Friday, September 28, 2012

Hero's Sword: Power Play Excerpt

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So if you've followed me on Twitter and Facebook, you know that production has begun on what will, most likely, be my first published work. Power Play:Hero's Sword Volum 1 is the first book in a series for middle-grade kids, age 8-10. A good comparison would be the wildly successful "Magic Treehouse" books. The books are approximately 20,000 words and divided into chapters.

The Hero's Sword series arc follows eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller. All Jayce wants to do is keep her head down, avoid the cheerleading squad, and survive school. But when she finds herself inside her favorite video game, "Hero's Sword," she must become her avatar, Lyla Stormbringer. "Survival" takes on a whole new meaning as she works to rescue the estate of Mallory from marauding highwaymen.

To celebrate, I offer an excerpt from POWER PLAY for your enjoyment. This is an early scene in the book, after Jaycee is transported into her game and she meets her mentor.

Read a second excerpt here.


I expected to come in contact with my floor, but instead something that felt very much like grass smashed against my cheek, and the smell of dirt and fresh air filled my nose. Really fresh air. I hadn’t smelled air this fresh since that camping trip my parents had forced me to go on in fifth grade.

As soon as my vision cleared, I stood up. My nose and skin hadn’t lied to me. Instead of standing in my bedroom, I was in the middle of a grassy clearing, surrounded by massive trees. The sky above me was a brilliant blue, clearer than I’d ever seen. There were no clouds. I brushed my hands off on my pants and froze.

I was not wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt. Instead, I wore a long-sleeve linen shirt and a close-fitting leather vest. My legs were in tight pants, not uncomfortably tight, but much tighter than I preferred. Instead of sneakers, I wore soft leather boots that came to my knee. There were leather cuffs around my wrists, embossed with some sort of logo, but it was upside down and I didn’t recognize it. The only thing that seemed to be the same was my hair, which was still in a ponytail. But when I pulled it forward, it was a different color, a much deeper brown than it was normally. A few strands stuck to my forehead.

I was about to look at the logos more closely, when a voice shouted behind me. “Stand fast! Who are you, trespassing here? Turn around and name yourself!”

I did what any normal thirteen year old would do. I held out my hands, and turned around. Okay, maybe most thirteen-year olds would have run. But as soon as I saw the owner of the voice, I was glad I hadn’t.

He was tall and muscular - and holding a sword like he knew how to use it. He also looked very familiar, from his dark hair to his boots. His skin was tanned, like he spent a lot of time outdoors. “Um, hi,” I said.

The stranger lowered his sword, but didn’t put it away. “Greetings,” he said. “Might I ask of your name?”

I looked around. “Before I tell you that, would you do me a favor?” The stranger furrowed his brow, but nodded. “Where exactly am I? Like, the name of the town?”

The man’s brow crinkled further. “You are in the estate of Mallory, lands of Lady Starla Caval,” he said. My stomach felt hollow. Mallory is the name of my estate in Hero's Sword. This was getting really weird.

“Uh, and who are you, exactly? I thought the lord of Mallory was Harald Caval.” I was afraid of the answer.

It wasn’t possible for his forehead to crease any further. “I am Roger Woodbridge, chief steward of Mallory,” he said. “Lord Harald is dead, Lady Starla is his daughter. “ The hollow feeling in my stomach increased. This was definitely weird.

I needed more information, right now. “So, Roger, what brings you to this clearing?” I said, trying to sound casual. Stu always tells me I’m horrible at that, but I tried anyway.

“I am on the lookout for a great hero of this land, the woman known as Lyla Stormbringer,” Roger said. “There is unrest in Mallory. Lady Starla’s reign is new and some of her people think she is unfit for her role. Bandits plague the highway and her ladyship cannot stop them. It is Lady Starla’s hope that Lyla Stormbringer can help bring peace to the estate and strengthen her rule.”

