Dear Internet: I have been afforded the opportunity to take part in the glamorous competition known as The Writer's Voice. After absolutely no freaking out at all, because I am a cucumber of the cool variety (and also the most honest person you will ever meet) I set up this post as my audition. Please enjoy.
She is nameless, she is ageless, and, like all sirens, she knows only the call: the means through which humans are drawn into her mother’s pond, and the means through which they are drowned. But after drifting through an existence with no knowledge or need of choice, something terrible has grown inside of her: sympathy.
She does not know how or why, but she has lost the desire to claim human victims. Unwilling to fulfill her only purpose, she accepts a challenge set by the greatest power in her realm: if she can guide a troupe of lost humans through her forest home, she will have her own humanity restored to her. But the forest breathes, preys, and wants the humans gone. If she cannot guide her wards to safety, the forest will strip them of their humanity and be done with it.
Her mortality is not all that is at stake. She finds herself charged with both nobility and rebellion: a torn royal family, and the banded rogues who oppose them. None of them are what they appear to be—the timid prince, the wild rebels—all carry within them the turbulent undertow that has led to revolution and warfare, far beyond the borders of her haunted home.
She means to remain neutral to their squabbles, but even an unbeating heart may be led astray. One of the rebels names her, speaks to her as if she were one of them, and makes her feel as if she might already be living again. Her surprising affection for him proves more dangerous than the tides of war—to favor one group means to alienate the other.
Should she fail, two nations will be left floundering. But how can she guide two groups that have already chosen their paths?
Lorelei, Once is a YA Fantasy, complete at 98,000 words.
I have no published works notched in my belt, but I come from the generation that is prepared for the zombie apocalypse (whilst still being terrified of spiders). Except I’m not even terrified of spiders. I just think they’re rude.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Jenni Brown (writing as J Larkin)
FIRST 250 WORDS:
I scarcely remember my final day of life. I do not recall how the weather was turning. I do not remember what I was wearing, or if I was running to or from something terrible. It was so long ago, it might as well have never happened. My last living moments are phantoms; faded against the dawn of now, they tease at my memory, only resurfacing when I have given up hope of ever fully recapturing them.
This day, I could not stop the thoughts of that forgotten time from swimming around in my head.
I kicked away from the trunk of the tree that grew through the pond, pushing myself in a slow line through the stems of the blue lilies. My robes—gray and flowing, like those of my brothers and sisters who shared the pond—floated behind and around and above me. The scarlet strands of my hair, which should have fallen away and dissolved decades ago, drifted across my vision. I came to a stop, settling on the silt floor of the pond. Just above me lay the man who had arrived three months ago.
Tangled in the lily roots, his fingers remained frozen in a desperate, claw-like grasp. His skin was puffy. His clothes were starting to mold. Humans last a while once they’ve joined us, but he was nearing that ripe moment when our mother, Saictast, would emerge from the cavern beneath the pond and claim his corpse.