Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Extract #6 (from ch6 - Undergrowth)

Where've you been, Flynn? Spidey'll be on my doorstep demanding your head on a platter before the night's out. No need to put the word out.”

That bad, huh? I really must have annoyed him. You planning on selling me out?” He asked the question casually, but watched Mick's face intently. Not that such an old-timer would give anything away.

Nah. Mac can't even deal with the bloody Fallows on his own. He suits me for now, but he ain't gonna fix my … little problem, is he now?”

Maybe I won't either.”

If you don't, then you won't get your precious safe-house, will you now? And it seems to me that for Flynn to be asking for a safe-house from old Mick … well, he must be pretty desperate, eh?”

And how desperate does Mick have to be if he's asking a drifter like me for favours?”

Another laugh. “Touché, my boy, touché! Fact is, you're one of a kind, Flynn. If you'd only settle, we'd be a match made in heaven. None of Spidey's incompetence, or the Fallow Boys' … immaturity. I mean, they sent me a severed hand in a box, for Hedge's sake! I've never seen something so ridiculously childish in all my born days! Anyhow, drifter or not, you'll do the job. And the others, well... I have my doubts.”

Thanks,” Flynn said doubtfully.

NaNoWriMo Extract #5 (from ch5 - Heartwood)

Sterling was a good teacher. She had known when to push him, and when to allow him to relieve his stress by working at a relatively easy task. She hadn't interfered except to prevent disaster, but instead had begun working some slender practice arrows, straightening the bundles of dried saplings and delicately fletching them with goose feathers. Both of them had watched Verity's apparently lifeless, Loaming form with varying degrees of anxiousness, and taken solace in the blissful concentration of physical labour.

Now, Flynn stood back from the tilling bar, and considered his work with pride. A weight of 80 pounds hung from the slackened string, and the arms bent uniformly to their full extension. No cracks marred the smooth curve of the wood.

It's good work, Flynn,” said Sterling quietly. “It's your bow, through and through.”

He nodded, without false modesty. He had done a good job on this. “The wood feels alive after a while, you know. I'm glad I didn't break it.”

It will break eventually,” Sterling warned. “Nothing lives forever.”

But at least it has … come to life.” He had never felt like this over a knife. Knives were tools of necessity, crafted according to need and purpose. A bow came into life almost of its own volition, following the shape of the wood which formed it.

The hard work wasn't over, of course. But as they tautened the tightly woven string, Flynn could feel his heart rate racing. Soon he would draw the string in earnest, and loose his first arrow. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaNoWriMo Extract #4 (from ch4 - Leaf Mould)

Flynn waved impatiently. “You must have figured out I'm an ex-criminal. You said it yourself, remember: a crook or a saint.”

She bounced uneasily on the balls of her feet.

He narrowed his eyes. “And don't even thinkabout getting 'holier than thou', because you have no idea what...”

Sterling interrupted. “What kindof crook are we talking here?”

By this time the high level of ambient stress over the past few hours had put Flynn into a thoroughly foul mood. “Why do you want to know?” he snapped. “Deciding whether to hide the spoons?”

She raised her eyebrows, and he was ashamed of his burst of temper. “Sorry,” he muttered.

Apology accepted – but I really didn't mean to pry.”

He sighed. “It's...not the part of my life I most like to relive. But it's reasonable that you want to know. General all-purpose thief, if that's even a category. Family business, till dad got busted and I took off.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo Extract #3 (from ch3 - Branching Out)

Flynn had to stay with me,” Verity replied unexpectedly. “And I had to stay because the Hedge is my responsibility.” She held out her wrists. “See?”

Sterling put out a callused finger, and gently traced the pattern tattooed into the skin. It was a stylised representation of tree branches, wound together to form a ring around both wrists. A similar pattern entwined her ankles, and the wrists and ankles of every hedger in the Circle.

So you're...a gardener?”

Hedger,” Flynn corrected her. “She awakens the spirit trees from the Loam, and teaches them where to grow. How to protect us.”

They already know where to grow,” Verity said dreamily. “It's just...they don't understand how to exist here at first.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo Cover - draft 1

My incredible father (who is doing NaNoWriMo with me - can I hear a wow! from you all?) is designing me a front cover! I'm super excited, so I thought I would share the first draft up here with you:

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo Extract #2 (from ch2 - Uprooting)

He was interrupted by a terrible noise, half way between the trumpeting of a herd of elephants and the roar of thunder. He pushed himself up.

“Weave us a castle,” he ordered. “Make it impenetrable to the worst of predators. I'll  go see what we're looking at.”

When he got outside, the day was darker than he remembered, and the sight that met his eyes was worse than he imagined. The creature was galloping towards him, across the valley to his left. It was enormous, an indescribable hybrid of the worst variety, full of parts of animals he didn't recognise, fused together with sinews of fire and muscles of metal. He stood frozen in front of their suddenly puny shelter, oblivious to the branches and vines that were snaking out and grounding themselves firmly behind him.

This wasn't a character from the stories. This was far worse than that, and he could think of no power in the Circle to defeat it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNoWriMo Extract #1 (from ch1: Unearthed)

There wasn't much left of the Hedge House. The ruins were still smouldering. The roof, all the interior walls and most of the floor was gone. Pieces of furniture, charred beyond recognition, leaned drunkenly against each other, and occasionally made ominous popping noises. The garden was littered with the corpses of trees. Everything gave off an aura of heat. The atmosphere was thick with the fumes of burning plastic. Flynn spent a few minutes treading gingerly through the mess, but it was clear that there was nothing of value left. He'd seen the effects of fires before, and it was relatively obvious that this one had not been an accident. No natural flames could have destroyed so quickly and so completely.

Wheezing a little as one of the remaining tendrils of smoke caught the back of his throat, Flynn picked his way back to the comparative safety of the street. There was no time for sentiment, and no space in his head for it in any case. His brain was already active on Plan B.

There were always a hundred small signs that a house was unoccupied. Post piling up. Curtains undrawn, or unopened. Dry lawns. But since Flynn didn't have time for extensive reconnaissance, he had to trust less to science and more to instinct. He chose a prosperous looking street (rich folks are more likely to have a vacation, not to mention useful belongings), and walked up and down it three times. The first time, he jogged purposefully. The second time, he strolled along, slouched and picking his teeth. The third time, he walked with an air of brisk confidence. All three times his ears and eyes were operating overtime. Four houses were eliminated immediately – there were obvious signs of canine occupancy. A further five houses showed lights in some upper room, or on the porch. Of the six houses remaining in the street, one had a bicycle lying on its front lawn and another had a car pulled up in the driveway. Flynn glimpsed a jungle gym in the back garden of another. This left three. On his last trip, he paused to glance at an imaginary cell phone by the postbox of number three. Empty. Near the postbox of number two, he had to tie a shoelace. Bingo. It was stuffed full of post, not only circulars, but “real” mail as well. He glanced around, and jiggled a handful of it out. Dates ranged from the previous week up until today. Excellent.

No time to bypass the alarm system. He had a vague idea that rural homes were less likely to be alarmed, but since his whole professional life had been spent in District Central and surrounds he had no real information on the matter. Mentally  preparing his escape route should his multiple guesses be wrong – out the back door, over the back wall, across the road behind this one and into the bushes on the empty plot he had spotted as he arrived in town – he stepped confidently into the front garden.