Friday, October 9, 2009

Callarion at Night -- Sample Pages

I've been going back and forth about this, but I figure: What the heck?

So here, in all their glory, are the first three pages of CALLARION AT NIGHT (the draft's at 110 pages and 29,993 words as of this writing):


"How long ye been gone, miss?"

Moriah looked up from her book. The sailor smelled of sea salt and sweat under his turtleneck sweater and woolen pea coat stretched across a frame broadened by labor. His khaki trousers had stains in several places, especially around the knees, and his hazel eyes never wavered from her face. Which was impressive; considering what she'd heard about the general mood toward half-nymph natemi like herself in Callarion these days.

"Nine years," Moriah said. The sailor looked friendly enough, and no one else had bothered her on the steamer voyage from Anguo.

"Long time, to be sure." The sailor looked east over the foredeck, toward the city. He turned back, took off his tri-corner hat, and wiped sweat from his forehead with a sleeve. Moriah glimpsed the smallest nubs of goat horns in his mop of black hair. A half-satyr dhalim then. And one who could pass for human. Odd enough in a dhalim. Even more so that she'd not seen one sailor shun him in Purity's name. When he turned back, the sunlight had changed directions, making it clear his hazel eyes were actually bronze.

"I just graduated from university," Moriah slipped her book into the leather rucksack at her feet. The aluminum lighthouse of Sracon Island station passed behind the sailor, who wasn't paying attention. Only a few more minutes until the docks.

"Wish I could've done. Where'd ye go?"

"The Senro." Moriah ignored the slight scent of onions off his breath and the way his shoulders seemed to tense. Mentioning the bounty hunter academy tended to do that to people. "It was a pleasure speaking with you, sailor, but I see we've passed Sracon Island." The sailor whipped around and cursed when he saw the lighthouse.

"Attention passengers," the captain's voice came over the new brass loudspeaker installed outside the bridge up near the belching steam stacks. "We will soon be docking at the Quayside district of Callarion. Please ensure you have all your belongings before disembarking. All hands to stations for docking procedures."

"Pleasure to be talkin' to ye, miss." The sailor tipped his hat and slammed it back on his head. He ran to the stern, dodging around a metal staircase and a pair of sailors running the opposite direction. Moriah threw her rucksack over her shoulder and walked to the bow. She inhaled the spicy sharpness of the sea, letting the smells of her home waters wash over her. It felt good to be coming back.

Docking took a few minutes of the sailors running around the main deck and down into the belly of the ship, steam billowing from the stacks, the water wheel at the stern spinning ever slower as they eased into a slip along the brickwork docks. Moriah held onto the railing while she waited for the ship to stop, and saw other passengers doing the same. The gangplank dropped to the pier with a hollow thud and the first people next to it practically ran down.

Moriah rolled her eyes. Probably tourists on their first trip out from home. Donani only knew why they want to come to Callarion of all places. Moriah slowly walked the ship off while some of the sailors drove a crane over to offload the luggage, and waited for the platform with her trunk on it to be lowered. Someone else grabbed the gray-and-blue trunk before she could get her hand on it. Moriah turned, opening her mouth to say something, and then saw Malory dressed in a full suit, gray cravat tied around his neck and a top hat perched on his balding head.

"Malory Drovgor," she said, "How many times have I told you I don't need help?"

"Yes, my Lady," Malory tipped his hat, "but His Grace your father commands it. And I must obey."

"Of course he does." Moriah scanned the docks and saw the horseless carriage idling at the edge of the pier. "Is that the new horseless Father wrote me about?"

"It is." Malory gestured for her to walk ahead. "He sent me with it to bring you home."

"Interesting." Her boots clipped along the brickwork as she walked to the copper and brass machine, steam puffing from the rear, and slipped onto the brown leather seat beside the steering wheel. Malory hefted her trunk into the rear of the carriage, secured it, and then took the driver's seat. He pulled a set of levers and the carriage jerked into motion. Moriah glanced back and saw her sailor friend staring as they drove away. She smiled and waved, but he looked too dumbfounded to react.

The Quayside docks bustled with people and trucks, even in midafternoon with the sun high above the city and the breeze off the sea thickening the air. People moved aside for the horseless carriage; dockworkers in overalls, men and women in second- and third-hand clothes waiting for their relatives to arrive, and even some nobles in full suits heading to check on their cargoes.
Let me know what you think/if you want to read more (it's slightly raw, but I'm still open to early feedback).

Thank you all for your opinions on the query letter, by the way. I hope this selection lives up to your expectations.


Joshua McCune said...

Excellent job of creating setting. I also liked the crossbreed/faerie character aspect. I would like a bit more of the sense of anticipation/anxiety of returning home after the long hiatus b/c I think that would add more tension to the scene.

Overall, smoothly written and paints a very clear picture of what's happening (though I'd like a bit more hinting at what's about to happen, if that makes sense.)

Susan R. Mills said...

I have a clear picture in my head. I agree with Bane; nice job with the setting.

Natalie said...

I like it too. The only little criticism I have was that there were a lot of new terms (natemi, dhalim)/ names/ place names thrown out in a very short amount of pages--maybe a bit too much information upfront.

But it does sound like a fun story. I'm interested to find out why Moriah went away and why the people have problems with half-nymphs and half-satyrs. The imagery is excellent. I can picture it too.

Renee Pinner said...

I like it. I agree with Bane about adding something of a hint of what is to come. I can almost see it in there now with the reference to the Senro. I would want to read more.

L. T. Host said...

I'm sending an email :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Excellent imagery! I could really see the characters (love the goat horns- that was powerful!) and your dialogue is great. It flows really well without unnecessary tags.

I'm a nitpicker when it comes to openings simply for the fact that a single sentence can either hook or repulse a prospective reader. The sentence Which was impressive; considering what she'd heard about the general mood toward half-nymph natemi like herself in Callarion these days feels awkward due to the use of the semicolon. I could be wrong, but a semicolon should only join two complete sentences. Which was impressive isn't a complete sentence.

I only point that out because if I were to pick up a book from a new author and find a grammar issue in the first paragraph I'd probably put it down. And you wouldn't want an agent to do that! :)

Otherwise, it looks great. I can't wait to read more!

Adam Heine said...

Pretty good for "slightly raw". I like it. It intros the world without infodumping. I especially like the tidbits on the half-satyr; I would hope he or someone like him shows up again.

The bounty hunter academy piqued my interest (as you no doubt intended). I would hope that comes up again very soon.

Diane said...

I liked it. Got me right into the setting quickly. Great job! :O)

Anita Saxena said...

I really like it! I love your descriptions and how easily your writing flows. You piked my interest with the half nymph returning home from the bounty hunter academy after nine years, and the way the sailor ran from her. I definitely want to read more. I always hesitate critiquing work, especially for someone I don't know. But I first want reiterate how much I like what you are writing.

The only sentence that confused me was:
The sailor smelled of sea salt and sweat under his turtleneck sweater and woolen pea coat stretched across a frame broadened by labor.

When you smell someone do you really think about the smell coming from UNDER the turtleneck. If it's that strong it probably saturated the turtle neck. It just confused me. I just think it would be clearer as:
The sailor smelled of sea salt and sweat. He wore a turtleneck sweater and woolen pea coat stretched across a frame broadened by labor.