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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Weather

One of the things that makes a book come alive for me is the backdrop, especially the use of weather and terrain. My most popular book is Songbirds are Free, the true story of Mary Neely and her capture by Shawnee warriors in 1780. In the scene below, she managed to escape her captors, only to have them track her to an abandoned village in the middle of the night:

Mary bolted upright as a wicked crack of thunder erupted in the night. Her heart pounded as a simultaneous lightning flash sliced through the shadows.


The next instant she was plunged into a darkness as black as pitch. Unable to see her hands in front of her face, she groped behind her until she located the back wall, and then settled against it. Outside the storm raged, the water pounding against the roof and walls with such fervor that she grew concerned the aging structure would not hold.

As another flash of lightning lit up the interior, she spotted a rivulet encroaching into the hut. She backed further into the opposite corner and drew her legs under her.

Every muscle in her body ached. Her feet, now crammed into her shoes, felt swollen and cramped, the soles bruised and cut from countless brambles and rocks. Each leg and arm had grown heavy, causing every movement to become excruciating.

As the storm raged, Mary’s eyes instinctively gravitated to the open doorway, where the sheets of rain howled as if trying to enter. Forked lightning illuminated the sky as a simultaneous crack of thunder seemed to shake the ground.

With the next burst of light, a figure appeared in the doorway of the hut, filling the entrance.

Mary gasped. Her body was paralyzed while her mind raced. Every hair on her small frame stood completely erect.

There was no way out. The figure blocked her only exit.

The next flash revealed the form still in the doorway as if he hadn’t moved a single muscle. For the briefest of moments, she caught sight of an almost naked body, the chest, arms, legs and face painted with black and red stripes, the hair plucked to the scalp except for one shiny black patch on top, from which a single long tail extended.

She realized her nails were pressing hard into the sides of her bowl. Yet she was unable to let go. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she saw herself sitting completely still, her bowl clutched in her fingers with the intensity of a mother protecting her child.

When the next burst came, he was standing over her.

2 comments:

onespoiledcat said...

A truly wonderfully written book. "Songbirds" was alive on the page from the first paragraph to the last. Great atmosphere, characters, action, dialogue - and a story that was based in facts contained in the pages of your ancestor's actual journal. You did a masterful job of weaving all the parts - fabulous book.

Pam

p.m.terrell said...

Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment, Pam! I appreciate all the kind words about "Songbirds"... It was definitely a labor of love. Mary Neely was quite a woman!