Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneak Peek

This is the beginning of the first chapter of my wip, Killing Kessler. The book is about Tabitha, her brother (Adam), sister (Leila), and friend (Murphy). In this scene, they're testing out the time machine first built by Tabitha's father and then perfected by Adam. They plan to use the time machine to go back ten years in the past and kill Griffin Kessler, the man responsible for creating a virus that wiped out 99% of the world's population. So, without further ado...

The mouse squeaked when Adam put it in the machine. Tabitha wrapped her arms around her stomach and concentrated on not puking. Sucking air past the lump in her throat felt enough like swallowing crushed glass to make her forget about breathing, at least for a while.

Adam pushed a button on the remote control. The machine's metal door slid shut, locking the mouse inside. "I've already programmed his arrival and return times," Adam said. "For this test, I'll send him twelve hours into the past. According to Dad's calculations, that's the minimum amount of time the machine will allow."

Adam adjusted his ridiculous goggles and scratched his tangled mop of jet black hair. He'd been working nonstop for the past week. It had probably been at least that long since his hair had seen a comb. Throw in his unshaven face and bloodshot eyes, and he had his classic mad scientist look. Tabitha remembered her dad looking the same way when he was on the verge of a breakthrough and couldn't be bothered with routine hygiene. She ignored the familiar ache in her heart and refocused on the test.

Stepping outside the red taped lines that formed a perimeter around the machine, Adam pressed a button on the remote. "Here goes nothing."

The row of lights over the door came to life, flashing in a symphony of yellow, blue, and red. The machine began to vibrate, shaking the floor until the entire room danced a jig. Tools bounced off the workbench and crashed on the linoleum. Adam's newspaper collection, every paper containing every article he'd been able to find covering the Salamander Virus, spilled off the bookshelf and fluttered around the room. A framed picture of their family, taken before either of their parents disappeared and before Murphy came to live with them, fell from the wall. The glass shattered.

Tabitha braced her legs and leaned against the wall for support. Long blonde curls fell in her eyes, and she wished she'd left her hair in a ponytail. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and glanced at Murphy. He watched her with light blue eyes that almost seemed to glow against his sun-browned skin. He gave her his typical broad smile and a quick wink. He was only about sixteen years old, just like her, but he had a way of making her feel safe like no one else could.

She turned to Leila, who used one hand to grasp the window frame while pressing the other over her ear to block out the machine's high-pitched hum. Leila's glossy black hair tumbled in her face and her ebony eyes looked wider than normal. Her perfect olive complexion had a faint pea soup tinge. "I know it will work," Tabitha mouthed. This was a total lie, of course. But Leila nodded and almost smiled, so Tabitha didn't regret saying it.

The metal hatch in the floor slid open, releasing a deafening rattle and a blast of frigid air. The machine plummeted into the ground with a jolt that sent them all to their knees. The hatch closed back up. After a few more tremors, the shaking stopped.

Comments? Suggestions? I'd love to hear them! I've been working on my thick writer skin, so go ahead and be honest.


Velva said...

I like it! I can tell you have been working really hard to get the words, just right.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Susan, as a professional editor I'll tell you that the very first sign of a good book is when you read an excerpt such as this and YOU WANT TO READ MORE!

You definitely have something going with this ms! Keep up the good work and please give us more peeks in the future!

Stephanie Cheryl said...

VERY interesting.

I agree with Crystal in saying more peeks of this, please! :-)

Piedmont Writer said...

"...when he was on the verge of a breakthrough and couldn't be bothered with routine hygiene." sounds like me when I'm writing.

This was great! I'm dying to read more.

Theresa Milstein said...

Great visuals. I love the comparison between the father and Adam. I also like the olive skin and pea soup image (But maybe "perfect" doesn't work). I'd also like to see you play around with the lump in the throat analogy - the glass isn't working for me. Good amount of description mixed with anticipation.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I like this a lot. And I love your profile. :) Just wanted to let you know I was over here following you.

Tara said...

What a great premise! I'd read on :)

Susan Fields said...

Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful comments! I was nervous about this - I've never posted my fiction on my blog before. And thanks to the newcomers for stopping by, following, and leaving your comments - I always love to meet new blogging buddies!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Great job Susan! It looks like you've got a thumbs up by everyone, including me. Like everyone else, I want to know more...I hope the mouse makes it!

Look at you go...posting on a Tuesday!

Old Kitty said...


Where's the mouse? What happened to the mouse?


This is great! I love the tension build-up as the machine is turned on and not just between the kids and the machine (and mouse!) but between Tabitha and Murphy too.

Wondeful! Thanks for a fab read - I needed it specially today.

Take care
p.s. thanks for your lovely wishes for my poor cat, thank you.

Niki said...

awww I want to know what happens to the mouse!! :o)

For me, as the reader, I felt the descriptions of the characters slowed it down a bit. You've got all this exciting action happening and it gets interrupted with hair, eyes, skin etc. They could be added here and there as the story moves along.

I feel a bit nervous voicing my opinion but I hope it helps :o)

Susan Fields said...

Sharon - thank you!

Old Kitty - you noticed that between Tabitha and Murphy, huh? It gets better, I promise! And I'll stay posted to your blog for more news about your cat. Please let us know how she's doing.

Niki - absolutely don't feel nervous about voicing your opinion, I really appreciate your thoughts! I once got a full manuscript critique from a publisher that mentioned they didn't like having the description spread out, they wanted it all mentioned as each character was introduced. But if it's slowing down the action, I'll need to work on that. Thanks for pointing it out!

Susan Fields said...

Sharon - I forgot to mention...yes, posting on a Tuesday! I posted last Tuesday, too. I may need to consider making this a habit. You guys have inspired me.

robby (once upon a book blog) said...

