Zakkai, Kemla’s Da.

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What’s a father made of?

A Short Story from the Kemla Series, from her fathers point of view.

             “What are little girls made of? Rot and grot, and their fathers’ snot.”  The man sung, chugging ale and laughing at his own joke.

The rest of the household held little respect for any of his jokes, which perplexed his deep respect for his own authority. It was a building effect, as each moment passed he grew more and more angry, more determined to prove his point, more desperate to drink and not just the ale in his hand. He desired dominance, not that he saw it as any more than a god given right but the longer it was lacking the more he sought it.

“Ma,” the child called, it was the only word the two year old knew and that infuriated the man.

His foot jerked out from under the table, slamming into the bottom of the girl and sending her small body flying forwards and crashing into the cobbled floor.

“Silence you!”

“Zared she’s a child!”

Her words had no meaning but her tone changed everything.

“Women!” He roared, standing quickly and sending his chair flying.

There was still a large dinning table between him and his family but the distance could be easily covered. Retribution was only seconds away. The child clung in her mothers arms, tears and silent sobs were evidence of pain and fear but both factors alluded the man. Fear was not submission.

“Zared you keep your hands, and your feet, to yourself,” her tone held more force when used to convey a quiet resolution than he seemed to be able to muster in any of his growls or demands. Fury built higher in him, his fists already clenched.

Another little body ran into the room, not a full run, not the run of a happy child. She was meek and tentative and this amused her father. She huddles in beside her mother, risking a glance at the fuming man across the room. The depth in her eight year old eyes, the unfaltering comprehension of the situation, is lost on the man. Her trepidation, her misery, her angst are beyond him. His ideals, his view of the world is disjointed and misaligned, but from where he’s standing he’s right and everyone else somehow enjoys provoking him.

The older sibling slips her hands in around her sister, cradling her tight and running from the room, though it’s not without effort.

The man’s only thought is that wherever they go they’d best come back with something worth his time, something worth their keep. His mind quickly slips to the women before him, his mirth erupts, filling the house.

“You can’t run like your brats can you Ysabel? Or poor grandma upstairs will bare the brunt of your treachery.”

“I don’t need to run Zared.”

“You want to, you want to taunt me, you enjoy quarrelling with me, you live to incite me. I pay for your keep, I feed you, I keep you and those brats alive!”

“You were once a good man Zared,” Her tone slips lower, sorrowful, and for half an instant something stirs in the man.

Followed quickly by remorse and he buries the lot, slamming his fist on the table.

“You wait and see Ysabel, one of these day’s I’m not going to come home and then where will you and your brats be? Where would grandma be?” He pelts the mug across the room but she doesn’t flinch, resigned to his torments. If it hits her it hits her and if it doesn’t what’s it matter?

The  mug slams into the wall, spilling ale both on flight and impact.

“Clean that up wench!” He yells, slamming the front door open and following by slamming it shut after himself.

“Stupid wretched women, revolting kids…” he mumbles and grunts as he stomps down the street. Making a better impression of a tantrum than the kids he hates.

It’s in this state, half drunk and full of rage, that he finds an inn and downs his coin worth of mead.

With the added influence of intoxication, and the hatred for his lot in life still boiling in his veins, he turns the almost packed inn and shouts, “anyone care for a house, I’ve one going cheep.” There’s not a lot of thoughts floating around in his head, the desire to punish the wife and children who have wronged him and a vague notion of starting again, of starting fresh.

“Care to wager that house?” A gentleman asks, his attire not out of place in the inn, the centre of the slums still attracted many a wealthy man looking to engage in coin making enterprises that usually also inflict some manner of pain on the less well off of the population.

Zared didn’t care, he was good enough to play cards with a nobleman. He considered himself good enough to win and delighted in the coin that built up before him. His previous temper was nothing compared to the rage that overtook him as the coin begun to diminish. Stupid mistakes happened before his eyes, like he was dreaming and he knew the outcome of his next move but he still made it, he was watching himself loose and by late afternoon he found himself tossed out onto the street with nothing left but the clothes he was wearing.

He paced the ally behind the inn, actually his motions were more like stomping staggers. Movements that lightened when his path, by chance, crossed that of the noblemen who too all his money. Like the thieve he’d become he chased, unseen, after the man and scaled the wall surrounding his townhouse. There was little in the way of any connecting thought in the man. He wasn’t planning or scheming, just doing – enacting his rage, taking his retribution. He let himself into the kitchen and confronted with an angry nobleman things happened very quickly.

The nobleman was easily overpowered, unconscious on the floor his family came running. They weren’t like his own woman and children, they didn’t know how to be quiet, or when to run.

