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Posts tagged ‘Excerpt Monday’

Excerpt Monday for February

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I’ve been so bad…I kept forgetting about this and then I’d remember when it was too late.

Excerpt Monday was started by Bria Quinlan and Alexia Reed. The EM blog has been updated over the months, complete with full holiday reads, contests and more. Don’t forget–you don’t have to be published to participate! The more, the merrier! For more info, click on the banner above.

Anyway, this is the opening to The Scarlet Daughter my older WiP (which was once called Promise of the Plum Blossom). It’s still very rough, even though this is the third draft of it. 😛

***

Tsukiji (Foreigner’s District), Tokyo, March 1890

When I am weak, then I am strong.

Naomi recited Mama’s favorite verse over and over in her mind, as if their repetition would bring her back from the dead. But it did nothing to ease the pain. Whatever soul that resided within her was entombed in the freshly dug grave in the foreigner’s section of Aoyama Cemetery.

Her eyes were raw and heavy from the hours she’d spent crying. She’d cried so much that she’d not shed a single tear at the funeral that morning. No amount of them would bring Mama back.

Naomi stared through the frosted panes of her bedroom window at the muted blue of the late winter skies. Even the heavens were dry, the sunshine  bathing the snow-covered ground. Spring was coming–the season of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms–Mama’s favorite time of the year. Never again would she be here to see the delicate blossoms bloom in Ueno Park or to smell the fragrant aroma that filled the air.

A soft knock on her bedroom door interrupted her thoughts.

“Naomi?”

She barely turned her head at the sound of her dear friend Anna Finley’s voice. Any sort of movement seemed to sap whatever strength she had.

Anna’s footsteps echoed across the wood-planked floor, growing louder as she came closer. Naomi felt her hand squeeze her shoulder. “Is everything all right? You’ve barely said two words to any of the mourners downstairs.”

“I’ve no words to say to those people,” Naomi said, a sudden wave of bitterness enveloping her body. “They were never kind to Mama or I when she was alive; why should I welcome their counterfeit sympathy now?”

“They are here out of respect,” Anna said, her voice ever calm.

“How very kind of them to show my mother respect after she’s dead.”

Anna sighed. “I know it’s never been easy for you, but it’s courteous to—“

“I don’t give one whit about courtesy!” Naomi shouted, pushing Anna’s hand off her shoulder and retreating to the other end of the room. “Each and every one of those people down there—with the exception of you and your parents—has personally gone out of their way to make our daily lives hell. Or don’t you remember?”

“I remember,” Anna said, although her voice was nearly drowned out by the general hum of people downstairs.

“How many times have I had to endure them, calling me ‘half caste’ and ‘bastard’, calling my mother a whore—“ At this, delicate Anna cringed—“looking at me in church as if I was the devil’s child?”

Anna said nothing, but only looked at her with those wide blue eyes of hers.

Naomi continued, her heart drumming frantically in her chest with the tirade of hers. “If I go down there now, I promise you I will say something less than kind to each and every one of those hypocrites.”

Anna remained silent but came towards Naomi, never breaking eye contact. “I understand. I will let them know you’re too unwell to see anyone right now but that you convey your thanks.” She hugged her—although Naomi refused to return the embrace—and quietly left the room.

Naomi rolled her eyes. How like Anna. Always calm and level headed and often played the role of older sister—even though she was only mere months older than herself.

As much as her calm demeanor irritated her, Naomi was grateful for her presence. She was as close to her as if she were her sister by blood. And now she was the only person in this world she had left. Of course there were Anna’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Finley, who had graciously given her and Mama a place to stay these past twelve years. They were kind to her, but kept their distance.  Years of gossip had worn them both down and Naomi knew they would be relieved whenever she and Mama left.

Well, one of them was gone now. Permanently. And she knew she couldn’t be a burden to them any longer.

She was nearly one-and-twenty now. She needed to embark on her own adventure, her own life,  and leave this city with its hushed whispers and judgmental stares.

She looked out over the wintry landscape of Tsukiji, a new resolve taking root in her heart. “I’ll be leaving you soon,” she whispered. “And nothing will ever bring me back here.”

***

Head on over to the EM blog to read more from other participants!

Excerpt Monday Coming Up!

I finally remembered early this time!

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know about it, Excerpt Monday is a place where many authors–unpublished and published–submit anything once a month. It can be poems, short stories, sample chapters, query letters–anything really! I’ve forgotten about it over the last few months just because I’m addle-brained 😛

If you’re interested in participationg check the Guidelines on Excerpt Monday’s blog. I hope you’ll consider joining up–it’s a lot of fun 🙂

Excerpt Monday: October

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Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above.

