Trunk Novel Snippets

Talk to just about any published writer, and they’ll be able to regale you with all their novels-that-never-came-to-be. Maybe they’ll call them their “practice” novels. Or their “trunked” novels. Or simply novels they’ve “set aside for now.”

Maybe they’ll only have one or two of them. Maybe they’ll have twenty.

But very rarely will a writer publish the very first book they write—and then go on to publish every story they write afterward.

These can be a lot of fun to look back on. If nothing else, they chart your learning progress. It can be pretty heartening to look back on something you wrote three years ago—something that at the time you thought was the best thing you’d ever written—and realize that you can do a hell of a better job now.

Writing is one of those things where it can sometimes be hard to feel like you’re making any progress. It’s not like drawing, where you “see” your progress more easily, or sports, where there can be clearer markers of improvement. You just write and write and sometimes, you wonder if you’re just turning the wheels in place.

And who knows—maybe one day in the future, these “trunk” novels will get reworked and become published! But in the mean time, they live in slightly dusty notebooks and deep in the crevices of our hard drives.

I asked the Pub Crawl crew to share a few lines from some of their never-published works. I don’t know about you, but after reading them, I’m dying for the rest of these books!

S. Jae-Jones (JJ)
From an unpublished adult literary novel

JJIt had been years since she knelt on the hard wooden pews of the Giraffes’ church, years since she had been asked to absorb, to translate, to understand the abstract. She had always been concerned with the tangible, the practical, the mundane; she had no use for God or metaphysics. She was a scholar of the corporeal, not of philosophy or, heaven forbid, poetry.

Stephanie Garber
From an unpublished space opera

Stephanie Garber SquareI went over the most recent list of tragic things I’d experienced:

Captured by a blood solider.

Kidnapped by a fake pirate.

Fitted with a deadly collar.

Stranded on a planet full of cannibals.

Locked in room with a giant nest.

I chuckled inappropriately at the last ill thought. A nest. I laughed harder the more I thought of it. There was hardly anything terrible about a nest. Uncomfortable? Yes. Itchy? Absolutely. Terrible and frightening? Not quite.

Stacey Lee

Stacey Lee SquareJared Noble stops when he sees me, the elastic mouth that always seems to be chewing on something swinging open. He points his fishing pole at me, and his muddy eyes grow gleeful. “What are you doing here, Teat Daniels?”

“It’s Tate,” I grumble. “And I got the same right to be here as you.”

“You ain’t fishing. I don’t see no pole. Unless you’re playing a different kind of pole?” He makes an obscene gesture with his fishing rod.

“Get stuffed,” I growl.

Eugene Myers
From an unpublished young adult novel

EC MyersLaura pushed her way between me and Donny and flounced against the wall.

“Did you hear that?” she said. “She called it ‘processing.’ Like students are…”

“Cheese?” Donny asked.

She smiled. “Exactly. Individually wrapped slices of American cheese, mechanically separated.”

She grabbed Donny’s stray earbud and poked it into her left ear, covering her right with one hand.

“I love these guys,” she said.

I felt a stab of jealousy, envying that white wire.

“I feel more like Squeasy Cheeze,” I said in a low voice.

I didn’t think she’d heard me, but she turned. “Soft and squeezable? Bad for you, but addictive?” She plucked the earbud out and tossed it back to Donny.

“No… I go with everything but I’m also fine by myself.” Truthfully, I was still working on that last part.

She nodded solemnly. “Sometimes the cheese stands alone.”

Julie Eshbaugh
From an unpublished young adult sci-fi

julie eshbaughAs I force my eyes back to my breakfast, I wonder how these soldiers feel about this assignment to protect a bunch of electra kids from potentially hostile humans as they escort them into the human-only high school for the first time.

Well, the previously human-only high school. Human-only until today.

These soldiers, two boys and one girl, look like they couldn’t be more than a year out of high school themselves. I wonder if any of them went to Black Rock High. Maybe they all did. Maybe they side with the people who think we have no business going to the human school, polluting their pure environment with our genetically engineered blood.

If they feel that way, they don’t show it. They don’t show anything. They simply wait.

Kelly Van Sant
From an unpublished literary novel

Kelly SquareOh, he loved her. Loved her without thinking about it, or caring. And he would miss her, probably, if she were gone, but absent-mindedly, and without a sense of urgency. After all these years she had become a part of his routine, and he loved her the way all people love their daily rituals. But that was all she’d ever been to him, even—she now knew—in the beginning. She had always loved him presently, preciously. And he had always loved her loosely. By default. In lieu of loving Amy.

Hannah Fergesen

Hannah-squareShe cleared her throat and began to hum, slow and soft, her vocal chords warming with the vibration. Already she felt it working, rippling through her body and calming every part of her. When she was ready, she opened her mouth and let the hum become a sweet, solid sound. She formed the song into words, shaping it, molding it like clay. Though the song was in a language she didn’t understand, she knew it had power, could feel the force of it working its way up, up, through her throat and sizzling behind her teeth. She’d sung these words a hundred times before Emily’s death, but only now that she was Keeper did they feel powerful coming from her, her voice the only vehicle for an old, old magic.

