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Noteworthy

28 February 2011

Unpublished Month - Clash One, Most Intense Emotions

This week's hostess is Lisa Lickel.

Gentle readers, get ready to plunge into the depths of fear and agony, despair and sacrifice, love, relief, guilt--angst of every sort, as we explore Intense Emotion.

The COTT team is delighted to experiment once again, not only with the worthiest of unpublished excerpts, but with a month-long contest ending with you, the reader, choosing which of three excerpts moves you most deeply on the final week. Week one showdown will have a runner-up and a finalist advancing to the final round of voting in week four; Week two showdown will also have a runner-up and finalist advancing to the final contest. Our own Jennifer Slattery picks up the Clash in Week three with the THIRD contest, and Week four is your turn to vote again for the champion author excerpt showing the Most Intense Emotion.

Come back Wednesday and join the discussion on what makes the reader care.
Don't forget to enter the drawing (found after you vote - scroll down) for a copy of Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias & Susan Wales - winner announced Friday March 11.

So, here, are the first two excerpts for
Most Intense Emotions.
Remember, the vote closes Thursday; the reveal and interview with the runner up is on Friday.


EXCERPT A
The darkness of my abyss consumes. Direction is irrelevant and time is worthless. If only I could pinpoint the moment when it all faded, then maybe I would be able to crawl back into existence. I slip in and out of reality. My heartbeat taunts me with hope for life, but the aches and emptiness of the rest of my body only offer death.  
 I am. That I know for sure. As I sit in this prison, no other memory surfaces. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get past the imaginary barricade in my mind’s eye. The only sound is the drip, drip, dripping in the distance. The moisture leaks down the walls like tears unshed for too many years.
I am all alone in this hell. They will come for me soon and then, I will be no more.
A few minutes, hours, or days later, I could not tell you, there are footsteps far away. My lungs labor. My breath is kept shallow by the splintered shards of my ribcage. Each intake of air is a reminder of my frailty. I hurt from head to toe but I am separated from the pain by a thick haze.
  Where am I? How did I come to this place? It is dark, damp and moldy. The cold seeps deep into my bones. My teeth chatter, and my body shakes. The room in which I am imprisoned has a cavernous echo, and my pulse pounds rhythmically against the walls. Memories do not surface.
The footsteps are closer now, but all I can do is sit in a heap against the slimy interior of the chamber and wait. The fog of my mind thins. There is my heartbeat again. I am indeed alive. Water drops, footsteps and heartbeats play a syncopated tune. Plop! Smack! Smack! Thump! Thump! Plop! Smack! Smack! Thump! Thump!
Are they coming for me now? I almost hope so.
A flicker of light crosses under the door. My tired limbs move. I cannot stop them, even though my muscles rip with pain. I cry out in agony. The door is a great wooden beast, but I grip it to gain something to hold on to. Splinters pierce my fingers.
  The smacking footsteps cease. The heavy bolts scrape as they move. The metallic clatter vibrates the door.
The light. I want it. I need it. Something in my head connects light to comfort and safety.  It is a compulsion that must be soothed. I claw to get to it. The skin splits and tears on my hands but I cannot help myself.
**********************************************************************
EXCERPT B

The rough bark of the oak tree she was leaning on grabbed at her shirt, lifting it, scraping her bare skin as she sank to the ground. The ringing wouldn't stop and a wave of nausea overcame her. She let her head fall forward and held it between her knees, trying to make her stomach stop churning. The unbearable ringing drove her hands into her hair, her fingernails digging into her skull.
And in her head she was skidding again, this time on her back, her tiny body sliding across the slippery blanket of leaves, the tree roots banging into her, the charm bracelet on her wrist catching the sunlight, which was suddenly much brighter, and her head cracked into a tree.
The nausea subsided, and the ringing softened bit by bit so that Angel could loosen her grip, releasing her hair and easing the pain around her ears. Her breath returned in ragged gasps, until she could finally gulp in enough air to exhale. She wrapped her arms around her knees and tried to control the shaking, and then looked up at Gregor, who stood over her, his face hidden in the dark of the woods.
"You…you…" was all she could manage, and Gregor squatted down facing her and put his hands on her trembling shoulders. The silver flecks in his eyes danced in the pale moonlight, as tears welled up and poured over his lids.
"Angel, I'm so sorry...I've wanted to tell you all day...but I knew you didn't remember, and how would you believe me?"
She began to sob, not from sorrow, but to release the intense mix of emotions that suddenly overwhelmed her. She knew Gregor. He had saved her from that madman. But where had they been? The trees that she'd been running by were just like the ones in the woods near her house, but there was something distinctly different about the atmosphere. She'd called out for her parents but they didn't come. She tried to picture their faces, but it just made her head hurt again. Had the madman killed them?
And how did Gregor push her through a tree?
Sirens sounded, and soon flashing red and blue lights were pulsating between the trees, but Angel couldn't move, and she could see Gregor's eyes suddenly widen in fear.
Angel took a deep breath and swallowed her tears, willing herself to speak. "It's the police," she said quietly, somehow aware that Gregor needed that explained to him, but not sure why. "They're here because of the accident. Just stay still and hopefully they won't notice us." Her voice grew calmer with each word, but her arms and legs still trembled.
"Do you trust me?" Gregor whispered, and Angel nodded. He stood and helped Angel get shakily to her feet, then held his hand up in front of the tree she had just been leaning against. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and together they stepped through the Gate he'd made in the tree.



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5 comments:

Joanne Sher said... Monday, 28 February, 2011

What a VERY cool idea for a clash! So, only the runners up will be revealed on Friday - so the three winners that last week will remain unknown until that final clash? VERY clever.

Rebekah said... Monday, 28 February, 2011

Wow. Excerpt A had my mind racing, wondering what this woman had done that landed her in the prison and pondering what horrible things had happened there to drive her to such madness.

April W Gardner said... Monday, 28 February, 2011

I'm lovin' it too, Joanne! Variety is what we strive for around here. You're right in that the three winners who clash the last week will be anonymous.
Rebekah, with excerpt A I kept thinking of The Count of Monte Cristo with that damp, dark cell. Gives me shivers! Excerpt B sounds maybe like a fantasy? I'm learning to enjoy those, so that door in the tree fascinated me, as did the "do you trust me?" bit. I love a powerful hero!

Katy said... Wednesday, 02 March, 2011

Wow! Those excerpts are both great!

~ Katy

Ren Black said... Thursday, 03 March, 2011

An interesting idea for sure to let unpublished authors clash... I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Item Reviewed: Unpublished Month - Clash One, Most Intense Emotions Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lisa Lickel
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