Dialogue and Description by Melissa Eskue Ousley #GuestPost #Giveaway

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Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.

Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.

As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.

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The Excerpt

perf5.500x8.500.inddAbby spent the next evening babysitting for Cassandra and Riordan. She putthe kids to bed and laid out her homework on the coffee table downstairs. She was immersed in her work when she realized—the house was quiet. Eerily quiet.

She was used to the familiar creaks and groans of the old house, and night ushered in the occasional chirp of a cricket or flutter of moth wings around theantique sconces lighting the room. Tonight she heard nothing—there was only dead silence. She felt a prickle at the back of her neck and realized she was shivering. The room had gone unnaturally cold, and she had the distinct sense that she was not alone.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadowy presence, someone standing still, watching her. She turned to look, but there was no one there. She felt a terrible unease twisting in her gut. Something was wrong.

Responding to her intuition, she got up and climbed the stairs to check on thechildren. Ciaran was snoring, perfectly at peace. He had wriggled out of his covers in his sleep. Abby tucked him back in.

Leaving his room, she walked down the hall to the twins’ room. The nightlight inthe hallway began blinking erratically. She entered the room and froze. Perched monkey-like on the corner of Rowan’s crib was a shadowed figure thesize of a small boy, leaning over the sleeping child. Sensing Abby, it turned its head, blood-red eyes meeting hers.

Abby gasped with horror as the creature leapt with unnatural agility from thecrib and crouched like a spider high on the wall, staring down at her. Slowly, it smiled, revealing rows of pointed narrow teeth, sharp as razors. And then…it pounced.

Abby raised her arms to shield herself, scrunched her eyes shut, and screamed. But there was nothing. She heard a low chuckle behind her and saw the creature near the door. The shadow boy laughed and ran out. Thesmoky form changed into a large black housecat before disappearing throughthe hallway wall.

Abby ran to the twins’ light switch and turned on the lights. She checked to make sure Rowan and Siobhan were unharmed, and then hurried to Ciaran’s room, flicking on lights as she ran. Ciaran was still fast asleep—her scream had not disturbed him at all.

She jerked open his closet door and found his aluminum baseball bat. Then, scooping him and the quilt up from his bed, she ran back to Rowan and Siobhan’s room. She shut the door and nestled the five year old into a make-shift bed on the floor. Sitting against the dresser next to him, she hummed, trying to reassure herself. Armed with the bat and the adrenaline coursing through her body, she waited.

The Guest Post

A question I was recently asked about writing Sign of the Throne is, “Which is harder for you—writing dialogue or description?” For me, description is more challenging to write than dialogue, because it requires intense concentration. With dialogue, I often find myself thinking about the characters and the conversations simply start to flow. The characters come alive for me and I try to be true to what I “hear” from them, framing the story based on what I learn about the characters. Here’s an example of one of those conversations, featuring David and Abby:

“No curfew?” David asked.

“No, my parents trust me,” Abby said. “I’ve always been self-regulating—I don’t even think they ever set a bedtime for me. I was just one of those kids who got tired and went to bed at a reasonable hour.”

“Really? You must have been an easy kid to live with.”

Abby shrugged. “I guess so. Come to think of it, I don’t think they ever grounded me either. I think I actually grounded myself once, and my mother told me to go outside and play.”

“Wow,” David chuckled, taking her hand. “I had no idea I was in the presence of a saint.”

“Hardly,” Abby laughed.

“Oh?” There was that eyebrow thing of his again.

“I can be delinquent,” Abby said.

Sure you can,” David teased.

“No really, I can,” she insisted.

“Careful—I’ll make you prove it.” He slipped his arms around her waist. His eyes burned into hers.

She held his gaze, daring him. “Go ahead,” she tempted.

“Maybe I will,” he replied, and pulled her closer to him. She could feel the warmth of his hands on her skin as he held her tight against his chest. Her pulse quickened. He leaned in close, his lips grazing her neck. “But not tonight,” he whispered in her ear.

Her pulse slowed. She pulled away and looked up at him, pouting teasingly. “You’re no fun.”

Abby’s a good girl, and tends to avoid trouble, but she finds David’s flirting very tempting. It’s the kind of trouble she wouldn’t mind getting into at all. This conversation was particularly fun to write, and I hope it’s as fun for you to read.

Description is also fun, and for me starts by focusing on the visual, and then fine-tuning that to include the other senses, what the characters hear, smell, feel, and taste. It takes longer for me to write description and I find I have to concentrate more to capture the details, unlike dialogue, where I’m scrambling to transcribe a conversation. Description does not flow as smoothly—it is a more methodical process. But I enjoy writing it as much as dialogue, even if I find it more challenging. I’ll leave you with an example of description that was rewarding to write. If I’ve done my job well, you’ll feel like you’re standing in the conservatory of the ruined mansion in Newcastle Beach.

The woman pulled open a set of doors, and Abby followed her into a room filled with a large swimming pool; the air felt warm and moist. Surrounding the pool were large ceramic pots glazed in a multitude of rich colors—cobalt, scarlet, tangerine, and chartreuse. After the quake, the mansion had suffered years of neglect. Against those odds, this room was surprisingly well-preserved. It had become its own ecosystem, and the plants were thriving, feeding off the pool’s condensation. Rays of sunlight filtered through the dirty glass panes stretching floor to ceiling on each of the three walls opposite the room’s entrance. The glass appeared frosted, covered with tiny droplets of moisture. The woman pushed the heavy doors closed, blocking the cool air wafting in from the ballroom, and Abby felt a dizzying wave of heat as the temperature increased.

A giant seashell-shaped bowl encrusted with algae sat at the far end of the pool, and though water no longer coursed over its scalloped edges, Abby could hear dripping liquid echoing and reverberating off the walls. The pool was half empty, but still deep, and under the thick slime of algae on its walls, Abby could make out an art nouveau pattern embossed on the tiles. Overhead, waves of light undulated on the ceiling, reflected from the surface of the water. The ceiling showcased a mural with an undersea motif, also in the art nouveau style. A beautiful mermaid floated serenely in a coral bed. Her delicate features, the scales on her tail, and her flowing green hair were highlighted in gold leaf.

About Melissa Eskue Ousley
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Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. “Sign of the Throne,” the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released on September 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in thetrilogy, “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.”

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.

The Giveaway


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