one of the other girls promised something longer. Only Henley could shorten it now that she’d gone past Adelaide’s six months, but it didn’t matter. Theodore stepped between Adelaide and Margot—he moved so like a human, it was easy to forget that he wasn’t; his footsteps made a soft shushing sound across the hardwood and his chest moved with each breath—and held out his hand.
“Deal,” he said.
Henley shook hands with him.