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Published in: on July 25, 2017 at 6:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Quit your Day Job

I was introduced to someone at a party who was in the middle of writing a book. Our mutual friend knew I was a published author and thought it would be good for us to chat. She told me all about her book and how long she had been writing it and how in-depth it was. I was fairly encouraging until the end of this person’s spiel when she said, “How much money do you think I can make off it?”

downloadI was sort of taken aback, so I asked this person what she meant. She said that she didn’t want to go to all that effort of writing a book unless she would get a lot of money from it. Out of curiosity I asked, how much would be a good amount? She said $20,000.

I felt equally enraged and disappointed. I don’t write for money. I never have and probably never will. I write because I love it. I have 3 books out and I’ve been writing for 15 years. I haven’t just written 3 books, I’ve written nearly 20, plus short stories and scripts etc. When I meet people and I tell them for the first time that I’m an author, they ask if I do it full-time, as my sole income? No, I say, I have a “day job”. Then they breathe a sigh of relief. With all the money I’ve made from writing books over 15 years I could afford to quit work for about 2, maybe 3 weeks. If you take all the hours I write, all the hours I plan and plot my stories; all the character development I do in my head or on paper, all the rewrites and edits, the cents calculated per hour would be so small you wouldn’t be able to read it.

typed-manuscriptMy dream, as with many people I know, is to write full time, quit my day job and tap away all day at the keyboard while drinking coffee. I do believe that this is obtainable, however I would never stop writing just because there is no money in it. I love it too much. My first royalty cheque was actually larger than I thought and I remember thinking that it wasn’t real money because I didn’t really “work” for it. I got paid to do something I really loved. I planned on buying something amazing with it. I was going to get my book’s ISBN tattooed on me. But the money went into the account and was spent as money is normally spent. It was if I didn’t really believe I got paid to do something I love. I just kept writing. It never changed my opinion of it.

The person eventually emailed me their book. It was their first book, and it needed a lot of work. But I didn’t tell them that. I told them it was good. After one or two rejection letters, they put it on Kickstarter to fund it. They were asking for $8,000. Although I love the enthusiasm, it was a bit high. You don’t need that much to self-publish a book. The Kickstarter failed and I never heard from them again. I really do hope they’re still writing.

Don’t write for money, write because you love it.

Mitchell Tierney

Published in: on July 17, 2017 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Getting your manuscript ready for an edit

As an editor, I get works sent to me at several levels, from polished to draft. By the time you’re paying a trained editor to look over your work it should already be at the semi polished end, so I’m here to give you some tips on what to do BEFORE you send your manuscript to be edited.

SPELLCHECK

Now I know there are times when Microsoft Word is on crack but most times, if there are wiggly lines, especially red ones, check the word/s. Sure, in some genres you must make up words and most names will show up but the rest: FOR THE LOVE OF LIBRARIES, CHECK! Sure, some typos will always slip by, but by running a spelling and grammar check in Word or your preferred typing program, this should weed out a giant chunk of mistakes that make you look unprofessional at your craft.

shutterstock_107880212.jpgAdmittedly spell checks can sometimes get things TOTALLY wrong or make some bizarre suggestions, BUT if you have it set to the right language settings, it will pick up a multitude of sins. So use it, but be discerning. Missing spaces and common misspellings can be eliminated easily (I personally am notorious for typing ‘teh’ instead of ‘the’, and ‘withe’ instead of ‘with the’).

CHECK YOUR HOMONYMS.

Homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelt differently. The big culprits are there, their and they’re; your and you’re; its and it’s; wander and wonder; where and wear; weather and whether; and which and witch. If you don’t know which one is right LOOK IT UP!

TENSE

 

editorialThis is something I see all the time as an editor. I find several occurrences of people swapping from past to present tense. First step is deciding which tense (past, present or future) you want to write in. Most common is past tense and future being least common (I couldn’t even think of an example of a book written in future tense, if you know one please tell me). An easy way to tell the difference is in connecting words like HAVE of HAS and verbs. I find, if you aren’t sure, reading aloud can help make it more obvious.

 

PUNCTUATION and CAPITALISATION

This one may seem obvious but so often I see missing full stops at the end of paragraphs or marks before quotation marks. As for capitalisation, unless it’s a proper noun (i.e. a name) or at the beginning of a sentence, you should second guess that capital letter.

