Dreams of hist Iceland R more vivid than Val’s bad marriage. They turn real & shes caught b/t 2 brothers & their sorcerer father #HR #A #PitProm
Dear Sir/Lady PitProm:
PAST STORM AND FIRE (98,000 words) is a completed historical fiction/timeslip novel with a romantic narrative which weaves between modern Miami and medieval Iceland. I hope to explore this book’s series potential with you[D1] .
Val and Karl’s house is destroyed by a hurricane, which inspires her to write a historical romance novel set in Iceland rife with sorcery, sexy Vikings, and a volcano. Val’s dreams reveal historical facts later proven true, which both frightens and intrigues her. Her obsession with writing puts a strain on her already troubled marriage, but she’s terrified of being on her own.
In her novel, Val becomes Vigdis. She evades two amorous brothers and their drunken father. The brothers fight a duel, forcing her to make a very public choice between them. Their father refuses to bide by her choice and tries to use black magic to enchant her. A volcanic eruption throws their entire world into ash and fire. The line between past and present grow blurred as Vigdis lives everything Val dreams of – true love, children, and family.
An attractive Icelandic professor of history helps Val investigate the history behind her visions, but her husband draws the line – give up her writing or he’ll leave. Val must decide whether to resurrect the shambles of her marriage or take her chance in Iceland to discover if her dreams truly do come from the past.
I’ve previously published nine novels, including The Druid’s Brooch Series published by Tirgearr Publishing. I’ve been a presenter at the Steuben County Library Writers Conference for the past two years, and have given presentations on historical fiction research at several other venues. I’m active on several social media platforms. Feel free to visit my author website, www.GreenDragonArtist.com, to learn more.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and I truly look forward to hearing from you.
First Ten Pages:
August 24, 1992, Miami, Florida
No window or door let in a breath of air, and Val grew entombed within a sarcophagus of sweaty doom. The central air conditioner kicked on with a whine, working overtime in the hot, humid August night.
Karl entered with her glass of white wine. She smiled and gulped most of it down, savoring the sharp, cool liquid. “The news just upgraded the hurricane to a hundred and fifty miles an hour.”
“Thanks, Karl. I really needed that update.”
“We’ll be okay, Val. It’s not like we’re on the coast or anything.”
She flashed him a brave smile. They sat silent for a long time, staring at the talking heads on the news wax poetic about the impending disaster.
Val had considered evacuating, but leaving was like giving up. Besides, where would they go? Her father’s house? He summered in Vermont and his house in west Florida stood empty. She had no guarantee her father’s house would fare any better, and panicked refugees choked all roads north.
The wind rattled the boarded windows, making her shudder and wish she had checked them once again before the storm hit.
Val wished someone would tell her everything would be fine, but she was used to being the strong one, the effective one, the motivated one. At least Karl brought her booze. Alcohol helped a lot.
She resisted the temptation to crack the door open to look outside. The sky would be dark and she wouldn’t be able to see much. For now, they still had power.
The weatherman’s words became hypnotic, and Val drifted into a semi-dozing state from the constant drone of his voice. Her mind shaped the meteorological terms into exotic meanings, sentences that made a certain surreal sense. Puzzled, she jumped from half-understood statement to nonsense.
She startled awake when the sound stopped, along with all the light and the hum of the air conditioning.
“Damn it.” She stood, fumbling to find the small flashlight she’d kept by her chair. No, that’s a pen. Where did the stupid thing go? Something fell on the floor; probably the drink coaster. Ah, found it. She gripped the heavy cylinder, fresh with four new batteries, and clicked the light on.
“Karl? Are you awake?”
Neither of them had gone to bed as they’d propped the mattress against the sliding glass doors. They both sat in their living room chairs. Karl lay reclined in his, snoring. Val decided to be kind and let him sleep. She made her way to the breaker room in the garage and flipped each off. She didn’t want any fires starting when the power came on abruptly.
