Sunday, 30 September 2012


I love oak trees, they are so gnarly.
A combination of the two middle trees
is definitely where I pictured Gaell and Rylo.
I have one - or technically fourteen days - until my fantasy novel has to be ready to submit in response to Harper Voyager's call for submissions. My fingers aren't typing quickly enough, they need to squeeze my brain into gear and I'm sure the problem would be solved ;)

I've been going through, on chapter at a time, applying Donald Maass' writing tips.

The alterations I made to the opening were inspired by tip 55

55 What do you like best about your MC?  How soon can we see that on the page?  How often?  Add more than you think needed.




As they always did in the days between harvest and fall, high winds blew across the valley.
Another gust of wind flustered her loose sleeves as Gaell crawled further out along a thick branch. Her fingers couldn't reach all the way around the wooden limb, so she dug her nails as far into the bark as they’d go and she inched along a little more. Looking down, she sucked air slowly into her lungs. The branch, comfortingly still, reminded her of the planks that ran through the rafters in the wool shed. If she were at home, indoors, she would have run along a board this wide.
The squeak made her pivot and steady herself, placing a hand against a smaller branch. Her friend who had been a sickly shade of green since he realised the height of the oak tree she wanted to climb, was now the whiter-shade of pale.
“Are you all right?” She crept back a step. “Do you want me to…”
Hugging the tree, with one cheek pressed to bark, he waved his free hand.
“No. A deal is a deal,” he said. Slowly, he lowered himself until he could squeeze back against the solid part of the tree. “You go. Dance along the branch like a squirrel. Don’t worry about me.”
She crouched, perched on the branch. Hesitant. Always small and thin, her friend had never looked so young – so sheltered. “Rylo. You said you’d climbed trees before.”
Rylo picked at the surface of the rope that lay along the branch between them. He stopped with a sudden reddening of his skin and rubbed the wiry threads flat. “I may have exaggerated.”
She narrowed her eyes and moved a pace back to where he clung like a tick on hair.
“Go. Go,” Rylo said. I’m fine.”
Gaell had never seen a less fine specimen. But, Rylo picked up the rope she'd lashed around the tree before winding it around her dress like contrasting piping. While she watched, he tucked the rope across his stomach. Then, he waved weakly at her.

The submissions Harper Voyager are looking for are all forms of adult and YA speculative fiction: Epic Fantasy ;) Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and Supernatural. It is also worth knowing, you can make as many submissions as you'd like.



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Summer
      Thank you. Rylo likes to think of himself as helpful... in his own way ;)

  2. Great piece and I just love those photos of oak trees. You are right they are so gnarly! Good luck with the submission to Harper Voyager.

    1. Hi Suzanne
      Thank you :D
      I love oak trees they grow with the flow and that growth takes the tree to unpredictable variations of direction ;)

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