CONTINUITY

184928153-57a5555a3df78cf459a45874Continuity is something that isn’t as common and much harder to check. If you write fantasy and are creating creatures and names and places, I recommend a running list of all the words you make up and all your characters. If a character’s name changes several times it’s going to confuse people. Also, if there are words that can be written several ways eg. no one or no-one, make sure you stick to it.

READ IT OUT LOUD

I have told many authors this as it’s a great way to pick up tense issues, awkward sentences and when things sound just plain silly. I do this myself so I don’t skip over things when I’m self-editing for the 100th time. Record it if you can and listen to it back. You will find some horrifying sentences this way.

FORMATTING

Now most editors will have their own preferences, but the general rules of thumb are as follows:

  1. No front or end matter on a first edit (this includes copyright info, reviews, maps (unless they need to be edited), acknowledgements, fancy title pages etc.) A title page with your name and the book title then the actual book is all that is required.
  2. PAGE NUMBERS. Please number your pages. If I drop a 400-page manuscript I don’t want to have to try and reorder the pages.
  3. Plain fonts. I prefer a serif font such as Garamond or Book Antiqua but some prefer sans serif like Arial or Calibri. Find out if they have a preference but make it size 12, no stupid fonts (I once had a manuscript arrive in Papyrus font), all black text.
  4. Minimum is 1.5 but most editors prefer 2 line spacing and standardised margins so we can write notes.
  5. Standard file types if emailing. If you are getting an e-edit it must be a compatible file, usually a docx or doc file to use track changes. If it will be a print edit (my preference for first round editing) a doc, docx, or rtf will usually be fine if the editor will be printing it. Check with your editor.
  6. White paper. If you are sending a physical manuscript please use standard white copy paper with black ink.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

Now I am a writer myself and I know how hard it is to hand your baby over to be judged. What I recommend is keep an open mind. If a suggestion is given, try and understand what the problem is. If you don’t understand something, ask! Editors don’t bite (although don’t approach me before 7am unless you bring coffee). Our job is to make your work the best it can be.

LEARN FROM IT

Edits are a learning opportunity. Do you keep making one error over and over? Write it down and try to not do it again. Do you use the same phrase repeatedly, or do you thesaurus words when simplicity is the key? Whatever your bad habit (we all have them) if you can learn from them, then you are only going to grow as an author.

Now go write your books and make them the best you can before you give them to an editor to polish.

 

Published in: on July 2, 2017 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Meet Our Team

Ouroborus Book Services is an independent publishing collective based in Brisbane, specialising in diverse speculative fiction. We represent the efforts of numerous up-and-coming authors, and as such, we always have a new book just around the corner! Loved one of our books? Following one of our authors? Get to know the rest of our team, and who knows? You might stumble on your next favourite read!

Sabrina RG Raven

profileWith over 10 years’ experience in the independent publishing field, artist, writer, editor and book designer, Sabrina has learned to mix her passion for art, design and the written word not only to create her own works of fiction but to help publish the following authors.

Her art and writing styles vary from fantasy and scifi to portraiture and book covers. Her first two novels co-written with Mitchell Tierney make up two thirds of the Everdark Realms series. She is currently working on book three and her first solo novel, a dystopian teen story Blank.

Follow Sabrina on facebook and instagram. She also showcases her art on her website www.sabrinargraven.com.

Mitchell Tierney

mitchellThe seeds for writing were planted quite early on for Mitchell. He remembers as far back as primary school, raising his hand and asking, ‘When can we do story writing?’ It came somewhat as a surprise that he found himself wanting to write books, rather than do his uni study. He has written over 12 books, all ranging from adult literature to young adult fantasy and sci-fi. After countless years of writing and a stack of rejection letters, he finally found a home with Ouroborus Books. He has just finished his portion of the Everdark Realms series and released his first solo work Heather Cassidy and the Magnificent Mr Harlow. He is currently working on his magnum opus series – Elephant Stone, as well as working on several adult books which include Children of the Locomotive and Homeless Astronaut.

Follow Mitchell on Instagram.

