Sunday, March 2, 2014



Genre: YA fantasy

WC: 62,000


In a city where light is deadly, Creperi’s exiles want what sixteen-year-old Jazzlyn has—immunity from the Star’s lethal rays—and they’ve figured out a way to get it. When the exiles take her boyfriend hostage, Jazzlyn will do anything to save him.

Unfortunately, anything includes traveling to Lumen, the mountain metropolis above the black clouds, and burgling a light-stone from Lumen’s ruler. The exiles believe the stone will unlock their own defense against the light. However, once they have it, the clouds protecting Creperi begin to roil and shift. The exiles claim that with Jazzlyn’s help they can reverse the damage before the sky opens up, but trusting her boyfriend’s kidnappers is a lot to ask. If they’re telling the truth, maybe Creperi has a chance. If not, her city, along with everyone she loves, will burn.

First Page:

Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they’re the only food that isn’t rationed. The familiar stench wafting through the house is a sure sign we’re having them for breakfast. Again.

I blow out an exasperated breath and plod downstairs.

Mother stirs a pot of fungi ragoût that boils over the hearth’s open flames. Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder. She looks up as I pause beneath the stone archway that divides the common room from the kitchen. “Jazzlyn,” she says. “What took you so long?”

“I was just...” putting off the inevitable.

“Never mind. You’ll have to eat when we get back,” she says. When my face scrunches up, she sets the spoon on the counter and plants a hand on her hip. “What?”

We’re attending another birth this morning, that’s what. Not that Mother will listen. “Nothing.” I grab a lantern off the table. “Are you ready to go?”

She nods and we slip out the front door and into the ebony morning, where endless black clouds pulse overhead like a living, breathing thing, blocking the light out, or perhaps, sealing the darkness in. The lantern casts a pale glow over rows of mortar and stone houses and their barren plots of dirt. I scan the spaces between shadows, uncertain of what I expect to find. Father disappeared two weeks ago. If he were inside the city walls, the guardians would have found him by now.


  1. Very interesting premise. Alas, the pitch confused me on some points. Who are the Creperi exiles? Or are all of Jazzlyn's people exiles, including herself? Is Jazzlyn the *only* person of Creperi who is not affected by the star's rays? If so, why? This is all unclear to me. Also, I do think you should name her boyfriend. Second paragraph, Lumen is another city with a ruler other than Creperi, yes? Does Creperi have its own ruler too? I ask because in most fantasy, there are "kingdoms" or "lands". So some clarification here. Did she successfully save her boyfriend then? Why do the clouds begin to shift after the theft? Is this punishment? Do we know? If it is an attack, make that clear. It ups the ante. How can Jazzlyn help the exiles beyond stealing the stone? Consider clarifying these points and being specific when possible--increase tension with your word choice. The exiles *insist* versus "claim".

    I think that your opening pages can also be stronger. I like the world you're introducing with the mushrooms, but starting the book with breakfast and a small disagreement with her mom doesn't draw me into the world or the story enough. What kind of birth are they attending? A baby's? A horse's? Is her mother a midwife? Is Jazzlyn her assistant? If that is an an actual scene, it might be interesting to begin there. Or if you're married to this beginning, even a shout from her mother, the baby is arriving sooner than expected, let's go! Her father disappeared two weeks ago. Give me an emotional or physical reaction here, a pang. Because surely, she'd react, yes? I like the description of the dark and shadows introducing us to this world.

    I hope my comments helped a little. Do not be discouraged by my nitpicking. The premise sounds fascinating, it's only a matter of presenting it in the best light (ha!) possible. Good luck!

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  3. I thought the pitch was excellent. Really clear and intriguing. Also really enjoyed the opening line as a mood setting…tells a lot about the world you're creating. The writing is great too, the voice terrific and clean. I really can't think of much to say, other than it's really great! Top marks!


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