I love your writing. I really love it. Please do this more often, every Tuesday or even more often! This made my day. :]

Niki said...

OH phew Susan haha, I've been dusting away here feeling quite sick.

I guess what I was trying to say was... take Leila for example - as soon as I read 'glossy black hair tumbled' I immediately had the vision of a beautiful olive skinned, dark eyed girl without you having to write in those details.

This is just my opinion so please dont take any notice of me :o) I'll just scuttle back to my dusting!!

Susan Fields said...

Robby - wow, what a nice compliment! Thank you! I'm thinking I'll post the second half of this chapter on Thursday. Everyone seems to want to know what happens to the mouse. :)

Niki - I reread Leila's description, and I see what you mean. She can do without the ebony eyes for sure, they kind of go with the glossy black hair, don't they? Thanks for pointing that out. And it may be time to take a break from dusting. :O

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm not sure about the swallowing glass line, but I love the rest. Great details - routine hygiene, wishing she'd left her hair in a ponytail... It felt alive and believable. Encore, encore! :-)

Susan Fields said...

Shannon - thank you! And thanks for the suggestion. Theresa also mentioned the swallowing glass line. I'll have to think of a better way to express that. Tune in Thursday for the encore!

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

This book freaking ROCKS and I know because I've read the whole thing!!

Susan Fields said...

Amy - Now you're making me blush (that's okay, I don't mind :)) Thank you!

Jen said...

This is brilliant! I love it!! I can tell how hard you've worked, it looks amazing and so well written!!!

Do not apologize for what you wrote on Tuesday Twist, I really loved the feedback and I didn't want anyone to sugarcoat what they said so I didn't put my name next to it! It is everyone's view however it could make a difference the way I wrote it. I am still working on it so the synposis isn't finalized at all.

Susan Fields said...

Jen - thanks for the lovely compliment! It's been such a thrill for me to hear what all my blogging buddies out there have to say.

About your Tuesday Twist, I do have to say that your synopsis stood right up there with the published ones, I thought all three of them were published novels, so that's a very good sign!

Jen said...

You are more than welcome! The blogging world is amazing, I'm with you it's a thrill to hear what everyone has to say! Even when I am having a chaotic day!! :)

Awe that is so sweet of you! That's how I thought about it yesterday per all of the comments. It was an excellent learning experience!!

Southpaw said...

Did the mouse make it? I have to know!

Susan Fields said...

Jen - by the way, I really enjoyed Tuesday Twist, I hope you keep that going!

Southpaw - tune in tomorrow...all will be revealed (at least about the mouse!) :)

Christine Danek said...

This is really good. Great job! I really like the idea too--very interesting. You have been working hard. Be proud:)

Myrna Foster said...

Did it work? What a great way to end your first chapter--sucking us right into the second one to see if the mouse made it.

Susan Fields said...

Christine and Myrna - thank you for the nice compliments! I guess we have a lot of animal lovers out there, everyone's concerned about the mouse! I'm an animal lover, too, so animals keep popping up in my books whether I intended to put them there or not.

Lola Sharp said...

First, thank you for finding my blog and leaving a sweet comment. What a lovely treat to follow your trail back here to your bloggy world and read your excerpt!
Secondly, I enjoyed this piece of your story...I definitely want to know what happens next.
Anne (Piedmont Writer) totally stole my line! ;o) I have been known to skip bathing while in a writing zone.

I'm having 'following' issues right now, something is glitching with my google following and I'm trying to figure out how to fix it. In the meantime, I'm following by using my bookmarks (of which you are now bookmarked) and reader, and I'll be back often.

Great blog!

Susan Fields said...

Lola - isn't it funny how even showering can become a chore when you're caught up in a story? I walk around with my hair in a clip most of the time. I'm sorry to hear about your following issues! If something goes wrong with my blog, I'll be in trouble because I know only enough to be a little dangerous.

Kelly H-Y said...

Nicely done!!!! And, you're so brave to put your work out there ... I really admire that!

Susan Fields said...

Thanks, Kelly! It was nerve wracking, for sure, but I'm so glad I did it. It's been such a blessing to me to read everyone's responses.

Nicole Ducleroir said...

Hi Susan! I really enjoyed your excerpts! You have a wonderful fluidity to your writing style, and I thought your descriptive voice was fantastic. You can do so much with a creative premise like the one you've come up with; I look forward to reading more!

I read one of your comments from someone who's read the whole book, so this comment may be completely ignored, if that's the case. The use of multiple viewpoints within a scene can make it hard to sympathize with any one character. I thought, for example, that Leila would have been a strong choice as sole POV for this scene, since her concern for her father's safety is so acute. Or perhaps Adam would be a great choice, since he has, personally, so much riding on the success of this "experiment."

The strongest feelings of these characters lost their emphasis a little, for me, because I kept landing in the head of the next character.

Just something to think about. Your creative talent is so very evident from just this chapter, and I know your story is going to be a huge success! Best of luck with the project!

When you get a chance, pop over to my blog where I've left you a little something today!

Happy St. Patty's Day, and Happy Writing!

T.J. Carson said...

Very exciting!!!!!!! Is this a completed work? And if so, how are you going about getting published (agent, straight to the publisher, or self)?? Sorry about all the questions but I'm new at this and love hearing about how others go about doing it.

Anyways... loved it so far! I'll def be checking in for more tid bits. I especially loved the line:

"The row of lights over the door came to life, flashing in a symphony of yellow, blue, and red. "

It reminds me of the movie Mr. Holland's Opus (i think that's how you spell it). That line stuck with me and was very vivid. You should include more lines like it (if you already haven't) I had a very strong vision of the time machine creating a ruckus.

Really loved it!!!!!!!!!