Shayla Morgansen

shaylaShayla can’t explain how she finds time to get anything done, though people often ask. A classroom teacher of darling Year 2s, a Masters student in publishing and an occasional editor, she also writes urban fantasy series The Elm Stone Saga. ‘Chosen’, ‘Scarred’ and ‘Unbidden’ are the first three in a series of six young adult titles centring on modern Irish sorceress Aristea’s apprenticeship to a traditional governing magical council. In her slivers of spare time, Shayla watches classic science fiction, tries to learn foreign languages, reads too much fanfiction and plays the Sims. And writes.

Follow Shayla on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, or visit her blog, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Danica Peck

18601618_10158731586890416_1438057651_nDanica has been writing for as long as she can remember – she prefers getting lost in her imagination over dealing with reality. She released her first novel, Battles of Azriel: Lost Worlds in March 2016. She is now working on more books for the Battles of Azriel series and a few standalones. In her spare time Danica enjoys spending time with her friends, travelling the world, conquering the challenge of rock climbing and yoga, and finding refuge at the beach.

Follow Danica on Facebook and Twitter.

Battles of Azriel Book ecover

M.A. Clarke

Copy of 20070908_SAB_0117Having always had an active imagination, it’s no surprise that Mel have found joy in fiction. She has been writing almost as long as she has been reading and has been rewarded by a few small prizes and local awards. Writing is usually its own reward though to her. The first book in her Riders’ War series Battle For Today is currently out with the rest of the series in production.

Follow Mel on facebook

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Robert James Barlow

RobRobert James Barlow has spent his entire life telling stories. When it eventually occurred to him to start getting paid for it, he became an author. He writes sci-fi and fantasy, and has just completed his first novel, Order of the Lost. He currently lives in Brisbane, where he writes business profiles and speeches to support his three-a-week reading habit and sizable collection of geek paraphernalia.

Follow Robert on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda Geisler

amandaAmanda has been a dedicated reader since a young age, always searching for new material to devour. She began writing short stories at the age of 9, musing over the worlds she created before she began exploring the world of novels during her teen years. She is an enthusiastic reader and writer of young adult, fantasy and paranormal novels. The White Wolf Trilogy has been Amanda’s foundation project, writing and rewriting as she honed her skills until she came up with a finished novel. The first book of this trilogy, The Stray, is due to be released later in 2017, with the consecutive books in the two years following. She also has many other projects that she intends to explore and create as she embarks through her writing journey with Ouroborus Books. Besides writing, Amanda studies part-time to become a teacher of high school English and Mathematics, and until graduating she’ll continue writing and enjoying her day job in the child care industry.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Twitter, or visit her website.

Annalise Azevedo

annaliseAnnalise has been writing creative stories since 2008. Her early writings were mostly developed through her English classes, improving on her own since then. She focuses primarily on fictional writing, branching into various genres. Her current project is the Sacred Stone series, which is divided up into six books. The first book, ‘Reflection of Fire’, is due for release late 2017 followed by its sequels in the coming years. She also has many other projects in the works as she continues her publishing journey with Ouroborus Books.

Published in: on May 26, 2017 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Convention Time

With Gold Coast Supanova Pop Culture Convention upon us, the Ouroborus authors sat down to answer some questions about fandom, conventions and their books!

 

How long have you been going to conventions?

Mitchell: I’ve been going to Supanova as a Fan since inception, so about eight years. As an author to promote my books, about three to four years now. And since it’s twice a year, I get to go to the Brisbane and Gold Coast Supanovas. Each year it gets better and better. I love going, it’s so much fun and you get to meet other authors and talk with them about writing, and discuss different writing processes with new authors.

Danica: I’ve been attending the conventions for roughly seven years as a fan but as an author this is my second year.

Shayla: I went to my first convention in 2014 and now I wouldn’t miss one!

Sabrina: Like Mitchell I’ve been going for years now. I think I’ve been to 12 over the years. This will be 4th Gold Coast Nova for me as a stall holder though and I’ve done 3 Brisbane Novas.

 

What’s the Australian pop culture convention scene like, for those who might not have been?

Mitchell: Every Geek culture niche is covered at these conventions. If you’re into Dr Who, or Stargate, Star Wars or Anime, there’s something there for you. They promote a safe, judgement-free, environment, so you can be who you are. Wear your nerd on your sleeve and dress up and come on down! There’s plenty to see and do at any convention, from artist alley, to self-published authors and artists, not to mention celebrities and Q and As.

