I'm making great use of a Mur Lafferty tip this year: the placeholder. It's amazing how much leeway and momentum one can preserve by simply writing [scene where this other bit happens I don't want to think about right now] and keeping going. Great stuff.
Okay, work-in-progress excerpt:
Fun, huh?The missionary dug and scraped in the clotted, knotted jungle dirt. His hands ached and threatened as they ever did of blisters, and as the sun rose it seemed as though the creepers and other vegetation had swallowed more progress during the night than he had made the previous day.Nonsense, he thought. Even here the jungle cannot grow so quickly.Yet he wondered. The Befouled Lands each boasted their tragedies and miracles: bogs that disgorged hundreds of dead frogs a day, year after year; forest trees that grew from sapling to giant in days or weeks. Desert winds that carried dry, desiccated flowers; balmy ocean currents that grew black, stinking icebergs that flouted the summer heat. So why not jungle that overgrew a meager clearing in a night?[...]It was the five hundred and twelfth year following the War of Arrogance. Niles’s erstwhile flock was a village of the Muurari people: people like any other, adapted to survival in their surroundings, protective of one another, and mistrustful of outsiders.
[...]The shovel stopped short on a tough root for the thousandth time that afternoon, then, and Niles took a moment to stretch before continuing. As he straightened he heard leaves rustle nearby. Without turning his head or making any sign he’d heard, he turned and dipped a ladleful of the water from the potful he’d boiled the previous night. It was only a little cooler than the steamy air around him, but he was grateful to the Creator for the drink nonetheless, and offered Her a quick couplet of thanksgiving.He heard careful footsteps circling his little clearing; making so little sound he was sure that he’d have missed it if there were more insect noise. As if on cue, somewhere nearby a high whine sounded, some mating or other signal among the area’s beetles or hoppers. Niles knelt and dipped himself another ladle, and just caught a pair of bright child’s eyes blinking and ducking away. He smiled inwardly, stood and turned to address the troublesome root.