Friday, February 27, 2015


92,000 words
YA Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Smadar never imagined that a flea-market find would lead her back to a magical world sung into existence by the race of Elementals. Now, its once-glorious cities lie in ruins, overrun by Lord Jogganath's monstrous hordes.
When an ambush leaves Smadar dying, a young mage’s forbidden mantras kindle her life. But beautiful, lethal Halle guards a shameful secret – he’s not a mage or a warrior, but a slave without memories, bound to a vicious master. And Smadar is the coin to buy his freedom. Only she refuses to be bought or sold.
As Jogganath’s power grows, the pair gets caught in a brutal war, and the severed threads of their destinies entwine, weaving a tale of star-crossed love and ancient betrayal. To ensure a future for her people, Smadar must seek answers in her own past, embracing a destiny extraordinary even in a land of magic and curses.
First 250 words:
Smadar glared at the ornate bronze clock by the pier. So Tammy was running forty minutes late. Unusual, but not such a tragedy. She knew her best friend would never miss their monthly scavenger hunt in the overflowing rows of Trash or Treasure flea market. Some things were sacred.
She tried to ignore a group of girls who had been gawking at her from across the colorful stalls. If only people could be fined for staring – the longer the stare, the heavier the fine. She fought the urge to smooth down her black, wind-tangled hair, then shrugged and let it beat around her shoulders, long and thick as afternoon shadows.
She wouldn’t apologize for what she was, or in her case – what she wasn’t.
Tugging on the corner of her piled, lapis-blue scarf, Smadar pulled it off, the comfort of protective mantras her mother had woven into the yarn washing over her in tingly, electric spirals. Bright as a Morpho butterfly wing, warm and soft as a kitten curled up against her skin – the scarf was one of the few reminders of Eden she had brought into her exile, the only splash of color in her black-on-black-on-grey clothes.
“Is that a tattoo on her chest!”
“What a freak!”
Surreptitiously, Smadar touched her tamgha; the very essence of every mage’s craft.
Freak, she thought bitterly, if only they knew.
The girls giggled louder, and instead of covering up, she lifted her chin and flashed them her sharpest, brightest smile, the smile she always wore when facing especially vile things.


  1. Awesome pitch. Awesome first page :)

  2. LOVE the changes to the first page. This weaves in the back story much better, giving us enough to no longer be confused and yet not enough to be info-dumped--the perfect balanced for an intrigued audience! And I must say, I love the detail about the scarf.

    The only thing I would say was a bit confusing was the mention of the tamgha. Is it the scarf she was talking about before? Perhaps mention that as she describes the scarf, then.

    Otherwise, I'm a fan of the new pitch and first page. Good luck, and thanks for the comments on mine! I'm excited for where Smadar's adventures lead her :)

  3. I really like that Smadar makes more personality-defining actions in this version before the end of the 250. The first page seems better suited to the constraints of this contest as a result.

  4. Pitch: There is the promise of an epic story. I'd like more specifics in the pitch-what about Smadar makes her the coin to Halle's freedom? Based on the first page, I expect Smadar has some magical gifts that play an important role, but words like star-crossed love, ancient betrayal, and destiny are descriptors for many stories and don't tell the reader what the crux of her conflict will be. Changing some of that vagueness into more specifics will make this a terrific pitch.

    250: From the mention of the flea market in the pitch and the way the opening paragraph is worded, I thought perhaps this was a contemporary girl who goes through a portal, yet "mage craft" gives the feel of a totally different world. If it is a different world altogether, I would be careful of making it sound too contemporary. That aside, this is an intriguing first page and premise. Good luck! (#7)

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    1. *Swoon* The only change I recommend is removing the italics - they aren't needed. Other than that, I'm all *grabby hands* on the ARC.
      (#14 OSN)

  6. Thank you so much for your comments and your feedback!! More fuel for thoughts and revisions!
    Best of luck to all of you! Can't wait to read your shiny, new books :)

  7. I love the voice and setting in your first 250 but I found your pitch a bit confusing. The first paragraph is great but after that the transition was rough and I think you were trying to cram too many details into a small space. Just focus on what the reader absolutely needs to know and you'll find you have a bit more room for the right details.

    Best of luck :)

  8. Hello there-

    PITCH: It sounds to me that you've created a deep and original premise here. The idea that a world was 'sung into existence' is very intriguing to me. I think the wording on, "kindle her life" is a little awkward. I absolutely get what you're trying to say, but I might be a little more direct with your language at certain moments in the pitch considering how many magical concepts and dramatic scenarios you're introducing. That's not a bad thing, by the way. You managed to get a lot out in a short amount of time, all while keeping focus on your two central characters. "Embracing a destiny extraordinary" is another bit of wording that might need addressing.

    FIRST 250: As with the pitch, I think you're doing a great job of introducing different elements of your world in a short amount of time. This is absolutely essential to your first page. My only note here is that there seems to be a lot of details that you're telling us instead of letting Smadar tell us. I don't know that she would think so many of these specific thoughts out loud. "She knew her best friend would never…" (I find that if a character says they 'know something' in their head, that it's the author and not the character saying it). "She wouldn’t apologize for what she was…" (I prefer you showed me that she won't apologize through her words and actions). "The smile she always wore when facing especially vile things." (I would let the action explain itself - if she's smiling a big smile at these rude girls, clearly its a cover). Trust your characters and your world to give us all this wonderful information you've woven inside of it!

    Thanks for sharing and best of luck.

  9. Hello!

    Pitch: This is a super-picky, style thing... but is there any way to cut down on the prepositional phrases in your first sentence? I also agree with the above comment about the "kindle her life" thing. You have some nice metaphorical language working for you in the pitch, but--and this is subjective--it might be a matter of "less is more." I do love the promise of an intricately woven world. It's clear from the pitch that you've fully-fleshed out your story's setting, and I would totally trust that you, as the author, aren't going to leave me hanging trying to figure out all the rules. You do, however, have four names in the pitch (if I include "Elementals" because it's something a reader wouldn't automatically know), and I'm wondering if there's any way to cut that down by one or two, just for the sake of easing a reader in.

    First 250: Wow! I love this so much already!! Again, I get the feeling almost immediately that I'm in the hands of a storyteller who really knows her world. Fabulous job! But I'm also getting a tinge overwhelmed. There are a few places, like with the details of the scarf and the hair and the tattoo, where I felt like I was getting a little too much information too soon. Another "less is more" situation. I think I would prefer to be eased in just a touch more slowly. But that could just be me...

    Great concept! Good luck!

    --Kamerhe (#22)


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