Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Excerpt from Billycan: Book Two of Nightshade City + My friend's debut release!

Wow! The New Year is almost here! Along with the new year, I'd like to give a quick shout out to Jill Myles! Her debut novel, GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI, released today through Pocket Star! She will be visiting my blog on January 12th, so be on the look out for that! So happy for you Jill!

With the new year on its merry way, I've started back to work on Nightshade's sequel, Billycan: Book Two of Nightshade City! I wanted to post an excerpt, but nothing that will give anything away! The excerpt below is a flashback of sorts, which happens before the story of Nightshade City. How two friends met, a rat and a bat.

xoxo -- Hilary

Juniper was glad to see Dresden. It was a cold night in Trillium City, colder than usual, the night they met.

Dresden and his colony had lived on the outskirts of Trillium in Lex County, a farming community. While on a hunt for insects, the thunder had grown so frequent and deafening Dresden had lost his bearings, his sonar useless. The blurring storm and never ending lightening had rendered the bat temporarily blind. He was lost in the Battery, the epicenter of Trillium City. Barely able to navigate through the skyscrapers, he ended up in an alley behind the colossal Brimstone Building.

Hearing a high pitched siren in the distance, he thought it was a member of his colony calling. Following the sound, he jerked his head around and crashed straight into a street sign. He was lucky the flimsy sign was all he hit. Anything harder surely would have been his end. Dresden's limp body slapped the wet pavement of the alley, landing directly at the feet of Juniper Belancort.

The brown bat was knocked out cold. Juniper had never seen a bat up close. He had always wondered why humans referred to them as "flying rats", now he knew why. Other than the obvious differences, the resemblance was uncanny. He knew he couldn't leave it lying in the street. He could never leave a fellow rat, nor could he leave the flying creature that so closely resembled one. Growing up, he'd heard rumors of their kinship and rumors that rats and bats weren't kin at all, but family or not, the injured bat would not be left to die.

Juniper, thickly built, had little trouble carting the bat back to his home, just a few blocks away. Back then, Nightshade City did not exist, in fact it had not even become an idea. Juniper was just starting to feel like himself again, finally getting used to the idea of having only one eye, his face nearly healed from Billycan's brutal attack, the night of the Bloody Coup.

Juniper and his Council had been living in an abandoned textile warehouse. He carried the bat through a broken window, being sure not to nick its wings, one of which steadily bled. Juniper called out for help upon arrival. Cole and the others came to his aid, gently setting the bat on a mound of soft fabric. They dried him off and cleaned his wound, covering it with a makeshift bandage, made from scraps of cloth.

The small group of rats sat around the bat, patiently waiting for it to wake up, all entranced by the similarities it possessed, its face so similar to their own. Finally, the bat awoke and slowly stretched out its wings. The first thing it noticed was its awkward position. Sleeping on the ground, as a bat would never do, it started to squirm.

"Now don't be frightened," Juniper said reassuringly. "You're among friends. You've been injured. I found you in the alley and brought you back here, so we could fix up that wing of yours."

Dresden looked blearily at Juniper. His hazy vision had him thinking he was speaking to another bat. Seeing the plain, gray walls of the warehouse, he realized he was not in his Lex County colony. "What colony am I in? What type of bat are you?" he said, straining to focus on Juniper's face. The other rats stared blankly at Juniper, wondering what to do. The bat clearly did not have his full wits. As he lay helpless, the bat craned his short neck as far as it would reach, still trying to make out a face.

"Now friend," said Juniper, "I don't want to worry you. You are among allies. You are among rats."

Dresden was a practical bat, afraid of very little. He knew of rats. He also knew of their proclivities for meat. He narrowed his miniature eyes, finally able to make out Juniper's face. He could see there was something not quite right with it, as Juniper's fur had not grown back yet on the one side, still bare and wounded from Billycan's attack, not to mention the patch over his eye. "Are you going to eat me?" Dresden asked directly.

