Bounty – Writing Excerpt

A short excerpt from The Fishperer.

 


 
Some of the other bounty hunters liked to mock Xin’she Hydrocall for her ‘advanced age.’ Those bounty hunters had never been chased by her. Or in a fight with her. When Edar’he Eelspeak heard she was coming for him, he’d been apprehensive. Then when he heard a description of her, he’d laughed. Edar wouldn’t run from a fifty-five year old.

 
He was running now.

 
He was running harder and faster than he had ever run in his life. Pain tore through his chest with every breath as he dodged and ducked through the jungle, leaping over thick vines and swinging across branches. Every time he glanced back, she was closer. Perhaps just a fraction but she was closer. His face was livid and desperate. She didn’t even look to be sweating. He wasted air swearing and ran on. He didn’t need to get far but he had to get there first.

 
Xin kept a steady pace behind him. She didn’t want to burn out before the ensuing fight. It wasn’t difficult – Edar was clearly a city kid. His movements through the jungle were clumsy and obvious. He wouldn’t lose her at this rate. It was only a matter of time until he was in reach.

 
A thick fallen trunk blocked his way and he clambered over it at speed, despite his waning strength and lack of grace. Xin took a short cut, using a nook on the trunk of one tree to launch herself up and grab a high branch, swinging her lithe body with ease over the obstruction and hitting the ground with momentum. Edar was almost close enough to grab.

 
There was a sudden break in the jungle onto a river and Edar released a giddy laugh as he launched himself at it, disappearing beneath the surface as Xin made it to the edge. Without breaking stride she grabbed a knife from her belt and stretched her hands above her head in a point and leapt in a shallow dive beneath the surface. Her eyes easily saw through the warm, clear water. Edar was frantically mouthing something with the rapid expulsion of air bubbles.

 
That’s a mistake, sunbeam, she thought, stretching one hand out in front of herself.
Three eels, long and thick, powered up from the depths making a frantic beeline for her. Edar actually took the time to throw her a grin before he began to kick back to the surface. The first of the eels reached her and twisted around her legs. Xin ignored it, sweeping her hand around sharply and snapping it shut. The river stopped flowing downstream. Panic spread across Edar’s face as his rise to the surface stopped abruptly. The current had changed, dragging him downward. Yet more air escaped him as he was pulled toward the riverbed.

 
The second eel made quick work of snaking its body around Xin’s torso, constricting her chest. She brought the knife down into its back and the thing opened its toothy maw in fury. A puff of red billowed into the water around her and the eel’s grip loosened. The blade had gone right through, nicking Xin’s clothing but nothing more. She pulled the knife free as the third approached, and the wounded creature lamely twitched as it retreated. With one hand she struck at the newcomer with the knife, while with the other she gestured toward the surface.

 
Like a soap bubble blown between a child’s fingers, a pocket of air pulled down into the water and wobbled into its own entity as the surface tension snapped. The bubble dropped like a rock through the water, settling around Xin’s head. She took a deep breath from the pocket of fresh air.

 
The third eel sharply changed direction at the last moment and powered away from her. Her eyes flicked down to her calves and the eel holding them together let go and shot off after its friend. They were both clearly far brighter than Edar was. That was the great thing about ‘mancers that most people didn’t seem to understand – yes, they had the ability to talk with their certain animal but that didn’t mean the animal had to listen.

 
She turned her attention to her bounty, flailing his limbs as he swirled around and around in a little vortex. She waited, wafting her limbs gently to keep her steady in the water, comfortably breathing from her personal air pocket, until Edar went limp.

 
She flicked her hand and the vortex changed direction, carrying both her and the unconscious Edar back to the surface. With lazy ease she pulled herself onto the riverbank and dragged Edar up with her. He was heavy, especially wet, but not so much so that she struggled. It didn’t take a lot to get him breathing again, and he didn’t cough anything up, so she didn’t much worry about secondary drowning. Either way he’d make it back to the Law Office fine.

 
“How?” he sputtered as she roughly tied his hands behind his back, one knee burrowed hard into his spine.

 
She let a grin slip. “Thought the currents were too strong? Kid, you have a lot to learn about hydromancers.” She yanked him to his feet. “You’ll have plenty of time to think about it inside that gibbet.”

