Thursday, July 30, 2009

Exciting Stuff, I Tell Ya!

All I can say is I'm going to have some exciting news soon and I can't wait to share! Hard work really does pay off! Who knew??? Ha, ha!

My WIP, Edwin Copperpot, is coming along at a fevered pace, so if I can keep concentrating on that instead of mulling over all the "what if" scenarios about my "news", I may just get some more writing done! I had a eureka moment in the middle of the night last night (bit of an insomniac) and I know now exactly how this novel is going to end, spinning together all its unearthly twists and turns, so I've got a lot to get paper!

Happy almost Friday, everyone!

xoxo -- Hilary

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Teaser? Huh? EDWIN COPPERPOT

Yes, I know, I've lost my mind! I've had a lot going on lately and I'm hoping to have some exciting news soon, but I wanted to post something from EDWIN COPPERPOT, my WIP.

As you may have guessed, Edwin is our MC, a somewhat cynical, incredibly charming chap, who happens to be deceased. In this scene, our cadaverous hero, is on his way to the mysterious House of Warrants. They run the show in this booming necropolis.

Please enjoy and all comments welcome! And oh...happy Friday!!

xoxo -- Hilary

The carriage thundered down the streets, careening round corners as it neared the House of Warrants. Edwin sat inside, wondering why his withered entrails were feeling like watery knots. Phantom pains, he deduced, his own thoughts making him feel things he wasn't supposed to feel, at least not any longer.

The carriage came to an abrupt stop. He pitched forward, scarcely catching himself, almost smashing his face into the opposing wall of the coach. He chuckled. That would just be his luck, wouldn't it, a shredded face of pulverized bone and absent teeth, perfect first impression for the prestigious Warrants. Don't be so anxious, he told himself. You've nothing to fear.

He peered out the window. The carriage had stopped before towering iron gates. Beyond the gates awaited the House of Warrants, a colossal stone stronghold of pillared perfection, which loomed high over the deadened poplars, glaring down at its defunct populace with a flinty air of superiority.

The gates opened of their own will, cracking apart like an iron ribcage. The carriage slowly rolled inside, now at a snail's pace, as if ushering Edwin to his execution. He leaned forward surveying the grounds, lifeless as the rest of his surroundings, but quite manicured all the same, a deathly charm about them. A weary looking fellow raked up dead leaves, dumping them into a basket, while his grim associate, who was all but missing his entire back side, swept the never ending dust from the cobbles.

Edwin noticed an entrance off to the side of the main gates. An endless line of the dead waited single-file, only allowed entry when checked off a register by a bulky woman. She was clad in prickly charcoal skirts, with an iron chain of keys kept round her waist. Two uniformed men accompanied her; both dressed in the same sooty gray. Why did he receive such particular treatment, an escort, a carriage? Surely it wasn't his noble status, what would that matter now?

The carriage stopped directly before the steep front steps of the House of Warrants. Without time for him to have descended from his perch above the stallions, the mustached man materialized at the carriage door, opening it. "Sir," he said.

Edwin climbed out. He watched the lengthy stream of deceased waiting in their snaky line at the far west entrance of the building, like servants having to skulk in through kitchen door, their lowliness too unpleasant to be seen by their esteemed employers. His curiosity got the better of him. "Why did you come for me in the carriage? Why am I not waiting in line over there, with the others?"

"Maybe you're special, sir." The man smirked for a split second, swiftly shifting back to his unbending sobriety. Edwin didn't care for his caustic tone, but didn't think it wise to take notice of it just the same. The man evaporated. The front doors of the manor opened from the inside. Again, the man appeared. "This way, sir."

So used to the utter dinginess of all things since his reckoning, Edwin stood with his mouth gaping as he scanned the interior of the majestic House of Warrants. With high vaulted ceilings, it hung with ornate chandeliers of crystal, each one twirling with blue smoke. Stark white busts, lined the walls on stone pillars, the Warrants, he assumed. Even the deadened flowers were exquisite, painstakingly preserved in their hand painted vases. Impeccably clean, nothing broken, no random bones or parts lying about, it was like stepping into a reoccurring dream, that familiar echo of a once beautiful life, as if at last being heralded through Heaven's proverbial gates.

