A new story in progress

I’ve written the first three chapters of a new story. I had writing a skeleton draft of this story last November. I pretty much started with the end in mind and during a plane trip got back into it and added some more events to it.

It’s going to be a young adult fantasy set in a late-medievalist style period, but at the same time, there is also a palace setting that is more advanced in culture and technology but not by much. Think 1600/1700’s.

It mainly follows one girl, Katella, whose brought to the palace in disguise by her half-sister and her father so she can help them stay in power because they have been conning the priests and the royal family. But it is also a time a stress and political intrigue and if they are found out to be lying about what they can do it can be disastrous.

The first two chapters were quite tedious to write. I’m thinking that it may be because I’m still a little burnt out. But I’m planning on writing the scenes I like first, so it’s going to be all over the place, but maybe that will help me as I’m going into this story half blind with what’s going to happen.

First chapter of The Witch’s Room

Thewitchsroom3If you’re interested in reading a short story set in a medieval time that involves two sisters going to a witch’s community for help then read the first chapter down below. It is currently available only on Amazon through KPD Select. From June 6 it will be available on Smashwords.

Chapter One

Turning over in bed, Daphne looked at her younger sister. Edwina looked so peaceful asleep, so unbothered by the world. Her face was so angelic. Daphne scrunched up hers. If the situation were reversed, then there would be no problem. It just wasn’t fair that the world treated them differently.

She listened to the commotion down below. Her father and brother were already up and packing for their trip to the nearest town. She listened as they exited the house. Their voices rose up into their bedroom window.

‘Hopefully, this will take us through the winter,’ her father said to their mother.

‘It always does,’ her voice was quiet and soothing.

‘Hold the fort while I’m away.’

Avoiding the floorboards that squeaked, Daphne stared out the window and down at her family. Eric was already on the cart with their father climbing onto it. Her mother was standing beside it. Then the two of them rode off through the early morning mist. It could be a week before they sold all their pelts.

‘Wake up Ed,’ Daphne said as she shook her sister’s shoulder.

‘What?’ she was annoyed and turned away.

‘I have to tell you and mother something now that Father and Eric are gone.’

‘Wha? Later,’ she pulled the thick wool sheets over her head.

‘No, now.’

The pair descended the curved wooden steps and as Edwina was about to fall asleep again at the table she heard her sister speak.

‘Mother, I have to tell you something.’ The sound of her distressed voice opened her eyes. ‘I’m with child’.

‘Oh, dear Lord!’ cried their mother after a moment. ‘How? Who? When?’

‘I haven’t received my bleeds in six weeks.’

‘It’s one of those men Eric hangs out with at the Tavern, isn’t it?’

Daphne gulped and before she could say anything her mother continued, ‘Don’t worry the women of Evelyn can get rid of it.’

‘What those damned witches?’

‘How can you even say that? Those women provide a valuable service to the community. And you need it now.’ Daphne began to tear up. ‘You should know better than to believe what comes out of the mouths of those types men.’

Then she turned to Edwina. ‘You’re not in the same boat as your sister, are you?’

‘No, I’m still a maiden.’

The look on their mother’s face was harsh. ‘I will not have a disgrace for a daughter. Damn it. No one is going to want you now. Why did you do this yourself?’ Then she calmed herself as her eldest daughter began to cry. ‘You will go to Evelyn and they will fix everything. I can’t go because it will look suspicious. Edwina, you will accompany your sister. If people ask, say she’s coming down with the pox.’ Then she left through the front door. Daphne was silent as tears fell down her face.

‘Who is it?’ Edwina asked. Her sister shook her head. Why wasn’t she saying? Her stomach clenched as she thought that how the child was conceived. What type of man would hurt her sister like that? Their mother shouldn’t have blamed her if that was the case.

She couldn’t place a time when Daphne was alone with a man here. Unless it didn’t happen in the house. Maybe it happened in a few moments of stolen privacy. Maybe behind the Tavern? And Daphne was not one who could count on looks to ease her passage through life. A child out of wedlock would mark her out. At least someone can hide their lost girlhood.

Then their mother re-entered the house. ‘The mule is saddled up. You two will ride along the cliffs until you get to Evelyn. It will take you all day, so you need to leave now. Edwina, I need to talk to you. Daphne, pack some food; the women are not a charity you will be expected to do chores in exchange for their services.’

