Quarter to four in the morning–or is it a quarter to five? I hate time change. I get to bed too early, I get up too early, and I sit around a stifling hell of an office.
But I have the edit to Her Demonic Majesty to look forward to tonight, and I am enjoying that a lot. I remember finishing the novel in twenty five days, back during NaNoWriMo, and waiting until right before the first of December to start doing an edit, because why not? I was warned off by My Muse then that I wasn’t spending enough time away from the story before getting into the editing, but did I listen? No. Of course not. She’s a Muse–what does she know?
I should have waited.
It’s a good novel. Yes, I’ve found errors. I’ve found things that needed to be reworded. But, all and all, it’s a good story. A great story, even, particularly for an introductory tale. And the thing moves like a freight train high-ballin’ through the country; I’m already near the end of the second part of the story, and after fifty thousand or so words, about thirty hours have passed in the story world. If I were to rewrite this thing, anything I’d add–I mean, really add, with the intention of padding to one hundred thousand words–would be just that: padding. It’s not needed. The story is fine as it stands.
The chapter I edited last night was one were My Fearless Quartet decided to make their way back to the house–and by “house”, I mean “Huge Freakin’ Mansion”–by making their way through a subway tunnel for the Chicago CTA Green Line. It’s getting on towards night time, it’s cloudy, it’s raining–and these four people are looking for something. Or, I should say, one person is looking for something, and the other three are humoring her.
Allow me to lay another excerpt upon you. Why? Because I’m enjoying this. Without further ado, excerpt from Chapter Fifteen, from Her Demonic Majesty, copyright 2011, 2012, by Raymond Frazee:
Before Diana could say another word Chantel spoke in a loud voice, “This marks the edge of The Castle.” She had Lolita point her torch at the near wall to their left. There was a thick red line going up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the far side. On either side of the lines there was drawn runes for the entire length.
Jeannette stepped up close and examined the markings. “And these are the wards you told me about?”
“Yes. When the city began constructing the tunnel in 1948, Merta insisted that this entire section of subway be warded to prevent people from getting into The Castle. She didn’t want anyone trying to dig upwards into the sub-dungeons from here.”
“And how many layers of wards are there?”
“Eight, total,” Lolita said. “And that doesn’t include the wards that are actually inside the walls of this tunnel and the sub-dungeon floors.”
“So a hell of a lot of them.” Jeannette looked about, nodding. “And we’re how far below the sub-dungeons?”
“From the ceiling to the first floor it’s fifteen meters,” Lolita said. “Fifty feet.”
“And each dungeon level is eight meters?”
Jeannette began walking forward, increasing her pace. “And this runs right under the center line of The Castle?”
Chantel sighed. “Yes, we said that back at Diana’s.”
“I just want to make sure, that’s all.” She looked over her shoulder. “Where’s Merta’s bedroom?”
“Third floor,” Chantel said.
“But where on the third floor?” Jeannette began pointing in different directions. “In the old section or new? North? South? What?”
“In the new section, east and west,” Diana said. Anticipating the next question, she added, “On the south side, not far from the center line.”
“Close to the stairs?”
“Actually, no. I’d say it’s equidistant between either staircase going to the second floor.”
Jeannette turned around, walking backwards a few feet before stopping. “You have a good sense of direction, Chantel,” she said. “How close are we to that point?”
The succubus didn’t need to think about the answer. “I’d say another twenty feet ahead.”
She motioned for Chantel to approach her. “Do you feel anything here?” Jeannette asked.
“What would I feel?”
Jeannette looked about with a quizzical gleam in her eyes. “Gargoyles.”
“There are no gargoyles here. It’s not possible.”
“You’re absolutely sure?”
Chantel’s temper was starting to slip out just a little. “I would absolutely know if they were here, Jeannette! Merta made me create the gargoyles, enchant them, set them in place, give them their orders! I would know!”
“So you’d know if you somehow ordered three gargoyles to come hide here—”
“Of course I would!” Chantel said, her voice rising.
Jeannette smiled. She placed her right hand on Chantel’s left shoulder and, in a soft voice, she said, “Chantel, I order you to remember everything about the gargoyles that Merta ordered you to forget.”
The change that passed over Chantel’s face was instantaneously. One moment she was ready to lose her temper completely and launch into a possibly violent rant—the next instant her anger was replaced by a look of extreme surprise.
Diana couldn’t believe what had just occurred. “Jeannette, what the—”
Chantel raised a hand, cutting Diana off. “How did you know?” she asked.
“Call it a hunch.” Jeannette stepped back and turned slowly, watching in entire tunnel. “Come out,” she called, “I command you.”
Nothing happened for a few seconds, then everyone clearly heard the soft shifting of stone and dirt. In the torch-illuminated darkness it was difficult to see the walls of the tunnel as they began to flow; Lolita quickly turned her torch upon Jeannette, and everyone saw the concrete behind her beginning to swirl like water circling a drain.
Jeannette slowly moved two steps to her right as a huge stone head began emerging from the vortex. As the gargoyle extricated itself, the power to the subway tunnel shut down. “What’s that?” Diana asked. “What’s happening?”
“The gargoyles . . .” Jeannette stood in awe of the creature pulling itself from the wall, only a few feet from her. “They’re doing it. They don’t want a train coming along while they’re not hiding.”
The one before Jeannette was nearly all the way out of the wall; only its hindquarters remained embedded. It was huge: far bigger than a 6-wheeled pickup truck—and being solid, living stone, she knew it had to weigh a hell of a lot more. The square head was larger than her torso. The black, sunken eyes, the two huge fangs rising from its lower jaw, and the backwards curving horns were worthy of any minor demon. The front shoulders were massive, designed to steady and balance the creature while it used the huge front claws—each half the length of Jeanette’s arm.
The rear hips were narrower than the creature’s chest, but the hind legs were strong and muscular: just what the creature needed to propel itself forward into a great, killing leap. And lastly there were the incredibly large wings folded neatly into the gargoyle’s back; Jeannette could only imagine the pants-shitting fear a person would experience upon seeing one of these incredible beasts in flight, coming their way.
Jeannette moved closer to the gargoyle as it regarded her with . . . no, she couldn’t decipher it’s expression. How can you tell what is going on in the mind of an alien creature? she thought. Chantel might be, when appearing human, almost easy to figure out—but trying to understand the thought process of a gargoyle was something she’d leave to the philosophers of this world. She reached out and touched the ridge above the creature’s left eye; it reacted by twisting its head the way a cat might, allowing Jeannette touch it with a comforting hand.
She reached up and began stroking one of the beast’s horns. “You guys kept telling me what an obsessive, paranoid person Merta is . . .” She turned her head, smiling as she continued petting the massive stone creature, which was making low, guttural sounds in the back of its throat as if it were purring. “And if I were that obsessively paranoid, I’d want my ass covered in every way possible.”
You get to see my little beasties as well–ah, they make me so proud. *sniff* And what woman doesn’t want her own gargoyle?
I’ll likely finish up Chapter Fifteen tonight. And then maybe onto Chapter Sixteen, but I don’t know. The thing is, right now–I’m feeling like I want to write. I was in a lull for a bit here, feeling down, feeling . . . I don’t know. Off, maybe? Suddenly, though, I feel re-energized. I want to finish this novel, get it in bed, then move onto Diners. And, yes, I know–query letters! I’ve been laying on that crap for too long. Put it out there, or go home and talk about what could have been–
Talk is cheap. Time for this girl to find her own gargoyles.