The howling outside didn’t sound like wind. Instead, a train rumbled next to her house. The walls rattled and shook and, suddenly, Val wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else. Any place but here in this stifling space, waiting for Mother Nature to pluck this laughable cardboard box from its flimsy foundations and toss her into the air like a demented Dorothy.
With a gulp to keep from crying, Val walked to the bathroom and glared at the bathtub, the most secure spot in the entire house. They’d filled the tub with water so they could flush the toilet if they lost power. Unless she wanted to strip down and take a bath, the tub wouldn’t be a good hiding place.
At least the bathroom had no windows. No place for the glass to shatter, covering her with a thousand shards, creating a sucking vacuum and pulling her out into the fury. The white noise of the storm outside became a blanket, a shield between her gibbering soul and the panic which threatened to burst through.
She sat on the bathroom floor and curled her arm around the pipes under the sink. They seemed secure and strong, and the comfort kept her tears at bay. She envied Karl his slumber and ignorant bliss.
A crash made the house shudder, and she whimpered. Val hadn’t been a religious person for many years. However, her Catholic childhood resurged through her fear, and she prayed under her breath. Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of--
Another crash heralded shattering glass somewhere. Had a window broken? They’d covered all the windows except the tiny ones in the back of the garage. They hadn’t found enough wood, and the outside of the garage was stucco. To nail anything over that would have damaged the wall. If that window broke, not much would be damaged in the garage—unless the break let wind get in and yank their house from its foundations.
Val wished Karl would wake. She wanted him to hold her and tell her they’d be fine. But rousing him would be unfair. Let him sleep through the worst.
Crash! Slam! Val cried unashamedly now. She gave up trying to identify the sounds or analyze what they meant. She only prayed over and over they would survive this horrible storm.
With a bizarre suddenness, the noise halted. The pressure still pounded in her head, but the wind ceased. The stillness and quiet became unnerving.
Val kept waiting for something new to happen, but the stillness grew until the pressure became an oppressive weight upon her soul. The soundless air became a living thing, wrapping around her like a stifling wool blanket. The silence grew worse than the storm’s din had been, more suffocating than she’d ever experienced before.
She needed to escape, to be outside. Surely the eye of the storm had arrived. With a curse at her idiocy, she searched for the small transistor radio they’d bought and turned the dial until the crackling resolved into sound.
The first station aired nothing but prayers. She moved the dial into the FM range and tuned to her favorite rock station, WSHE. They should be broadcasting news on every local frequency rather than music.
After fiddling with the dial, past the ironic tunes of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Riding the Storm Out”—what psychopathic DJs had chosen these?--the somnolent tones of an older weatherman said something about pressure and storm surge, and she fine-tuned the dial until the signal came in clear.
“The eye just passed over Homestead Air Force Base…” Homestead lie miles south of her. Could the eye be that large? The eye marked the greatest swath of destruction from a hurricane. The sudden increase of full-speed winds on the opposite side of the eye-wall would be devastating, much worse than the gradual increase in wind speeds on the other side. If no wind blew outside, she must be in the eye. But how far from the edge? If they sat near the northern edge, the winds would return with ruinous speed at any time.
As much as she needed to get a breath of fresh air, she didn’t want to risk opening her sealed house to the danger of the monster storm.
Instead of stewing about a decision she’d already made, she paced. Val walked from boarded window to boarded window, flashing her light on each one to ensure each board remained firmly in place. Thankfully, she’d double-checked Karl’s work on the boards on Saturday; otherwise she’d worry herself sick over the possibility of them coming off. She would still worry, but at least she had confidence in their sturdiness.
She should have left the radio on, something to fill the dead silence. No, we should conserve the batteries. The power may not be on for days.
When the tempest returned, the storm roared with furious vengeance, pummeling the wooden sides of the house with violent rage. The freight train returned, barreling toward her with mindless menace. With a sudden panic, Val ran back to the bathroom and almost jumped in the tub, wet clothes be damned.
Another object slammed into the wall outside. The sickening screech of wood and metal filled the room.
Damn! How the ever-living hell did Karl sleep through this cacophony?
