Hello again 🙂
I’m excited to announce that I’m now ready to start editing the first draft of Mist Rock. I took the last two months away from it, focusing on other projects and reading some advice on how to go about the process. I’ll be sharing some of the 2nd draft with you here, asking for feedback on plot, characters etc. Until then though, I’ve decided to post one last excerpt from Draft 1, which is actually the novel opener! Here we follow Queen Farelia atop a lonely mountain in the snow.
Lots of work to be done yet, but am looking forward to more adventures. Hope you enjoy and feel free to provide any feedback 🙂
Farelia sat at her bedside and watched the red curtain ripple. Thin as a dying breath, the silk sheet trembled, slithered, helpless against the hard winter wind. It was all that stood between her and the mountain cold. She sighed, puffing the sharp air from her chest so that it made a small cloud in front of her face. The room around her was filled with low-burning candles; uncertain as her heart they flickered, casting wavy light over walls, a chair, a desk and a single page resting upon it. She slid the paper into her hands as a gust whipped the red curtain back, revealed the world she was hiding from. Wringing her hands tight on her dress, she peered into the depths of the fortress courtyard.
Night had descended on the Arakil Mountains hours before, a shadow that swift swallowed everything. Outside in the yard it was empty-street black, quiet as a huddled walk home.
A dark that things go hunting in. Go missing in.
She looked down at the page gripped in her pale fingers. It was fine paper-not something found beyond her palace, and noticeably difficult to tear. But most importantly it was empty. She pulled a stoppered vial from the folds of her cloak but then a dull knock came at the door, breaking the unmarked silence. It was a hollow sound, a brief reminder of the world outside-what a prisoner might call music.
And isn’t that what I am, after all?
Farelia crossed the room, paused and rested a thoughtful finger on the handle. As usual, her father’s words were in her ear.
Hesitation is a coin toss between wisdom and fear.
“Who is it?” she called out, her voice frail on the chill mountain air.
For a second, nothing, and at her neck the same familiar warmth. Then, as she considered how fast she could run barefoot through snow, the reply sank through the wood. As expected, it was a male voice.
“It’s your cup-bearer, Your Grace,” he said. Another pause. “I couldn’t find olives or cheese,” he added.
She grinned. He never could’ve, of course, because it was only a safe-word for the door. She composed herself quickly and pulled firm on the handle.
On the threshold, a young guard struggled with a tray. A single chalice gleamed as it sat on it, a small meal of figs and honeyed bread arranged like a garden around it. The guard bowed his head so his eyes didn’t meet hers. Orange light washed over the folds of his armour, his clean-shaven face peeking out from beneath his helm. His smile was forced.
“Come in,” she said, gesturing with a soft sweep of her hand. “You can set that down on the table.”
The man bobbed his head and entered, keeping the distance between them as he stepped around her in a circle. She shook her head, laughed quietly as he passed and closed out the door behind him.
“Your report?” she said absent-mindedly as the guard edged the tray onto the table.
The young man turned, his head still sunk into his shoulders. “Nothing amiss on the walls, Your Grace. The watch has been doubled as you requested.” His foot made a slow circle on the floor. “I also did as asked, Your Grace.”
Farelia’s heart hit the wall of her chest. She had been so focused on her work that she’d almost forgotten. “Two different ravens?” she said in a whisper, eyeing the courtyard outside.
The guard’s hands fell to his sides. “Yes, Your Grace.”
At Farelia’s feet, the wind snuffed out one of her candles; forgetting herself, she cursed. She stooped, brought it back to life with a taper, stealing from another flame. A moment later two more of the little lights went out. This time, she swallowed her frustration.
I can’t keep you alive if you’re going to call on me all at once.
“Where did they fly?” she asked as she worked to restore the flames. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the young guard clear his throat.
“One flew south, Your Grace. Down towards the woodlands and the great forests beyond. The other bird flew east, through valleys. I saw it last over water.”
She breathed relief. Hope. Hope that I’ve sent on wings.
I realise it’s very cagey yet but that’s what first drafts are all about! As a note, if I could recommend a book highly, it would be Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print.
It’s available over here on Amazon and has given me such great tips ahead of the big edit.
More content to follow soon 🙂