Outside the house, Edwina and her mother talked. ‘Did you know about this?’

‘No, I only just found out.’

‘Mr. Cole will not have his son to marry into a family that has a tainted daughter. Make sure your sister comes back without it.’

‘I will.’

‘Don’t let her out of your sight.’ Then her tone changed slightly. ‘I have to admit. I’m surprised that she managed to find someone to lay with. I would have thought it would be you in this position.’ Edwina knew exactly what her mother was referring to. How could two full blood sisters look so different from each other? It was almost like the Lord himself had taken the beauty that should have been halved between the two of them and gave it all to her. h seemed destined that Edwina was made divinely beautiful so that she could secure a rich man.

She thought of Eli Cole, the only son and heir of Mr. Cole the biggest landowner in the region. According to her mother, how Edwina played herself would decide how her life would turn out.

‘No, I will be with her all the time.’

‘Good. Also, find out who it is. And never speak of this outside of Evelyn.’

They went back inside, and the two sisters got dressed in their winter garments. It was always windy along the coast no matter what time of the year. So just like their father and brother, the pair set off, but in the opposite direction. They carried with them food in a knapsack, a knife for defence and the order to follow the white stone path and not stop for anyone. Their mother made sure to mark Daphne’s skin to give credence to their story. After all, a person infected with pox needs to look like they are contagious.

The woods gave way to open plains and they turned to travel parallel to the cliffs of Evelyn. Their trip along the most well-known but seldom travelled path was uneventful.

‘How much longer?’ Daphne whined. Edwina rolled her eyes, a lot sooner than seven, eight months, she thought. ‘You can see it in the distance,’ she pointed ahead of her to the singular stubby mountain that was highlighted by blue skies.

‘Really? We’re only halfway there.’

‘It’s going to be sunset when we arrive remember?’ Her sister’s hands tightened around her waist. ‘This wouldn’t be an issue if you didn’t get yourself into this mess.’ She added.

‘You think I wanted to be in this position?’

‘Well, why did you sleep with a man you’re not married to?’

‘I didn’t think,’ her voice stopped, ‘I didn’t think that you could become pregnant on the first time.’ Then Daphne hugged her sister, ‘I didn’t think it’d happen to me. Not like this. You’re not going to tell Father, are you?’

‘No, this is women’s business.’

Jumpstart sequel: first chapter

I’ve had the first chapter written for months now. It was even the beginning of the series before I went off with Jumpstart. But then I wanted to get that mostly out of the way. Since I have today off I wanted to make it as productive as I could. But the second half was filled with procrastination and a headache. I also wanted to work on something that I already have instead of creating something new. So late at night, I got to this chapter.

finttune

My Cousin Megan: First Chapter Free

mycousinmegamediumimageThis is the first chapter of my young adult novelette. If you liked what you read then check out the rest of the story on Amazon and Smashwords.

Chapter One: Last Time Here

I was over the bus the first moment I got on it. It had that stinky smell of air deodoriser, the seats were scratchy and, based on the pattern, obviously came from the early nineties. Which ironically was where I was heading to. Backwards in time away from civilisation.

I haven’t watched it but you know that reality TV show – I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!? Well, help I’m a Sydneysider, get me the fuck out of here!

Wait no, cause that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I’m going to be stuck there till January. I suppose it could be worse. I was supposed to go yesterday, but I was too hung over from schoolies and I missed the bus.

I was hoping that I could get some sleep while on board. But then I remembered that I’ve never actually slept properly on a bus before. And since this one stops in Bryon Bay – which is the reason why you can hear all these backpackers around me, means it’s no miracle for me. Erg. At least I was able to get a row to myself. Thankfully, the guys in front of me were somewhat quieter than the others, even though I could hear their music through their headphones. They’re trying to block the Americans that are at the back. God, you never knew how loud a person could be until you heard a Yank speak.

I wiggled my body. It was hard trying to get comfy. My leather bag was a poor makeshift pillow and these two seats were not big enough for me. Argh. My hoodie isn’t large enough to block out this world. I re-adjusted my bag and closed my eyes. Only another hour till Bryon and another two more to Dad.

