‘Look’ meme, caught from Sandra Lindsay and Elin Gregory

“The game is to find the word “look” in your current work in progress, and post an excerpt from that section of the manuscript.” – Elin’s post is here

This is, as per usual, from The Glass Floor. Now 86,000 words long and almost exactly half way through. Why do I write such long books? Why?


A pall of smoke from the graveyards darkened the summer sky and made the light yellow-grey. Ash was falling like pre-dirtied snow. It had needed the driest tinder and most seasoned wood to build the first pyre, but now they were true bone-fires, and fed themselves on the city’s many dead. She didn’t at first distinguish the smell of wood smoke from that of burning fat. Not until she turned the corner and came into the quiet end of Mihai Voda street, where for the past three years she had rented the rooms for her salon.

There a whiter smoke gathered in cloud-like roiling, the building itself gutted and smouldering – a heat haze still wriggling over the acrid black spikes of wood that poked from the tumbles of brick.

Four other figures, huddled close to each other, stood next to what had once been the door. All of them stared at her sharply when she exclaimed “No!” and darted forward as if to run inside. There had been books, in there! There had been her master bibliography – her guide to which grimoires were worth the study, which mere tissues of lies.

She scrambled over the blackened door step, her coal black shoes crunching over a surface that still exhaled heat. There had been a mirror which Frank had had some success in enchanting. It must still be in here somewhere, and maybe she could rescue…

A hand caught her shoulder and another closed on her skirt, pulling her out of the still steaming wreckage. She turned on them “I have to find–”

“I don’t think so.” The hand at her shoulder belonged to Bogdan. “I think perhaps, with the country at war, we should all move on.”

She didn’t like his narrow, displeased look, politely contemptuous – as if he’d been served a dish of rotted eel at a state banquet and was trying not to spit it out over the floor. Since he clearly knew it was she, she folded her veil back over her headdress, to reveal her blotchy, unhandsome face. If he would scowl, she would give him a reason. “That mirror could be invaluable in battle – for a general to see the battlefield all at once, where the enemy feints, where his sappers tunnel under. I should present it to the Voivode at once as an earnest of what the mages of Bucharest can achieve–”

“Madam,” Bogdan drew himself up, all sharp edges and glitter. “Do you think the Voivode, or anyone else, would trust you again, now it is known how you’ve gulled us all this time? I think not. I suggest, for your father’s sake, you do the decent thing and find a nunnery that will take you in, for surely no decent man will ever have you to wife, if he values his independancy and the ability to be his own man.”

“That’s what you came to say to me?”

“It is.”

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