Monday, August 25, 2014

Entry #28: REGINA'S HEIR

Regina’s Heir
100,000 words
YA Fantasy

Kara felt the sweet, firm flesh beneath her fingers, and closing her eyes, she nearly tasted the sweet apple juice on her tongue. She was quick to fill a plastic bag with four apples, pleased that it was the season for Honeycrisp apples, thick sweaters, and a pumpkin patch trip next week. “I got a few, Mom,” she announced, and carefully placed the bag inside the cart.

“Alright. Next… the sale on roast. Let’s have a look.” Kara’s mother stepped ahead and the twelve-year-old followed behind, careful to stay out of her mother’s way. The grocery store was relatively calm for a Sunday afternoon, but Kara still knew how her mother charged forward when she had something in her sight. Kara would just stay out of the way; the old ladies and young children in her mother’s way would have to protect themselves from a fifty-four year old city commissioner with a goal in mind.

Kara’s mother charged past a young mother with a toddler on her hip. When the child yelped, his mother frowned in Kara’s direction, and Kara noticed the mother’s brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. It curled around her shoulders, similar to Kara’s own curls. She wondered from where the woman inherited those curls. Could that be a French trait? Or maybe Greek? Perhaps it was Russian? Kara was swept along before she thought to apologize for her mother’s behavior.

“Mrs. Warren!” Kara held back a sigh when a woman with two elementary school-aged children stopped Kara’s mother. “I’m so glad I ran into you. Will we see you at the auction next Friday?”

Kara’s mother beamed and Kara winced, thinking of the charity auction from last year. Her mother had told everyone she crossed that Kara would model for the night. Kara had seen her parents dress in their best evening attire every year for the auction, so she had expected something elaborate. She had been disappointed to find that it was just as draining as any other volunteer opportunity that her mother had forced her into. This year, Kara was quick to find a babysitting job for the night, and although her mother had been disappointed, Kara knew that she would accept it.

“We will definitely be there!” her mother replied. “My husband and I will. My daughter will be absent this year, though. She’ll be babysitting for the Dole kids. But she was there last year. I don't know if you remember, but she did some modeling.”

The other woman smiled at Kara. “I think I remember. She’s turning into a lovely young woman. She looks just like her mother.”

Kara tensed, and a frown came to her face. “I--”

“Oh, thank you,” Kara’s mother interrupted. “We’re certainly proud of her.”

“Thanks, but I’m not--” Kara tried again.

“It was good to see you,” her mother said, “but we’re limited on time this afternoon. I’ll see you next Friday!”

Kara tried to dismiss her annoyance as they moved through the grocery store. She did her best to participate in their empty little discussions on roast, and bread, and whether they should make brownies for dessert that night, but Kara was relieved to finally get back in the car and head home. She knew that when they were home she could head upstairs, shut the door, and slip away into a book.

As soon as the car doors shut though, Kara’s mother started. “I know I may not be your biological mother, but people don’t need to be corrected when they’re just trying to be nice.”
“I know, Mom.”

“We do look a lot alike, anyway. She’s right.”

Kara tucked her chin to her chest, hoping to retreat from the conversation. “I know, Mom.”

“We don’t need to tell everyone that you’re… adopted. It’s ok, that we look alike. I’m your mother. I’ve always just smiled and said thank you. That’s all they’re looking for.”


“I know you know.” Kara’s mother started the car, and began to back out of the parking space. “I just want you to know that your father and I love you, and we’re glad that we’re so much alike. It’s how I know that you’re a gift from God.” She glanced over at Kara, a careful, studying look on her face. “I love you, Kara.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

They were quiet for the rest of the car ride, and Kara leaned her head against the cool window, enjoying the vibration of the car as it cleared her head of the doubts that rattled inside.

Despite her thoughts of escape, Kara sat up with a smile when she saw the blue bike lying in their yard as Kara’s mother pulled the car into the garage. “Jordan’s here,” her mother said.

“Can I go once the groceries are put away?”

Her mother shrugged. “The afternoon is yours, I suppose.”

