Writing

It’s Been a While and First Pages of WIP

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last post! A LOT happened in the past year. I moved, changed jobs AND totally revised Catalyst, my work in progress. It has now been through numerous rewrites and beta readers and I’m ready to send it out to agents and publishers. Here are the first few pages to give you a taste.

Chapter 1

I’ve had glimpses of something beyond my five senses. Usually it’s premonitions and intuition, but four years ago when I was in middle school I communicated with the spirit of a Native American girl. I want to experience that again, but I don’t know how. Sometimes she inhabits my dreams and I wake up wishing I could connect with her while I’m awake and wondering if I imagined it all in the first place. It feels like a door that was once open to me is shut and I don’t have the key. Thinking about it gives me a vague, unsettled feeling. It’s like something is missing from my life.

I give myself a mental shake and pull the door handle to get out of the car, determined not to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully the next few weeks will keep my mind occupied with other things.

We arrive at the Angel Mounds archaeological dig site in time for dinner. That’s when all the students in the field study are supposed to arrive for orientation and a ‘meet-and greet’ evening as my mom refers to it. It’s her dig. She’s an archaeologist at the University and I’ve been to several of her sites over the years, but this is my first time actually working on a site. Not bad for a summer job – at least that’s what I’m hoping. It’s unpaid, but still great experience. She was able to get all three of us – me, Eric and his girlfriend, Renee – spots on the dig team.

I’m checking out the people milling around the clearing when I see them. Their presence immediately commands my attention.

Most of the others are probably college students from the University, archaeology or anthropology students, doing a summer field study course, but these two are different.

The man suddenly turns and looks me straight in the eye. It’s as if he senses me looking at him, or thinking about him. Because that’s how it feels. Like he’s reaching out and touching my thoughts. I hear him say, ‘hello, Marcie’, not audibly, but inside my mind. I take a slight step back, startled, but hold his gaze and the connection between us. In my previous experiences I’d never heard words spoken. Just thoughts and feelings. He inclines his head toward me and touches the brim of his hat before returning to talk to his blond companion. I’m a little disturbed by the whole exchange. Something about him makes me uneasy. My skin shivers and I rub my arms to dispel the feeling. Who is this guy and how had he communicated with me?

I shift my gaze to the woman. Her caramel-colored hair is braided into a heavy rope hanging down her back and she’s gesturing in smooth, fluid motions as she talks. She gives the impression of being both still and animated, reminding me of a cat stalking its prey, immobile save for the twitching of its tail. Contained is the word that comes to mind. The way her eyes roam over the other waiting people, stopping only briefly to look at me, enhances the feline resemblance.

They’re standing off to one side of the shelter with their heads together and holding clipboards, deep in conversation. Both are dressed like everyone else in shorts and t-shirts with beat-up boots and hats. The guy has his back to me, talking to the girl, or woman, as they are obviously older, probably graduate students. His hair is black and smooth, held back by a leather tie. It isn’t that they look any different from anyone else. They feel different. They have a palpable energy about them.

Wish me luck on my submissions!

Writing

Research Road Trip – Archaeology Field Study

I love research!

I’ve started working on my next book featuring Eric and Renee and some new characters. Part of the setting is an archaeolgical dig site in southern Indiana. I wanted to get some hands on experience with an actual dig, so last weekend I embarked on a research roadtrip!  I had the most incredible weekend driving across  picturesque southernIndiana and Illinois!

Dr. Susan Alt of Indiana University generously allowed me to spend a morning observing a Field Study student dig site at Emerald Mounds – a Mississippian Era Native American site about 20 miles east of St. Louis. Students from the University of Illinois and Indiana University are spending six to eight weeks excavating a site that is at risk of being lost due to farming and erosion. I am a science geek at heart and it was incredibly cool to get to watch them at work!!

I also visited Angel Mounds near Evansville, IN and Cahokia Mounds in Illinois just east of St. Louis. All three sites are settlements of Native Americans who lived there until about the year 1400. The Cahokia site had more inhabitants during its heyday than London did at the same time.

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Here is the Field Study team who allowed me to peek over their shoulders as they worked.

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Working on the site.

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Fragrant milkweed.

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Learning excavation techniques.

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The site is in a very beautiful farmland/pastoral setting on a bluff overlooking St. Louis in the distance.