WIPpet Wednesday: Ick

I know, I know. I said I ran out of non-spoilery stuff.

That’s not a complete lie. Today’s snippet gives something away, but it’s not anything I’m particularly concerned with keeping a secret. If you’ve been following my WIPpet posts for a few months, you already know. But fair warning, okay? Stop here if you don’t want to know anything.

Because this week’s snippet isn’t from Aren or Rowan.

Ooooooooooooh.

In honour of Halloween (yes, that’s my tenuous connection to the date), we have a Potioner poking through someone else’s supply store-room, trying to solve a problem to pass a test that’s REALLY important to her. It’s for Halloween because… well, you’ll see. Long one today. Sorry. I’ve been good and posted short snippets lately. 🙂

Insert first draft disclaimer here. This part of the scene might be cut, or at least cut down. If not, it’ll need work. I had fun writing it, though, and it says a lot about this character.

The room has already been described. Picture a storeroom with shelves covering every wall, and shelves forming aisles through the middle, all covered in jars, bottles, baskets, boxes, and STUFF. For this character, it’s like being a kid in a candy store, but far less fattening. Also a bit more stressful at this point…

I continued through the room, reaching places we hadn’t seen the day before. She had everything organized by type of ingredient—flowering plants in one area, whole and in parts. Reeds in another. Catalysts. Null items that would nonetheless help in certain instances. Sands, waters, metals, slabs of stone, chunks of wood. Within each section, items were shelved by the region they’d come from, and seemed to be set out roughly in order of how powerful the magic within them was before interference from us. Simple enough, if one knew what she was looking for. Less helpful for me, who hadn’t the first clue.

At the rear of the room I came upon the animal ingredients. I’d never liked using them, but sometimes it couldn’t be avoided if one wanted a specific and reliable result. Eye of newt always impressed folk when they heard we’d included it. I preferred salamander myself, though I found the fiery little buggers difficult to come by. Bundles of feathers covered one shelf, labeled with hanging tags: red parrot was new to me. Eagle. Robin. Harpy. Aeyer.

I shuddered at that last. I refused to ask people to consume anything remotely human, and the Aeyer were far too close. Besides, where would one get the ingredients save for from a dead body? And to desecrate those… no. Even the harpy deserved better.

I pulled the curtain back on another section and leaned closer to read the labels, gasped, and let the curtain fall. Several deep breaths later, I pulled it back again. One jar of eyeballs had been labelled “human,” the other “human- MU.” The dried and stacked strips of skin had to be the same. Vials of dark liquid didn’t invite closer scrutiny, and I didn’t dare look closer at the shapes floating in the bottles at the back. I moved on, hoping my answer didn’t lie there.

On a higher shelf I found several small jars of gold-tinted liquid labeled “mer tears.” I didn’t try to imagine how they’d acquired those. In my admittedly limited experience with merfolk, I hadn’t found them overly keen on giving them up.

At least there were no eyeballs on that shelf.

Focus. I passed by those shelves and searched higher. Dragon scales in a rainbow of hues, radiating protective power. Unicorn tail-hairs and horn shavings. Horrid. A unicorn never shed its horn. The only way to obtain that would be to kill the beast. I turned away, but the jar’s contents called to me. I couldn’t help looking back, reaching out, and opening the dark glass lid. This would help. A unicorn’s deep magic would [redacted for spoilers–it would solve several of her problems]. It was the absolute simplest solution, and I hadn’t thought of it before because I’d never had access to the ingredients.

It’s here anyway. If the unicorn is dead, it’s dead. Just use it. Make the potion.

I reached my fingers into the jar. Even before I touched the thick slices of nacre-like horn, they glowed softly. The scent of an autumn wood reached my nostrils, thick and rich with moss and mushroom and rotting leaves. Pleasant, to be sure, and I felt my mind relax into it. There was a wildness to the magic, carried on the scent of the wind. I closed my eyes and found myself racing along the crest of a mountain ridge in the moonlight. The world was at my feet, and all of its magic coursed through my veins…

I snapped the hinged lid of the jar closed, and the experience vanished with the scent. A tear slipped from my eye. I’d seen a unicorn’s memory, felt her magic, and known she wasn’t a part of the world anymore. Stupid, perhaps. Sentimental. And yet I set the jar back on the shelf.

There had to be another way.

Hey, look. That came out to eleven paragraphs. It’s the 29th. 9+2=11. MATH.

For more (and hopefully shorter, I SAID I WAS SORRY) WIPpet fun, click here. If you’d like to join in on your own blog, post a snippet from your work in progress that relates in some way to the day’s date. Share there, link back, and be sure to visit the others. If you’re like our host KL Schwengel, you’ll have to choose just one of your multitude of WIPs to share. If you’re like me… well, it’s easier to decide.

