Friday, January 3, 2014

A Sneak Peak…and a Rotten Excuse

I love the notes I get from you making sure I am still on the planet. I cherish the emails where you ask where I’ve been and tell me I’ve made a difference in your life. 

Here is the blunt truth. I. am. overwhelmed.

When you’re a single mom who works and homeschools, life isn’t easy.  Add to that Lyme disease treatments, which I am convinced are not only worse than the disease, but invented by Satan himself, and it gets hard to fit in things you love sometimes. I can’t remember the last time I played my violin….oh, I feel a tear coming…where is my tissue?

However, I have managed my life and regularly blogged before, so why haven’t I kept up?  It’s because I have been taking my spare moments to write a middle grade novel, as well as an inductive Scripture study.  The novel has been a life long dream for me. What better time to try to live your dreams than when you’re drowning?

Would you like a sneak peak at my book to see what I’ve been up to?  Please say yes.

And yes, my protagonist is a brainy boy.  What else could I write?  Well, here it is…..

THE GUARDIAN OF SUDNER

By Annmarie Worthington

Chapter One

Jaden Andreist sat at his lunch table for as long as he could get away with it, but no sudden illness had overtaken him. It was time for battle class. Reluctantly, he put his elements book away and made his way out the castle doors.

He’d been practicing for months with Klevi, one of the top battle students, in exchange for tutoring him in runes. A week ago he felt confident. He’d been sparring better than ever. He’d even beaten Klevi twice in their mock duels. But, today was different. Today was his duel, and the knots in his stomach gave him doubt.

The other boys in his class loved sparring. It was the best part of turning twelve. No longer were they trapped doing nothing but endless boring drills in battle training. Now they got to show off their skill going head to head in real duels, even if they were using dummy swords. For the other boys it was a dream come true. For Jaden, it felt more like a nightmare. He preferred books to battles. If you made a mistake with a book, no one died.

“Jaden, wait up!”

He looked behind him and saw his friend Brandon running, his wavy brown hair bouncing. Jaden laughed. If there were any girls around he was pretty sure they’d be sighing. The girls loved Brandon—and his hair. Jaden ran his hands through his own shaggy blond hair. He doubted the girls sighed when he walked by.

“I thought I was the last one to head to battle training,” Jaden said when he caught up.

“Well, I was busy getting lectured by my father about not taking school seriously enough. You’d think being one of the top battle students would be enough for him, but nooo, apparently I have to have your brains too.”

“What are you failing this year?”

“Runes, elements, and agriculture. Though my dad doesn’t care about the last one. He thinks because we’re nobles, we’ll always have people to do that for us.” Brandon rolled his eyes.

“You know I’ve offered to tutor you.”

“I’d let you, if I cared, but let’s face it, no matter what I do, it’s not going to be enough. At least not for him.”

By the time they reached the armory beside the practice field, most of the other boys were already suited up. A group of them were talking excitedly. A large boy in the back noticed Jaden walk in.

“I didn’t think you’d have the guts to show up today,” he said as he pushed through the crowd, his chainmail clinking. Most of the boys used the practice armor, but Berach outgrew those last year. His father had his specially made for him. He stood in front of Jaden.

“Couldn’t think of an excuse to stay with Daddy and avoid your beating in the sparring circle?”

“Shut it, Berach,” Brandon said stepping between them.

“Your body guard is not going to be in the sparing circle. Remember that Andreist.”

Berach pushed past them and went out to the field. The rest of the group followed. Jaden’s face grew warm as he grabbed some gear and a practice sword and started out the door.

Brandon grabbed his arm. “Don’t worry about that loser. You’ll do fine. He just does that because he can’t stand the fact that your dad’s more important than his.”

“Yeah, it’s great when your dad’s the national hero and you’re the flunky of battle class,” Jaden replied.

He had to win today.

Brandon draped an arm over his shoulder. “Oh, the joys of not meeting expectations.”

Sir Robert, their combat instructor, was already on the field barking orders to older boys heading out for an assignment. With rolls of fat on his stomach and a beefy neck, it would be easy to assume Sir Robert wouldn’t be much of a threat in a duel, but Jaden knew better. He’d heard his father’s tales about the last war.

“We’ll have a short drill today. We’ll be using the new parry we practiced yesterday,” Sir Robert barked once his youngest class lined up. “I want to see you blocking your opponents swing with perfect technique. If not, you’ll be drilling after class until your arms fall off. You’ve got fifteen minutes and then we’ll have our sparring demonstration.”

Jaden felt his stomach lurch.

“Partner up and go,” Sir Robert shouted.

Jaden grabbed Brandon. They took turns with their new technique, while Sir Robert walked around observing and correcting each pair.

Brandon brought his sword down overhand. Jaden blocked the strike with an upward stroke, turned around quickly to the side, flipped his sword, and slashed down on Brandon’s arm. A perfect execution! He looked around hoping Sir Robert had seen it, but he’d already moved onto another pair.

“All right everyone, swords down,” Sir Robert shouted over the din. “It’s time for our spar.”

Sweat dripped down Jaden’s face. He felt good about how well he had drilled. Maybe today would finally be his day. He stepped toward the center of the sparring circle to face Berach. The rest of the students stood just outside the boundaries, cheering for their favorite.

Jaden kept his head down and took deep, steady breaths. He could do this. The cheering stopped and students began mumbling excitedly. Jaden looked up. Through a gap in the circle, he saw his father and the king’s historian walking onto the field. Jaden’s heart began to pound even faster. Not today, he thought. Any day but today. He glanced at Brandon who looked at him with sympathy.

“Hello boys,” greeted his father smiling at everyone.

“Hello, sir,” they replied in unison.

Everyone stood a little straighter when Matthew Andreist was around, even Sir Robert. He should have known his father would find out today was his duel. He knew everything that went on in Sudner.

“Please continue what you were doing,” Matthew said. “Sir Drandurling and I just came here to enjoy watching Sudner’s military future.”

Slowly, the cheering began again, though now everyone seemed to be cheering for Jaden. Berach scowled, a look of angry determination on his face. Sir Robert stepped up.

“OK, each of you is to spar using free form. Berach, I want to see more swiftness in your turns. Jaden, show us you’re an Andreist. You’ve got the bloodline, act like it. At some point I want to see each of you using your new technique.” Both boys faced each other and bowed.

2 comments:

The Book Elf said...

I like this!

Amelia Loken said...

I love this chapter. I love the progress you've been making the last year. I feel like your novel is becoming rich and really well-rounded.