O Great Mistress of Snarktitude, (ok, cute but no dice)
Arhian could have run away from danger, but instead, she chose to risk her life to deliver a message. A thirty-something widow most comfortable at her loom, Arhian Weaver doesn't look like a hero. But (here's your lead) when the death of her brother-in-law leaves her in possession of vital information, she risks a perilous journey to the headquarters of the Rangers, far in the North.
The Coming Storm is a 90,000 word Fantasy novel. Though the story stands on its own, there is room for a sequel starring some of the supporting characters. (deft way to handle this info)
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Not even a mention of an antagonist or a conflict. This is a bad bad sign.
Arhian Weaver sat at her large upright loom, intent on her work. Her commission for Ysingerd, Baron of Darhurst and Tetrarch of Ve Alia, was due to be finished in three days, and the fever that had laid her low for a week had put her behind schedule. Her strength had finally returned, but there was still so much work to do. She had already burned three candles catching up. (she should try burning them at both ends if she really wants to get stuff done)
She'd spent the day warping her loom for the final bolt, a plain-weave linen she could have done it without a problem when she was ten years old. (huh?) After dinner, she had come straight up to her workroom to begin the weaving. Now, her shuttle flew back and forth, and all her concentration went to keeping her rhythm, keeping her speed.
The heavy thud against the side of her house startled her so much that the shuttle escaped her fingers and clattered to the floor.
She held her breath, listening, but she could hear nothing but the rattle of raindrops on the roof, and the rumbling of far-off thunder.
She shook her head, and bent to pick up the shuttle. "It's nothing," she told herself. Her voice sounded too loud, and strange in her own ears. "Probably just a bear." That thought didn't frighten her -- her house was strong. It had been standing for fifty years before she purchased it from her predecessor, Master Miarra, and would probably be standing a hundred years after she was dead and gone.
She stretched, pressing her hands against the small of her back, and then re-tied the widow's cap she wore. Then she ran her fingers over her work, inspecting it for snags or loops and finding none. Just the feel of the fabric beneath her fingers calmed her, reassured her that order was restored, and whatever had crashed against the side of her house had gone away and left her in peace.
She'd done a lot of work tonight; her commission was almost complete. She was only mildly surprised by how much she'd accomplished; she often lost track of time when she sat before her loom.
Now, she was aware of the burning in her eyes and the ache in her back and arms. She shrugged to loosen the tension in her shoulders, and bent to pick up a tankard.
Something slammed against the side of her house, then she heard a long scrape, metal against wood.
"Great Weaver, protect me!" she whispered. "Something's out there!"
* * *
Jona Aberides drove the four-wheeled wagon, appropriate to his disguise as a traveling merchant, slowly along the backcountry road. The thunderstorm, unseasonably early in the summer, matched his mood. The rain that soaked through his cloak and formed rivulets on the canvas protecting his wares, had also turned the road into something akin to stew. Not that he minded; he had been cold and wet before, and he was in no particular hurry to reach Arhian's house.
Ever since he'd been ordered back to Darhurst, he'd been dreading seeing her again. What could he say to her?
He should have stayed with her longer, four years ago. Instead, he'd given her the news of Daz's death, and run like a coward. Though he'd been in the area twice since then, he'd always had the excuse of urgent business to keep him away.
He should have gone back, years ago.
He wished he had some sort of excuse, anything to delay him, even just a few minutes more.
And then the voice pierced the stillness. "You! Traveler! Stop in the name of Baron Ysingerd!"
You don't have to actually light someone on fire, but could we start with the noise outside or the voice in the wilderness or something dynamic? You just don't have a lot of time in a slush pile. Clue of the decade: even if you end up changing the novel later, give us some action up front. Your goal right now isn't publication. Your goal right this very second is to get and hold my attention past page one.
A Snarkling sent me the youtube video of Torvil and Dean in the 1984 Olympics recently. If you watch this, you see that T&D don't begin with a huge splashy throw-themselves-all-over-the-ice kind of thing. In fact, they are ON the ice, kneeling and they do the same move three times at a very slow tempo. Yet, you cannot look away. You don't have to know much about ice dancing to know this is special. If you DO know something about ice dancing you know this understated elegance is technically close to perfection, unusual, fresh and original.
So, when I say 'set someone on fire' it can be literal fire (always a good choice) or the fire of a diamond's brillance, or the fire of technical perfection, original style and a purple feather costume set to the sexiest music ever written.
I love that film clip because it reminds me that elegent execution makes ice dancing look easy. Only if you strapped on a pair of skates, grabbed the sweaty palm of Muncy Williams and tried to skate as a pair do you begin to understand just how not-easy that is.
Great writers make it look like the words are just there. You and I both know that is never the case. Your job is to make it look easy.
This one is a form rejection.