Juniper chuckled. "No, of course not, if we were going to eat you why on earth would we have bandaged your wing? I know certain rats can be cruel, but that's a bit much, even for us."

Dresden looked over at his wing. "Oh dear, I see," he said, raising it slightly as he examined the dressing. "Thank you for coming to my aid. I'm Dresden," he said weakly, "leader of the Lex County, Brown Bat Colony, First Chapter..." His voice tapered off. The wounded bat could stay awake no longer.

In the weeks it took the brown bat to recover, he and Juniper became close. Dresden learned all about the takeover, the Bloody Coup it was called, brought on by Killdeer and the infamous white rat, Billycan--the one who carved out Juniper's eye. Juniper learned all about the bats trouble in Lex County and how the exasperated farmers were trying to smoke them out with pesticides and other means. It seemed the two had a lot in common. Juniper had lost his home and it looked as though Dresden would soon lose his.

The two stayed loyal, meeting quarterly each year in the same alley where their friendship started. Each knew if the other did not show up they were most likely dead.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New HobGobble Excerpt and the Return of My Hijacked Blog!

Hello Everyone!

I want to thank all who participated in Marietta's recent open Q & A and I know she thanks you too! Hopefully everyone's questions were answered! I certainly know firsthand all the obstacles attached to finding an agent, so I'm glad this took a little of the mystery out of what Marietta is looking for and how to query her! As soon as the agency's website goes live next month, I'll be sure to post the link! I know Marietta had great fun answering everyone's questions, not to mention hijacking my blog! Never have I seen so many comments on one post! It was around 70 some! Lots of fantastic info for everyone to go through before they query! :)

In celebration of the return of my beloved blog, I've posted a new excerpt to my hobgoblins of HobGobble, or hobgobbies as I so lovingly call them!

Happy Friday and enjoy!

"More!" barked Scrod.

Two servants dashed over, each gripping a handle of an immense cooper pot overflowing with dead hagfish. Slimy eels dropped to the floor as they heaved the pot onto the table, plunked it down between Mox and his father, and scuttled out of sight.

"Eat," said Scrod, nodding at the pot. He grabbed a handful of reeking fish and flung them into his mouth, grunting contentedly as he chomped them into mush. Bits of chewed flesh sprayed from his jaws as he spoke. "You want to look like a hobgoblin, you must eat like one." He pushed the hagfish towards Mox. "C'mon then."

Mox eyeballed a rotted eel, whose gray, eyeless head peeked over the lip of the pot. He'd rather starve than eat more oily hagfish or oily anything for that matter. Hobgoblins lived off fat, oil and grease, and in Mox's estimation, all things disgusting.

A long while back there'd been a food shortage in HobGobble. London was under lockdown, the whole city blanketed in piles of snow. The hobgoblins did their best to procure food, anything to keep HobGobble from starving. Mox remembered one night quite clearly.

He sat hungrily at the long table, waiting with his forty-two brothers and sisters. The servants came round, plopping an open tin can in front of each child. Mox was expecting pickled pig ears, deviled ham or perhaps greasy canned hash, but instead, the can contained something bright and yellow. To that day, Mox didn't know food came in such a cheerful color. He cautiously took a spoonful--little bits of sweet golden heaven popped in his mouth with each chew. He read the can's label under his breath, "Royal Crown Vegetables, Extra Sweet Whole Kernel Corn Niblets."

Mox's brothers and sisters got up from the table in disgust at their dinners. Mox's oldest brother, Gash, took his can and flung it at a servant bashing him upside the head, corn spraying everywhere. The others followed suit--a food fight like no other. Mox smartly crawled under his chair, taking two of his sisters' unwanted cans with him. He laughed as niblets flew through the air around him, whipping past his head, his brothers and sisters so incensed by the sight of the crisp, yellow morsels. Niblets fell like rain. Mox happily gathered them up and ate and ate until he could eat no more.

