Presenting … the first-ever excerpt from my novel!

I was originally going to write this post about my resolutions for the upcoming year, but then I thought, “Damn it, Michelle, your blogging compatriots deserve more! What are you, a man or a machete?” Since I am neither, I immediately dismissed that thought.

But then I had another thought. And that thought was to post an excerpt from Imminent Danger. Since my new thought didn’t involve any gender changes or sharp objects, I decided to roll with it. The novel will be published at some point in January, after all, so what better day to release the first-ever excerpt than New Year’s Day?

Therefore, without any further ado, I present to you Chapter 1 of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It.

Fasten your seatbelts. And forgive the lack of indents, as WordPress formatting tools live to bewilder and perplex me.

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1

“Personally, I think the existence of extraterrestrial beings is a scientific improbability. Just because there’s life on Earth doesn’t mean there’s life on other planets. Until we find evidence that aliens do exist, I think we’re wasting time and energy searching for something that’s probably not even there.”

Folding her speaking notes closed, Eris stared out at her fellow students in the high school science classroom. If any of them had found her presentation particularly intriguing, it didn’t show. Most were too busy reviewing their own speaking notes in case Mr. Pingree decided to squeeze in one more presentation before the bell rang. The students who had already finished their presentations were staring out the window, texting under their desks, or sleeping.

Mr. Pingree crossed his arms and addressed the class. “Any thoughts? Eris raised some excellent points.”

He was met with silence.

“Come now,” the tweed-clad teacher cajoled, wiggling his eyebrows as if this lighthearted display could somehow inject life into his zombified audience. “Aliens, ladies and gentlemen! Little green men from Mars! UFOs! Someone must have an opinion.”

A boy in the back row raised his hand. “I don’t know about little green men,” he said, “but that blue chick from Avatar’s pretty hot.” His friends hooted their agreement and exchanged congratulatory high-fives.

Mr. Pingree apparently sensed that expecting intelligent class participation at such an early hour might be asking too much from his teenage students. “All right,” he sighed. “An excellent and thorough presentation, Eris. You may return to your seat.”

Eris smiled tightly at her teacher and hurried back to her desk. She disliked public speaking, especially when a misstep could make her the latest target of the formidable Barlow Collegiate gossip mill. Luckily for me, no one ever listens to class presentations, she thought.

She was out the door as soon as the bell rang, anxious to get back to her dorm and take the shower she had skipped that morning in favor of going over her presentation notes one last time. As she walked along one of the many pathways that crisscrossed the high school campus, she kept her head down and avoided all eye contact with her fellow students.

Once safely back in her dorm room, Eris finally started to relax. She spent a moment rummaging around for her toiletries and a towel and then locked her door and headed to the suite bathroom for a relaxing shower. But barely halfway through, the water switched from pleasantly warm to freezing cold. Eris frantically rinsed the conditioner from her long, dark brown hair. Then she wrenched off the faucet and jumped out of the shower.

Looking for her robe, Eris realized she had left it in her room. Silently berating herself, she took the towel she had brought to use as a turban for her wet hair and instead wrapped it around her body. Pressing the top of the towel firmly under her armpits, she gathered up her clothes and clutched them under one arm. With her soaking hair dripping down her back, she stepped out into the hallway.

A deep, male voice sounded from the common room, accompanied by female laughter. As Eris fumbled the key card from her bundle of clothes to unlock her door, she heard the voice say loudly, “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” This high-pitched voice with a slight British lilt belonged to Lisa Brightman, one of Eris’s roommates. Of the three girls who shared her suite, Eris found Lisa to be the most tolerable. The other two girls acted so vacuous that blonde jokes were remarkably close to doing them justice.

“The door,” said the young man. “Didn’t you say Mallory’s in class?”

“Well, she is …”

Heavy footsteps pounded on the floor as Lisa’s jock boyfriend, Josh Fisher, poked his head around the corner. “Yo, Mal, where were you last night? I thought we were gonna—whoa!”