ROW80 Update

Is anyone even reading this far?

*crickets*

I know, it makes for a long post. And hey, let’s make it longer! I’m procrastinating, you see. I have this battle scene to write, and I kind of haven’t done that on this scale before, and… well, you know. Why do now what you can put off until after the blog post?

Ugh. Fine.

Word counts have been pretty good, except for yesterday, because battle scene:

Wednesday: 3,199
Thursday: 5,293
Friday: ~3000
Saturday: ~3000
Sunday: 0 (family day, migraine, good times)
Monday: 4,014
Tuesday: 1129

This puts the manuscript over 108,000 words, and we’re not even climaxing yet.

Pretend I said that in a way that’s less creepy.

Beta reading is all finished up, and I don’t think anyone hates me. WOO! Listened to one writing podcast. Mostly, I’ve been wording with the words. And the wording has been swell. So… here’s hoping that next week’s update features a big, relieved announcement and me saying I’m back to pre-editor edits on Torn.

Glack.

If you’re curious about what the heck ROW80 is, check it out here.

And… that’s it. No big conclusion. Sorry. I gotta go do some research.

20141029-153026.jpg

Um… not at all like this.

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

22 responses to “WIPpet Wednesday: Ick

  • mbarkersimpson

    The thought of all the contents in that room is truly horrific, and the way your described it, well…thanks for that! A truly fitting snippet for Halloween – it made my skin crawl. Plus, the unicorn – I don’t think my tears are magic, but it got me going 🙂 Loved the snippet.

    Your progress on ROW80 is great, and what fun you must be having with the fight scene. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy 😉

  • Adrian

    haha it didn’t seem like a long excerpt. I love magic and witches. I’m going to like this character. =P

    AND WRITE THAT DAMN BATTLE SCENE!

    • Kate Sparkes

      I think you would like her, actually. She’s cool.

      I wrote the battle scene. It’s going to need revisions, but whatever. I shovelled sand into the box, that’s all I needed to do for now.

  • L. Marie

    I had to laugh at one of your tags” eyeball fantasy.”
    Kate, as usual your excerpts have wonderful, vivid descriptions. I love that fact that you’re taken on a trip just by opening a jar. 🙂 Love your world building!

  • Annette

    Wow, wonderfully described. And Ha! So there ARE unicorns!
    That was bitter-sweet moment when she relived one of its memories and would make me not use it as well.

    I’m curious as to who this is and look forward to finding out :).

    Keep up the awesome work! ^.^ weeee!!

  • Elaine Jeremiah

    Great excerpt Kate, creepy but really good. I’m intrigued by the narrator – who is she and how does she fit into the story? 🙂

  • Ruth Nestvold

    I love the ending of that scene, with the memory from the unicorn’s pov, and her decision as a result. Great!

    One thing that’s helped me a lot with battle scenes (and I’ve written quite a few by now in the Pendragon Chronicles books) is to get or make a topographical map. If I have physical details of the landscape to latch onto, I can better imagine troop movements and ways the battle might unfold. Just a thought!

    • Kate Sparkes

      That is good advice! I’m also focusing on a small portion of the larger battle, as that’s where this character’s attention would be drawn (even though he can see all of it). Easier than trying to describe everything, and it has more emotional impact.

      • Ruth Nestvold

        Yes, on focusing on one character — at least at a time. I’ve never had a battle scene where one character was able to see everything at once. For that reason I sometimes switch pov characters at some point during the battle, to show what’s happening somewhere else.

  • ReGi McClain

    Ha! It’s like the witch’s house from Hanzel and Gretel. So full of goodies. 🙂

  • Amy

    There’s something about a well-stocked potion cupboard, isn’t there? This is definitely a good one for Halloween. Is it wrong of me to think she just should’ve used the unicorn horn anyway?

  • Denise D. Young

    Loved the excerpt. I really felt like I was there, exploring the room with your character. Hands down my favorite part:

    “Even before I touched the thick slices of nacre-like horn, they glowed softly. The scent of an autumn wood reached my nostrils, thick and rich with moss and mushroom and rotting leaves. Pleasant, to be sure, and I felt my mind relax into it. There was a wildness to the magic, carried on the scent of the wind.”

    Beautiful!

    Great daily word counts. Congrats!

  • Jae

    Well done on your Row80 goals and I loved your little snippet. Sounds intriguing. I really did imagine all of these ingredients lined up, you did a great job with imagery in that piece. 😀

  • shanjeniah

    That was a perfect length, and pulled me deep inside of it. I think I love your Potioner. And the “we’re not even climaxing yet”…

    Not creepy. At all. Although it made me think of..

    Trip and T’Pol

    (I rhyme sometimes, before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee and when my young natives are restless!).

    I’ll read your snippets as they come, Kate. Long, short, or in-between, they always delight!

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