Edits

Editing is time consuming. Apparently I like the words “directly” and “suddenly.” Good news for me, punctuation is tight and my manuscript is more active than passive. Some changes, ok ok, many changes in the first four chapters. But it’s a task well worth the time. It’s what I’ve been up to lately. I needed a break so here I am to share an excerpt from one of my chapters. Since I’m in the process of editing it’s subject to change but here goes:

Liz got to her feet and steadied herself against the wall. Her dark blonde hair mangled, clothes twisted. Bill, Margaret, and George looked about the same, like they went through a twister.
“I can’t believe this,” Liz said as she looked around the room.
A second before a fierce fight between the serial killer and her ancestor abruptly ended, both apparitions disappeared, to where she had no idea.
George helped Margaret get to her feet, she more anxious than he to get to Liz. She dashed across the room excited.
“Liz, are you all right?”
She and Liz both looked around at what they expected to be a mess. Everything in the room, a war zone seconds before, was intact.
“We don’t need a séance now.” Margaret said with a wide grin.
“The clock, Margaret, did you hear the clock?” Liz asked.
“Hear it! My ears will ring for weeks!”
“Hey, everything… looks normal,” George said, scratching his head.
Bill laughed and said, “Everything except you three.”

Overall the story is dark. Some scenes aren’t meant for all readers. This is an example of me attempting to lighten things up to give the reader a break. The fight ended. The characters are excited but see how things are getting back to normal, from, “I can’t believe this,” to wide grins and laughs.
Yes I did notice the words like, twisted and twister. May change when I edit chapter six.
My manuscript needs work. I’ve decided not to rush the process. I’m concentrating on active vs passive, conciseness, word usage and well rounded characters. My goal, try not to drive the editor crazy. Not me. The real editor. I’m a self published author who has learned the hard way, editing matters.

The Genealogist’s Guests A Peek at Chapter 1

 

Liz Taber’s wish for guests is about to come true, and she gets more than she hopes for when her dead ancestors use her art as a portal from the underworld. She discovers a family secret that began in 1885 after a brutal rape and the murder of a child.

An evil entity plagues the Taber family dating back to the fatal event which to this day returns from the depths of hell to seek revenge.

Liz’s journey begins with her obsession of ancestry research. When her dead ancestors visit from the other side they bring trouble with them, Wilbur Savage. Liz must choose, does she keep the secret that’s plagued her family across generations or expose the ugly truth to save the Taber children.

 

Chapter 1

Liz Taber, the only occupant of the colonial revival standing on a five acre wooded lot, sat at her desk in the quiet space. Through the door behind her a larger room loomed. She shifted her eyes and peeked over her own shoulder. “Why didn’t you turn the lights on?” she asked herself. “You always set yourself up for the creeps.”

Stacks of papers and books were scattered all around her. A lone lamp on the floor to her right. The sixty-watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted on the canvas from floor to ceiling. She heard a thump, just outside the window, and then a slow drag. “It’s just the wind,” she told herself. She had been there for hours amid the hum of her computer searching for clues.

Another crash against the house, sounded like the deck furniture. She shot a glance at the window and grabbed the desk but kept her shaky grip on the familiar oval-shaped mouse. Then slid her index finger across its round surface, wet from her clammy palms, and clicked on the database.

 A list of passengers on the ship California appeared on the screen. The lights flickered. It was a short list, maybe fifty names. She searched for the surname, Hay, and found one. It was Isabella. The lights flickered again. “Not now,” she begged, but the tower’s hum went silent. “Fine, just fine,” she sighed. “I’ll find it later.”

Liz pulled her robe across her shoulders and stood for a moment staring at her family tree. Flashes of light brightened the room repeatedly exposing Isabella’s name and each time it reached out to Liz. She whispered, “Why did you travel alone Isabella?”  

She closed the office door leaving her family tree on the other side and faced the living room. It was lifeless she thought as she paused and stared at the space. A fire dwindled across the room adding to the dense feel of the room. The nights alone in the large house got spookier with time and losing the lights didn’t make it any easier. 

She kindled the fire and poured herself a brandy and sipped as she lay back on the cream-colored sofa. A tear trickled from the corner of her eye as it did every night. The memory of her husband’s death, the sorrow, loneliness, and the way her friends avoided her. They cut ties with her after his death, and it hurt her more than she ever admitted. She began studying her family history, burying herself in search of the past. It was several months before she learned her husband left her a small fortune, enough to buy a home and live a modest but comfortable life. She dropped her married name reverting to her maiden and started fresh.  “I can’t go back,” she told herself.  

