Sunday, March 2, 2014


Title: Ivan and Grey Wolf

Genre: NA Sci/Fi

Word count: 75k


Ivan killed his mother. His father hates him. His brother beats him. He is Durochka, the Little Fool. 

And then the firebird comes, stealing sculptures from his beloved mother’s garden.

His family won’t believe what he has seen, so Ivan, an autistic twenty-three-year-old, goes out alone seeking proof of the mysterious bird. FORREST GUMP meets the sci/fi folktale flavor of LUNAR CHRONICLES as Ivan discovers his autism makes him invaluable to scientists who would use his brain to further their own ends. Ivan is thrust into the center of a conspiracy to bring down a foreign government, unsure of who to trust or what consequences his choices might hold.

The key to Ivan’s survival lies with a spy crucial to the rebellion, a woman code-named Trojan Horse. A woman who has Ivan’s eyes. A woman who knows Ivan’s face. A woman callous enough to walk out on an autistic son.

First page:

A midwife placed her hands on the small of Vasilisa's back, pressing hard to relieve the pain of the contraction. Three other midwives lounged within the chamber, alternately humming the Entrance to Life prayer and munching on cheese and crackers.

The four women had been with Vasilisa now for most of the day, humming and singing with her as she moaned in pain.

This stubborn child, Vasilisa thought. Torturing me in my prison.

The contraction sharpened.

Vasilisa's moan rose with it, piercing the air with agonized song. She smelled blood; the time was coming due for the child to complete the ritual. She sensed the midwife motion for the others, and through a veil of pain, she saw the women amble over to her.

Strong hands gripped her by the arms and led her to a tub of water in front of the fireplace. Steam skimmed the surface of the water, which had been kept ready by two skilled maids, who now stood trembling in the corner.

"Get them out of here!" Vasilisa said, motioning wildly at the maids. They fled, and Vasilisa groaned as another contraction hit before the previous had fully receded.

The midwives removed her robe and helped her naked body into the tub. Gripping the metal sides with her hands, Vasilisa squatted in the water. She rocked from side to side on her heels, allowing her pelvis to relax in the warm water as yet another contraction began to build.


  1. Pitch...great opening line. I think you can get rid of "And then" and just start with The firebird comes. I'm wondering if there should be some context with the firebird. I wasn't sure who or what it was. Mystery is good, but context might be helpful.

    The rest of the pitch is really cool. I just feel like it is a bit disjointed. Perhaps a couple of words here or there would help stitch the pitch together and make it more clear.

    Opening: beautiful language and vivid details. I felt for this woman. My main complaint is that I read the pitch and expected an opening scene with Ivan. Maybe Ivan is the baby who is being born? Perhaps this is a prologue? This uncertainty pulled me out of the story.

    So much potential for this story, though, especially with an autistic main character. Great job.

  2. I really, really like the pitch, though I have a minor suggestion for the last line, "A woman callous enough to walk out on an autistic son." I assume this means she is Ivan's not-dead-after-all mother -- which is a GREAT twist. I'm wondering if you even need a third instance of the word "autistic" here, however. I think the words "has Ivan's eyes/knows Ivan's face" accomplishes your task of connection. (It could be misinterpreted that the fact of his autism -- which, if she left at his birth (?), she wouldn't know about -- is what's the issue, rather than the abandonment of a son.) Just a thought. Pages are dynamic, and very well done. You have me very curious about the story, and very empathetic toward Ivan. Fabulous work!!

  3. Love the pitch, and love the prospect of seeing this story evolve through the framework of an autistic narrator. It will be tought to pull off, but based on the writing I see just on this first page and in the pitch, I have no doubt this writer can pull it off. Minor fine tuning to the pitch and first page, but it's more than ready for the world based on what I see. Moreover, it's a tough trick to invoke my empathy for the mother after reading that pitch, so that cheese and crackers line is genius. I felt a connection. I felt personality even in this quick page. Excellent job.

  4. Great opening scene! I really like then writing and feel like I am right there in the room with her! Good luck!

  5. Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments! It was a delight to participate in this contest. I really appreciate the time and attention which went into reading and commenting on my work.


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