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20 June 2011

A New Clash: Get Set, Ready, Go...

Today’s host: Gail Pallotta

Welcome to the best setting description clash for unpubbed authors.

When I think of settings in books, I can’t help but recall the famous book by Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. He opens up his book by saying, “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” Of course, I realize Dr. Seuss is talking about life situations in general. But I relate to his words when I delve into a book set in a fascinating place I’ve never been or open up one that shows me something new in a town or country I’ve already seen.

The Giveaways for this Clash: During this unpubbed clash readers can enter to win Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl, published by Barbour and After Anne by Roxanne Henke, published by Harvest House Publishers.

The New Clash Begins with two excellent excerpts. Our anonymous contestants put their scenes on the line. Readers please vote for excerpt A or B.

Excerpt A

“Don't you have to leave now?” Mama took a sip of water and looked out at the sun. Rivka's eyes followed her mother's. The colors of the sunrise were already beginning to fade into the blue of the Israeli sky.
Rivka nodded. “Good bye, Mama. Off to the gardens.” She half-jogged toward the next part of her morning ritual.
Rivka’s sandals flip-flopped on the dirt, her steps brisk and light. The scents of the lilies of the valley and hyacinths slowed her pace the closer she got. The grass before her, still touched with the last of the morning’s dew, slapped against the sides of her sandals. She stopped, closed her eyes, and took in a long, slow breath.
Aroma fit for royalty.
She loved this part of her job. Each day, Princess Michal required fresh flowers for a vase on her dressing table. And each morning, Rivka ventured out onto the palace grounds to the royal gardens to find something beautiful and aromatic to bring a glow to her mistress' countenance.
Rivka spotted and strolled toward a patch of purple and white blooms and squatted down. She pawed at the soil a bit, allowing it to envelop her fingers. The gritty, cold dirt put a smile on her face. She tipped back until she was on her bottom. Inspecting the flowers, she focused on a few especially aromatic ones. Finding no insect bites or other irregularities, she twisted off two bright ones from the center of the plant.
“And back to my mistress.”
As she walked away, she glanced further into the gardens. A tanned lad, perhaps three to four years older than she, was sitting on a rock, a piece of papyrus and a stick in his hand. He didn’t look familiar. Surprising. She was familiar with most all of the servants.
She resisted the urge to walk toward him and peek over his shoulder. What if he was a royal emissary? Instead, she turned back to the garden’s exit.
She glanced back toward the rock. The boy had moved, and now knelt by a patch of flowers. A gardener, perhaps?
He turned toward her and her cheeks warmed. She hurried off toward the princess' quarters, keeping her back to the boy.

Excerpt B

The morning air was warm and held the promise of another sultry midsummer day. A mist curled over scattered sea pines, stretching from Ravenstone Ridge down rocky slopes to the water’s edge. Seabirds called to one another from outcroppings, and a flock of herring gulls whirled and keened through the golden pink sky to announce the approaching dawn. Fluttering down in clusters, the gulls gathered at the shore to greet the fiery sun. The surf gently splashed against rocky shelves, leaving strings of seaweed strewn along the edge.
Thirty yards up sloping rock, in a cave under an outcropping, Eleanore winced as she blinked at the sun. She tried to roll over, and groaned. There wasn’t an inch of her that didn't ache. Why did her bed feel like... granite?
She tried to sit up and smacked her head against overhanging rock. She grunted and pushed her fingers through disheveled hair. Then she winced as she rubbed over the forming lump. She touched her bruised wrists where the ropes had bound her. A shudder swept over her as she recalled the events of the previous night.
She was indeed stretched out upon cold rock, wrapped in a silk and woolen cloak, many leagues from her soft, quilted bed. Groaning again, she peered out through swirling mists. The small cave where she was huddled faced toward the water, over a series of rocky ledges flanked on either side by sparse maritime pine forest.
To her right, the dancing water of the Alewyne River raced in swirls toward the sea from a small waterfall that splashed somewhere around the rocky slope.
Her gaze fell upon her rescuer, who knelt upon the ground down in the clearing. His hair was dark brown and thick, chin length and wavy, and he sported several days’ growth of beard. The early morning shadows framed by the blazing sunlight hid his features, but she recalled from the lamplight in the Stelri’s tent that he was attractive. He’d told her his name. What was it? Oh, yes. Marchant. A Royal Guardsman from Ellismere. A Royal Guardsman—hah! Wouldn't her father be in a quandary about that! Anti-royalist Mayor Jon Williamston’s daughter rescued by a guardsman of kings!
Afterward he had escorted her by moonlight, first to his camp to retrieve his things, then to this place at the edge of the sea, where he’d insisted on building a fire and using a flaming brand to purge the overhang of spiders and other wildlife so she could sleep in relative comfort. A courteous one this guardsman was, and no mistake. There wasn’t anything her Da could fuss about on that count.
Now the warrior was bent over a ledge in an attitude of fervent prayer, his forehead pressed against upturned hands, a small scripture book before him on the rock.
“Hmm,” she mumbled. A man of faith as well as war? She stretched her arms and burrowed back down into the cloak.

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Item Reviewed: A New Clash: Get Set, Ready, Go... Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Gail Pallotta