I've finally turned over 25,000 words on Wintersland. I don't think the story is going to end up being 60,000 words---more like 45,000 or 50,000---but we'll see.
Here's my Friday snippet early. First draft, please don't quote or repost, thanks!
She must have nodded off, because the fire had burned down when she woke. Katie looked for Hulaf and Treyga, and found them curled up on either side of her, lending their warmth to hers. Both breathed evenly and deeply in sleep. Katie sat up, careful not to disturb them. When she looked at the fire again, she saw Mel standing on the other side of it.
Katie stared at her sister in open-mouthed astonishment. Mel wore a fur-lined red dress with elaborate designs picked out with something that glittered. Jewels? Her hair lay like a swath of darkness against the fur color and the red of the dress. Her lips stood out redly against her skin's pallor, and her eyes were like twin pools of darkness with no glimmer of life in them.
"Mel?" Katie whispered.
Mel tilted her head as if trying to hear a distant, only half-remembered sound.
You shouldn't have stayed. You should go away now while you still can.
"Even if I wanted to, I can't," Katie said in a low voice. "I don't have a choice anymore."
I can't help you any longer.
"Mel, what is the cold place? Where is it?"
At last, a tiny bit of life shone in Mel's eyes. She regarded Katie, and Katie shivered.
I remember. You were always stubborn. Don't forget that I did try to warn you.
Mel turned and walked away. Katie tried to reach out for her, but she felt as drained as if she'd ran a marathon. It was difficult just to hold up her head. Her limbs tingled as if all the blood had rushed to her heart. She lay down between Hulaf and Treyga, heartsick and weary, not even sure she would wake up again if she went to sleep. Mel had become someone she didn't know anymore.