If you'd like to read the excerpts in their entirety, please go to http://www.nightshadecity.com/EdwinExcerpt.html
xoxo -- Hilary
Reasonably lovelorn, Maggie Rose slumped before the parlor harpsichord, tapping on its keys with her pinkies, the only digits on either hand which had yet to win their freedom. Her nose tickled, it needed adjusting. With lumpy knuckles she smashed the sagging feature skyward. As of late, it seemed to be sliding down her face, akin to unset pudding.
Perhaps, if she swooned and fell to the parlor floor Edwin might rush to her side, thereby falling deeply in love with her. Oh, the thought. After all, she had to be the reason he continued to reside at the manor.
It surely wasn't on account of ancient Mr. Parker or Monsieur Bastia; he spoke no English, barring a few obscenities, which he spewed out in his guttural accent at the most inappropriate of times. It couldn't be for Nurse Aldridge, even with a temperament sweet as marmalade, a governess would never be a proper choice for a man of Edwin's fine stature, not to mention she came with a nest of roaches that had chosen her generous belly as their eternal address. Yes, she decided with resolution, he must, in fact, be there for her.
Hearing Edwin's familiar footsteps nearing the front door, Maggie seized her chance. With the twist of the doorknob, she heaved her carcass backward, tumbling gracelessly onto the Oriental rug. She squirmed on the floor, feeling no pain being dead and all, but it was the effect she was going for. How could he leave a lady in such distress? She waited for his response.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
If you'd like to read the excerpts in their entirety, please go to http://www.nightshadecity.com/EdwinExcerpt.html
Saturday, June 27, 2009
xoxo -- Hilary
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Edwin trounced down the manor steps, slamming its gates behind him, glad to be out into the night. It was always night. Fitting, he thought, rounding the corner. He lived by night, now he died by it. Alive, he'd found the daylight rather annoying. It may have been his nagging headache from the prior night's merriment, but even as a youngster he favored the witching hour or thereabouts. He thought more clearly, felt more inspired--his mind and body more alive. As he grew older, so did his affinity for the covering of night, comforting, cloaking arms of darkness that seemed to always take him somewhere brilliant, more brilliant than the most brilliant of suns could ever produce.
Edwin glanced at his pocket watch. It read midnight, as usual. When in a hurry, he'd forget from time to time, that there was no hourly time in his world, the underworld, the afterlife, the booming necropolis, whatever you wished to call it, it all meant the same--you were dead.
In any case, the time didn't matter. When the moon had reached its highest point, Maura could always be found sitting in the same café, at the same table, reading the same book, wearing the same crimson chapeau. She was happily predictable. Predictability, something he would have most certainly recoiled from in his living years, now it meant everything to him. This world had the predictability of a drunken sailor. At any given moment, a new strangeness entered his realm. One could not slink by on normality. It simply didn't exist here. Death, same as in life, was never straightforward.
He crossed the street to the café, barreling through--literally--an elderly couple, who'd spotted a spirit child floating near a lamppost. They tried to call the toddler over, but to no avail. He stuck out his tongue and kept on drifting, not interested in new dead grandparents. His living ones comprised of a reprehensible crew.
"Ah, there she is," said Edwin. He beamed. Maura was the only inhabitant of his world that could make him beam. Despite her shortage of frippery, her pursed lip grin, which highlighted her already high cheekbones, made him melt. Even in death, most women required their daily dose of puffery, at least the ones Edwin lazed with. He didn't need to flatter her and never attempted to. She'd see right through that.
Dead at twenty-two, consumption the criminal, Maura was not the pretty sort. Not that she was lacking in the looks department, but more that she didn't care so much to attain them. In life, she'd been a bookworm, now dead; she took on the more literal sense of the term. As she flipped through the pages of her novel, a maggot escaped her ear and dropped onto the table. "Sad little fellow," she said. She flicked it away with her thumb and index finger, sending it hurling into the fireplace. It burst into blue light.
"Good shot!" called Edwin, from the street.
Maura was neither the pretty sort nor the giggling sort, but she giggled all the same. She beckoned him in with a gaunt finger. "Come sit, you fool," she cooed from her seat.
Edwin shot through the wall in an eager flash. She could tell he was in good spirits, not his normal restless soul. He sat at their usual table, placing his hat on the floor by his feet. It couldn't possibly get any worse for wear. Everything in their world was dusty and dank, covered in something or other. After all, this was the afterlife, what did they assume dust consisted of.
Edwin leaned on his elbow, resting his cindery chin in the palm of his hand. He stared with dreamy eyes at Maura. The kind of dreamy eyes the living had upon waking from a deep sleep.
Maura cocked her head, probing his face. "What's got you in such a fanciful state?"
"Why, you, of course."
