I got my first edits on SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING from my editor at Hydra, so it seems appropriate for me to share a bit of that book.
From Hell Alley to TerraNet comedy stardom. Connie Phelan’s goal is to be top dog in a high-status social group calling itself The Good Society. When the Society invites her to a planet where slavery is legal, Connie is faced with choices: Accept ownership of slaves who throw themselves on her mercy or refuse, leaving them free for an unscrupulous Socialite to abuse? Abandon Honey, an alcoholic hanger-on, or risk her own status in the group to support her? And who SHOULD go into that cannibal pot?
This is the beginning of the book, where Connie introduces herself. I know “they” tell you to begin with action, so I guess you could say I begin with Connie flapping her lip.
SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING – excerpt
by Marian Allen
It started with parties and ended in blood. I’m not a violent woman–who would have thought it would end in blood? Maybe it started on Helena Street. If you go back that far, maybe the blood makes sense.
Helena Street was where I was born and raised: a thousand feet of narrow, broken, asphalt that we called Hell Alley; it ran from Market Street to the service entrance of 63 Andriot, a block of condominiums, overpriced for the upper class. We were a century into the New World Order, and a quick flip through a history book showed a pretty familiar picture. The Haves did, do, and always will; the Have-Nots didn’t, don’t, and won’t. Helena Street was for Have-Nots.
“Connie!” my mother would call me in that fingernails-on-chalkboard voice: part panic and part rage. “Cornelia Phelan! You get home!”
I would grin and roll my eyes at my grade-school cronies and give them a slow wave. I’d stroll across the street and up the three feet of “walk” between the pavement and our front porch. When I got into the house, Mom would pinch my shoulder between her thumb and her fingers and shake me hard enough to make my head whip back and forth on my neck.
“Your Daddy will be here any minute and just look at the mess you left me. You expect me to do it all myself? I count on you, girl, and you let me down!”
It didn’t do any good asking Mom what she’d been doing all day when I’d been at school–she didn’t have a job–not one listed on the National Register, anyway–or why she counted on an eight-year-old to do her work for her. That just would have made her wild, and Daddy would have asked where I’d gotten a split lip, and I’d have had to dodge to keep from getting another one from him. One thing you had to say for my folks–they had the spirit of stick-together, those two.
So, we’d get the house picked up in time, and Mom would open a couple of cans of stew and put a plate of bread and a tub of margarine on the table and a six-pack of beer for them and a Big Red for me. Daddy would come home with beer already on his breath and kiss us both and drop his shirt on the floor and we’d partake of our gracious family meal. Afterwards, I’d go out back and play on my rusty swing-set, left over from the last family who’d lived in our particular rat-hole, and I’d kick the back fence as I swung forward and try not to kick the wall of the house as I swung back. Low profile–that was the ticket.
We shared the Alley with rats and other assorted vermin. We dodged pimps, pushers, and gangs. When we got old enough, some of us entered one or more of these bands. I never did. Just wasn’t a joiner, I guess.
Hell Alley consumed most of the kids I grew up with, but it was the making of me.
~ * ~
So there’s that. The SAGE trilogy is still moving up the publishing queue; this is in addition to it. 🙂
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Read the childhood part of the biography of a well-known person and imagine an alternative life beginning with the same childhood.