Sixteen years ago when I was two, Mum left Dad and moved to Sydney and she took me with her. But every second year I have to go back to Dad’s place for the Christmas holidays. I didn’t want to this year, not because of Dad, but because I don’t like the town. I’m eighteen so that means I’m an adult, but Mum was like, ‘you know how excited Dad gets when you go to him. He loves you a lot. You don’t speak to him enough on the phone,’ and yada yada yada.

So she guilted me into it. I thought when I was sixteen I’d never have to come back here. Said a few things that I shouldn’t have. Like told my cousins that they’re trash and their shitty life was a result of not being motivated enough to do shit.

Motivation was a big thing for John, my step-dad. He came from a shit town too. But he left and built himself a car business in Sydney, which is where he and Mum met seven years ago. He makes a ton of money.

Mum left her hometown of Kettle Burn because her life was going nowhere and Dad knew that too, but they made different choices. She was never going to stay whether she had a kid or not. Kettle Burn, despite its American sounding name, is just another uninteresting NSW outback town where nothing important ever happens and therefore no one important ever lives there.

The bus jolted. Errgh, my tummy. Yesterday I thought that maybe Mum might be more into taking caring of me. But no, she’s like, ‘you’re not getting out of this,’ and re-booked the bus trip the next day before even seeing if I could handle it.

I had just finished a four-day bender at Lissie’s house and when I arrived home I was a zombie. I crashed out on my bed and slept right through until the next night, only to be woken by Mum bitching me out about missing the bus.

‘Jo,’ she said, voice sounding distant like a dream. Then she jolted me awake. No, it was the bus, I was almost asleep too. People began moving about. We had arrived at Bryon Bay. All but four people got off. They took their time too. No one else got on. Finally, some quiet.

I passed the familiar scenery. Paddocks, turnoffs, isolated billboards that only ever become more faded, never to be replaced, and signs that showed how much closer we were getting to Killy. A larger town near Kettle Burn. Only sixty-eight kilometers to go now. Kettle Burn is on the other side and under an hour west.

Then my iPod died. Well shit. I looked at it. No, it was still working, it was my headphones. They’re broken. I should have replaced them when I saw them starting to break apart not too long ago. Now I have to listen to silence. The bus wasn’t playing a radio station because the upcoming mountains interfered with the signal. And the songs are outdated too. One time long ago I saw clouds tumbling over the mountains, it was like something out of the movie The Mist, but not today. Today the sky is clear the sunlight is pouring in through the windows. Summer’s in full swing and I can taste it in the air.

The bus stopped in Killy and two people get off. Aunt Bettie lives here. She is the only one of Dad’s two siblings that managed to actually move out of Kettle Burn. Can you imagine that? Never leaving the place you were born in? What’s wrong with them? I was shocked when Dad told me that there are some families who have lived in this town for several generations. Then as I got older I began to see it in them. There are a lot of ugly people here. Bettie’s four kids are some of them. And my God, I’ve never seen people so ugly. I don’t think I’ve told it to their faces or at least I don’t think I have; I mean it’s so obvious. Someone must have let it slip at least once. I tell my friends back home all about it. They got it from their dad William, but the ugly he had was not so pronounced. So maybe there was some recessive ugly gene on Bettie’s side. It wouldn’t be surprising, but I’m so sure they are probably inbreeding by now. Years ago William ditched them and has now got another girlfriend plus two more kids. I haven’t seen any pictures of them. So I can’t tell you if they are ugly like him. I should try to find pictures to show friends back home. Unsurprisingly they don’t post much on Facebook.

Killy passed by unchanged. It will be the same semi-depressed looking place for years to come. It reminded me of some outer suburbs back home. Scarily, Killy was the best town in the area. It even has a private school. But that place has less than two hundred students and their uniforms are a shit yellow colour.

Twenty-five minutes later the bus dropped me off at the service station where Dad was waiting to pick me up.

‘Hey chicken.’ He, like everything else around here, never changed. Still looking like the skinny man I always knew him to be. He had a bald spot now, but that had appeared so slowly I don’t remember when it began.

‘Hey Dad,’ I replied as I lumbered with my expensive leather bag. He took it and put into his truck.

