In January I set myself a writing goal, and in trying to disconnect from Crowning Heaven as best I can in between edits, I have been writing like mad.
So far I have finished two novels, a novella, and a short story. So in celebration (and also just for fun), here are snippets for you all.
Novel//Alaskan Fantasy//A small community fights for their existence against treachery and foreign raiders//
Tarrant slid his spear into the crook of his arm and grasped both of Bayhard’s arms. “Bayhard, my cousin, my cousin—how can I thank you?”
“How could I do any less?” Bayhard answered steadily. “Did you think I would stand by and not hazard a drop of my blood while they spilt yours? We are kin.”
“Well, this must be farewell.” Bayhard’s voice caught on the edge of his words.
He sat down upon the step to his house, leaning his back against the comfortable familiarity of the doorway, gazing out at the tall pines that ringed his stead so majestically, at the sky that was a bright, promising blue. Birds sang overhead, and somewhere on the hills north of the village he could hear a herd of deer passing through the woods.
It was a beautiful day to die.
Three good dogs dead and nearly twice that number hurt, and he out of his head four days with fever, and perhaps months before he could walk and carry a spear—all for that Horned Beast which had been nowhere about when Tarrant arrived.
Life had played cruel with him.
Like a bear, he thought, that would end you with a careless slap and think no more of it.
Novella//Modern Mystery//When crime strikes a small London family people are forced to rethink their decisions before it is too late//
She debated within herself a moment, and then she went up to him. “Hello,” she greeted in her stern policeman’s voice.
His eyes barely flicked up to meet hers, which nettled her. “Hello, Commander.”
“What are you doing here?”
“You keep asking me that about public places,” said Lesley, holding a cigarette in his mouth as he lit it. He put the lighter back in his pocket and took a draw, leisurely breathing out the smoke. “Seems to me you might be afraid I’m onto the very same thing you are.”
The apartment was quiet and empty, and it had that cool, air-vent smell that he secretly liked. Even so, he should think about getting one of those air freshening things that you plug into the wall. Every so often the place started to smell faintly of cat and that would never do.
The cat, which belonged most definitely to his sister and not to him, met him in the kitchen, meowing conversationally and rubbing against his leg.
He set the bags of food on the counter, and scooping up the cat, took it to April’s room and shut it in. It would sleep until April got home from school and then she could take care of it. He had just bought some very expensive filet mignon and he could not afford for the cat to get it.
Maureen had been inside the school for over an hour, and had given no thought to her careless words, ‘Stay here, I will be back soon.’
Of course, he could break her order and go in, but that was hardly suitable, since she was an officer. Officers were like that after they had been authority long enough: ‘Wait here’, ‘Go do this lovely job or that lovely job’, with no thought to the future logistics.
In other words, the car was hot, he was thirsty, and his back was beginning to ache from the strange curve of the seat.
She pressed the send button and reached over to take a sip of her coffee. And her heart froze.
Sitting across from her, a coffee in his hand, was Lesley Granville, looking as smug as a cat who had got the cream.
Short story//Historical Fiction//Honor and ethics collide in a Roman arena//
There was a certain smell to an arena, that once you’d been there, you never forgot. The smell of hot sand in the sun, of sweat—men’s when you were beside the gladiator pits, and animal when near the cages. There was the heavy smell of the animals themselves, above it, thin and sharp like sword beside the face, the metallic smell of blood that never quite went away, and to mock it all, the faint homey smell of bread and onions which the gladitorii ate.
He went to the weapons rack to select his weapon. There was the sword with the worn place in the pommel—his usual sword. He picked it up and weighed it in his hand, testing for the thousandth time its balance and keenness.
It had been his faithful defender for fifteen years; it would do one last time.
There was echoing in his mind a conversation he had overheard some years ago between the trainer of the young gladitorii and a rich woman who had come to personally bestow gifts upon her favorite gladiator, a fellow who unfortunately had been dead these past three years.
“I was told by a gladiator once that there is no honor among them—they are trained like animals, and they will kill each other practically for their next meal.”
“On the contrary,” the trainer had said, “he who says that has not long been among the gladiators. It is a strange honor, and not understood by many outsiders, but honor it is.”
Funny, how that of all things should be going through his head now.
His master came and told him it was time, but he did not need to be told. He knew better than anyone else that the time was come.
He smiled to himself as he stood before the grated door, hearing the people calling his name. The blood-thirsty rabble that had haunted his dreams, tainted his life.
Even they would be gone, by and by. But honor, that remained. Honor was worth sacrificing for.
The long, drawn-out howl of a wolf cut through the low hum of the noise in the pits and Martinus raised his head.
Two hours. Two hours and he would be out on the glaring, hot sand, with the crowd screaming, screaming for blood, his perhaps, perhaps Flavian’s. Either way—there was blood to be spilt.
Had he not been so long in the arena, the idea would have made his stomach sick, but now he no longer cared. It was a thought as plain and distant as wondering what the weather might be outside the pits.