Kat Zhang

Kat SquareShe would only have a moment to stare at them, at their porcelain faces—literally porcelain, with gleaming skin and painted-on features, their lips blood red and curved in perfect cupid bow pouts, their eyes unnaturally wide and blue under a fringe of dark lashes. They had nubs for noses, and their heads only tapered a little at the chin. They wore simple purple dresses, their black hair pinned up in lazy buns. They did not blink.

They were her porcelain handmaidens. Their jointed fingers, when they grabbed her—not violently, but firmly—were cold and stiff. They never spoke. They performed their jobs with silent efficiently, and it took exactly the same time each night.

Hope you guys enjoyed that peak at our unpublished stories! Anyone care to share a snippet of their own writing in the comments? 🙂

                    

3 Responses to Trunk Novel Snippets

  1. Angelica R. Jackson Jun 20 2016 at 10:29 am #

    I’m game! This is a trunked version of a novel that I’m currently in rewrites on (I’ve since reworked the worldbuilding and details so none of this applies any longer):

    No matter how sincerely I try to tell a person that it is impossible for me to lie, it only serves to arouse their suspicions that I am a liar.

    Unfortunately, also claiming I can communicate with the spirits only heightens these suspicions.

    But however incredible both statements may sound, they are indeed true—two sides of the same coin in a deal brokered with Death. As my long-ago ancestor found, no dealings with Death are ever straightforward, and this talent of speaking for the dead comes with a price.

    To prevent our own human nature corrupting messages from the dead, a Caller must always tell the truth. No matter if their own life hangs in the balance, lips that speak the secrets of the spiritworld cannot utter a lie.

    It was my father’s good fortune to be blessed with a Caller child whose talents are even stronger than her late mother’s, but not to have to labor under the yoke of perpetual truthfulness himself. For him, it opened up a world of deceptions and trickery, cheats and rascalry. For me, it was a life of shame and regrets, late-night departures from the windows of unpaid hotel rooms under cover of the angry mutterings of the townspeople.

    Only escaping from my father’s reach entirely could save me. But how can I escape my father, when even death doesn’t truly part us?

  2. Andrea Ha;; Jun 20 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    This is a snippet of a story I’m working on. I just posted the beginning. There is more to the story. It’s a rough draft and needs work but I hope you like it.