Eris froze and blushed as the handsome rugby player gave her a once-over. His head jerked back toward the common room as he called out, “Babe! Who’s the naked chick?” Josh’s eyes returned to her towel-clad body.

The key card practically flew from Eris’s hand and plunged into the lock. Yanking the door open, she dove into the safety of her private room, the door slamming shut behind her.

“Lisa! You been holding out on me, babe?” Eris heard him yell, accompanied by the sound of receding footsteps. “Your roommate’s kinda hot!”

“So?” Lisa demanded.

“You said she was a nerd!”

Eris tried to glare daggers through the door. It didn’t work, of course. All it did was attract her attention to the full-length mirror attached to the back of the door. “How does being a nerd automatically make me unattractive?” she grumbled, eyeing her slim, admittedly less-than-luscious curves. “Maybe I don’t flaunt my body, but I’ve still got it where it counts.” She smoothed the towel down over her hips and sighed. “Keep telling yourself that, Eris.”

“I never said that!” Lisa’s shrill voice cried from the common room. “I said she never parties with us!”

And that makes me a nerd how? Eris thought.

“Fine, babe, whatever you say,” Josh said. Eris knew that the rugby player was right now raising his hands in surrender before her very persuasive roommate. Lisa was commonly referred to as “that smokin’ hot British chick,” and she generally got her way where boys were concerned.

Eris wished she had a fraction of Lisa’s natural good looks and poise. Growing up, Eris hadn’t been given the usual advice that other girls received from their mothers. Most mothers taught their daughters how to dress stylishly, how to wax their eyebrows, and how to wear makeup. But Ms. Miller, a divorced feminist entirely disillusioned with men, had always insisted that following fashion trends turned you into a mindless automaton, waxing was unnatural, and wearing makeup didn’t make you more attractive; it only made you look like you were wearing makeup.

Three years ago, when Eris had first set foot on the campus of Barlow Collegiate as a freshman, she’d had an unpleasant surprise. Not that middle school hadn’t been enough of an eye-opener, but in high school, looking good seemed to be an obsession—that, and getting drunk and high, but Eris’s mother had turned her off those as well. Eris had tried vodka at the only residence party she had ever attended but hadn’t liked the fuzzy-headed feeling it gave her. Drinking herself into a stupor had never struck Eris as particularly appealing.

It’s not that I mind not fitting in here, she reflected. Well, fine, of course I do. Who wouldn’t? But if fitting in means showing up to class stoned or going to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, I think I’ll pass.

She could still hear Josh and Lisa talking and laughing in the common room. To her dismay, Eris felt a familiar pang of longing. I wish someone would talk to me like that. He doesn’t have to be cool or handsome like Josh. Just a nice, sweet guy who would make me feel wanted.

She sighed. “Who am I kidding? I don’t have a chance, not with girls like Lisa around.” Eris grabbed the bottom edge of her towel, gave her mirror a practice curtsy, and then rolled her eyes. “Might as well wait for Prince Charming to appear out of thin air and sweep me off my feet, for all the good it’ll do me.”

She pulled on a pair of jeans, her favorite purple hoodie, and worn sneakers. Normally she had to wear the school uniform—a pleated green skirt and white shirt—but today was casual Friday. After a quick trip to the bathroom to brush her teeth and fix her long hair into a ponytail, Eris gathered up her books, put on a coat, and hurried from the suite. Josh and Lisa barely glanced at her as she passed by.

Eris decided to take the elevator down to the ground floor even though the plodding old contraption was long past its prime. Although that will mean missing this month’s “art exhibition,” she thought. Last month, the stairwell had been splattered crimson from top to bottom, thanks to three seniors, a bottle of tequila, and a can of red paint.

When the elevator doors finally grated open, Eris stepped inside and pressed the M button. “Hold it!” a familiar voice called as the doors lumbered shut. Josh barreled into the elevator, book bag flung over his shoulder.

Feeling very awkward, Eris stared at her school bag while the elevator descended, avoiding eye contact with Josh. She wasn’t used to being alone and so close to an attractive member of the opposite sex. When something touched her arm, she was so startled she yelped and jumped away.

