Finding a Light in the Dark (plus book giveaway!)

I woke up a few days ago and immediately asked, “What is that smell?” The stench was awful. It was akin to rotten eggs or maybe sewage. At first, my girlfriend and I were worried something had happened, like a gas leak. Or maybe a neighbor was up to something (anything goes in quarantine life). We even wondered if one of our pets had been ill. But, finding nothing, we opened windows, turned on vents, and went about our day.

Later, I read about the bioluminescent algae that had arrived to the coast of Southern California. I’d heard about it from friends, but hadn’t paid much attention. Until the smell. Turns out, since the red tide (as it was so-named from its color in daytime) has been around for nearly a week, parts of it are beginning to break down. Hence the smell of deterioration. We don’t even live next to the ocean. It carries that well. The algae contain phytoplankton that appears red in daylight, but changes to a brighter, different color come nightfall.

A few nights ago, my girlfriend and I decided to go see what all the bioluminescent buzz was about. Beaches have re-opened with restrictions, so we drove to the coast just after sunset. Donning our masks, we stood and peered out at the water.

When the waves crested, we saw it. Like the little girl standing with her family six feet away, I said, “Wow!” It was like the water was charged; lighting up an electric blue as the wave rose, then fell as it rushed toward the beach. Wave after wave, the water glowed in flashes of light against the dark water.

Quarantine life hasn’t been easy. Uncertainty still runs rampant. Remote teaching is tough. I find I’m keeping in touch with loved ones more than I did before Covid-19, which is great. But living life around video conferences for work and socializing feels bizarre. I’ve wondered more than once when life will get back to normal, but even if it does, what will “normal” look like?

Getting out, even for a little while (under proper social distancing conditions) was like a breath of algae-deteriorating fresh air. Watching a natural phenomenon occur – ocean life continuing its journey, blissfully ignorant to the state of the human world – was like lifting the veil of monotony life in quarantine can create. It was a moment of light in challenging times.

What has helped you in quarantine? Are you baking? Re-reading one of your favs? Binge-watching? Sleeping? Exercising? Maybe all of the above? Whatever it is, I hope it helps and I hope you’re well.


This month, I’m giving away a paperback of my novel Daughter of No One (Book 1 of the Odium Trilogy). Book 2 will be out this fall! Leave a comment to enter and a winner will be drawn 7pm PST on Sunday May 10th!


  1. The algae must have been a beautiful sight despite the smell.
    Reading has been a good escape during quarantine and fortunately my local library is investing more heavily in ebooks right now with their branches currently closed. I’m so grateful to have that option of a digital book!


  2. I don’t know what the new normal will be. But sure as hell hope it will still included reading.

    I hope you stay safe and feel love.


  3. I’m sure glad I love to read. Helps pass the days while staying inside. Please add my name to the give away. Stay safe and try to smile.


  4. I would say “Wow” too if I witnessed what you described! It sounds ethereal almost. I live in the middle of the Canadian Prairies, so no ocean algae for this girl!! Although we do have the Northern Lights, which are amazing, and no smell, lol!! Take care, and stay safe!


  5. Hi. Reading always serves as a great escape. I think it has become a real survival tool in these strange times.


  6. What a nice twist for a red tide experience! For a while, we had stopped going to the beach altogether because our area (different coast) had so many unpleasant effects due to the condition; maybe we missed out on the nighttime light show, but I don’t recall hearing about it. For the lockdown, online work from home is tedious, reading is good, writing is delayed by pursuits of/in rabbit holes–but there is often a treasure discovered every day: [today’s was ‘ambient mixer’, which may be old news for everyone else, but was a treat for me]. Be safe all.


  7. I’m glad the algae is down south instead of up here in NoCal. I’m more excited, however, that book 2 is coming!


  8. Thank you for taking us away to the beautiful ocean view. I had seen videos of it, and it was so fun to have those images in my head while reading about your visit. Being a homebody, I’ve been doing a lot of my usual things, reading and watching movies/show, but it’s been much more of a marathon than a singular event. I went back to work this past week, where it’s easy to stay distant from my coworkers (and we have masks and staggered breaks), so it’s making the reading and watching even that much more precious again. Thank you for the giveaway chance, and I hope you find lots more beautiful moments in your days!


  9. I grew up to the smell of red tide on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Different studies have offered reasons for the proliferation of the algae, including industrial or farming chemical runoff, global warming, and high rainfall/ heavy freshwater discharge. It’s been around since the 16th century, according to a Spanish explorer’s journals, who recorded stories told to him from Florida American-Indians.

    I’m glad you were able to see something that wowed you. May we all experience unexpected joys in our lives.


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