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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Extra Special Birthday Surprise! (Is Here!)

Welcome to the ESBS, and thanks so much for joining me on this auspicious occasion!

You would think that just the fact that there is an Extra Special Birthday Surprise would be enough, but NO! I love my readers so much that I have made this into a two-part special!

2-parter for double the awesomeness!

Part 1: How I Met Cameo
Part 2: Prologue of Shadows On The Wall

Now that the requests have started coming in for the next Immortal World book, I am going to reassure you that the third book (#2 in the series) IS in the making! For those of you who cannot simply take my word for it, I have formed the ESBS. What better way to convince you than to introduce you to the main character?

People like to ask how I come up with the ideas for my books. Well, here's the secret: I don't. The characters find me. They are the ones telling the story. I am a vessel for their words.

In the case of Submerged In Darkness, Alex found me when I was just a fledgling writer. She convinced me that I was wasting my time trying to write about characters I created. She told me that she had a story for me to write, and then introduced me to Liam. But much like the time in Tears You Apart, when Aubri meets Angela and Connor, I could only see Damon once he was in my eye-line.

When I first finished writing Submerged In Darkness, it was just after Christmas and I was absolutely heart-broken. How could Damon be dead? You see, I had done what any good author will; I had fallen in love with my character. I wasn't sure I could write again. I know now that I was being a bit melo-dramatic, but the experience was incredibly tramatic. It was the first time I had killed a character that I was absolutely, soul-wrenchingly in love with.

The nights I had formerly spent plugging away at the keyboard were now spent staring up at the stars on my ceiling wondering, what now?

I got the answer one night. Here is the story of how I met the main character of Shadows On The Wall.

Part 1: How I Met Cameo

I lay in bed, contemplating the last pages of my latest book. Incredible, I was already wondering what I would write next. I had a few ideas of course, but nothing concrete yet. I was dressed comfortable in my favorite writing clothes: sleep pants, t-shirt, fuzzy socks. I had removed my roomy sweatshirt a few minutes before.

As I lay atop the covers on my bed, I wondered when I would see Damon again…It was something I couldn’t stop my mind from dwelling on. My decision to go back in time for my writing had been made by now. I was sure it was the right way to go. I might see him again…if not in the flesh, then at least through the memories of my characters. It was more than I had thought to hope for since finishing Submerged In Darkness.

His death nearly broke me in that first book. What would it be like to see him again? Even from afar….my heart beat unevenly for a few seconds. I missed him so. I missed his sweet laughter in my ear as I fell asleep, the teasing smile he sometimes turned on me. More than those things though, more than anything; I missed the sound of his voice. I had grown so used to it in those six months of writing…I barely knew what to do without him. It felt as though I couldn’t function properly without him.

How could I have let this happen? How could I have written his death?

An unfamiliar knock in the vicinity of my bedroom door caught me off guard. I jumped and, as I am wont to do when startled, gave a strange half-screech. My hand flew to my throat and I sat full-up.

Standing just inside my bedroom door (though it had never opened, I knew, because it squeaked terribly) was a woman I had never seen before in my life. She had shoulder-length dark red hair. In the bad light I thought her eyes were dark, but couldn’t be certain. She was only about five feet, four inches and was dressed in green cargo pants and a white spaghetti strap camisole.

I was about to scream, but she held up a hand.

“Wait.” Her voice was deep, catching me off guard, “Are you Shannon A Hiner?”

My eyes flew back and forth wondering if this was a trap. What answer would keep me alive?

“The truth, please. I was told that Shannon A Hiner could help me.”

“Who are you?” I said quickly.

“My name is Cameo.”

I repeated the name under my breath, trying to figure if I had ever heard it before. I didn’t believe I had. I looked at her afresh…she looked different. Not like a normal human. But who would send an immortal to me?

“Look,” the woman sounded exasperated, “If you’re not her that’s fine. I’ll just leave. I don’t have time to waste.”

I made a snap decision, “I am Shannon. Who sent you?”

She had been turning to leave, but when I spoke she turned back, “Someone who knows about your last project.”

“Who?” I repeated, feeling slightly testy at her evasion.

“I am not at liberty to say.”

I sighed, lying back against my pillows. The Immortal World could be such a pain in the ass.

She took a step toward me and, albeit hesitantly, sat down on the end of the bed. “I was told you could…tell stories.”

“Write. I can write stories.” I motioned to the new manuscript on my desk across the room, “If you’d like to read it I only ask that you wait until I’m done proofing it.”

The woman closed her eyes briefly and then shook her head, “No.”

My jaw clenched. I should have been used to rejection by then, but still her refusal hurt me. “That’s fine. You don’t have to. Whatever.”

