Coven of the Worm

Book One: Estranged Earth

Linda Caldwell attends Putty Hill Senior High with her friends Jane and Candy, where she meets and falls in love with an intriguing young man named David Yeng-Chi.

David seems perfect for her, but he has a dark secret. His father Hamaki had trained him to use a deadly mix of martial arts and magic in the service of his god—Chai'Huon Ju, the Defiler. David is a descendent of the Worm Clan of a long forgotten prehistoric nation called Hunjan. There were other gods and different beliefs among these people, but the Worm Clan had believed in Chai'Huon Ju's legacy of evil.

As the relationship between David and Linda grows, Linda begins to have prophetic dreams warning her to stay away from him. The visions are so insistent and frightening that she surrenders to them and breaks up with David. Enraged, David resolves to have revenge by conjuring his god to Earth.

Linda has a secret too, however—one that might help to save her soul from the Defiler. Prophecy was merely the first of her abilities to develop and—she soon discovers—there were more powers to come.

Book Two: Mystic Moon (in progress)

Eric is the son of David Yeng-Chi, who had unleashed Pure Intensity and wreaked havoc on a Maryland town in 1995—all in the name of revenge. When Eric discovers his true identity, he sets out to fulfill his destiny, which is to assemble a Coven and use it to release his evil god on Earth.

Daniel is an Avatar of the gods, and only he knows how to find the others like him. It is his destiny to gather the Avatars and lead them to battle against the Defiler before he can wage war on Heaven. Together with Dawn Lu, Linda Levinston, and FBI agent Carl Timmers, Daniel searches for Eric and his coven—hoping to find them before they can succeed with their diabolical plans.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daddy's Girl

Okay, I've seen other bloggers do this, so today I thought I'd post an excerpt from my book. This chapter, "Daddy's Girl," comes from the revision, which now has the working title Estranged Earth.

I actually changed a phrase or two for this excerpt, since there's a possiblity some things might be taken out of context. Hopefully, since no one has read this yet, you won't notice the difference anyway.

Daddy's Girl


About 7:45, Carmine dragged himself into the kitchen to find Elaine and Suzanne cooking breakfast. The aroma of scrambled eggs, sausage, and potatoes did little to soften his mood.

Elaine had tossed about in the bed all night, keeping him awake as well. When she looked at him now, as he took his place at the table, she seemed distant and unreachable.

Carmine pretended not to notice.

He hated to ignore her that way, but she didn't understand why he was angry. Neither did he, really.

Carmine worried Linda was not adjusting well after the recent tragedy. She had told that detective about psychic "visions," and then she had a tantrum in her room last night. He wasn't convinced her visions were real, although he wouldn't be surprised if a heathen like David Yeng-Chi was the killer.

It was more likely Linda had or was on the verge of a mental breakdown, fueled by David's reaction to the break up and the murder of a close friend. If so, Carmine hoped he could find the help she needed before it was too late.

He should do something about it now, in fact.

As his eldest daughter began to set the table, he said, "Suzanne, is Linda up yet?"

"I don't think so, Dad," said Suzanne. "Do you want me to check on her?"

"Yes, I do. And make sure she's cleaned up that mess she made last night."

Suzanne shuffled off without commenting.

Elaine spoke up right away, however. Without sitting down, she stared at Carmine anxiously.

"Carmine," she said, "what are you doing?"

"I'm taking care of my family."

"Well, you sure have a great way of going about it."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he snapped.

"Carmine, I'm just concerned. Something happened last night in Linda's room that has me a little scared."

"Exactly. She went nuts and trashed her bedroom. Who was she talking to in there, anyway? There was no one else in the room, but I know I heard her talking."

Elaine glared. "What are you trying to say?"

"I'm saying that I'm afraid our daughter is going crazy, and I'm worried about her—that's all. It's not unusual, considering what happened yesterday, and considering she let that ... that heathen ... confuse her like he did. I think I want her to see a doctor."

"What?" Elaine spat. "Didn't you hear that strange voice last night? It was loud and too deep for Linda. Do you think we all imagined it?"

Carmine shook his head sadly. Am I the only sane person in this house? he wondered.

"I heard Linda's voice," he said aloud, "and nothing else."

"Why are you doing this, Carmine? What is wrong with you?"

Carmine pushed his chair back and shot to his feet. "What's wrong with me?" he shouted. "What are you saying? Shouldn't you be worried about our daughter? She's obviously sick."

"D*** you, Carmine—"

"That's it. I've had it with this." He walked into the living room and shouted up the stairs. "Suzanne, what's taking you so long?"

Suzanne appeared on the landing and said, "It's all right, Dad. She's just finishing up."

"Finishing what?" Carmine demanded and charged up the stairs.

"Carmine!" Elaine yelled, and ran after him.

"Leave it alone, Elaine," he called back. "I'll take care of this."

Again, Suzanne told her father everything was okay but he did not relent. He rushed past her into the room, only to find Linda picking up the last of the mess and tossing it into the bathroom wastebasket.

"Dad, please," said Suzanne.

Ignoring her, Carmine confronted his youngest daughter. "Linda, why did you do this?"

Linda stopped working and seemed confused. "I didn't do it, Daddy."

"Then who did, Linda?"

"I don't know," she whispered.

Carmine turned around, walked out, and headed downstairs for the telephone on his end table.

"Carmine, what are you doing?" Elaine said.

"I'm getting my daughter some help," he replied, as he cradled the receiver between his head and shoulder.