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Aye Write! Editing Workshop and Confidence Building

This month I’ve been very excited about the Aye Write festival that’s been taking place in a city near me. There were loads of classes and workshops I wanted to attend but unfortunately due to money I budgeted myself to three. Even more unfortunately, one of them was cancelled right at the last minute, so I’ve only gotten to two of those.

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Today I’m going to quickly talk about my experience at the first – that was “Creative Writing: What You Need to Know About Revision and Editing” with David Pettigrew, writer, lecturer and editor. I was excited for this event because editing is the stage I’m at with all my projects currently. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve got a huge backlog of rough draft novels that I’d love to be able to look back on with more than a cringe, so I’m doing my best to work some of these into shape before I get struck by any shiny new ideas.

For me, it’s such a great feeling to go to these events. Almost all my creative writing experiences can be summed up by “me, alone in my room, banging my face against a keyboard.” When I took writing up seriously after university, I didn’t live anywhere that I could actually attend any writing classes. There were no writing groups and I couldn’t find any likeminded writing friends who weren’t at their very closest in another country. It has at times felt very isolated. Being able to attend writerly things like this are not only great fun but a good way to get some of that desolate feel away from it. It’s refreshing and inspiring.

During the event, I never actually learned too much that I didn’t know already. The course covered the basics like when to use a full stop and maybe you should put in paragraphs, along with a couple of other bits and bobs. For me it turned out to be less of an educational experience than it did a confidence builder. I took the time after the event to chat with a few of the other attendees and there were folks who were very serious about their writing but felt the course had opened their eyes about a lot of things they weren’t thinking about.

I guess I’ve still been considering myself as a beginner when it comes to writing fiction because I’m still unpublished, when I’ve actually learned a lot this last five years. In the handout provided with the course there were a lot of examples that I at first thought to be hyperbolic for the purpose of learning. They weren’t – they were quotes from pieces submitted as assignments in an undergraduate creative writing course. I was taken back by that, as I still very much considered myself on the low end of the writing skill scale. It turns out that after five years of practicing and studying and learning I know how to polish things perhaps better than I thought.

I’ve realised that maybe, perhaps, I’m not quite as much a beginner as I thought anymore no matter how much I feel like it.

A Walk in The Woods – Writing Excerpt

Very late post today! Sorry about that! Today, in keeping with my resolutions post, have a short excerpt from my novel Through the Black, first book of the Twyned Earth series currently with its second round of beta readers.

 

Enjoy!

 


 
Tony and I were surrounded by the vibrant, lush wilds, shrouded by elegant trees and bathed in dappled mid-afternoon sunlight as it breached the thick canopy above us. The air was crisp and clear, a breeze rustling the branches gently. It. Was. Awful. I cursed aloud as I stumbled over another bloody tree root, ignoring as Tony laughed and ejected himself from my shoulder. I’d already lost enough drinking and moping time to this sodding safari as it was. The trail just seemed to go on and on. And, in all this time, I hadn’t found a single thing to drink. I was seriously questioning how anyone could consider this fun.

 
I’d lost track of how far we’d gone. The path was an unruly mass of green mess that had lots of features like waterfalls and rocks and other such things I was sure someone found interesting. Shame they weren’t the one writing this article. Fortunately writing bullshit was one of my talents. I could actually sound interested in the great outdoors on paper. Though maybe not without whiskey.

 
In the past twenty minutes or so, the path had become significantly thicker and rougher, as though we were trekking through uncharted territory. Honestly, who did this for fun? Certainly not me and probably not Tony. He glared around as he hovered in front of me. I didn’t know a lot about Aigorshuck, the city of the fairies, but Tony had left for a reason. Maybe trees were that reason.

 
“We’re lost,” he grumbled. “Hang here for a sec. I’m gonna fly ahead and see if we’re actually going somewhere.”

 
“Hey, now wait a second-”

 
He was already gone, disappearing off over the bushes. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, he may have been right. We’d definitely started in the right place. The walk was long and winding though. It was possible we came off somewhere when it became particularly overgrown. My face fashioned a grim scowl as I considered just who the hell asked for a review of a walk that doesn’t even get maintained. The glimmer of Tony’s wings caught my attention as he reappeared from deep within the thicket.

 
“Okay, fine, we might be lost-”

 
“Screw that,” he exclaimed. “Come on!”

 
Not the answer I had been expecting.

 
Tony looped over himself and disappeared back the way he came. I hurried after him as best I could, wrestling through the bushes, thorns and branches clawing at me. It was like wading through treacle. Spiky, spiky treacle. There were times, I was begrudged to admit, when being a fairy might have been handy.