Once inside, Kara grinned at Jordan, who was leaning against the fridge with a glass of water in her hand. She tugged on her waist-length blond braid, deep in thought. The sound of the door brought her eyes back into focus. “Kara! Your dad said you’d be back soon. Do you want to walk around the block? Hi, Mrs. Warren! Ooh, roast? Mom saw that sale, too.”

“I have to unload the groceries first,” Kara told her.

“Hello, Jordan,” Kara’s mother greeted her with a smile. “If you two want to head out, I can take care of this.”

Once outside, Kara hopped up on the curb, balancing carefully as they walked. She ruminated a bit before saying, “We ran into some lady at the grocery store who said that I look like my mom.”

“That’s awkward,” Jordan giggled. “What did your mom say?”

“She just said ‘thanks’.” Sometimes it was hard to talk about it to Jordan. She actually did look like her mother. They were both blonde and thin, and Jordan had her mother’s round blue eyes and her father’s incredibly pale skin. Kara never got sunburned, but Jordan usually had to wear sunblock if they were outside for more than an hour. Kara felt lucky that she tanned easily, and she was proud of her dark, curly hair, but she would have traded those in if only she could have looked more like her parents. If only they could actually be her parents.

“I don’t know. I guess it isn’t really any of their business. It just feels deceitful. I don’t like feeling like I’m lying to everyone. Mom seems to think that it’s ok, though. She just pretends like we’re a normal family, and I look like her because I’m her daughter. I don’t even think we look all that much alike. We both have brown hair… but we don’t really look anything alike.”

Jordan looked uncomfortable, and Kara wished that she hadn’t said anything. “I’m sorry,” Jordan said. “Maybe you should just tell her that you don’t want to pretend like everything is normal.”

“I don’t want to hurt her feelings, though. I mean, she’s my mom, it’s not like I don’t want her to be. I just wish she didn’t feel like she needed to hide it. Do you think she’s worried about people finding out because she’s city commissioner?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

Jordan’s hunched-over shoulders told Kara that her friend wanted to change the subject. As it did not seem productive, Kara obliged. “Anyway… are you ready for the pumpkin patch next week? I think I’ll carve my own this year.”


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excellent! I love the conflict right out of the gate. I can't wait to read more!

  3. With the title "Regina's Heir" and knowing the genre will be YA Fantasy I was surprised by the modern setting at first - but that's just a minor note.
    This line is a really masterful way to convey that she's adopted:

    The other woman smiled at Kara. “I think I remember. She’s turning into a lovely young woman. She looks just like her mother.”

    Kara tensed, and a frown came to her face. “I--”

    “Oh, thank you,” Kara’s mother interrupted. “We’re certainly proud of her.”

    “Thanks, but I’m not--” Kara tried again.

    It's subtle, but crystal clear. Honestly, I don't think you need to have her mother say "I know I'm not your biological mother" in their conversation in the car. I think you can do just what you did with this early part of the seem and have them talk around it without saying it out loud. Her adoption might even be more strongly outlined by the absence of them using the word directly, because you've done such a good job with the dialog that they couldn't be talking about anything else. Really impressive.

    It's obviously important to the story and Kara and Jordan go on to talk about it explicitly, but allowing the gears to turn in the reader's minds - Oh! I get it! - is really engaging.

  4. The groundwork is set here for some interesting family tension! I do wish I'd been able to read the pitch for this one first, though. It reads straight contemporary to me, making me wonder if it's portal fantasy or contemporary fantasy. Best of luck to you!

  5. Great idea to introduce the tension between the mother and daughter right away. With a title like "Regina's Heir," I can tell that's going to be super important. I agree with Timothy about the conversation afterwards. After the blunder in the store, I was already thinking to myself, "Oh, she must be adopted." So to have the mother blatantly say it afterwards was kind of redundant.

    Good luck!

  6. You did a good job setting up Kara right from the start. She seems thoughtful and frank, and I like the internal conflict about her adoption. I saw the genre listed as YA fantasy, so I was a little surprised to see such a young protagonist in an urban setting.

    I agree with the others that the adoption conflict is clear enough from the first conversation and the followup between Kara and Jordan. The car conversation could probably be shorter, or be cut entirely.
    Otherwise, good job setting up the family tension.


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