Monday, March 17, 2014

1st 5 Pages March Workshop - Moss Rev 2

Name: Michele McCole Moss
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: The Mythics

Chapter One

Alfy wouldn’t have shot the centaur if she’d known he was helping Bee. But, when she saw him crossing the field with her little sister, his chestnut haunches gleaming in the late afternoon sun, Bee’s head lolled and her body was limp in his arms. She didn’t even give him a warning. Alfy hid inside the shadows of the cabin and silently released an arrow through the window.

She wished she was like the girls who made her want to learn archery in the first place. They didn’t cower while taking down their enemies. But, none of those girls were real. In all the books she’d read, none of those girls fought a centaur. Before the Mythics came last year, Alfy was just another high school freshman who’d never touched a bow or seen a real arrow.

The flint head and a decent portion of the shaft lodged in the soft place below his shoulder, missing his heart completely. She was still a terrible shot, but she always got within inches of her target. That was something. He bent his head low over her sweet sister, unconscious in his arms. God, she hoped she was just unconscious. She had to get Bee away from him. Alfy loosed another arrow. It buried itself deep in his abdomen. Panic ripped through Alfy as she watched him fall. He lifted her sister and curled around her, searching, glassy-eyed, before he collapsed.

They were lying in the grass, clouds of insects disrupted from their business among the stiff golden shoots. Alfy ran to Bee. Her sister, so big for seven, looked tiny tangled up in the arms of the beautiful monster. His carved bow lay in pieces behind him, but Bee was still in one piece. It didn’t make sense. He was a Mythic.

His breath gurgled out of him. Light brown curls haloed his honeyed face. His ridiculously long eyelashes fluttered. Alfy froze.

“Take her,” he said. “She fell.” A spray of blood dotted her sister’s snowy hair as he spoke. His voice was a plucked bass string, low and musical.

Bee yawned like a lazy cat and curled into the centaur’s chest, smearing him with his own blood. Alfy let out a long breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

Carefully, Alfy pulled her sister from his arms, staring at the centaur. Monsters were ugly, vile things. He had no business being that pretty. The end of the world should be dark and disturbing, so why had they made everything so wretchedly beautiful? It was like burying someone you love on a perfect, sunny day. It was wrong.

Chapter Two

MacKenzie Malone needed the beach today of all days. First, it was the one-year anniversary of her father’s death. It also happened to be her sixteenth birthday. Her eyes scanned the long stretch of sand in front of her. Ever since the Mythics had come, reclaiming the land, there was no trash. No presents today.

Without the search for bottle caps and chunks of wave-tumbled glass, cans and lost trinkets, her mind was unoccupied. Her mother always joked that there was never a more dangerous time to be around Mac than when her mind ran idle.

“What should I do dad?” She whispered the question, casting it into the ether.

She knew what her father would say. In his thick brogue he’d tell her to get off her “arse” and practice her art, as he used to call it. Her “art” according to her father wasn’t the projects she made with beach debris, it was all the things she’d learned at the dojo.

Mac jumped to her feet and shook her head to clear it. The auburn strands in her hair glinted like sparks in the rich sunlight. Those strands might possibly be the only physical trait she inherited from her mother, a freckled beauty of a woman. Everything on Mac’s lean, sinewy frame, from her pale white skin to her sea glass green eyes were compliments of Aedan Malone.

She worked through her katas gracefully, but without focus. She moved through Empi-Godan-Henka, striking an imaginary foe with her elbows and let out a loud kiai at the finish.

A seagull startled. She hadn’t meant to yell. She froze, her eyes darting down to the waves licking up the sand. She mashed her knuckles into her temples. The iron didn’t protect the beach. Everyone stayed on the other side of the highway, or what used to be the highway. The humans that were left never came to the beach because they were convinced some monster was going to crawl out of the ocean and eat them. The thought wasn’t without merit, but she hadn’t caught anything’s attention. For now, the beach was still hers.

She relaxed her muscles and unclenched her jaw. She started again, this time with a chopping kata, envisioning first a satyr, then a dryad, then a mermaid’s head dropping to the ground from her final chop. None of it was satisfying. Not today.

She wanted some comfort, something good. A celebration? No one celebrated much of anything anymore, but she knew if Aedan Malone was still around he’d unearth alcohol from some hidden place and raise a glass to his baby girl. She swiped at her eyes. She wanted, no she needed, her mom. As usual her mother was busy.

Mac’s muscles went rigid. She stood, unmoving, listening hard. Her eyes fell on the sunlight glinting off the water. Nothing. There were eyes on her. Goosebumps prickled down her spine. She suddenly wanted the safety of her iron-protected home. It repelled the Mythics like bug spray. Why hadn’t she brought a piece of iron with her? Stupid.

She whipped around, ready to run for home, but a man stood staring at her. She took note of the long sword at his side, its tip buried in the sand, his hand resting on the hilt. Neither of them noticed the large reptilian eyes, raised just above the water line, studying them.

Chapter Three

Alfy paced the floor between Bee and the window, looking anxiously at the centaur still lying in the grass outside. She should probably kill him. She knew where she hit him was painful and an awful way to die for a human. But he’d helped Bee, a little voice inside her argued. She should help him. He’s one of them another voice said. Before the two opposing views could get in an argument, Bee stirred.