 
What lay beyond must have been good – Tony hadn’t stopped to gloat about me admitting defeat. Now that was worrying. Hissing as a branch of thorns scraped my face, I managed to free myself from the leafy trap and emerge on the other side only to stumble to a halt.

 
“What’s that?” I asked, staring dumbfounded into the clearing.

 
“What does it look like?” Tony asked as though I were a child.

 
I furrowed my brow and tilted my head to the side. “It… It sort of looks like… Well… A bomb.”

 
Before us was a plain circle of land cleared down to the soil. A perfect circle. With no tracks of vehicles and no piles of refuse. Dead centre there was a box with some wires poking out of the top and into the side. Some of the wires disappeared down into the dirt but didn’t lead anywhere else.

 
“I can’t say I’m too happy about being stood here, Tony,” I said, heart beating just a hair faster than normal.

 
“This isn’t right,” he said, sounding distracted. “It’s all way too neat.”

 
“I’m more worried about it becoming un-neat very rapidly,” I insisted. “Let’s g-”

The Difference of Four Years

One of the problems with letting a draft sit on the shelf for four years is that a lot can change in that time. If you’re writing a novel set even partially in the real world, this can be an issue. A completely surreal twist of fate can mean that suddenly your fiction is a whole lot more relevant. Also a whole lot harder to write.

Work has started on the editing of The Fairy Godfather, the original draft of which I started working on in 2012 and the political climate has changed quite a bit since then. It’s changed so much in fact that there are huge parts of The Fairy Godfather that are exceptionally difficult right now.

This novel has a lot of neo-Nazis in it.

That isn’t to say that neo-Nazis are ever fun or easy to write about. It’s just that in 2012 they weren’t undergoing their renaissance. They’ve stopped being a quiet undercurrent of western society that likes to keep swept under the carpet and are instead holding office. It’s pretty awkward considering that 2012 me thought “hey, imagine if all these people who are different appeared and the Nazis made a resurgence!” and 2016 just came and fly-kicked me in the gut.

Especially hard is reading many people’s real life accounts of how they are going about interacting with friends and family who either hold such views or have voted in favour of people who do. As you can imagine, many of these accounts are harrowing and upsetting and the worst part of it all is that they are real. In one scene of The Fairy Godfather a character actually has to explain to another, an elf who prides himself on helping bring an end to the Second World War, that certain elven ideals are scarily close to those of Nazi Germany. It was a very difficult scene to write four years ago. Re-reading it today is painful.

This was certainly an unexpected danger of writing and editing this novel is probably going to be a lot more emotionally exhausting than I had originally planned for. I won’t let it hold me back though. All I can do now is keep going, take extra care dealing with difficult issues and do my best not to harm those being hurt by the current climate.

That, and try to enjoy the little things. Like writing about lots of Nazis getting beat by a gang of fairies.

The Resolutions Post, 2017

So I’m a few days late but here is the resolutions post to keep me accountable for the year. I’m expecting a lot more upheaval just over halfway through 2017 so I’m not going to try and set myself too much and just focus on dealing with life a little better than I did last year.

 

1.) Submit short stories – So, this was a resolution for last year that I managed to keep up with. This year I’m going to set myself a higher goal for submissions and try and hit that, to slowly work up to being consistent with submitting work. After all, the only way it’s going to get accepted is if it gets submitted!

2.) Get author logo and website banner – So last year I attended the fabulous Jill Marcotte’s author branding workshop, during which ideas for these two things were brainstormed. With Through the Black ready for its second round of betas it’s time to start getting things sorted out.

3.) Put writing samples on website – Another action coming direct from the workshop, we discussed the importance of having samples of one’s writing on one’s author website. Eeep! As a direct result of this I have this (tiny) page here with a couple of links but resolution number three is to flesh this section out a little more with some samples from novels and maybe some short stories!

4.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – So some of you may remember this post where I realized I hadn’t written down half the things I thought I had and that the vast majority of my delicate world building was precariously stored in the worst of places – my head. That is rather like trying to ask my dear cat Pandy to protect that block of cheese. So while I’ve been working through things, most of my world building doesn’t actually appear in Through the Black. (Writers, right?) So what I want to do is make sure I’ve noted all things relevant to book one to ensure consistency as I work on book two.

