The Emerald Sun: Tiny Sneak Peek of the FIRST DRAFT Story Start

Got  753 words on The Emerald Sun today. Not the thousand I was shooting for, but I’m having to step back into a world I haven’t lived in for over a decade, and finding my way is tough.

But, in FIRST DRAFT (which… DISCLAIMER: May contain bugs, which WILL change in revision, and for which I do not need any notice of typos or other errors, because first draft is not the place where you deal with those) this is how the story starts.

When you’re safe and comfortable, when you’re warm and dry and well-fed, time has a way of slipping away from you. Of drifting through a day, and then a season, and if you’re not careful, through a whole life.


In the Audiomaerist’s house, it was easy to feel safe. I got to eat delicious food, to listen to the dragon telling stories of the days when the skies were darkened by mighty flocks of creatures like him; to work in the garden planting and harvesting the Audiomaerist’s food; to know that the woman-shaped creature who gave shelter to Yarri the nightling, Doyati the mystery, my brother Danrith, the cat who is not a cat, and me — for the dragon needed no shelter — could keep us safe.


And through a span that wrapped a summer, an autumn, and a winter in it, we lived in her high house away from everyone, and earned our keep with chores and our skills — I spun yarn and knitted her a sweater as fine as any Mama could have made, Danrith tended her accounts, Yarri went out at night and brought back items she requested, and the cat killed her mice.


But… one spring morning I woke and smelled change.


The smell became a tiny dread that crawled up my spine and down into my belly, that woke me and sent me shivering out of my bed, rolled me to my bare feet on the cold floor and into my clothes, and then into silently waking the others.


It’s easy to fall into comfort, and hard to willingly fall out, but when Danrith started to protest that it was dark and he was sleepy, I shushed him and in his ear murmured, “Dress. Make no sound.”


When I shook Yarri awake, I said simply, “We have to go. Now.”


The Cat had been asleep on my head, so he did not need to be told. He simply waited by a wall, watching me, saying nothing.


My brother and Yarri dressed hurriedly, silently.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

11 comments… add one
  • Jeff Jan 16, 2021 @ 17:08

    My 11 year old daughter and I really hope you publish the book,we would happily buy it.

  • Annabell Lewis Jun 15, 2020 @ 23:37


    WHERE IS IT?! The Ruby Key has been my favorite book since I first read it in 4th grade. I’ve graduated college now.
    I have waited and commented and waited more. I was so excited when you released the first draft.
    It’s a year and a half later 😭 help me.

    • Holly Lisle Jun 24, 2020 @ 11:09

      It’s buried in life. I was excited, too.

      Problem is that the third book of a series that sold poorly is a project of love. And because I live on my writing, projects that have essentially zero chance of earning anything have to stand behind projects that have a chance to pay bills. So it’s in a holding pattern behind some books that I have to write under a pseudonym with the hopes that’s they’ll have something better than a snowball’s chance in hell of selling. If that can happen, I’ll be able to afford to finish The Emerald Sun, revise The Wishbone Conspiracy, and write other books under my own name.

      • Annabell Jun 30, 2020 @ 17:57

        Then just say that and stop telling me it’s coming! Its never coming. And that’s fine. I’m an adult. I understand business and writing. I too am in the arts and understand money vs passion work.

        But just say that instead of continuing to say it’s coming when it isn’t. And you put other things above it always. So it never will.

        Thank you for the Ruby Key. It’s still my favorite and it always will be, but I’m frustrated and sad that you never continued with the third book. As the second book does not resolve the story.

        • Annabell Jun 30, 2020 @ 18:00

          And I truly believe it’s not coming not because of this post alone. But because I’ve followed you for years and you have said multiple times you’re picking it up and going to write and. And then nothing. And then another post saying you’re picking it up.

          • Holly D Lisle Jul 1, 2020 @ 10:12

            I’m truly sorry that it isn’t done yet. It is a book that I cannot hope will ever pay the bills, however, and because money is a nightmare this year, I cannot write something I already know will sell poorly just because I love the project.

            For a writer to write for love, the writer first has to know she’ll be able to feed her family while she does it. I don’t currently have that security.

          • Holly D Lisle Jul 2, 2020 @ 13:32

            You’re welcome to believe what you believe.

            However, while finances are cruel, I love the series and want to finish it. That I can’t do it quickly enough for you has a telling little data point that you can see in the blog. If I wasn’t doing it in spite of the fact that I can’t afford to, there would be hundreds, or preferably thousands, of people clamoring for the book. Instead, there is currently just you. If you want to make it possible for me to write it, bring me more people who want to read it.

  • Annabell Nov 24, 2019 @ 16:33

    So excited! I’ve been waiting since I bought The Ruby Key at my school book fair years ago!! So exciting to finally get another chapter in this story.

  • Mike Lucas Feb 14, 2019 @ 23:01

    Sounds amazing! Makes me excited to read this with my 12-year-old daughter (after we read The Silver Door).

  • dragon Feb 14, 2019 @ 17:53

    Very nice. Very “got me”. *grin*

  • Katharina Gerlach Feb 14, 2019 @ 12:09

    YAY! I can’t wait to read the whole book.

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