Thursday, February 19, 2015


76,000 words
YA Fantasy


Sensible, sixteen-year-old Romay Darkadder couldn’t be happier in the sophisticated city of Asturex. At the prestigious academy where she’s studying towards a respectable medical career, she’s appreciated for her intellect. And she’s nowhere near her superstitious, melodramatic family back in rural Abrecanscir. No one mentions the name Darkadder or her family’s embarrassing belief in magic—no one, that is, except Romay’s roommate, Byeth. Having read far too many of those silly fantasy novels, Byeth can’t stop talking about the rumored magic of the Darkadders.

When a letter arrives, begging Romay to come home and help lift a curse that’s killing the crops, she reluctantly returns. An eager, romantic-adventure-seeking Byeth accompanies her. Despite her family’s blind faith in magic, Romay is determined to save the crops with science. She’s convinced she’s nothing like these out-of-touch, uneducated people. There’s no way she could possibly be wrong.

Romay would hate to be wrong.


A letter came from Dragonkeep today. I was in the school infirmary, preparing a poultice of yfelwyrt leaves, which requires a great deal of concentration, when my roommate Byeth came running in.

“Romay! Romay!” she said very loudly from a few feet away.

I told her I was busy, but she shoved an envelope with an all-too-familiar seal under my nose and my concentration was broken.

“It’s from Dragonkeep…” she said in that reverential tone she uses when speaking of my home for reasons I can’t understand.

I sighed as I opened the letter, assuming Mother would have more bad news about the crops. It was even worse than I feared. Not only does it seem the crops will fail again this year, the family has gotten it into their heads that the lands are cursed. According to Mother, “The only way to lift this foul curse is for the whole family to celebrate the ancient ritual of Eorthwela in the ways of the Darkadders of old.” She had underlined “whole family” several times.

Byeth bounced on her toes while I read the letter. She’s too well-bred to pry off the seal and read it before me, but she pounced on it as soon as I handed it over. She perched on a stool, her dark-lashed brown eyes devouring every word, while I went back to my yfelwyrt poultice.

Or tried to. Normally, I find it easy to focus on my tasks in the infirmary.


  1. Good Morning Author,
    In the second sentence there is a small blurb about her intellect that is kind of slapped on the end of her medical career sentence. Consider taking it off the end of that sentence and working it in the next sentence so that the third sentence doesn't have to start with And.
    Is Blythe a boy or a girl? He/she wants to go on a romantic adventure... with Romay? I find don't find out Blythe's gender until the 250 section. If there is any LGBT to this, consider putting it up in your Genre.
    I am also interested in finding out how Blythe and all the sophisticated city folk of Asturyx know about her magic loving family from the country. It would be like living in Chicago and knowing about a crazy family in Peoria. Should I have another view on city size and proximity? What are they doing so bizarre that they get such a reputation so far away. (I'm sure you get to it in the first few chapters, but the pitch leaves me hanging a bit)
    First 250
    What does the letter say? I was on pins and needles ready to read the letter of crop terror and desolation of her home town. What about the curse? The only thing we got was how to lift the curse... *sad feelings...
    'Or tried to.' I think should be with the paragraph above it, and then start a new thought with 'Normally,'
    Good concept; just some housekeeping on the home of some words. Punch me in the face with your pitch. I think it has a powerful/mysterious overtone to it... I just don't feel it yet when I read the pitch...
    Good Stuff! Good Luck!
    Fellow Writer & Writing Friend #35

  2. Some great writing here. My only niggle in the pitch is why--if she's such an apparent pain, always blabbing about the Darkadders and their magic--does Romay allow Byeth to return home with her?

    I like the fact that this is a girl turning away deliberately from magic in pursuit of science. What I would like a little more of in the 250 is Romay's voice. How does she reply to Byeth--the nuisance who is yelling in her ear? Is her diction formal--"I am not deaf, my dear Byeth. And as you may or not be able to see, I am busy--or is she plain-spoken? "Knock it for a feather, Byeth. You'll make me ruin this yfelwyrt poultice." What I am getting at is that dialogue gives us a great insight into a character--and the only character actually talking here is blithering Byeth.

    Love, love, love that mother underlines whole family several times, by the way.

    I would certainly read on to see where this story was headed. I have a feeling that the Darkadder clan is fun!
    Best of luck,
    Michael (#15)

  3. Hello - I think your pitch has a nice pace to it and comes across as very clean and easy to understand. I especially like the dynamic between the two friends and I love the notion that they're seemingly born into the wrong family. On the flip side, I might like to see one or two more complications. Can you tease what's causing the curse and what that means for Romay and/or her family? The pitch seems to get us caught up on the first 250, but what about what happens after that? What's happening in the final quarter of your book or so?

    As far as your first 250 is concerned, I think the letter is a nice device to hook us in. The second line uses the word, "yfelwyrt" - is that a real thing or unique to your universe? If it's made up, I might hold off on difficult words like that until a bit further on. Obviously this is completely subjective, but I don't like to be hit with that stuff immediately. I want to get into a story via somewhat familiar territory before I'm trying out new words.

    Further on, when Byeth enters, you finish her exclamation with, "she said very loudly from a few feet away." Again, completely subjective but something I feel like I've heard from agents more and more label - you should refrain describing how something is said as much as possible. "He said with an icy tone" or "She stammered in a tiny voice." Stuff like that. A different way to write Byeth's dialogue might be:

    “Romay! Romay!” Byeth had a terrible habit of shouting when she was only a few feet away from me.

    By taking out "said" entirely, you're putting the observation in Romay's head and removing the types of barriers that can sometimes keep a reader at arm's length.

    Thanks so much for sharing - best of luck!

  4. Pitch:
    I echo Garrett's comment about the pitch. I love the family dynamic and the fact that your MC wants to use science, but what's causing the crops to die? What trials will she face in trying to save them? May help up the stakes a bit =)

    First page:
    I really like the narrator's voice. I reached the end and wanted more! Great way to hook us--good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

  5. Pitch: Love the concept of an anti-magic intellectual from a magical family background. I think you could end with a stronger stakes. Obviously, your MC doesn't want to be wrong about magic, but how dire are the consequences if she's wrong-will she just have to admit she's wrong, is anyone's life in jeopardy, does her own struggle with magic vs. intellect set off a war? In other words, you give us her internal conflict but what's the external conflict?

    250: Great voice. You set up your character's personality and her roommate's well. Since they will be traveling together, it's great we see how they interact from the first page. I'm hooked. Good luck! (#38)


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