“Where’s Phrix?” Bee said. She sat up in bed, and looked at her sister who turned slowly away from the window.

“You know its name?” Alfy said. It came out meaner than she’d meant. Sure, she was mean to everyone else, but never her sister.

Bee pushed herself up out of bed. She was weak, but when Alfy had inspected Bee’s body for broken bones and deep gashes, she’d found none.

“What did you do to him?”

Bee crossed the floor faster than she should have and swooned. Alfy grabbed her just in time. Looking past Alfy’s arm and through the window, Bee caught sight of the bleeding centaur and gasped. She pushed away from Alfy with all the strength.

“Why? He helped me. How could you kill him?”

Even though she’d contemplated killing him for the last forty minutes, she was hurt that Bee could think she was capable of such a thing.
“I, I didn’t—,” she said.

Bee was already out the door.


  1. Hi,
    So, I'm still very intrigued by this premise. I love the bits more of info I have about iron protecting, and what creatures she thinks of while she's practicing her katas. But your Alfy chapters still read much tighter. I was thinking about why, and I think it because something is happening in those chapters. You are able to give us info about Alfy while she's doing something with tension. Mac is just musing, bored almost. In a way, it makes Mac seem like more of a main character (maybe that's what you want?) because we are spending more time in her head. But the Alfy chapters are more interesting to read. I think this Mac chapter is the best yet, but I still think it can get better. Maybe open with her already doing her katas, give us a few internal thoughts, and take us right to the mysterious man and the reptilian eyes staring at them. Because that's when you hooked me with Mac and things got interesting. Nice changes, look forward to reading more!

  2. Michele,

    I have to agree with Merriam, I'm more interested in Alfy's plight than Mac's. You certainly condensed Mac's chapter and got to the mysterious swordsman faster. I was a little confused when she looks to the water, sees nothing, but then there are eyes on her. It took me a moment to realize she FELT eyes on her and not from the direction of the water. She could run through a variety of threats in her head as she sees their shapes in the water, maybe even the reptilian eyes, dismisses them all as an overactive/emotional imagination before she senses someone watching her from behind. I really want a lot more of spacial relationships in this part so I can discern the level of tension. Good work on the revision. Keep it up!

  3. Michele, this has improved SO MUCH! I actually feel for the centaur. I relate to Alfy and Mac.

    I have just minor points to make. When Mac says "What should I do dad?" Dad should be capitalized. Totally minor, I know.

    Excellent martial arts details. Gives us a glimpse of her "power," so to speak.

    The beach revision is really nice. My only problem is the part with the reptilian eyes. Nothing wrong with the fact that they're there. My only issue is the fact that that part is in Mac's pov. If she nor the man are aware of the reptile eyes, the reader shouldn't either. Maybe you could have the reptile make a splash. This draws her attention to the water. Same with the man. Then she sees the eyes. Know what I mean? The way it's written now is more omniscient.

    The only other issue I had was Alfy describing herself as mean. That does't ring true. She loves her sister. She's worried about a monster, not wanting to kill him. That isn't mean. Maybe you could qualify that. Like, other people thought she was mean but she was just a realist. Or she was protective. Hopefully that makes sense.

    Otherwise, great job. This has improved so much!

  4. Thanks so much for helping me ladies!

  5. Hi Michele!

    I agree with Julie--such a huge a difference between now and week one! Just the little extra information about who Alfy used to be is incredibly useful for being grounded in the world. I do feel like the Alfy chapters are still more active. The beach bum in me is still so in love with the idea that Mac just can't give up going to the beach, and I do think this scene has a place, but maybe not in the first five pages. I still wish you'd go for longer chapters, but that could just be personal preference.

    You've done so much to improve already--good luck on the road ahead!

  6. I'm so sorry, MIchele -- Apparently the comments I posted didn't load. Unfortunately, I already tossed my notes! Anyway, I really like the revision -- I think the beach scene is much stronger now. I like that Mac shows her awareness of the risk she's taking being there. I had a problem with the 'reptilian eyes' line. Though I liked the added tension, the shift out of Mac's POV was distracting.

    I think you did a great job grounding the scenes with Bee and Alfy. Their ages -- and the time span since the Mythics arrived -- are crystal clear. I still wondered why Bee yawns -- since she fell and was injured -- but, perhaps I'm not supposed to know the answer to that one yet.

    I had a problem with the description of Bee being a terrible shot -- yet her shots always land within inches of her target; I found those two ideas didn't jibe. But I think with a little massaging you can make that work.

    Best wishes -- and again, sorry my earlier posting disappeared.

  7. Wow. You have done some REALLY good work here. It's much more grounded and tied together. I'm impressed! :)

    I don't have a lot to add, except that to suggest that you keep your chapters roughly the same length unless you have a reason to do otherwise. Also, as much as I LOVE your new first line, you might think about starting with Mac's chapter, since Mac has the more gradual buildup. That way when you switch to Alfy, we're already invested in Mac's scene and all the action with the center won't be as focus-pulling, if that makes sense. Just something to think about and play with. :)

    Wonderful job, and good luck with this!