"You're nothing but a bounder, Edwin Copperpot. Now, tell me."
Not the patient sort, Edwin loved to make Maura wait. It killed her. "Steady now, I'd like to order up some tea, if you can spare a few minutes of eternity for me."
Maura scowled at him, she swiftly raised her arm and snapped. The click of her fingers like cracking twigs. A short hunchback, with droopy features, wobbled over on notably uneven legs.
"Madam?" rasped the Frenchman.
"Yes, Didier, my companion would like a tea, no sugar, extra cream. And please, Didier, the cup, do make sure there are no uninvited guests in it, will you? It's simply a bore fishing them out." Edwin watched Maura as she spoke, so refined, even when ordering tea.
"Madam," said Didier, with a stiff nod of the head. He lumbered off to the kitchen.
Edwin chuckled. "Madam--I believe that's the only word I've ever heard that one utter. Was he cursed at his reckoning with a one word vocabulary? You'd think his looks would be curse enough."
Maura set down her book, not amused. "Out with it. Why are you not your usually dour self? Your face is far too angelic."
"If you must know, which I know you must, I been called to meet with the Warrants."
Even when surprised, Maura rarely looked it. She pushed to the edge of her seat and opened her delicate, slightly mummified, yet still lovely mouth ever so slightly. "The Warrants have called you forward? Edwin, how excited you must be." She set a hand on the sleeve of his coat. "How did this come about?"
Edwin sat up. "I was biding my time at the manor parlor, when the bell rang. The bell never rings. One and all come and go as they please--day and night bursting in and out of the walls. Being far too slothful to open the door myself, I waited for someone to greet the poor soul, but no one did, in fact, no one seemed to hear the ringing but me. Long story short, unless I wanted to hear the blasted ringing all night, which I did not, I had to answer it myself." He smacked the edge of the table. "Lo and behold, the ugly chap was ringing for me."
"Thank goodness your low tolerance for noise outweighs your indolence. You'd never have known you were called upon."
"Ah, yes, my comedic companion, you are correct. That being said, the ringer was a Servant to the Warrants. He informed me of my calling and said he'd be round to fetch me when timing deemed appropriate."
"And when will that be?"
"I have nary a clue. I only know it is happening and for now, that's good enough for me."
Maura sat back in her chair. "Did this Servant give you any indication as to what the Warrants' proceedings entail?"
"So dumbstruck, I forgot to ask. I've never met anyone who's been before the Warrants. Everything I've heard concerning them came through someone who knew someone, who happened to be an acquaintance of someone else, and so on and so forth. No first hands accounts. It's all very mysterious." His air shifted. "Will you come with me when I'm formally called upon?"
Maura's lips coiled impishly. "I'd rather die than miss it."
Edwin grinned. He flicked another maggot off the table that had escaped her hair. "Maura, you are my favorite dead person."
The tea had arrived.
Friday, June 19, 2009
This is a middle grade novel, with adventure, comedy and lots of creepy fun. Here is a link if you'd like to read a little! It's called THE TRASHLINGS!
All comments welcome!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The whole sordid business of being dead, frankly, embarrassed Edwin. The thought of being worm infested, caked with decaying skin, and laden with putrefied parts, held none of the same morbid appeal for him, like it seemed to hold for the others of his world.
He sat on the floor of the broom closet, trying to catch a stitch of peace and quiet, admittedly hiding from Maggie Rose, a dotty old cadaver, who'd been following him around all week long, singing, hoping to woo him with her feminine wiles, although those parts of her had all but rotted away. In her song, she had replaced the word 'ride' in Jingle Bells, with 'die', thinking herself quite the clever little minx. Edwin nodded his head. "Idiot," he muttered.
He heard a clomping outside the door. With each staggered clomp he heard spongy footsteps scuffling after it, as if to catch whatever the clomping culprit might be. From the floor, he reached for the door handle and took a peek. "Mr. Parker again," he whispered to himself. He pulled up to his feet.
Mr. Parker trundled along the bowing wood floor, trying in vain to catch his teeth. Every time he neared close enough, they'd hop away, goading him with a giddy, "Ha, ha, ha!" with each and every jump.
Edwin stepped out from the closet, coming to Mr. Parker's aid. He caught the teeth under a tattered buckled shoe. He dusted them off on the breast of his velvet coat, for he was a gentleman and that's what gentleman wore, and handed the teeth back to a thankful Mr. Parker.
"Oh, Master Edwin, thank you, lad," said Mr. Parker. "I thought I'd never get them back this time, wily old things." He forced the teeth back into his puckered orifice and smiled.
Edwin wiped his hand on his breeches, not a fan of spittle, be it dead or alive. "Mr. Parker, why do you insist on chasing after those bewitched teeth? They'll only flee your mouth yet again."