She’d best go wake him and bring him into the safer room.
With great trepidation, she emerged from the small, dark room and found Karl, still snoring in his lounge chair.
“Karl? Karl, wake up. We need to go to the bathroom.”
He didn’t open his eyes but mumbled. “What? What do you mean, we? I can go to the bathroom by myself. I don’t need your help.”
She shook him again. “Wake up, Karl! The storm is getting worse. We have to move somewhere safer. Get up!”
Reluctantly, he grumbled and tumbled out of the lounger, not bothering to push the footrest down. He stumbled into the bathroom with her and they sat on the cool tile floor.
He squinted at the full tub. “You woke me for this?”
A crash and a sickeningly long creak shut him up.
More crashes, and the freight-train wind hit again. A huge whomp made them both flinch, and they laughed off their reaction with a slight tinge of hysteria.
Karl held Val’s hand and squeezed. “We’ll be fine, Val. This is a good, sturdy house.”
She sincerely hoped so, but neither of them were experts in housing construction. She worked as an accountant in a second-chance college, and he worked as a janitor at a different college.
Yet another horrendous crash and ripping sound snatched Val back to reality. Boards creaked and groaned and she smelled something which made her shiver despite the mugginess.
The scent of fresh air.
Somehow, somewhere, the airtight seal had been broken in their house. She held her breath, waiting for all to be blown away by the indiscriminate fury of the storm, away to some place in another world, like the Wonderful Land of Oz. With luck, she’d get dropped at Disney World, or better yet, Key West. They had plenty of parties and alcohol in Key West. She’d party her troubles away and forget stress from work, a destroyed house, and a marriage with more stress than love.
The air increased, and she squeezed Karl’s hand more tightly. Why hadn’t they evacuated? They might have headed north to safety. Karl’s ex-wife, Marjoree, and his son, lived in Georgia. Val detested the manipulative bitch, but better staying with them than dead by drowning or a house crashing on their heads.
The wall of sound seemed to be moving away from them. She breathed a little easier.
Hours later, she painfully uncramped herself from a sitting position. More time passed before she mustered enough courage to open the bathroom door and survey the damage. Before she did, she sent up a brief prayer of heartfelt thanks for their survival. They weren’t out of the woods yet, but they hadn’t been blown away, either.
The wind had died to an almost inaudible whine. Did she want to see the damage? Did she want to open that door and see everything she owned in tatters? Perhaps nothing more than a couple roof tiles cracked, or the door from the garage broken open. She knew the window of the garage had broken earlier.
With a deep breath, she put her hand on the bathroom doorknob and twisted.
The door wouldn’t open.
With a grunt, she shoved shoulder on the door. She gained an inch. Her panic rose. “Karl, I need help!”
Together, with several curses and yells, they pushed the bathroom door open about a foot and squeezed through the crack.
The rain fell in the house.
To be fair, the rain fell outside the house, too. But since she could see the clouds above, the difference seemed irrelevant.
Val didn’t know why the bit of ceiling remained over the bathroom. Possibly the braces attaching the tile walls stayed stronger than those to the wooden outside walls. She didn’t know and didn’t care. The wind still blew, but the rain had almost stopped as she turned in a slow circle.
Ruin surrounded her.
Val crossed herself. “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy.”
As far as she could see, nothing stood higher than her head, except for random wooden planks sticking up at rakish angles out of piles of trash. Her mind refused to grasp the swathe of destruction. Nothing looked familiar. Her living room didn’t exist. Instead, a pile of furniture, bright swatches of clothing, naked wood, roof shingles, leaves, and unidentifiable debris cut a swath around her and beyond. She glanced down and realized she stood in a pool of water, the strong breeze making it ripple slightly in the dim iron-gray light.
Karl’s recliner lay on its side, impaled by a large branch of wood. Val shuddered.
A gust of wind almost pulled her off-balance, and she grabbed Karl’s arm. He stood, mesmerized by the complete transformation of everything they had known.
“Where’s the car, Val?”