Then we drove to and through Kettle Burn. The town has never seen more than two thousand people. That’s less than the suburb I live in! How they managed to survive financially is a mystery. I say survive because, by the looks of it, it ain’t thriving. None of the places look like my home back in Sydney. They didn’t have stone lawn ornaments, yeah they have bigger yards but a lot of them were just plain grass. Not even much of a garden when they did attempt one. Except for Dad’s. He always liked gardening. I don’t know many men, except the ones I see on TV, that like to garden. John just got a landscaper for our place and gets people to come in every fortnight to maintain it.

Rebuilding his house after it got burnt down last year must have been the only new thing to happen here. He’d sent Mum and I the pictures of it being built. His old house was some fibro looking piece of shit. He and Mum had bought it for thirty-two thousand when they got married just after high school.

The new house was now some corrugated metal thing on metal posts. From the pictures, the inside is actually better than I thought it would be, though my room is smaller than it was before.

Dad flipped down the sun visor in front of him. ‘Oh, and ah . . you know Megan?’ He sounded odd, like he didn’t know how to say it.

‘Cousin Megan? Yeah.’

‘Well, she’s pregnant.’

‘What? She just turned like sixteen the other month.’

‘Yeah. It was a shock to everyone, even her. She’s about five months along now too.’

That’s not good. I think Megan was the only one of Joy’s kids, Dad’s other sister, who wanted to get out of Kettle Burn. I guess it looks like that is never going to happen now.

‘And she hasn’t told anyone who the father is.’

‘What! Why?’

‘I’m not sure. No one can get it out her.’

Feet or Fins: Read prologue for free

Beautiful-yet-unhuman-501951291_If you liked this first chapter then check out the rest on Smashwords and Amazon.

Prologue

Unwittingly the town of Blue Bottle Bay held witness to the triennial migration of a family of Mira. A self-appointed term that describes the inhabitants of certain oceanic regions, like individuals in a country. To land dwellers they would simply be known as mermaids.

Because there are no records, it is not exactly known for how long or how many times the Mira have been migrating past this place. But their oral history indicates that it has been occurring since before the presence of land dwellers.

The initial attraction had been the bountiful coral reefs, followed by the rocky coastline and the isolation. Their migration routes regularly intersected with places like these. Whether they liked or not, Mira were not suited to a continuous life in open and deep waters. They were shallow water creatures that needed to live periods of their life on land. These migration stops were oases in a desolate world.

Before the arrival of land dwellers, Blue Bottle Bay was a paradise. Mira could come and go from the land without fear. But that is no more and there are too many chances of being seen. They can no longer afford to linger in the area. Their traditional lifestyle of vaulting from places living off the land and sea following the path created by their ancestors was becoming less viable.

To compensate they adjusted their habitation times at the other remaining places, ensuring that they kept to the rigid seasonal schedule. If they arrived too early or too late at certain places then they ran the risk of arriving during an infertile season. Furthermore, while Blue Bottle Bay was acceptable, it was not the best of places. It only had one cave for protection and even that was difficult to access. So now the Mira swim past the town out in the open sea.

*          *          *          *          *

It was during one of these migrations that Emaleah’s curiosity took her closer than she had ever been before. Myliah, her twin sister held her back.

I want to see them close up, Ema communicated in her and the rest of her family in their groups’ sign language. Their reluctance showed. She was still young, having only left the nursery island a hundred or so lunar cycles ago. They hadn’t anticipated that she would want to leave so soon.

But there comes a time for most Mira when they need to venture on land in search of a mate. But Myli didn’t want to accompany her sister and for the first time in their lives, they were going to be apart from each other.

You’re younger than most, she signed, trying to dissuade Ema.

But not the youngest.

I don’t want you to leave.

Sorry Myli, but I want to go ashore.

Ema’s words stung. Her sister had never wanted to leave her before. But she couldn’t stop her. If she wanted to chase after mates then there was no stopping her.

Once again Ema was given all the warnings that she had ever heard throughout her life.

Don’t let them see your tail.

You must have your feet.

You must never tell them about us.

Be prepared to kill.

Ema didn’t think of herself as stupid, or cruel. If a land dweller found out what you were then, for the protection her kind, they had to be killed. It was a brutal tradition, but it had worked since The First Mira. While she felt that there was something wrong with this blanket rule, she knew of its importance. Without it, they would not exist.