     The storm continued through the night and the house was silent aside the howling wind outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the generous fire. Adjacent to the room, the home office door slowly opened. Covered with her favorite throw and dreaming of a house filled with people laughing and sharing Liz was unaware that next to her a woman wearing a black dress sat in the chair. She had her hair pulled back in a neat bun. Her face was aged but revealed the beauty that once was, and her eyes rested on Liz.

     Liz turned to her side and looked at the empty chair.  She blinked and took in a deep breath. “Nothing is there,” she said. “Go back to sleep,” she told herself.  As she drifted back into her dream, she hummed an unfamiliar tune. The spirit of the woman rose from the chair and hummed the same tune until her translucent stature reached her name on the family tree and disappeared.

     The storm passed while Liz slept and when she woke she raised her head from her pillow and immediately looked to the empty chair. “Goodness,” she said aloud. “Get a grip.” The electricity had not resumed and the fire returned to smolder. She gazed toward the kitchen and on her granite countertop her coffee pot sat empty. “You should have purchased the generator,” she told herself. She rose from the sofa, folded her throw and placed it over the arm of the empty chair, and headed for the staircase.  

As she passed her home office, she saw the door was open, wide open. She was sure she closed it tight. Standing at the doorway of the office looking inside, the room now darker than the main room, her desk covered with notes, unorganized and scattered not only on top of her desk but on the floor as well. “Now Lizzie,” she ridiculed herself. “You get yourself a journal and organize this mess.” She moved around the piles of paper and opened the drapes allowing the daylight in and when she spun around facing her office, the family tree shimmered. Liz swept her hair away from her eyes and smiled at her masterpiece. She felt as if her kin somehow reached from their graves with open arms and shined through the branches of painted names representing their place in time, their lives, “Nice work Lizzie,” she gloated.

     She heard the tires roll on wet pavement, a splash of water, and an annoying screech, “It’s time to get out of here,” she said. She sprinted up the stairs leaving the office door open. Inside, the branches of life, her family tree glistened as the fall leaves of the red maple just outside the window slowly lifted upward as droplets of rainwater fell to the ground. A peaceful moment, but on the other side of the tree, across the long and narrow yard the electricians prepared to fix the broken link between their massive plant and Liz’s house.

Randy Sullivan, a lifelong Rhode Islander, peered at the property. Not a large man, but his piercing eyes intimidated most people. He stood behind the truck and watched Liz leave the house, “Perfect,” he sneered. Liz powered her Honda CRV and gradually rolled out onto the main road.

Randy loathed her living alone just as his mother did when she left. He was twelve when he found his mother and begged her to let him come with her. “No,” she had said to him. “Your father will come looking for you, go away!”  His rage over his mother festered until the day he killed her. Liz, he decided will be his next victim. He had watched her for weeks after following her back from Norwich one Saturday. She was as she usually is alone and vulnerable.

He sucked on his teeth and hollered to Danny. “I’m going around back to check the lines.”

“Watch for dogs,” said Danny. Randy looked back at him and snickered at the way he struggled to get the toolbox open.

“That ought to keep him busy,” Randy said. He worked his way around the back of the house peeking into each window until he reached the opened back door. “Ah, Ms. Taber, you’re slipping,” he whispered, and then entered through the kitchen.

     It was eerie, the silence. The refrigerator, clocks, the creaks in the flooring was void of sound.  “Turn around, go back,” he told himself. Underneath the aroma of flowers from a vase nearby he caught the scent of paper, mounds of it, and beyond that the stench of death.

The office door moved, just a little, and without reason. There was no breeze or movement from anyone in the house to support its ability to move. The door continued to creak as it closed off the small room. The sounds of each creak louder than the one before, and then suddenly it stopped. Randy just stood there, “This isn’t possible,” he said. He finally turned to run like hell and as he did, the door swung wide open. He looked back in enough time to see the door did not recoil, as if someone or something held it against the wall. He begged his legs to move as he stood staring at the door, and then it slammed shut! He dashed out the back door where he saw Danny by the utility truck.  Run, run, he repeated in his mind until he finally gained his voice back and screamed at Danny, “Let’s go!”

Danny had a big smile on his face as he watched Randy run toward him, he asked, “What’s wrong? Did you find the dog?”

 “Get in the truck!” Randy screamed.

As he swiftly made his way to the truck, he saw a man inside the tree line.  He wore gray slacks pulled high up to his waist, and a jacket cut at the hip, with a vest and white shirt. Randy knew from his attire he wasn’t from this time or this world because he seemed… He’s a damn ghost!