“You monster, get out of my house, you brute, you beast…”

The back of his hand met the face of the women and abruptly silenced her protests. He was none of those things, neither a monster, or a brute or a beast. His rage clouded judgement etched further from comprehension. The children he picked up and hung by the backs of their shirts on nearby pothooks.

“You leave my children,” the awakening noblemen demanded. “You filthy commoner.”

How the night unfolded Zared never fully recalled. His blood stained arms were testament to someone’s demise but who’s or how? He didn’t care either, not truly. For his memory loss yes but for their lives, any of them, they deserved whatever they got. One thing he did realise, not a block from his home, was that he couldn’t stay in the city. The noblemen did have the details of his home, and was perhaps dead, so trouble would come looking for Zared. Best he went where trouble couldn’t find him.

The sun was set but not by long, people were still about, giving Zared a wide birth. The man made his way out of town, hope unfolding within him. However it came about this was the fresh start he was after, he knew nothing of where he’d be in a few day’s time and that pleased him greatly. Perhaps he’s buy his own inn, become a working man? He forgot about the past, it wasn’t too hard to do, and just kept walking. All but himself elapsed, the same as he’d lived his whole life.

And of the women and children, his children, word came to them of what had passed. Good deeds often call more good deeds to themselves, they made their own freedom, overtime.

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editing… Querying… again

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Here’s my circle work, worst thing is i’m not sure if any of it is helping?

Dear…

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this, I understand that your time is valuable. The manuscript I’m presenting you with is ‘Kemla’, the first in my part of a young adult fantasy series set in a medieval world. You are the first publisher to view ‘Kemla’ and i will respect your 3 month exclusivity request. I have looked over your current titles, ‘Descent’ by Charlotte McConaghy for example, and believe that ‘Kemla’, my young adult fantasy novel, is both original and fitting for your list. My compressed CV, writing relevent only, reads (i will add this elsewhere i think) …. but i prefer to let my work speak for itself.

The first book begins with Kemla’s story begins with herself and her extended family in hiding however she is soon captured by slave traders (this sentence screams of a six year olds work, come on i can do better than that!)

Kemla’s capture leads the reader through an unfolding of themes including magic which Kemla hadn’t known she possessed, trust which she finds in a slave trader named Leon and freedom which she has never fully experienced in her 17 years of life. Leon takes on a n almost brotherly role, something Kemla struggles with given he is her captor however until midway through the book  when he ensures her escape. Kemla finds herself in a strange land and far from home. Her need for food and shelter leads her, seeming by fate, to Orin’s family homestead. Kemla’s life is still ruled by the scars of capture and the torments of her childhood but now she has a new emotion to trouble her – love.

She takes her time to understand this new world which she has been thrust into, the world of a young woman. Accepting her dark past, memories of a rough father and desperate times, is instrumental in her eventual acceptance of freedom.

Kemla the series embodies many of the struggles that teens face, love, acceptance, trust, coming of age and bearing maturity. The series also includes all the elements to distract readers from their own troubles. There’s magic and danger, struggle and triumph, family, loss and great moments of success. (i think i’ll move this bit up the top somewhere, more like an intro)

Book one sits at ………….. words.

Book two has been drafted at ………….. words and follows Kemla on an adventure into new lands where she challenges social order, learns to joust, builds her magical ability and saves Leon’s life.

Book three is all about family. It currently sits at ……………. words and follows Kemla as she attempts to right the wrongs of her father to save her mother and extended family from a death sentence.

In each book Kemla learns a little more about herself, grows up a little more and dives into another aspect of her world, there’s always a presence of magic and an element of danger and a lot of dancing along the line between right and wrong.

Writing is where is feel at home, I have had success with short story competitions since primary school. I graduated with my HSC in 2001 and completed (part time) my degree in arts and teaching in 2009. Currently i’m working as a manager in tourism and i love both my management position and the time i spend writing.

Please find the first five pages below for your perusal. The full manuscript is immediately available.

 Again i would like to thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

I know, it still needs work…

 

Saphryon word count

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I like playing around with this sort of thing and it’s really interesting to see how long you’ve been sitting in writers block, or the last time you sat down to type, or vise-versa how intensely involved you are.

Here’s an update on an earlier post where i started tracking my typing for this story.

8/8 from 70920 words to 72896 words

10/8 from 72896 words to 76124 words

18/8 from 76124 words to 78083 words

28/8 from 78083 words to 78844 words

30/8 from 78844 words to 83417 words

1/9  from 83417 words to 86423 words

22/9 – yesterday – from 86423 words to … well i think i actually deleated some unnessacery chatter inabout chapter 5 but you get the picture.

