Yesterday I finished the first draft of “The Summer Goddess” – wheee! *pops champagne* It’s come in at 142,500 words, and 380 pages (I use a small font 🙂 ) And it starts, at the moment, like this :
White sails against the sunset.
Asta saw them first, coming down from the high peak where her mother lived. At first she thought they were birds, the great white gliding sea hawks, bigger than eagles, which floated above the turbulent eastern sea. But they were too low, moved with too much purpose, crossing back and forth ahead of the opposing wind.
It took her a long moment, staring into the crimson of the fading sun, to recognise them as ships. Her father had told her about ships, but her own people didn’t sail. And there was nothing beyond the sea, so how could there be ships?
Asta quickened her stride, stones turning under her bare feet as she hastened down the narrow, twisting track towards the bush where she had tethered her horse. From here she couldn’t see the ships any more, could barely see the ocean due to the rise and fall of the land. By the time she cantered to the top of the cliffs and reined in, the sky had darkened to violet and the sails had vanished. Candle light flickered in the windows of the village, strung out along the top of the cliff, and in the lower windows of the tower.
She left her ride in the corral with the rest of the horses. The cliff path was crumbling in places, and she had told her people it wasn’t safe to ride at night. She wasn’t about to disobey her own protocol. She took a torch from the stash in the barn, and lit it with her candlestones. It wasn’t full dark yet, the twilight was long in this part of the world, but it made her feel more secure in the shadows.
She peered out to sea once more, but the light that cast a halo around her left the ocean dark, sighing against the rocks. No sails, and no ship could put in to shore here. That was why her father had chosen the place, built western-style walls for their tribe to hide behind, here at the furthest end of the world. No enemy could reach them here.
Still Asta felt exposed, as she made her way down the zigzagging path hewn from the side of the cliff, one hand trailing along the sea-smoothed rock walls, feeling for the markers she had carved to warn others, in the dark, of the patches where the path was wearing away. The cold salt spray brushed her face, throwing her damp hair across her cheek, and she shivered. Even on the hottest days it was chilly in the shadows.
She traversed the last switchback, sticking close to the wall. She didn’t need the torch any more; the lights of the tower were bright enough to guide her home. The tower was circular, and it seemed to grow out of the living rock behind it. It was hard to tell where nature ended and human work began. The door stood open, spilling light like a beacon across the sea, and Asta knew that meant her brother was waiting for her. Which meant he was worried. She quickened her stride.
The whole thing is currently out with my amazing crew of beta readers, and I’m not even looking at it again until December 1st – if you see me picking at it please slap my hand!
I’ve always found it’s a good idea to let a freshly finished manuscript brew, like beer, for a while between drafts. It gives me distance from the manuscript, so when I go back and look at it I can see it with fresh eyes and a more-awake brain. Then comes the fun part, of sculpting it from a lumpy mess into something smooth and seamless and finely honed – that’s the idea, anyway!
In between now and then I’ll be gearing up for BristolCon for the next month – yes, it’s only a month away and I think it’s going to be great. After that is World Fantasy Con, which should be fun in a totally different way. I’ve never been to a WFC and I’m a bit worried about how formal and businesslike it all seems to be. But I will be there with Sammy from KI, who is lovely and a lot of fun, so if we get into trouble for being silly at least we’ll be in trouble together!
And after that, Sammy promises, we should start editing for “Nomad”, the second half of “Art of Forgetting” for an April release. And I’m not editing two books at the same time, because that way lies insanity. However, there’s nothing to stop me starting a new book some time in the near future… But I’m not in any rush, I’m going to make the most of my in-between days!