If you happen to follow me on twitter (or as I like to call it, "the twittah," just because it makes me giggle), you know I like to play with various hashtags, just because.
The only one I use seriously on a regular basis is #ilovemyjob. Why? Because I do. And the following excerpt from one of my latest editing projects is a prime example of why I love my job, why I do what I do, and why, even when I feel a bit overwhelmed by too much work or a challenging project, I get it done and move on to the next.
Kim Thompson contacted me a while back and asked if I could do a rush job on her 'script. I said yes for two reasons:
My roommates had literally eaten every morsel of food in the house, then moved out, thereby leaving me with no groceries and no grocery money. So I needed cash fast.
I had some free editing time and I always panic when that happens. Even if I know I have upcoming jobs that will take care of everything.
Anyhow, she needed the book done for an upcoming tour to promote the first in this series. She'll now have a second to show off and perhaps be able to sell to those who've already purchased the first volume. AND what better day to launch a book that includes witches, ghosts, and werewolves and falls into the paranormal category than on Halloween?
So here, I offer you a taste of one of my most fun, and most beloved, projects this year, Chapter One of Once Upon a Haunted Moon by K. R. Thompson.
Stryker's Pass, Southwest Virginia
October 7, 1765
Her name had been Ella. Such a long time ago. But that was before she became nameless.
Before the Fire Witch came.
She shivered in spite of the heat from the nearby wagon. Flames licked at the hem of her calico dress.
The wagon burst into flame as something exploded and shoved a massive heat wave against her tiny body. Scorched bits of canvas flew over her head, floating like pitiful flags of surrender. Her cap flew off her small, blonde head, the wind blowing it end over end -- a circle of seemingly impossible, pristine white that soon was engulfed in a choking mass of smoke.
She heard the screams. Hundreds of thousands of piercing cries that seemed to echo over and over, back and forth in her head. Pleading cries for mercy, of anger, of pain…a tiny part of her tried to reason against the multitude of voices, the shrieks and groans that seemed to go an eternity. After all, hadn't there only been thirty-five people in their wagon train? Surely, it shouldn't take so long to die…
A blast of wind sent putrid smoke flooding through her nostrils, and she gasped, breaking free of the trance that held her fast. It was then the smoke parted in a small path, as if in a bow to its master. Her blue eyes widened, and while a small part of her mind registered the deafening roar of flames, the sudden absence of scream, there was a dull feeling of certainty that she was alone, and that she knew what was coming next…
She had always known. It was that feeling you got sometimes a moment before something happened that should take you by surprise, but didn't, because you knew it was going to happen. Not everyone could do it, her little brother Billy, and her papa couldn't. But she'd always known things. Her mama always knew things, too…like when she was going to get sick, or her papa was going to bring home game from hunting. Papa had always grinned at them, and told her and Mama they were "canny" and "good at guessing." She wondered why they hadn't seen this coming, this gruesome, hot death at the end of a journey that had promised to be so rewarding. A new world, free for the taking for those courageous enough to seek it, who knew that courage would have been their undoing.
What she hadn't known was that the woman who stepped through the walls of smoke was Death -- and that she was beautiful. Firelight glinted of perfect, white skin, and long red hair -- the color of blood, streamed back from a heart-shaped face. Ella had almost decided that this woman was the most beautiful person she had ever seen. Even more beautiful than Mama…until those huge, black eyes of Death stared at her. They were eyes that didn't have any bottoms, like still, dark water.
And they tried to pull her under.
"Come to me, child," the Fire Witch said in a musical voice that sounded like raindrops, and a smile that should have coaxed, showed sharp, bloodstained teeth instead.
Ella felt the pull of the Fire Witch's eyes, drawing her closer. She pushed back, shaking her head emphatically, wisps of blonde hair stinging her eyes.