5.) Art more – I’m constantly lamenting that I don’t have time among everything to keep up practicing art, because like writing it’s one of those things that you really have to work at. I used to not be too bad but I haven’t had time to practice consistently since I was in school so since then I’ve really gone downhill. I’d like to work slowly towards getting it back, even if I’m not doing more than a sketch a week just to get in the habit.

 

As for what I’m going to be working on, novel-wise, last year the main project was Through the Black (insert Nick Cage face here) with The Deconstructor as my ‘official’ side project. Well I got the first done, got Deconstructor to a couple of readers and even managed to finally finish the rough draft of One Dead Prince!

This year the main project will be Twyned Earth book 2 The Fairy Godfather with my official side project being The Fishperer. We’re already eleven days in so time to get cracking!

Resolutions Roundup 2016

Happy 2017!

I meant to have this all posted before the turn of the new year but the holidays are a busy, busy time so sorry about that! Right at the start of 2016 I posted up my resolutions for the year so here is the roundup of how I did!

 

  1. Diversify my reading – This went well! While I didn’t read as much in general as I would have liked last year (and I blame the curse of 2016 for that one!), at least 50% of the books I read had diverse main characters written by diverse authors. I found some absolute gems that I would have missed if I hadn’t gone on the hunt for them specifically. This highlighted part of the problem as well – at times I struggled to find reads within the genres I was looking for. In future I’m going to continue putting more effort into hunting out these novels – and yelling about them on Goodreads!
  1. Start leaving short reviews on Goodreads again – Not quite a success unfortunately. I didn’t manage one a month like I had planned (the second half of the year really was an event and a half) but I got more than half of my goal done which is something. I think I’ll aim for one a month again this year, though it won’t be an official resolution, to try and help me keep a more critical eye as I read—and learn—from books.
  1. Lose weight – Finally an actual success! I not only hit the numerical value I was aiming for half way through the year, but I ended the year on it too. Huzzah!
  1. Finish next draft of Through the Black This is the big one! And a success! Excitingly, this shiny revised draft is completed! Which also means I need to send it to people again soon! Eeeep! I’m currently doing a last final read through and then I will be compiling a list of beta readers. If you’d like to be on it, drop me a line!
  1. Get tattoo – Tah daaaaaaaah!

Tattoo

  1. Move in with partner – Another success! And the shiny beacon in an otherwise awful year.
  1. Submit more short stories – Success! I hit my set submission goal and got what had to be one of the quickest rejections in history (it took them less than half an hour) but if you don’t submit you can’t succeed. Considering how long a year is, it wasn’t a huge number of submissions but it’s a start. I’m building up to getting things sent out relatively regularly.

 

So I didn’t do too bad, all things considered. Now it’s time to start working on those 2017 goals, which you’ll see next time! How did you do on your goals for last year? And Happy New Year all!

It Is Done

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It is done.

The draft. All that is left is a read through and then Through the Black will once again be beta ready. It fills me with overwhelming excitement, relief and fear. I don’t know when I’ll send it out but probably not immediately. I might wait until January when the holidays and whatnot are out of the way. Still, it’ll be a huge load off my shoulders to have it completed.

I think once I’ve done the read through I’ll be taking a little break from writing. That isn’t to say I won’t be writing at all, I just won’t start any serious work on anything. Poking and prodding at whatever takes my fancy. Because let me tell you, as much as I adore writing and my WIPs, this year has been utterly exhausting. Being a bit more casual for a while is definitely on the cards.

That said, I’ve already picked out my two main projects for next year because my brain doesn’t know what down time is. Though I will need to distract myself from the fact that beta readers have my novel.

So what will I be working on? First up as my “main” main project will be Through the Black sequel The Fairy Godfather. The concepts and events of book one are now solid enough that I feel I can start some proper work on it – the poor thing’s still in very rough shape from when it was my first official NaNoWriMo novel. It needs about 30k added to make it novel length and interesting, but considering I had a whole gang of shallow disposable bad guys who were never dealt with in the first draft I’m certain that’ll fill up quick.

Next year’s official side project will be The Fishperer, because it’s too much fun to ignore (and not a behemoth like certain other side novels who shall remain nameless). It’s a short stand-alone which will be nice to work on for a change. It’s also set on the back of a whale, which is a huge draw for me.

I hope your writing progress is going well and if you’re not keeping track then I hope you’re just having a good time with it!