This month, I’ve posted an excerpt from my last WiP, entitled Promise of the Plum Blossom. This is in the middle of the book (the beginning needs A LOT of work). It takes place in 1890 in Tokyo and the small town of Kakunodate, Japan (where this chapter segment is set).My MC, 21-year-old Naomi Rochester, is of Japanese and American heritage, in a time and place that being mixed wasn’t accepted. Her father, an unknown (to her) powerful Japanese businessman, had her sent to live with a friend of the family shortly after her mother’s death for her protection. Naomi has no clue that members of the underworld are looking for her in order to use her as a blackmail against her father.

 This chapter occurs a few days after she’s arrived in her new home. She hasn’t been allowed to leave just yet, as Yasuhide, the head of the family, wants to make sure she blends in as well as possible and not cause too much attention to herself (and with her mixed looks and Western apparel, she most certainly would!). She has no “proper” clothing so she must remain within the family grounds. Anyway, this is one of the few scenes where she and Ryuji, an apprentice to the family (and her main “guardian”) are arguing.

*****

Kakunodate, Japan, 1890 

“Oh, curse it!” Naomi tossed the embroidery she was working on across the room. She’d knotted her threads yet again.Well, she had no patience for such a calm activity when a storm of emotions raged within her.

She’d been left alone in the house all afternoon, the hours passing at an agonizing pace. Noriko, Fumie and Saori went on their excursion to town shortly after the incident between her and Ryuji occurred and it took every ounce of self control within her to not beg Yasuhide to go with them.  It seemed as if Ryuji’s anger was a palpable and oppressive presence following her wherever she went.

Yasuhide said to give him time before she confronted him with an apology, but as each minute passed, she wondered if she even had it in her to approach him at all. Her emotions cycled between affirmation, remorse and shame, a rotation that repeated itself every few moments.

Naomi got up from her position on the floor and went to pick up her disheveled embroidery on the other side of the room. She needed an escape, something to take her mind off her current circumstances. If she couldn’t leave the grounds physically, perhaps she could escape through fiction.

Naomi headed back to her room, her embroidery and sewing box in hand. She put them on the floor in the corner and headed to her yet unpacked carpet bag for one of her books.

She quickly spotted her well worn copy of book that she’d read dozens of times. The Scarlet Letter. It wasn’t the most lighthearted of reading material but it was a strange source of comfort for her. Hester’s life as an outcast among society mirrored her mother’s—and by extension, her own—so closely that she felt as if she were reading her own story.

Except of course, Hester hadn’t been taken by strangers to live a completely different life under a false name.

Naomi pushed the unwanted thoughts from her head and grabbed her shawl and headed towards the front where her shoes were located. She may not be able to leave the grounds but she could at least leave the confines of the house. Perhaps that would help her frame of mind.

She put her shoes on and walked outside. The afternoon sun had warmed the early spring air, giving it a pleasant, refreshing feeling. Naomi walked around the house and quickly came upon an area that was certainly manicured as a garden. The area was shaded by a few small trees. Large stones were placed strategically to emphasize the simplicity and asymmetry of the space.   Azalea shrubs winded their way together, tiny blossoms appearing at the end of their winter-worn branches. They would soon be an entire mass of color that would brighten the landscape. She wondered who spent their time out here in the garden, for it was well cared for.

Naomi made her way to the other side of the house where the drooping branches of two cherry trees created a canopy. In a few short weeks, the branches would be laden with the heady scent of cherry blossoms.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, picturing the trees in full bloom,  with their bright pink blossoms. She could almost smell the delicate flowers now…

“What are you doing?”

Naomi let out a startled gasp and jumped, tossing her book in her startled reaction.

Nearly simultaneously she heard a muffled grunt.

“You seem to have talent for causing me physical pain today,” Ryuji said, picking up the book that she had practically thrown at him.

“I..I’m sorry,” she said as tried to calm her breathing and her accelerated heart rate. “But, in all fairness, you did come up behind me.”

“It wouldn’t have been hard to startle you from whichever direction I came from,” he said. “Your eyes were closed.” He looked at her and arched an eyebrow. “What were you doing exactly?”

Naomi sighed. “Imagining the cherry blossoms.”

“Why?”

“Because I can,” Naomi said, her patience waning. So much for a peaceful afternoon. “Now, can you please hand me back my book?”

