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Archive Self Promotion > The Secret Room, Sequel to House of Shadows

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message 1: by Walter (last edited Oct 12, 2012 02:12PM) (new)

Walter Spence (WalterSpence) Having begun The Secret Room, second in The Breed Wars series and sequel to House of Shadows, I thought some folks might enjoy a quick look at the beginning. Feel free to comment. :)


"The first coffee of the day sits like hot mercury in my stomach long after I leave The Warming Hut, my head down, my shoulders hunched. It's cold. Or perhaps I should say colder than usual for San Francisco during this time of year.

A stiff wind blows my way from the nearby shoreline as I navigate the length of the Promenade. It whips my skirt against my bare thighs, a familiar sting. I keep walking.

In the distance I spy the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, rising from a sea of fog as it leaps across the bay. Its orange vermillion struts stand out in sharp contrast against the cloud it appears to rest on, as though the sky has fallen to earth. I neither stop nor pause.

Shortly thereafter I continue past the parking lot on my way to the east sidewalk. As I do, I look up into the face of Joseph Strauss's statue, posed atop its white circular pedestal as though the somber gentleman has been waiting for me.

Then, suddenly, I hear them again. Footsteps. Still some distance behind me, but just a bit louder, just a little closer.

My name is Marie Abigail St. Claire, and I have fifteen minutes to live."

message 2: by Walter (new)

Walter Spence (WalterSpence) (This post was originally created for my blog:

Everyone has his or her own method of writing. Some folks set a daily quota. Me? It doesn't quite work that way.

Unless something is screaming into my ear (a grandchild, a political telemarketer, our cat Little Monster gently inquiring why his food dish is empty with the subtle grace of a puma being poked by a sharp stick), there is nothing I would rather do than write. This presumes, however, that my inner author knows what's coming next, even if I don't.

But sometimes he doesn't.

When that happens, forcing the words to come has any number of applicable metaphors, few of which are publishable. Suffice to say that when this happens, there's little point in forcing the issue, sort of like taking a cat out on a leash for a walk. You can do it after a fashion, but the results are unlikely to be pretty for anyone, least of all the cat.

In the past, writing has always been a difficult blend of hope mingled with despair for me, not unlike trying to hammer a nail with the tip of a screwdriver. It can be done, but if not performed both correctly and precisely, some bleeding will almost certainly occur.

I cannot say for certain what changed. I know when it happened, when I began House of Shadows. What I have yet to figure out is why.

But never look a gift horse in the mouth, goes the cliche. (Unless you're a veterinary dentist, in which case it's kind of your job.)

Despite this unfamiliar knowing, there are still times when the editor within (because I'm too poor to afford an editor without) says to me that the tank is low and needs to be topped off. The downside is that this is a self-renewing process which one has but minimal skill or ability to influence. Like a river, it has to run its course. (See? I can produce an ordinary and tired cliche, just like the average political consultant.)

So recently I've been on a (brief) hiatus from my novel while doing all I can to market House of Shadows (since one has to spend one's downtime doing something). It's tempting to force the issue and just take what comes. But since I believe my best work occurs when I allow my subconscious to catch up with the forefront of my brain, and because I want to give my readers nothing less than my best, and since I don't have a publishing house breathing down my neck (other than my wife, who's been asking for book two about two breaths after she finished book one), I can afford to take just a little bit of time.

But only a bit. Because, quite frankly, I'm as anxious as anyone else to see how this whole thing turns out.

With that in mind, here's the current status of The Secret Room. A little over 4000 words, and I'm sitting here at the end of the last scene like a kid in a roller coaster perched atop one of those mile-high tracks, looking down. It's both scary and exhilarating as hell.

To tide folks over, here's a brief bit from our viewpoint character, Abby, just so you know I'm not full of coprolites:

I have few other specific memories of my toddler years, though there is one which remains strong even to this day.

It was a Saturday evening, and our parents had left to go to the VFW Dance. Our grandparents were unavailable, some church function, so Mother had hired a neighborhood teenager as a babysitter. I have never forgotten her. Her name was Barb Evans, and she truly resembled one of those busty blond icons from Mattel, the kind of girl who could walk down the sidewalk of a busy street while wearing a pair of cutoffs and slow traffic to a crawl.

I could not have been much more than three, and a storm had come up that evening, accompanied by a wind strong enough to rip the eye screw out of the sill and bang the screen door nonstop against the outside wall. I had curled up with my sister in Dad's recliner while listening to the thunder rumbling overhead in electric blue waves as flashes of lightning rang like church bells. Barb grew more and more nervous, jumping when a particularly loud crash shook the house.

Then the lights went out.

Rachael and I screamed; it took Barb several minutes to calm us down. As soon as she did, she got on the phone which (unlike the lights) was still working.

"Is the power out there too?" I heard her say in a rush. "No? Well then, could you give me a hand with these kids and help bring them over? I can't carry both of them by myself, and I don't want to leave one behind." A pause. "I'll leave a note for their parents, okay?" Another pause. "All right. Please hurry."

She sat on the sofa. We scrambled out of the recliner and huddled next to her. Rain beat down on the roof like an flaming red drumroll and the wind roared like a train overhead. Finally someone started pounding on the front door and Barb flew to answer it.

"I'll take her," Barb said as she came back in, pointing at my sister. "You get the other one."

"I can carry both of them," a male voice replied.

"Not and keep the two of them under your umbrella and dry," Barb said. "Rachael's older, but she's a stick and her sister's still carrying a lot of baby fat, so get her if you would please."

I heard him grunt as he walked in, barely clearing the top of the doorway. He reminded me of Daddy, a broad shouldered man with a thick head of hair hanging down over his forehead. I can't remember his face, though. He reached down and hoisted me up with his left arm, the right holding an umbrella dripping water on the floor. I caught the strong bass note of a familiar scent. Old Spice.

"You go first," he told Barb. "That way if you have any problems getting back, I'll see."

She nodded, Rachael a thin bundle in her arms, the blanket from the couch covering both of their heads. "Let's cut through the Beaumont's back yard. It'll save time."

He nodded as he followed her out the front door.

I remember the rain. It fell in thick grey sheets, pounding on the tin roof of the front porch so loudly it hurt my ears.

The man carrying me looked over my head. "Lights are still on," he said. "Get going, I'm right behind you."

I watched with him as Barb made a sudden dash from the porch steps, running like a deer, her bare feet splashing through the innumerable puddles. "Where the hell are your goddamned shoes?" he yelled after her, then looked down at me. "Oops. Um, sorry."

I made no reply, instead burrowing my head into the hot moist space between his neck and shoulder.

"Don't worry," he said, patting my back with a hand as broad and flat as a frying pan. "I'll keep the umbrella over your head. Just close your eyes, and we'll be there in nothing flat."

He leaped down from the porch into the downpour and had time to take two steps.

Then the world exploded.

message 3: by Walter (new)

Walter Spence (WalterSpence) Thought I would mention here that The Secret Room's predecessor, House of Shadows, is the February Book of the Month at the Indie Book Club here on Goodreads.

Here's a link to the thread, for anyone who's interested:

message 4: by Walter (new)

Walter Spence (WalterSpence) Just recently discovered that Goodreads has a function which allows an author to upload an excerpt from his or her book for the reading pleasure of the folks herein.

Which I've now done for House of Shadows. If anyone would like to read the beginning of this novel, click on the above link and look below the cover image for the 'Read Book' button.

Hope you enjoy. :)

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