Friday, February 27, 2015


MG Fantasy

THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT OF THE SALEM MAGI is a secret history retelling of
Paul Revere's Ride.

Ark and Swanette are under a family curse that would keep most kids
out of trouble— they cannot tell lies. But when witch hunters start
asking questions about the Salem witches' descendants, the twins flee
to Boston in hopes of escaping their ancestors' doom.

Instead, they uncover an alliance between the witch hunters and
redcoats to unleash dragons against the patriots in exchange for the
redcoats' help capturing New England's magi. Although the twins were
taught to stay hidden, they know the terror of being chased and can't
abandon anyone to such a fate.

Before Lexington can be attacked, Ark and Swanette must form an
alliance with Abigail Adams, Boston's witch-in-chief, to save the
patriots. Because when dragons are coming, it's one if by land, two if
by sea, and three if by air.

First 250 Words:
At dusk I’m scheduled to burn at the stake. I don't like to brag, but
I'm really good at it. This will be my third time. It’s made me
something of a celebrity around New England. While burning magi has
always attracted large crowds, I like to think I’ve taken the
spectacle to a new level.

Thanks to my reputation, the villagers have packed the town square
despite the short notice. A local baker rambles through the crowd,
hefting a food tray overhead. "Get your gingerbread cookies! It's not
a bonfire without your favorite foods."

I’d wave the baker down, but I’m chained to a stake atop a log
pyramid. Instead, I hop in place to rattle the steel chains. "Do you
have any oatmeal cookies?"

The baker raises his bushy eyebrows. "Kid, no one likes oatmeal cookies."

"Well, I do."

He shakes his head. "In that case, no one but you likes oatmeal cookies."

I let out a huff that turns to fog in the cold air. "I’m surrounded by

They form a crowd that stretches toward the horizon until their faces
begin to blur in the fading light. Latecomers scramble up ladders to
reach the nearby rooftops. A few have even taken the time to bring

From the audience size, every person in the region must have come to
find out if I can honestly survive being burned alive. Thank Goodness.
If everyone is watching me, no one is searching for my sister and


  1. Oh, love how you added in the dragons! On the pitch the third paragraph got a little confusing. Perhaps: Instead, they uncover an alliance between the witch hunters and
    redcoats to unleash dragons against their enemies exchange for the
    help capturing New England's magi.

    On the 250-- the second to last paragraph that start with "They" I would choose a more descriptive term. Like the onlookers or something. I had to read on to figure out who "they" were.

    Still love, love, love this story :)

  2. What an imaginative take on Salem's witches! And I love the idea of your mc burning at the stake to create a diversion and save his family. Says volumes about his character.

    Ditto what Krista suggested.

    A solid and fun first page. Definitely want to keep reading.

    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow

  3. I like the changes you've made in the 250. Gingerbread cookies are so much better than 'smores! You also got rid of the rather confusng sentence in the final paragraph--but I'm wondering if you couldn't just start off the para with: "Every person in the region..."

    I really like the way you get the MC's personality across. "I am surrounded by Philistines," is a great line!

    I agree with Krista above about the pitch. The first sentence in para 3 is too unwieldy. How about. "Instead, they uncover a plot. In exchange for the redcoats' help in capturing New England's magi, the witch hunters will unleash dragons against the patriots." There's still a lot going on, but my pea brain can at least comprehend the basics. LOVE the last line in the pitch, btw. That is golden

    Finally, I love the concept. I love the characters' names, and I love the voice. I'd pick up this book in a hot second. Best of luck!

  4. Thank you all so much! Everyone's suggestions in the last round absolutely helped me improve the pitch and first page. I couldn't have done it without you.

    The alliance sentence in the pitch is certainly cumbersome enough to warrant improvement. I'll see what I can do.

    My idea in using the pronoun "they" instead of a more descriptive noun was that the "they" is an antecedent for the 'Philistine' that ends the previous sentence. I probably didn't pull it off as well I could though.

    I think I could drop 'From the audience size' as well. My thought on including it and its previous iteration was that the line is meant to show that Ark is trying to infer information from the crowd size and isn't familiar enough with the region to know for certain whether or not his relatives are home free.

  5. Trying this again since I keep losing my comments...excuse any typos.


    I really enjoyed this and would definitely pick this up. The voice is spot-on and I love the way this flows-- it's right up my alley.


    I actually preferred your previous first line, I think? Though this one is cool too.

    "Before Lexington can be attacked"-- maybe Before Lexington's attacked? The former makes me wonder Lexington can't be attacked now, and then I want to know why not (and that may be a distraction from where you're trying to go in the pitch).

    The alliance line: I actually liked it as is, though j would change "Instead" to "While there" or something other. I don't think you need to highlight the contrast between what they're looking for (a safety zone where they can hide) and what they find (the alliance).

    250: If you keep audience size, I think "audience's size" would work better. That said, I agree with your comment that you can drop it and nothing would be lost.

    Best of luck with the contest and everything else!


    1. Actually, I rescind my instead/while there comment on a second read. I may not make that change. Sorry to flip flop!

  6. Pitch: Interesting premise. I think you have improved the pitch quite a bit. For your unwieldy sentence, how about: Instead, they discover the witch hunters plan to unleash dragons against the patriots so that the
    redcoats will help capture New England's magi.Only other point-you mention they can't tell lies at the beginning of your pitch, but then don't elaborate on how that affects their conflict (I assume it's a big point in the book). With a limit of 150, I know that's hard but for a longer query I'd add that in somewhere.

    250: Love the changes you've made. I think MG readers would enjoy a magical Paul Revere story. Good luck! (#7)

  7. Pitch: great edits. Fun, exciting story concept with historical elements. First sentence is still cumbersome. Try: "Ark and Swanette are cursed to never tell a lie." The next sentence naturally changes from "But when" to "So when". Next sentence talking about Boston, replace "Instead" with "There". Watch capitalization rules. I think many, if not all, of those titles should be capitalized, e.g., Redcoats, Patriots

    +1: Love this. Quirky boastful voice. Great characterization (self-sacrifice!). Anachronisms probably okay because this is an off-beat fantasy, but it might be fun to throw in some historically accurate jargon, too. Flows well. Tension on the first page.
    Nice job! I'd like to read more.
    (#14 OSN)


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