Hey readers! Today we are kicking off the beginning of our author promotion for TVC 2013. While we have featured various author before via our “KickStart Me Daily” series. This new series of promotion, will be a bit different. This will give you a more in-depth look on the authors that we are featuring. These featured articles will include a biography provided by the author, some of the authors work/pieces whether it be from a novel, story, poem, sonnet, etc, as well as including direct links to some pages where you can find out more about them and their work. We will be doing this onward all throughout 2013, and are hoping to evolve it overtime for it to be even more beneficial towards the authors that are looking to get some promotion on some of their work.
Today Mary Jones is our first featured author on the site, with her story in progress “A Song of Steel” I can say the writing style is very interesting, and provides a certain unique catch that makes you want to keep reading. But don’t take my word for it. Find out more about Mary Jones, and a part from her novel, down below.
I’m your typical student in middle school who likes procrastinating, reading and writing. Writing most of all. I can’t remember when I first started writing: when I was much younger I used to jot down these random ideas that came to me into a notebook, and from time to time I’d string them together to make a short story. Later, I started making up coherent plots and tried to write an actual story with them, but never quite finished any. It’s only recently that I would finish longer pieces, but I don’t mind; all that time I spent before was good practice. To improve one’s writing, clearly one has to write a lot, but reading is also important. That’s why I am constantly on the hunt for good books. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, which are also the genres I never try to write in — I’ve seen too many great literary works in those I don’t dare to even attempt. In other genres, though, I write copiously, and my main motivation to keep writing? What I write gets read! One of my teachers once said that we write to be read, and I absolutely agree. Just the knowledge that someone out there is reading what I’ve written gives me enough satisfaction to continue writing.
A Song of Steel: Part 1, Players and Pieces
Chapter 1: Serilda
The Sealord rocked its way slowly to the port, shrouded by the mists of the early morning. On the trading galley’s stern, a girl in her late teens stood looking towards the city, her auburn hair in a braid hanging past her shoulder. The fire on Serilda’s face bespoke determination; the ice in her eyes suggested ruthlessness.
“Mortem,” the captain announced from behind her, fingering his pointed beard.
Serilda stepped down, reaching into the drawstring pouch on her belt. “You’ll be wanting your payment.”
“Aye. Three silvers, we agreed.”
She tossed him the coins. “How long will you be staying in Mortem?”
“Three, four days. Then we’ll turn our sails north for Nightspearl. You’ll join us again?”
“Leave at midnight today,” Serilda said. “I’ll pay double. And don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”
“Of course,” the captain said, grinning widely.
Serilda nodded in reply as the ship nudged against the shore. She grabbed the railing with one hand and vaulted over easily. In one smooth, practiced movement, she put on a black mask which covered her upper face, leaving only slits for her eyes.
Mortem was still dark, but it swirled with activity. After all, this was not only a port city, but also the capital of Valzyr. Even at night — especially at night — the streets teemed with people, and swelling tides of noise crashed over her. A young boy in rags sold skewers of greasy meat from a cart, calling, “Fresh meat, roast fresh meat.” Across the road a begging brother preached loudly of doom and manipulative demons wherein “evil dwells beneath a façade of virtue”. Serilda rolled her eyes.
Despite getting her feet stamped on twice, she successfully maneuvered her way through the throng and turned into an alleyway. A battered sign clinging desperately onto a crooked rod read The Shrieking Eel. A hasty scrawl stood in for a drawing underneath the words. Serilda entered the pub. It was, as always, full of customers. A gathering place of sorts for, well, those like herself, the Eel was never anything but raucous. Mercenaries traded bits of news and gossip, boots propped up on stools and benches; two thugs were playing a drinking game near the door, each wielding a huge flagon; and everywhere, the glint of steel polished and sharpened flashed warnings.
The man she sought was seated in the corner, cowl drawn forward to hide his face.
“Hello there,” she chirped in a falsely cheery voice. “Your favorite assassin’s dropping by.” She rested her back against the wall and her feet on the table between them.
The man inclined his head. “Shall we get down to business?” His voice was smooth and cultured, his every gesture aristocratic. It’s a marvel how the commons can be so blind as to love the government still, Serilda mused. Every one of these politicians is rotten to the core. Not that I mind, it’s good for business.
“Oh, not yet,” she said, summoning a huge, fake smile. “I just got my feet on firm ground, I need a drink.” She signalled to the barkeep and drank deeply from the mug he handed her. “Besides, it’s been a month since you last saw me. We need to have a chat. Will it come to war?”
He chuckled. “I should have known you wanted to fish for information.” Noting Serilda’s arched eyebrow, he said, “Probably, although Arthur Falleron will insist otherwise till the warhorns blare in his ears. The Free Cities chose a fool for their leader. A well-meaning one, but a fool nonetheless. The Prime Minister will never let the south break away, not with winter coming on — how do you think Valzyr will fare without the bountiful harvests of the south?”