That night his belly was full. He never saw the words 'vegetable' or 'corn' on a can in HobGobble again and to this day has never seen food of such a vibrant hue. The food set before him was brown, tan or gray, all slippery with grease, sodden with fat, rancid to be sure, and far from cheerful.

Scrod stared at his son. "Why do you have such a disheartened look on your face, Mox? You must eat to be strong--to one day be strapping like your brothers--to be like Gash. Your eldest brother is the strongest hobgoblin in all of HobGobble."

Mox crinkled his nose. "Father, what if I'm not like Gash or the others? What if I can't be big and strong like them?"

Scrod's baggy lips stretched into a hint of a smile. "Mox, attention to my children has been lacking in many ways. HobGobble had been my responsibility well before you little ones were ever even a glimmer, and without HobGobble my family--my children would not be safe." Scrod motioned to the torch lit caves around him. "So in order to look after all of you, all this had to come first, my duty as Lord Hob." Scrod sighed. "Even with my obligations to HobGobble, I've always managed to keep an eye on my children--especially you, Mox. To be sure, you are distinctly different than your siblings, and I'm not just speaking of your looks."

Mox knew he was different without his father telling him so, but the fact that his father noticed anything at all, other than his unusual features, was a revelation.

Scrod pushed the pot to the side. "I know you're not particularly fond of hagfish. For years I've spied you mashing it up on your plate, hoping it would look eaten." He chuckled softly. "Don't think I haven't seen your elbow edging over ever so slowly towards your fish, silently knocking it to the floor when you thought no one was looking."

Mox's face flushed with heat. No one ever paid him mind or so he thought. "Sorry, father."

"It's all right. In that way, you are very much like your mother."

Mox raised his eyebrows. "You mean mother didn't like hagfish either?"

"Your mother loathed the slippery eels. She despised the food we steal from up top, always in their greasy bags, soaked with butter and cooked in fat. I told her she was crazy for it! Why hobgoblins love the oily aftertaste of fish and chips, the scent of a greasy hamburger, the thick fried potatoes soaked in oil!" He laughed. "Yes, your mother was very much like you. She too was slight in frame, her features small, her stature leggy. Some hobgoblins might even have whispered among themselves that she was not a fetching specimen of hobgoblin. Luckily, no one ever said it to me. A benefit of being the Lord Hob, I suppose. Wouldn't have mattered in any case, I thought your mother was beautiful--perfect even."

A shiver ran down Mox's spine and his skin rose in goose bumps. His mother was just like him, was it even possible? He tried to hide his smile, but didn't succeed.

"Ah," said Scrod, "for once a happy look on my youngest son's face."

"Why do you think mother and I aren't like the other hobgoblins? I don't want to be different...I just am."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome to HobGobble...Hope You Like Ick! Teaser Tuesday!

So, I've decided...green is my new favorite color...at least until this new venture is finished! This is going to be one of those whirlwind stories. I can feel it coming! Welcome to HobGobble! As always, blame the hobgoblins for any and all first draft typos. They're crafty little fellows!

xoxo -- Hilary

The ancient hobgoblin slogged passed him. His father's once emerald skin now a sallow brown, like the greasy fish and chips bags they pilfered from the veiled alleys of London.

Old Scrod flopped into his throne and slumped down, wrapping himself in his tattered cloak. He looked tired--tired of ruling, tired of worrying, tired of even breathing it seemed. His wooden staff hung limply from his gnarled claws. Scrod slowly lifted his head and looked at his son.

"What is it that you want, son?"

"I don't want anything, father," said Mox.

Scrod gave his son the once over. "You've grown, Mox. You're much taller than your brothers and sisters--and so skinny." He looked up. "More like them."

"Yes," said Mox, his skin bristling. "I hear it ever day. I'm built like them, I know, but I'm hobgoblin through and through."

"And don't you forget it," said Scrod. "Now, why have you come? Your siblings only come to see me when they want something, so out with it, boy. What do you want?"