Whilst the query for Kemla stews…

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…and brews and comes to a wine like aging of perfection (aka i procrastinate) i’m moving back to Saphryon, i’ve an idea in the making for the ending but it has to be just right…. and original which isn’t easy in a good v evil fantasy novel – so much has been done before!

Kemla Query number… i’ve lost track.

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Directly below this post should be the original which, well isn’t really an original but it’s the version i’m tweaking right now.

Black Dog Publishers, whom i’m researching as i edit and so on, specify a Cover letter, CV, synopsis and ‘book’ in the body of the email. Problem is a whole book won’t just email in the body – it’s too big, so i’m going with the first five pages which is what most others ask for, and if they want more i’m hoping they will ask for it. But i’ll admit i don’t want to deviate from their requests, i rick them just simply not asking for more because i can’t follow instructions.

The first chunk i just worked through went like this:

Kemla is a 17 year old, a young adult at the ripe age for marriage but marriage is something she wants nothing to do with. In fact Kemla would rather avoid men all together, and magic and slave traders and all manner of mythical creatures too – but destiny has other plans for her.

Then i realised, it’s too vague. A random reader who i’ve never met before isn’t going to have a clue what i’m on about. I like this style of presenting my work, better still i prefer the query below where Kemla herself is telling the story because it displays how i writer which is essentially what i’m trying to sell. But then it’s not really working (hence the reason why i’m editing another query letter, if it was working the novel would be in front of readers in bookstores and so on) so i’m going against what i prefer and working on something more 2D and more profession like – even if it does feel like it lacks flavor.

Dear …………

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this, I understand that your time is valuable. The manuscript I’m presenting you with is ‘Kemla’, the first novel in my young adult fantasy series set in a medieval world.  You are the first publisher to view ‘Kemla’ and i will respect your 3 month exclusive request. I have looked over your current titles, ‘Descent’ by Charlotte McConaghy for example, and believe that ‘Kemla’, my young adult fantasy novel, is both original and fitting for your list. My compressed CV, writing relevent only, reads…. but i prefer to let my work speak for itself.

The first book begins with Kemla, the main character, and her extended family in hiding however she is soon captured by slave traders. Kemla’s capture leads the reader through an unfolding of themes including magic which Kemla hadn’t known she possessed, trust which she finds in a slave trader named Leon and freedom which she has never fully experienced in her 17 years of life. Leon takes on an almost brotherly role, something Kemla struggles with given he is her captor however midway through the book he ensures her escape. Kemla finds herself in a strange land and far from home. Her need for food and shelter leads her, seeming by fate, to Orin’s family homestead. Kemla’s life is still ruled by the scars of capture and the torments of her childhood but now she has a new emotion to trouble her – love.

She takes her time to understand this new world which she has been thrust into, the world of a young woman. Accepting her dark past, memories of a rough father and desperate times, is instrumental in her eventual acceptance of freedom.

Kemla the series embodies many of the struggles that teens face, love, acceptance, trust, coming of age and bearing maturity. The series also includes all the elements to distract readers from their own troubles. There’s magic and danger, struggle and triumph, family, loss and great moments of success.

Book one sits at ………….. words.

Book two has been drafted at ………….. words and follows Kemla on an adventure into new lands where she challenges social order, learns to joust, builds her magical ability and saves Leon’s life.

Book three is all about family. It currently sits at ……………. words and follows Kemla as she attempts to right the wrongs of her father to save her mother and extended family from a death sentence.

In each book Kemla learns a little more about herself, grows up a little more and dives into another aspect of her world, there’s always a presence of magic and an element of danger and a lot of dancing along the line between right and wrong.

I have had success with short story competitions since primary school. I graduated with my HSC in 2001 and completed (part time) my degree in arts and teaching in 2009. Currently i’m working as a manager in tourism and i love both my management position and the time i spend writing.

Please find the first five pages below for your perusal. The full manuscript is immediately available. Again i would like to thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

A few things i’d like to point out.

  • I am struggling with my opening sentence. I don’t want to just jump in without some kind of polite ice-breaker but then i don’t want to seem like a suck-up either. Is thanking someone for their time being a suck-up?
  • I’ve used Kemla’s name wherever possible because lets face it it is an odd name, there’s a curious story behind the name but i don’t think this is the place for it (in the query letter), so i’ve tried to make the reader of the query familiar with the name by using it lost instead of using ‘she’ or ‘her’.
  • They have asked for my CV but i don’t think that saying i worked in a bar for 2 years or mentioning my time as a childcare is going to help me get published – if i could shot fireballs than that would be relevent but i can’t so i compressed my CV.
  • I have read that introducing names in the query is a tricky ‘probably shouldn’t do it’ type thing, so i mention only Leon and Orin, the two key males characters, and of course Kemla. I want the reader to feel drawn into the story and i don’t feel i can do that unless i put some names to the ideas.

