A Look Inside My Work-In-Progress Meltdown

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately for my young adult series, Amor and Summer Secrets. The second book, Amigas and School Scandals, debuted last month and the final installment is set to launch in January. That’s three books in five months, which means a lot of words and a lot of interviews.

Typically I’m asked what new projects I’m working on. And because I’m a bit superstitious, I usually try to be vague—only mentioning that it’s a new YA project about spies and that it’s set in Europe. But in recent weeks, I’ve been having a bit of a writing crisis—one of those miserable times where you start to question everything and think of scrapping the whole darn novel. And now I plan to spend my holidays (Ho! Ho! Ho!) trying to figure out what to do with the manuscript I love so much.

Because the thing is, I’m not having this crisis because I don’t believe in the book. I do. Trust me. I’m completely in love with it, which might be the problem. I may have lost perspective.

But because I love it so much, and because I don’t know what will ever happen with it, I’ve decided to post my first ever teaser. I’ve never participated in “Teaser Tuesdays.” In fact, I’ve never let anyone aside from my agent, her assistants and my family read any of my books before they hit the shelves. So while this teaser thing may be old hat for some, it’s a big deal for me. I just want to know that a piece of this book, in its current form, is out there somewhere.

So here goes, an excerpt of Anastasia Phoenix. I’m not gonna give you much of a lead-in aside from telling you that the excerpt below currently appears in Chapter 2. Enjoy!

I rocked silently on a kitchen chair, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. Police filled the apartment. Voices rang in my ears. It was happening all over again.

“We’re so sorry for your loss…”
“We have to ask you a few questions…”
“Is there someone you can stay with…”

Radios squawked on the hips of the officers. The sound cranked the hysteria raging in my head. I kept rocking, trying to drown them out.

“Ma’am. Ma’am!” someone shouted.

I felt Charlotte shake my leg, snapping me out of my stupor. She gestured to the detective glaring down. I dizzily swung my head toward the forty-something African American woman in the dark pants suit. I could see in her sad brown eyes that she felt uncomfortable dealing with me. She probably had kids of her own.

“Ma’am, I need to know if your sister had a history of mental illness,” the woman asked as she quickly averted her eyes to study the cheap blue pen she held poised above a notepad. She didn’t want to look at me while I spoke. It was clear that this was hard for her, though I guessed by her age that she probably had many years on the force. Some people weren’t equipped to handle tragedy.

“History of depression?” the officer continued softly. “Maybe from the accident…”
My jaw tightened. “Gee, what makes you think that?” I snorted.

The woman briefly glanced at me, her eyes hardened by my tone. “It’s a reasonable conclusion…”

I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. “Look, I know what you’re all thinking,” I snapped. “And, yes, our parents were killed by some rotting-in-hell drunk driver. And, no, my sister was not singing the Sound of Music when she had to drop out of school to take care of me. But, trust me, she was not depressed.”

“Mm, hmm.” The officer nodded.

“She wasn’t depressed! She did not kill herself! She was alive when I left! I heard her whispering…”

“Yes, I know. You said that—”

“Yes, I did!” I screeched, my body beginning to shake. “But apparently you aren’t listening! Some dirt bag was in her room this morning! I left for, like, less than an hour and when I got back, I find him gone and my sister dead. For the love of God, if you don’t go out and find that psycho, I will find a gun and—“

“Anastasia!” Charlotte interrupted, slapping her hand on my chest. “Shut up.”

My fists curled into heated balls as I shot my friend a look. Charlotte’s frizzy hair was pulled in a perky high ponytail that looked ridiculously pep-rally-like given the situation, but her gaze was lifeless. For a girl as smart as she was, for the first time, I saw nothing behind her dark eyes. They were empty.

“I know you’re upset,” Charlotte choked as the tears flowed. “But this isn’t helping…”

There was a buzzing in my ears. I knew I should try to stifle my emotions to make it easier for everyone else to look at me. But I couldn’t do it. Not even for Charlotte, and certainly not right now. “Oh then, what would help? Tell me! Should I sit back like the obedient relative and listen to the big bad police tell me that they know my sister better than I do?”

“Ma’am we are not saying—”

“Stop calling me ma’am! Do I look like the first lady?” I snarled at the officer.

“I’m sorry, Anastasia,” the woman corrected, softer now. “But your sister’s wounds…her wrist, her neck…I mean, they were self-inflicted.”

I closed my eyes. All I could see was red.

Copyright © 2008 by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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