Or rather, my writing is moving ahead. What’s next? The second book in the Vamp Hunters series. In its unedited, uncontracted, first draft, Keep Her starts like this:
Copyright 2016 by Elle Q. Sabine. All rights reserved.
Allegra set her gear pack on the bench in the back room and stomped into the shabby storefront that served as an office space. She shared it, and their guide business, with her uncle. The older man was at his desk, squinting intently at a map spread out in front of him. He looked up, blinking, as she entered, and Allegra frowned. Tío Paulo needed glasses, but he was too proud to admit it.
“¿Que pasó?” he asked.
“What happened?” she parroted in English. Allegra ran an impatient hand through her hair. “What didn’t happen?” Allegra knew why she hadn’t wanted her beloved tío to go on this last expedition – he really couldn’t see well enough to navigate the more dangerous parts of the trail. For the safety of their customers, and his own safety, he didn’t belong in the wilderness until she could convince him his vision was more important than his pride. She bit back a frustrated hiss, knowing she couldn’t tell him the full tale or he’d insist on going the next time, under the guise of protecting her. She could shoot a damn rifle as well as he could, damn it, or even better since she could see what she was shooting at. “There’s a creep on the volcano. Either he’s trying to scare our paying tourists away, or he’s petitioning his gods to make the thing erupt. One way or another, he’s going to drive us out of business unless we can convince him to move on.”
The older man snorted. “We’re not in Hawaii, mija. We don’t have gods to guard the volcán, nor evil spirits to curse it.”
“What would you call gutted birds and small animals all along the trail and an altar with burnt remains at the peak?” Allegra demanded. “Not to mention strange markings carved into the trees.” She didn’t mention the more ominous signs she knew had been direct threats against tourists. Allegra and her hiking party had discovered the life-size voodoo doll of a hiker with backpack, hung from a tree, on their descent. If it had been during the climb, she knew the family from San Francisco and the couple from Austin would all have turned back, and she wouldn’t have blamed them. The rags soaked in animal blood and nailed to stakes at the trailhead when they returned had disconcerted her even more. As for the hikers, they’d boarded the rocking bus back to the city as soon as it had appeared. Only Allegra had stayed to take photos and, once the others had gone, dismantle the disturbing exhibition.
Something very strange was going on.
Paulo frowned at her again. “The seismologists haven’t found any evidence that an eruption is possible, let alone likely.”
Allegra dropped into a chair and humphed. “We’ll be lucky if the couple from Texas ever visit another volcano again, let alone come back here.”
Paulo shook his head at her. “The mountain is a conduit for the good of the world, mija. It is not tainted, not an evil place. No one can stand on the volcano’s peak, watch the sun rise into the sky, and not have their soul cleansed.”
That, Allegra wholeheartedly agreed, was true.