Sneak Peek of Dreamstealer

With the release of Dreamstealer looming, here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. This scene was inspired by these little things I saw at work one day. They’re some kind of plant found in the desert, but I’m turning them into something deliciously creepy. Hope you enjoy.

Image copyright Angela Wallace

Image copyright Angela Wallace

Late that night, Lexa lay on top of her bed listening to the rain patter against the window and the wind whistle as it whipped in and out of the towers. She hadn’t meant to drift off, but in the next moment the sounds of the storm had been replaced with the silence of the dreamscape. She wandered absentmindedly until she returned to the dark forest where she had seen Dirk’s specter.

It was still a forest, but the bark on the trees was now black, like a coating of charcoal. The shadows in the canopy and along the forest floor looked bottomless, as though Lexa could fall right into them and be swallowed up. The gnarled trunks creaked and groaned, and the entire wood seemed to be moving, swaying. Something skittered through the treetops. Lexa raised her arm to summon a sword, but a shimmer of light in that dark place caught her attention. A wispy phantom floated toward her.

She froze, hope flickering deep down like a dying ember. “Dirk?”

The skittering in the trees increased in number, tap, tap, tapping so fast the sound started to buzz. The specter stopped ten feet from her. Dirk’s face rippled into view. Lexa gasped. Her hand twitched as though to reach out to him, but she held it back. Was it really him? His mouth moved, but no sound came out.

“What?” she shouted in frustration. The clicking movements were now all around her, though she still couldn’t see anything in the shadows. The trees felt as though they were bending down, oppressive and menacing.

Lexa’s head started to pound. She put her hands up to cover her ears as they throbbed with an intense ringing. “Stop it!” This was her dreamscape; it couldn’t hurt her.

The ghost of Dirk surged forward, enveloping her like a sheet of heavy, muggy fog. In a flash, the mysterious beings in the treetops descended—hundreds of three-legged, talon-shaped insects. They looked like fossilized bird claws, two thin legs curling on top, one on the bottom, with barbs at the tips. The middle body was no wider than a thumb with a split down the center for a mouth, except it looked sewn shut with fibrous roots.

The insects crawled down the trunks and dropped from the leaves onto Lexa’s shoulders. She swatted at them, but in an instant they swarmed over her head and down her body. The wiry thin legs snapped at her, pinching her clothes and hair, weighing her down as they multiplied on top of her. She twisted and turned, trying to get them off, and slipped onto one knee. She gasped, and breathed in the filmy substance that still covered her. Cold, wet slime slid down her throat. Gagging, she fell to her elbows. One of the creatures latched onto her neck and dug its barbs into her flesh. They bore down on her, pressing her face into the mud as she choked on the filmy ectoplasm.

With a shuddering start, she bolted upright in bed.

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Watch for Dreamstealer coming this month! And be sure to read the first book, Dreamwalker, available at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

Add the book on Goodreads.

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Castle in the Sky

Here is another great masterpiece film from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.  In line with Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky is my all-time favorite.  What I love most about these anime films is the breadth of imagination.  Think fantasy and steampunk, toss in quirky characters and gorgeous animation, and add the voice talents of Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamil, Mandy Patinkin, Andy Dick, and many more.

Young Sheeta is a captive on board an airship when it’s attacked by pirates.  In a desperate attempt to escape the government secret agents who kidnapped her and the pirate gang looking for her crystal amulet, Sheeta accidentally falls from the ship.  Her necklace comes to life and floats her gently to earth where a young Pazu catches her.  The two become fast friends, but the army and the pirates are close on their heels.  Everyone wants Sheeta’s family crystal for its power in finding the long lost floating city, Laputa.  When Sheeta is recaptured by the secret agents, Pazu joins forces with Dola’s pirate gang in order to save her and find the legendary city before its power falls into the wrong hands.

The Characters

Sheeta grew up in the mountains where her parents taught her the secrets of their family line as the descendents of the people who built the flying cities from so long ago, before all were lost and man returned to the earth.  All she wants is to be left alone, but the crystal’s power only responds to her own.  She starts out as a scared little girl bent on running away, but with Pazu’s friendship and bravery, she decides to fight back and seek out the city and whatever answers it may hold.

Pazu is an orphan who lives in a mining town.  He works the mines and dreams of building an airship and flying to Laputa, the castle in the sky his father saw once.  No one believed him, and Pazu wants to prove his father right.  He’s always got a smile and a positive attitude.  His loyalty for Sheeta leads him to join up with pirates in order to save her.

Dola is the leader of the pirate gang.  She’s a crazy old woman with guns instead of cats.  Half the crew are her own sons, though she’s insistent they call her “Captain” and not “mother.”  She may seem ruthless, but Pazu and Sheeta bring out the heart in her.

Muska is the secret government agent in charge of finding Laputa and discovering the secrets of its power.  He has no qualms about kidnapping little girls and forcing Sheeta to cooperate.  While he’s got an entire army and huge battleship at his command, Muska’s got secret motives of his own.

It’s a non-stop, fun-filled adventure, and I’ll also add that the soundtrack is pretty good too.

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