Shayla: I love how inclusive and family-friendly it is. Nerds of all ages mix and mingle and complement one another on their costumes. People stop each other every few paces and ask for photos with unusual or impressive cosplay – the best thing is seeing a six-year-old Batman smile when the rest of the Justice League pose around him. It’s such a build-you-up culture. Kids and their parents get to geek out together over good, clean fun.

Sabrina: I’m a massive geek at heart and I love that so many fandoms can come together in harmony. Aus Conventions also seem to be so inclusive, all ages, races and genders. It’s a safe space full of amazing writers, artists and cosplayers.

 

How does it feel when you interact with your readers?

Danica: It’s really exciting and fulfilling, I also love getting feedback from what they love and what they’d like me to elaborate on in later stories.

Mitchell: I love to hear my readers asking when the next book is coming out. It makes the whole process worthwhile – knowing they enjoyed it. Sometimes they have questions, or want to ask about characters, and I love the fact they have questions or that it might inspire them to try writing themselves.

Sabrina: I’m still gobsmacked when I meet someone who doesn’t know me that has read the books. Even after all these years I still get that amazed feeling that someone is invested in something I created.

 

Sabrina, you’ve co-written (and edited, and published, and illustrated!!!) the Everdark Realms series, which is a fun and creative take on the traditional fantasy genre. How are your cosplay choices influenced by your books?

Sabrina: I think because my books are inspired by my own fandoms (varied as they are) my cosplay is just as eclectic. I do have some characters from my books that I’d love to cosplay one day though.

 

You’ve got book two of Lost Worlds waiting in the wings I hope, Danica! Tell me about how that’s going, and how you contain spoilers from excited fans when you discuss the series?

Danica: The second book will hopefully be going into publication soon. And I’m just about to begin writing the third book.

 

Shayla, you can sometimes be found at stores and events throughout the year selling The Elm Stone Saga. How is it different selling books at conventions?

Shayla: I love any opportunity to connect with readers so both are great, but the main differences between selling at cons and selling outside stores is a) the genre reader, and b) the healthy competition. My series is YA urban fantasy and that’s a strong but niche market, and the majority of people walking past or even into a general bookstore are not looking for that. At conventions like Supanova, everybody who has paid for entry is a genre fan, and that means for two whole days of wholesome nerdy fun, I’m surrounded by my own kind! It’s easy to strike up conversation about common interests at cons, but I have to remember – unlike outside stores, I’m also surrounded by other authors selling other great genre books!

 

Mitchell, you released your first solo work, Heather Cassidy and the Magnificent Mr Harlow, at the last Supanova. Congratulations! What advice would you give to new authors and artists just starting out at cons?

Mitchell: Just talk to people about writing. You’ll find they either read a lot, or they are writers themselves. Be yourself and just chat. Don’t push your book too hard, most people know straight away if they are going to buy it or not. Let them know what it’s about, what genre in falls under and other books that are similar. Make sure you’re excited to have them at your table to chat. Give them a book mark or website address, in case they want to buy it later. Treat every customer the same and don’t be disappointed if you don’t sell anything the first day. Remember, you are where you have been dreaming about for so long, just enjoy it.

 

Published in: on April 22, 2017 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sneak Peek at Scarred (Book 2 Elm Stone Saga by Shayla Morgansen)

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The landing was perfectly timed and executed. Jackson and his eight men each stepped out of the wormholes they had used to travel here, to this quiet street in Italy, and Jackson sealed off their exit points with magic. Normally he wouldn’t have bothered but tonight’s raid was Lisandro’s brainchild and this cautiousness was a direct request of his. And what Lisandro requested was what came to be, inevitably, so here Jackson was, carrying out Lisandro’s carefully laid-out plans.

The men he’d been assigned were brutes; scum and low-lives the upstanding villain Lisandro preferred not to associate himself with, but who were too strong and efficient to simply not have on board. Jackson was glad to have them. This team was his, and they were so starkly different from the team he’d been part of when he was a councillor for the White Elm. This team respected him and what he had to offer. This team got stuff done, without spending weeks or months in talks, deliberating the ethical, socio-political and whatever other ramifications of action. This team was a force to be reckoned with, and best of all, this team listened to Jackson.