"No," she said in a small, shaking voice, and started to back away slowly, her blue eyes locked on the black ones that bore into hers and continued their pull on her. She felt the drag of power, and she gasped, feeling as if she were drowning within herself, into the impossible, endless ocean that made an eight-year-old girl. She heard herself scream, a pitiful, raspy sound, full of smoke…
"Ellie?" A tiny voice trembled from its hiding place near the trees, bringing her back to the surface just as her curly-headed little brother toddled into view, wielding a branch that was nearly as big as he was, a ferocious scowl on his determined little face.
"No, Billy! Run!" Ella shrieked at him, and watched in horror, as he stopped and stared at her for a full second, bottom lip quivering, then dropped his branch and darted back into the shadows of the trees.
"Touching," the Fire Witch sneered, "But you shan't save him, any more than you shall save yourself."
Ella turned to follow her brother, stopping just long enough to snatch the sycamore branch he had dropped. A cold hand gripped her shoulder, spinning her around so fast her vision blurred and her neck threatened to snap. Somehow, she brought the ragged, sharp edge of the branch up and shoved with every last bit of strength she had, and was rewarded with a sickening crunch that jarred her hands so hard they numbed.
The sound that came next was like nothing Ella had ever heard before. A shriek, a howl, a gurgling scream of hatred all mingled and washed over the little girl in a wave so strong that she turned loose of the branch that had pierced the Fire Witch's side, and clapped her hands over her ears, shutting her eyes as tight as she could against the nightmare that stood inches from her.
Then Ella died.
The feeling of weightlessness felt odd, she thought, as she felt the air whoosh against her stinging face. Yes, it was odd, she decided, but then, she'd never been an angel before. She supposed it would take some getting used to.
The fact that she hadn't at all died, but only had been backhanded by the furious Fire Witch and sent flying through the air, hit her when she tasted the coppery tang of blood that filled her mouth. That was a split second before she landed in the underbrush at the edge of the forest.
She lay dazed for a few seconds, her vision doubled. She struggled to her knees, ignoring the pain that shot through her tiny frame. The world spun once she tried to stand, so she dropped back to her knees until her vision cleared, then dared to look back at the Fire Witch, who had quieted.
A dozen or more crows circled the Fire Witch, flitting amongst the flames like black demons. The sycamore branch still pierced her body like an arrow, and the Fire Witch turned to and fro, as if trying to figure out how such a thing had happened. Each time she touched the branch, she'd scream as if burnt.
Ella hoped her crows would eat her, and that the branch was stuck in her for forever. Even though the Fire Witch appeared to have forgotten her, Ella crawled on her hands and knees through the thorns and bushes, and into the dark shadows of the forest.
A few moments later, she heard the sound of a little boy who had come once more to the clearing to save his big sister, "Ellieee!"
A shrill scream echoed through the trees seconds later, and crows filled the dark sky. She didn't remember how long she had lain in the hollow log, or how she had even gotten there, but she remembered crying for what seemed forever. Knowing there was no one left to go back to, she stood, and after a few wobbling steps, ran deeper into the shadows of the forest, wondering if there was anyone left in the world, or if the Fire Witch had taken them all.
K.R. Thompson was raised in the mountains of southwest Virginia. She resides in Bland County with her husband, son, two cats, and an undeterminable amount of chickens.
When she is not writing, she is an avid reader and a firm believer in magic. She still watches for evidence of Bigfoot in the mud of Wolf Creek.
She can be found on her website—
And on Facebook--
The Keeper Saga Books:
The first installment of the Keeper Saga, Hidden Moon is a story of romance, adventure, mystery and magic.
Released June 2013, available in paperback and kindle format.
Once Upon a Haunted Moon
The second installment of the Keeper Saga, Once Upon a Haunted Moon is a story of suspense, magic, and adventure.
Released October 2013, available in paperback and kindle format.
Coming Fall 2014
I'll also share a secret with you: If I have one wish to be fulfilled in 2014, it's that Kim chooses me to edit Wynter's War. That, in itself, should tell those of you who know me well how much I love and believe in this series.