Edwin didn't anticipate a useful answer, but couldn't help but ask. "How is everything kept so pristine? I've tried for an eternity to keep our manor house in some sort of order, but to no avail, almost as if the more I tidy up, the more mess manifests."

The man began to walk, Edwin followed, his buckled shoes clacking on the marble floor. "I know not the secrets of the Warrants," was all the man had to say on the matter. Edwin presumed the miniature man knew much more than he'd ever let on, but he seemed the type who'd never reveal the time of day, let alone well guarded secrets. He imagined the man must have been a spy before his reckoning or more likely a butler, to himself keeping all the peculiar secrets of the well-to-do.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Teaser! THE TRASHLINGS

So, I'm busy-busy working on a my WIP, EDWIN COPPERPOT and another (secret) project, but I really, really wanted to post a Tuesday Teaser, late though it may be!! This excerpt is from my new MS on sub, THE TRASHLINGS. Our three teenage heroes are looking for the man who encountered the same horrible creature they did. This is a scene from the mental hospital, bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!! All comments welcome! Thanks guys!

xoxo -- Hilary

A cardboard sign perched on an unmanned front desk, leaning precariously against a candy dish filled with petrified jellybeans. The hand-writing read, 'Ring for Service', with a red arrow pointing downward to a tarnished bell.

Bruno tapped on the bell. They waited for a few minutes. No one came out.

Ritchie leaned lazily against the desk, resting his elbows on it, already disinterested. "Aw, c'mon people," he grumbled. He beat on the bell. "Hey, I gotta life to lead. Can we get some service?"

"Ritchie!" barked Bruno. "What's the matter with you?"

Ritchie sluggishly looked up at the ceiling, unmoved by his brother's scolding. "Whatever," he moaned. "Why are we here, just for your stupid homework assignment?"

"No, to find out information," said Reese. "Trust us, it's important."

The door behind the desk opened with an indignant groan. A bony woman, bordering on ancient, scuttled out in a stiff white uniform, scrunching up her prickly features, visibly bothered. Her lips stretched in displeasure, making them nonexistent as she scrutinized her late night visitors. Her voice chortled with a gravelly timbre. "What do you want?"

Ritchie opened his mouth and raised his eyebrows, about to answer, probably with something sarcastic. Bruno swiftly kicked him in the ankle before he could talk; quite sure the old biddy didn't need further prodding by his blockheaded brother.

"Hey, what'd you do that for?" muttered Ritchie.

Bruno ignored him. "Yes, ma'am," he said in his most polite young man demeanor. "We're here to see Victor Zimmerman."

The woman eyed them circumspectly. "Aren't you children out rather late?"

Bruno misplaced his voice, suddenly becoming lost in the woman's cavernous wrinkles, highlighted by the ruthless lighting, everything about her thorny and hard.

Reese jumped in. "Uh, yes, ma'am, " he motioned to Ritchie. "Our older brother's boss made him stay after hours, but we raced here anyway, hoping to see our Uncle Victor before you locked up." Reese spotted her name tag, Nurse Honeysuckle. Nothing sweet about her, he thought. "Nurse Honeysuckle, we know it's late, but it's been so long since we've seen him."

"Is that right?" She popped her angled chin over the edge of the desk and gave Ritchie a firm inspection. "So, you’re the oldest?"

Ritchie's eyes locked with hers, memorized by her cataract, a vaporous white. He stammered, only managing to spit out an, "Uh..." This time, Reese kicked him in the ankle, knocking him out of his daze.

