Deborah Jackson

Monday, March 28, 2011

News, News, News

Yes, after a year of a seemingly plodding pace, exciting things are happening. Time Meddlers on the Nile is scheduled for release sometime before Christmas, Time Meddlers will be revised and re-released as well, to make it more appropriate for all school boards, and Ice Tomb will go out of print within the next two months (through ICP) and be re-released by Lachesis under their Classics line. This way I can revise it slightly and improve it (since it was a "first novel"). I'll also be making it more suitable for all ages.

But wait . . . I'm not finished yet. Sinkhole, the long-awaited adult thriller that's been sitting on the back burner for a very a long time, will likely be released in the next year.

Sooo . . . I have my work cut out for me, but I'm still contemplating a new novel and revising and perhaps releasing other novels that have been languishing in my drawer.

Stay tuned for: a new page on my website about Time Meddlers on the Nile and all the associated research, an e-brochure regarding my work that will be accessible to libraries and school boards along with anyone else who may be interested, an E-newsletter with more detailed information once I have specific release dates with previews and excerpts.

Since I've already provided you with the first chapter of Time Meddlers on the Nile, here's a little teaser for Sinkhole:


Chapter One

You're insane, thought Kat, as she clung to the spear of limestone that projected into the river and felt it again—a heart-stopping shift in the rock. Isn't it enough that you drove them this deep, she berated herself, but now you're risking their lives? She half-turned and looked at Ray, clawing at the slick rock, battling the turbulent current of the sump, even with his skill. Beyond him, the two inexperienced cave-divers were relying on the rope she'd secured to them as dearly as the nodes on the wall. But if you don't keep going . . .

“Rock’s weak,” she said to the others. “Don’t use it. I’ll try to find a more stable one.”

“I think we should go back,” said Ray. His voice came out as a tinny squawk on the underwater PA system.

Kat caught the gleam of his eye in the faint cast of her helmet light. Darn Ray, Mr. I-don't-care-if-it's-a-sheer-drop-into-hell, now the voice of reason?

“No,” she said, ignoring the niggling voice in her head. “Not yet. If we just descend a little farther, we’ll find a dry tunnel.”

“And more specimens,” said Pete. “We haven’t collected many yet.”

Kat felt another wobble in the jutting rock. She reached for an alternate, more solid, handhold.

“I’m ready to turn back,” said Megan. “There’s no sign—” she gasped, as if the effort of just hanging on was too much for her, “—that the Mayans ever came down this far.”

Kat clutched the next rock node, the remainder of some stubble of karst that hadn’t been polished clean by the water. She dug her fingers into a groove at the side.

“But there is something down below. I just know it,” Kat argued ruthlessly. “After what they’ve found in sea floor vents and other caves. Even on Mars. We have to keep going.”

“Kat, this is crazy. You said the rock was unstable,” said Ray. “And the current here’s too strong. If we lose our grip, we’ll be swept away. No one comes back from that.”

“Just ten more metres,” she insisted.

Kat turned and gripped the next knob of rock, hauling the others along with the rope. They each had to copy her movements, clinging to the rock wall like spiders, just to keep the current from catching them and flinging them downstream. At this point in the channel, the current was so wild it whipped up a lather of bubbles, obscuring any view ahead. Kat reached blindly, latching onto another chunk of rock. But as her full weight rested on the next projection, the rock shivered. It twisted and shuddered and grated.

Then it ripped from the wall.

Kat screamed as the water punched her forward, dislodging Ray, Pete, and Megan too. Caught in the current, she flailed helplessly, her head crunching again and again on the walls. The flashlight in her helmet flickered, as it crashed into the tongues of rock and, all too soon, it was snuffed out.

This was it then, the end. Fitting, isn't it, you incredibly arrogant woman, she castigated herself. She was flying blindly through a narrow stream framed by bulging rock that could snap her limbs and split her skull. The dark wrapped around her like a suffocating blanket, preventing her from grabbing a lifeline that might be within reach, and the force of the current pummeled her chest so violently she couldn’t even scream. Kat waited for the last brain-nullifying impact.

But it didn’t come.

Incredibly, and without warning, she bobbed up like a buoy into empty space. It must be an open chamber, but the suction pulled her under again before she could react.

Oh no, you don’t.

She pumped her legs. Her hands plowed through the water until she bounced up into the cavity again. Now, to stay there. Kat grappled for a handhold in the dark and finally found purchase in a slippery crack. It took the last kernel of strength she had to pull herself out of the water and onto some flat surface. She ripped off her mask and gasped the stale, dank air.


But it wasn’t over yet. Ray, Pete, and Megan were still attached to the rope, and as the current swept them past and sucked them farther down the stream, it wrenched Kat from the solid ground and into the water again. At the last second she shot out a hand and just managed to clamp onto a jagged spear of rock. She had to stay there or they were all dead. Somehow she had to pull them out. Struggling against the vortex, Kat slapped another hand on the rock. Although it was smooth and slick—maybe a stalagmite—she managed to haul herself up, wedging a knee behind the limestone fragment.

She was out of the water now, but the noose about her waist felt like it would slice her in half. Keep going. Just a little bit more. Using the stalagmite as a pulley, she dragged the ropes around it. She heard the faint crumbling of calcite as she liberated the first team member from the undertow.

The suction snapped like a plug suddenly popped free from a drain. Kat felt Ray flop beside her, the seal-slick neoprene brushing against her leg. He gasped and smacked wet palms on the porous rock. She hauled again on the rope, wincing as she heard chunks of limestone break off from the stalagmite and tumble to the ground with a hollow clatter. But the drag lessened when Ray caught his breath and must have added his biceps to the task. Out came Pete—the lesser weight—and then Megan, releasing the strain altogether. As they stripped off their rebreathers, Kat could hear them panting.

“Thanks,” rasped Megan. “Thought we were goners.”

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