A writer’s life is filled with multi-tasking. Many projects are open simultaneously. These are always in various stages of editing, writing, or perhaps it’s out for a beta read. I’ve shared certain pieces here, and I’ll admit that none of them have been my absolute best due to submissions requirements. (Most submission pieces cannot be previously published. This blog counts as publication, so my best pieces sit in the dark, waiting for an acceptance letter to bring them to light.) I hope to share more in the future, pieces written specifically for this site–I want to show growth and talent to those of you that I’m fortunate enough to have reached.
But for now, I want to offer a little taste of the novel I’m working on. This is a short excerpt of of the first chapter. This will probably morph and change as I move through the editing process. I invite you to join me on the journey. I’ll post excerpts every now and then, and I hope it’s enough to make you want to read my book when it’s done. The novel itself is about 90% complete, so it will be a while. But as I’ve read through it recently, I find that I’m excited about it again. I can’t wait to finish and edit–I can’t wait to say “I’ve written a novel!” I’m almost there…
I hope you enjoy.
F2 Peaceful: Rise of the Luminous
In a world where a name defines your destiny, a young girl struggles to accept her fate. When a terrible tragedy occurs, she is left with no choice but to join forces with a stranger and leave the only home she has ever known. Will the path of the Luminous prevail, or will she have the power to resist her fate?
CHAPTER 1 (CONDITIONING)
“Students rarely realize this, but Conditioning is designed not only to condition the body against the rigors of martial tactics, but to condition the mind and the soul against themselves.” ~First Luminary Chetan (full of spirit), Incandia, year 518 of the Pala Cycle
“By all that’s luminous, Ida, hit me harder!” Artana faced her sister in the sparring ring. Her dark eyes flashed with irritation. Brushing her black hair from her face, she continued, “You’ll never pass your Conditioning courses if you can’t learn to be forceful. It’s your last year, you have to get this. Now. Let’s try again.”
Though Ida was two years older than Artana, she weighed fifty pounds less and had no desire to inflict pain. Not that Artana did either, to be fair, but she understood the necessity to challenge herself physically. To not back down from a fight, and to defeat her opponents. Her sister was too soft. The Conditioning course made up thirty percent of a student’s final grade, and Sparring was ten percent of that. Failure was not an option for anyone who wished for a successful position in the village after graduation.
At eighteen, Ida was in her last year at the Hall. Artana itched to trade places with her. For nine long years, she trained to fulfill her destiny. And she still had two more years to go. There was no way the First Luminary would allow her to travel to a distant land until she had been taught the ways of the world, whatever that meant. Her world had been limited to Incandia her entire life. The long-ago day of her naming ceremony pulsed in the back of her mind, an ever-present companion and reminder of things to come.
“My beloved sons and daughters, I’ve chosen a name for F2 Peaceful. I now present you with Wilella Artana Peaceful! Willful. Vanquisher. Peaceful. May she fulfill her destiny! She will vanquish the Darkness that plagues this distant land, and we shall be one people once more!”
Artana shook away the memory of the First Luminary’s proclamation and turned her attention back to her sister.
“See if you can knock me down. I’ll just be a pillar of stone, I won’t push back, okay?” Artana bent her legs and pulled her hands up in defense, encouraging Ida to whack the hell out of her.
“Okay. You’re right, Effie-tee. I can do this. Prepare for annihilation!” Ida scrunched up her small face in concentration, but it didn’t wipe away the grin. Humor was the only way Ida could blunt the edges of her extreme discomfort with aggression. And using Artana’s childhood nickname was an intentional barb: a reminder she was still Ida’s younger sister, even if she was the school’s top performer in Conditioning and the infamous future saviour of their land.
“Do your best, Kareena Ida Peaceful.” Artana smirked. Ida hated her first name. It wasn’t terrible, but the girl had the impression it immediately encouraged people to take advantage of her. Being “compassionate” and “diligent” wasn’t especially thrilling in a community where strength and martial excellence were prized attributes.
For the next two hours, Artana offered herself up as a punching bag. By the end of the session, she was battered and bruised, but proud of her big sister who managed to knock her down twice–once, in a surprisingly agile jump-sweep move that Artana hadn’t seen before. She mentally gave her sister credit for innovation.
The girls dusted themselves off and left the ring. Both were surprised to see they had drawn a crowd. Students milled around the edges of the sandy ring, likely waiting for them to stop monopolizing the place. Finals were only a week away and the Peaceful sisters weren’t the only ones that needed to practice.
“Nice work out there, Ida. Good luck on your conditioning test.” One of the bystanders, a slim brown-haired boy from Artana’s class, gave Ida a shy smile. Xue Acarya (studious, teacher) had always been a little in love with the older girl.
“Thanks, Xue. You too.” Ida smiled back, always polite.
“Don’t hit on my sister, dimwit.” Artana punched the boy in the shoulder as she walked by. “She’s outta your league, anyway,” she said with wink. She liked Xue, but Artana couldn’t imagine a union more dull, with their combined submissiveness. Ida, for all her sensitivities to others’ emotions, remained oblivious to his evident adoration.
As the sisters walked toward their dormitory, Artana outlined everything that Ida had done wrong and what to do about it. Martial tactics gave way to discussion about dinner when Artana’s stomach reminded her she’d had nothing but coffee that morning. At the entrance to the imposing stone building that held the students’ lodging, the girls hugged each other briefly and went their separate ways.
Artana pushed open the heavy wooden door of her room, making her daily mental note to get the lock fixed for light’s sake, and made her way to her bed, dropping clothes along the way. The habit infuriated her roommate, Tahira. It was just Artana’s luck she’d be assigned to a room with someone destined for cleanliness. She couldn’t help the fact the sparring ring was filled with sand, and that grit accompanied her everywhere.
Naked, she moved to the bathing stall in the corner of their room. This was a luxury she hadn’t anticipated before entering the Hall. Growing up, she used a community tub in the small building behind her home. It was brutal in the winter, making the fifty yard sprint to the inside while soaking wet. Having her own stall that she only had to share with one person, and in her room no less, was something she’d never tire of.
The two suns’ amber light, strong and vibrant, soaked into her room from large windows set into the wall. One hung directly over the bathing stall, turning the water running down her body into honeyed rivers. A pipe jutted from the corner of the small space, just over her head. It was capped with a disc filled with small holes which sprayed the water, sun-warmed by great cisterns set along ledges surrounding each floor.
The intrusive thunk of the door caused Artana to sigh, unwilling to end the best part of her day. Tahira would be quietly disapproving if she lingered. Shutting off the water, Artana squeezed out her long hair and wrapped a linen around her before stepping from the stall to greet her roommate.