“Sorry!” Josh exclaimed, giving her a weird look. “I was just being friendly. Chill.”

Eris flushed and rubbed her forehead. “No, sorry, it was my fault. I’m not used to people touching me. Strangers, I mean.” Thank God I stopped myself from saying “boys.”

Josh chuckled. “Considering that I just saw you half-naked, I wouldn’t call us strangers.”

Eris’s jaw dropped. “What would you call us, then?

“I’m sure I could think of something.”

“I’m not entirely sure you could.”

Before he could respond, the elevator doors opened on the main floor and Eris rushed out. She wanted to be far away from Josh in case he ever figured out what she had meant.

She had ten minutes to get to Calculus, so she set off along the bustling, tree-lined pathway that led to the science building. Eris found something comforting about being lost in the flow of students—it made her feel like she belonged, and that was something that didn’t happen very often.

Just as Eris was passing the thick row of pine trees that lined the path near the science building, she felt suddenly uneasy. She stopped and looked around but could see nothing out of the ordinary. “Stop being so paranoid,” Eris muttered. She hoisted the book bag farther up her shoulder and continued walking.

A flash of movement among the pine trees startled her, and she stopped again. “Watch it!” a girl snapped, almost running into Eris.

“Sorry,” Eris mumbled and quickly stepped off the path.

Convinced there was something moving behind the pine trees, Eris tried to peer through the dense screen of green needles, but the morning sunlight was filtered by thick gray clouds, making it too dim to see. Probably just some idiot getting high before class, she decided, turning to resume her journey.

Suddenly, a large, blue, scaly, clawed hand darted out from among the trees and closed around Eris’s wrist. The hand gave a single tug, and before she could open her mouth to scream, she was yanked backward into the pines.

Terrified, Eris flailed her limbs and attempted to shriek, but a second scaly hand closed over her mouth, muffling the sound. Her survival instinct kicked in, and she lashed out, trying to struggle free of her captor by elbowing and kicking. Then a third hand wrapped around her torso to trap her arms, and a fourth and fifth grabbed her legs. A gang attack? Eris thought incredulously. And they’re all wearing … scaly gloves? What the hell?

A sixth hand tilted her head back, and a vial of glowing blue liquid descended toward her lips. Eris clamped her mouth shut, but her jaw went slack the instant the vial touched her. She could feel a disgusting fluid trickling down her throat. Her terror doubled when she realized her arms and legs were going numb. Seconds later, she was completely paralyzed.

Eris’s captor hissed, and then she felt someone pull the book bag off her shoulder. She tried to see who was attacking her, but there wasn’t enough light. All she could make out were several huge figures, easily seven or eight feet tall. It seemed as if there were far too many arms for the number of bodies, but Eris assumed that was just a trick of the shadows.

Her books were soon tossed aside. Her laptop was discarded as well, flung at the wall of the science building, where she heard it shatter. Just as the space bar flew through the air and landed at Eris’s feet, she began to feel the world spinning. That stuff they made me drink … must have … The words blurred in her mind as she lost the ability to form a coherent thought.

One of her assailants poked Eris’s paralyzed body and emitted a sound like that of a decompressing balloon—phhh … phhh … phhh.

Eris’s world went black.

stars

So there you have it! Sweet, innocent little Eris has been dragged into the trees and abducted by strange, scaly, malicious personages with a suspiciously high number of limbs. Whatever will happen to her next?

You’ll have to read my book to find out!

Mwahahahahahahaha.

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Categories: iUniverse, My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

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70 thoughts on “Presenting … the first-ever excerpt from my novel!

  1. Intriguing! I do love a story that gets into the thick of the action straight away. Eris *so* reminds me of myself (except I fear I’m a little more generous about the hips than she seems to be). You’ve got me wondering why she, in particular, has been picked for abduction, as well as ‘those blue scaly ragamuffins better replace her laptop!’ 🙂 I really enjoyed the read – thanks! And, of course, Happy New Year!

  2. Love your style and you did keep us wanting to turn the page!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  3. I’ll be back later to read this. So busy right now. Loves.