"Everybody quit kicking me," Ritchie grumbled under his breath. He stiffened his back and sucked in his stomach, trying to appear as tall as possible. "Uh--yeah, I mean, yes ma'am--I'm eighteen, the oldest. As you can see, I'm a full grown adult."

The nurse snorted. "Full grown, eh, I'd say you were downright stunted for an eighteen year old."

Bruno stifled a laugh.

Ritchie's mouth dropped open, duly offended by the disparaging comment. "Hey," he said, "I'm not stunted, I'm a late bloomer and by the way that's a pretty rude--"

Nurse Honeysuckle cut him off abruptly. "Give me your id."

Ritchie huffed as he rifled through the many pockets of his cargo shorts. "Oh, wait a minute." He bent at the knees and retrieved his driver's license from inside the toe of his sandal. "Eureka! Here it is." He proudly displayed the id.

"You keep your id in your sandal--a smelly shoe?" asked Bruno.

"It's the safest place," said Ritchie.

Bruno nodded his head, amazed at his brother's reoccurring lack of logic. "Ritchie, it's a sandal. It's full of holes. Don't you get that it could have fallen out?"

Ritchie grinned with satisfaction. "But you're wrong, genius. The sweat from my foot keeps it stuck in place. It's been there all day. It can't fall out."

"Uh, gross," said Reese.

Ritchie held out his license to Nurse Honeysuckle, who cringed at the germ ridden laminate. She fished a crumpled tissue from her pocket and reached for his id with skeletal fingers.

"Richard Black," she said, reading the license. "Very well, you can see him." The nurse grinned devilishly. "Mr. Zimmerman is one of our most interesting patients. I simply don't know what we would do around here without his constant repartee." Reese could tell from her tone she plainly did not like Victor Zimmerman.

Nurse Honeysuckle primly handed Ritchie back his license and pushed over a musty leather bound book, tapping a yellowed fingernail on a blank line. "Sign right there--by the coffee ring." Ritchie scribbled on the ledger.

Nurse Honeysuckle pushed forward over the desk and glowered at all three boys. "You have thirty minutes until visiting hours are over, not one second longer. You will do as you're told or you'll have me to contend with and I'm not one to be trifled with. Am I clear?" The boys nodded.

She curled a knobby finger, beckoning them round the desk. She turned and opened the door leading to the wards. "Follow me."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New EDWIN COPPERPOT excerpt for Teaser Tuesday!

Here is another excerpt from my WIP, EDWIN COPPERPOT. My YA novel about the deceased and their many trials and tribulations. I hope you enjoy the read and all comments welcome!
xoxo -- Hilary

Maura stared listlessly at her tea. Edwin had been gone far too long. From what she could see though the fog, the high moon had come and gone at least three times, and she was beginning to worry. Perhaps Edwin's assumptions were correct and he was being punished for his living misdeeds.

Beatrix Black or Bunny as she preferred, simply couldn't tolerate it further. She rolled her eyes and rapped her moldered fingers on the table. Apparently, before her reckoning, Miss Black's beauty knew no bounds, or so she claimed, but now she donned a face reminiscent of a shriveled turnip, and at the moment it was an especially irritated shriveled turnip. "Maura, really, your doldrums are becoming tiresome."

A flighty young lady, death by drowning, Bunny Black had no patience for the sorry sort. Rich and spoiled in life, she did not see the need to consider such things in death. To her deficit, had she taken it upon herself to consider such things, she might not have drowned that fateful night. She may have realized skinny dipping, in late October, while intoxicated was not a well formed idea, especially when one couldn't swim.

"I'm sorry," said Maura. "Things just don't feel right. What if he's in trouble?"

Bunny snickered wickedly, which came out as a piggish snort after pushing through her shrunken sinuses. "I wouldn't worry. I'm sure Mr. Copperpot knows trouble quite well."

Maura smiled dimly. "Bunny, you're horrible. You know Edwin's not like that."

With a crimped finger, Bunny fished a gnat from her tea. "Don't be so juvenile, dear. Every man's like that. Besides, Charlie Redgrave told me a thing or two about your dear friend, Edwin Copperpot."