The White Elm had never done much of that. If they had, he might not now be a fugitive and outcast from their ranks, and he might not now be on his way to attack the home of one of the council’s newest members.

‘Suit up,’ Jackson hissed at them, jerking his head at the furthest of his men to gesture him closer. Cloaking spells were most effective over a small area, so the closer the nine stayed together the more powerful the spell would be. As the most powerful sorcerer present – and they knew it, he thought smugly – Jackson was the one to cast the cloak over them. An invisible blanket of magic settled over the group. For them, wearing the cloak spell was almost unnoticed. They couldn’t feel it; it didn’t affect their vision, their hearing or their extended magical senses; it didn’t slow their motions or impede them in any way. However, for anyone outside of the cloak, such as a nosy neighbour peeking out their window into the street, where moments ago there stood a bunch of strange men, there was now nothing to be seen except empty air. For any sorcerer nearby, accustomed to being able to sense the presence of approaching living things, where moments ago there was the distinct sense of life, of energy, of emotion, of intention and thought, there was now only void. The cloak redirected the senses around those hidden beneath it, and that was exactly the cover Jackson and his team required.

The target was not a large or stately home, but it was the address the informant had provided, and inside the small, tidy cottage near the top of the street Jackson could feel several powerful magical presences. The one he was most interested in, he couldn’t feel, but that did not mean she wasn’t there. He grinned at the thought. He didn’t like for anyone to be better at things than he was, but there was no denying that Emmanuelle Saint Clair of the White Elm was the best at wards and cloaking spells.

The nine drew knives as they approached the home as a group. Knives for sorcerers were more than tools for cutting the physical; pointed and precise, often they could be more useful than wands for directing magic. Jackson paused ahead of the group and extended a hand slowly. Invisible, almost undetectable, a delicate web of protective energy lay over this house. To pass through it would trigger a mental alert in the mind of the spell’s creator. The people inside were strong and of unknown competence – the less warning they received of Jackson’s arrival, the better.

Beneath Jackson’s hand, a silvery strand of energy, as thin and indistinct as a spider’s web, quivered into visibility: a very basic ward. Blade glowing with his own power and intent, Jackson drew his knife across the strand. It resisted destruction, as all things do, but soon gave. The knife went through, severing it cleanly. The taut line of magic snapped and pinged apart with a spark of pale light, but the remainder of the net remained intact. The group waited in tense silence – would the inhabitants notice? How in-tune was the young councillor to her spells? – but there was no energetic shift inside the house to denote an increase in activity or anxiety.

‘Keep outside this radius,’ Jackson instructed his team in a low voice. He pointed his knife at the perimeter of the spell’s reach – at his will, dozens of the same silvery strands lit up faintly, stretching up into a dome over the cottage’s roof. ‘No rushing. No mistakes. Anyone who screws this up is staying behind to answer to the council when their real warriors show up.’

Because though Jackson liked to sneer at the mere mention of his former brotherhood, the fact remained that their collective and individual might was both impressive and formidable. The White Elm allowed onto their council only the best and brightest thirteen of the world’s sorcerers: Seers who knew too much of the future, Displacers who could teleport through space on a whim, Healers who could mend most any wound, Crafters who could twist and manipulate the very essence of magic, Telepaths who could hear the thoughts of those around them, scriers (too busy being stubborn and self-righteous to allocate themselves a capital letter) who could see what was happening anywhere in the world… It was probable that right now, the White Elm’s duo of scriers, Qasim and Renatus, were becoming aware of this very event, and it was only a matter of time before they arrived.

Jackson would prefer not to cross paths with either of them, if possible. He’d woven wards into his cloaking spell that would postpone the moment when these events were brought to the scriers’ attention, but Fate, unfortunately, worked for scriers, not for Crafters like Jackson. Sooner rather than later that ward would break and the countdown to confrontation with the White Elm would begin.

Jackson wanted to be gone, with the prizes he was sent for, by that time.