Mox looked at his feet. He loathed his brothers and sisters all forty-two of them, gruesome crew--always griping and sniping over who would take over the throne when their father finally had the good manners to die. "I suppose I just want to spend some time with you, nothing more." Mox knew his father would not be the Lord Hob much longer. He didn't care about the throne. Unlike his siblings, to rule over HobGobble was the last thing he desired. He shifted uncomfortably. It just didn't feel right--not knowing your father at least a little before he passed on. "You're always so occupied...I only wanted a moment to talk."

Scrod's drooping ears suddenly straightened. His spine uncurled, as he propped his wilted body up with his staff. "Well, why didn't you say so straightaway?" He snapped two slippery fingers. "Servant, bring a chair for my son." A stubby hobgoblin with arms longer than his entire body skittered out from the shadows carrying a wooden chair high over his head. He slapped it down on the dank ground, sloshing water as he did so, and ran off into the dark as quickly as he'd arrived.

Mox sat. He smiled halfheartedly at his father. Growing up, he was in awe of Scrod, the great Lord Hob, so incredibly commanding and noble--now so frail. His once robust arms and legs had all but withered down to bone. His brawny chest, stained with liver spots, had caved inward, leading down to a bulbous round belly. Scrod's dominant jaw had decayed into a sagging sack of rotted teeth. Once so feared, now so feeble, it saddened Mox to look at him.

Scrod patted Mox's knee. "So, my boy, what would you like to discuss?"

Stiffening, Mox took a deep breath. Even in his father's delicate state, Mox still got the jitters when he addressed him. "Well, father, there is something I've been wondering about."

Cocking his head, Scrod leaned on his staff. "Oh? And what might that be?"

Mox cringed as he spoke, unsure how his father might react. "Well..." Hesitantly, he pointed a slender finger at the cavernous ceiling. "I've been wondering about them."

Scrod did not move. He sat firm and silent. The last time Mox had seen his father sit so still it did not end well. The unlucky hobgoblin sitting before him received the lashing of a lifetime. Mox should have known better than to ask. "I'm sorry father," he blurted. "I'm just curious about them, the hu--"

Scrod held up his hand for silence. Mox obeyed. Scrod leaned in, closely studying his son's strangely angular face, his slight curl of a mouth, and his short rounded ears. He spoke slowly.

"You know the tragedy that befell our family the night you were born, don't you?"

"Yes," said Mox, swallowing. "My mother died."

"Yes," said Scrod. "She died. It was awful and terrible and a dark day for HobGobble. A day no hobgoblin will ever forget, least of all me. But do you know what she told me before she died? Do you?"


"Your mother held you in her arms and kissed your small forehead." Scrod chuckled. "My word, you were a tiny thing. As a child, I thought you'd pass away just as your mother had, too weak to survive in our world. Now look at you, still scrawny as a fish bone, but taller than all of us. In any case, you're mother looked me square in the eyes and told me your name was to be Mox, her father's name, the first Lord Hob, and you would one day rule."


"Yes, Mox, that is what she claimed. My latest string of wives are as softheaded as a heap of three eyed potatoes, but your mother...she was a smart one." Scrod smiled. "When she said you would rule--she meant it--she believed."

"You mean rule, as in rule HobGobble--become the mighty Lord Hob?" Mox bolted from his chair and began to pace before his father. "But I don't want to rule! Leave that for one of my brothers or sisters. They'll do whatever it takes to keep hold of the throne. Moreover, I'm not fit to rule." Mox flung his arms up in disbelief. "I don't even look the part. You said so yourself. I'm tall and gangly, my jaw is undersized and my teeth dull. I loathe scaring children and I certainly don't want to eat them! That's all my brothers speak of--when one day they can eat the fleshy, pink children that live above us! I'm unfit to rule and no reasonable hobgoblin would listen to me anyway!" Mox suddenly froze in his tracks. Here he was ranting in front of his all powerful father, the Lord Hob, telling him everything he hated about being a hobgoblin--about ruling over HobGobble--about taking his great father's place. His eyes widened in fear.

