Michelle Renee Goodhew is a superb cover designer. Drawing upon her experience working within the publishing industry, Michelle has produced some extremely useful books to aid the Indie author, including “How to Design Your Author Brand” and “How to Build Your Author Platform: The Indie Author Start Up”. Through her design website authors can find video tutorials and templates to help them design their own “visually impressive platform from which to launch their books and in effect their dream of being a successful author.”
Here, Michelle is sharing a scene from the first chapter of her new book, A Fine Grey Hare, a work of fantasy. Other scenes are available on her website. Michelle writes that this is a first draft and she is seeking critiques of her writing that she will use during her first round of edits on this draft.
“I am releasing it scene by scene and asking for feedback to help me, not only to become a better writer, but because I am interested to see how much interest I can generate in my story. I sincerely value your opinions, it would be fabulous to have your help :-)”
Find out more about Michelle and her work by following the links… and follow her on social media by clicking the icons at the bottom of the page.
“A Fine Grey Hare” is the story about a young girl who finds herself in haunted surroundings. While trying to cope with a new set of gifts that give her privy to the paranormal, she is befriended by an otherworldly rabbit type creature, the Phooka. The story evolves into an escapade spanning alternate dimensions and jumping through time. All culminating in one tremendous finally that will both scare you and satisfy your taste for adventure.
…When eleven-year-old Penelope moves into her new house, she has no idea what outrageous, otherworldly, and sometimes terrifying things, await her. She had known of ghosts before, but now her whole world gets turned inside out and upside down with the revelation that the dead do indeed walk among us. They are everywhere, and the universe has decided that she is a gifted young girl. She is becoming what the Phooka calls a Cicerone, whether she likes it or not, one who mediates with the dead and guides the living through the in-between.
If this is not enough to send her young, maturing mind reeling she must struggle with her own shortcomings along the way and wrestle with her very real fear of the unknown and undiscovered. She has been a solitary girl, there is little if any interaction between her family members and she has grown up isolated from most others, finding herself naturally leaning toward seclusion. And now she can look into another’s eyes and see death waiting for them when it comes near, she is forced to rally friends who can help her.
She finds some escape in the Phooka, her new found friend that she half believes she may have created from her own mind. But when he shows her a portal that lies in her basement, she gets a very sobering view of the space in-between. She is forced to face that her reality is changing and she must change with it.
Now she finds herself dimension hopping across the vast expanse of space and studying the folds in the fabric of time. The paranormal weaves throughout these places, in this in-between. Penelope has no choice but to come face to face with what resides there, her gifts won’t be denied. At the same time, the Wanderlust unfolds for her, showing her the magic of a bright and lively world where she might find what she will need to brave it all. These worlds mesh together in a way that might make you question your understanding of reality, what will happen when we die, and possibly change your concept of the immediate afterlife. It might be a far off trip to heaven through the in-between.
Chapter 01: Scene 01
The wind whipped through the open window of the old red farmhouse, stirring dust from the planks of the family room floor. The place was old and somewhat rundown, no one had lived there for long over the last ten years and it had remained mostly empty. It felt uneasy; the walls creaked of their own accord while still other unsettling noises rose up at random. The air was dank, charged with a certain depth of negativity. Wallpaper peeled from the kitchen walls and the whole scene seemed trapped in another time. The place smelled of mothballs and dirt, a dank and unwelcoming smell. Indeed the house was empty of people, but full of otherworldly beings.
Small creatures made of black scurried through the playroom like crabs creeping sideways across a long forgotten beach. They were an ugly, nasty sort of beast that meant to feed off of the living and make them sick with disease. They made the room frigid, icy and cold. They would focus in on their living target, attaching themselves to them in some fashion, and slowly drag them to their early graves. Sometimes a growling could be heard arising from both the upstairs and downstairs bedroom closets.
The dead walked here too, as split-aparts, one such being was the shadow of a ghost. The ghost and his counterpart were nearly solid beings who could interact with the living. The farmer’s story was a dark one; his deeds were framed with the darkness that had eventually devoured him, this is what had split apart and become his shadow. Daily he would seek out the living with a feeling similar to hunger. On a particularly exceptional sort of day his darkness could reach at least as far as the neighboring farmhouse.
His wife was here as well; the murdered bride of the farmer, stricken with the deepest of grief and panicked from what had befallen her in her youth. She carried that fear with her into her death and lived it daily, weaving herself from room to room in search of a baby that had left the world before her. Split from her stood two shadows, occupying the corners of the upstairs bedroom. They grew stronger day by day, wanting to possess the embodiment of a fully formed creature, a demon of sorts who could prey on the living and cause them great harm. It was the room she had died in that they made themselves at home. One corner filled with a rolled up mass of dark vapor, like a large Asian rug that would bend and twist with its being built of the angst which tormented her. The other stood higher than a good fifteen feet and bent solidly in half at the middle, doubled in pain. This one reeked of the sorrow and dread that stemmed from the feelings of loss from the mother. They reached out, extending themselves toward the living to feed with an appetite to grow.
The farmer was an angry old soul filled with hate and contempt for the living; he wielded an axe he had owned in his day, the one he used to hack at his wife while he laughed at her bleeding. His shadow was strong and independent of him, free to roam the house and lands as it willed, unrestrained. In the basement was a portal where it and the dead would cross the veil to the living. The land had turned bleak long ago, gnarled and uneven, tainted by the spirits that dwelled upon it.