Okay, way, way too weird. This could not possibly be happening. The quest I had accepted was to hunt bandits on the main highway though Mallory. Had the Controllix brought me into the game? But that was impossible. I wouldn’t have believed it except for the fact that my pretend Mallory looked a lot like this place, there were characters named Roger Woodbridge and Lady Starla, and my avatar was definitely Lyla Stormbringer - and she dressed a lot like how I was dressed now. But somehow now seemed like a bad time to tell all this to Roger. Had I fallen asleep? I pinched myself, hard. It hurt. I looked around. Still in the clearing. Roger now looking at me in obvious concern. “Are you all right?” he said. “You seem dazed.”

I gazed at the trees again and the sky. I might as well go with it. I spread my hands. “I’m fine,” I said, even though I wasn’t feeling all that fine. “You said you were looking for Lyla Stormbringer. You found her. I’m Lyla.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bits and Bobs

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So, I'm looking at the date of my last post, and it was 30 August. That's a few weeks ago. My only excuse is that I've started a new day job and that leaves me with less time for writing and it's associated tasks. Mea culpa. I'll try to be better, but no promises.

Blog Stats

I had a spike in viewers today. I have no idea why. But I am grateful. Especially since I'm still trying to figure out this stuff.

It seems like my most popular posts have been the ones I've done on Scrivener. I'm not really surprised on that. In fact, it seems like one of my posts (Scrivener Two Months Later) was linked to another blog on Scrivener. So way cool, so...

Scrivener Tip

In one of my very first posts on Scrivener, I talked about character and location sheets, and how cool they are. And I still think that. But what if you're writing a series of works (novels, short stories, whatever) using the same characters and settings. Do you have to write the sheet each time? Nope. Simply open both projects and drag the character/setting sheet from Project A to Project B. You might have to fuss with the window sizes to be able to do this and you might have to relocate the sheet once it's been dropped if you can't get it right to the correct location. But voila! you can reused sheets over and over (and if something changes in Project B, you can propagate that change by coping from Project B to future projects).

Cool News

I inch ever closer to publication. I think my first public work is going to be the first in my middle-grade fantasy e-book series. I got a cover candidate earlier this week that really knocked my socks off. So beautiful and I think it's really going to resonate with the target market. I cannot wait until I can share it with you - and when I can announce publication!

In the meantime, I have the first in my Laurel Highlands Mysteries series of novelettes out for submission. Unfortunately, I won't hear until October at the earliest - and I may even have to wait until December. It's my first real experience with how slowly the wheels of traditional publishing can turn. I knew it philosophically, but encountering it in real life is, um, different. My first submission responded much more quickly. It kind of cramps my plans for the second story, and perhaps the series in general, but so it goes.

However, more exciting news: my local Sisters in Crime chapter is publishing a short story anthology - and I'm going to be in it! As The Girl would say, "squee!" Publication is a ways off, but the acceptance means I can focus on helping/encouraging others and even more writing. And, frankly, this acceptance meant a lot to me - perhaps even more than acceptance in a magazine would because these are my peers and friends. To not have been included would have sucked.

Speaking of More Writing

I'm mulling over another short story idea, which was going to be a backup if my first anthology story wasn't accepted. This is a story with completely new characters and would be a standalone.

I've finished the second book in the MG fantasy series. I'm editing/revising a romance novella I submitted to a contest back in June (wow, the POV shifts are slapping me in the face in that one - sheesh). I have a second romance novella awaiting revising.

If only I had...

Time to Write

As I mentioned, I've got a day job. It's a good one, tech writing (which is something I'm very comfortable with) in a pretty flexible company. But it does cut into my fiction time significantly. No longer can I just pound out 2,000 words in a day. So I'm coming up with creative options. A lot of writing is getting done on the weekends.

Which begs the question: If you have a day job/kids/school/etc., how to do manage those demands with your writing time?

Clock image used under Creative Commons via Dalo_Pix2