He extended it out to her and as she reached for it, he pulled it back quickly. “I’ll give this back to you on one condition.”

Naomi fought the urge to stamp her foot down in irritation. “What condition?”

“Promise me that you’ll stop inflicting pain upon me.” A hint of a smile crossed his face.

Her mouth fell open for a moment at the blunt nature and tone of voice. She closed her mouth as she realized she probably looked incredibly silly and considered an answer.

 “I promise,” she said. “Only if you consider something on my part.”

“And what would that be?” He still held the book close to him.

“Stop trying to agitate me.”

His semblance of a smile disappeared. “That’s impossible,” he said. “Everything gets your temper flared up.”

“That is certainly not true,” Naomi said. “It’s only everything you say. Not once in this past month has Yasuhide-san ever gotten me to react in the ways that you do.”

“Yasuhide-san is a man known for his patience. I am sure most other men would have as little tolerance for you and your demanding behavior as I do.”

“Ah yes, here is the Ryuji I’ve come to know,” Naomi said. “I wondered for a moment where he went beneath that lighthearted façade.”

“Here,” Ryuji tossed the book on the ground at her feet. “I have no patience for this anymore.”

“And I have no patience for you,” Naomi said. The anger was threatening to take over again but she was determined not to let him get the best of her this time.

“I can’t say I didn’t try to be civil to you. But you are impossible.”

“That was civility? You certainly didn’t put forth much of an effort.”

“And you put forth none.” He turned away from her and headed towards the front of the house.

The simple weight of the comment had pierced right through her heart.

He was right.

Naomi bent over and picked up her book, now muddy at the corners from being thrown into the ground.

He had every right to be angry with her this time. He extended a peace offering to her, however subtle and hidden it was, and she rejected it without so much as a thought.

Maybe it hadn’t been only him the entire month. Maybe she was just as at fault as he was.  But she didn’t want to admit it.

****
Don’t forget to check out the Excerpt Monday blog if you’re interested in participating!

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Excerpt Monday: September

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Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above.

Anyway, here’s my excerpt for the month. Another flash fiction story from FaithWriters Weekly Writing Challenge, entitled “Waiting Among the Dead.”

***

November, 1349
Southwest England

The once busy streets of the small village were eerily silent. The rain drowned out any sounds of what few people remained.

Lady Elinora de Montagu walked through the muddy streets, her wooden pattens sloshing through the thick mire. Mud coated the hem of her cloak and dark blue overdress. At one point in her life, such a sight would have bothered her greatly. But now, in a world beset by the pestilence, it mattered little.

Status mattered not with the plague; peasants and royalty alike succumbed to it. Her family had been no exception.

Death’s aroma followed her as she continued walking. Rotting flesh permeated every corner of the decimated town, but the smell became stronger as Elinora came upon the harvest land. Not long ago, it had been fields full of wheat; now, the land teemed with the dead.

Elinora averted her eyes from the fields. Tangled arms and legs limbs were exposed through the thin layer of soil that covered the mass graves.  People died quicker than gravediggers could keep up with and because of that, the dead were often hastily buried by the cart load. She became lightheaded at the thought of her beloved husband and children being thrown haphazardly amidst hundreds of other bodies. Through hazy vision, Elinora focused on the stone church on the hill.

Please, let it be my place of refuge.

Utter exhaustion besieged her upon reaching the wooden doors of the church. She entered her haven, immediately confronted by the darkness within. No one was here to keep the candles lit—the priest had been one of the first to die from the pestilence. Despair and loneliness enveloped her as the shadows did.

Elinora hesitantly approached the altar, staring up at the crucifix behind it. She knelt on the cold stone floor, clasping her hands in prayer. The silence was oppressive; beads of sweat developed on her forehead and neck as questions assailed her mind.

What am I to do now that I am alone? How do I survive? Only God had the answers. All she could do was beseech Him in prayer.

“Pater noster, qui es in caelis…sanctificetur Nomen Tuum…” her voice shook with emotion as she uttered the Lord’s Prayer—waiting, searching, hoping for answers.

Instead, fragmented thoughts of the past weeks rushed through her mind.

Mama, please make the pain go away…it hurts so much…

Screams of a child in agony. Black splotches of putrid flesh covering her little girl’s body. Desperate prayers to ease her pain. Darling Isabell, her firstborn—and first to die.

“Noooo…” she moaned as she covered her ears, trying to drown out the sounds in her mind. She struggled to say the rest of her prayer. “Adveniat Regnum Tuum; fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra…”

But more images flooded her brain, overwhelming her soul.

