Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sample: First Scene of "Uprooted" (my upcoming fantasy novella)

Sorry I haven't been posting much, here.  One of my last posts was at the end of July, which was partially entitled "Close to Publishing..." (somewhat amusing in retrospect).

I've been adding brief updates on a more frequent basis on my Edwin Hanks, Author Facebook page, which is now up to 199 likes/subscribers (want to be #200?).

The long and short of those various updates is that, after more or less completing the story, I've been adding layer upon layer of depth, receiving comments from a number of deeply-valued beta-readers, and making changes according to what they or I feel isn't working quite right.  It's a refining process I intend to discuss shortly in a blog post about croissants.

Previously, I've shared with you samples of my historical fiction writing.  I've meant to supply some writing from other genres, but I haven't found a good sample.  Now, it's time.

What I have for you today is a sample from the upcoming novella, "Uprooted."  It hasn't changed much, at all, in the last two months, and I surprised myself yesterday by making some minor improvements, but I don't anticipate I'll change it again except in response to comments which you can leave here.

As a special bonus, you'll get to see one of the illustrations from the book!  Thanks to Nicole Charpentier for doing some of the interior illustrations.

Chapter 1

The odor of damp earth and warm forest penetrated Caran’s nostrils.  He lay on his side, rocks and twigs uncomfortably prickling through his tunic. 

A youth in his mid-teens, dressed in simple woolen earthtones, his tousled brown hair eclipsed his searching green eyes ever so slightly.  He peered out from a concealing copse of trees and brush, hoping to catch sight of his prey. 

Caran glimpsed nothing of interest.  Just the gray-whiteness of a thousand aspen trees.  The clustered red of the tappery bushes.  No movement but the flutter of small green leaves.  No sound but the call of a hawk circling high overhead, its piercing cry sharp like its talons. 

A wise hunter is patient.  Still.  Silent.  Eyes scanning. 

The mountains of the Burgundy Range loomed large against the distant horizon – a startling contrast of brilliant green vegetation and bright red rock, with a hint of snow dusting the very tops.

Nearer, to front and left of the woods where Caran concealed himself, ran a crescent of bluffs overlooking an oxbow of the Jerat River, whose smoothly flowing waters bit softly into their base.

A wisp of breeze ruffled Caran’s hair.  A trio of birds flashed past, winging through the branches in chase.

He continued to watch.  His mind drifted to thoughts of Kiya, the tall, beautiful, brunette a year his senior who occupied his thoughts often.  He imagined he might now be hunting for food for her table.  Their table – the one he hoped they would share someday. 

Occasionally he convinced himself Kiya shared his interest.  Sometimes it seemed...  Some times, that was, when she wasn’t acting as if he was utterly beneath her notice.  He tamped down a surge of irritation.  Why would she…

There!  A small child in drab brown clothing stirred from a thicket.  The boy’s gaze darted furtively.  Excitedly.  He began to move.  Wrestling with entangling branches, he blundered through his first steps, making enough rustling, crackling noises to rouse a bear from slumber. 

Caran shook his head with a wry smirk.  Slowly, he shifted, leaves crackling quietly under his form.  He raised his bow to match his gaze.  Pulling the bowstring back, he took careful aim.  “Pfft….  Thut!” he shouted, sound effects pitched to carry.

The boy stopped abruptly.  His eyes goggled, and he stared in stunned silence at Caran’s location for a full two heartbeats.  Then he dropped to the ground.

“You missed me!” he yelled back.
Grumbling, Caran called back, “I had a perfect shot!  There’s no chance I missed you.  You’re a corpse!”

“I was running!”  After a second’s thought, the argumentative youngster added, “And I ducked!”

That simply evoked a mocking laugh.  “Yeah… After your head got split open!”

Unexpectedly, the youth stood up again.  His body and throwing arm arched back and flung forward to propel some object.  It landed a full twenty paces from Caran’s location.  But the range wasn’t bad, he noted.

“Kawhumpf!” the boy shouted.  “A naptha bottle!  You’re dead!” 

As Caran considered whether to dignify that with a response, he heard a shout of alarm from across the clearing.  Real alarm.  Or so it seemed from the tone.

“Tev?!” he called back.  “You okay?”  A beat or two of silence… 

Caran leapt to his feet and dashed intently toward where he had last seen his little brother.  As he ran, he reached back and pulled a real arrow from his quiver, notching it for ready use.

He hadn’t crossed half the clearing before the younger child squeaked, “Caran!  Come quick.  You won’t believe this!”