I'm late getting this up... oh the wonders of painkilling drugs... and how they make you sleep through things like deadlines, major holidays, and very grumpy donkeys standing outside your window braying... but I did eventually rejoin the living... so here goes... and BTW if you're feeling inspired and willing to join in, click on over to Christine's and sign up to participate! Or just check out all the other folks who are already participating.
So when I caught wind of this blogfest, I thought someone might have gotten inside my head and read my mind! My writing has come SO far since I started out that I almost don't recognize myself anymore. Which is a good thing, since it represents a forward motion and writing, to me anyway, is a journey from the first line you jot down until they pry the pen from your cold dead fingers. I had planned this long, rolling blather of a post to go alongside the examples of shudder-worthy and (hopefully) unshudder-worth excerpts from one of my books. But then I got a case of severe bronchitis (okay, I've had it like a month, but it finally kicked my ass and I went to the doctor for it...) and now I'm on 'bed' rest. Anyone who knows me know that getting 'bed' rest at my house is as likely as having a bikini contest in the Arctic... but seriously, the meds I'm on knock me loopy anyway so I'm doing the bear minimum for the next few days.
The excerpts I chose are from the first book in the first series I wrote with the goal of publication. It's a YA Fantasy, edging toward high fantasy. To set you up: A group of friends have just broken into and then out of a restricted building and now they're all scattering in attempt to avoid capture by the city Guard. One of them, however, is about to have an encounter with something more dangerous than any soldier. It's difficult to set up, so if anyone has a question, throw it out in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.
As you'll find out within the first three sentences, the first draft ended up being written from about ten POVs... I know, face/palm... the real focus of the story was always intended to be the eighteen year old protagonist, Pony. I rewrote the entire thing strictly from her POV much for the better.
Without further delay, I give you my shudder-worthy version which is roughly seven years old:
Ruger saw Torc from a distance and was glad to see that the dwarf was alone and without any of the Guard on his trail. He hoped that the girls were faring just as well. It rankled him badly to know that they were out there on their own, but there was nothing to be done about it now but to pray to Amara that they made a clean getaway.
Pony had caught her breath somewhat and just decided to move on when some incredible force snatched her up and flung her against the nearest building. The strength of the blow stole all her breath completely, leaving her to thrash against whatever was pinning her there, feet dangling a good two feet above the ground. The entity was far stronger than any living thing she’d ever encountered, including Storm, but it was very mortal, unlike Death. As her senses slowly began to return, she could make out a form, the shape of a body, against her, even though she couldn’t see it with her eyes.
The presence of it was almost overwhelming, the strength intoxicatingly provocative as it pushed against her. And it was painful, a blade at her throat, hurting, but somehow not cutting. Not yet. Wisely, she made no sound, waiting to see what her attacker wanted of her, if anything beyond her death.
Ravenshadow hesitated at the last possible moment, reason fighting to overcome his blood-rage. He was injured better than he wanted to admit, and the Guard was still after him. This was no time to start on the girl, but when he’d glimpsed her, the blood-rage had come on him without warning. It wasn’t something the assassin asked for, but normally it was useful, and he had some control over when he fell to it. This wasn’t like that, and he was breaking his own golden rule: You couldn’t enjoy killing if you were dead yourself. He hoped the girl didn’t struggle. That would send him far beyond any hope of control, and he wouldn’t even get to enjoy killing her - it would happen too quickly. He wouldn’t even remember doing it.
When nothing happened, Pony kept waiting, trying to discern anything she could about her attacker without moving or letting him, her, it, know that she was even conscious. The pain on her throat let up, but whatever was holding her didn’t move or let go. She wasn’t afraid, only frustrated and confused. And wet?
Turning only her eyes downward, Pony could see nothing, but there was no doubt that she was wet. A warm dampness was spreading across her hips and thighs. She shuddered to think what it might be, but the entity hadn’t harmed her. Yet. It didn’t seem to notice the wet either, and just kept holding her there against the wall, its grip unbreakable and dangerous. She didn’t dare wiggle or otherwise disturb it.
