Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: What Happens Next?

Remember Cass, the heroine from my new WiP? No, not the one with the eye-patch, that's Chance. ;)

This is the as yet untitled contemporary-steampunk (is that even possible? I'd love to hear any opinions about that) I've been working on for a few months. Cass's mom's a witch, but she's not. She doesn't know anything about her dad. All she even has of his is a key she never takes off.

Poor Cass was in a heap of trouble when we saw her last (this sounds like it should be read by the guy who did the voice-overs on Dukes of Hazzard, lol), evading the strange men who are chasing her by running into her crowded garage. Enjoy!

I took a moment to breathe, then crept toward the back door that led to Ma’s garden and the woods beyond. Woods where I’d played hide and seek, and capture the flag with Jody and the other boys all my life. I could hide there much longer than in the barn, and maybe they’d waste enough time looking for me in here that I’d be able to get a good head start. There had to be at least two of them, maybe more.

Muffled yelling came from behind the closed garage door and I ran to the back as fast as I could, leaping over broken tools and the rusty old riding mower I used for parts to keep the good mower working. My foot came down hard on an uneven surface—who knows what—and my ankle turned. I stumbled to the ground. It didn’t hurt yet because of all the adrenaline running through my body, but it would. I couldn’t put any weight on it. I’d never even make it through Ma’s garden, much less into the woods. I had to hide.

A light, a loud humming, and a smell like burnt matches distracted me from all that. My stomach twisted into knots. Were they going to burn down the garage? With me in it?

A huge white circle formed in the middle of the garage door, like a giant searchlight, or a second sun. Before my brain could even make sense of the light, the noise, and the smell, a shadow darkened the bright circle. A leg stepped into the garage, right through the door like it wasn’t even there, followed by a body and head. The guy from my kitchen. A brief jolt of satisfaction rippled through me when I saw the cut on his temple, before the circle faded from the door and we were both left in darkness. I gripped the solid metal barrel of my flashlight and tucked myself into the shadows of the hulking mower.

He must have tripped over something because he swore. It wasn’t English, though, and I didn’t think it was Spanish. He fumbled for something that lit up. It hadn’t been a flashlight. I ducked even lower behind the mower. I’d never wished to be able to use one of Ma’s spells more in my life. But what else could I do against a guy who could pass straight through an aluminum garage door?

The light moved toward me and I wished I’d listened to Ma when she told me to keep Thor, our German Shepherd, here with me. Then again… these guys had obviously done their homework, and if Thor were here, they would’ve had a plan for him, too. At least he was safe, but I was getting in deeper by the second. The guy drew closer, whispering something in a foreign language.

My ankle felt puffy and tight under my sock. There was no way he wouldn’t see me open the back door. If I’d been able to run, I might have gone for it anyway, and relied on my instincts to hide out in the woods until they gave up. I was a sitting duck with this ankle. Even if I could knock this guy out with my flashlight, another would come for me next, maybe more. Who were these people?

Over the years I’d seen Ma and the sisters do some pretty serious spell-work. I was open to the idea that anything, from Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster to werewolves and vampires, might be real. Male witches, on the other hand, were the stuff of myth and Harry Potter novels. I’d never heard of anything like these guys. This couldn’t be good.

He was just on the other side of the mower now and headed toward the back door. There was no way he wouldn’t see me. I gripped the flashlight like a baseball bat. As soon as his knee passed the mower, I swung at it and connected with a loud thunk.

The guy let out a yell and crumpled to the ground. The illuminated object he’d dropped shattered, but the crystal-like fragments stayed lit. He yelled foreign words, and then his eyes met mine, all dark and wet. I’d really hurt him. I pushed that out of my head, stood up—trying not to limp on my ankle—and raised the flashlight in front of me.

“Wait!” he called to me. “We don’t mean to hurt you.”

“Why should I believe you?” I wanted to inch toward the back door, but he didn’t need to see I was injured. And a part of me was curious about why he was here. A smaller, quieter part thought he looked kind of hot in the low light, blood and all.

“You’re right, we’ve given you no reason to trust us.” His eyes were slick with pain, which made him seem more sincere, but I knew how hard I’d whacked him, twice, and his knee had to be swelling right now something fierce. “This is not the way I would have done things.”

“Done what things?”

“We need the key you wear around your neck.”

“What? Why?”

 “Your father is in trouble.”

Dun-dun-DUN!! Hope that wasn't too cliffhanger-y this time. ;) 

So, do you think a story like this could count as steampunk, or does that genre absolutely have to be set in the Victorian Era? Can you have a contemporary paranormal with steampunk elements? I promise there will be a lot of steampunk elements, as well as a healthy dose of witchcraft. What do you think? I'd love to hear it!


Misha said...

Are you kidding?

Of course it's cliff-hangery!

I loved it. :-)

Joanna St. James said...

I think its too short for us to be able to tell if it would qualify as steampunk but who cares what genre it is as long as its a good story told with passion. which it is by the way

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Cliffhanger? Um...duh!! :-)

L.T. Elliot said...

Ditto about the cliffhangers. But I DO so love some steampunk. =]

The Golden Eagle said...

Ack, cliffhanger! :D

I enjoy steampunk elements to a story, but I'm not sure if they have to be set in the Victorian era . . . I thought it applied to ALL books with that technical aspect.

Tere Kirkland said...

Misha, glad I didn't disappoint!

Joanna, I love to hear that, thanks! I started this project with a lot of passion, but I feel like I've lost my way and only recently started to find my way back.

LOL, Shannon, I'm striving for every paragraph I write to be full of tension, so really, there was no good place to stop this chapter that wouldn't be cliffhangery. Sorry! ;)

L.T., glad to see so much steampunk love! Thanks!