Upstairs in the eastside bedroom, the shadow man lurked near the doorway, eerily surveying its domain. The air went flat and dry in its presence and the sound of cracking wood came to great his entering. The entire room seemed to settle into a state of melancholy. The shadow man stared through the window onto the sunlit drive, seemingly unaware when the room in the basement lit up with a blue flash and the room rumbled with a rolling thunder that rumbled through the ground. Vapor poured out of the space, pushed up the stairs by an unseen force for the kitchen, the basement was too small to hold that much energy. Suddenly through the stirring of dust their came a cough, immidiately followed by three high pitched sneezes. A set of tall rabbit-like ears wiggled to and fro, shaking off dirt while bent to the low ceiling. The Phooka’s mood was foul as it solidified where it stood. It could sense the ghosts and the shadows in the wake of the veil which spilled out from the in-between. It despised their presence.
The Phooka wondered what godforsaken place had his portal brought him to stand in. Looking around the room, his large pale blue eyes adjusting to the dark, he slightly shivered in the dampness of the place. This was where he would find what he needed but the place still put him off, he knew what sorts of things must be lurking all about him and his skin crawled with the thought of them.
There ground vibrated as a car rolled into the drive and there was a voice muffled by the walls and dirt, the shout of a woman in greeting, “Helloooo!” Her uneven shrill tickled at his spine.
Upstairs the dark figure stood watch out the window, eyeing a small girl stumbling out of the car onto the dirt and gravel drive. The air twisted and bent uncomfortably about the figure and it dissipated into an ether of invisible contempt.
The morning sun pierced through the side window of the car warming her face. Penelope Jayne sat jammed in close to her two sisters in the back seat on the way to their new house. Between them, they were separated by a combined total of three and a half years, Penelope, at 11, the youngest, Lorraine the favorite and middle child at 12, and Victoria at the troubled age of 13 and a half. They squabbled a lot but what siblings didn’t?
Even though they were so close in age, they all enjoyed their time to themselves. Of course Lorraine was always at the shirt-tails of their mother learning the ropes of being a young lady, cooking or sewing. Victoria was a tomboy all the way and could be found riding bikes, up a tree, or making an attempt at building something after their father, the carpenter. So being crammed into the backseat together for such a time was the closest they had been in a while.
Penelope was excited. She hoped she would make new friends here, there were none to speak of at their last place, just some boys that Victoria had run around with, and they weren’t nice. They had been moving every three months since she could remember and she hoped they could stay here for a while. The girls were clearly suffering the close quarters of the car when they finally pulled into the driveway of what would be their new house.
The car door swung wide and a burst of hot summer air caught Penelope in the face. She half stumbled from the humid car. She was awkward, just beginning to turn from small girl to clumsy preteen. She quickly caught herself and straightened her shorts. Her dad reached over and mussed up her hair, his giant like hand dwarfing her head and causing her hair to burn her scalp a little. He introduced her to the pungently sweet smelling real-estate woman. Penelope smiled a huge but faked smile made especially for strangers, combing her fingers through fresh knots in her long wavy blonde hair. Her father still treated her like she was five. It really didn’t bother her so much, even the hair thing. She looked at him with affection, she admired him and how hard he worked for all of them.
The oldest elbowed her in the ribs, “let’s check out the barns!”
“I want to see our rooms first,” she sneered at her sister rubbing her side where the bruise was already forming. The brick-red building was an old farmhouse and didn’t feel all that welcoming. Everyone was out of the car before her Saint Bernard bounded out and past her, heading for the field at the far side of the house, throwing her off balance once again on the uneven gravel and dirt. At that moment her eyes caught a dark figure in the upstairs window. “Is there someone in the house?”
“Oh no dear,” assured the slender red head amidst talking with her parents. Designer jewelry clanked together loudly as the lady handed them keys, waving her hands about and giving them instructions that went along with the property.
Penelope’s ear twitched at the pitch in the woman’s voice, and she winced at her mother, “can we go see our new rooms?” Whatever strangeness she sensed here would be figured out soon enough. Her mother waved her away trying to keep up with the agent and the girls raced to the house.
The sun was extraordinarily hot for this early and the house was strangely cool. It smelled like old people and paint and was old fashioned in design. They skipped through the kitchen over the faded green and white linoleum, hardly looking about them before rounding a corner to fight for a set of stairs that lead to what they were sure would be their bedrooms. It would be a pushing and shoving match, a race to the top for dibs on the best bedroom. Penelope decided to take the fall and leaned into her oldest sister, pushing her back from the stairs. Knowing she would have to share a room with Lorraine anyways and the choice in rooms between the two of them would fall to the oldest. Victoria managed to shove Lorraine forward before Penelope had intervened and she tripped up the stairs laughing, catching her breath. “I pick this one…this one…this one,” she taunted from the top landing and motioned to the room where Penelope had seen the figure.
Penelope raced up before Victoria who was pouting a little at the foot of the staircase. “It’s not fair, that’s two against one!” She wasn’t as upset as her voice sounded.
“Well I picked the big one cuz we have to share!” Lorraine was right, and it was like her to be realistic, taking charge when it came to decisions like this one. They at least got along mostly well which meant they wouldn’t fight so much sharing the same space. Victoria was older and more of a lone soul, she would never have managed sharing a room with either of them.
Outside the dog had made her way to a little window at ground level on the southern face of the house. Her snout pressed firmly to the leaded glass, drool and saliva spattered onto the thin window, her barking twisted the ears of the Phooka staring up at her.
End of Scene 01