He screamed again, “You dumbass get in the truck!” He rushed Danny, and in one swoop shoved him in the truck and pushed him over to the passenger seat. Randy looked back at the house and over to the tree line, he saw nothing but felt imminent danger as he spun the wheels of the truck leaving a ladder behind splattered with mud.

Back in the house, in the small office, Ed Taber’s hand painted name glowed and then faded next to his wife’s name, Isabella Hay, on Liz’s family tree. The whispers between the couple ensued, “Where were you Ed?” Isabella asked. “I was in the field Isabella.” The lights came on, the clock ticked, and the back door closed.

A few miles away Liz continued her drive until she reached the town of Norwich. She rolled the car window down and took a deep breath. The Thames River to her left reminded her of her research and the passages she read about the settlement of Norwich. She thought of the Church family she had read about, and having seen gravestones with the name Church on the same site as her ancestors, she wondered if there were connections. She would have to do the research she thought and grinned as she told herself, why not, it is possible she is a descendant of someone who corresponded with the enemy. After all, she did have an ancestor who spied for the Confederates during the Civil War. She asked what compelled them to do such things. She burst out with a giggle, “Shoot Lizzie what compelled you to leave Virginia.” The rushing water of the Thames River headed for the Long Island Sound. Liz headed for Dunken Doughnut.

She parked and began her walk in the past. The town of Norwich never disappointed as it is rich with history. She bumped shoulders with a young lad and said, “Excuse me.” He mumbled something and scurried on disappearing into the distance. She didn’t notice as she continued to walk down the uneven pathway. That he faded away. Nor did she see the ghost of many integrated with the living in clothing from another period. Nevertheless, they were there.

New Authors, Fresh Voices

I’ve been working on my next novel The Genealogist’s Guests! You may ask yourself if you were researching your family history and your ancestors start appearing, in spirit form of course, what would it take to realize it’s not your imagination. When you hear the whispers, see movement, maybe a shadow, or a door opening on its own. Maybe your coffee has already brewed when you go to make a pot, or your computer is already turned own when you enter your office. Rationally, you may think to yourself there’s a perfect explanation, you left the computer on, made the coffee and don’t remember doing it, and the whispers are all in your head, but then what happens when your fireplace has a fierce fire built, your lawn in manicured, your evil ghosts, the menacing ex-serial killer ghost tries to kill you.  What happens when your neighbors find out your place is haunted, or worse it’s you that’s haunted. Here’s a little scene from the book:

George climbed back into his white Ford pickup truck. He looked back at Liz as he rolled along the driveway and as he faced forward he thought he saw a man in the tree line. He slammed on his breaks causing the gravel to stir. He captured Liz’s attention and she stood by her flower bed watching the peculiar way George moved around in his seat. George searched the tree line but didn’t see anything unusual. He saw Liz watching him through his rearview mirror. He threw the truck in gear and got on out of there. Liz searched the tree line herself and saw nothing unusual, except that it was a beautiful scene. In fact her acres looked as if someone had meticulously manicured it to a perfect setting. “How splendid,” she said. “My guest will approve.”

George wasted no time getting home to Margaret and when he charged through the door screaming, “It’s just what you said Margaret! She’s got some spirits over there. Saw it with my own eyes!” Margaret wasn’t surprised.

“Calm down George,” Margaret said. “We’ll help Liz. Now tell me what you saw.”

 

The novel is due for release in the fall 2012. Lot’s of work to do, next step get that book cover in the works. I’ve learned the hard way to hire someone to design the cover, along with editing. I self publish, not that I gave traditional publishing a good chance, I didn’t. The allure of self publishing and getting my works out to readers quickly excited me. I truly believe in the indies and have habitually scanned books on Amazon, reading those first chapters, searching for that fresh voice, that compelling story by the next best selling author-indie author. A huge variety of indie author’s works are now published through Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace to name a few, and more publishing companies are joining in on the fun. We, the indie’s are appearing on the New York Times best seller list and web blogs all over the internet. There’s real talent in the self publishing and I am excited to be a part of it.

Back to Work

http://thebookmarketingnetwork.com/profile/TheresaSimpson

I’ve just boasted about my editor Diane Reynolds. She reviewed my first five chapters of the Thrust, edited and returned it for my review. I posed a question for anyone who wishes to share. Do you have an editor you’d love to to brag about? How well does that person work with you? I love being able to send five chapters for review myself that way I can move on with the story which by the way is at chapter seven. Though illness put me behind I feel rejuvenated and a late March early April release date is still planned. Oh how I love the thought of another title published 🙂

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