“You misunderstand me, human.” She looked at her hands briefly before raising her face to meet my eyes defiantly, “I want you to tell my story. Write my story.”

“Your story…” I stared at her. Never had I imagined the characters would come to me. “I-who are you?”

She smiled bitterly, “I am not surprised you have not heard of me. I am something the vampires would like to keep quiet--a black mark on their history. Will you help me? I want the correct story to be told, not the propaganda.”

I was taken aback by the quiet fury that seethed under her calm exterior. Here was a story worth telling for sure. I had a feeling it would be harder to tell than any of the ones that had come before it. Cameo was already incredible to me, and I didn’t even know her yet.

“I will write your story to the best of my ability.”

“It’s not a happy story.” She said it as if she was apologizing.

I smiled at her, “I’ve a feeling it’s a good one though.”

“Thank you.” She stood up, “I will return tomorrow night at eight, if that is acceptable to you.”

“That sounds great.” I watched as she walked back to the door. She opened it, sure enough it squeaked, and left.

Perhaps I would be able to see Damon sooner than I had hoped.

Part 2: Prologue of Shadows On The Wall

Shadows On The Wall
By Shannon A Hiner
The world was burning. Flames licked up the walls and along through the curtains. The books that hadn’t lit yet were smoking. The ones that had went up merrily, scraps of pages whipping through the air. Dust bunnies were blazing out of the recesses between books. The acrid smell of the burning carpet made me want to choke. The oddest noise filtered through the crackling flames, a sort of groan that came from all around.

I could not believe what my eyes told me: the library was burning down. How had this happened? For once I could not feel the itch under my skin. Whatever had happened, it had let the beast free. My memory was lacking in that department, and taking the time now to dig about in my mind seemed unwise. I needed to escape.

Escape! Finally that dear thought occurred to me. Unfortunately, it was too late.

As I ran towards the door the groaning noise I had been hearing suddenly intensified. One of the bookcases started to pitch forward as the flames weakened its stability. I dove out of the way and ended up hitting a different bookcase. The flaming books came tumbling down upon me. And the first bookcase hit the ground, shaking the whole room.

The bookcase that had just spewed books upon me was now leaning towards me, leering in a way I was sure spelled doom. I began pushing the books off of me, trying to get up and out of the way. The flames were coming closer. I could feel my hair becoming singed. Again the groaning sound came as the bookcase pitched forward. More books came flying down, encyclopedias by the feel of them.

One hit me in the forehead and all I could see for a few moments were brightly colored spots, dancing across my vision. Then, before my eyes could clear I felt something smash into my legs. I screamed.

My screams went on and on, never fading. They grew until it was all I could hear. Again the world was on fire. My every nerve ending was searing and even as my screaming finally broke on a sob, I could hear the echo in my head.

Though I was going to die, I was sure, I didn’t think of this. I could not think at all. Everything was simply centered on the pain. If someone had taken the pain away and told me the only alternative was death, I would have leapt at the chance. As it was, I only cried on and on as the flames came nearer and I could not move.

When you are waiting for death, hoping and praying for it, it takes a very long time to come upon you. As the initial pain in my legs subsided before the immediate threat of the fire, I cried and waited for my death.

It seemed like hours, though must have only been seconds. After a time I thought I heard something new. The rise and fall of it was difficult to follow, but somehow very familiar. Two different notes competing, somewhere above me. They went back and forth as I strained to hear and understand.

It was a conversation. One of my eyes was swelling shut where the book had hit me, the other was so close to the flames it stung. I could not see who was having a conversation in the middle of this hell, and that was frustrating me. I had stopped crying as I realized that there were people near, calmly discussing something or other. Why weren’t they saving me? What kind of heartless people…

Suddenly the conversation was much closer and I could make out the words.

“I don’t know about this,” the first voice said. A deep, masculine sound it reverberated through me and I could almost picture the man based solely on his voice. “Are you sure we should intervene?”

“I hope you’re kidding.” This second voice was also a man, but very different. His voice was low and calm, as if he discussed the weather last week. There was something wheedling about it that made my skin crawl. “Didn’t you see what she just did? That was incredible.”

“That’s my point. We can’t control something like that.” The deep voice seemed to rumble with uncertainty and concern.

“Perhaps you cannot.” The second man sounded annoyingly confident, “And whether she can be controlled or not, we cannot let such artwork die.”

“How many do you suppose died in this mess today, Anthony?”

He laughed, “Humans? What do we care?”

The first man’s voice was suddenly much closer. “What do you think you’re going to do with her, anyway?”

“Someone told me a while back that if I wanted loyalty then I wanted one of her kind. What am I going to do with her?” He seemed to think about his, “Whatever I want. Get her up, Montono. Let’s get her home.


I hope you liked it! Comments are welcome!

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