She glanced toward the driveway. Then she remembered she’d parked their car next to the garage for safety. With dubious hope, she gingerly picked her way through the junk to see around the piles. A gleam of red rewarded her. While it didn’t look destroyed, the car remained buried under countless chunks of house. The debris might be hers; it might be someone else’s.
Her purse. She should find her purse. What had she done with it? Right. They’d put the valuables in safe, presumably waterproof places. The dishwasher, the refrigerator, the stove. Without a proper iron safe, they’d gotten creative.
She searched for the kitchen. Nothing looked the same; she had no frame of reference for the rooms. A pile of electronic spaghetti next to the recliner might have once been the television. There, that looked like the fridge, under that fabric. She’d never seen that pattern. The garment had been ripped in many places, but the old-fashioned flower print flashed bright in the dim light.
She yanked it down and patted the fridge, thankful to find something where it should be. Next to the fridge stood the dishwasher, which she jerked open. She found her purse inside, safe and sound. Her wallet, social security card, passport, credit cards, car keys; all she needed to get by in modern life. If she’d been thinking more clearly, she would have kept her purse close.
She handed Karl his own wallet and surveyed the area. She couldn’t even see their bed. It should have been twenty feet that way, under a pile of branches.
“Karl, I think we should excavate the car. If we can get out of here, we should head north. There’s no way we can sleep here tonight, so we need a hotel room.” Karl looked at her dubiously, frowning and wrinkling up his eyes. He always did that when he thought hard. “What?”
“I don’t think we’re driving out of here.”
She turned to look where he pointed and let out a low whistle. He didn’t exaggerate.
Country Walk had been full of tall trees. All of those trees, it seemed, now lie in the road. Big, thick pines crisscrossed the roads in all directions.
Val tossed her hands into the air. “Great. Just great! I have no idea what we should do.”
She sat on the ground, squishing in the water, and burst into tears. Val sobbed hard, unable to stop, even when Karl came over and put his arm around her in awkward consolation.
She cried in frustration and fear. She cried for her future. She cried for all the things she had just lost, so many things she couldn’t even take a mental inventory. Everything gone—everything. All her furniture, toys from her childhood, her photographs, her mother’s favorite shirt. Everything destroyed in a thunderous maelstrom.
When she finally felt cried out, voices intruded upon her misery.
Her next door neighbors, Jerry and Clara, picked their way over. “Hey, Val! Are you two okay?”
She nodded, pulling herself to her feet. Her bottom got soaking wet. She didn’t care. Everything had gotten soaking wet. She gripped Karl’s hand. “Safe and sound, at least our bodies. Our house, on the other hand… well, our bathroom is still standing!”
Her quip elicited laughter tinged with more than a bit of hysteria from them all. It went on much too long.
Val noticed Jerry held Clara’s hand tightly. “Our garage came through fine, and we had that weird little cellar we used for wine. That’s where we hid. Luckily, it’s tile-lined, so no water came in.”
Val surveyed the surreally blank horizon. “So, what’s the plan?”
No one said a thing. They glanced back and forth at each other with blank expressions.
Clara snapped her brightly-manicured fingers. “Well, they have to send FEMA in, right?”
Karl asked, “What’s FEMA?”
Val rolled her eyes, but Jerry saved her from answering. “It’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They take care of folks after disasters like this.”
Val looked around, spreading her arms. “How the hell are they going to get anything to us?”
Clara smiled. “Good question. They’ll probably set up some central distribution center. Maybe someplace like the Walmart down the road. Something with a big parking lot and easy access.”
Karl’s eyes lit up. “Maybe they’ll send in helicopters!”
Val glared at Karl. “Easy access. Right.”
With a chuckle, Clara shrugged and raised her hands, palms up. “Okay, relatively easy access. Sure, there will be a lot of work clearing the roads, and it may take a while for them to get out to us. But… can you hear that?”
They all listened while the unmistakable roar of a chainsaw cut through the neighborhood.
Welcome to the final round of pitches!
Agents and Publishers,