The Lord Hob stared flintily at his son. He looked about to lose his temper. Mox's green hue drained to gray. Suddenly, Scrod roared with wild laughter, nearly tumbling onto the floor. Mox seized his father by his shoulders and helped him back into his seat.

His father's laugh had turned into a coughing wheeze as he tried to catch his breath. "It's high time we had this talk," Scrod huffed, as his shriveled lungs settled. "Sit down, Mox. There is much you don't know--much indeed."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Agent Marietta Zacker!

ATTN: Scroll to the bottom of this post. Marietta will be answering any and all questions until Dec. 16th!! So writers and illustrators, ask away!!!!

Okay, not everything, but I had to get your attention! And isn't she just lovely in blue?

So many great writers have emailed me lately wondering if it's okay to ask me about my agent. Yes, it's okay! I too was once in that same creaky, unstable, agonizing boat and I'm happy to help if I can. Here are some basics about the amazing Marietta Zacker.

What the heck does she want? Marietta is looking for great writing for children and fantastic storytelling, plain and simple. She doesn't want to give a blanket 'no' to anything. She's interested in everything from miraculous picture books to chapter books and novels about the world's unique ethnicities to cutting edge YA. She believes you should write what moves you! In other words, don't write about vampires and werewolves just because you think they're hot! In my opinion, that's kind of crazy anyway! By the time you finish your book and actually get it to agents/editors a hot trend will most likely not be so hot anymore, right? So, write what YOU love, not what you think everybody else will! Case in point, I love rats, rats got agent, rats got published! Passion about what you're writing is so very key!

What on earth is she like? I feel so blessed and lucky to have Marietta as an agent. She is everything I could have hoped for and more! She's wildly intelligent, funny, creative and dedicated to her job and all her clients. She answers all my emails (and there are plenty of them mind you) and calls me as needed, sometimes just to say, "Hey, how are you doing? Wanted to see what you've been up to." Lots of agents don't do that. She has schooled me on the publishing industry and really helped me understand how the "other side" of this crazy business works, like the agent/editor relationship, contracts, offers, etc. And I still have so much to learn from her. Marietta is a great person to have in your corner. She sincerely wants the best for you and wants you to succeed. She cares about her clients for more than just their writing. She is my friend! What more could you ask for in someone who is helping to shape your writing career?

How long does it take to get a response? I was just talking to Marietta this week actually and we were discussing the number of queries in her inbox. Holy cow, there is a lot! Please be patient. She will get to your query. When I sent my submittal package to the Nancy Gallt Agency way back when it took about 4-5 months to get the request for my full--in other words, be very, very patient! What's the old adage? Good things come to those who wait (and wait, and wait)!

If you don't hear back should you assume that's a rejection? I honestly don't know how Marietta addresses that. I'd think she'd let you know once she had the opportunity to read your query, but like I said, her inbox is a traffic jam--think of a number around 1000 give or take.

In summation: Well, I hope I've given you a bit more information on this lovely little lady! The basics to remember: Write what YOU love! Be very patient! And for all that's good and holy in this world keep writing!!!

xoxo -- Hilary

NEWS FLASH! From the woman herself! Marietta Speaks!!
MBZacker said...
This may be unorthodox, but since my wonderfully, talented client sends new ideas without warning all the time (brilliant ones, I might add) and dedicates one of her postings to information about me (also without warning or even a heads-up), I thought I would surprise her with a posting on her blog!And, since I don't feel it's necessarily fair to Hilary to have her speak for me, I think it only makes sense to use this forum and open up the "floor" for questions.So... from now until December 16, I will check Hilary's blog daily to answer questions from those who want to ask. I am not as mysterious as Hilary's characters, so if you have a question, by all means, feel free to ask. I will do my best to be as thorough as possible with my answers.A shout out to all in the blogging world! Marietta