  4. Yay you! Great read, Michelle.

  5. Papizilla

    Reblogged this on The Ranting Papizilla and commented:
    Another of the blogging peeps getting ready to publish. Here is Chapter 1, a teaser if you will.

  6. Reblogged this on Shaven Wookiee and commented:
    An excerpt of a friend’s novel, really loved reading this!

  7. Sounds interesting so far!

    • Thanks! Things get *really* interesting around chapter 8 (hint: enter dashing space pirate love interest) but 8 chapters is a bit long to be an excerpt, hahaha.

  8. A gripping start! Will there be an e-book option once it’s published? I have a new ebook reader waiting to be stocked.

    • There will indeed be an ebook option! And congrats on the new ebook reader! Which one did you get? Kindle Fire?

      • A Sony with wi-fi (which I haven’t used yet). So far I’ve used it for books from Smashwords — including my own, of course. One neat feature is that you can scribble notes on the screen — very handy for the aaargh-worthy moment when you find an overlooked typo in your own book! Whenever you make one of these handwritten notes, the page is recorded so you can find and correct the error in your text file.

  9. Engrossing from the beginning. Good pacing. Good description. You made me care about Eris. I’ll be glad to read it. Happy New Year!

  10. Can’t wait to read it Michelle! Happy New Year!

  11. Nice excerpt, Ms. Proulx. Very, very nice. I almost felt like I was in high school again…at least, until the ET showed up. Happy New Year and great work!

    • Wait, you mean there weren’t alien abductions at your high school? Television has led me to believe UFOs show up regularly at American high schools. The media has lied to me …

      And thanks 🙂

      • Well, I suppose that depends on where you live. LIke, Alaska, Ohio (maybe), and I’m certain everyone in Texas has been abducted at some point… That’s just going by the high strangeness of people like Rick Perry and George Dubya Bush.

        And not a problem 🙂

      • Oh…Californians… Especially the ones from Hollywood… I think they’re all hybrids or the like. Over and out.

  12. I loved it!
    I want to read more….How long will it take to come out?
    1 question, why does Eris live at a dorm in High School? is it a boarding/private school. Most High Schools I know don’t have kids living there.

    I’ll DM you in the next few days to work some stuff out, alright?
    ((hugs))

  13. I’m already lost. Damn me and me American inability to know what the heck a common room is! Aside from that and having to look up the word “lilt,” i am so excited to read it.

    • Yay! And I read Harry Potter when I was a child, so I think that’s why British terminology seems to have snuck into my writing.

      Oh yes, I wanted to ask you — I already sent in my text revisions for the interior, but my mother was going over the final proof and noticed a typo. Ack! I know it’s $100 for 25 corrections, but do you think they’d make an exception for a single typo since the iUniverse copy-editor didn’t catch it either? I mean, I paid them good money for that edit — shouldn’t they be held responsible if the editor missed an obvious typo?

      • Yeah, they don’t see it that way, since they give you the final option to edit it. They’ll say it was up to you to catch it, but you can contact your PSA and see if it hasn’t gone to print if they can add it in. Couldn’t hurt to try. My editors missed almost 50 typos, and after the print we’ve caught so many more. Katherine found some in hers too and is paying the $100 to fix it, but she said something about it taking 4 months to hit the market. I’m confused on that part.

        • Well, I haven’t given them my final approval yet, so I don’t think they’ve sent it to the printer yet or anything. Maybe Katherine’s fixes are taking so long because her book is already released and she wants to make changes now? Or did she get the typos fixed before the book went to print?

          • Her book has been out for a few months. I think she meant that it would take 4 months for the changes to appear, but it sounded like it might halt production of the book for 4 months. That’s where I was confused. I think once you send in your final edits and have approved the cover that is it. I remember sending in my final edit and two weeks later the book was out.

