A Pinch of Salt, A Dash of Magic

In Novels by Aura Eadon6 Comments

NaNoWriMo is almost finished and I took part for the first time ever. This was an interesting experiment for me because it was never about writing a fifty thousand word novel but rather accepting the discipline of writing fifty thousand words on a monthly basis as an author for the rest of my career. I think the experiment went really well and I am almost finished with the NaNoWriMo challenge but the work continues as the novel needs to be roughly around ninety thousand words. I never intended to post a snippet of the novel – sharing first draft work is something I usually avoid. This is a special case however. The brilliant Chuck Wendig usually issues a flash fiction challenge every week but this week he decided to issue the challenge of posting any 1,000 words from the novel we write for NaNoWriMo. I thought, why not? This is a Science Fiction novel with Fantasy elements mixed in and for the purposes of the NaNoWriMo challenge I gave it the temporary name “A Pinch of Salt, A Dash of Magic” and created the temporary cover above using stock pictures. You can find my NaNoWriMo page here. The novel’s plot summary is the following:

Locklyn is a Witch. Her job is to banish creatures spawning from otherworldly portals, creatures that take over human bodies killing their owners in the process. When one of these creatures knocks her door one morning and spins an unlikely story that time is wounded and is stopping, naturally Locklyn doesn’t believe the tale. That is, until her employer tries to kill her and capture the creature. Together with her new and unwanted companion, Locklyn must untangle the truth from the web of lies surrounding two separate worlds. And while on the run from an employer who is more than willing to step on bodies to get what they want, she may just find that the stakes are a lot higher than her own life. Because time is literally running out.

So, with the caveat of it being first draft and hence incomplete and in need of editing, here are the first one thousand words from the beginning:

I’m lying on a sea mattress, half-asleep on a lazy Monday afternoon, sunbathing. My left leg is in the warm water, while the tips of the fingers of my right hand touch the warm water. The sea waves are crashing softly on a tropical beach not far away from where I am. I feel content and relaxed; everything is how it’s supposed to be. The sea is calm and quiet. It carries the smell of iodine and salt mixed with burning sulphur, away from—

Burning sulphur?

I opened my eyes with alarm bells ringing inside my head, the memory of the tropical beach dream dissolving rapidly like a sand castle swept away by the sea waves. The smell persisted even after I had awakened and that meant one thing only – I was under attack. I sat on my bed, legs hanging, the expensive water mattress convulsing in protest of my sudden moves, the covers thrown on the side. I usually sleep naked but modesty was the last thing in my mind. I scanned the quiet room mentally preparing myself for trouble. Trouble that didn’t come. My darkened bedroom was exactly how I left it last night: heavy purple curtains covering completely the balcony door, a pile of clothes on the small sofa opposite my desk, books stacked on the floor spread out everywhere, including my three overflowing bookcases behind the desk. Nothing seemed out of order and the room was silent.

I scanned the magical wards on the walls of my room, invisible to the untrained eye, and found all of them intact. It was obvious they were waiting for me at the other side of the door in my living room. Could I avoid fighting inside my flat? My precious apartment was my pride and joy. It was so very expensive and a fight could cause damage I probably would not afford to fix. Still, I was on the fiftieth floor and with no other way to leave other than my front door, my choices were limited, and I had to confront the quiet intruder inside my home.

I reached down in my bag next to my bed and picked my emerald pendant, twisting its gold chain around my left wrist. I stood and tiptoed to the door separating my room from the rest of my apartment, the thick soft carpet absorbing all sounds efficiently. I touched the door with the fingertips of my right hand, focusing my power on the space at the other side, seeking the elusive intruder but found nothing. How did they manage to bypass my defensive and offensive wards without triggering them?

I opened the door just a crack, the acrid smell of burning sulphur stinging my nose and assaulting my senses. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I opened the door further and inspected the living room that was sharing the space with my kitchen. My gaze shifted from the half drawn curtains doing their best to block the morning sun, to the protective wards around the front door to my apartment. They were undisturbed.

I stepped carefully into the silent living room starting to doubt my own senses. Was I hallucinating? The two soft knocks on my front door snapped my attention in that direction. If this was an elaborate plot to bypass my ward protection, it was pathetic to say the least. Two more knocks, barely heard. Why were they not using the doorbell?