"Put the phone down, Carmine."

Linda emerged from her bedroom and walked halfway down the stairs, while Suzanne remained on the landing.

"Daddy, please don't do this," Linda begged. "Please."

"Sweetheart," said Carmine, looking up at his daughter, "I just want you to be okay."

Elaine put her hand on his shoulder and said, "This isn't the way, Carmine."

He hesitated, wondering if his wife were right. Then he remembered the lamp that had nearly missed his head when it struck the door.

I'll give her one more chance to tell the truth, Carmine thought, and that's all.

"Linda, who were you talking to last night?"

His daughter just stared at him, as if he were speaking in a foreign tongue.

"To whom were you talking?" he demanded again. When she remained silent, he lost his cool. "Linda, answer me!"

"Daddy, please—"

She was crying now, but this did not deter him.

"No, d**mit. It's not just what happened ... it's ... ever since you started dating David—"

"That's enough, Carmine!" Elaine screamed.

Chaos erupted then in the living room. Books started to fly off the bookshelf and it toppled over behind them.

"Go!" Linda yelled. "Send it away!"

In seconds, it was over, but Linda looked drained and frightened. She turned around and ran back up the stairs to her bedroom, then slammed the door shut behind her.

"Are you going to say we imagined that, too?" Elaine said after a minute. "You saw the bookshelf—"

"A coincidence," said Carmine, stubbornly. "Nothing more."

Elaine wept and slowly made her way upstairs—presumably to get dressed.

Her hands gripping the banister, Suzanne stared at her father for several, long minutes. Finally, she too turned her back on him and headed for her room.

Carmine bit his lip in frustration.

I guess I'd better clean this place up.


Carmine sat quietly in his recliner watching football as Elaine and Su finished getting ready. Linda remained in her room and refused to come out, and he was just as happy to leave her there. His family looked at him as the bad guy, and he didn't want to cause more dissension before they left.

The telephone rang and Carmine picked it up.

It was Jane, asking for Linda. He told her that Linda wasn't feeling well and probably would not come to the telephone right now. She sounded worried and was reluctant to hang up immediately.

"She wasn't in school yesterday," said Jane, "and with what happened to Kim—"

Then she started to cry.

Carmine felt like a heel. "Look, Jane, I'm sorry. I know you girls lost a good friend, and it scares me, too. I'm worried about Linda myself, and I think she needs some rest." That was an odd thing for Carmine to say after the way he had behaved earlier. He sighed, thinking that maybe it really was better to let Linda rest—at least for now. "Can you call back tomorrow?"

"Yes, Mister Caldwell," she answered between sobs. "Tell her I said 'Happy Thanksgiving,' will you? Please?"

"No problem. You take care of yourself, too, okay?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, Mister Caldwell."

"You're welcome."

They said their good-byes and Carmine replaced the telephone in its cradle. He picked up the television remote and turned off the set, then called for Elaine.

"Are you ready, Hon?" he said.

Elaine walked down the stairs and looked at him thoughtfully. "Yes," she said. "Suzanne will be down in a second. Linda's not coming."

Carmine grunted but otherwise said nothing.

Turning around, Elaine called upstairs for Suzanne to hurry. "We have to be at my sister's in an hour, okay?"

"Yes, Mom," said Suzanne, as she appeared at the top of the stairs. "I'm ready."

"Good," said her father. "Let's go."

(I'm sorry, but the length of the post was really bothering me, so I decided to break it up. You can read the second half of this chapter here, on the Tower of Light Forums).


Thomma Lyn said...

I enjoyed reading this excerpt -- thank you for sharing it! You do a good job of portraying the difficult family dynamics caused by Linda's plight, particularly the frustration of her father as to just what the heck is going on, the stress in the marriage, and above all, the parents' mutual concern for Linda.

Sounds like Linda's got some very difficult and frightening times to face, but I'm glad she won't be completely alone -- I liked your portrayal of Psyche!

Good luck with this book! :)

Michael said...

Thank you for the wonderful comments, Thomma! I glad you enjoyed it.

bunnygirl said...

I like the family dynamics, and the way the father is in deep denial about what's really going on. Denial is a way of life in my family, so that part felt very real to me.

But I felt like the exchange between Linda and Psyche dragged on. I know from bitter experience how easily someone reading an excerpt can misunderstand the big picture and end up making a horse's behind of themselves. It might be worthwhile to look for ways to streamline the conversation, but if your beta readers have no quibble, please just ignore me. I'm working on information about the trees, not the forest as a whole. :-)

Good luck with this. I take it the draft is complete? When do you plan to start shopping it around?

Michael said...

Thank you, Bunnygirl.

Well, since I really don't don't have any Beta readers (sigh), I welcome the comments. I think maybe that part could use some revision. I had actually revised it very recently, and originally there was very little dialogue; but I thought the story needed a little more exposition about magic and psychic power and it seemed a good place for it.

I'm already shopping around, in fact. I'm getting ready to send out another query now.

bunnygirl said...

I agree with you about how hard it is to know how much to explain. It's such a common struggle that I doubt anyone feels like they get it right.

Besides, readers have their own preferences and stylistic fashions change, so what seems like too much to one person may not be enough to satisfy someone else.

So much of "good" writing, like a "good" suit or haircut, is really just what's in style today.

Michael said...

Still, I appreciate the insight. I'm already mulling over a few ideas on how to work with it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for

your sharing, it's very useful