Saturday, September 02, 2006


Well, I missed out in Miss Snark's Crapometer Lottery (my entry was #276), but I'm sure there will be lots of fun watching the "successful" entries get eviscerated over the next couple of days. It also gives me more hope for today's lottery, as I've only got a small store of luck to go around.

Purely for fun, here's what I sent in. 750 words on the nose!

Dear Miss Snark.

Thank you for your wise and witty blog, and may K-Y's chew-bones be forever filled with marrow.

Delaem, daughter of the Governor of Burramesh, is going to court. She has a contract for a marriage to a handsome courtier and a will to explore the world beyond the walls of her provincial city.

But when her mother arranges one last gift for her daughter, Delaem's certainties begin to fray. Her lessons in the "easing" of men are learned too well. When all her attention should be focussed on her betrothed, Delaem can only dream of Shapeis, the head-horned servant employed to teach her.

Shapeis has problems of his own. The servants in the city are finding themselves a new religion - her name is the Sosunda, the child who speaks to God, and God has a message for his chosen people: freedom. Between his lessons with the Governor's daughter, Shapeis learns about the history of his people, the genetic wrongness of his creation - and the increasing desire he has for his aristocratic pupil.

Beyond their knowledge, the world is changing. Life has never been easy on this planet: a new plague has evolved in the southern ports, and the Empire will destroy cities to halt its progress. Fearful that illegal servant movements are threatening his city, the Governor orders their termination.

Escaping the city, Shapeis discovers an alien world where survival depends on knowledge and cooperation. For Delaem, too, survival has become more than deciding which dress to wear for breakfast. Both have to grasp new strengths and skills.

Yet no skill can stand firm before the plague. It stalks the city's unwashed streets, killing all in its path. Despite the Governor's every effort to contain the disease, the news of its presence within the city walls travels fast beyond them.

The Empire must act - the disease must die, as must the city and all within it. If the surviving servants are to fulfil their dreams, they must reach the safety of the mountains before the the soldiers arrive.

One man will not listen to prophecy. One woman will not accept defeat. Only when these two people learn to work together and respect each other will any life - master or servant - be rescued from the fires and fevers of death.

"The Sosunda" (working title), my first full novel, is a 90,000 word work-in-progress for which I hope to find representation in due course. My previous writing experience has ranged from drafting government propaganda to writing and publishing my own poetry. I hope you find my first serious foray into writing interesting enough to ask for a further 750 words.

As stipulated in your post, the opening paragraphs of the first chapter follow.

And many thanks for taking the time to read my submission.


Rik Roots

The Sosunda: Chapter One

"Is it true he is handsome, this contract of yours?"

Arbelle was combing her sister's hair: long, slow, steady strokes bringing the night tangles to the surface where she could tease them free. Her sister already wore her morning dress and was putting together her face before breakfast. It was a good morning ritual, the brushing of the hair; a time for sibling gossip before facing the rest of the family, and the world that insisted on invading their home.

"I have a picture of him in my safe-room," said Delaem. She put her hand on the brush to stop her sister's work, turned round and smiled. "He appears reasonably handsome."

They both giggled, no care for decorum. "Pictures can be doctored, you know," said Arbelle. "Mother whispered to me one night that Father's picture was at least ten years out of date when she came to compare it to the flesh!"

"No!" Delaem was grinning still. "Mother never told you that! She never discusses such things - I would know. I am the eldest, I've watched her four years more than you!"

"Three years."

"Four, until your birthday next month. Now tell me the truth, or I shall set the brother on you!"

Arbelle grimaced. The thought of having to deal with a sticky child did not appeal to her this morning, and Delaem had the right to pass on his care to her if she had more important things to attend to. Important to Delaem, that was.

Instead of answering, she leaned over her sister's shoulder, reaching towards the pots of powders and greasepaints forming a semicircle around her elbows ...

Question: if you were a literary agent, would this sucker you in to asking for a partial, or even the full manuscript?


  1. Weeel, I'm not an agent or an editor or anything, but...

    Based on reading previous Crapometer / Evil Editor queries, I like seeing "type of book" before the synopsis. I saw the character's name and the "arranged marriage" part and for a minute there I was thinking "historical fiction set in India", but it appears to be science fiction.

    The plot sounds interesting, but the synopsis is a little overwritten ("One man will not listen to prophecy..."); I could see this getting Snarked. Personally, I have issues with "sheltered young woman falls in love with male prostitute" as a plot point, but whatever floats your boat :)

    The writing in the pages is a little stilted ("Delaem was grinning still"); I'd read on but I wouldn't want to go through a whole book in that style.

    I'd give it a cautious "maybe" until I'd read the rest of it.

  2. I'd fucking read it, Rik. But then I've already started. And I'm not an agent.

    JRB's got a point about stating the genre up front and personal.


    your twin