I inched towards the door noticing the thicker sulphur smell. The many protective wards made my door practically impenetrable, but like the proper paranoid witch I am, I placed my back against the wall next to the door. “Whatever you are selling I am not interested. Go away this is a bad time.” This was an understatement to say the least. I needed my rest after last night’s difficult hunt that lasted six hours. Sleep is the only way a witch can replenish their magical reserves in a natural way and after only four hours, I was cranky and snappy.

They knocked quietly again.

“Go away; I will not say this again.”

“Please we need to talk. It’s important”

The voice was gruff and discordant. It was not a human voice, in fact I had heard it so many times before but never speaking human language words, only screaming in agony and pain as I was kicking their sorry behinds back to whatever hellhole they had crawled out from.

“I mean you no harm, time is running out, please we need to talk.”

I knew who or rather what was at the other side of the door. I could ignore it, I was certain my wards could withstand any type of attack but given how paranoid I am, I knew I could not just go back to my room and sleep. Not with it outside my front door. Would my employer consider a bonus payment for another banished creature?

“Please, you need to listen to me; the world – your world – is in terrible danger.”

Behind the roughness of the voice, I could discern a female voice, which meant a female victim. Yet another victim. My wards would withstand an attack but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t bring justice for the victim and her family. I unlocked the door using my right hand, keeping my left hand raised and ready to blast the creature with deadly mind magic. I opened the door just a crack while channelling my power through the pendant. No self-respecting witch really needs any pendant to kick otherworldly visitors back to their original planes of existence, but having one helps greatly to retain high levels of energy over extended periods.

The creature outside my door was a surprise. As I had suspected a female figure indicated a female victim but she – it – was dressed in the most peculiar way even for the standards of Zyn, a city that housed some of the most eccentric and peculiar citizens on the entire planet.

Hope you enjoyed this snippet and thank you so much for reading. I’d be so grateful if you let me know what you think in the comments below – constructive critique is always a writer’s best friend.



  1. I’ve been reading a lot about structure lately – how to structure a great story – and you’ve definitely managed to write a great “hook”. I’m in. My curiosity is piqued. Your first paragraphs served their duty very well. 😀 Well done!

    1. Author

      That’s music to my ears, thank you so much. I tried not to worry too much about it, it’s first draft and I can fix it later, but it’s so lovely to hear that. Much gratitude, thank you so so so very much. 😀

  2. Great excerpt! Thank you for sharing, Aura! 😀
    Love the title – even if it’s just temporary.
    I love that the beginning is really high paced.
    The excerpt makes me really curious about how the magic works, what kind of world she lives in, what kind of creature is knocking on her door, what danger they’re in, what Zyn might be like… If I picked this book up in a book store, I would keep reading. 😀 So many questions… Can’t wait to read more!
    I must say I’m really impressed by your goals – if you really do keep writing as much as you plan to, you have a rather huge authorship ahead of you. Wish you all the best of luck reaching your goals! Perhaps you have any tips on productivity? Like, how do you manage writing so much with a day job on the side? 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Agnete, really appreciate both your comments. I love this novel, it makes me excited to write it and can’t wait to later edit it.

      The 50,000 words is not that much. It’s 1667 words a day. I choose to see it in a slightly different way: as an average. As long as I choose to write every day it makes the totals. The reason I wanted to do the NaNoWriMo challenge was to understand fully what it means to write every day having a target ahead. In my case the NaNo target was less important than the actual novel work. So my target was never a hard target in terms of date to finish; rather it’s solid in terms of what I want to do (i.e the first draft of a novel). Some days my energy was so low I could manage around 500 words and other days I could hit 3,000. On average it evens out. I have no minimums (or you can say I have a minimum of 500 as part of the writing challenge) and I don’t set maximums. I usually go to write as much as my energy allows me. Any number is good and I never berate myself for any number no matter how low.

      I did an interesting experiment during October. I counted the total amount of words I wrote, not only in fiction but also in everything else, from emails and responses, to work related things, and blog posts. I was shocked to find ~80,000 words that month. And all writing is writing that contributes to becoming a better writer, especially if one does it consciously.

      I think the concept of large or small is just perception. In October I didn’t write less in general and even if I am averaging half of those words throughout the year, it means that with the correct preparation I can shift writing towards fiction and get into a daily habit of writing. After NaNoWriMo writing 3,000 words in a day doesn’t feel that much of an effort (provided I have the energy). If I make sure I remain kind to myself, I think I can keep the same momentum for as long as I want and hit the milestones for finishing the novels.

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