Sunday, March 2, 2014


Title: A Serpent in the Garden

Genre: YA Historical Mystery

Word Count: 60,000


Germany, 1148. A young woman is murdered near the abbey of St. Nicholas. Eva von Hirschburg, an impetuous teenage noblewoman, is struck by similarities between the victim and her own dead mother. She convinces peace-loving Brother Clement to help her investigate, but they clash when Eva accuses a man Clement wants to protect.

Meanwhile, Eva is courted by the charismatic Friderich. Eva cannot deny her attraction to the dashing nobleman, but fears he is only looking for an indiscretion. Worse, Friderich doesn't trust Clement and wants Eva to relinquish her obsession with the murdered woman.

When Eva’s suspicions turn to Friderich's childhood friend, she must risk her heart and her life to catch the killer before he strikes again.

A SERPENT IN THE GARDEN is a historical mystery for young adults, a medieval Nancy Drew with the lush, sexy feel of Anna Godberson's Luxe series.

First page: 

No one prayed for my mother's soul. No one spoke of her. My uncle Baldric forbade it. But I refused to forget her. She died fifteen years ago when I was only a babe, but every morning, before the rest of the castle woke, I went to the chapel to plead for her.

Darkness filled the room, intensifying the smell of incense and the aching in my legs as I knelt on the stone floor. I recited the De Profundis, the Misere, and the Requiem Aeternam, prayers suitable for a soul suffering in Purgatory. I considered praying that my uncle Arnulf might finally drink himself to death, but I decided against it. I stood and walked out to the chapel garden.

On my right loomed the bergfried, a defensive tower and, in troubled times, a holding place for prisoners. On my left, the crenellated battlements of the south wall snapped at the sapphire sky. I shuddered, feeling like a mouse trapped in the jaws of a lion. Father Gregory would have reproached me for such ingratitude. Most ladies would count themselves lucky to have a guardian as wise and temperate as Baron Baldric, but I knew he kept me out of duty rather than love. And most ladies do not have to contend with an uncle as reckless and cruel as his brother, Baron Arnulf.

I walked toward the stone archway that led to the main courtyard. A ghostly voice cried out. “Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me.


  1. Pitches are not my strength, but I think you did a good job here. I get a good sense of the voice, characters, story problem, and conflict. You sold me with the last line about Nancy Drew and the Luxe series. I remember that series well, and if this is as sexy as that, sign me up.

    Great job with the voice. It feels right for the period. However, if it weren't for this line 'I considered praying that my uncle Arnulf might finally drink himself to death, but I decided against it' I might not have been quite so hooked. You've given me a good sense of your character with that line, and I have a feeling I'll like her. The pace is a little slow, but that's okay. It's partly because of your historical voice and the need to ground me in the setting with words that are formal in tone. Again, that's appropriate for your voice. If it had taken place in a contemporary setting, the pace would have felt faster because your word choice would be casual.

    Good luck!

  2. I really love the opening 250 words, but I found the pitch stilted and non-YA. I would've liked to see more of the voice from the first page in the actual pitch. On an unrelated note, I don't think Nancy Drew is a good comp title--Nancy's books are light, almost fluffy reads (I'm a HUGE Nancy Drew fan), but the voice of the query is jerky and harsh. The voice of the first page, while slightly smoother, still feels much too dark for a Nancy Drew comp. I suggest Veronica Mars or maybe even something darker/edgier/more adult.


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