Maura looked up from her tea. "What did Charlie tell you?"

Bunny leaned in, all too happy to reveal her confidential conversations. "Charlie told me he and Edwin traveled in the same circles in their living years, frequently in each other's company at social gatherings and formal occasions."

"Edwin never mentioned knowing Charlie before his reckoning. He would have told me."

"He would not have told you. He didn't know himself!" Bunny batted her eyes for no apparent reason. "Far too busy admiring himself and pursuing the ladies, most of which, according to Charlie, needed very little pursuing--shameful harlots--Edwin never took notice of Charlie, too wrapped up in his cavorting and scurrilous activities."

Maura acted unaffected by Bunny's juicy assertion. "I'll never understand it."

Displeased with the lack of reaction, Bunny frowned like a sickly baby. "Understand what?"

"Why the dead still care so much about the details of the living. Edwin Copperpot could have murdered someone during the course of his life and I'd still call him my friend. He's never once given me a reason not to."

Forcing her rigid lips into an exceedingly dismal frown, Bunny reached out a wilted hand and rested it on Maura's sleeve.

"What is it?" asked Maura.

"Oh, dearest, don't waste your time."

"Don't waste my time on what?"

"On him."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday -- New Edwin Excerpt

I said I was not going to put up any more of my WIP, EDWIN COPPERPOT, but alas, I'm eating my words! I'm about 75 pages in and at this rate the book will be finished in a month or so! I reserve the right to change the last statement at any time! Here is another segment. For those of you who know nothing about the story, Edwin and his cohorts are all departed, living in a sort of purgatory. This is a YA Fantasy & black comedy, with mystery and a little touch of romance. I hope you enjoy the read and please feel free to comment, excusing any first draft typos!!!

xoxo -- Hilary

Percy Poole and Edwin rounded the corner, exiting the theatre. They were on their way to the café, meeting Maura, Charlie Redgrave and Bunny Black, then off to explore Maura's mysterious graveyard. The topic had become of some interest in their little circle of the dead and it seemed the perfect night for investigating. Truth be told, they had nothing much better to do.

Edwin stuffed the playbill in a breast pocket. "I must say, I've always been one for supporting the theatre, keep Shakespeare alive and all that wonderful stuff, but never, and I truly mean never, did I think I'd see the fair Juliet dragging her legless carcass across the stage to meet the severed head of her star crossed Romeo. It made the romantic scenes rather awkward, don't you think?"

"It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, quite literally!" said Percy. They laughed riotously, making their way across the bustling avenue, always busiest at high moon. "So Edwin, what do you make of our little yard of interment on our already interred island?"

"I truly have formed no opinion. We're all dead and buried already. Why would anyone want to go through all that nonsense again? Maura had a good thought on the matter. She deduced that possibly the graveyard belongs to those never buried. Those poor souls whose bodies were never found or perhaps buried in unconsecrated ground, dumped unceremoniously in a hole, something like that. Maybe their dead relatives made a burial ground, a cemetery, to honor those not honored properly at death."

They approached the café, when from out of nowhere a diminutive man materialized directly in front of them, his forehead appearing just inches from Edwin's nose. Normally Edwin would have walked right through the stranger, but the man's severe façade unnerved him, nearly sending him backward.

Edwin grabbed his hat so as not to lose it, while he reclaimed his footing. The squat, bald man stood before him, his eyes vacant. His spoke coolly. "Lord Edwin Copperpot, I presume."

"Your presumption is correct, sir." Edwin took two steps back, not comfortable with the man's close proximity. He studied the man, his stony face, unfamiliar, but recognizable all the same. "Who, may I enquire, is asking?"

The man wasted no time with pleasantries. "You have been formally summoned to the House of Warrants. As a servant to the High Warrant, I have been sent to collect you--now."

