Works In Progress

young adult fantasy

I wrote the first draft of Aspen in NaNoWriMo 2014. It's so first draft that I'm keeping it close to my heart, but here's an excerpt from the beginning:

Magic. There's that word. I want to say it out loud, swish the word around on my tongue, test it like one swirls wine in their mouth, repeat it like I haven't heard the word before. Because of course I have. I've read dozens of magical stories-- devoured them, more like, especially after my first visit to Unicorn Valley-- or Cal Mere.
          "Magic," I whisper, believing.
          "Do they not have magic where you're from?" Oliver asks, his voice quiet in my ear. He asks it like the mere question is an affront to the gods, or the witches, or whoever holds the power of magic in this place. Maybe it's the King.
          "Where I'm from doesn't look like this, sound like this, or even smell like this," I say, and then immediately regret it. What if it gives away my secret? That I'm not truly from here at all.
          Oliver nods in the corner of my vision, but doesn't say anything. A million questions, about this world and its magic, gurgle up my throat and prance circles in my head, but I shove them away. Asking them would only tell him how out-of-place I truly am. And I'd rather he didn't know just how far away my world is from his.

Loyalties Lie
young adult fantasy
Roughly 75000 words

The messenger stares up at me from the floor, a defeated look smeared across his tan face. A stream of blood runs from his nose. He scrambles backward until his back hits the wall, keeping his eyes on mine. I try to imagine how we look to him for a second. Four of the Empress’ soldiers, standing over him, bearing down. And the leader, the one out front, me. The shortest one, and a girl.

The look of terror on his face doesn’t match how I feel.

“Who’s your contact in the Sedition?” I repeat. My voice is far away.

“You’ll kill me either way,” he mumbles, his words light with his Donnaugh accent.

Kill him. Yes, I have orders to kill him after we get what we can. The rest of my troop makes it difficult to ignore those orders from the Empress. Andrew’s at my back, still as a soldier. He threw the punch that knocked the messenger to the floor barely a minute before. The dark, murderous gaze in his eyes keeps the messenger down.

“All I need is a name,” I say. The messenger’s eyes dart from me to Blaire and Andrew on either side of me, both a step behind. A clatter comes from the corner of the room. We all turn to Mathias, who had thrown a blanket from the bed and knocked over an unlit lamp. He shrugs and moves to the rickety desk, pulling drawers and leaving them hanging. There isn’t much in this shack past the bed, bucket and stacks of provisions. It’s just a way station for the Sedition. Or at least it used to be. By morning it will be smoking rubble.

I open my mouth but Blaire steps around me, and I swallow whatever mediocre threat was going to cascade from my lips.

She bends down, leaning her face inches from the messenger. He’s weaponless but not tied up. He could still do damage with his hands. Blaire’s either over-confident or reckless. Likely both.

The messenger’s eyes focus on her. His hands skitter back like insects trying to hide. He presses his head against the wall.

“The nearest farm is too far away to hear your cries,” Blaire says. “So tell us what you know or I’ll have you screaming until morning.” Mathias’ head swivels from the pile of canned food he was inspecting, eyebrows raised. Andrew stiffens even further, now as still as an owl at night. I clench my teeth and as Blaire opens her mouth to continue, I squeeze my eyes shut.

“Tell us what you know, and your death will be quick,” she growls softly. Her voice fills the cabin. “If you keep your secrets, I will make sure your death is slow and painful. It will take all night. I’ll pierce your chest a hundred times, each just enough so you bleed. I’ll cut between your fingers, your toes—” I hear the slow slice of her dagger pulling from it’s sheathe. “—and between your legs.

“You will scream and you will cry and no one will—”

“Arthur McGatlin,” the messenger whispers. I open my eyes, wide. “That’s all I know. He’s from my town and he recruited me and… that’s all I know. I’m just a messenger.”

Blaire leans back and smiles. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

She stands and brushes against me on her way to the door. “Kill him quickly, Quinn, for his cooperation.”

Loyalties Lie, A History:

This story is the descendent of a dream. In the spring of 2010, I dreamed about an assassin who was captured by the enemy. The captor was enamored with the assassin and desperately wanted her on his side. However, she did not feel the same and eventually escaped. (Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler.)

I wrote the first few chapters over and over again for two years. In 2012, I decided to wade into the waters of NaNoWriMo. I wrote my first full draft of my WIP in that month. It was then titled Dark Treason. Even though writing a whole draft was a great accomplishment for me, I never read it. I cast it aside a few months later to overhaul the plot. I changed names (Quinn was once Tessa, an overused name in YA), altered events and moved the starting point.

In August 2013, I began re-writing the draft. By late October, I had nearly finished Part One (of three) and had nearly 20000 words. I decided to write the rest of the draft in NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50000 in November 2013, bringing my WIP close to 70000 words.

This is what I am editing now.

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