I’ll be all right Mama…

Beloved Olyver, her only son. Trying to be strong through coughing a fountain of blood. A pale little body covered in black boils going limp in her arms. Another one taken by the pestilence.

Elinora bent forward, pain coursing through her body with each passing memory. “Why must I suffer so?” she cried out. “Why?”

We will fight this cursed disease, my Elinora!

Her husband Reginald. So strong and determined. But the dreaded blood-filled boils covered his body as well.

Bedside vigils, fasting and prayer, failed efforts to relieve his pain. Each day his suffering growing worse, with no relief.

Let me die…let me die…

He’d lived longer than most struck with the pestilence. But God had answered his prayer, ending his misery after a hellish seven days.

Elinora cried out in anguish, lifting her hands towards the heavens. “Why will you not hear my voice, O Lord? Why will you not end this torture?” Weeks of anger raged forth. “Have you abandoned me? Is it only this statue who hears my cries? Answer me!” Her sobs echoed throughout the church. “Please…answer me…” She collapsed to the floor, holding her face in her hands.

She didn’t know how long she lay there on the floor. Minutes, hours, days–it all seemed the same to her. She was still alone.

Elinora…Elinora…

She lifted her head at the sound of her name. But no one was there.

Again, images of her family flashed in her mind. But instead of the suffering she had seen before, it was a picture of pure joy. Isabell and Olyver danced, their laughter a welcoming sound. Reginald laughed as well, his deep green eyes clear of pain. They were happier than she had ever seen them before.

The voice came to her again, calming her tortured soul.

Be faithful, my daughter.

In that brief moment, she felt herself standing in the presence of God. For a moment, the interior of the church seemed brighter, the air around her lighter. Overwhelmed by the indescribable happiness around her, she cried tears of joy.

God hath heard my cries…

As suddenly as mysterious vision and presence came, it vanished. The chapel became dark again, the smell of the dead assulting her nose.

Elinora’s chest constricted. She coughed violently, doubled over in pain. A splotch of blood appearing on the stone floor before her. The pain in her joints returned and a wave of nausea came over her, stronger than before.

Signs of the pestilence.

Her heart raced with the realization of the pain that would soon take over her body. Would her death come quickly or would it be a slow end?

She remembered the brief moments earlier when she’d felt peace and reassurance. The pestilance was His answer to all her questions.

Though she was afraid, the promise of what awaited her was balm to her soul. Through His mercy, she would soon be free from suffering forever.

****

Don’t forget to check out the Excerpt Monday blog if you’re interested in participating!


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Excerpt Monday for August

It’s time for another Excerpt Monday!

This month’s excerpt is actually a short story I wrote for the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge a few years ago. The entries are judged and the top 10 are posted in a quarterly anthology. This was my first entry and somehow, it actually placed and was published in the anthology Inspiration at Your Fingerstips. Oh and part of the challenge is to be able to write a complete story in 750 words or less. This one managed to hit 678 words. Anyway, short stories aren’t my strong point but here it is anyway. It’s called “The Voice.”

***

The Voice

Help me. Someone…anyone…please.

Mary’s body twisted and writhed in reply to her thoughts, the seven otherworldly voices overwhelming any semblance of function.

No one will help you.
You are ours forever.
Give up. You are worthless.

She screamed, tearing at her hair, scratching at her arms, trying anything to escape the torment of her soul. Clumps of hair landed on the ground at her feet and her arms were red, bleeding, and bruised. They were right. She had no hope to clear her mind, her body, her soul from this constant presence of evil, no matter how hard she fought it.

How did this happen to me? Why has this happened? Adonai, where are you in all of this?

At the mention of Adonai, the demons were quick to respond.

Forget God. You are nothing to him.
You will never escape our reach.

“Nooooooooo!” This time, she tried to run, but the demons took control of her legs and slammed her body into the ground, hard enough for her to taste the saltiness of blood in her mouth. Evil laughter followed as the demons reveled in the pain they caused her.

You can never escape us.

She lay motionless where she had fallen, her strength completely gone. Death would be better than a life wrought by torment and suffering.

Adonai, help me. Take away my suffering. Let me die here.

Scattered memories of her life flashed through her mind. They were of warmth, love, and laughter, everything life was meant to be. The visions from her past renewed her will to live, giving her the tiniest fragment of hope.

As if sensing her will to fight, the voices returned with more power than before, screaming and yelling horrifically within in her mind. They moved her limbs, making her scratch her face harder and tear at her clothes. Terrible sounds came from her mouth that could only have come from the depths of hell itself.

