Thursday, 2 May 2013

Quest to be selected as a team member for the Writer's Voice 2013 blogfest

Scent of a summer meadow...
Yikes!  Bit of a wordy post title, huh?

I've been fortunate enough to make it through the lottery stage of the Writer's Voice blogfest - yay me!  I now have to post my query and the first 250 words of my YA fantasy novel, A SHADOW OVER NERENNOR, in the hope of getting chosen by one of the judges for the next round.  So, on with the quest!

Here's my query:

A traitor's daughter is one thing Callie isn't.  So when her foster parents are unjustly accused by their overlord and detained, she strikes out across Nerennor to save their necks from the gallows.  Her only recourse is the King.  Trouble is, at sixteen, she's never ventured far across the realm before.  She's barely dented her map before her horse and money are stolen.

With no other option, Callie presses onwards and sings in exchange for overnight shelter at an inn.  There, her bawdy song attracts the attention of cocky woodcarver Rafe; lyrics insulting his tribe will tend to do that.  Oops.  Still, he's amused by her backbone and provides safe passage to the castle--for a price.  But her relief is short-lived when guards bar her way.  If she wins Nerennor's annual tournament, however, she can petition for the King's help at the victory banquet.

Riddles, archery and an ominous hunt through woodlands bring Callie's competitive nature to the fore.  Falling for Rafe, though, is one event she didn't anticipate.  She can't afford his distracting smile now she's pitted against him--and she'll be the traitor if she succumbs to her heart.

Then Callie learns the overlord is using her foster parents as pawns in his own twisted game of high treason.  Unless she reaches the King in time, her loved ones won't be the only ones swinging from the gallows.

A SHADOW OVER NERENNOR is a 96,000-word YA fantasy novel.  Thank you for your consideration.

And here are my first 250 words (rounded up to the end of a paragraph):

The cottage door slammed open, and a wintry draught gusted inside.  Callie jolted awake, nearly falling off the window seat where she’d been keeping watch.  Before she could catch them, her charcoal stick and leather-bound book tumbled from her lap.  Neth’s teeth, how late was it?  She jumped to her feet in a panic.  She’d only meant to rest her eyes for a moment.  Moonlight shone through the window into the sparse room, and the fragrance of grass and wildflowers mingled with the smell of smoke from the dying fire in the hearth.

Strange.  It was still winter--and there were no plants in the cottage--so why did the scent of a summer meadow linger in the air?

The back of her left hand tingled.  She rubbed it, suddenly uneasy; the sensation of icy cold fingers trailing over her skin had been no dream.  And she was certain a girl had spoken.  Whispered words.  “ home soon.  Promise you.”

The door banged again, and her heart thudded.  The door shouldn’t have been swinging in the wind--she’d latched it.

Hope warred against anxiety.

“Is someone there?”  Her mouth was dry, but she forced out her question.  Callie edged towards the threshold, each step she took ripe with promise--or disappointment.  After eight years of this ritual, she didn’t know which she preferred.  She paused in the entranceway and peered into the garden.  An owl hooted.  Her gaze swept the path to the lane beyond.

Silence in the shadows.

No creak of a gate.  No excited cries of greeting.  No crunch of footsteps on the icy path.  The wind caught its breath; nothing stirred.