    “We had an arrangement Henry” Devon tells the bloodied man bound to the high back chair that sits in the middle of his warehouse. He keeps this place just for these little chores. It would be a shame to bloody up his beautiful home he’s worked very hard to keep. Plus, it keeps his home life separate from the not so pretty things he has to do.
    Henry licks the blood that is trickling down the side of his mouth and looks up at Devon with an arrogant look. “The plan was changed” Henry hisses at his captor.
    Devon’s fist comes down to strike the jaw of the vampire. “No, you lied to me, Henry” he growls back at the vampire.
    A malicious grin plays across Henry’s mouth, “Did I now.” He smirks, “You aren’t the only double agent involved in this, Devon.”
    Devon tries to hide his surprise. How did he know he was working both sides? He’s been very careful to keep the two separate. Devon stares down at the vampire he’s done business with for the past three years.
    How could he have been so blind? Emma and Conner’s location has been compromised. Devon cracks his knuckles. Henry glares arrogantly up at Devon as he raises himself up to sit back against the chair. Let the human do his worst. It’s not like any damage he does to him won’t heal.
    Devon’s brow lifts; he knows that defiant look. He’s given it many times himself. “I can keep this up well past dawn, Henry. Can you” Devon asks smugly.
    Henry’s eyes narrow, of course he can’t. When dawn comes he has to be in a safe place. And he’s counting on the fact that Devon won’t kill him. They need each other. In their game, information is too valuable. “You aren’t going to kill me Devon. You need me. No one else will deal with you” Henry tells him.
    Devon’s fists tighten against his palms. He knows that. But he can’t afford to let Henry go either. He won’t let anything happen to Emma and Conner. After a long moment of contemplation, Devon asks, “All the monsters have been quiet for the last couple of days. Tell me what Angel is up to and I’ll let you go.”
    Henry laughs wholeheartedly. That was a good one. Angel would rip out his innards and feed them to him.
    Devon’s eyes narrow further letting the vampire know he means business. This isn’t going as well as he had hoped it would. “Suit yourself” Devon says casually then his fist roughly makes contact with his prisoner’s face once again. It’s back to the hard way.
    Henry growls as blood trickles down his mouth and he glares at Devon in defiance.
    Devon folds his arms across his firm chest; Henry isn’t going to cave in this way. It’s going to take something major to get him to talk. An idea pops into Devon’s mind and he moves over to the makeshift table with a large bag sitting on it. He reaches inside with a smug expression. This will do the trick nicely. Most vampires will talk when they think their life is truly in peril. They may be the undead and immune to almost everything but there is a breaking point even for them. They want to live just like everyone else. They’re just harder to kill than humans. “I do have something that will make you talk” he tells his prisoner as he pulls out a grenade and shows it him.
    The vamp looks at it arrogantly. That isn’t going to affect him much. Nothing he can’t heal or regenerate. Devon grins wickedly, “This isn’t your normal grenade. This is one of mine.”
    The vamp’s expression changes as he glares at Devon, his hands and body struggling to free himself. Devon is known for is little lethal inventions.
    “I see you know about my newest invention” Devon says as he moves back over to stand in front of the vamp holding the grenade out in plain view.
    The vampire pulls harder on his metal restraints.
    “Tell me what I want to know and you can walk out of here” Devon announces. Of course he has no intention of letting this vamp live.
    Henry has been a good source of information and in a way he’s going to miss him. But business is business. And family is family.
    Henry crossed the line. For now, he will let the vamp think he’s going to live.
    “If I tell you anything, Angel will kill me anyway” the vamp tells him.
    Devon laughs wickedly, “ok, have it your way” and he pulls the pin to activate the grenade but he keeps his thumb on the trigger. He leans in close to the vamp but just out of reach, “I guess it all depends on which way you want to die.” “Angel’s wrath or death but sunlight—which is very permanent” Devon comments as he waves the grenade subtly in his hand.
    Henry snarls at Devon but fear is clearly in his eyes.
    Devon leans up and starts to toss the grenade at the vamp.
    “Wait” the vamp pleads. Devon hesitates with a Cheshire grin; gets them every time. He stands to his full height and folds his arms across his stomach, making sure the grenade is visible. “I’m listening” he tells the vamp.
    Henry takes a long moment to gather his thoughts. “I’m not very patient Henry and you know it” Devon says.
    Henry’s eyes close, “Angel plans to move on the targets tonight at moon rise. She wants to do them herself.”
    Devon hides his fear. Emma. He has to warn her. Keeping a cool head, Devon devises a plan to get to Emma before Angel does. He only has this mess to deal with. “Thanks, Henry” Devon says as he moves up close to the vamp. “It’s not going to be as much fun without you” Devon says as he places the grenade inside Henry’s shirt and buttons it up.
    A gasp comes from Henry, “I gave you what you wanted!”
    Devon grabs up his bag and slips his sunglasses on, “it’s nothing personal Henry…just business” then he strides out of the warehouse. He can hear Henry calling after him. Devon strides away from the warehouse as it’s overtaken by a sphere of sunlight. One less vampire to deal with. He takes out one of his silver Winchesters and checks the ammo in the clip then checks the other one. He could have used them on Henry but he was in the mood to test out his new grenade in the field. Devon secures his weapons then reaches into his pocket for his cell phone and dials Emma’s number. He doesn’t keep her number on speed dial and he has it programmed to delete all the information contained inside if his fingerprints are not the one holding it—just in case his phone is compromised.

  3. Aimee Jun 20 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    My first “book” was first conceived as a 9-book series about vampire hunters (I was in middle school, which is why that seemed like a good idea!) Obviously, I never got around to that, but after so many years I was so attached to the characters I wanted to at least finish a manuscript, even if it was only a single standalone and had no vampires. The result was as bloated and messy as it sounds, but I still am strangely attached to it. Here’s an excerpt:

    _______________

    Halfway through “The Thing on the Doorstep”, another person came and sat down on the park bench next to her. Lydia, engrossed in the tale, paid him/her no mind. She went on reading about the body-swapping antics of Asenath Waite and her deceased father as her benchmate clicked his tongue.

    “Bored already?”

    Not here.
    “H.P. Lovecraft. That’s new for you. I was never much into horror myself, but a few stories of his I rather like. The Dunwich Horror, that’s a good one. And it’s a bit longer but also The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

    Lydia, though she already knew what was coming, turned her head from the book.

    “Which one are you reading?”

    She said, “The Thing on the Doorstep.”

    “Hmm. I read that one many years ago, but don’t remember it much–oh,yes I know, that’s the one with Asenath Waite. It’s funny, I barely remember the plot of that story, but after all these years I still love that name. ‘Asenath Waite.’ I remember now, after I finished that story I went up and looked up her name because I loved it so much. You know what I found? ‘Waite’ comes from the Rider-Waite deck, which is the most popular deck for the Tarot. And ‘Asenath’ is a Biblical name, which means–”

    “‘Belonging to her father.’”

    Albrecht ceased rambling and looked at the stiff, pale young girl sitting on the bench next to him. The lower lip of her full mouth was firm but quivering. Those long, angular collarbones were rather spectacularly bulging.

    “‘Asenath’,” Lydia went on. ‘A-suh-nath: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. A. Suh. Nath.’”

    He watched her in a trance. It was if he were waking up from a dream, from an enchantment, from a glass coffin in the forest surrounded by dwarves. She pressed her lips together grimly and matched his gaze, matched his daze, matched his Haze.

    “You’re getting a bit better at conversation,” she said, dryly. “Been reading up?”

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