Thursday, January 6, 2011

Excerpt: Color Me Grey by JC Phelps

Meet Alexis Stanton, a 5' 4" petite young woman with a yen for adventure. She grew up as a tomboy wishing she could have all the adventures boys could have. She has since decided that being a boy instead of a girl has its advantages, but being a woman is much better. Raised in a family with money, she was able to pick and choose her education. She had been schooled in everything from being a lady to courses with Special Forces instructors. Her desire for adventure and her boredom with her current employment and a strange 'HELP WANTED' ad causes her to quit. She finds that job she could "just die for"... and it looks like she just might!

I don't usually start a post by jumping right in a book description, but I just love that one so much that I couldn't resist. (smile)

Today's excerpt is from Color Me Grey, but first I want to share a short interview with the author, JC Phelps.

K:        Thank you so much for being here today, JC.  Tell me, when did you first start writing the Alexis Stanton series?

JC:        I started and finished Color Me Grey in 2004.

K:        I love the character, Alexis Stanton.  She’s a young woman with tons of spunk. What inspired you to create her character?  Is she based on anyone you know?

JC:        My initial inspiration came from book eight in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich where Ranger’s ex-girlfriend is briefly introduced.  I was instantly struck by her coolness and got a feeling for my character.  However, once I started writing, Alex took on a life of her own.  She’s not really based on any one person but her name – Alex – is what we call my oldest daughter, so she’s actually named after my daughter.

K:        There are currently three books in the series.  Do you have more planned?  If so, where will the new book take Alexis?

JC:        I do have hopes of writing another.  I’ve already started it but am not entirely happy with the turns it has taken.  I am in the process of rewriting with no end in sight yet.  As for where it will take Alex… I hope to take her deeper into the world of White and Associates as well as covert government operations.  I’ve had suggestions to kill off a major character and to get her and White more deeply involved in the romance department but I haven’t entirely decided what exactly I’m going to do.  Actually, the characters haven’t told me where to take it yet. I’d love to say I was in control of all the action, suspense and whatever else goes into my books but I have no control.  The characters take over and write the story for me and if I misinterpret them, I’m stuck.  At the moment my characters and I aren’t speaking. ;-)

K:        What do you love most about writing?

JC:        What I love most about writing is exactly the same as what I love most about reading.  I get to go to different places, be different people, do things I would never do and all in the safety of my own environment. For me, it’s just as much and sometimes more of an adventure to write a book than to read one.

K:         Thank you for spending some time with us here at Fiction for Dessert.

JC:       Thank you for hosting me on your blog during my blog tour.  I really appreciate it!

And now for that excerpt . . . in this piece, Alexis is in the middle of "survival training" and has to find food on her own:  

I mapped out the area even though it was in vain.  Mr. Black had said we were going to move camp today, but I figured it was good practice.  Earlier that day I had sat and messed around with my wristband and had found it had a compass.  I imagine that I should have thought of this before.  It was a GPS device after all.  I used my wristband to remember landmarks.  At such and such latitude and longitude I would find the meadow, then there was a small creek off in another direction.  I found we were on the top of a hill that had a sharp drop in a different direction from camp.  I didn’t go too far out from camp but I got further out than I had when setting up my traps.  I periodically returned to camp to see if Mr. Black had returned and was ready to move to another location.  Each time I returned there was no change at camp.

I worked my way back to the little creek I had found.  Fish wasn’t my favorite, but they might be easier to catch.  Never had I gone fishing before, but had been forced to watch a few shows on the television.  What was with men and fishing?  Anyway, the concept was simple.  I would try my luck at fishing today.

While I walked to the stream I considered how I might catch a fish.  I knew in normal life people used fishing poles with hooks on the ends.  How could I make a fishing pole?  I found several sticks on the way to the stream that I thought might get the job done.  My mind kept wandering toward a picture of a small boy sitting on the edge of a river with a stick and line hanging from it, waiting for a fish to bite.

