Thursday, February 19, 2015


Word count: 50,000
Genre: MG High /Fairy Tale Fantasy

Thalia, a 13-year-old modern muse has the power to slide into any story and change its outcome, but she is not free; she serves a tyrannical writer. And he will flatten her into a Flat-Stanley character and dog-ear her if she does not steal Beauty’s mirror, the one that shows a person’s soul and foretells the future.

When the writer throws her in a special manuscript made out of discarded characters from rough drafts, Thalia is on a mission: to save them from destruction and gain her independence by changing the story lines. But that’s without counting on the winter queen who kidnaps Beauty and wants to acquire Thalia’s muse powers to walk into the human world and steal the hearts of human children.

Thalia needs to make friends fast and escape foes sent by the queen to save the day or end up in the trash with the other drafts.

First 250 words:

In the library. On a dusty top shelf, over the writer’s desk.

As a muse, Thalia could make herself as small as an eraser. But being as clumsy as a butterfly without its wings didn’t help her crawl along the book shelf. Especially when her creator roamed the library to snatch her. Her legs made little Bambi splits at the thought.

She finally reached the pack of rough drafts collected by her writer. The overstuffed binder stood upright on the shelf, dark as ink.

Thalia brushed off the dust. She whispered the words carved on the cover in silver “Aeolia: Land of Discarded Characters.” For Thalia, that sounded like music to her ears. Somewhere in there hid the reinvented story of the Winter Queen, the only story magically alive. She had to find it.

She looked back over her shoulder, on high alert. The writer was here somewhere. Fear pumped in Thalia’s veins like through an IV. She pushed open the binder, her hand shaking like needle to the pole. When the pages crinkled, she squeezed between the pages to hide, sweat running down her back. In there, it smelled of mildew and leather. Some of the yellowish drafts were probably older than Thalia. She sneezed under the cloud of dust trapped in the wrinkled pages.


She slapped a hand on her mouth. It was easy to picture her creator fingering the pages, ready to flatten her back into a Flat Stanley. She cringed at the thought of the writer dog-earing her head.


  1. This looks wonderfully creative. I would definitely read on if I saw it at a bookstore.

  2. "serves a tyrannical writer." Love it! This is a great concept!

    A couple nitpiks:
    Could you use a verb other than flatten since you mention Flat-Stanley. "Smash" her into...?
    "That's without counting..." is awkward. Maybe "She didn't count on..."

    Best of luck in the contest!

  3. An imaginative premise and a great set of stakes in the pitch! In your first 250, I love details like "clumsy as a butterfly without her wings" and the smell of mildew and leather. I wonder if you could take out this first bit, which is telling us the setting instead of showing us: "In the library. On a dusty top shelf, over the writer’s desk." Showing us this in scene will make the first page even stronger. Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much, Julie :) I could have removed the tidbit, but I need it because it is a two person's narration and at first they are in two different locations and that had to be clear in the mind of the reader.

  4. This idea is so great. I do wonder if the reference to Flat Stanley makes it sound too young? Otherwise, I just love how you open it with us knowing Thalia has the power to make herself small like an eraser and that she can enter books, BUT she is ruled by a bigger, more sinister power! So good. x

    1. Thank you, Kristi :) I know that Flat Stanleys are for younger kids, although some people use them for older kids, but I think the readers will remember them.

  5. So interesting! I love the premise of characters that come alive and rifle through manuscripts. You have some great language here, too - I especially like the Bambi splits. I will say, though, that because your premise is so unique, be careful in the opening pages not to use too many noisy phrases that make us stop and admire them. We need to get our grounding in this world some, so we're not doing Bambi splits ourselves. In particular, I got a little lost in the IV and the pole. Overall, though, a really fun idea. Good luck with it!

  6. Good Evening Author,
    I love the concept... I wonder if any of my left over characters have a little world going on too? Going to have to check my old notebooks for signs of foul play.
    I am getting the overall premise of the book. The pitch left me a bit confused. The writer wants her to get the mirror but then at the end she could end up on the trash pile. I thought he needed her?
    Is the mirror in the book with leftover characters? If that is the case, why doesn't her write an unfinished short story with just the mirror? In and out job. Unless characters can also go between books.
    Overall it is a like for me.
    Some terms might have the Middle graders asking, "what?" like dog eared. Readers know the meaning but not totally sure about the age range of the readers. Probably totally wrong on this on though.
    So she wants to go into the story with the queen?
    In the pitch it says that the writer throws her into the story with the rough draft characters, however in the first 250 she climbs between the pages of the book. I am sure it is explained in the following pages. Difficult to gage on a Pitch and first page.
    Good luck on this. My complements on your very creative artwork you have written there!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you so much. Thalia will be discarded if she does not steal for the writer. He is pretty evil and desperate to get rich. Thalia can only change the storyline, not create a new one. She is just a muse, not a writer. Thalia steals something from the winter queen at first, so the queen is already after her. Thalia does not want to be trapped in Aeolia at all. I hope that makes more sense now.

    3. I see now! Ok, already ticked of the Winter Queen so there is a nemesis thing already happening. When I read it I was confused why the foul mood for the muse if they had never met... much clearer. Keep up the good work!!

  7. The premise of little tiny people popping in and out of books is one I've loved since I was little. That alone's enough to get me hooked. In your first 250, I'd be careful with the word repetition. Other than that, it looks great! Best of luck to you.

    1. Thank you :) Me too to tell you the truth. It has been haunting my mind for years.

  8. Pitch:
    Wow, this is a really cool idea! However, I'm a little confused by the stakes. Is the main conflict to steal the mirror or to save the discarded characters? Perhaps just focusing on one conflict would help make this clearer!

    First Page:
    I'm left wondering why the Winter Queen's story is the only one that's magically alive. Anyway you could provide the answer to that in here? It almost made me feel cheated, the like narrator was withholding.

    I know this is soemthing I'd have loved to read as a kid (and most likely still would now!0

    Good luck--Domenic (#28)

    1. Thank you Domenic :) Stealing the mirror is what Thalia's creator wants her to do; that's what she cannot do because Beauty is her friend. So the conflict is really with the writer. The stakes are to save the discarded manuscript and the characters inside, including Thalia.
      Remember the magical garden in the Snow Queen story? The flowers are alive.
      This folder in which are gathered the rough drafts of the writer, it contains the reinvented versions of the Snow Queen and all the tales of Hans Christian Henderson.


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