But Mary refused to let go. She had received an answer from Adonai in her memories and she must trust that He would send someone—

Before she could think any further, a sudden bright light appeared in her vision. The light emanated warmth that Mary had never felt before. The yearning in her soul was so overwhelming that it gave her strength to overwhelm the voices in her head, the first time that she could remember since they had invaded her body. She ran towards the presence, desperate for the help it promised.

A voice came from the light. “Mary of Magdala, do not be afraid.”

She was held by someone and surrounded by many, and she felt her body quiver violently. The demons inside were afraid.

“We know who you are!” The seven demons screeched. “You are the Son of the Most High!”

“Be silent and come out of her!” came the voice of her rescuer.

Mary’s body convulsed fiercely as they struggled against this mighty power. Their shrieks pierced the air as they were cast from her body. She suddenly went limp as the last one left her, leaving her in darkness. Yet the darkness was overcome as Mary awakened to a voice.

“Mary, my daughter, you are healed.”

She turned her head toward the voice and opened her eyes. No longer did she see the heavenly light but instead gazed into the eyes of an ordinary man. But his eyes were different; his eyes saw the depths of her heart. One look and she felt as if he’d known her before the beginning of time.

She could not find the words to express her joy. Tears flowed down her face uncontrollably.
She looked at the man again, captured by the depth of love in his eyes. His voice had freed her soul from bondage. His eyes had given her hope once again. Within her soul, she knew that God had come to her and cared for her. And He was standing there in front of her, opening a path to a life renewed and restored.

***

Check out some of the other Excerpt Monday participants (remember to heed the ratings :)):

AJ Donovan, Poetry (PG13)

Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG13)

Kaige, Historical Romance (PG13)

Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)

Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)

For the full list, check out the Excerpt Monday blog.

Excerpt Monday Coming Up!

I really need to be better at checking the dates on the calendar 😛 It’s already time for another Excerpt Monday!

If you would like to participate, you’ll need to let the ladies over at the EM site know today by 8 PM.  Check out the Excerpt Monday Guidelines for more important info.

You can post anything: a short story, a piece from a chapter, a query letter–pretty much anything. I’ll be posting a short story I wrote a few years ago for the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. I just have to figure out which one 😛

Excerpt Monday for July

I can’t believe how fast time goes! It’s already time for another Excerpt Monday!

For all Excerpt Monday links, go HERE. **Do be aware of the ratings next to each of them as some are rated R or higher.**

Here is another blurb from Lady of the Snow, immediately following the last one. It’s shorter and rougher, but it’s the general direction I’d like to go in with the beginning:

Excerpt:

Those eyes of his…why am I so moved by them?

I am unable to control the words that come out next—words that come from some hidden part of me that I’d long forgotten.

“I intended to treat you like the other man,” I said, my voice as slight as the winter winds. “But I cannot help feeling some pity for you…”

A shadow of hope crossed his features. He opens his mouth to speak, but his words are frozen in his throat, my spell still taking hold of him.

“You’ve been spared this night. However, no one lives to tell of an encounter with me. If you ever utter a word of this night to anyone, even your own mother, I’ll make sure you regret it.”

My words must resonate with him. He bows low, his forehead to the ground in a gesture of gratitude for me sparing his life.  Though he does not speak I can hear the words: Thank you, merciful lady.

I do not respond. The slight tingling in my chest spreads, distracting me.  I let the blizzard winds carry me out of the hut without another word to the young man suddenly desperate to make as much distance between us as much as possible. It troubles me that I’ve been thought as merciful. I am never merciful.

The events of the past few moments bother me. Something was wrong.  In all the years I’ve roamed these mountains, not one person who encounters me escapes. And those eyes of his…I still cannot get them out of my mind. “It’s as if he saw me as human,” I say out loud.

As soon as my words come out, the strange tingling intensifies to something I could only assume would be akin to what fire would feel like if it consumed my body. I scream in shock. I don’t know what this is; I’ve never felt pain before. I clutch my chest as the burning spreads.  Whatever this sensation is, it’s making my body heavy too. The winds can no longer carry me and I’m suddenly on the ground.

What’s happening to me?

***

Please check out some of the other participants in Excerpt Monday, too!

And don’t forget to head to Excerpt Monday’s site to read the whole list as well.

Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG) (Also my little sister! :))

Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG-13)

Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)

Kaige, Historical Romance (PG-13)

Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG-13)

Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG-13)

Kinsey W. Holley, Paranormal (PG)

 

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