The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: September 3rd 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.
While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.
Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.
The Undead: Playing for Keeps Excerpt
Chapter 2 : Eric
“Of all the places,” I mutter. Cornfields and pastures fill the passenger side window in a tortuous repeat. Mile after mile of nothingness. And inactivity. And boredom. “I’m in a small hellhole located in the middle of can’t-find-it-on-a-fucking-map. This is just perfect.”
I pull over and my headlights frame the tall green sign that proclaims the city limits for Martin. A thatch of dead grass surrounds the base of the pole.
“Bet that resembles the residents of this fine town,” I shout. No one’s ever around to hear me or respond.
I roll down the window and the scent of grass and dirt rolls in. There’s no exhaust, no cigarette smoke. The purity of the air confuses my lungs.
Just hours ago, I was in the beautiful and busy paradise of Miami, Florida, where anger, envy, and sin pollute every taken breath and every exposed mind. It’s one of my favorite places. There’s enough activity there to keep someone busy every hour of the day, which is why I want to return. Idle time has painful effects.
Only one car passes while I’m parked on the shoulder, contemplating my purgatory that now goes by the name of Martin.
The passenger handle clicks and the door opens. Deon lowers his head and peers in. “Heard you were coming.” He smiles and the dashboard lights give his teeth a red glow. “Welcome to Martin.”
I shrug. “Yeah. I’m here.”
“So why you?” he asks, his smile not fading.
“Beats the hell out of me.” Exhaust mixes with the night air and enters through the open car door. I take a deep breath.
“No, seriously, this is my territory. Why you?”
I survey my new terrain. Moonlight reveals more nothingness. “I’m not fighting you for it. I was sent. I didn’t have a choice.”
“No one really has a choice.” He slips his frail frame into the passenger seat and closes the door.
“What are you doing?”
“Going for a ride.” He taps the dash twice. “I’ll show you around.”
Understanding the territory will help. I pull back onto the road and my headlights only compete with the moon’s glow until we get closer to civilization. If you can call this actual civilization.
“You’re here as a punishment, aren’t you?”
“Judging by the look of this place, I’d say yeah.”
Deon laughs and adjusts the navy ball cap he wears low on his head. “Everyone knows about you.”
“Really?” I want to take back the word, or rather, my tone. It sounded as if I was interested.
“You’re too messy and over-the-top. You attract attention. And you’re undisciplined.”
I huff. “You finished?
The evolution of The Undead: The importance of editing after time has passed
Photo Credit: Flickr by Jennifer Donley
Writing blogs often suggest letting your manuscript rest between edits. That time allows the story to become fresh again and offers you distance from your work.
The Undead began as a tale told only from Lyla’s vantage point. Her troubles at school were chronicled in detail, along with the tension at home, and oh yeah, the awakening of her ability to resurrect the dead. Eric was a character, but not a main character because we never understood his motivations.
When my editor read my ms for the first time, she had many questions about Eric and suggested I offer more information about him. He was too mysterious, in an incomplete and frustrating way. His motivations were not understood. What did he want? What did he need? I thought long and hard about how to show more of him. But the trouble with showing more about another character written in first person is the fear of info-dumping or labored conversations to include the pertinent past information.
To develop Eric’s character more and make his motivations central to the story, I gave him a voice of his own. And boy did he take off. I could barely keep up with everything he wanted to do and say. His depth of emotion ran deeper than I expected.
Without someone suggesting I offer more and allowing my work to rest, I wouldn’t have thought to push that way.
Having a CP, beta reader, and/or an editor read your work and offer feedback are critical steps for your story. Sometimes a suggestion or question is enough to turn your tale into something deeper and stronger. Especially if you’ve given it enough time.
Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.
She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, writes stories that challenge the laws of nature, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.
Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.
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