            • Yeah, they said it would only take a few weeks to get the book in production. And is it just me, or is $100 an awful lot for 25 measly text changes? I could make 25 text changes inside of 15 minutes. So unless their designers are getting paid $400 an hour …

              • it’s profit margin. And punishment. If they are sadists then they win either way

                • Do you think you would publish with iUniverse again? I mean, the finished product they put out is really nice, but … I’m still not sold that it’s worth the money. You’re completely done the publishing process — thoughts?

                  • I’m currently looking at other options, but its still the time constraints that are my biggest obstacle. I had a rep send me an email of concern after I posted the royalties blog, so apparently “they are watching.” That was kind a creepy, but he only wanted to know if I had any concerns or questions he could answer. I’m torn. They haven’t done me wrong, but I’d like more flexibility.

                    • I think they must have an employee who just monitors social media for mentions of iUniverse. The same thing happened to me when I posted on WordPress some questions about how to use JustHost (website host) — they sent me an email answering my questions and telling me to call them if I needed clarification. I guess it’s nice to know that iUniverse is willing to help, but yes, a little bit creepy 😀

                      Speaking of iUniverse, I’m currently in a very bad mood with them, and might just write a post about it if this message to you doesn’t calm me down. Basically, there is a silhouette of two people on the front cover. I sent them a rough mockup a month or so back, and they return a cover design that was … well, I think I posted about it. Anyway, the silhouettes they used were awful — the girl looked pregnant and the guy was bald and hunched over. So when I sent in my cover proof form, I asked them to use different silhouettes, and I made a rough (read: ROUGH) mockup of what the new silhouettes would look like. When they returned the final cover proof to me last week, I discovered that not only had they used the rough mockup I sent instead of creating their own silhouette, they shrunk the silhouettes 25% from the original cover design for no reason and didn’t even match the new silhouettes to the silhouettes on the spine.

                      Long story short, I figured that if they were determined to use my awful rough mockup because they couldn’t bother to make their own, I might as well make the mockup decent. So I spent a few days fixing it up, and sent it back to iUniverse with the instructions to use this one, make sure it’s the same size as the silhouettes used to be, and to make sure it matched the silhouette on the spine. Since this entire mess is their fault due to their extreme incompetence, I figured that would be the end of it. Now they’re asking $70 to implement the changes.

                      AHHHH! So I will have to call them today and figure out just what exactly is wrong with their reasoning process. I have a feeling they’re going to make me shell out the $70 regardless of what I say to them. I’m trying to remain hopeful, but this whole cover design fiasco has severely tested my faith in them.

                      Anyway, that’s my current take on iUniverse 🙂 Updates when they happen 🙂

                    • Fortunately, I submitted my cover photo with all the coloring tints and hues I wanted. All they had to do was do the typeface, and the one they sent was in some romantic script. I told them repeatedly it was not a romance! Sure there was some in it, but that wasn’t the main theme. To make it very easy on them, I told them to just use Georgia font and be done with it. I believe katherine had major issues with the cover also, but they got it right in the end. By the way, they outsource their graphic artists, which is probably why they charge. I’ll be using blueharvestcreative.com in the future for all my art work. Nice people, small business, and they listen…that’s hard to come by

                    • Blue Harvest looks great. I’ll definitely have to keep them in mind for future books. And I remember you mentioning Katherine’s problems with the cover design. I sense that’s a recurring theme with iUniverse. Maybe they should hire some better cover designers, lol.

                    • I think if I were to use them again, I wouldn’t purchase a big package. I would simply use them so I don’t have to do the work of distribution and formatting. I looked into a small publishing press, they’re royalties are only slightly higher, about .50 cents more per book. But I created my own FB page, twitter account, and website, so I wouldn’t pay for those services again. I’d say, pay the $70 if you have too, because the 1st impression of your book is the cover, and you shouldn’t cringe every time you look at it.

                    • That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. I’m going to try to talk my PSA out of making me pay the $70, but I have a feeling that won’t work. Still, never hurts to give it a shot, right?

  14. Pingback: Resolutions still count if they’re a day late, right? « Michelle Proulx Official

  15. Kim

    I already love your main character. And great pacing as well! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  16. Oh, you are a marketing genius! Give us just enough to suck us in, so we will buy the book. I’m waiting in line, and when is your first book signing. 😉 … Michelle, I love this. Your writing is descriptive without being excessive, and I can see everything so clearly. Eris is already a likable character, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to her. … I’m really excited and happy for you!