Mr. Parker opened his mouth to give a firm answer, but only managed to allow his incisors to make another run for it. With a sucking pop, the whole set leapt from his mouth and back onto the floor. Mr. Parker haplessly scrabbled for them, but off they hopped down a staircase. "Oh, blasted!" he gummed.
Mr. Parker teetered toward the stairs. Edwin stopped him. "Mr. Parker, leave them be. Why do you care to keep them? You're dead. You've no need for them."
The old stiff sighed. "I suppose it boils down to simple vanity, lad, my own mortification, no teeth, the sheer indignity of it."
Edwin chuckled. "Mr. Parker, when was the last time you took a look at yourself in a mirror."
"Why, never," said Mr. Parker. His vacant mouth whistled as he spoke. "Not since before my reckoning. I thought we couldn't see our reflections down here."
"You're getting the dead confused with the undead. They're the ones with no reflections, crafty bloodsuckers. We can see ourselves just fine. Come with me."
Edwin led Mr. Parker down the hallway to a dingy mirror. "Take a look." Mr. Parker beheld himself in the mirror. His jaw fell open, nearly unhinging at the sight. "You see," said Edwin. "You've one eye missing, the other as hideous as a fetid plum. Your face is desiccated bone and shorn skin, your nose, well, that's gone altogether. You're utterly revolting, succinctly disgusting. In this shape, who cares if your teeth run amuck?" Edwin was always one for truth telling, even at the risk of hurt feelings. He had a way about him. He could deliver horrible news in such a way, that the receiver felt more relieved than insulted, comforted to finally accept the truth.
Mr. Parker laughed at his loathsome likeness. "Oh, Edwin, you're right. I'm a festering old corpse. Teeth are the least of my worries." He looked at Edwin in the mirror. "What of you, though? You're certainly a bit unraveled around the edges, cracks here and there, but not too shabby looking for a dead man. What's your secret, lad?"
Edwin jutted out his square chin in the mirror. "I suspect it's my youth. I met my reckoning at twenty-four. They say the younger you pass, the better you'll fare on the outside. How old were you?"
"I was eighty-three, the plague they say. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised there's anything left of me. Most of my counterparts were not so fortunate. I'm lucky for that, I suppose. Wouldn't want to be one of those bodiless spirits, meandering here and there, ignored--no fun in that."
"Yes, not a way in which I'd like to travel. It would be torture, not being able to speak or touch, barely a sputter of light--pure agony."
"There's one now," said Mr. Parker, pointing. A purple spark hovered round their heads for a brief moment, quickly guttering into nothing. Mr. Parker continued to examine Edwin in the mirror, thinking him blessed to only have incurred some minor rips and tears, no absent appendages, no seeping lesions. "Lad, tell me again, I forgot, how did you meet your end?"
Pulling a piece of twine from his waistcoat, Edwin gathered his disheveled hair into a ponytail. "My lover's husband bludgeoned me to death, nasty business that was."
Mr. Parker rubbed his hands together, savoring the memory of female companionship. "Yes, how deliciously scandalous, what a libertine life you must have led."
Edwin patted Mr. Parker on his back. Filth wafted from his coat. "Yes, yes, some life, I daresay. Look where it got me, murdered at twenty-eight. I had a title, you know. If not for my carousing, I'd have sat fat and pretty for the rest of my days."
Mr. Parker nudged him with an elbow. "Most men would give their eyeteeth to be where you've been, if you catch my meaning." Mr. Parker's bobbing eyebrows made his meaning hard to overlook.
"Yes, I see what you're getting at, quite witty." Edwin headed towards the stairs. "If you'll excuse me, Mr. Parker, I've a prior engagement." He bounded down the stairs and out the front door, suddenly needing to be free of the fusty manor's confines. "I must be off. Goodbye for now."
Monday, June 1, 2009
Editing is more challenging than writing the actual story, at least for me. Editing is making a good story great and great writing fantastic. It's about doing your research no matter how many times you have to go back and change one annoying little thing in order to make it right, in order to make the timeline work, in order to make a detail based on some sort of fact...well...factual!
I just finished my new manuscript, including my edits (at least for now, anyway). It was grueling, but exhilarating. I'm very excited about this one. It's a MG Fantasy with lots of new fangled creatures and unheard of things that go bump in the night, with a scientific twist that took a lot of research and hours with my nose in text books, but so very, very worth it.
My husband gets first read. He gives me remarkable insight, as well as much needed help in double-checking my grammar. After staring at a MS for six months straight, a few typos are rather easy to miss. I hope he loves it. With his stamp of approval it's off to the agent. He's my greatest supporter, along with my best (and worst) critic. He flat out tells me what's good, bad or otherwise. Hopefully he likes surly, blue pig-like creatures that live in junkyards and eat tires...hmmm.