WIP

Excerpt: The Nightward – Farain the Cat

Another snippet from Viyella’s story. In truth, I’m well past these bits, but I don’t let myself post unless I’ve done lots of fresh work. Just keeping myself honest 😉

Hope you like it!

He stood and sent out one more thought.  Yowls filled the courtyard, punctuated by screams.  Seconds later, his cat Farain rounded the corner, his tail lashing the ground, his golden beard dripping blood on the stones.  Farain threw his head back and roared at the night sky, the sound alone enough to unhinge a man’s courage.  Dagen felt the scream building in Viyella, and he clamped a merciless hand over her mouth.          

“Silence,” he hissed, “or you’ll meet your mother’s fate.”     

Tears slicked his fingers, but he felt her shudder once more and then go still.  He removed his hand and called the cat closer.  With one more twist of its red, red tail, the cat obliged, thinking vague bloody thoughts in its indistinct but unique pattern.  Farain had no saddle, but Dagen had done without on many occasions, and at the moment, he had no time to inquire if the Princess was capable of the same.       

Gripping a handful of the coarse long fur that ridged the cat’s spine, he swung himself up on the sinewy back, fur prickling him between the joints of his armor.  He bent down and swept the gasping Princess onto Farain’s back, settling her between his arms.     

“Grip with your legs–tight.  Good.  Now, hold the fur with both hands and don’t let go.”     

She followed his instructions with a silent obedience he had never guessed she could muster.       

“Now,” he said, still in his low voice, half his mind engaged in soothing the cat into accepting this extra and unaccustomed burden, “this would be a good time to use that incantation you’re so fond of to hide us.”     

“I can’t,” she whispered back, fear making her voice tremble.  “I’m not strong enough.  I can only hide myself for a few minutes.”     

He sighed.  My luck runs with distressing consistency this night.  “Then hold on Princess, and pray that Ragat arrows find their target with more difficultly when a Dagen’s speed accompanies it.”     

He spun the cat around and dug his heels in.   

Have a great weekend. Stay thirsty, my friends!

Excerpt: The Nightward – A Boy Dances

It’s been a while since I proved I was working. So here is a little bit of my current Work In Progress to keep you warm for the weekend!

A burst of applause made her jump, and Viyella realized that her mother had reached the end of her speech.  When the noise died down, the Queen announced, “And now to Gaia’s bountiful feast, while we enjoy the entertainment graciously provided us by my sister Queen, Saline of Kadoomun, and brought here by the Lady Ashwin of Seat Jinn.” 

Her mother inclined her head in the direction of a frail looking young woman seated at the same table as Lady Ilene.  Next to her was a tall, thin Lord Consort, dressed in the white and gold of Kadoomun’s Court, which clashed with his bright red hair.  Viyella smothered a laugh and was surprised to find that his bright green stare sought her out in seconds.   

I hope he didn’t hear that.  Cheeks burning, she turned her attention to the slender young man who had stepped into the open space left between the stairs to the throne and the tables.  His entire body glittered with gold dust and he wore loose white pantaloons that billowed around his ankles.  The musicians began the soft strains of a folk song that made Viyella think of running through the high grass of the lands in front of the Court, and the boy began to move, sinuous as wheat in the wind. 

Entranced, Viyella leaned forward, aware that everyone in the Court had grown silent, captivated by the dipping movements of the golden arms, and the strength in the flashing golden ankles.  More than once, she caught the eye of the dancer–Did he smile at me?–and sometimes she held her breath as he twirled like thistledown in spring, or leaped high, like Dagens at play.  In that endless, powerful moment, she knew immediately she wanted to be a dancer and hold the emotions of others in the palms of her skillful hands. 

When the dance ended, the thunderous applause seemed to lift the roof higher to the heavens.  Everyone stood, some calling down blessings on the anonymous boy.  The Lord Consort of Kadoomun looked around, a strangely satisfied look on his face.   

“Wonderful, simply wonderful,” Viyella heard her mother breathe, and below that, the murmur of agreement from her father.  She continued to clap her hands together, ignoring the stinging that had set in.  The boy bowed deeply to the throne, and then his head raised and his pale eyes settled on Viyella. 