“The commons would die,” Serilda said, “but not half as much as in a war. That is your pretext for starting one, not your reason. Not even your real pretext, I daresay. I’ve heard talk that the Senate finds it an infringement on their honor, though no doubt you’ll wrap it up prettily before showing it to the rest of the world.”
He tilted his head in — acknowledgement? irritation? Serilda had a feeling it was a mix of both. “Well, either of these pretexts will serve. Hardly anyone in the government has eyes that see nowadays. And if not, our plans should suffice.”
“Is that a subtle attempt to steer me back on topic?” Serilda sipped from her mug. “You’re paying me, I’ll humor you. Carts and wagons will be coming and going through the castle gates all day, carrying supplies for the feast. One more person among that lot won’t be noticed. Once I gain entry to Crowhold, it’s merely a matter of remaining unnoticed till the feast, and no one will notice a servant girl.”
“I suppose it will be effective. Remember, don’t be too discreet. Nothing that can be mistaken for an accident. Our intention is not truly to kill a man, but to start a war.”
“My knife will sing loud enough for every guest to hear,” Serilda promised, “assuming it has a companion on my belt.”
Taking the hint, the man placed a leather pouch on the table between them. “Fifty gold suns, as the second payment. Including the fifty from last time, and the hundred after the job is finished, it will be two hundred, as promised.”
She deftly plucked a coin from the pouch and bit it. “Sweet. Done, then. Shall we meet at Nightspearl in a tenday?”
“Very well. I shall pray for news of your success.”
“Don’t fret. Just so you know, I’ve never failed before,” said Serilda. “Although I’ll admit this is the riskiest job I’ve ever taken. Assassinating the Prime Minister himself …”
The man shrugged. “So long as I meet your price you’ll do it.”
“True,” Serilda conceded, glancing at the window. “And now, I believe I shall get going. For some reason, guards seem most inattentive at this hour.” Without waiting for a response, she stood and slipped out onto the streets.
Dawn was creeping into the city, but the only noticeable change was that it was a little brighter, and even more people were out on the streets. Mortem was almost always shrouded in fog during the morning, and many got hopelessly lost at that time. And more than likely ended up dead. Every port city has its thieves, and Mortem is the largest port city of all.
Crowhold was a red stain veiled with the pale grey of dawn. Above the bricks the banners of the Republic streamed proudly, a blaze of green and gold. As Serilda had expected, a steady stream of people was trickling over the bridge that joined the castle to the city, bringing supplies for the feast. She pulled off her mask and joined the crowd, keeping her eyes on her boots. The guards barely spared her a glance as she shuffled alongside a wagon and passed underneath the towering gates. The Prime Minister desperately needs some new guards.
The castle armoury was to the left of the main keep, and it was there Serilda went to first. A forge blazed every ten steps, the air around each shimmering with heat. The air stank of smoke and sulphur. Not one worker bothered to look at her, all pounding and grinding and hammering away at their own work.
Serilda tapped a young apprentice with black hair on the shoulder, adopting a lofty expression. “Boy, where is the master armourer?”
“This way,” he mumbled, probably mistaking her for one of the “upper” household servants. He brought her to the back of the armory, where a burly blacksmith was busy tempering a broadsword.
“His lordship commands you to, uh, make sure all the guards have fine weapons,” Serilda improvised, realizing she hadn’t completely planned the diversion beforehand. Note to self: think up a dozen plausible reasons for someone to leave. Only idiots would eat up this ridicule.
The master armorer was clearly not chosen for his wits. He nodded and barked out for some of the other workers to leave with him. “Get back to your work,” he commanded the apprentice boy, who promptly scuttled away. Without looking at Serilda again, the armorer left her alone.
She turned and casually examined the weapons hung up on the wall. She could have finished the job with her knife, but castle-forged steel was better than most of what Serilda picked up. No point in missing a good opportunity.
Bastard swords and curved katanas, morningstars and hooked scimitars, spiked maces and serrated knives, fencing swords that looked absurdly like needles, rapiers with ornate gilded crossguards … the array of choices were endless. In the end Serilda settled for a long hunting knife, light and sharp with a deep blue sheen in its blade. She was hooking the leather sheath onto her belt when a voice said behind her, “You’re not supposed to be here.”
It was the apprentice boy she had spoken to earlier. “I have orders,” she informed him curtly.
“You’re no servant girl,” he said. eyes narrowing as he crossed his arms. Shame. This one’s smarter than the others.
Steel danced between his ribs and left with a crimson partner. The boy never had time to scream.
“And you’re a dead boy,” Serilda whispered back as she kicked him under an unattended workbench.
Awesome right?! You can read more of Mary Jones works, as well as follow her work more closely by following her Figment Page located here http://figment.com/users/311572-Queen-of-Starlight
Thanks for being our first featured Author Mary, and I wish nothing but success in your writing career!