Yes! Yes, yes, yes!!! Finally! I have started writing Rosehead in May of 2013. So it's been almost a year! And here it is. I mean, it's here on my site, and it's on Amazon, and on Barnes & Noble, and on Kobo Books, and on Wattpad, and on Scribd, and on Goodreads. And it should be on Google books, but it doesn't show up for some reason. I'm still getting it on iBooks, so it will be there soon too. Also, you can download FREE files of it here (PDF, ePub, Mobi). Oy. Wow. 2nd novel, done. And now I'm writing my third. This is crazy, because I quit my career only 2 years ago to write full time. Well, it will be 2 years in May. Anyway, I'm cheating here a little, with this blog post. I'm prepping a new long post for you on what it is I would've done differently, publishing my first book, now that I've published my second. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here is the excerpt from the actual finished edited published ROSEHEAD.
And. Don't forget. If you read it, review! Review! REVIEW!!! I will give you hugs and kisses. When I see you. Promise.
A novel by Ksenia Anske.
Chapter 1. The Grim Arrival.
Lilith Bloom had a peculiar feeling that the rose garden wanted to eat her. She surveyed it through the open car window, unable to look away. The garden seemed to survey her back. It was enormous. Its red blanket surrounded a solitary mansion at the end of Rose Street, Rosenstrasse in German. No other houses stood in sight, only a distant forest. Apart from tires grating on the gravel, it was eerily quiet, too quiet for a hot summer afternoon.
Their rental sedan pulled into the motor court in front of the mansion, joining a long line of cars. A sudden gust of wind washed over Lilith’s face. She expected it to smell like roses. Instead, it reeked of rotten sweetness, of something decomposing. Lilith rolled up her window.
“Panther,” she whispered.
“Panther Bloom Junior! Will you kindly wake up?”
She shook the black shape curled to her left. The shape yawned, revealing a long tongue and rows of pearly teeth, then promptly sat up and blinked. It wasn’t exactly a dog, not in the most typical sense of how one would describe it. It was a cat in a dog’s body. In proper canine terms, it was a whippet, Lilith’s pet and only friend. He possessed a unique gift. He talked, as Lilith ascertained her parents. Of course, they refused to believe her.
Lilith’s father, Daniel Bloom, an avid whippet breeder and dog race enthusiast, deemed Panther as the runt of the litter. Too softhearted to part with the puppy, he gave it to Lilith last summer for her twelfth birthday. Since then, they’d become inseparable, disappearing on long walks in Boston neighborhoods and arriving this fine sunny day in Berlin, after Lilith point-blank refused to go anywhere without Panther, especially not to the Bloom family reunion at her grandfather’s house.
“You’d think a herd of elephants died here,” she whispered.
Panther raised a brow.
No matter how much Lilith pleaded with him to talk in front of her parents, he viciously disapproved of the idea, lest they parade him in some freak show like an otherworldly miracle.
“Don’t look at me like that. I hate it when you don’t answer,” Lilith said, loudly enough for her parents to hear. They exchanged a painful glance.
“Here we are, my puppies. Looks like we made the cut,” said Daniel Bloom cheerfully, attempting to diffuse the mood. When nervous, he spoke in dog show lingo.
“Lilith, did you take your pills?” said Gabby Bloom, as she twisted in the passenger seat and gazed at her daughter through metal-rimmed glasses, her fingers momentarily paused from knitting.
Panther studied Lilith.
Lilith studied the front seat. “I thought we agreed that pills are for sick people, Mother. I must assure you that currently I don’t feel sick in the slightest.”
“Don’t take that tone with me, missy. Look at me when I talk to you. I asked you a question. Did you or didn’t you?”
Panther continued to study Lilith.
Lilith continued to study the seat.
Gabby’s lower lip trembled. She looked like a lost squirrel perched on top of a roof, not knowing how she got there or how to get down. Her brown hair could pass for fur standing on end.
“Lilith, don’t be puppyish. Answer your mother,” Daniel muttered while patting his pockets to look busy.
An awkward silence filled the car.
“I flushed them down the toilet, on the plane. By accident. They’re excruciatingly slippery,” Lilith said with an innocent expression on her face. She liked using sophisticated words like excruciatingly to purposefully annoy her mother.
“You what? Daniel, are you listening? Did you hear what she said?” Gabby faced her husband.
He squinted at something out the window. “I’m sure she didn’t mean for it to happen, love. We just crossed the Atlantic, effectively gaining six extra hours. She can skip a day, can’t she? For time adjustment purposes?”
“That’s ten dollars down the drain! Have you forgotten what happened last time?” Gabby’s hands performed an intricate dance of opening her bag, taking out rolls of wool, one half-knit sweater, another half-knit sweater, a handful of needles, and an orange vial of pills.
Lilith and Panther exchanged a glance.
Gabby stuffed the vial into her daughter’s hands and watched her reluctantly open it and take out two blue capsules.
“Now,” she said.
Lilith stuck the pills under her tongue, miming a fake swallow.
Meanwhile, escaping his wife’s mounting fury, Daniel stepped out of the car and busied himself with the luggage. Tall and scrawny, he looked like a whippet himself, missing perhaps only the tail.
Eager to spit out the bitter tablets, Lilith made to follow.
“Wait a second, missy. Show me your tongue.” Gabby leaned in for closer inspection.
Lilith opened her mouth and, without dislodging the pills, said with a practiced smile, “Sorry, Mom.”
“Do not do this again.”
“Good. Out you go. We’re late as it is.” Gabby hurried out of the car, her motherly duty done.
Lilith and Panther exchanged another glance and clambered out, looking around. They were at the end of a perfectly round courtyard crammed with cars of all types, their inexpensive rental the very last.
Lilith stood with a triumphant smile on her face. Slender and petite, she dressed meticulously. Taking forever to pick out clothes calmed her whirring mind, although it caused Panther to lose his. Today she sported a navy skirt, a striped sailor shirt, red Mary Janes, and a matching beret knitted by her mother.
Lilith had a collection of these. A rosy one for ballet lessons, a black one for walking Panther, a blue one for reading, and a red one for special occasions. Festive outings rarely happened in her life, but whenever they did, she always wore red, for confidence.
Lilith peered into her handbag, making sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. She confirmed her dog-shaped wallet with a few dollars in it, a pack of tissues, a leotard, a tutu, ballet tights, slippers, three berets, a journal, a pen, and a book. Always a book. Presently it was Arthur Canon Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, a corner bent on page thirteen.