making a move:

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An early christmas presentappeared on my desk a few days ago…. a computer complete with internet connection!

I haven’t blogged in a few months but I have been writing, reading and learning so having logged back on here I realise it’s time to start fresh and taking on board all of your comments hopefully I’ll not only make a better blog but also a better me.

please find me at caswebb.wordpress.com , I look forward to touching base with all of you again!

cheers

cas

 

Excerpts from Kemla

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 We went riding on the weekend and i found these great little tracks.

 

 

 

Jumping in right in the middle of the book…

“Is he always like that?”

“Remy? Yeah most of the time,” Laura giggles, tutting to the cart horse through her amusement.

A well worn track spreads out before us and leads the way, the trees must have been cleared a long time ago, now there is not a shrub or blade of grass on our path.

Looks like I’m farming Lii.

Aren’t I’m coming?

I wasn’t given a choice, I’m already in a cart…

What is it with you and carts. Have you forgotten how to ride?

No I have not!

Ha!

“So where are ye from Kemla?” 

 

…. Leaving the bush we emerge onto the road. I don’t have to tell Lii where I want to go. The world’s a huge and vast place but there’s only one location I can think of starting my new life of freedom and strangely that’s my last point of captivity. Lii moves into a gentle canter, her hooves pounding on the road, heading to where I last saw Leon….

Kemla

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I’ve posted a few short stories on Kemla, mostly the ‘prelogue’ type stuff. I’ve others from deeper in the first novel – like the moment Kemla and Orin meet… But they would kind of be spoiling the intensity of the moment by reading them out of context so i’m not sure whether to post them or if it matters, who wants to read more?

Nowhere, a Kemla short story

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Nowhere.

A short story from the Kemla Series, from her ma’s point of view.

This is another one of those explorations i did before the actual story started. It’s a bit of background information. The actual Kemla story begins with the family in hiding – this is how they came to be in hiding.

Life feels dramatic though I smile for my girls. We sing songs, count clouds and push on into the afternoon. For two day’s now the Summers Mountains has caste long dark shadows on our right as we kick through the dust. Fear has been dragging through my veins sparked by the sight of them. They’re so completely shrouded in local folklore that I’m not even sure if my reaction is rational or mandatory – we’ve all heard the stories. I don’t need another nightmare. We don’t need another nightmare.

We need a home.

What does that mean? Home. It’s intangible, like the word soul. At times like this I could dispute its very existence – either one. Nothing but myths. We press on, passers by smile and shout greetings as though we are just like them. I guess we don’t look any different, a little more grubby perhaps. We don’t look it but I feel it. That sense of being lost, of the world not having a want or need for me. I’m walking the same path as everyone else, except I don’t have a destination. Just an endless road.

If it were up to me alone I would have continued to play out my part and we would have remained safely within a house.

Though a house is not the same as a home.

Home… Is it that we all desire one even if we don’t think it’s achievable or is it just me? It feels that way, like my desires are unachievable. Unachievable but essential. Four walls – at the least – rooms enough for everyone to exist comfortably. In my world running water and servants have always been luxuries, lately food to place on the table has been more important than the table itself.

Lately! That’s another one of those insubstantial words, lately covers at least the last two years. Every day, dawn till dusk and all through the night, sunrise after sunrise, it has all been lately.

But everything has a beginning.

I was twenty three and pregnant when ma had her accident. She was much older when she’d had me and too frail to be living on her own by the time da passed away.

It’s funny how sometimes the pieces just fit together. Events like parts of a jigsaw, completely random just tossed into a pile and at the same time matching with exact accuracy when they fall together in order. I can feel these thoughts taking over me, ideas about souls and life and destiny, I’ve too much time to think… just walking… and thinking. It’s not healthy – the thoughts lead to regrets.

With the help of some caring neighbours my mother was set up in our only spare room. We had never really seen eye to eye but I didn’t hesitate stepping in like a dutiful daughter. Most of our disputes stemmed from the existence of my gifts. Though she referred to them as curses, and so does the rest of the realm. Magic is a matter just not spoken of around here, the punishment for those found to have a gift is death so I’m generally in favour of the silence.

There were two sides to our city. A rich side, a poor side and no middle ground. We were nestled on the outskirts of the poor side but neither myself nor my husband ever discussed a lacking in anything. Not in the past, not before that night.  

I remember that conversation, word for word, our first real argument. I see now, endowed with hindsight, that love masked all my senses.

“That women’s a dead weight,” he’d grunted as he stomped down the stairs after taking ma’s dinner up to her.

“Really honey she hardly eats anything.”

“She eats, and uses our water, she’s taking up a whole room Bell, and with you about to spit out another mouth… God help me if you have twins I’m drowning the girl. At least a boy can work.”

I was frozen, a half washed dish in my hand and my eyes on the man whom I’d only ever felt adoration for. Where was this coming from? He’d been at the inn half the evening but I couldn’t smell any ale or mead on his breath.

Perhaps in the beginning he had a conscience.

That faded quickly, alcohol became a staple purchase, the only purchase if Zared had had his way. I only had one bargaining tool and for food and essentials I learnt to use every inch of manipulation that a women’s born with.

“There’s three rules Zared.” I’d begun when he returned later that evening, the dinning table was safely between us and I’d stayed up, sitting awake… too afraid to sleep. “Number one; you don’t step a foot inside the spare room – not for anything.”

“Don’t you – ”

“Ah, let me finish,” I growled the words out, forcing my tone low, fierce. My own voice sounded alien but I pushed on – determined. “Number two; you will give me three coppers a week for food, no arguments, and any other coin I need for the house and my baby and if you touch me again I’m leaving.”

“You wouldn’t leave.”

