It is rainy, cool and gray here in the city of big shoulders. I'm still happy to celebrate the Fourth of July, even though our plans have been canceled and everyone we know is sitting at home or at the movies! We'll BBQ tomorrow, so not a big deal and we think the rain will be cleared up by the time it's dark enough for fireworks, so we'll enjoy that for sure, even if the grass is a bit soggy. My six year old son is a little bored, but Star Wars is on, so life is good in Vincent's world! My one year old is running around the house with a paper hat her teachers made at school of red, white and blue stars. She's been wearing it since she woke up at 7am this morning!
Since we are inside for now, I did get to spend a little time today on the second book of NIGHTSHADE CITY, not writing, but reading. I plan on doing some editing for sure, but I really like the way its going so far, very different from book one. I went through it, trying to pick out an excerpt to post, but everything simply gives too much away. I did find one though. I think it gets across a little of the new book's story, without revealing too much. BILLYCAN: Book Two of Nightshade City, is a WIP, so please be gentle on this first draft excerpt.
I've posted it below or you can click on the link, if you'd like to read it on Nightshade's website. http://www.nightshadecity.com/Billycan-Excerpt.html
Thanks and happy, happy Independence Day, rain or no rain!!
xoxo -- Hilary
This is an excerpt from The Feast, Chapter Four of BILLYCAN: Book Two of Nightshade City
From the fringes of the plantation, the feast took on the form of a heathen ritual, the sizzling boar, a sacrifice to the disciples' pagan gods. Crooked torches lined the manor's perimeter, flaming bayonets, gashing the weighty darkness.
A swamp rat with tattered owl feathers dangling from its ears, thumped steadily on an otter-skin drum, dragged out from the manor's attic. Its primordial beat knitted its way through the network of cypress, causing the other creatures of the swamp to swiftly take to their nests and burrows.
The horde flocked around the flaming razorback in a cockeyed circle, barely able to contain their mounting frenzy. They pushed each other playfully, giggling with childish glee. The swamp rats eyed the funeral pyre of boar eagerly, their mouths dripping with spittle, the thought of fat, fleshy pig almost too much to bear.
A young male, overly agitated by the boar's smoky tang, edged too close to the blaze, carelessly scorching his tail. As the rat's tail ignited, the horde laughed riotously, their teeth glinting like a band of hellhounds. The screaming rat fled to the pond, diving in rear-end first, quashing the flames that had swallowed his now blistered tail. The rowdy horde fell clumsily on each other, slaphappy with merriment.
Thicket and Stono turned towards the gathering crowd, searching for Billycan. Carn grabbed his chest. Mannux put a heavy paw on his shoulder and whispered in his ear. "Steady, son, you'll be alright, no worries. Your friends are all around you."
The front door of the manor finally opened. Thicket and Stono jumped up and down, spotting their king. The yard erupted in thunderous noise. The swamp rats stomped their feet, clambering up each other's backs, trying to catch a glimpse of the towering white rat that would lead them to the promised land.
Carn felt a balmy rush of air. He looked skyward. The brown bat colony had swept in like tiny shadows, circling high over the feast like a clutch of vultures, waiting for their chance to pick at the bones.
Taking in the sheer spectacle of it all, Oleander reached out and grabbed Carn's paw, icy with fear. She squeezed it as tight as she could. Carn stood and stared, void of expression, as he regarded the king of the swamp rats, once again taking in the face--the eyes. His pigment drained to a cold, dimpled gray, as faded images of the bleak Catacombs and its Kill Army Commander flooded his mind.
Mannux grabbed Carn's shoulders, steadying him. The former Kill Army lieutenant looked as though he might fall to the ground. Mannux spoke softly. "Steady, boy, steady. He's just a rat, nothing more, flesh and blood and bone. You can prove that to yourself tonight. He is not the supernatural force they think him. He is no more powerful than you or I." He nodded at the cackling horde. "Nor any of them."
Billycan strode to the edge of the porch, slapping his scaly tail against the rotting wood. The horde fell silent. His eyes flashed against the bonfire, a ghostly surge of vaporous red. Taking in his swarm of devoted subjects, his muzzle swelled into a jarringly familiar leer.
Carn thought he may very well die of fright.