The team moved slowly but efficiently around the cottage, stepping carefully over rows of vegetables in the garden and low fences separating properties. Each strand was cut with care, but as more came away, the quicker the process became. The remaining strands glowed much more brightly, forced to carry more power than when other parts of the net had been in place to share the load of protecting the house, and became much easier to spot and sever.

Jackson’s men gathered at the front of the house around the final strand. Its light was so bright it made Jackson squint. Nico, a stocky Austrian wanted by the mortal law in several European nations for violent assaults in bars and nightclubs, carved his silver-bright blade back and forth across the strand of magic while the others held their breath in apprehension and excitement.

‘Only one to go and they haven’t even noticed?’ Saul breathed, eyes manic. Jackson looked at him sidelong and said nothing. Bad eggs occurred in all types, both magical and mortal. Saul had come into Lisandro’s employ – and subsequently shifted into Jackson’s taskforce almost immediately – when his human trafficking enterprise had been uncovered and dismantled by Interpol, and the White Elm had rejected his pleas for sanctuary. The government of the magical world took a similar stance on human rights as did the governments of mortal society, and had attempted to apprehend Saul, with the intention of either providing him, gift-wrapped and powerless, to the police, or of imprisoning him themselves in their prison in Valero. With nowhere left to turn, Saul had sought out Lisandro, a former authority within the White Elm and a political revolutionary, and taken refuge among the ranks of Magnus Moira, Lisandro’s new but quickly growing movement against the White Elm council’s leadership.

Jackson really didn’t care what Saul or the others had done before they came to work under him, but Lisandro had made his opinions on Saul’s history very clear to Jackson. ‘If it happens that you lose one, or need to leave one behind,’ he’d said, ‘don’t stress too much if it’s him.’

A spell is a near-living thing, almost sentient – it wants to endure. As Nico drew his knife carefully across the strand of magic defending the cottage, the spell shuddered and grew brighter, strengthening its now-weak point of attack.

‘Why is it taking so long?’ someone hissed, bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement. Jackson irritably caught him across the chest with one of his gloved hands, stilling his annoying motion.

‘If they haven’t noticed yet, rushing will only tip them off,’ he whispered back. He looked back at the trembling strand of magic, felt the rise in energy all around him as the spell prepared to break and his men prepared to take the house. ‘Look alive, boys.’

A bright spark signalled the end of the ward; the spell gave under the pressure of Nico’s knife and power, and the nine grinned. There was nothing more to be said. They rushed at the cottage. Nico traded his knife for the wand in his coat pocket, and blasted the door open.

They had a weapon to steal and a war to ignite.

Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 2:14 am  Comments (2)  

Interview time

Check out one of our writer’s latest interviews! Check her out at Feature Friday with Sabrina R G Raven http://wp.me/p4HMg0-4W

Published in: on August 1, 2014 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Indie Writers: Make MS Word Work for You Instead of Against You

Some great tips!

QA Productions

A Quick Primer for Fiction Writers in using Microsoft Word in the Digital Age

It always saddens me a little when a writer sends me an overly formatted Word doc to turn into an ebook or print-on-demand. It’s not that I have to clean it up–I can strip and flip the messiest files in less than an hour. What bugs me is how much thought and effort the writer wasted on utterly useless manuscript styling.

Example of a Word doc that has been overstyled. Example of a Word doc that has been overstyled.

The majority of writers I work with use Word. The vast majority have no idea how to use Word for their own benefit. I understand. I was a fiction writer for over two decades and even though I have been using computers and a variety of word processing programs since the late ’80s, it wasn’t until I started learning book production that I figured out how…

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Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

NEW SHOP

We have a new online store for books, merchandise and services. Come visit us at http://ouroborus-books.myshopify.com/

Published in: on April 30, 2014 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Sneak peek at Chosen by Shayla Morgansen

The late autumn night was crisp and cool. A brisk wind sliced through the dying trees in the garden, relieving them of their burden of dead brown leaves. The darkness in the marbled courtyard was broken only by the soft, haunting candlelight glowing in the large ring of lanterns. Thirteen white-robed adult figures stood in a circle within this enchanted ring.

Tonight, in this Connecticut home’s courtyard, the government of the magical world, the White Elm Council, had been called to an emergency meeting by their leader, an old, white-haired man whom they, along with the rest of their world, called Lord Gawain. He stood as part of the circle, and wore a royal purple sash over his white robes, as did the middle-aged black woman to his right, and beyond her was a tall, attractive man wearing an emerald green sash.

