It has been nonstop rain here for what feels like, and may well be, an entire month. So much so, that everyone left early Friday from work because it was nice out for like three straight hours and nobody could stand it. It is currently keeping me from some essential landscaping I need to do at my house, and so I am writing oodles. Sacrifice is about a page or two from having twelve of its twenty chapters written–I think I can say that I intend to have it out late fall, possibly even in time for Halloween, which would be cool. I took a small break from writing for awhile to edit the first half, and it’s shaping up pretty well, if I say so myself. You be the judge though. If, however, you have NOT read Feeding Frenzy, you can find the excerpts for that here. Here’s an excerpt from Sacrifice:
We arrange ourselves as comfortably as we can on the lumpy cushions on the floor with probably a hundred ghosts all judging us and/or wafting through us, and Celeste lights one candle to illuminate her séance room. Why have all the others, then? I think she’s trying to impress us. Lady, you gotta get up earlier than that to earn my awestruck respect. Celeste puts out her hands for us to take, and Lia and I hesitantly form the circle, bowing our heads as if we expect our host to say Grace.
“Spirits, gather,” the conjure woman commands. The light from the candle dims, and ice films the window nearest us. A whistling note permeates the space—this is the sound of dozens of spirits all crying out to be heard across the veil. I shiver involuntarily. Okay, maybe she got up earlier than I thought, because this show does strike me. This woman is damn good at her job. Most of the séances I’ve seen require incantations and supplications and bribes. Celeste just had to call the room to order.
“Spirits, be still.” The whistling dies down. She’s like the dolphin trainer of ghosts. “I am requesting a guide for these two mortals to the bayou.” She waits again and the whispering grows so strongly that it creates a slight wind that picks at my red-streaked hair. “No, not the entire bayou. The spot where the monster took the kids.” The whispering slows down, as if all of the ghosts are thinking very carefully about this decision. “And it’d be best if whoever takes this mantle can also manifest, and manage to speak some. You will be leading the sheep, my lambs, and they could use a little…help.” She squeezes my hand in her surprisingly strong grip.
Why is she being so passive aggressive? What could I possibly have done to her in the twenty-four hours I’ve known of her existence? I remember Lia’s admonition. I really do have to stop treating everything like a threat. If I don’t, I’ll end up hurting someone innocent by accident. I take a deep breath and brainstorm other possibilities. Maybe she’s just lacking in social graces, because, hey, death isn’t the end for her. If I die right here, we could still talk it out tomorrow.
The room goes very still. Not many spirits are strong enough to push the veil far enough to be seen and heard by people without the gift. I’m not sure what’s on their side of things, but it’s very much against letting whatever it is come back to our side of things. And yes, of course I’ve asked what’s on the other side. The answers so far have been inconclusive. Ghosts, mediums, and their ilk either don’t agree, or are largely big lying liars what lie.
“Don’t be shy, now. Lisette? That’ll do nicely. What’s that? Okay, I’ll ask.” The conjure woman looks at us. “She wants to be reassured that she won’t get banished for her troubles.” Ophelia and I exchange looks. Granting immunity, even to informants, runs counter to our instincts.
“Think we can wrangle that,” I relent.
“All righty then. Thank you Lisette, for stepping up. Thank you, spirits for your attention, guidance and communion. I now release you.” She waves her hands nonchalantly, like she’s shoo-ing flies. The room warms back up, the candle returns to its normal height, and I choose to believe no one’s staring at me anymore.
“So, now what?” Lia asks, looking around for our spirit guide.
“Lisette will wait for you outside. She’s preparing herself to appear to you, and she says that’ll be easier for her out of doors.” The conjure woman shrugs. “I think it’s sort of like cookin’ in your own kitchen. Everything’s easier when you’re not a guest at the same time you’re tryin’ to host.”
Not knowing much about hosting or kitchens ourselves, we take her word for it and head back downstairs for our things before heading back out into the fading daylight.
“Man, you really rattle ol’ Celeste’s cage, don’t you,” Lia mutters once we’re out of earshot.
“Why! What’d I do? Did I use a bad word by accident?”
“Not that I noticed. It’s probably just your face.”
“You mean, like, she’s jealous of my overwhelming good looks?”
“H…here…” a breathy voice hisses from behind us. Lia and I spin, weapons half drawn, defensive positions assumed before we realize it’s our ghostly guide materializing before us. She is dressed in fashion from the 1700’s I’d guess, her big, layered skirt at odds with the cars just beyond her in the driveway.
“Oh, Jesus. You scared us, Lisette. Sorry about that. You say you can show us where Celeste saw the monster?”
A brief nod.
“Care to tell us about the thing we’ll find there?” Lia asks.
Lisette’s apparition flickers to the side a step, like she’s jumped in fright. Her face shows fear, anger, and sorrow in quick succession, as if we’re staring at her through a strobe light.
Finally, she drifts close to us, her emotions once more hidden behind the mask of ethereal projection.
“Only death,” she whispers.
Also, I maybe sort of started another book. This one is not in The Summoner Sisters at all and is in fact a regular old fantasy story. Don’t worry–I’ve been working on a version of this book since I was twelve and it hasn’t ever been finished so I’m sure I’ll be able to keep it from interfering with the six-and-a-half other books I’ve promised to write in this series. But, I like the beginning of this new book very much, and so I thought I’d share it:
Isqan One-Eye was about to resume being the only person alive who knew he had two eyes. A one-eyed thief was memorable, perhaps, but less so than the truth: that his eyes were horrifically mismatched and that he really didn’t need them to be good at his work anyway, because his success was largely due to his ability to read minds and to sway them; another fact whose secrecy he was about to ensure.
“Hellspawn,” thought the panicking jeweler in his grip. Isqan couldn’t help but see himself as he truly was when he projected himself into other people’s minds. He never saw himself as either black-eyed Isqan, the grim killer, or blue-eyed Donny, the hapless stevedore, both of whom tragically lost a different eye in two very different accidents, so the stories went. He was always himself, which is to say he was Donisqan with two working eyes, and a talent that marked him for death, whether his work was honest or not.
So there you go! Two excerpts for the price of zero! What a bargain!