    • Well, they do call me Michelle “Master of Marketing” Proulx 😀 That’s a blatant lie, they call me nothing of the sort. In fact, my brother calls me “Golden Retriever Shelli” because of my tendency to eat until my stomach hurts. Although I think he’s confusing golden retrievers with labs.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed it 🙂 My first book signing is approximately three weeks after whenever my mother (bless her turtle-speed-reading heart) finishes doing the final proofread.

  17. I can’t wait for the book! I’ll be scouring the shelves for this promising novel as soon as it is out! From what I read, Eris has a lovely personality – a diamond who purposefully buried itself in the rough – and I can’t wait to meet the intriguing “space pirate love interest”

    • Well, unfortunately it won’t be on physical shelves, but you can definitely find it on virtual shelves! And I can’t wait for the world to meet her space pirate love interest either 🙂 I’m kind of in love with him (lol!)

  18. Ooooooo, intriguing 😉

    Xx

  19. Michelle
    Loved it. I promised myself I would read the excerpt after I’d done some ‘work’, but I ended up reading the whole thing.

    Just one teeny little gripe – I was thrown out when I read; ‘…then locked her door and headed to the suite bathroom for a relaxing shower. But barely halfway through, the water switched from pleasantly warm to freezing cold.’ because my imagination had her being doused with water while she was still heading down the corridor.

    Can you see what I mean? 😦
    It feels like a tiny continuity skip.

    But I deffo want to read MORE. Do you have a release date yet?
    X

  20. I like this. I think I could read the whole thing, which is amazing since I haven’t been able to read for years. Good job!

  21. Also…. what is iUniverse, and how do you self publish? I’ve never heard of that.

    • Well, first of all, I’m glad my excerpt seems to have somehow restored your desire to read. Yay! And iUniverse is a self-publishing company. Basically, you pay them money and they publish a book for you. It’s a bit more complicated than that, obviously. They have a design department and an editorial department and a marketing department … essentially they offer you all the services that a traditional publishing house would, except you’re paying them instead of the other way around.

      You can also self-publish entirely by yourself, which involves you editing your own manuscript, designing your own cover, and distributing it to various website for sale. You can also outsource the parts you don’t want to do or would rather have a professional do — e.g., cover design. Most people seem to be self-publishing via Smashwords, which is a website that sells ebooks from indie authors.

      • Ooh, cool. Is traditional publishing not as big a thing as it used to be, or it is more just because we can do a lot online now?

        • Traditional publishing is still big, but it’s really hard to get into as an author. First you have to find an agent willing to represent you, and then that agent has to find a publishing house willing to take you. I would say that traditional publishing hasn’t shrank — self-publishing has just grown. And ebook sales are up something like 300%, so pretty much everyone — traditional publishers and self-publishers included — are focusing a lot more attention these days on electronic sales.

  22. Finally got round to reading all of this. I have to find out who these blokes in scaly suits are. Or if they are real aliens – it’ll take some convincing! 😉 This will be on Kindle, right? Looking forward to it. 🙂

  23. I enjoyed that excerpt – thanks! Some nice descriptive phrasing I thought. I write thrillers so your style is completely different to mine. It’s nice to compare though.

    I have added a first chapter on my blog recently too… every tells me that’s the way to go – give them a teaser – try before you buy – “do you want fries with that sir?”

    And finally the bit “Mwahahahahahahaha” at the end is that your evil echoey laugh?

    • Oh yeah, I can imagine how thriller vs. YA would be totally different! And I totally agree with the try before you buy mentality. Especially with so many books being offered for free these days — there has to be some incentive for the person to buy. And yes, that would be my evil cackle at the end. I’ve been told my evil laughter is downright disturbing, so I try not to do it out loud too often 😀

  24. Pingback: Presenting … Chapter 2 of “Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It” | Michelle Proulx - The Blog

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