But it was obvious that there were times when this rule had not been carried out. Multiple land dweller societies had myths that involved sea creatures similar to them. It could not be a coincidence and it was a topic of contention for Mira everywhere. Sirens, a feared and respected faction of Mira society, held great enmity towards this idea. Ema swam towards the shore, facing upwards skirting along the seabed. She felt like she was about to burst; she was going to see them. A dark foreign shape glided overhead. Ema looked at it intently. Land dweller legs and feet dangled down from it. This is it.

When her head broke through the water she saw a young man on a surfboard swimming away from her, heading towards the incoming waves. Ema watched him stand up on his surfboard and then ride the wave.

It’s a surfer, she thought, male land dwellers that ride waves and water. Her family had told her in particular about these ones. When she was just a child her grandmothers had made her and Myli giggle at what they said. ‘They’re good for breeding. They strong sires for your children. If you ever come across a great water rider try not to let him get away.’

Ema wondered if her family could handle another child. She was old enough to produce one. But migrations were time and energy consuming, and there were fewer and fewer places for them to reside in. And she had to time it right too; it was dangerous to give birth in open water.

Ema saw that the now resting surfer was drifting away from her. She swam towards him and perched herself on the board. She sank it further into the water. The young man turned around looking confused.

‘Hi,’ said Ema.

The young man looked to be about seventeen or eighteen. Ema stared at his body; all the muscles were in all the right places. He had an average looking face and his brownish hair was bleached by the sun. Ema smiled. His hazel eyes were wide; he then looked towards the shore.

‘You swam all the way out here?’ he asked disbelievingly.

‘What other way could I get here,’ Ema replied coyly.

The land dweller stared at Ema again.

‘Are you naked?’ he asked with even more disbelief. He could not see her wearing a bikini top. Not even one of those strapless ones. ‘What need do I have of clothes, they only hinder me.’

His mouth was agape; he couldn’t believe what he was seeing or hearing. Ema saw this as a good sign; it meant that she had his attention.

‘I was watching you on the waves. You’re pretty good. I’d like to get to know you more.’

The young man was still speechless. He couldn’t believe what was before him. And he had never come across a girl so forward before.

‘My name’s Emaleah, but Ema for short, what’s yours?’ she asked him.

‘Uhhhh Darryl,’ he replied.

‘Would you like to get to know me?’

‘Yeah,’ Darryl said before he could stop himself.

‘Well, meet me at that lagoon tomorrow at noon, I’ll be waiting for you.’ Ema said before disappearing underwater.

Darryl couldn’t believe what he just saw. This girl was out of this world. She wasn’t too bad looking either. Though her chest looked almost non-existent. She looked like she was about his age as well. Her face was mature yet youthful. From his brief encounter, Ema looked like that she might be a bit on the short side. Also, he didn’t like boy hair on women, but he wasn’t about to complain. She was the first girl to ever be so forward with him. Well apart from Robyn, but she had that aggressive streak that worried him. Why couldn’t other girls be more like this one?

First Chapter of Feet or Fins

Feet or Fins ebook cover

Prologue

 

Unwittingly the town of Blue Bottle Bay held witness to the triennial migration of a family of Mira. A self-appointed term that describes the inhabitants of certain oceanic regions, like individuals in a country. To land dwellers they would simply be known as mermaids.

Because there are no records, it is not exactly known for how long or how many times the Mira have been migrating past this place. But their oral history indicates that it has been occurring since before the presence of land dwellers.

The initial attraction had been the bountiful coral reefs, followed by the rocky coastline and the isolation. Their migration routes regularly intersected with places like these. Whether they liked or not, Mira were not suited to a continuous life in open and deep waters. They were shallow water creatures that needed to live periods of their life on land. These migration stops were oases in a desolate world.

Before the arrival of land dwellers, Blue Bottle Bay was a paradise. Mira could come and go from the land without fear. But that is no more and there are too many chances of being seen. They can no longer afford to linger in the area. Their traditional lifestyle of vaulting from places living off the land and sea following the path created by their ancestors was becoming less viable.

To compensate they adjusted their habitation times at the other remaining places, ensuring that they kept to the rigid seasonal schedule. If they arrived too early or too late at certain places then they ran the risk of arriving during an infertile season. Furthermore, while Blue Bottle Bay was acceptable, it was not the best of places. It only had one cave for protection and even that was difficult to access. So now the Mira swim past the town out in the open sea.

