So, NIGHTSHADE CITY has officially been delivered to my editor, on Halloween night to be exact. As every writer knows, whether you're trying to snag an agent or sending your finished product off to your editor, clicking that infamous SEND button can be a fear provoking ordeal!
I'm very happy with my edits and I love the story more than ever now, but of course, I've already started second guessing myself, as I'm sure every writer does, but there comes a time when you just have to throw caution to the wind and just hit SEND!
I already have a new SEND goal for this week, which I will meet. I've promised my agent EDWIN COPPERPOT and now that my rats are off safe and sound, somewhere in New York, I can finish my ghoulish edits and get Edwin off to Marietta in New Jersey, no later than Friday! Edwin is a steadfast Londoner...hmmm...I never pictured him as a Jersey boy, but what the heck!
Do you have a SEND goal too? Best of luck to anyone hitting their own SEND button! If I can do it, you most certainly can!
Now, in honor of my rats, I've posted an excerpt from NIGHTSHADE CITY, one no one but a few people have read. Any of you who've read Nightshade's other excerpts, know Billycan is one wicked ol' rat...need I say more?
xoxo -- Hilary
Clover was preparing the fire pit for dinner when she heard a slow, methodical scratching against her door. She hadn't heard Billycan calling down the corridor. Immediately recognizing the sound of his billy club against the wood slats, she sprang up towards the door.
"Get out of sight," she whispered. A tall, cloaked figure rose from the table and concealed itself in the shadows. "Stay back and stay covered. He only wants Stipend. I'll be back promptly." She gathered herself, swallowed hard, and opened the door.
"My, my, running late today, aren't we Miss Clover?" said Billycan, his voice acidic.
Clover kept her eyes to the ground and put her items into a wheelbarrow. "I'm sorry High Collector. I'm making dinner. Lost in my recipe, I did not hear your call. It won't happen again," she said.
Billycan had little patience for her excuses. "Very well, very well, Billycan is sure it won't happen again." He glared at his lieutenant. "Mark her off the list, Lieutenant Carn," barked Billycan. Carn silently marked her off the list and stepped back in line with the other soldiers. Billycan turned back to Clover. "I have more pressing matters today, my dear." Billycan reached into a wheelbarrow and retrieved a stiff scroll. He unrolled the discolored paper, signed at the bottom with Killdeer's three pronged mark.
Clover eyed the parchment and backed into her quarters. She prayed to the Saints for the Collector to move on. Please, she thought, let the scroll be for another.
"Not so hasty, little one," said Billycan. He beckoned her back, curling a gnarled claw. "Billycan has something to share with you. Something I think you and your lovely family will be rather delighted with. Are they in?" He poked his mangled snout into her room.
"No sir, they are hunting Top Side," she replied. Clover tried to block Billycan, who easily lurched over her like an oversized ivory sickle, examining her small quarters.
"Where are your brothers and sisters then?"
"My brothers were sadly killed in the Great Flood. As for sisters, I have none."
He carelessly pushed her out of his way and stepped into her quarters with his scaly, hairless feet. "Pity, pity," said Billycan. He had spotted the rat, whose feet were simply too large to conceal. "Billycan wants to know who that is, in the back." He pointed a spiny digit at the shrouded rat. "Who is that hiding shamelessly in the corner? Billycan would like to know and he would like to know now." She could not answer. Unprepared for the inquiry, she stood speechless.
Billycan's blood began to pump as he thought of a potential conspiracy in his midst. Her clan could not be trusted. Abruptly swooping down to her level, he displayed his barbed, yellow teeth in a crooked scowl. "Now for the last time, girl, who and why is this brazen rat hiding in your quarters?" His eyes bulged and his torso heaved. "Out with it!" he hollered.
Her heart thumped in her elfin sized chest. Through her young life, Clover told many tales to the Ministry, just not with Billycan towering over her, his teeth dripping with icy drool. A thought finally came. "I give you my word High Collector, he is not hiding. This is my Grandfather, Timeron, he is stricken with plague, unsightly to behold and highly contagious. My parents won't let me venture within an arm's length for fear of infection. It's so hard not to hug my dear grandfather, as I fear he will soon be at rest with the Saints, but as my father always says, the living must do just that--live."
As much as Billycan wished otherwise, her explanation sounded reasonable. He composed himself. "Yes, they must indeed live, as must Billycan," he said. He took a step backward, wondering what ghastly deformities awaited under the mucky shroud. He resisted his urge to check.