By the time I reached the creek I had an armload of sticks.  I chose the one I thought might be the strongest and then pulled off one of my shoelaces.  I tied it to the end of the stick and thought about what I might use for a hook.  Finally the only thing I could come up with was trying to carve myself one with my knife.  I got down to business and quickly found it was nearly impossible to carve a hook.  I could get a toothpick type thing carved but not a hook.  They kept coming out looking like miniature spears. 

Spears.  Then I got another idea.  I wouldn’t even need to carve a hook I could maybe spear myself a fish.  This required me to see a fish though.  I took my shoelace that was tied to the end of the stick and used it to tie my knife onto the end of the stick.  Then I got up and snuck around the banks of the stream.  It didn’t take long before I saw a fish.  I had kept low and was being quiet.  I remembered seeing on a fishing show how fish can see you better from the water than you can see them.  I slowed, stood my entire height and threw the spear I had fashioned at the fish.  I missed but I managed to make a big splash.  This I knew had probably scared fish away for miles in each direction.  I had to wade out to retrieve my spear.  Thank goodness the creek wasn’t more than waist deep. 

As I waded through the water I tried not to kick up too much dirt.  If I muddied the water I wouldn’t be able to see anything.  I looked into the water in search of fish to skewer once I reclaimed my spear.  I saw one just as it darted under the edge of a rock.  I stood still in the middle of the creek for several hours and tried my luck numerous times.  My legs were getting numb and my teeth were chattering before I decided to exit the freezing water.

I took a walk up the creek to see if there was a more shallow area I could try.  It wasn’t long before I found a spot that only reached my knees.  I trudged in and tried my luck again.  This went on until it was close to getting dark.  I better get something soon or I would go without dinner again tonight.

I saw a nice sized fish, aimed and threw my spear.  I missed and watched the fish dart under a nearby rock.  I ran to the spot where the fish was hiding and plunged my hand under the rock after him.  He swam away from me but I had touched him.  This was a new concept.  I began slowly and methodically feeling under rocks.

About every third or fourth rock I would feel something and then see a fish dart away.  I just had to be faster.  I lowered my hand back into the water and started feeling around a new rock.  Ah-ha!  I pushed my hand up against the rock from the bottom, trying to pin the fish so I could get a grip.  I got it!  I actually said this out loud.  It wasn’t very big and I started to close my grip.  As my fingers closed around my fish I felt a sharp pain in my hand.  Instinctively I pulled my hand toward my body and hanging from it was a snake! 

I jumped up and down and screamed, “SNAKE!  SNAKE!  SNAKE!” Then I shook my hand and arm violently.  The snake didn’t loosen its grip.  Finally I calmed down enough to try and pry the snakes’ fangs away from my hand.  It had a hold of me right at the base of my thumb.  I wondered if it was poisonous.

I couldn’t get it off!  I had somehow gotten myself back to shore and was standing near my spear.  I reached down and picked it up and sliced the snake in two.  Its head was still hanging onto my hand and there was a lot of blood.  I made myself calm down and I took my finger and thumb and pushed them into either side of the snake’s mouth and was able to finally get it off me.  I threw it down and stomped on it a few times.  Then I reached down to inspect it with my spear.

In my effort of prying I had noticed its fangs had been more to the back of its mouth and thought that was a good sign.  If the fangs were in the front of the mouth it was probably poisonous, but if they were in the back of the mouth, they were meant to hold on, not to inject venom.  I did a double check by physically picking it up and opening its mouth and didn’t find any vampire like fangs in the front. Maybe it might not be a bad idea to take it back to camp to see if Mr. Black knew what kind of snake it was.  Maybe he had some anti- venom in his pack.

I picked up the dead snake parts and my spear and tromped back to camp.  Mr. Black was nowhere to be seen.  I sat down and tried to regulate my breathing.  I remembered hearing that if you got excited it would just make the venom move faster through your blood stream.  I looked down at my injured thumb to see if it had turned black like the pictures I had seen of rattlesnake bites.