*          *          *          *          *

It was during one of these migrations that Emaleah’s curiosity took her closer than she had ever been before. Myliah, her twin sister held her back.

I want to see them close up, Ema communicated in her and the rest of her family in their groups’ sign language. Their reluctance showed. She was still young, having only left the nursery island a hundred or so lunar cycles ago. They hadn’t anticipated that she would want to leave so soon.

But there comes a time for most Mira when they need to venture on land in search of a mate. But Myli didn’t want to accompany her sister and for the first time in their lives they were going to be apart from each other.

You’re younger than most, she signed, trying to dissuade Ema.

But not the youngest.

I don’t want you to leave.

Sorry Myli, but I want to go ashore.

Ema’s words stung. Her sister had never wanted to leave her before. But she couldn’t stop her. If she wanted to chase after mates then there was no stopping her.

Once again Ema was given all the warnings that she had ever heard throughout her life.

Don’t let them see your tail.

You must have your feet.

You must never tell them about us.

Be prepared to kill.

Ema didn’t think of herself as stupid, or cruel. If a land dweller found out what you were then, for the protection her kind, they had to be killed. It was a brutal tradition, but it had worked since The First Mira. While she felt that there was something wrong with this blanket rule, she knew of its importance. Without it they would not exist.

But it was obvious that there were times when this rule had not been carried out. Multiple land dweller societies had myths that involved sea creatures similar to them. It could not be a coincidence and it was a topic of contention for Mira everywhere. Sirens, a feared and respected faction of Mira society, held great enmity towards this idea. Ema swam towards the shore, facing upwards skirting along the sea bed. She felt like she was about to burst; she was going to see them. A dark foreign shape glided overhead. Ema looked at it intently. Land dweller legs and feet dangled down from it. This is it.

When her head broke through the water she saw a young man on a surfboard swimming away from her, heading towards the incoming waves. Ema watched him stand up on his surfboard and then ride the wave.

It’s a surfer, she thought, male land dwellers that ride waves and water. Her family had told her in particular about these ones. When she was just a child her grandmothers had made her and Myli giggle at what they said. ‘They’re good for breeding. They strong sires for your children. If you ever come across a great water rider try not to let him get away.’

Ema wondered if her family could handle another child. She was old enough to produce one. But migrations were time and energy consuming, and there were fewer and fewer places for them to reside in. And she had to time it right too; it was dangerous to give birth in open water.

Ema saw that the now resting surfer was drifting away from her. She swam towards him and perched herself on the board. She sank it further into the water. The young man turned around looking confused.

‘Hi,’ said Ema.

The young man looked to be about seventeen or eighteen. Ema stared at his body; all the muscles were in all the right places. He had an average looking face and his brownish hair was bleached by the sun. Ema smiled. His hazel eyes were wide; he then looked towards the shore.

‘You swam all the way out here?’ he asked disbelievingly.

‘What other way could I get here,’ Ema replied coyly.

The land dweller stared at Ema again.

‘Are you naked?’ he asked with even more disbelief. He could not see her wearing a bikini top. Not even one of those strapless ones. ‘What need do I have of clothes, they only hinder me.’

His mouth was agape; he couldn’t believe what he was seeing or hearing. Ema saw this as a good sign; it meant that she had his attention.

‘I was watching you on the waves. You’re pretty good. I’d like to get to know you more.’

The young man was still speechless. He couldn’t believe what was before him. And he had never come across a girl so forward before.

‘My name’s Emaleah, but Ema for short, what’s yours?’ she asked him.

‘Uhhhh Darryl,’ he replied.

‘Would you like to get to know me?’

‘Yeah,’ Darryl said before he could stop himself.

‘Well, meet me at that lagoon tomorrow at noon, I’ll be waiting for you.’ Ema said before disappearing underwater.

Darryl couldn’t believe what he just saw. This girl was out of this world. She wasn’t too bad looking either. Though her chest looked almost non-existent. She looked like she was about his age as well. Her face was mature yet youthful. From his brief encounter Ema looked like that she might be a bit on the short side. Also he didn’t like boy hair on women, but he wasn’t about to complain. She was the first girl to ever be so forward with him. Well apart from Robyn, but she had that aggressive streak that worried him. Why couldn’t other girls be more like this one?