“Do you want to see me go?” I asked, grabbing a prepacked bag from under the table.

There was a flash in his eye, a split second of fear, “I won’t go near your stinkin’ mother -” he walked around the table and though I wanted to move I didn’t. “Those three coppers better have me well fed -” He stood before me, a toned man easily taller and broader than I’ve ever been. I told myself I was standing my ground, but in truth I’d been given two of my three and I was happy enough with that. I knew that whatever came next I wasn’t going to leave anyway, the world outside was still scarier than inside. “And women if you stay here your body is mine.” He gripped my jaw, my chin, firmly, fringing on painfully, and kissed me.

It wasn’t to hurt me that he wanted me around and without argument I let him have what he desired. It was a good weapon… perhaps I became more of the type of women my mother warned me away from – more than I’d considered as I lived it. He’d hand over the three copper coins which would be followed by passionate love making. Sometimes he’d be rough but mostly he was still the man I fell in love with. He would talk of his love for me and apologise profusely… and forget all about every word he’d said as soon as he’d left the bedroom.

It’s something I’d seen in others. Lies and distrust. Something I couldn’t see coming towards myself, the red hue of reality was barely a shading of pink before my eye.

When in love we all smell roses no matter what we’re sitting in.

From the night my mother moved in I was sitting waist deep in shit, I’d like to leave myself with the delusion that if my mother hadn’t moved in things would be different… but it would only be a delusion. Another lie, or perhaps only an omission. The idea of thing’s playing out differently catches at my imagination every now and then. There’s no truth in these scenarios, not when I think about how that night played out.

“Don’t you look at me like that women, you never explained that your ma’s useless!” He stomped off the last step into the kitchen. That room was our everything, kitchen, lounge, dinning.

“I told you she was bedridden – ”

“Useless!”

He smashed his fist into the table, sending his own dinner flying across the room.

“You’re useless, a fat bowl of jelly that’s what you are, and what good’s a baby to me? None!”

I didn’t bother trying to get a word in as he walked around the table, coming closer to me. I didn’t bother to ague and I didn’t think to move either.

“And how do you expect to feed the little brat because be dammed if I’m spending anything on any of you ever again!”

“It’s a child, your child.”

“You’re having it, not me! I didn’t ask for this, any of this. I didn’t want it and I don’t have to keep it.”

“We will get through this and it’s not as bad as you’re making it sound.” I begun to reason, the response sounded false but not because I didn’t believe in what I was saying. I just couldn’t believe that he needed to hear it.

“It can starve to death for all I care!”

“No – ”

His arm flung out, connected with my cheek and bounced away again. He’d never even hinted at such violence before but somehow, some part of me knew that the move was coming. My hand had dug in tight to the kitchen bench. It was the only thing that stopped me from being flung into the dinning table.

I stood there, shaking all over but I’m not sure if he even noticed.

I also couldn’t tell you how long we stood there, staring at each other, each waiting for the other to make a move. Long enough for several scenarios to scream through my mind.

I wouldn’t stay with a man that hit me, of that I was certain.

But I had no money and my only remaining family was bound to the bed in our spare room. Moving her into that room almost cost her her life, moving her out was unthinkable. And what of the child I carried? I had nothing to my name and no skills with which to make money, winter was fast approaching and without a plan the chances of my child surviving were slim. I knew this all too well, my limited healing skills were often called upon by desperate mothers. I would not watch my own child die and I would not leave my mother here unprotected.

Zared caved first. Breaking the silence with a grunt. I’ve never worked out what was going through his head at the time.

As he slammed the front door shut I surrendered myself to him, for my mothers sake and for the sake of my child.

My ‘it’.

That building, those four walls, sheltered me for another eight years but they were not a home. ‘It’ became Kemla and I swear he gave her the most unusual name he could think of just to torment the girl but she’s never faltered on it – never asked me about it – and I’ve never cared. She was born beautiful and perfect and followed six years later by Kassandra.

Both strong girls, they’ve had to be.

What brought us to leave’s not something I’m ready to face, perhaps in a few more years – when the pain subsides – but not now. Pain is not intangible though the thing that creates it might be, how strange that is. Love, home and my desolate soul all so elusive, almost ethereal, but they have the ability to inflict so much physical damage.  He’s broken my bones before with feet and fists, left bruises and bites, but all of those healed. Flesh and bone are so strong in that way, in a way that the rest of me is not.

“Kassandra catch me!” Kemla giggles, jogging in slow motion so that her baby sister can snag her shirt in her tinny fingers.

“You did it!”

I stop, though it takes me a minute to fully process why, my gaze scanning over the mass of trees and peaks that form the mountain ranges. Certainly not uninhabitable to look at. From here I can already spot some local herbs and fruits – nothing spectacular but nothing is exactly what we’ve got now.

“What is it mummy?”

“Nothing honey, mummy’s just thinking.”

As I look more and more beauty glimmers before me, flowers and deer tracks, gorgeous rays of sunlight filtering through high branches and birds everywhere. Strong trees, solid ground, what more could I ask for?

The myths talk of beasts and dragons. Perhaps when I see them I’ll run – perhaps I’ll have good reason to. A hare darts across the road, disappearing into the undergrowth. I can easily imagine a dragon snatching the small creature up, or snatching up one of my babies. The dragon has wild hair and dark eyes, he once shared my bed and he’s still out here, who know where – or in what mood? He is not a myth though the home we shared was.

Perhaps a place of myth and legend is exactly where we belong if indeed we are searching for a myth.

I still have no skills, no money, no family, but the best possible – by definition – is attainable.

Four walls – that I can do.

Food enough for three.

Peace and quiet.

“Come on girls, we’re going home.”

 END

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.

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…

 

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?

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