TGE, I've been wondering about that, and I think you might be right, simply because that works to my benefit. ;)

Seriously, though I've been struggling with the idea that something could be steampunk and not based in the late 1800s. I've seen steampunk elements in a lot of stories, mostly alternative histories (like Westerfeld's Leviathan), so I'm feeling like you're right, that it's not the time period so much as the awesome technology, which this story has got by the bucket-load. That's a lot to think about, but I think I'll always think of this as my steampunk story until (God willing) I write a real steampunk.

The most fun part of thinking up awesome steampunk-esque inventions is coming up with the limitations of said devices to keep from making things too easy!

Thanks again, y'all!

Shannon said...

I haven't read enough steampunk to give any reasonably intelligent feedback, but in terms of suspense - Yup. =)

Krispy said...

Okay, it's not AS cliff-hangery as last time, but ;ASKLDJF;ASKDJ. YOU.

I love steampunk. Not sure if it absolutely has to be set in Victorian times, but I think it's doable with just the tech.

Anonymous said...

Cliff hanger is good, but I agree with it being too little to see the genre to be chosen.

However, I love witchcraft, so I am so down with seeing more! =D

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh, super twist at the end! Very suspenseful. Left me wondering what came next. Dad is alive AND in trouble? Dun dun dunnnnnnn! Well done.

Not sure on the steampunk. I think it is normally set in the Victorian era, but eh, I say do what you want. If you want a paranormal that has steampunk elements, than do it. Although, I guess it all sort of depends on what elements of steampunk you're pulling in (like clockwork?). Might actually be sort of like a paranormal with sci-fi elements? Hmmm....

Susan R. Mills said...

Lovely! I don't know much about steampunk, but I know someone who does. Matt at Free the Princess. His blog is listed on my sidebar. He's an expert I tell you. He shares way more info than I care to know, but it might help you out.

Elana Johnson said...

I don't know that much about steampunk actually. But did they have Harry Potter in any of those times? Does steampunk have to be in another time? Is that how it works?

Either way, killer cliffhanger!!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, this is great stuff.

I didn't realize it was steampunk, not that I know what that is other than it being set in the Victorian Era (from what I've heard). Which means Elana's right. There was no Harry Potter back then. ;)

To me, it's YA paranormal. Keep it to this when querying. You can point out the steampunk elements if you know the agent is into that kind of stuff.

Theresa Milstein said...

I've been told it has to be back then. I'm with Stina Lindenblatt - sounds like YA paranormal to me.

Whatever it is, it's an interesting scene. I like it!

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, thanks, y'all! I've been thinking of this story as my quasi-steampunk paranormal (though I'd never say that if I actually have to query it, I know when to keep my big mouth shut ;D ), since it started out as an alternative history set in the 1890s, but then I decided to change it because I was getting a voice from the mc that was distinctly modern.

The steampunk elements come into play when the mc meets the rest of the order her father belongs to, which was actually founded in the late Renaissance by Leonardo da Vinci and his peers, but their technology, involving mechanized devices and this stuff called ether, basically reached it's zenith during the Victorian Era.

One day I'd like to write a real steampunk—with airships and everything!—but I think the plot and characters I came up with this time work better as a contemporary paranormal.

Thanks again for reading!

Janet Johnson said...

Very cliff-hangery. :) And I don't know enough about steampunk to add an opinion. Sounds fun, though!

Abby Annis said...

Sorry I'm so late in getting over here, life's been a little crazy this week.

This is awesome, Tere! I can't wait to read the whole thing. So hurry up and finish it already. What do you mean that's not helping? ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I just purchased the last copy of Writer's Digest magazine. According to it, steampunk is set in the Victorian period.

But then again, it said YA was for readers 12-15, which we know isn't true. It's for readers 12-18 yo (and for those still 17 at heart).

Tere Kirkland said...

Stina, LOL! Yeah, I've been doing a little research and everything's pretty conflicting. Then again, I'm doing most of my research on the internet. *embarrassed*

One site said anything with a Victorian flair is fine, but I think that probably applies more to alternate histories than any real-world scenarios.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I wouldn't worry what you call it at this stage, it rocks! I really enjoyed the set-up and tension. You may write something so unique, you start a new category. :D
Have you ever read the Eyre Affair series? I thought of the time jumping in that for some reason.
(sorry this is so late, I haven't been making the rounds due to 'stuff')

Karen Denise said...

Where have I been? I'm always late to the game! I need to read the other installments. ASAP!

Lola Sharp said...

I like your new avatar photo. :)

And you totes did leave us on a cliffhanger.

As for Steampunkery, it does NOT have to be set in Victorian-era London (though it most often is).
But, as others have mentioned, this is too short to know if this qualifies.
But if your MC speaks modern slang and such, I'd probably go with paranormal...with your own rad Tere-twist. You do your thang.


Abby Annis said...

You put up a clear picture of your beautiful face! Very nice! It looks so professional. :)

Please tell me it wasn't up when I stopped by the other day, though it wouldn't surprise me if I missed it. I've been pretty brain dead lately. :)

Laura Pauling said...

Very nice writing! My ignorant opinion is that aspects of steampunk could be in the present but it would be hard b/c doesn't it need machines powered by steam? How would that work in the present? Not sure.

Melissa said...

The writing in this snippet is really strong! I love it!!!!

It is a cliff hanger but it just makes me want to read MORE.

Michelle H. said...

I can't really give an opinion about steampunk, since I don't know much about it. But it's definitely a cliffhanger-y for spark the curiosity.