Come.  The voice twisted around her mind, seeped into her muscles.  Come.  Viyella gasped and trembled before the power of the plea; she tried to form a thought and failed.   

Come. 

Something clanged to her right.  She sensed Dagen turn his head to the sound, and Captain Freehold moved to investigate it.  Dimly, she acknowledged that she was moving toward the stairs, still clapping.   

“Viyella?” Her mother’s voice sounded far, far away, drowned out by the whispered plea.  Come to me. 

Something glimmered by the boy’s right hand.  He’s holding a candle?  A torch?  It did not matter. All that mattered was that she obey.  She started to walk faster, her small feet almost tripping on the final stair. 

The boy raised his arm, still smiling, the glimmering thing beginning to take shape now. 

Viyella! 

The thought slammed into her, smashing the command in her mind like glass.  Dagen?  A shout carried across the Court.  She groaned, holding her head and dropped to her knees.  Something went by over her head in a rush of wind, the force so great it tilted her back and to one side. She was forced to put out her hand to steady herself.  She twisted, blinking, and felt her mind clearing, sunlight breaking through mist.  Dagen stood on the stairs, arm back over his shoulder with his sword raised for the throw–but then Viyella saw her mother and that was when she screamed. 

Her mother was staring, bewildered, at the silver spear jutting out of her stomach. She touched her hand to it gently.  Then, red blooming on her pink sari, Queen Elise crumpled to the floor.  

Omg reaction gifs

Have a great weekend!

Stay thirsty, my friends 😉

Because We Are Awesome

Recently I’ve been reading some great, eye-opening pieces about women and our astounding contributions to society. Sometimes women and the great things they do have been acknowledged, sometimes not, but always, we have been here.

Here is a really great piece by Kameron Hurley about how women have always been a living, breathing part of history, whether you knew about it or not.

Here’s an article about astounding women who did not care what others thought about them, and achieved a lot because of it. Yes, it’s got a lot of blue language, but that’s really not the point. The point is, how many of them have you heard of before?

And in case you think these were just exceptions to the rule, take a gander at this brief list of women warriors from ancient history. I saw a much better list a while ago, but can’t remember where. Got to find that one again. It was really comprehensive and included all women of note, warriors or not. And it went on and on and on.

I’ve been interested in this topic for a while, as I grew up in a matriarchal family, so when I started my current WIP, The Nightward (Hand of Gaia), I knew exactly how the society was going to evolve. This little article I found only after I’d come up with the female warrior magicians that play a big part in The Nightward–the Amazores.

I had even come up with the name Amazores before reading this because I wanted to bring to mind the ancient tale of the Amazons. Talk about serendipity. It helped inspire and solidify the idea I’d already been playing around with.

Here is a little glimpse of the Amazores in action from my manuscript:

Darkness gathered at the base of the wall, pooling there and setting off bright red flashes.     

“Ready yourselves, Amazores!” Annan called. 

The archers moved to the front of the walls and drew their arrows.  Wraithlight glowed fire against the Dark that pressed down from above now, making the sky glow red above them.  The hissing had become a steady dissonance that was almost painful to the ears.  Minutes stretched into years as all light turned crimson.       

Light flared into a flash.  Amazores raised their hands to their eyes.  There was a muffled boom and air rushed past them.  Silence followed, like that found in the Dead Woods in the Queendom of Jaleel.  The Amazores blinked and scrubbed at their eyes.     

The hissing began again.  Soft and satisfied.     

“Archers! Fire!” Annan cried.     

Shafts of flame whistled downward. 

The Dark rose up, wave climbing upon wave to meet them.         

Tyra Damn

I know, Tyra, I know.

So what’s my point? My point is, if you’re a woman, if you’re a girl, if you’re sitting out there telling yourself that you can only be this, or that a women can only be that…you’re lying to yourself.

We can be anything we want to be. We have always been anything we want to be.

We are awesome.

We will continue to be awesome.

And we should let absolutely nothing convince us otherwise.

 

Opening Lines

Chuck Wendig frequently posts some of the funniest, most helpful writing blogs on the internet, and he has no problem encouraging writers to come together on his site to trash out common issues either.

Recently, he had a fun challenge about loglines and I posted my own and had loads of fun reading others. After that, he asked everyone to post the opening line of their Work In Progress (WIPs), and help each other critique them, so I jumped in again with both feet.