It wasn’t black but there was a huge gash right underneath where I had cut the snake in two.  I must have cut myself with the knife.  It was still bleeding and all the blood when I cut the snake must have been mine.  Great.  Now what?
Not only am I going to die of snakebite, I might actually die from blood loss too.  I started to feel light headed.

“Knock it off,” I told myself out loud.  Quit acting like a girl, I thought internally.  Okay, the snake had bitten me close to half an hour ago; if it had been poisonous it would probably have kicked in by now.  I hoped.  Now I just had to figure out what to do with my hand.  It was still bleeding heavily.  I sat and looked at it.  I needed stitches, that was obvious.  How was I going to get stitches out here though?  I pushed the cut together and that helped slow the bleeding.  I had to do something. 

I rummaged through my pack and found a book that I hadn’t put in there.  It was titled Herbal Remedies.  Mr. Black must have put that inside.  I skimmed through it quickly to see if there was anything about snakebites, but there wasn’t so I put it down and continued my search.  I didn’t find anything else that seemed of use in my pack.

The knife Mr. Black had given me was a survival knife; maybe I would find something there.  I started to play with the knife and found a spot on top that unscrewed.  I opened it and low and behold there was a little baggie in there with some sort of plastic line and a FISHING HOOK.  No needles though.  I was so furious at myself for not snooping before.  I had thought curiosity would get me into trouble one day, but never thought it could have prevented disaster.

I knew I had to sew up my hand, but I wanted to wait for Mr. Black.  I was hungry, and tired and I was freezing because I was still soaking wet.  I tried to start the fire because it was getting close to dusk.  I finally got it lit and Mr. Black still wasn’t back.

I supposed I better try to sew myself up.  I tied some of the fishing line to the hook and proceeded to sew.  I had never liked to sew, but this was even worse.  When I had first touched the sharp end of the hook to my hand I thought it would hurt too much for me to go through with it, but my wound was numb.  At least it was on the outside.  If I tried to go too deep it hurt like hell.  I caught myself a couple of times with my other hand because I had touched a sensitive spot and it made me almost pass out.  I finished sewing up the cut and tied a knot at the end of the line.  I used the knife to cut the plastic line and was pretty impressed with myself.  It wasn’t too straight, but the bleeding had almost stopped and I hadn’t died because of poisoning either.

It was completely dark around my campfire now.  I got up and quickly changed my clothes.  They had almost dried completely except around the seams but I didn’t want to be covered in blood anymore.  I looked at the snake lying on the ground and my stomach rumbled.

“No,” I said and laid out my bedroll.  Then I sat down on it and waited for Mr. Black to reappear.  He had said we were going to move camp today, didn’t he?  I wondered why he wasn’t back.  I hoped he hadn’t gotten hurt.  I worried about him a bit to keep my mind off the snake that had almost killed me.  Every once in a while I was hit with a feeling of panic because I wasn’t totally convinced it hadn’t been poisonous.  I thought of eating it again but decided against it, partly because I wanted to show it to Mr. Black but mostly because I didn’t want to eat snake.

And there are two more books in the series so far.

Shades of Grey:
Answering a strange "HELP WANTED" ad, placed by White and associates, Alex finds herself in a partnership with a company she knows almost nothing about. Along with her job she's acquired a new name and a whole new set of rules to live by. Now known as Ms. Grey, she realizes she even prefers that to Alex. One thing leads to another when she takes on a routine case. A legendary sniper known only as Penumbra, becomes her main focus. Can she unravel Penumbra's true identity and should she?

and Reflections of Grey:
Alexis Stanton returns as Ms. Grey to struggle with love and identity. Taking her first undercover job, she's forced to do and wear things she'd rather not. All the while, fighting with her feelings for the elusive Mr. White. Working with White and Associates is everything she dreamed it would be and more. Adventure, training and excitement abound. But what it ultimately leads to might not be what she expects. Follow along as she learns the truth about the people around her as well as her own past and future.

So check them out today!

1 comment:

JC Phelps said...

Thank you for hosting me today! I really appreciate it.