Percy slapped Edwin on the back. "Our Mr. Copperpot--called by the Warrants, what an exciting turn of events, to be sure! Well done, Edwin!"

Edwin ignored his chum's good wishes, quite taken aback and uncertain, to some extent dubious of the man's intentions. "You’re a different chap than before, shorter and your mustache it's quite different. You do look similar to him, but you're not him nonetheless. I thought he would be fetching me."

The man's deadpan expression did not change, however his eyes flashed an unfamiliar shade of purple, and then quickly shifted back to their lifeless gray heather, as if saying something without saying it. "Who says I'm not the same chap?" He motioned to the street. "Now, get in."

Percy gasped. "Good God, now that's a carriage!" Before them stood an enormous black carriage led by four imposing stallions. Slithery braids of smoke wafted from their dingy sable coats, as they whinnied and snuffled in the night air.

"Sir," said the man to Edwin, nodding at the open carriage door.

Edwin did not want to go. An ill feeling swept over his entire being. He'd never felt this way since well before his reckoning. He felt unsure of everything. "I need to bring along a friend of mine, Miss Maura Lancaster. She will be accompanying me to the House of Warrants. She's only just round the corner, in the café."

The man spoke brusquely. "No one goes to the House of Warrants, who has not been summoned. Called alone, you must go alone."

Percy put his hand on Edwin's shoulder, steadying him. "Edwin, don't be so nervous! You'll be fine. I'll go round and tell the others of your good fortune. Maura can wait. You can tell her everything upon your return. You know how she loathes waiting for news. This will be sheer torture for her, all the more fun for you!" He walked Edwin towards the carriage, who was simply too staggered to speak further. "For goodness sake, don't look so serious. We'd all die for a chance to be in your shoes! Now off you go."

Edwin climbed into the coach, feeling as though he couldn't say no. Percy shut the door behind him. The undersized man had already disappeared from the street, reappearing atop the carriage, with the reins in his hands. "Ya!" he commanded, snapping the reins. The horses sped quickly down the avenue.

Edwin poked his head out the window. Holding his hat in the wind, Percy Poole waived to him, his figure growing smaller and smaller with each revolution of the carriage wheels. Percy swiftly dashed round the corner to the café, on his way to enlighten everyone of Edwin's remarkable news.

The pit of Edwin's stomach curdled.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy (rainy) Independence Day & an excerpt from Nightshade's sequel!

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.
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.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Full Circle (almost)

I started NIGHTSHADE CITY, exactly two years ago today. I just read the first page I wrote, on this day, two years ago, and the radical difference from then to now took me aback. It was supposed to be a children's short story, something for the wee ones, but that was not to be its fate. Soon after I started, the writing immediately shifted to a full on novel.

At the time, I was a few months pregnant with my daughter, Nomi, who is well over a year old now. I finished the novel one month after she was born. It's nice to think that she was literally with me through the whole process. My son, Vincent, was only four, now he's six and thinks he's quite the grownup! I wrote NIGHTSHADE CITY for them and it blossomed into something to share with everyone. They are both characters in this novel and possibly the sequel, but I'm keeping that part quiet for now!

My husband, who reads military and espionage novels, never fantasy (except for all of mine), genuinely liked the first draft, even though its changed dramatically (for the better) since then. He used to tease me and say it was the pregnancy hormones, so I better write fast; because there's no other way he'd enjoy a kid's animal fantasy so much, definitely not his cup of tea! He has been a wonderful inspiration. He is honest and creative and gives me fantastic insight. On top of that, the poor man has to read all my edits and re-writes, plus he saw me through the whole agent process, which every writer knows is an agonizing one. Over the years, I've invested massive amounts of time into my writing and my husband has invested massive amounts of help and support, so thank you, Eric! You are the best! Your wife loves you!

So, here I am almost full circle. I have my agent, who is great in every way. Two of my manuscripts are on sub and in the hands of editors and I'm absolutely thrilled to see what happens next!

xoxo -- Hilary