It got me thinking about how one size does not fit all. The short grabby first line is great, but not all stories need that or should begin that way. There’s a lot to be said for opening lines that gradually draw the reader in. After, nobody picks up a book to read one line, so why act as though that opening line is make or break? It’s the knob on a door, and you have to get people to turn it. Nothing more, nothing less.

So without further ado, and just for fun, I’m posting the opening lines from three of my novels, and you can judge for yourself if I live by my philosophy.

Do  me a favour and post your opening lines in the comments too. I’d love to read them. It’s just for fun–no critiquing by anyone unless you ask!

“Death came for Michael while he slept.

He woke, gasping and trembling, from a dream of being pushed out the airlock. His fingers were cold and numb; the weight of his head on his arm had cut off his circulation. Michael sat up, wiping sweaty strands of hair off his forehead. Shifting his feet out from under him, he cursed as pain lanced up his leg.

Shit. I fell asleep. I can’t sleep. How long was I out?”

Excerpt from ‘Lex Talionis’ – Space Opera Mystery 

“Princess Viyella of the Court of Hamber, Divine Spirit of the Six Queendoms and future ruler of the High Court of Dun, stuck out her tongue at her exasperated personal bodyguard.

“And if I do not choose to go?” she asked taking another backward step up the crumbling spiral stairs to the tallest, oldest tower of the High Court.

Dagen Kemp only just managed to keep his hands by his sides instead of snatching the precocious six year old over his knee and spanking her.

“Queen Elise has requested that the Princess be taken to the baths in plenty of time for the festivities this eventide.  The Dowager House Mother has indicated her readiness to assist you in your preparations, so the Princess must come with me immediately.”

Excerpt from “The Hand of Gaia” – Science Fantasy

The technician screamed, the smoking stump of his hand smearing his lab coat as he held it to his chest.  Through watering eyes, he looked up at the two soldiers standing over him, their faces hidden behind the wavering diamond reflection of distortion masks.  The ship’s flashing emergency lights limned their black armour, turning the figure-hugging contours scarlet, then black, then scarlet again.

He could smell his own flesh cooking, and vomit scratched at the back of his throat even as pain tore his nerves to shreds.  If he turned around, he knew he would see what was left of his hand lying on the floor of the corridor behind him.  But there was no point in turning around.  His hand was gone for good.  And he was a dead man.

The one on his left lowered the massive lasrifle to his waist, still keeping it at the ready.  The soldier on the right held his weapon with the business end pointed at the floor.  The soldier was silent for a moment longer, apparently studying the tech, though it was hard to tell through the distortion masks.

“Are you ready to speak to me now?” he intoned, his voice flat and expressionless through the mask.”

Excerpt from “Warrior” – Science Fiction 

Stay thirsty, my friends!

 

Excerpt – The Nightward

Here’s an excerpt from my new work in progress. It’s a fantasy set in a world in which women are the stronger sex (they have ‘real’ magic), and modeled on a mish-mash of African, Caribbean and Indian culture. Just so you know I haven’t been lying when I said I was writing these days!

Finally, the Lady said in a hoarse voice, “Do I live?”

“For a while yet.” Frances leaned back in her chair, her hands in her lap. Gretchen turned her head toward her.

“Did my mother send you?”

“Alain begged the favour, not your mother.”

“Alain?” A frown creased Gretchen’s forehead. “Why?”

“Perhaps they trust me. Perhaps they wish to ensure you are treated well.” She dipped the cloth in the vapour water, wrung it out, and laid it on Gretchen’s forehead. Then she took another cloth and began cleaning the smudges from the Lady’s arms. “More likely they think me too old to fight and, therefore, slave to their every whim.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Slave to their whims.”

The Dowager Mother’s hands touched a bruise on her shoulder and Gretchen expelled a pained breath. Frances retrieved a pot of salve from the floor before meeting Gretchen’s gaze.

“I was Queen of Kadoomun for many years. I may be Dowager Mother now, but a Queen keeps her own counsel. She is slave only to her conscience.”

Gretchen’s laugh was short and mirthless. “Conscience. Is a Queen even allowed such a thing?”

“The best Queens have one. But a Queendom cannot always be ruled by it.”