‘Blessed be,’ Lord Gawain began in his commanding voice. The twelve sorcerers responded, and a murmur of Blessed be resonated around the courtyard and into the surrounding gardens. ‘Firstly, our thanks to Susannah, who has provided us tonight with her beautiful yard as a venue for this last-minute conference.’

‘Never a problem, Lord Gawain,’ a 40-something American sorceress replied with a smile. Her wavy brown hair was clipped back from her fresh, pleasant face and her manicured hands, although obviously freezing, were ungloved and open, relaxed at her sides.

‘As a sign of honesty and purity, all members of White Elm traditionally keep their faces and hands uncovered,’ Lord Gawain said, beginning the meeting. Two of the twelve pairs of candle-bright eyes dropped from Lord Gawain’s face and two pairs of hands quickly appeared from underneath robes, and he knew, but he continued as if he hadn’t noticed. ‘This is one of many traditions we as a government have upheld for hundreds of years to ensure peace within the White Elm body.’

The council was silent. Lord Gawain continued.

‘I apologise for the surprise meeting, but, as always in history, the White Elm has dutifully responded to their leader’s call, knowing that I would only break the cycle for a great emergency. I am grateful for your faith. Your loyalty to your leaders, your adherence to the council’s ancient code and your purity of spirit prove to the world your worthiness of ruling the magical people. Few other councils would gather so quickly at their leader’s bidding.’

A couple of sorcerers smiled at their leader’s sentiment.

‘So, when you felt my call, where were you, Lady Miranda?’ Lord Gawain asked his co-leader, the 55-year-old black sorceress to his right.

‘Finishing my shift at the hospital,’ she answered smoothly, her British accent sharp.

‘Lisandro?’

The attractive man on Lady Miranda’s right blinked through his long, loose black hair at his Lord’s word.

‘With a woman,’ he answered simply, in his New York accent. No one asked for details. 

‘Qasim?’ Lord Gawain asked of the next man in the circle, the imposing Saudi.

‘Reading to my children,’ Qasim answered.

The White Elm immediately continued answering in the order Lord Gawain had been questioning – highest ranked to lowest – and most answered with honesty. However, the massive African American Jackson cast his vision down for a tiny instant and blinked a few times too many.

‘Asleep,’ he said. Lord Gawain felt the flicker of nervousness in the air, which accompanies a lie, and knew otherwise, but kept quiet. He needed to be sure of the others.

The stick-thin Russian woman next in the circle glanced oddly at Jackson, having felt the same flicker, before speaking.

‘Meditating,’ she murmured honestly.

‘Asleep.’ Tian still looked tired.

‘Reading the paper,’ Peter said, too quickly.

He is the second puppet, Lord Gawain thought. Who is their master?

Emmanuelle, a beautiful French sorceress, admitted to being on a date. She blushed a little, but she wasn’t lying. The youngest, the handsome and mysterious Renatus, spoke last. 

‘I was scrying,’ he said. His violet eyes flickered to Lord Gawain.

A few other members of White Elm shared subtle ominous looks. They didn’t trust Renatus. But Lord Gawain understood the very young man’s meaning. After all, it was on Renatus’s advice that he had called this council.

Peter and Jackson are traitors, Master, Renatus had said hours earlier, confirming Lord Gawain’s already strong suspicions. Lady Miranda agreed. Now they only had to find the third traitor, the leader. But whoever it was had covered his or her lies so well that even Lord Gawain, Lady Miranda and Renatus couldn’t work out who it was.

Lord Gawain had known for some time that a rival force was forming elsewhere. Rumours of black magic beyond that which the White Elm could imagine; whispers of a powerful leader no one could actually name. Similar little tales popped up every now and then, and usually died down, but these murmurings were persistent and becoming louder. Most disturbing was the realisation that this apparent rival group (if it existed) was said to be led by a member of White Elm.

‘Three of you are lying,’ Lord Gawain said after a minute of absolute silence. Two sparks of nervousness flickered briefly in the circle. Who is the third

 

Chosen by Shayla Morgansen will be available from 2nd May, 2014. Join us on facebook for more information.

Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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