Title: SHAPES AND FORMALITIES
Age Category: Adult
Word Count: 136,000
Pitch: Tantoska, a reclusive sculptor of magical clay, must teach her grief-stricken liege lord control of his magic while conniving barons, ancient evils, and murder force them into an unlikely alliance to save the kingdom.
First 250 Words:
I spent the morning harvesting blue. Overflow from the stream had washed away the dirt covering a vein of token clay. Open to sky during the last magic storm, the magic imbued the clay with all shades of blue sky from palest dawn to sapphire noon to indigo midnight. While I filled up buckets with my lucky find, my mind mused over the possibilities. Would this shovelful of clay become the sweep of a hawk’s wing, the delicate petal of a flower, or scrap on my work chamber floor? My fingers itched to sculpt something beautiful, right there at the edge of the stream.
My back twinged in complaint at the heavy labor. I paused to stretch the kinks out of my creaking spine and to kilt my skirts higher before the mud stained the hem bright blue. This clay deposit was about a mile upstream from my cave, near the blackberry patch where a fallen redwood tree left a gap in the thick forest canopy. Occasionally, I caught glimpses of my hawk constructs as they circled overhead keeping watch for wolves and mountain lions. Birdsong and rustling grasses added counterpoint to the burbling stream, and the wind held a promise of winter’s chill.
I took up the shovel and drove the blade into the ground. No matter how hard I tried to lose myself in the work, I could not escape Parle’s words. I had not heard Parle’s voice for so long, only read his writing on the message tablets I’d made for us, but his words hounded me as if he whispered his pleas into my ears.