It really needs some polishing, but it’s getting late and the lounge is more comfey than the office.

The big question – if you read that Query would you want to read more?

Query editing

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This is the last Query I sent out, it wen’t to a friend of a friend type thing so i worry i may have made it a little too personal and not quite professional enough:

17/6/2010

Dear

 I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this, I understand that your time is valuable. The manuscript I’m presenting you with is ‘Kemla’, the first novel in my young adult fantasy series set in a medieval-Celtic-type world.

 Who’s Kemla? I’ll let her explain:

“My name’s Kemla, I’m seventeen and that’s about all I own – my name and my past. The rest is hope and prayers and the idea of determination. It’s all good and well to want freedom but going out and achieving it is another matter all together. Freedom from fathers with heavy hands and short tempers, freedom from authorities with no boundaries – no limits to the damage they can do to you – freedom from magic entrapped silence, from hunters and now from slave traders.

All my hopes rest on a single slave trader, on Leon and his vein of compassion amongst the insanity I’ve landed myself in. I’ll blame myself because I can’t blame my little sisters, it’s not their fault they needed rescuing, I can’t blame my ma as she had no one else to send after my sisters – I can’t blame the traders either… blaming them could mean their deaths from my wayward magic and Leon won’t allow that. Magic – me! It’s almost a joke, only not the sort anyone wants to laugh at.

My worlds been turned on it’s head, not that it wasn’t a little skewed before.

Magic, beasts, treachery and treason and the worst new addition to my life – marriage! I guess in a way being captured by slave traders is a good thing. Now ma can’t hint at my coming of age, my need to be presentable and mingle with the townsfolk. People I don’t even know, men who could all have tempers. I don’t need a man, I need a plan – an escape – my freedom…”

And the ending to book one:

“… Fate quite possibly had a bigger hand in my life than I cared to admit. No sooner had I manage my escape – I was worried Leon wouldn’t pull through for me but in the end it was Leon who untied my ropes, Leon who shouted for me to run – and I found myself somewhere in the middle of a strange realm with bandits and Sara’s sons to worry about. It’s almost odd how I grouped an admiring guy in the same category as blood thirsty bandits but anyone taking an interest in me was in trouble – one way or another.

At least that was my first impression of him. He saw me – admittedly I’d been a mess since my slave capture – and grasped at his sword hilt. I reacted in the same way, a kitchen table between us but we were both willing to leap over it at the slightest sign of danger. How that turned into him picking me flowers and buying me presents I’ll never understand – but I’ll never let him go either.

So in the end ma was right – I’m not going to tell her that though and I haven’t agreed to anything starting with the letter ‘m’ yet. For now my sights are set on something else – settling scores with slave traders and finding Leon.”

 Settling scores with slave traders and finding Leon are matters covered in book two, in book one the heroin finds freedom, love and a sense of control over her life.

This series has been in the making for several years, over a decade, with the past two years being pure editing time. I’ve also roughed out books two and three in the ‘Kemla series’, right now they’re just waiting for book one to be finalised and I’m fully willing to tweak them all as yourself or an editor see’s fit.

I’ve yet to present any novel to a publisher though I have had some success with short story competitions, and I am passionate about literature with a degree in the subject.

Again I’d like to thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing your response.

Enjoy

 Sincerely

And when i didn’t get a reply i sent this little followup.

Dear

 My name is Cassy and I’m just following up on my Young Adult Fantasy Manuscript ‘Kemla’ that I sent through in June 2010. Please find the Query resumitted below incase cyber space disposed of my first contact Via …..

 Thank you for your time, and I hope to speak more with you soon about the project.

 The followup was sent on the 31st of the 8th, so almost a month ago, making it almost 3 months and no reply yet… but am i being too rash? I’ll post my Query editing too…

Writing yet another Query

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Is there an addiction out there with the label ‘Query’ because i think i’m getting one. Every time i send out a manuscript query to a new publisher i re-write the query letter, and the introduction and the synopsis and you have to right? every agent and every publisher is different and you have to tailor your letters to the person you’re sending the letter to right now.

 But it occurred to me, what if the last letter i sent out was wrong for that agent, but will be right for this agent? What if i’m actually destroying my chances by re-writing this letter?

So how do you know? how do you know if you actually have the perfect query but you just sent it to the wrong person? The agent/publisher feedback doesn’t often steer a writer in the right direction, so i’m left in limbo?

Just wondering…

Am i doing the right thing here? or the complete opposite?

What would you do?

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