Warring with his blood-rage, Ravenshadow was brought the rest of the way out of the mindlessness by the cries of the Guard. How long he’d stood there, he didn’t know, but the girl was still alive, strangely silent and acquiescent to his savage restraint. The Guard was turning down their alley and Ravenshadow dropped her, staggering back several steps, suddenly weak and lightheaded. Across from him, the girl fell, stumbling to her knees. The entire span of her hips and thighs was soaked with dark blood. The assassin had, for the first time in his long life, underestimated his wound.
Pony had never been more relieved to hit the ground, but she was immediately appalled by the sight of her own body, covered with blood that was not her own. Whatever had attacked her was still there. She couldn’t see it, but she could hear it, scuffling around, apparently disoriented by its blood loss. To her left, the Guard was closing fast, and the entity swept back and forth, still invisible, but leaving a bloody trail wherever it went. Whatever it was, it was going to be caught or killed in a matter of minutes. Unless she did something.
And now the hopefully much less, if not entirely unshudder-worthy version, which I was just poking around with and tweaking only a few months ago and I'm continuing to work on:
Being shorter of limb and wind than either Ruger or Dreena, Pony did what she surmised Torc was doing and chose a dark and crooked alley as her passage, so that she might have a chance to hide. Having heard no shouting since leaving the Hall she could only guess at what had caused the ruckus.
Hesitating in a recessed nook, she caught her breath and was preparing to bolt again when some incredible unseen force snatched her up and flung her against the wall of a building. The blow stole her breath and half her sense, leaving her to thrash against whatever was pinning her.
The entity was far stronger than any living thing she’d ever encountered, including Storm. It felt and tasted like Death in a way. Which would have sounded ridiculous to anyone else, but it meant a lot to Pony because living things were not supposed tot resemble Death in any way.
As her senses slowly returned she could make out a form, the shape of a body against her, though she couldn’t see it with her eyes. Whatever had her was a physical thing, not some magical force.
The presence of it was almost overwhelming, the strength strangely intoxicating. There was a blade at her throat, hurting, but not cutting. Not yet. She made no sound, waiting and trying to attune herself to the instincts she trusted so deeply.
Her first struggles had left her arms tangled about the entities neck. Her left land was wrapped in silken strands of hair while her right lay against warm skin. She could feel a pulse beneath her wrist, her fingertips brushing the firm cartilage of an ear. Before she could stop herself she gently spread her fingers, seeking more details. The pain on her throat eased, but whatever was holding her didn’t let go.
A warm dampness spread slowly across her hips and thighs. She shuddered to think what it might be. The entity didn’t seem to notice. Instinct told her that it was confused on some level. As if her quiet response to its brutal attack was the opposite of what it had expected. As if it was suddenly unsure.
Abruptly, it’s grip loosened enough that she slithered down along its body. Her hands grasped at leather straps and sheaths that lined its chest, but failed to gain purchase. Pony was relieved to hit the ground alive, but she was appalled by the sight of her legs. They were covered with blood that was not her own. Whatever had attacked her remained close by. She still couldn’t see it, but she could sense it. Splashes of crimson appeared in the soft dirt of the alley. To her left, the rattle of armor announced the arrival of a group of Guardsmen. The entity swept back and forth, invisible but for the bloody trail wherever it went.
Whatever it was, whatever it might mean her, it was going to be caught or killed in a matter of moments. Unless she did something. It might deserve to die, but it wasn’t in Pony’s nature to let anything die. No matter what it was.
I DID (go ahead and groan) query this back when it was first written. Thank bananas my queries were all rejected, most likely because the query gods knew I wasn't ready for any such step. Since then, I've written several more YAs, one of which has gotten quite a lot of requests for fulls (although an agent still eludes me for now) and I haven't even written up a new query for this fantasy series. But I keep going back to it, and someday, who knows, maybe it'll see daylight :)